The sidewalk was blasted bad here. We stumbled past another burned-out car, skirted another suicide-bomb crater.
“Ninth Avenue, Sixth Street, Building Nine, Apartment Six,” I repeated. “Nine-six, nine-six, easy to remember, huh?”
He didn’t answer. It was the first time for the kid. He looked like I’d felt on my first mission.
“Listen, Joe…” I said.
“George,” he corrected, but timid about it. I was in charge.
“Listen George,” I said. “The first time is the hardest. Next time, routine, you won’t even think about it. Trick is, take them out quick. Give them a second they’ll blow themselves up, you with them.”
That happened to me last year. No sequels you could see except maybe the way I was shivering at 105 degrees, like I had a ton of ice in my belly and chest. But I wasn’t going to spoil him with that story.
He didn’t say anything till I turned left.
“Ninth Avenue’s to the right.”
One of the sequels. Sometimes I get names and directions wrong.
We turned right and soon hit Ninth Avenue and then Sixth Street and stopped before Building Nine.
There was TV light flickering under the door of Apartment Six and TV voices squeaking in wog. He’d be off guard.
I kicked the door open and the kid gave the room a thirty-round burst. I did too. We ran inside.
Funny thing, the TV hadn’t been touched. It kept showing Tom and Jerry in wog. Jerry was lighting a stick of dynamite under Tom.
Joe looked down at the woman and her kid.
“Jesus,” he said. “Jesus, Jesus.”
I fished out the paper.
Not Ninth Avenue and Sixth Street. Other way around. Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street. Six-nine, six-nine, not so easy to remember. The building and the apartment numbers were right though. Sequel. I couldn’t tell him that.
I tried to calm him down. Can’t get them all right, I said. He shouldn’t worry. We’ll be covered.
The stick of dynamite went off under Tom. He was singed bad and sore as hell and started chasing Jerry.
I switched the TV off. I went on trying to calm him down. We had to get the real job done, get to the other address, Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street.
But Joe just stood there, spoiled and for good, I knew.
“Jesus, the kid, she couldn’t have been even three,” he said.
I told him again we’d be covered and pulled him out of the room and out of the building and we started running out of that wrong street. He was still bawling and sweating like a pig. Not me, though. I still had all that ice in my belly and chest at 105 or hotter even. One of the sequels. But I think I said that already