JOHNNY CARSILLO

To be honest, I'm not sure why I even bought this piece of shit journal. Cost me a buck and a half and the pages are practically glued together. Besides, they'll get a transcript when they arrest me. Get it all down on their fancy police paper.

Maybe, some part of my brain says, maybe you won't get caught if you write this, ya nitwit. But that don't make sense either, see. Because as soon as I finish this, if it don't get interrupted first, I'm going to take a walk down to the police office and hand myself in. Something tells me this ain't a lynching town; I ought to be fine. Something else tells me I'd be better off if it was a lynching town, because God would look at me better if I had some way of making up for what I did with my death.

But that ain't a good place to start this. I'll start it at the beginning, and maybe then you'll understand why there's a gun in my socks drawer, getting powder all over everything, and why I ain't eaten for a week. I couldn't, see. I couldn't bring myself to go out into the street and run into the others. I keep wondering if I'll run into the old guys, from back in Georgia. I keep wondering if I'll see Benny's face when I walk out. Her face, Benny's face… they're all I've been seeing when I close my eyes.

Georgia wasn't that bad a place to grow up. I lived in Atlanta, in the Bankhead area. I hear that they're trying to pretty it up some. I suppose they just might do a decent job of it. But when I was a little kid, you knew that going out gave you a chance of getting mugged or nabbed by a pedo or pulled into a gang. I got lucky, I guess—I dodged the pedos until I was 13 and had filled out enough for them to not be interested, I only got mugged once and it was by a guy who was just as scared as I was, and I started my own gang before a gang could start on me. I had to on account of my little brother wasn't getting any younger, and I didn't want any assholes going after him. 'Sides that we were broke as hell and gangs made money.

There were five of us, all whitetrash boys with too much time and too little money on our hands. We didn't go for that skinhead shit, and we didn't fuck with the big guys. We just wanted our own, and we were willing to fight to get it. It was me, Benny, Mike, Joe, and the other Johnny. We called him John, on account of I was the boss and I got to say who got called what. And I had spent most of my life being called Johnny—only people who get to call me "John" are my grandma and my pastor. And my pastor calls me Mr. Carsillo. 'Sides, the other guy was a Johnny-come-lately; he had only picked up the name in high school. I had had it since earlier than that.

Anyway, the five of us stuck together until Benny went and got his head shot off by some crackhead. Even though we had told him not to do the hard shit, because it was out of his league, even though we had warned him, it still shook us. Joe was the first to drop out after that, and the other Johnny followed a few months later. They had family in Texas, they said. Bullshit, Mike said, you're leaving because you're a pair of pussies. Better a live pussy than a dead dick, the other Johnny said. He thought that was clever. I suppose it might have been.

Mike and me stuck together after that. We both had family, and they needed to eat no matter how big a pussy anybody had decided to be. But the two of us weren't no gang, no way in hell was anybody taking us serious. So we teamed up with a few other guys, whose names I'm not going to write here. They might still be around, or they might have family, and when this gets splashed all over the night news as EXCLUSIVE CONFESSION OF A KILLER, I don't need 'em coming after me or mine. I heard that they can get a guy in prison to fuck you up the ass for a carton of cigarettes. I don't know about you, but I think I'm worth at least a blunt, not some lousy Malboros.

So me and Mike and the other guys, we ended up doing some heavy shit. With the first set of guys, we had passed weed along but who the hell didn't? It was Georgia. You could get weed easy as breathing, all we did was get a little money for helping a bigger system. But the shit the other guys did was out of this league. If I saw my little brother with it I'd beat the hell out of him, and if I saw either of my little sisters with it, I'd beat the hell out of the guy who gave it to them.

Shit went down, and a couple of people died, so we all had to get the hell out of town. I packed my bags, told my little sisters to be good, punched my brother on the arm, kissed my ma on the forehead, and headed out west. I knew a guy in Cali—an old family friend of Mike's, he'd put me up for a bed if I ran errands for him. Turned out that the errands involved casing joints. I wasn't about to complain because I was making good money—enough to send some back to my family and start saving toward a place with some girl I met. I ain't gonna write her name either. She knows who she is and she don't need the media dogs breathing down her back. But, baby, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't talk to you, but God knows I had a lot on my mind.

Anyway I was doing a good job, and I had gained enough cred for the Cali guys to trust me with the bigger shit. So the boss, Zeke, he set me up as one of the guys to go in. There was about five of us, and we'd take two or three in every time, rotating as we went. That way it wouldn't seem like the same guys were working together. I'm short and wiry, there was a guy built like a brick shithouse, an averageish guy, a guy who tended toward fat, and some asshole who did karate for a living. Not very scary, but we did have guns and we hit up places where the owners didn't speak English too good. So they wouldn't have called the cops on us anyway.

But that changed when Zeke died and his cousin took over. Don't get me wrong; his cousin was a nice enough dude. But he had us all set to move up to the major leagues, and we weren't ready for that. We'll start small, he said. We'll do a bank first, he said. Nevermind that we had never done banks before. He had it all picked out, plans all set up. All five of us would bust in, and he'd have a guy with a car show up half an hour later. He'd planned it so that there would be some guys downtown doing something to get the cops' attention. I didn't know what that was about, though. Don't suppose I ever will.

Anyway the five of us headed in on a Monday. It was a sunny day, and we were sweating like pigs under all the shit that we had to wear. We bust in, guns up, yelling, "Hands in the air!" The people there all looked as scared as I felt, like they were about to hurl or shit themselves. The other guys were on edge too—I could see karate master almost drop his gun like three times, and the fat guy was jiggling because he was shaking so hard. But even though they were nervous as hell, it started off smooth as water off a duck's back. We got the teller, a balding Indian guy, to start forking over the dough—there was a lot of it, more than we had expected.

We were in the middle of counting it when she stood up and started yelling at us. Looking at her, my first thought was: is she retarded? But she didn't look it—retards tend to fat, and she was thin enough. Tall, brown hair, kinda Mexican-looking—I suppose her picture's all over the news now. The first words out of her mouth were "Put that gun down," and I ain't gonna print the rest because my hand is starting to cramp. I told her to sit down and shut her whore mouth, and I regret that now but I was mad as hell then and scared too. Brick Shithouse yelled at her to sit down, lady, but she didn't listen.

She yelled a little more and then she charged me, and I shot her in the head three times. She was dead before she hit the ground, I seen it in her eyes. Well, her eye. The other got shot in.

The other guys freaked. We grabbed the cash and bailed, switched cars a few times and headed back to our own places. I shoved the gun in my socks drawer and threw up in the toilet. Flushed it. Rinsed. Went to bed, but not to sleep. I ain't gonna lie and say my hands are clean. I killed a guy before, when he was comin' at me with a gun in his hand. And I seen guys get killed like that, shot down like mad dogs. But it's different when you're doing it, and when they don't have a gun. I could have shot her somewhere else: in the shoulder, in the leg. But instead I shot her in the head.

So on account of I couldn't sleep, I turned on the news. They were reporting on her on almost every news station, playing that clip of me shooting her. That's when I found out she was some environmental advocate. That's when I found out that she had wings. I threw up again, but kept the TV on, and when I was done puking I just went back to watching. They had pictures of her, from those airshows she did. My littlest sister, she liked the airshows. I think she had a crush on the boy, the dead one, whatever his name was. That's what I thought of when I saw the pictures, 'cause they were the old ones. The new ones were just her. I suppose they wanted to show her with her family.

They were playing footage from the airshows a lot, and watching it I felt like I wanted to die. When she was up in the air she didn't look like anybody could kill her. I ain't a praying man but I go to church, and I know what angels look like. And now they're always going to have her face.

For a flat week I stayed inside, not doing nothing. My girl called. My family called. The guys called. I didn't answer. Whenever I looked at the phone or at the door, I'd remember the way her face looked when I shot her the second time. She already had a hole in her skull and she looked like she was screaming. There was a cloud of pink mist behind her head. But I still shot her. And then before she could hit the ground I shot her again. By the time she hit the ground a good chunk of her head was missing, and her brains were splattered all over the floor. There was blood, too—the averageish guy slipped in it. I suppose they'll show that on the news.

I just have to say the words now, and then this can be done and over with and I can send this to the news station. I killed Maximum Ride.

God have mercy on me.