Stars in a Dope Show

Perspective. That was all he needed as he dashed down dark, empty alleys. The only sound to keep him company were his stomps on a pavement wet with faded rain, dyed a sour orange by the streetlights.

The him in question, a man in his mid-thirties who could as well have been dressing for a formal business meeting, small part of a tattoo visible in the corner of his shirt's neck, his tanned, sharp, handsome features contorted in anxiety, stopped his hurry for a second, took in a couple deep breaths.

Perspective was always the first step. Or, in the words of his thoughts; Let's try and keep some fucking perspective in here, Seth.

But it was something admittedly hard, right then. A few streets away from the telephone booth Seth had just left after spending a rather long time discussing a different kind of runaway, his agitation had started to grow.

The fact that his brother was missing wouldn't be that much of an issue, were it not because when Richard Gecko was nowhere to be found, it couldn't ever mean anything good.

In fact, in the past, it had plainly meant catastrophe.

And Seth wasn't too enthusiastic about that. He liked to keep his feet to the ground, he liked things to be clean and agile and professional; catastrophe was not only messy, but worse, unpractical. And it followed the both of them whenever Richie was around – and, like it or not, one of the two had to clean up the mess.

Preferably the sane one of the two. He glanced over and over around the empty backstreets, without really seeing anything except a distinct lack of his brother wherever his eyes darted –encountered only the occasional staggering men reeking of drunk, the occasional smoking whores who should know better before looking at him twice with their bloodshot eyes–.The one who isn't a fucking nutty bastard nor loves proving it in the worst fucking possible moments.

Seth had never, ever, hit his brother. He had raised his hand on the rare occasion, but it always went away, sometimes when Richie's glasses fell to the floor and he started to stutter, sometimes when he narrowed his eyes and tightened his jaw and looked all too much like an angry kid on the verge of crying for Seth not to think fuck it. Because when it came down to it, a schizoid pile of weak is really all Richie was.

…Seth had never hit his brother, but feeling like it, that was another story entirely. His broad shoulders shook slightly as he took another abrupt change of direction, clenching his fist and throwing it at the wall instead.


He drew in a deep breath.

Okay, try. Try and figure what the fuck can possibly go on in that crazed mind of his Jesus christ what's his fucking problem

But Richard had his own particular way of scurrying out of view, when the bigger fish his older brother fried in any telephone booth became too redundant. Seth's business had to do with him, heavily, and how about the transition from "quiet, serious Richie sitting peacefully in the penitentiary court during his brother's trial" to "psychothic Richie shoving the barrel of a gun into some Ranger's mouth" had been so blink-and-miss, and how it had actually been a brilliant idea but the cops didn't think that way; that was as far as he cared to know until about five minutes before taking course of action. Reckless didn't cover it. Consequences were simply not in his book.

That was his fucking problem. It was both their fucking problem.

Seth had let him go because when Richie was bored, he started missing the attention, and when he did that, he became annoying, and when he became annoying, Seth would snap at him and tell him to get lost, and if he did so, Richie was capable of elaborating a fit about it to the point of obsession, and Seth did not like obsession, and it occurred to him that the punching of walls would very much have taken place either way.

Except the lowly districts where the two top-wanted U.S. criminals hid to the casual eye were not the best place in the world for Richard Gecko to get lost.


Few streets from there stood a certain bespectacled man, equally well-dressed, resting his shoulder against a wall while jadedly staring at the avenue he had just found in his aimless strolling through dark streets. It opened wide into the city and was better illuminated; he didn't like darkness at all, even when too much light made him squint.

An unlit cigar hung from the side of his thin lips. He wasn't a smoker, but it was nice just to let it sit there.

Late as it was, there were not many people in the street. He liked watching them, watching as they walked past. An older, modestly dressed lady, opposite to him in the street (she wasn't trying to avoid him, was she? the old bitch, what the fuck was her problem?), quickly scurried into one of the nearby portals. A tall and lanky man, his steps quick and loud, glanced at him for a brief second (--said something. he couldn't quite make out what, but he was more than prepared to walk up to the bastard, show him the gun in his pocket and fucking ask him to repeat). A young woman, all short black skirt, bleached hair and scarce tanktop, was the closest to him as she walked past

(he could smell her perfume, and her pace didn't increase, she didn't even purse her red lips while walking past him, and lord knew it was even better when they knew he was watching, and much better when he didn't just have to watch and LET'S FACE IT, RICHIE, SHE'S PROBABLY SUCH A WHORE SHE'LL EVEN ENJOY IT—

"Excuse me," The cigar fell to the floor with the first agitated gasp. "Do you know what time is it?"

The young woman turned around, facing his dull stare with hazel brown eyes.

(and then she opened her mouth to say everrrything he wanted to hear)

He blinked, confused. So that was what she wanted-

Richard felt a hand clinging tightly to his forearm, and when he turned around, he was greeted with his brother's silently severe expression.

"She's not wearing a watch, Richie," He whispered through gritted teeth, and turned to the girl, giving her a forcedly friendly smile, "Excuse my brother. He's- he should look more closely."

She nodded quickly and giggled nervously, "That's okay," before hurrying away. Richie gaped on her movements, before the pressure of Seth's thumb on his chin forced them to lock eyes.

"She recognized me," He blurted by instinct, feeling safer instantly. "You shouldn't have showed up, just have me do it, she's- she'll probably tell them cops about us just now—"

"Shut up," The slightly shorter man growled. "She can, for all I care. It's not like every single fucker in the city isn't looking for us right now." He took in a deep breath, stress being the last thing he wanted then. "They're not finding us either way. We're leaving."

The moment he eased the pressure, Richie opened his mouth. Only complaints could come out.


"Shut the fuck up and come with me," Seth motioned clearly for his brother to follow, and at the lack of response from the younger man, reached for his forearm again and jerked the slightest bit too aggressively. Richie narrowed his eyes. "To the car. We're going to Mexico. Good old Carlos has some business to pay back, so he'll be helping us. We're meeting up with him somewhere near the outskirts, he and his men will take us to El Rey, and everything will be fucking groovy, Richie, and I want to hear absolutely nothing."

"But I have to stop by home, Seth!" His brother and partner-in-crime shouted.

Seth didn't even shoot him a killing glare, trying to focus all of his attention in scanning the streets for his car. "You don't. Shut up."

"No- don't tell me what I have to do, because—"

"I'm not saying anything. Just shut up."

They probably looked like a couple of faggots right then. At least he was the man.

"All my stuff's in there! You didn't tell me to shut up this morning, Seth!"

"For fuck's sake, Richie, shut-"

Where the fuck did I park…?

"You don't tell me to shut up when I'm saving your sorry ass from jail—"

"There we go," The tanned man raised his voice, rushing towards the dark grey vehicle. He released the grip on his bespectacled partner; Richie turned his visage away, before reluctantly sneaking in and starting the car.


Seth kept rubbing the palm of his hand against his eyes, gulping down the beer in a nearby bottle as he started the car. It had been a long day. He felt like turning on the radio full-volume, but more attention drawn to them was the least they needed.

The older man lazily glanced over at his brother, currently hunched over in the seat next to him, dispassionately avoiding Seth's eyes. He rolled eyes, hated feeling slightly bad; admitting yelling at him on his first night out hadn't been the best thing he could've done. He was to thank, after all, in his own way. A bit under a week apart from him had made it hard to remember that everything Richie said was true as far as his little delusions went.

"Hey," He started, poking his brother's shoulder, without taking his eyes off the road. "Been quite the bullshit night in suck city. At least we gave this place a nice goodbye gift." He paused. Richie didn't answer. "Did you check up on the woman?"

Richie blinked and shook his head slowly.

Seth decided it was not the best moment to voice out how he thought hostages were not the way to go. And especially not if he was going to leave them in the trunk and forget about them right afterwards.

After some seconds, he heard his brother's teeth grit in the silence.

"Your bit, Richie."

"Left it home."

"No you didn't." Seth grinned faintly, nodding towards the glove compartment. Richie lowered his head and checked the contents; eyelids tightly pressed, he chuckled some seconds afterwards. "See, there's nothing important you're not carrying right now," The older man commented casually, distractedly.

The younger man tiredly tilted his head to one side, relaxing in the seat and adjusting his specs, suddenly feeling the urge to raise his leg and let it hang out of the window. "How long until the highway?" He grunted. "What's our next stop?"

"We're done with this place," Seth muttered, "I'm pretty sure we can stop by a motel somewhere near the outskirts. Tomorrow it'll be a liquorery, a gas station or something. The second we get a road map, it's frontier time, and then…"

and then nothing of this shit will matter, and things will be less of a mess, and you will find peace and you'll be okay, we both will.

"See, that's your important stuff, but I like my porn," The younger man crooned, hardly uncomfortable at all with interrupting his brother. "You don't have to duct tape its mouth."

Thirty-three years around him, and Seth could have sworn he knew what to expect.

As long as he didn't let anybody fuck with him, he dubiously guessed.