Second Hand Goods: Free Sample

It’s amazing how selectively coherent your thoughts can be in a blind rage. I paid cash for the sledgehammer. I bought it on the opposite end of town from Anscholz’s place. It wouldn’t do me any good to buy an implement of destruction where I planned to use it. Fully armed, I cruised down the Shoreway to Eastlake, Metallica’s Black Album blaring on the stereo. I found “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True” especially appropriate for the job at hand.

Once on Anscholz’s block, I switched to Kenny Wayne Sheppard. I could listen with the volume down and still get the proper effect. I took up station half a block from the duplex. The old lady from the other apartment was out tending her flowerbed. Anscholz had his garage door closed. Too bad. I’d have to wait for either the old lady to leave or for Anscholz to come out.

Twenty minutes later, the old lady went inside. She emerged five minutes after that with an enormous handbag and climbed into an old Lincoln the size of an aircraft carrier. With any luck, I’d be in and out before she got back and Anscholz would be in a world of hurt.

I pulled up closer to the house and looked around. Hardly any cars sat in driveways along the street. The neighborhood looked deserted at this time of the morning. I supposed there’d be a witness or two, the odd housewife or kid home from school, but it couldn’t be helped. I needed some answers from Anscholz and I needed them fast.

I also needed to break something. I pulled the sledge from the backseat and walked over to Anscholz’s garage. A six-foot hedge, neatly trimmed, concealed me from view. Looking inside the window, I saw Anscholz’s beloved GTO sitting in the dark. The side door to the garage looked pretty thin. It was probably secure enough to prevent someone picking the lock. The owner most likely had never planned for someone doing demolition work to get inside. Picking the lock would have been more prudent.

But hardly satisfying.

I swung the sledge hard at the door. It bowed in the middle. Several cracks formed up and down its length. I swung at it two more times. It fell off its hinges in four loosely connected sections. I stopped and listened. No sound came from within. I looked around. A dog barked somewhere nearby, probably across the street.

Slowly, I stepped inside. The GTO sat unscathed, its finish shining in the ambient light from outside. I circled the car, looking for where I could do the most damage. In the grill, I could wipe out the radiator. Still, Pontiac built these cars full-framed. It would be nothing for Anscholz to replace the front end, the radiator, and the hood. The hood itself would be an annoyance to him at best. I couldn’t really damage the engine beyond smashing the air filter, valve covers, and carburetor. Again, those were cheap and easy to replace.

The roof, however, would not be so easily fixed. The roof was integral to the body. A few blows there would guarantee several months of restoration work ahead if it didn’t outright total the car. I stepped onto the remains of the outside door to get plenty of room, swung the sledge over my head, and brought it down near the front driver’s side of the car. The corner caved in, the windshield erupted into white spider-web cracks, and the alarm started squealing uselessly.

I took another swing and brought the hammer down further back, cracking the driver’s side window and leaving a big crater in the roof. Again I swung, and again and again. By the time I stopped, the roof had been crushed to scrap metal on the driver’s side. I slipped over to the entrance to the house and flattened myself against the wall. The alarm finally stopped its bleeping. When Anscholz opened the door, I had the Browning out.

He burst through the inside door and stopped when he saw the damage. “What the fuck? Goddammit!”

I slammed the door behind him. He spun to see me holding the gun on him.

“Hi, Stevarino. Guess who’s in deep shit right now.”