Eight in the morning. Streak of sunlight hits my bed. I feel the warmth. Yesterday’s duds still on. I almost don’t stir awake.

There are weapons hidden in every room, ready to be used, but I can’t get to them.

History got to me first.

The boys behind him flip open switchblades at seeing me up, two per player. It seems they’ve been watching me a long time.

History looks tired, grits his teeth. He chomps on a cigarette between his lips. The morning light falls through the blinds in violent streaks.

“Okay, bub. Number one. Which is more notable, how the U.S. changed Europe or how Europe changed the U.S. — culturally, economically, politically and socially — ca. 1848-1948? Let’s do this quick.”

“In the grip, middle drawer, brown dresser, down the hallway, there’s the outline, first door to your left.”

“German, check it.” I hadn’t noticed it was German with ‘im — I was too busy planning my way out. But the shock hits me like a bucket of water. He winks at me broadly, fake smile and enormous white teeth, the jackass.

As he went into the back room, I remembered the force of German’s shotgun last Thursday night, how it gave me a piercing pain and sent me stammering back off-balance, facing the other way. Then, I had whirled around and almost knocked his nose clean off with my fist. Gun soon kicked out of his hand, he lay there on the floor hollering, cursing. He finally said something I could understand after all the German, in English, screaming at me like a banshee: “SUBORDINATE clause, SUBORDINATE clause!” I was afraid he’d wake up the whole goddamn city. From the floor he had spat at me. I spat back and more, gave him a little blitzkrieg, kicked his face in till the crack of dawn. He stopped breathing and I stopped. He lay wallowing in a pool of his own blood, while mine dripped from my gaping wound down the front of my shirt. I threw my jacket over the stiff and started to dab at the hole the shotgun blast left. And to think I almost forgave him.

History took a swig of whiskey from the bottle I had on the mantel, “I’d like to introduce you to my brudda.” I looked up and immediately recognized the snarl and the pig-like nose.

“Spadey, I’ll be the one finishin’ ya off,” Orgot snorted, “and I’d like you to know I’m lookin’ forward to it.”

Blam. He gave me what I can only describe as a grab-and-pull. Hard. It hurt a goddamn hell of a lot.

German came back from the guest room, bag open, throwing outlines at History. “It’s almost all here, Hist. You’re back in the money.”

German gaped at me, seein’ me hurt, clutchin’ my groin in agony, floppin’ around on the bed like a fish reachin’ for water, strugglin’ for life. “We’re gonna rape you.”

And just as I was about to pass out from the pain, Orgot, laughing, forced my eyes open and made me watch as he carved into my heart with a switchblade.

“Hey, Hist, get me a towel, will ya?! Or some newspaper?”