johnny woke up.
outside it was raining.
how it rained!
never had he heard such rain.
now he had to get up.
yet he did not want to get up.
when he went to look out the window, the rain was still coming down.
outside on the corner he saw kenny waiting.
kenny had been his best friend at camp.
eventually they had drifted apart.
unlike kenny, who had risen in the organization, johnny had fallen to the lowest levels of society.
perhaps kenny cared.
on the other hand, maybe he didn't.
up in the sky, birds and planes were flying.
taking a pair of pants off the chair beside his bed, johnny put them on.
since he had realized kenny was following him, johnny had been perplexed.
in his mind he was confused.
despite his confusion, he felt strangely calm.
everything was going to be all right.
"i can handle this". he said to himself.
talking to himself was something he rarely did.
when he went back to the window after putting his pants on, kenny was still there.
and there was someone else with him.
someone johnny didn't recognize.
right at that moment a car pulled up beside kenny and his new friend.
another person got out.
it was starting to look serious.
not one to waste time, johnny quickly finished getting dressed.
in a few minutes he was ready.
next he put his hat on.
going to the door, he checked his pockets.
he was halfway down the stairs when he heard someone coming up.
on impulse, he reached for the handle of the door beside him and turned it.
when he closed the door softly behind him, he heard voices on the stairwell.
"i know he is up here", he heard someone say.
to his surprise, it was not kenny.
"relax,"another voice said.
another voice that was not kenny.
in the room behind johnny something stirred.
next thing he knew something was stuck in his back.
"eddie," said a voice behind him, "i always knew you'd come back."
despite his situation, johnny almost laughed.
"not eddie," he said.
evidently the person behind him was not amused because he stuck the object harder into johnny's back.
"verify that you are not eddie." the voice behind him said.
"eddie's i.d. isn't in my pocket."
"right - like that proves something."
"have it your way."
despite his bravado, johnny was terrified.
he didn't know what to do.
evidently this was the end.
how he wished he could go on living.
eddie - who was eddie?
and what had johnny ever done to him?
rage erupted in his brain.
desperation mingled with the rage.
so this was the end.
until this moment he had never realized how much he wanted to live.
considering he had never gotten a break in his life, this was somewhat surprising.
how could things have gone so wrong?
retreating into his brain, he tried to remember the good times.
anything at all would seem good under the cirumstances.
"i'm not eddie," he repeated in surprisingly calm voice.
"no kidding," the voice behind him replied.
new hope flooded into him.
oscillating with a new despair.
what was going on?
he had hardly begun to hope when he heard a shot and a hot slug ripped through his kidneys and guts.
energy and life flowed out of him.
he was dead.
all he had ever done was meaningless.
dead - totally.
tucking the pistol into his belt after blowing the smoke off it, zeke johnson grimaced disgustedly.
"of all the rotten luck.'
gus hansen nodded disconsonately.
"eddie's still out there."
"tell me about it," zeke replied.
"unless we find eddie, pete's going to be very unhappy."
"pete don't have to know about this guy."
"you might be right"
"except that i might be wrong."
"time will tell."
"help me drag this guy down the stairs."
"excuse me, but shouldn't we put him back in his room?
"dang it, you might have something there."
"didn't i hear someone outside on the stairs?"
"now that you mention it. yeah. i did."
"open the door just a little, see if anyone is out there."
turning the handle, gus peeked out on to the staircase.
when he didn't see anything, he gave zeke the high sign.
at that moment, they heard steps coming down the stairs,
nick and jerry appeared.
too late, gus tried to close the door.
taking a .357 out of his belt, nick approached.
on the other side of the door, zeke pulled his heater out.
everybody in the building and the block heard it.
two or three of them called the law.
up on the roof, eddie lit a cigarette.
puffing away, he smiled faintly.