Gregory K Shipman_I Make Things_1

I Make Things 

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   “I make things.” My mother hated it whenever I said that. The dude next to me on the puke green bus stop bench nods. A sign above the bench informs us this is the city that reads. The high school dropout rate here is sixty percent. Go figure.

 “Whadda you make?” he asks. He isn’t curious. Small talk passes the time.

   “Specialized research equipment,” I reply. My dad died at fifty, and my mother used his insurance money to put me through Drexel University in Philly. She loved my title of Design Engineer. I loved being away from her for four years.

   “How’s the pay?” He’s at least six one and more slim than not. He’s pushing forty but dresses like eighteen. He has hard eyes. Some people say I have soft eyes. Appearances are deceiving.

   “A job’s a job,” I preface, “but the money’s good. It would be better if the taxes didn’t chunk off thirty-five percent.” My mother also hated me referring to my position as a job. Her face would sour like she just swallowed vinegar. ‘A carpenter has a job,’ she would say, ‘you have a career.’

   “Oh yeah,” my bench mate responds, “Uncle Sam will snatch. Workin’ legal is a sucker’s game.” His hair is short and coarse. His lips are generous. His complexion, jet black, says second class citizen. My hair is less coarse and my complexion not as dark. I don’t do second.

   I brush imaginary lint from my hundred dollar tailored slacks. “I take it you don’t work legal.” I glance southward for the city bus.

   “Why you say that?” His voice drips suspicion.

   I shrug. “I don’t take you for a sucker.”

   He smiles. Oral hygiene isn’t a priority with him. “You got that right, bro. I been rippin’ and runnin’ since grade school.”

   I decide to play dumb. “Rippin’ and runnin’?”

   “Stealin’.” He says it with a scoop of pride on the word. My mother wouldn’t approve. She was a Christian at five and a devout one at seven. At nine years old she was awarded a silver cross at Bible School. Onward Christian soldier. She wore it as a shield for the rest of her life.

   “You gotta make a living,” I say.

   “I hear that,” he says. “And sometimes makin’ a livin’ call for brutal.”

   I nod before standing.

   “Bus comin’?” He tries to peer around me. I unzip my jacket. The Walther PPK comes out of the shoulder holster before the fact registers with him.

   “What the…?”

   I hold out my mother’s silver cross. “I got this from your fence. You sold it to him. You killed the woman who wore it. Now I get brutal.”

   “What the…?” He repeats himself. I hate that in a conversation. I shoot him twice, but he’ll only die once. A pity. I watch the life leak out of him.

   Like I said before, I make things. And, sometimes, I make things right.

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Gregory K Shipman began writing in 2006 when he could no longer keep the characters in his head at bay. Over the past nine years his characters have shown up in his poetry, plays, short stories and novels… some published, most not. He lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, though he was born and raised in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland.

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