Danny’s definition of ‘ninja-work’ usually involved inflicted pain on others for our own entertainment. Last week, for example, we got the brilliant idea to do some target practice with our pellet guns. Danny snuck onto his dad’s work computer and laser printed about twenty pages off of some small-time anarchist BBS. The diagrams were cheap and looked like they were drawn by overzealous kindergarten kids armed with rulers and no self-control, but Danny had a keen eye for that sort of technical shit, and before we knew it we were are the drugstore loading up on steel wool and vitamin bottles. It was like craft-time for juvenile delinquents, the vodka refreshments courtesy of my dad’s liquor cabinet.
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‘Now, it’s pretty simple then. We take this,’ Danny says, holding up the empty plastic container that once housed twenty odd vitamin C tablets that we dumped in the trash, ‘put a few holes in it, like so.’
He stabbed it carefully with a screwdriver, making five or six long rows of puncture wounds up and down the thing’s belly. ‘Then we do one through the cap, like this, and a big one on the bottom. Then, we do the same to this pen here…’
We took apart our cheap plastic pens and grinded little holes down the side of it, twisting thin plastic shavings onto the floor as we drank ourselves silly.
‘Now, put two and two together,’ he continued with all the zest of a middle school shop teacher on valium, inserting the pen casing into the plastic vitamin container. ‘Then, we unscrew the cap, put some steel wool in there around the pen, glue the son of a bitch up, and we’re ready to go.’
Mine looked pretty shoddy, like a mangled plastic hand grenade held together by peeling strands of duck tape. Blake’s looked semi-presentable. Danny’s, on the other hand, was smooth and slick, but that was to be expected; he took his ninja training seriously, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he really had believed that a squad of them was watching him, waiting for the day when he’d finally be skilled enough to join their covert-ops team. ‘A ninja has eyes everywhere man, ’ he always told us, shifting his eyes from side to side with a nervous, child-like smile. 'Everywhere'.
Anyway, the idea was that we’d strap these concoctions to the barrels of our pellet guns. When we clicked the trigger, the CO2 cartridge would send a rush of air into the chamber, expelling a lead pellet at great speeds out the barrel with a loud ‘pop’. Because our mission was to peg off unsuspecting victims walking their dogs around the neighborhood or something, from some vantage point not far off, maintaining strict silence was crucial to escaping the scene of the crime unscathed. The plastic chamber stuffed with steel wool in the vitamin container was supposed to suppress the sound of air escaping through the barrel of the pellet gun, like a makeshift silencer.
We took our new toys out of the house in large gym bags, then walked silently down the street so as to not arouse suspicion. It was just starting to get dark when we stationed ourselves on the upper level of a small commercial building overlooking rows of townhouses. On the bottom floor of the place was a daycare, closed by now. Lying on our bellies we waited till the sun was just starting to set. It took awhile for someone to walk down the street. It was an older man walking with his wife. An easy mark.
Danny fired first, sending a cloud of blue smoke wheezing out of the silencer. I fired second, but with considerably less success. I must not have strapped it to my barrel tightly enough, because the pellet got lodged in the plastic container. Blake fired right after, his rifle making that loud popping noise.
‘Ah, Christ!’ the man cried, his hand slapping his neck. ‘What in God’s name?’
‘What is it Grant,’ his wife said with concern, before taking a shot herself in the ankle. She went down like wet paper, crumpling softly into a heap and holding her foot. ‘Grant, oh Jesus, Grant!’
The man bent down and tried to help her up, still wincing from Danny’s shot and putting his hand over his eyes to block the sun's fleeting rays. He stood up and scanned the area.
‘Alright, who the fuck is out there?’
Blake laughed. Danny punched him hard in the shoulder, shutting him up, but by then our cover was totally blown.
‘You stupid fuck,’ Danny hissed grabbing his gym bag as he stood up and made for the stairs.
‘Little fucking cunts!’ the man cried in British-like accent, stretching cunt to more of a long 'coont' sound. He picked up a stone and hurled it at us as we filed quickly down the steps. ‘I swear to Christ if I ever see you shits again, I’ll wring all of your fucking necks!’
When we were a safe distance away Danny turned and dropped his pants, exposing himself. For a guy on steroids I had to admit that he had some pretty big fucking balls on him.
‘Maybe you both can suck my dick then?’ he called out, giving his genitals a quick jerk.
The old man yelled something at us, shook his fist, then helped up his female companion, who was still whimpering on the concrete. Danny pulled up his pants and Blake and I both laughed. Danny smacked him on the side of the head as we shoved our hands in our pockets and started walking away. ‘Don’t you ever fuck up like that again, you hear me?’
‘Aw shit Danny, I couldn’t help myself, man,’ Blake said, rubbing the red spot just under his temple. ‘She sounded like a fucking constipated gerbil or something, you know, squeaking like a fucking bitch in heat.’
Danny tried to keep a straight face, maintained his characteristic stoicism for a second or two, then broke out into hysterics. ‘S’all right, Bee, just don’t be such a fuck up next time,’
he laughed, clapping Blake on the shoulder.
With the tension gone, Danny walked between us and put his arms around our shoulders, pulling us tight into his chest. 'Nice shot, though, Blake. Don't know what happened to your shot, man, but I damn near pissed myself when you pulled the trigger and nothing happened. Shit, those old fucks didn't see it coming.'
We shared some more chuckles, singing our way home. The ninjas would have been proud. We enjoyed the moment for what it was – a brilliant fucking success – and we headed back to Danny’s with the intention of pounding back a forty and passing out.
"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen... there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change."
From his Last Will & Testament, Marquis de Sade