An excerpt from Gunner Star by James J Caterino
Chapter 4 - Descent into madness
For well over a decade it was the perfect job for people without job skills.
It was the easiest way to make legal money for those who possessed no talent.
It actually was considered a profession. Even better, it was one anyone could
do. It required no education, training, just a warm body and a phone.
For over a decade, it was the perfect job for me.
Then it all ended.
Suddenly I had to compete again.
Once friendly waters became shark infested overnight. Everyone was looking
to stake their claim to a vanishing frontier. Everyone was looking to protect their
own stake in the game.
I thought of kingpin Ross Manning lecturing a group of new brokers.
“I’ll cut your balls off for a nickel.” He screamed to the group of desperate
newbies who hung on his every word.
Ross Manning would thrive in the new post bubble environment. Ross Manning
could thrive in any environment. You had to be mean and aggressive. You
had to be driven and desperate. You had to be a greedy bastard who was willing
to cut off anyone’s balls for a nickel.
I never stood a chance.
One fateful day of my former life stands out above the rest. The memory was
seared into my brain as a pathetic summary of all that was wrong in my pre-Gunner
existence. I started each day by journeying to work via the asphalt jungle of violence and mayhem. But today was different. It was worse. Unrelenting tension hung in the
air. You could almost smell the anger as traffic came to a bottle neck stop.
The scene unfolds before my eyes; an image recalled and played out in ultra
high def six track Dolby digital, the Cinemascope screen in my mind blazing to
I go to make a right hand lane change. Out of nowhere a black Lincoln Town
car cuts off my path. Even through the tinted window I can make out the silhouette
of a clenched jaw of fierce determination and piercing eyes—the eyes of
rage—the eyes of fierce competition.
The eyes of a man who would love to destroy me.
A white Lexus cuts me off from the other side. I look over and see the profile
of a hideous woman, veins pooping out of her wrinkly neck, a saggy jowl flapping
wildly as she screams obscenities at me.
On both sides drivers continue to cut in front of me. All the while they deliver
angry glances. Glaring looks that say "fuck you, I’m going first. Go ahead and try to get in front of me and I’ll hit your car. Then I’ll sue you to boot you pathetic piece of shit loser."
Horns are blaring. Everywhere around me, enraged drivers battle for their
piece of the asphalt jungle.
Even out here on the freeway, I was ill-equipped to compete.
An eternity later I exit the freeway and stop off at a Quick Mart. I am leaning
against the soothing cool glass in front of the sodas when I hear him enter with
A Burly Redneck looking man storms through the door. And he is angry.
The Burly Red Neck marches over to the coffee counter where a meek looking
CPA type is mixing his coffee. The red neck swats the coffee out of his hand,
sending the contents sprawling across his neatly pressed shirt and tie.
“I don’t appreciate you tailgating me partner.” The threat of violence simmering
beneath each word the villain speaks.
The CPA looks up at the menacing figure glaring down at him and turns three
shades of white.
“Huh?” The CPA’s voice quivers. He is much too terrified to be upset or even
shocked by what the raging madman had done just done to him.
“Back there on South West Eighteenth. I don’t like anybody driving within
twenty feet of me.” The Burly Redneck hovers over him as if he were about to
reach down and snap the man’s neck at any second.
“I thought I was far enough away, but if I wasn’t I’m sorry.” The timid CPA
keeps his eyes down and shifts nervously as he speaks.
The Burly Redneck gives him one last stare of dominating evil. “You’re gonna
get yourself killed driving like that partner.”
Then the Burly Redneck turns. He casts a threatening glare in my direction. I
hadn’t realized, but in my frozen fear I must have been standing there staring at
the entire incident.
“You looking to get yourself killed too, faggot.”
I meekly nod no and scamper away like a frightened rabbit out the front door,
right on the coattails of the humiliated CPA.
I remember walking out into the parking lot trying to justify it to myself. It’s
not worth it. He might have a gun. The cops might come and I could get
arrested…blah, blah, fucking blah. Bottom line, for about the hundredth time
already this morning, I had just had my ass kicked.
All I needed was for someone to deliver someone to the fatal blow. Little did I
know at the time, it would be waiting for me at the office.
Read more in the riveting, avante guarde action thriller Gunner Star