Matt paused “Rocky” and got up to go to the bathroom. When he came back out, the dude was back. He was crouched in front of the tiny fridge next to a case of Mountain Dew, transporting cans from the box to the fridge. Then Matt noticed the Taco Bell bag on the table. He even had room service. It was like staying at a fancy hotel except for the fact that he couldn’t leave. This place certainly wasn’t scary, not like that basement. That Vinny guy was a jerk. Could he have been telling the truth about shooting his dad? Matt’s fingers moved to his cheek as he thought about Vinny and that basement. It still stung a little.
Then the dude looked over and said, “Hey little man. How are you doing?”
Matt smiled and said, “Okay, I guess. How are you?”
“Oh, I’m having a busy day,” he began. “You sure do drink a lot of soda. You know that crap rots your teeth, right?”
Matt shrugged, “My mom never lets us drink that stuff.” He paused for a moment and then continued sheepishly, “Am I ever gonna’ see her again?”
The dude walked over to Matt, gently took him by the shoulders, and then knelt down in front of him so they were eye to eye with each other. “Of course you will.” He smiled, “Your mom just has some business with my friend. Once they get that all worked out, I’ll take you home. Until then, you’ve got to hang out here with me. It’s not so bad, is it?”
Matt shook his head, “No. I like it here, but I miss my mom though.” His eyes watered just a bit. Not enough to spill over, but enough that dude noticed.
“Hey little man, it’s gonna’ be alright. Trust me.” Dude still wore a big smile. “I’ve got to get back to work. I brought you some tacos and I’ll come back to check on you again in a couple of hours. Just take it easy.”
Matt nodded. Then he cautiously asked, “Is my dad really dead? That guy that was beating me and Alyssa up, I think the other guy called him Vinny, he said that he shot my dad in the head. Is that true? Is my dad really dead?” A couple of tears made it passed his eyelids as his lower lip began to quiver.
The dude shook his head and rubbed a hand over Matt’s head, “That Vinny Heart was a big asshole. Pardon my language.” He paused. “Look kid, I don’t know anything about your dad, but I can tell you that Vinny Heart is a big, fat liar. And you can’t trust him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d make something like that up just to see you cry. Do you want to know what a big jerk he is?”
“Well I’ll tell you. His real name was Vincent Valentino. He just called himself Vinny Heart. He thought that made him sound important, like a gangster or something. Isn’t that ridiculous?”
Matt nodded. The tears were still trickling down, but he managed to chuckle a little through them.
“Alright kid,” the dude started, “I really have to get back to work. I’ll be back to talk to you later though. Eat your lunch. You’ll feel better after you eat something.”
Then Matt spoke up again, “What’s your name? I don’t know what to call you. In my head I’ve been calling you dude.”
“Dude?” the dude chuckled. “You’ve been calling me dude? What kind of name is dude?” The way he said dude was goofy enough to make Matt laugh, so he kept doing it. “Hi, my name is…Dude. That’s ridiculous! Huh. Dude. You’re crazy kid. I’ll tell you what. I think that we’re pretty much friends now. All of my other friends call me Wiggles. Why don’t you call me that?”
“Wiggles?” Matt giggled. “Why do they call you Wiggles?”
“Well this is kind of embarrassing, but I really love to bowl. And my bowling buddies say that I wiggle my butt when I’m on my approach. I think they’re full of crap, but that’s what they tell me and that’s what they call me.”
Matt giggled again and then became serious. “Wiggles, where’s Alyssa?”
Wiggles stood and started walking toward the door. “She’s in a room just like this one. She’s doing just fine. Don’t worry, little man. You guys will be together soon.” With that, he left the room.
Matt felt a little better about everything. He liked Wiggles. That was a cool name. It was kind of funny that they call him that because he wiggles his butt when he bowls. He went over to the couch and turned “Rocky” back on. Then he ate his tacos.
In the hallway, Wiggles let out a long sigh. He had two kids of his own and it took everything he had not to break down and cry right along with Matt, poor kid. He hated this job. Whacking punks was one thing, but messing with kids just wasn’t cool. He really liked that Matt kid too. The kid kind of reminded him of his own son at that age, what a little personality. A tingling started behind his eyes as he rubbed his forehead. He wouldn’t let himself cry. It was a hard fight though. That Matt really liked him too. What would the kid think of him if he knew the real reason they called him Wiggles? What if he knew that they called him Wiggles because he liked to tie his victims up, wrap plastic bags around their heads, and then watch them writhe in agony as they died? What if the kid knew that he called that little dance of death the wiggles and that’s why everybody called him Wiggles? What would that kid think of him then? He shook his head, not really wanting to know the answer to any of those questions. This job sucked. No amount of money was worth it. Killing punks was easy. Being Matt’s buddy, looking into his eyes and lying to him that everything was going to be okay, those things weren’t so easy. They weighed on him, made him feel half his size. On top of all of that, gnawing at the back of his brain was the knowledge that after the thing was over, after Stiletto had been dealt with, he’d have to kill him. Would he be able to do it when the time came? He shrugged slightly to himself as he started slowly down the hall, barely noticing his own movement.