A month later, Cole and Rusty found themselves sitting in the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall. Broken windows. Cracked paint. Run down shops that were once hustling and bustling with customers, now gone the way of the dodo thanks to a burgeoning Internet economy.
“How do you this guy won’t just shoot you and take your money?” Rusty asked.
“He won’t,” Cole said.
“OK,” Rusty said. “How do I know he won’t shoot me?”
“That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
Minutes later, a rusty old van pulled into the parking lot. A gruff looking man wearing a skull cap stepped out, holding a bright orange lock box. A hissing snake was tattooed on his neck.
“How do I know I’m not going to get man raped?” Rusty asked.
“Again,” Cole said. “A risk…”
“Yeah, yeah,” Rusty said. “A risk you’re willing to take. Jay Leno’s got nothing on you.”
The duo stepped out of the car. “Are you Mr. Sagittarius?”
“Maybe,” the man said. “Maybe not. Who’s asking?”
“Mr. Pisces,” Cole replied.
“Hmm,” the man said. “That fits. Yes, I am Mr. Sagittarius.”
“Good,” Cole said. “Now let’s…”
“Whoa, hold the phone, Cochise,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “What’s the password?”
Cole pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and read the words on it out loud. “Crank That Soulja Boy.”
Mr. Sagittarius stared at Cole blankly, as though he was waiting for something.
“Oh,” Cole said. “Crank That Soulja Boy…69.”
“And?” Mr. Sagittarius said.
“Oh,” Cole said as he looked at the paper. “And the ‘C’ in Crank is a capital ‘C.’”
“That’s more like it,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “All passwords must contain a number and a capital letter. Mr. Sagittarius doesn’t mess around.”
“Can I see the piece?” Cole asked.
“Depends,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “Can I see the cash?”
Cole pulled three thousand dollars’ worth of crisp, one-hundred bills out of a manilla envelope and fanned it out. He waved the money around, then put it back in the envelope.
“Alright,” Mr. Sagittarius said as he unlocked the orange box. “Mr. Sagittarius can see you don’t mess around either.”
Cole looked inside and stared at the magnificently shiny hand cannon inside.
“Behold,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “The Angry Barracuda 500.”
“Umm,” Rusty said. “I think I’m going to go get a fro-yo with some extra gummy bears.”
Mr. Sagittarius looked at Cole, but pointed at Rusty. “What’s his problem?”
“Nothing,” Cole said. “He’s cool.”
“He doesn’t seem cool,” Mr. Sagittarius said.
“I’m cool,” Rusty said. “I just like that fro-yo place across the street. They have great gummy bears.”
“Defeats the purpose,” Mr. Sagittarius said.
“What?” Rusty asked.
“You’re going to get a frozen yogurt because it’s less calories than ice cream,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “But then you’re going to cover it with gummy bears and shit until it has as much or even more calories than ice cream. That defeats the purpose of getting frozen yogurt in the first place. You might as well not be a little bitch and just get a full blown ice cream.”
“Thank you for the nutritional tip, Mr. Sagittarius,” Rusty said.
“No problem,” Mr. Sagittarius. “Mr. Sagittarius used to be a lot bigger, but he lost a hundred pounds over the past three years.”
“Wow,” Cole said.
“That takes a lot of commitment, Mr. Sagittarius,” Rusty said.
“It’s all about taking it day by day and making the best possible health choices you can,” Mr. Sagittarius said.
“You’re an inspiration to us all, Mr. Sagittarius,” Rusty said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, that frozen yogurt calls…”
“Knock it off,” Cole said.
“Look,” Rusty said. “You guys do your thing, but I don’t want to be a party to an illegal transaction.”
“What illegal transaction?” Mr. Sagittarius said. “I’m a fully licensed and insured gun dealer, compliant with all aspects of state and federal law.”
“Bullshit,” Rusty said.
Mr. Sagittarius opened up the door to his van.
“Shit,” Rusty said. “He’s going for a gun.”
“Will you get your vagina under control?” Cole asked.
Mr. Sagittarius returned with a folder he handed to Rusty. “Here you go.”
Rusty inspected the folder. It was filled with documents, permits, and licenses, all bearing the name of…
“Sidney Weimariner?” Rusty asked. “What’s with all this ‘Mr. Sagittarius’ bullshit then?”
“Mr. Sagittarius prefers to go on the down low as much as possible,” the gun dealer said. “There are many reprobates out there who want what Mr. Sagittarius has.”
Rusty pointed at Cole. “Then why is he, ‘Mr. Pisces?’”
“Because I like fish,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “I know who he really is. Who are you?”
Rusty gulped. “Mr. Blonde.”
“Mr. Blonde?” Mr. Sagittarius asked.
“We’re doing astrological signs,” Cole explained. “Not colors.”
“Oh,” Rusty said. “Sorry. I just really like Tarantino.”
Mr. Sagittarius took the folder back from Rusty. He pulled out some paperwork and handed it to Cole. “There you go, all fully registered, nice and legal like, to one Mr. Cole Walker.”
“Wait a minute,” Rusty said. “Isn’t there a waiting period?”
“You’re right,” Mr. Sagittarius said. He looked down at his watched and hummed a few bars of a catchy tune. “28…29…30 seconds. Enough waiting.”
“Har dee har, har,” Rusty said. “What about a background check?”
“Rusty, why are you trying to screw this up for me?” Cole asked.
“There’s just something off about this,” Rusty said.
“Mr. Pisces,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “Are you going to kill a bunch of people with this gun?”
“No,” Cole replied.
“That checks out,” Mr. Sagittarius said.
Rusty slapped his forehead in disbelief.
“Look,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “I don’t need to perform a back ground check because technically, this is a gun show.”
“It is?” Rusty asked.
Mr. Sagittarius wiggled his hips and swayed from side to side. “Best dance show ever.”
“You call that a show?” Rusty asked.
“You want me to sing too?” Mr. Sagittarius asked. “What do want to hear? Marvin Gaye? Maybe a little Gladys Knight and the Pips?”
“Please,” Cole said. “Ignore my friend. He’s a ginger.”
“That explains it,” Mr. Sagittarius said.
Cole handed over the money. Mr. Sagittarius handed over the gun.
“It’s a magnificent weapon,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “I put a lot of work into finding it.”
“Appreciated,” Cole said.
Mr. Sagittarius handed Cole the key to the lock box. Cole locked it up.
“Only owned by one previous owner,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “He only used it one time to shoot a rhinoceros in the face in self-defense.”
“Come on,” Rusty said. “How do you shoot a rhinoceros in self-defense?”
“I don’t know,” Mr. Sagittarius said. “I wasn’t there. I don’t judge. Good day, gentlemen. I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure, but you made me drive into Redneck country and well, I’ve had nightmares ever since I saw Deliverance.”
“Damn,” Rusty said. “That movie sure did give the south a black eye.”
Mr. Sagittarius hopped into his van and drove away. Rusty and Cole returned to their car.
“Well,” Rusty said. “You got two more weeks of leave left. What are you going to do know?”
“Get drunk and shoot a shit ton of animals,” Cole replied.
“That sounds healthy,” Rusty said.