Earth . . .
We're driving on the highway in the Buick when a hawk crashes
through our windshield.
"Holy hell," says Floyd, and Roger and I say stuff too. The car
Brap, screeches the hawk. It's dying, then it dies. It's stuck
through our windshield, its body on the hood and its head inside,
like it's peeking through curtains, checking things out backstage.
There are spikes of glass, I spill my Big Gulp, and the hawk has a
squirrel in its talons.
"Dammit." Sprite fills the crotch of my jeans. I'm riding shotgun.
"There's a hawk in our windshield," shouts Floyd. He sounds awed or
thrilled. He's in the backseat. Wind whistles in around the hawk's
body, which is wedged tight. Roger, who's driving, fights with the
"There's a hawk in our windshield," shouts Floyd, "and there's
Roger pulls over. We take deep breaths. It's six in the morning, no
other cars around. There are ribbons of fog over the highway,
points of dew in the roadside grass. Also, hanging dead before us
is a red-tailed king of the skies.
"Wow," says Roger. He's got on black leather driving gloves.
"The hawk is holding a rat or something," says Floyd.
It's early May, the new millennium. I'm thirty-two and I bust
people's heads for Honey Pobrinkis, a Chicago gangster. Floyd's my
partner in the head-busting department. He wears his blond hair in
a biker's ponytail, and he's as dumb as tundra, but he's got a
photographic memory, which comes in handy. As for Roger, he's
forty. He's Honey's nephew, but he's only a mob guy in the summer.
From September to April, Roger attends the University of Chicago,
where he's getting a master's in anthropology.
"Honey's gonna flip," says Floyd. "His car is fucked."
"Quiet," says Roger, brushing glass off his jacket. He wears a suit
and tie wherever we go.
"Honey's ride has been fucked by a hawk and a rat."
"Quiet, Floyd," insists Roger.
I stare at the mangled former hawk. He's beautiful and lordly, but
he's been dethroned. Just before the crash, I was actually thinking
of animals--not hawks or squirrels, but sheep. The sheep I was
pondering belong to Charles Chalk, whose head we're on our way to
busting. Charles is Honey's diamond dealer. He lives west of
Chicago, out Route 90, on a farm in Hampshire, Illinois. I visited
his farm years back and admired his sheep. There were dozens of
them. They were black and white and fenced in and they made noises
that meant Save Me.
"Oh, man." Floyd gets out of the car, looks at the windshield. He
whistles long and low, shaking his head. "Oh, man. We have
witnessed the fucking of a Buick."
Roger finishes picking glass off his torso. He wears a porkpie hat,
day and night, and under the hat is a black buzz cut with one weird
white streak near the left temple. Roger's smart, built, and mean.
I've never crossed him.
"Oh, man," says Floyd, "the hood's dented. If Honey
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