One Angry Johnny

One Angry Johnny has little cards printed that have his name on them and a picture of a machine gun. “Wrongs righted,” they said. “Vengeance done.” He has an ad in the yellow pages, the only entry in his section. Revenge, in yellow letters on a black bar, and then One A. Johnny underneath, and his number.

He doesn’t get many calls. Most of them are jokes, voices laughing in the background, slurred college voice saying, “So… you, uh, revenge people? Because I, uh, I know this guy who…” or there’s a girl involved. Heartbreak. Petty revenges — sugar in the gas tank, things carved into lawns, rocks through windows. One Angry Johnny is always polite, always firm, always short. Click, says the phone. Dial tone.

But then there are real people who call him. He knows the anger that coils through their voices without dissolving, a snake of viscous chemicals at the bottom of a clear pool. There is blood in their voices, and it calls out to be spilled. One Angry Johnny is a leech, an ancient Barber, a master of blood-letting. “Wrong for wrong,” he tells them. “Retribution before forgiveness.”

“Yes,” they whisper.