Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Borderline - Nik Jajic


It was typical Petrov tactics. You come home from a long day, open your front door, throw your coat on a chair, turn on the light, and bam. You’ve got two thugs and a Captain staring right back at you.

Ok, I owed money…but not the sort of bread that called for a late night pummeling. A few grand with points was nothing to break bones over, or at least that’s how I saw it. Of course I’ve been known to possess a slightly biased opinion when it comes to the infliction of bodily harm on yours truly.

The two muscle heads did what they always do, and that’s look mean. Dimitri on the other hand just shot me one of those “I really enjoy what I do” psychopathic smiles he was so fond of displaying.

“Gaps! Long time no see!”

It had been an unfortunate nickname, bestowed upon me during childhood, when my teeth began to follow different gravitational pulls and my mouth started to resemble a multitude of neighboring viaducts.

It was only when I began my less than stellar career in the investigation business, that the moniker converted itself into a somewhat more positive name tag. When potential clients asked, I would say it was because that’s what I did, fill in the gaps.

Dimitri stared at me with his cold, faithless eyes and I did what I could to take this all in stride, as if I was used to having these maniacs hiding in my apartment

“Hey fellas, uh… everything ok?”

“No. We need you help us wit little thing. You’re still in dirt digging business, no?”

When a nasty asshole of Dimitri’s caliber asks you something like that, you can’t help but picture yourself digging your own grave, even if you do know what he’s talking about.

“Yeah, I’m still in the game if that’s what you’re asking.”

“That is exact what I asking.” Dimitri said in a thick gurgled Russian accent.

He sighed, slowly getting up and stretching his stocky frame. He always had a mild reptilian look to him that I wasn’t sure was actually present or was something I subconsciously connected to him. His facial features definitely fit all my quotas for a snake, but now he seemed to look more like a hungry croc.

“We got gig for you, Gaps.” He continued on, as his hateful smile began to grow.

“No pay, but I can clean your debt little bit.”

My nerves were getting the better of me, I knew this was bad news, I just didn’t know how bad.

“What are we talking about here?”

“Notting big, you go south of Salvo Street and find out where hell Marty Poles is and what he up to.”

“Uh, that’s Italian turf.”

“I know dat, shitbrain. Dat why we want you do it. Marty been our eyes and ears over dere; he been our double-O Polack, if you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I think I follow.”

“Good, cuz I no have contact wit dat little shit, and I want make sure he still wit da program, so you find out where hell he is, and keep eye on him, few days tops. Come to me and tell me what you’ve got, and dat’s it.”

Now, I’ve worked for every corrupt piece of garbage on either side of the law and of Salvo Street for as long as I can remember, and one thing I know is Marty the Polack is really close to coming up dead. I also know I probably do not want to be involved with him whatsoever because of that. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t get to pick who you’re involved with, instead the involvers get to pick for you.

“I can start tomorrow, if you want.”

“Good. Keep in touch.”

And just like that I get dragged into shit way above my comfort zone. The Petrov’s—short for god knows what and just so happening to rhyme with nothing—ruled the North side of the city, that was Russian turf, and it was turf that had been expanded on greatly since an all out war with the South Side Italians a few years earlier.

The Italians couldn’t match the amount of foot soldiers that the Russians had, but they still had enough to be respected, and they had enough power to run the South side.

The turf wars were the bloodiest the city had ever seen, and by the time peace was finally brokered between the Russians and Italians, there were sixty-five reported casualties—including my brother. Not to mention a quarter of each organization getting new living arrangements behind bars. Although, unlike most cities, these Russians and Italians didn’t turn states evidence very easily, and major players—at least the ones left alive—stayed in power.

So what came of all that nonsense, you ask? Not much. The Russians spread their drug and prostitution rackets a bit further south, nabbing a couple extra neighborhood aldermen for political purposes along the way, and the Italians kept moving their whores and drugs wherever they could. Same old, same old.

Except with one major difference, both sides agreed to peace, and both sides agreed that Salvo Street was the border. No Italians operating North of it, and no Russians operating South of it, and god help any freelancers with shady ideas on either side of it. This was the holy rule, and Dimitri seemed a little dismissive of that. I wondered what Mr. Petrov himself would think of this breaching of the truce, I wondered if he even knew what his henchmen were up to… but it wasn’t my job to question god.

I started on this gig like I did most of my investigative work, strumming the drugged out informants and addicts in general, anyone who knew the players and could keep their mouth shut for a hit, or maybe some blow, or even a roll of the dice.

These were the kind of people I worked with; the secret eyes of the city. They were watching the game, they only pretended not to notice, and if you sifted through enough of them, you’d get the score.

Manny Moe wasn’t reliable and he sure as hell wasn’t trustworthy, but what he lacked in those qualities he more than made up for in sheer audacity. Moe floated north and south of Salvo daily. He begged, bartered, ticket scalped, sold shitty drugs and stolen goods to peers, and basically bounced from alley to alley with complete disregard of territories and consequences. The guy just didn’t give a shit, and luckily enough he wasn’t operating on a level to be noticed by the big boys, but at the same time he knew them all to well.

My luck had taken a positive turn for once, as I watched good old Manny Moe jitter back and forth on the corner in a Meth induced hysteria.

“Manny! How goes it!” I called out while strolling over to his perch.

“What up, Gaps.” He shot back, eyeing me warily.

The smell hit me square in the face. I was now standing a few feet from a manic Manny Moe, whose constant shaking was not as distracting as the layers of soot that covered his face and clothes. I hated my job more now then ever before. I took a deep breath.

“Good lord Manny, you look worse than usual, and that’s saying a lot.”

“Let me get a few bucks man.”

“I got a twenty with your name on it.”

Manny’s jittering frame slowed its fluttering; his eyes began to focus on me. This was his transformation from a needy bum, to a business man. Eye contact, this was no longer pedestrian and bum relations, we were now equals in his mind. The currency of information tying us together.

“What you need?”

“Marty the Polack…You seen him?”

“Hahaha! You still playing with fire ain’t you?!” Manny Moe smiled slyly.

“You want the money or not?”

“Shit man, you should check out Gabo’s. That fool is over there twenty four seven.”

I stuffed the bill into his battered hand and made my way deeper into the pile of shit that this case would soon become.

It had taken all of twenty four hours south of Salvo to get a location on one of the Polack’s hang outs. Gabo’s was a little night club with decent card games and nice eye candy, a place guys like Marty were born to.

There I was parked and chain smoking, watching the front door of the club. It was nestled between two run down buildings, both of which were boarded up and looked to be haunted with the bad luck of the past. I took turns staring at the door and staring at my laptop. Spending equal time waiting on Marty and looking for any info on the club online.

Time inched on, the hours slowly passing with a numbing effect. Finally, out he stumbled, fatter than I remember him being, with his arm around a leggy blonde.

They slowly wobbled across the street ending up in his Lincoln town car. The engine roared and they swerved onto the street, speeding away carelessly.

I followed in the inconspicuous manner that made me who I was. The town car zig zagged down streets, flying through red lights and cutting down side streets at a moments notice, turn signals and full stops were a thing of the past. At first I was worried that they might be onto me tailing them, the thought quickly faded as I recalled Marty's teetering walk to his ride.

The Lincoln pulled up on a curb in front of a dilapidated tenement that Marty must’ve been calling home for the time being. I slowly pulled up and parked across the street, shutting off my lights as Marty led his soon to be conquest into the building. The lights on the fourth floor apartment went on, and I typed in the buildings address as I sat there.

The internet was hell of a tool, one that could tell me everything I needed to know about the apartment building, about the club, who owned what, hell I could probably get some social security numbers if I looked hard enough. I had even gone so far as to take and pass (barely) my realtors licensing exam for the sole purpose of getting a bit more info which was withheld from the average mark.

I watched from my Oldsmobile as Marty and his lady friend did a little sloppy slow dancing in front of his bedroom window. The room went to black and I wondered briefly how good of an actress the blonde really was. I wish that could have been it, I wish I would have just put my rig in drive and taken off.

But no, I needed to reminisce on a couple of fine actresses from my less than romantic past. First rate talent, that much was for certain, always with me as their captive audience. I was almost thankful when the here and now brought me back from memory lane, almost.

It happened fast, a flash of light from the darkened window, then another, and another, and another. Whoever it was had to be using a silencer, because the street was dead quiet and no doubt so was Marty and the actress. The shock of actually knowing the hit was in progress was what froze me up, and just like that the rusted out Van on the other side of the street unleashed its doors and produced a ski mask wearing, shotgun toting maniac.

He casually walked towards my driver’s side door, pumped once, aimed, and let the cannon loose on me. The blast was deafening and the Oldsmobile shook from it. My rear driver side window exploded, with shards scraping their way across the back of my neck. My body acted in desperate measures, turning the key, I gripped the wheel, and slammed the gas pedal. Another booming shotgun blast roared somewhere behind me, as the adrenaline raced through my body.

I called Dimitri on my cell as I made the mad dash north of Salvo Street. He first cursed the Italians for their obvious disregard of the truce, and then told me to meet him at his uncle’s bar. It wasn’t too far from me, and expanding on the particulars of what had just happened was best to be done in person anyhow.

As far as I had it figured, the Italians were planning on clipping Poles, they saw that I was following him and they decided to make sure there were no witnesses to the deed, nothing to cement them to the murder.

I wondered if this would lead to war. I was shaken, and retribution was an idea I was beginning to like, but deep down I hoped this wasn’t the case.
Too many guys died last time, guys with families, maybe they weren’t on the up and up, but the thought of dead men, fatherless children, and widowed mothers was one that disturbed me greatly.

A man built like a six foot tree trunk opened the front door of Ivanov’s Bar and Grill for me. I walked in cautiously; the place was empty, and the tree trunk guy was standing in front of the doorway once more. I stood in the center of the deserted pub for a second, looking around for Dimitri in the bad lighting.

For a brief instant I thought of the masked gunman storming in to finish me, but that vanished as soon as I witnessed Dimitri attempting to zip up while exiting the men’s room on the far side of the bar.

“Gaps! Perfect timing, get ass over here and tell me what happen!” he sat down with a thud on the closest chair.

I scurried over and began my tale, as Dimitri watched and listened with cold blooded concentration. Upon finishing my recount of the night’s events, there was silence.

“Dat’s it, huh?” Dimitri said with finality.

“Yeah, I guess so.” I responded.

“Fucking Guineas just push button, now we go nuclear.” Dimitri declared in his broken English, emphasizing the last part with a thud of his fist on the table.
He got up and motioned for me to get up as well.

“Come here.” he said pulling me into a hug. “You did good, twenty percent of your debt gone.”

The embrace was finished, and it was clear that was my cue to leave. As I walked towards the exit I felt Dimitri’s reptilian eyes watching me go. All I got for risking my life was twenty percent off of a mediocre debt. I clenched my jaw in anger.

“Hey Gaps, watch yourself! Waps might still be around in van looking for you!” Dimitri roared with laughter as I left.

I took to my usual spot of contemplation, on my mattress, under the fan. Staring at the fan as it buzzed and swirled, I took a long pull of my cigarette and thought out loud. “What the hell happened?” was the first question I asked myself. Poles was definitely a goner, as was his sad eyed actress, and it didn’t seem to bother Dimitri one bit—which didn’t necessarily surprise me. What did however was his fake interest in my story. As if he knew the ending before I got there.

Even on the phone, before Dimitri was given the decoded, non-cell phone version of my story, he had immediately put it on the Italians. I knew acting, I had spent most of my life surrounded by actors: Gangsters, cops, prostitutes, and druggies, the best actors on the whole fucking planet, including Hollywood.

These were my people, they honed my skill for detecting bullshit, and that’s what I smelled on Dimitri, bullshit. There was also one little detail that he let slip.

Dimitri knew the Italians were in a van, and I was almost certain I had said they got out of a car, as I was rushing through the story. That, plus his attempts at an Oscar nomination, and his eagerness to drop the bomb so to speak, was enough to peak my curiosity. Dimitri knew more than he was letting on, and I wanted to know exactly how much more.

I retraced my steps, methodically moving from my conversations with the bottom of the barrel, to the club, to the apartment building. I checked all the angles I could from a laptop on my bed—I sure as hell wasn’t going to make another personal visit anywhere near this nonsense.

Maybe I was going in circles, looking too much into something that wasn’t there to begin with, but then the trail began to slowly reveal itself. The new emails awaited me. I got back the info on the apartment building Poles and his lady friend were now using as a grave, and it turned out the owner was none other than Dimitri’s uncle Mike Ivanov.

This little bit of information was enough to change the game completely. This little email meant that I was used; it meant that my suspicions were just, and it meant that Dimitri was indeed up to something. I dug deeper, the club was definitely Italian owned, the two boarded up store fronts on either side of it however, were not. Ivanov’s name popping up once again.

Whatever Ivanov owned, Dimitri owned that much I knew, and it was becoming more apparent that Dimitri owned quite a bit of property south of Salvo Street.

He knew where Poles was all along, how could he not? The guy was living in Dimitri’s goddamn building.

The question now was why he wanted me to find Poles and keep an eye on him, to begin with, and how did the Italians figure into all of this.

They were waiting for Poles inside the building, and that van was parked outside the building before I got there. So the Italians following us was out of the question.

Fresh air was needed. Pulling back the blinds and lifting the window open in one swift gesture, I took in the cool fall afternoon. Leaning on the windowsill I stretched out my back slowly, staring down at the pedestrians walking back and forth three floors underneath me, carrying on with their everyday lives, oblivious to the people that walked amongst them. A man walked hand in hand with a child, no more then eight or nine years old. The boy looked up at the man smiling; he asked the man a question I couldn’t quite hear, only the murmur of his innocent voice.

A sudden wave of sadness overtook me, thoughts of my own childhood, thoughts of fatherless children, thoughts of widowed wives, and grieving mothers. An all out war between the Russians and Italians could be close, and it would be because I told Dimitri that they killed Poles, and attempted to do so to me as well.

Neither the Russians, nor the Italians, stood to gain anything from this. Turf was valuable, but it wasn’t the sort of valuable that was worth a war, it wasn’t the Middle East for Christ sake. In fact the only one who would truly profit would be Dimitri.

After all the war would just lead to the Russians sooner or later taking more of the South Side. Which meant all properties just south of Salvo Street would now be under their umbrella, which in turn meant that Dimitri stood to have quite the monopoly to do with as he pleased, without fearing the Italians wrath.

He could turn himself from an everyday Captain, into a major player within his organization… and that’s when I realized just what all of this meant, and what I’d have to do to at least live the rest of my quite possibly very short life with a conscience not completely soaked in guilt.

The monolithic building loomed over the street like an ominous wraith. My nerves had begun rattling rapidly as I stood there. I was taking quite a leap in faith assuming that Dimitri did this on his own, behind Mr. Petrov’s back… but it felt right, and my instincts were the only thing I could rely on anymore.

Still, I wasn’t just going to walk into Mr. Petrov’s place without letting a few people I could trust know where I would be. After all if Petrov did set this whole thing up, then the information I was going to give him would already be known to him, and I would just be a guy who knew too much. Walking into my own death was not an idea I liked all that much, and if the shit did go down, maybe he’d think twice if I told him that more than a few people knew I was there.

The thick necked doorman stared at me through mirrored sunglasses, expressionless.

“May I help you?” he asked in a reserved tone.

“I, um… I need to see Mr. Petrov.”

“I’m sorry sir, but Mr. Petrov isn’t in.” The man put his left hand to his ear, listening to someone from his ear piece, very cloak and dagger I thought.

The man once again focused his full attention on me.

“Mr. Petrov will see you.” The doorman stepped out from behind the desk and closer to me now.

“Please turn around and lift your arms up.” He frisked me quickly but professionally, this was a task he had no doubt done many times before.

“Take the elevator up to the fifteenth floor.” He said.

It appeared that the doorman from downstairs had a twin brother who was waiting for me as the doors opened on the fifteenth floor. He didn’t say a word as he gestured me towards a large oak door.

I entered the office of Mr. Petrov. The cavernous room took up most of the floor. It was a large, well decorated penthouse with art and furniture that was no doubt quite expensive. The bodyguard twins were actually septuplets, and the remainder of them stood at attention against different walls around the office as if they were living sculptures.

Mr. Petrov stood with his back to me at the far end of the office. Gazing out the large windows, he turned slightly to address me.

“Please sit down.”

I did as I was told, sinking into an enormous leather chair. Mr. Petrov turned around slowly, first giving me a once over and finally staring into my eyes. I broke away from his gaze and looked down at the floor. There was no need to provoke him.

He wore what can only be described as the nicest suit ever made. He was a good looking man, older, maybe mid sixties, with angular features, and strange, observant eyes.

“You are the one they call Gaps, no?”

Pushing through my rapidly increasing flight factor I responded,

“I uh, I am.”

Mr. Petrov stepped closer now; he was five feet away and standing over me.

“I knew your Father and your Brother, not well, but well enough to know that they were real men.”

His remarks triggered an underlying anger somewhere within my fear soaked body. “Thanks… Before we get any further, I want you to know that more than a few people know where I am right now.”

Smiling slightly he stepped back a few feet and sat down slowly in one of the giant leather chairs opposite of mine.

“Heh… I’m no boogie man, Gaps. Now, tell me why you are here.”

I swallowed hard, “I did a job for Dimitri Ivanov, and I wanted to tell you what I know before anything drastic happened.”

Mr. Petrov was expressionless “So, tell me.”

“Dimitri hired me to find Marty Poles and keep an eye on him. Poles was South of Salvo, and he got dead, Dimitri blamed it on the Italians, but Marty got dead in an apartment building that Dimitri’s uncle owns, and not just that, but Dimitri and his Uncle have recently purchased quite a few other properties just south of Salvo.” I took a breath.

Mr. Petrov stood up slowly once more, stuffing his hands in his pockets he slowly slinked back to his giant window.

“And you think Dimitri is responsible for Poles, not the Italians.”

“Yes I do, Sir.”

Mr. Petrov was once again gazing out at the city. “You haven’t read the paper today, have you?”

“No I haven’t.” I responded.

“Well, it’s on my desk, take a look.”

I walked over to his desk and picked it up, straightening out the newspaper in my hands.

“Go to page three.” Mr. Petrov said coolly.

Page three had a small story about a club being fire bombed last night. I glanced over it, my eyes immediately being drawn to the photograph that was alongside the article. A photograph of a burned out building, one that looked all too familiar. It was the place that I saw Poles and his blonde walking out of. My body reacted, hairs standing, and skin prickling. According to the article the charred remains of nine people were found inside. It had already begun.

“W-what does this mean?” I nervously asked.

“You know what it means.” He responded.

Still looking out the window he continued, “Thank you for your honesty.”

“So you didn’t know about Dimitri and Poles?” I asked.

Mr. Petrov stared out at the gloomy sky, “No.”

“What happens now?” I asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear what he planned to do.

“What always happens in times of war. Hell will have its way.”

I placed the paper back neatly on his desk. I had no more questions, no more thoughts.

My desire to do what was right had left as quickly as it came. These events were too much, and they would only become more consuming, and I was once again no one, just another civilian peering in from the outside. This no longer concerned me, my case was now closed. I bid Mr. Petrov farewell.

The rain was falling hard as I stepped out of the building, I fished through my pockets for a lighter that wasn’t there, and then I slowly made my way home. The rain never let up.

BIO: I'm thirty years old and I currently reside in Chicago-land. Two of my graphic novels have been picked up by seperate publishers and will be released in the summer of 09. The first is "The Big Bad Book", which is due out by Alterna Comics. The second is "Loosely Based", which is due out around the same time by Arcana Comics. I've also had film and book reviews published by Lumino magazine, and poetry published by XND magazine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Savage Henry Sings The Blues - Keith Rawson

Savage Henry Sings The Blues


For such a hard ass, Savage Henry screamed a lot. Even with a filthy old sock sandwiched between his pristine white teeth and a thick piece of dull gray duct tape securing the gag, his muffled pleas for mercy echoed through out the vacant white halls of the track house Stanly chose as Savage Henry’s final resting place.

The kid’s real name is Charles Metzler, (The nickname stemmed from a beating young Charles dished out to a long hair named Henry Davis. The two had never met before, and the beating was entirely random. Just letting Young Henry Davis know that his kind was not welcomed. Good old Savage Henry skated the charges thanks to a sixty-five year-old Judge who absolutely lived for the local High school football team, which Savage Henry was a member of .The judge simply couldn’t stand the thought of having to ruin such a promising young man’s life, even though said promising young man did exactly that to Henry Davis. Six months probation and time served for an attempted murder beef.) Aged sixteen, a junior at some bum-fucking-no-where high school in a densely populated Southern Arizona Hamlet called Gilbert.

The kid was nothing special. Your average suburban retard; so-so grades; Second string football ball; second string baseball. Savage Henry obviously liked sitting on his ass collecting splinters. Steady girlfriend who Savage Henry managed to rape (Stan doubted that Savage Henry would call what he did rape, but the bruises and bow legged way the girl walked told an entirely different story.) in the back of his SUV on a daily basis. Oldest of six children. Good Mormon family. Dad an orthodontist: Mom stayed at home and sat on her ass all day getting fat and eating V by the handful. Dad fooled around, secretly drank like a fish, and was openly addicted to crystal methane. During the week Stan had the Metzler’s under surveillance, Dad had yet to hit the hay, preferring the sweaty monitor glare of Internet porn sites. Typical good Mormon family. It goes without saying that Savage Henry bullied the entire household, wore his Arizona Cardinal’s hat backwards and loved hip-hop.

Despite all of these obvious character flaws, Savage Henry did possess certain qualities that made him an ideal criminal. High intimidation factor, lots of ‘friends’ thanks to his exposure to high school sports; plus, the not guilty decision proved he had a certain amount of invisibility within the community, no matter how much shit he rained down.

Less than a year ago, a little known small timer Mormon shit heal named Tibit Smith, started taking notice of the boy, and recruited good old Savage Henry to distributed small amounts of high end pot and enormous amounts of Mexican Cocaine that was more baby formula than blow. Product flew out of Savage Henry’s hands; the jocks loved staying up for days on end cruising for freaks to beat the shit out of. Tibit saw the potential of serious money coming from this boy. High school kids were suckers for product. Tibit contacted Stanley’s employers in San Francisco. He didn’t want to speculate on how Tibit had gained his connection to the organization. Old Hippies were weird, especially old chemist hippies, who’d spent the last twenty-five years doing nothing but cooking up acid and other such hallucinogenic drugs. But, it wasn’t Stanley’s place to question. It was Stanley’s place to do, not think. Tibit’s Woodstock generation connections were no business of his.

Tibit wanted X and lots of it. Kids loved the shit. They’d eat four or five caps of cheap wannabe local product and fuck like rabbits. Just think what would happen if they got their hot little hands on the real thing? He could move product by the pound. He could build a little army of jock/dealers with Savage Henry leading the pack. The organization shipped down 20 thousand dollars worth of caps stuffed in a shipment of Bennie babies. Savage Henry and his boys sold it all within a week. The organization sent double, this time smuggled inside the white fluff guts of Cabbage patch dolls, the boys did the same as before.

It was all going very well. The organization kept doubling the product amount and Savage Henry and his boy’s kept begging for more, literally saturating the Gilbert area with caplets of high-grade ecstasy for six blissful months.

And suddenly nothing.

Tibit was incommunicado, no new product was shipped, and none was asked for. The chemist’s first and only thought was that Tibit had employed his own talent down in the desert and had reverse engineered their secret sauce and was marketing it as his own. This simply would not do. So Stanley was shipped down Coach class from Oakland to investigate, report back, and possibly eliminate the competition. Simple enough job, Stanly figured he’d have to kick Tibit’s ass a little, let him know that his lack of product loyalty was unappreciated, and he was now expected to triple his import and he would now be extremely taxed for the time and trouble.
Stanly would of course kill Tibit’s new boy chemist to protect his bosses’ recipes.

Too bad this was not how it played, of course, it never does when your dealing with Redneck’s like Tibit Smith and Savage Henry.

The reason why Tibit had not been in contact with Stanley’s employers—as he discovered after only a single day of tapping his Arizona contacts for info—was because the slick little fuck had gone to mattress. Tibit was running in fear of his life, and not from Stanley’s employers. Tibit had managed to piss off the local tweak kingpin, Clyde Raines. Raines was a plug ugly Irish fuck who was rumored to have taken on the local Mexican and Colombian cartels and actually won. He ruled the State of Arizona; even Stanley’s employers knew not to fuck with this guy. Tibit obviously didn’t know any better.

Raines approached Tibit with a small kick back agreement. Raines didn’t want the whole operation, hallucinogens weren’t his game, Raines merely wanted a taste of the action; a tribute, if you will. Tibit laughed in Raines face. Who the fuck did Raines think he was? Tibit was the shit in the East Valley, untouchable, not even the local PD screwed with his boys. Raines took the rebuff with seeming calm, and Tibit believed that he’d seen the last of Clyde Raines.Wrong.
Raines hit Tibit’s peaceful little suburban home and raped and killed Tibit’s entire family. Apparently only one of Tibit’s wives was kept alive to let the smug little fucker know what had transpired. Tibit ran and ran hard. Raines quickly stepped in and took over Savage Henry and his crew of suburban National Socialists. The current popular product line was dropped, and Raines cut rate tweak replaced it.

Stanley reported all of this to his employers even though 50% of it was conjecture. Stanley’s employer suggested that he extent the olive branch to Raines; perhaps striking up a similar import/export agreement they formerly shared with Tibit. Stanley was to extend said olive branch via Savage Henry.

Stanley’s first contact with Savage Henry was embarrassing. Stanley never lacked confidence, even when he was the perpetual 90 pound weakling in high school, but cunts like Savage Henry sent creepy fingers down his spine and provided flash backs of high school hallways back in his teen years when he didn’t have clue on how to defend himself and wedgies and sucker punches were the order of the day. Stanley knew guys like Savage Henry were nothing more than illusion; small time characters who masked their own under confidence with verbal abuse and violence; Not that Stanley couldn’t easily snap Savage Henry in two if the little shit tried getting too happy, but this was a delicate situation; Stanley’s employers wanted their piece of Arizona profit back, Stanley needed to be discreet and tactful.

He approached Savage Henry inside a local Barbeque place that stank of sawdust and rancid burning fat. He was noshing ribs with his crew, his mouth and cheeks painted red with sauce, strands of beef caught between his teeth. Before Stanley could get a word in edge wise, Savage Henry sneered and spat out: “What the fuck do you want you little four-eyed nigger?” Savage Henry’s crew ate it up, giggling and pounding their picnic bench. Stanley turned on his heel and quickly scrambled away, his cheeks burning.

What the fuck?

Stanley trembled, his forehead popping sweat, his hands shook, he stuffed them his jeans pockets, gripped the smooth handles of his blades; focus; find center. Nigger, so much malice. Not like the brothers in Oakland. Not a casual reference, but a word full of venom; a word like a weapon. He’d be prepared the next time.

Next time was the same night outside of Savage Henry’s family home. Stanley pulled up to the driveway in his rented Honda Accord; John Lee Hooker’s gravel voice rumbling quietly from the speakers, Savage Henry was wheeling out the family trash barrel from the garage. Stanley rolled down the passenger window blowing a sharp whistle between his teeth. Old Henry knew the language, some kid looking to score. He parked the trash can half way down the drive and double time it over to the open window, right hand dropping to the waist band of his pants; he carried his product in his jock.

Fucking gross.

Nothing in the world worse than your dope smelling like balls.

Henry did a double take when he saw Stanley in the driver’s seat. The kid didn’t know what to make of the situation, but he still eased into the passenger seat, pupils like pinpricks scanning the inside of the car; as if his hyper alert tweaker vision could scan out a secret camera or microphone. Stanley rolled up the passenger windows so they could have a little privacy.

“What d’ya want, man?”

“I wanted to-“ before Stanley could continue, Henry cocked his head his head like an expectant dog.

“What the fuck are you listening to? I thought all you niggers listened to was Tupac an’ shit like that? This guys sounds like sounds like he’s been gargling Drano or some shit.”

Stanley’s fluid right hand found it’s way to the back of Savage Henry’s neck and in a single blurred motion slammed his pock-marked forehead into the dash of the rental car. Hooker’s scared voice had been his solace and greatest comfort for longer than he could remember. Stanley could take a lot of shit, but you didn’t fuck with him about Johnny Lee.

So much for finding center.

It didn’t take Stanley long to find some place where he and Henry could be alone.

Southern Arizona seemed to be a constantly expanding, but no one seemed to live in this expansion; this seemingly endless sea of identically flawless track homes. Stanley shouldered Savage Henry’s weight once he’d located a half completed house dead center in what appeared to be 1000 home sub-division. Surprisingly the front door was unlocked, and Stanley dropped Savage Henry on the unfinished concrete floor of the entranceway. He returned to the Honda, popped the trunk and retrieved his roadside emergency supplies. After a decade on the job, he’d learned that no matter how new or expensive a vehicle was, if you were transporting a body—live, deceased, or soon to be—there was a fifty percent chance the car would break down. Stanley chocked it up to the hand of God however briefly working in favor of the victim. So he adopted the Boy Scout model when traveling by car to circumvent God’s assistance.

Tool kit, radiator fluid, gas can, road flares.

Essential roadside repair or portable torture chamber.

Stanley didn’t consider himself the sadistic type, a top of the line cold-blooded killer, yes, but he was never the type who purposely wanted to inflect unnecessary pain.

But he was more than willing to make an exception for Savage Henry. With this boy—whose face mixed and blended with so many of the slow-witted, cruel boys of his adolescence—he was committing career and literal suicide. He kept asking himself if it was worth it as he hog-tied Savage Henry to a rotting patio chair? Was it worth it all because this little shit called him a nigger and insulted a dead bluesman that he felt closer to than his own parents?

The question kept rolling through Stanley’s mind as he walked calmly to where Savage Henry struggled and begged, the freshly opened bottle of Anti-freeze in his left hand sloshing with each deliberate step; his right hand tapping rhythmically against his leg. Stanley set the blue bottle down a few feet away from Savage Henry’s thrashing body but still within easy reach. He stared down at the boy impassive, watching as Savage Henry’s eyes grew huge with panic. Stanley gripped the boy’s throat with the thin fingers of his left hand, feeling the boy’s pulse race at near coronary levels. He ripped the duct tape away, the spit-slimed sock coming away with it.

“Shit, man, come on-“

“Shut the fuck up,” fingers tightening, Savage Henry’s face glowing red with effort to breathe. “I want you to listen to me. I want you to remember what I’m about to say. Nod if you understand.”

The boy’s head bobbed up and down, his face going purple.

“Good. Now I want you to remember, because every time ask you say it, you’re going to repeat it back to me exactly as I told you, understand?” He loosened his grip, the boy’s face was going ashy, no point in him passing out just when the fun was starting.

“Now here’s what you’re gonna say: ‘Boom boom boom boom! I’m gonna shoot you right down.’ You got that?” Another nod, complacent and weak. “That’s real good, because if you don’t get it right when I ask you to say it, I’m gonna cut off one of your fingers.”

The panic hits big and Savage Henry starts squirming like he’s on fire. Stanley tightens his grip to control the boy’s movements and reaches for the anti-freeze. “Open up your mouth, boy!” He tilts boy’s head up and starts to pour. “I wouldn’t swallow none of this shit. All I want you to do is hold it in you mouth and gargle, and if you try spitting it out before I tell you, I’ll cut your dick off.”

The green sweet smelling liquid spills down on Savage Henry’s face; his mouth trying to form words, more begging, he gags again, trying not to swallow. It seems like he’s actually trying to gargle. Stanley figures that if the Anti-freeze doesn’t turn Savage Henry’s pubescent voice into a gravely timber, the gallon of gas should do the trick.

Bio: Keith Rawson Lives in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Gilbert with his wife and daughter. He has stories published (or Waiting to be published) at publications such as DZ Allen's Muzzleflash, Powder Burn Flash, Flashshots, Darkest Before the Dawn,A twist of Noir, Bad Things, Crooked, and Yellow Mama. He has also completed the first draft of a hard-boiled novel tentatively titled, Retirement. You can also sit and visit with Keith at his Blog, Bloody knuckles, Callused fingertips(

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday and the Day After Christmas - Pierrino Mascarino

Tuesday and the Day After Christmas

Up in mah room; hadda a smeared lipstick whore fer money but finished quick.

Her sayin, "You not gonna try again with thet miserable wilted little thing?” Lookin at my privates, laughin, “you gotta midgetdick big boy.”

Damn bitch, so I jest slapped her, made the blood spurt, for the extry time I already paid. If a man don’t have respect; life ain’t worth shit.

Jones fired me off the farm after 22 years.

"Dumb farmer hillbilly," whore screams, blubberin and scramblin, spittin red blood slime bubbles, "wearing dirty manure bib overalls in the bed, stupid hillbilly."

And me never missing a day’s work in 22 year.

I pulled out a dresser drawer thowed it at her.

"Ignorant hillbilly,” she shriekin, crawlin under the bed, "big hillbilly ijut with a midgetdick."

Bam, bam landlord’s doorbangin' yellin,’ “too much noise inna roomin' house, “you gotta git out!”

I said, " I’m paid til the 26 after Christmas."

I jumped up onna bed. whore hidin under, yellin, “this crazy dickless hillbilly; umph! umph! save me lord!” Me jumpin up an down squashin her under there.

Landlord yellin, "That’s taday, Tuesday…"

"No, 26's Wednesday--says so on this here wall calendar." umph umph

“That’s last year’s calendar."

“Whut’s last year?” umph, umph

“That’s a old calendar in there's 1999.”

“It’s still good fer the day not bein' but two year old. I’ll smash yer whole house down…”

“Police comin, putting ye out.” Him, blonk blonk runnin his fool ass off down a hall.

So kicked out roominghouse's damn flimsy door, busted flinders flying evrawhere, then kickin out banister slats goin downstairs.

Busted the front door off the hinges. Blam inta the street.

Didn’t hear no sirens out here, just a terrible preacher racket outside onna street. Hurting m'damn ears, “Jesus loves ye!”

Me studin’ given this here yellin preacher here a head slap but a little killin’ud would be nice too if they’s no police.

“Shut up preacher, it’s Tuesday, by the room calendar,” but that fool kept yellin ‘Jesus loves ye,’ so I slapped shit out of him, makin his holy hat fly, him flyin onto his face and stayin there-me bustin up his bibletable in splinterwood an smashin his wood chair.

"Tuesday," I tol the preacher, "don't care about no year."

Him still lookin’ up—if they was no police be nice ta stomp im, but I jest kicked him in his head.

“Room calendar’s right,” I said.

Security car pulled up--not a police, “What’s goin' own here?”

“26th,” I said n'folded over Security’s rollup winder, bustin it ta cracks--him reachin’ fer somethin’ so I right quick grabbed his thoat and kindly banged his head 'gainst the roof so it bubbled up on top.

What the hell jelloheaded dead people know about the 26th anaways?

Then went over to the Trailways, only place open.

They was sausage cart on Bus Station Hill and a feller sellin red sausages at tha toppa that steep grade by the Trailways with only a puny wood wedge keepin it from rollin'–I give that fool sausage man with his mustard spotted apron a whole damn dollar.

He says, “What ye wont own it?”

I said “Own it?”

“Tha hot dog.”

“I own it when I paid ye yer dollar—on one a them buns.”

He said, “Don’t want nothin’ own it?”

“Goldernnit,” ah sayed, “they a dollar er not?”

”They a dollar,” he says

I slapped my trousers’ dollar on his shiny steel wagon, was gonna slap’im–I hate a fool.

Settin onna trash can eaten mah sausage.

He says, “Don' sit own mah traish, people caint thow they hot dog wrappers init.”

He needs killin, but here comes a Cadillac at th’corner was honkin, yellin ‘4 hot dogs with mustard and onions’. Sausage man grabbin up buns and sausages, runnin—me sticking mah foot out, him blind runnin –fell on his own winnies inta the gutter with tamata red minstrition all over his foolself.

Lord God lets a fool live, so, right quick, I kicked his cart wedge out; cart starts rollin, then a brown UPS truck's comin’ up the steep Bus Station Hill--sausage wagon’s rollin beautiful, pickin up speed, jumpin off the curb, halleluiah, an' smashin inta tha UPS–yeller mustard n’ buns and sausages come spurtin’ up in tha air—I grabbed up ½ dozen, UPS honking.

Best dern sausage I ever had; but, I swan, I left my purty pliers in that derned roomin house, with soft rubber handles, cuttin' jaws a'chrome? I reckon the police came back there now and got’em.

So I went down to the hardware. Walked to the pliers part. Derned if they wasn’t a yella handles paira Stanley’s . I purely love a Stanley plier. Smart Alec yells out, "I’m closin you intendin' ta pay fer those?"

"Sure," ah sa-yed, "how much it come to?"

"Well, I already closed up the register closed; but those are three dollar Stanley pliers."

"I understan," I pushed his cash registers off the counter to smash, kindly in’is lap jinglin and crashing, "take it outta thayet."

Some people kin spawl a good time. Money coiens was layin all over on toppa that fool.

Anaway, next day, I went out to Mama's.

"Mama said, "Not comin out fer Christmas an a poor widder woman what raised ye up by hand to be left alone own Christmas? Ye big ox, go over ahind thet door and git me a switch, ye need a whipping, Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother."

"Yes’m, the calendar said a different day an didn't have Christmas right.”

Mama sayin, "Evera blighted fool knows when Christmas is."

Told her I even gotta Christmas present for her and took out my new chrome handle hardware store pliers.

BIO: Pierrino Mascarino lives on a dangerous street, Montecito Drive in LA, that has been largely abandoned by the local underpaid and undermanned constablary. Montecito connects two suppurating-crimial-pus societal sores on the Los Angeles Landscape, El Sereno and Highland Park. Bullets fly nightly. Garbage is nocturally ejected by passing barely amubulatory, rattling pickups. Screams and helicopters populate the night and sometimes dayscape. His neighbors are persecutory liars, psychopaths and dope fiends. He is currently publishing in The Beat, The Linnet's Wings, Barnaby Snopes. He played the title role in the Movie Uncle Nino that is being released on video in April and lectures frequently to those who will listen. Runs the writing group, Writers Helping Writers and appeared on the Budweiser Superbowl Commericial.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beer - David Price


It’s a beautiful Friday in July here in San Diego. I took off work at noon and headed east on Interstate 8. I live in a little A-frame situated on a bluff in a rural community about thirty miles from the coast. It’s a small two story but there’s enough room for what I want, quiet and privacy.

I make my living pushing paper. The physical part of me needs an outlet so I feed it the rigorous workouts that are core to my peace of mind.

Many years ago I wrestled and played football. I didn’t set the world on fire but I could hold my own. I loved the challenge of man against man. Even when I lost, my opponent knew damn well he had been in a fight. And I didn’t lose many.

That was twenty some years ago. I still have the bull neck and a beauty of a cauliflower ear. I’ve trimmed down to 225 pounds on my 6 ‘1” frame. Except for the tell tale signs mentioned, I am just a white collar guy without the pencil neck.

To satisfy my aggressive side, I work out at a little dojo run by a Brazilian who specializes in jujitsu. I’ve learned a few joint locks to go with my wrestling skills. When we free style, I work hard and always choose the youngest and biggest stud in the class. He thinks he is going to have a walk over but it usually ends up that he taps out when I go for the kill. I’ve put more than a few guys out with injuries.

I’m giving you all this background so you’ll know what I bring to the table when you mess with me.

So here I am, heading home at noon looking forward to hitting the weights in my home gym. I’ve got a little Rolling Stones going on the CD and I’m feeling no pain.

In my rear view mirror I pick up a vehicle cutting across several lanes behind me. You know how you pick up something that happens at a speed faster than everything going on around you.

I check my passenger side mirror to see a Jeep in the lane next to me riding close to my blind spot. Looks like at least two people in the front seats.

I slow but the Jeep keeps pace with me, not falling back or advancing.

We go on a few miles like that and I go back to my daydreaming as I move past the densely populated community east of San Diego. The four lane freeway narrows to three.

All of a sudden the Jeep pulls alongside me. When it doesn’t move past, I look over. In the Jeep are three guys, probably in their early twenties. They are all looking at me and laughing and pointing. I stare at them and that seems to incite them more.

They’re in a Jeep with roll bars and no top, with the windows down. They’re probably heading east to the desert for some off-roading.

Then they all flip me off. They continue to pace me side by side, laughing like hyenas the whole time. They’re all drinking beers. The guy in the back seat is literally jumping up and down in his seat and waving his arms like a crazy man.

Now I’m getting pissed. The way they’re driving there’s going to be an accident and at 75 mph that will result in a multi-car pileup. They don’t even look to be wearing seat belts. If they pile up, they’re going airborne.

I try and back off the speed to get them to pass me in hopes that they’ll settle down. They pull slightly ahead. I’m still driving and keeping these fools in sight.

The guy in the back seat suddenly throws a full can of beer at my windshield. I know it’s full from the sound it makes as it misses and hits my fender with a thud. I can’t really stop as the traffic is pretty heavy and I’ll get rear-ended for sure. I slow and they pull ahead laughing and jumping around in their seats.

My heart is racing. Now I’m seeing red but I don’t have many options. My cell is in my briefcase in the trunk.

I don’t want to encourage their antics but I want their license plate number so I can call it in later.

I accelerate to try and close on them so I can get a good read of the plate. Instead of trying to outrun me, they slow.

I move up to about three car lengths of open space behind them and try to memorize the number. They slow even more and as I creep up on them, the front passenger and the guy in the rear each launch beers at me. One hits my hood and bounces over the top. The other hits the road on my right and bounces into the wind shield of the car to my right rear. I see the car swerve across my lane and go off the embankment and disappear. Then I see a plume of smoke in my rear view mirror.

These assholes have played their hand. Time for me to call. For all I know someone in that car that went off the freeway is badly injured or dead.

These fuckers are going to pay now.

I stay on their tail but back ten car lengths. Soon we come to relatively open country. The traffic has thinned considerably.

Two more beers hit the road in front of me but bounce away harmlessly. I continue to pace them for a couple more miles when they suddenly veer across the next lane and exit at an off ramp. I’m far enough back to follow their move. They pull up at the stop sign at the freeway underpass. The cross road is a rural road and there are no cars or businesses at this turnoff.

They all jump out and are laughing and staring at me as I approach.

I pull to a stop seven or eight car lengths back. They start towards me with one guy coming to my side and the other two heading to the passenger side. I open my door just enough to clear the lock but not enough for them to notice.

I’m a guy who likes to be prepared. I don’t carry a knife or a gun but I keep two items in the car in case I’m ever jumped or followed.

Behind the passenger seat I keep an old fashioned anti theft device that is no longer popular. It’s a two parter. A metal sleeve with a cane-type hook to loop under the brake pedal and another hook that loops over the low point of the steering wheel. One goes into the other and locks at the tightest point. I never use the lock but it’s the best way to carry a two foot metal rod with a curved handle that can’t be labeled a Billy club.

Also behind the seat I keep a pair of one pound hands weights, the kind that are used by walkers for some aerobic arm work. These are iron covered by some kind of sprayed on rubberized coating for grip ability. The beauty of these is that there is a metal piece in a half circle from end to end. I guess that’s supposed to make them easier to hold onto. I’ve never used them, ever. I’m no walker. They are, however, a legal pair of brass knuckles that are about to get their first workout.

I reach back and pull one piece of my lock and one hand weight onto the front passenger seat.

Then I power down my window as if I’m going to talk to the guy approaching my door.

Man, my heart is racing and my adrenaline is pumping. I feel like its kickoff time and I’m about to run downfield and break the wedge.

It’s all I can do to control myself. I’m almost laughing, I feel so good. I just sit there and wait for them to close. Come on, chumps. Come up to the window. I wait.

The driver approaches on my side and bends down to talk some shit. Soon as he lowers his head, I use my arm to flip the door open. The top of the door hits him right in the eyebrow. It splits open real good.

I use all my weight to open the door wide. It becomes my flipper and he’s my pinball. He flies back a couple of feet. His eyebrow is gushing. I slide out quick with the club in my left hand and the knuckles in my right.

The other two come racing around the car after they see their buddy get hit by the door.

The guy holding his eye yells, “Get him.”

For his kind words, I snap kick him right to his chin. Never hang your tongue out when you are in a fight. He’ll learn this as he bites half way through his and his mouth fills with blood.

The guy coming around the back of my car gets a hard backhand with the steel club right to his larynx. Now I’ve been hit in the old Adam’s apple and it hurts like hell. It can debilitate you as you choke and gasp for breath. You feel like you are drowning. I get him good. He doubles over and falls to his knees.

The guy coming around the front sees all this and his eyes tell me he wishes to hell that he was somewhere else. But it’s too late. His forward momentum is bringing him right to me.

I face him with both tools at the ready. He tries a roundhouse right that I block with the club. I punch straight and hard with a twelve to sixteen inch punch to his center face with the knuckles. It’s a punch like when you push the button on those battling robot toys. No wasted effort, just a straight piston shot.

They say Jack Dempsey’s best punch was a straight right hand and he didn’t wear an iron glove. I can hear the guys teeth snap off and his nasal septum collapses. He screams and grabs his face.

Now they are all incapacitated but it ain’t over for me. They’re going to remember this, forever.

I go back to the first guy and swing my club on his shin and it cracks. He falls face first as I come around and hammer fist him in his kidneys with three hard shots breaking a couple of ribs in the process.

The choking guy can barely move and just waves his hands to me in a, “no mas” gesture.

You should have thought of that before you started this shit. I kick him hard in the nuts. He’ll be walking cowboy style for at least a month.

The last guy with the broken teeth is trying to run back to the Jeep. I sprint to him with ease and swing my club in a sweeping arc to the side of his head. He never saw it coming.

He goes down hard. That metal plate he’ll soon be sporting will be setting off metal detectors at airports for the rest of his life.

He was the asshole in the back seat doing most of the throwing. I drag him to the curb and place his throwing hand on the edge. Then I mash his fingers with repeated heel strikes. That should put an end to his throwing days for a long time.

I walk over to the Jeep and look inside. I see the open cooler of ice with one can of beer left. I reach in, grab it and pop the top.

There’s nothing quite like a cold beer on a hot afternoon to welcome the weekend.

Bio: David Price is an ex college jock and retired probation officer residing in California. Writing is a recent hobby in his retirement. His efforts can be seen at Thuglit #28, A Twist of Noir 016 and The Flash Fiction Offensive at Out of the Gutter.