Mike takes his rightful place on TKnC...
In years past, I would hit the streets every night with a simple agenda of making a dollar and resolving some issues. I’ve been away for two years and this city is still the same, nothing’s changed; nothing, except the man who’s returned to it. I’ve changed. I’ve seen too much to be wide-eyed and optimistic. Hope has been replaced by hate and when we allow our hate to grow, we become dangerous. While some might say that this causes you to lose control, I shrug that line of thinking off: I’ve never felt so calm in my entire life.
Confidant’s become rivals when money is involved. I got stung by people posing as friends. I did a stretch and they tacked on probation. They ripped out my woman’s soul and now, I’m taking people down. Pain inflicted, they say, is pain released and tonight I will test that theory. They forgot about me - I’m here to remind them:
I make the rules.
I am the King of this town.
It’s Thursday evening and I’m starting my rounds. I’ve got to build up funds and re-establish a reputation. I’ve got this one night, to set shit straight. One night, to let them know what they’ve taken from me.
Stop #1: A white bread suburb. Tim’s an accountant who promised a safe haven for my hundred grand. I did my time and the hundred turned into fifty. Tim claimed it was due to market fluctuation, based on investor speculation. I say, I don’t think so.
I check the driveway - his wife’s not home yet. A knock on the door and there stands Tim. He holds up his hands in declarative surprise; he doesn’t want any trouble.
“Me neither,” I tell him. I hold up a photo- Tim’s doing the five knuckle shuffle on some guys’ piss pump. “I’m fifty short Tim and I won’t even ask for interest.”
Tim’s eyes go wide, a tremor floats across his face and tears stream. “I’ve got your money, please, don’t tell my wife!”
I reassure him. “You can have the pictures. I just want my money.”
We can make life as easy as we want. Proof positive: thirty seconds later, Tim is writing a check out of his money market account and I hand over the pictures. He was never meant to be a thief; he just got caught up in a dangerous game.
“If my wife ever found out…” Tim is still sobbing, “I’m sorry Simms, it was a misunderstanding, I got greedy. How did I let it go this far?”
He wants to extend apologies; he wants to know that I’m not going to kill him. But I’m already walking away. What he doesn’t know: I’ve got more pictures of him. I’ve also got several of his wife getting gassed by another guy. I’ll juice her next week for another thirty and she’ll pay it. I’m driving and contemplating two people like Tim and his wife, living separate lives, but sticking together because they think it’s the right thing to do. I ponder them for a few minutes and then, I re-focus: I’ve got a job to do.
Stop #2: a big, ramshackle bungalow in midtown. Three knocks and a fifty get you inside. Three knocks and a hundred, gets you inside with a free companion and ringside seats. The crowd is an equal mix of gutter and penthouse that blend together perfectly. In the ring: two big women with strap-on’s and an old fart in stockings and garters. I’m waiting for Little Joe. While I wait, I watch the action- I’ve got carte blanche. The old fart’s starting to shake as the women approach him and I get a tap on my shoulder. Turning, I see Little Joe.
Little Joe is short- 5’4” and was a champion bantamweight. Big men tend to telegraph. I’d take my chances with a big guy over a little guy, any day of the week. My point is, I’ve seen Joe in action and I know what I’m getting myself into. Long story short: Little Joe is a fucking terror.
But, I’m going to take him down.
Joe and a few others sold me out, but Joe was the ring leader. I spent two years fighting off sociopath’s in the pen all because Joe gushed on me to the authorities and in trade, he’s guaranteed that his place goes raid-free. I lost money, time and a woman in those two years. I’ll settle for a third of that action tonight.
I extend a hand. “Long time no see, amigo.”
Little Joe smiles; he doesn’t know, that I’ve been filled in. “Too long my friend,” he replies, “too long.”
I put my hands in my pockets, feeling the differing weights of the objects in each. I look him straight in the eye. “I lost a lot of money, Joe. I’ll settle for sixty large. I need it back and I need it tonight.”
Joe starts off in Spanish. I shake my head and he goes to English while shifting his feet. His look changes, because he knows where this is going.
I pull a spoon out of my pocket, with my left hand. My fingers are pointed up, the thumb out at an “L”. I balance the neck of the spoon, on my thumb. I hold it up for Joe to see. He looks at the spoon and then looks to me, curious. I throw the spoon in the air and Joe’s eyes go up. He’s still waiting for the trick as I drop to my knees. The brass knuckles in my right hand slam down on Joe’s foot and I feel his instep collapse. I don’t hear his screams that are being drowned by the applause of the ringside crowd. I bring the brass knuck’s up to his nuts for the money shot and 5’4” hits the ground in a big hurry.
I grab a hand full of Joe’s hair and drag him back to his office.
“Simms, please!” Joe grunts. I hear him heaving, but he can only puke up bile- booze replaced food a long time ago and Joe’s stomach, has nothing left to give.
I’m rummaging through desk drawers in Joe’s smelly bedroom office. I’m throwing aside rhinestone studded dildo’s and Vanessa Del Rio videos, finally finding the lock box. I crack it open for fifty large. Joe’s pockets bring me five more. He still owes me five, but, I’ll settle for the difference at a later date.
I pocket the money and leave him there, alive, so he’ll talk and let others know that I’m around, let them know that Simms doesn’t forget. Before leaving, I pause to watch the show: the women are chasing the old guy who’s now laughing hysterically and the crowd is on its feet. I feel nothing as I check my watch and see that it’s time to go.
Stop #3: Big Willy, the most prolific pimp in town. He’s got women that start at five dollars an hour and go up to a grand. Consider what five will get you. Now imagine a grand. Yeah, it’s just like that.
My girl was a grand who floated to a five.
She visited me at state. Millie was sporting a broken nose, five missing teeth, a broken jaw, two broken arms and a busted hip, that would never heal right. Willy’s brother did the damage. Millie said that she was a birthday present for Willy’s brother, Maurice, who tends to run anywhere from a little hot to flat out crazy.
Maurice fancies himself a crime aficionado. He read about the Leopold, Loeb murder, back in the jazz age, which gave him the idea. He wanted to fuck up a woman, just to know what it would feel like. To him, it was nothing more than a sick, sociological experiment. Word is, when he was finished with Millie, he casually shrugged: “It was okay, I guess.”
Millie didn’t show up for her visit the following week and word got back to me: Millie slit her own throat. Suicide notes tell only the truth: “The pain, along with my face in the mirror, is too much to bear. You were the only thing good I ever had and I can’t live life, thinking you don’t want me anymore.”
When I got out, I was going to make Millie and honest woman, no matter what she looked like. She was a good person who deserved more than life ever gave her and both Big Willy and Maurice, took that away from the both of us. I’ve been harboring the pain for the last year and a half, coming to the conclusion that something’s got to give and here’s the score: I’m going to fuck Big Willy up and then, I’m going to kill Maurice.
Normally, Willy would eradicate a guy who did that to one of his girl’s, even his brother. The problem is that Maurice is the jefe in the family business and Willy just manages things. Willy could have done the right thing, even with Maurice, but he chose not to. Choices come back to remind us all. I’m coming back, to remind Willy.
I got an inside tip: Willy’s at Dunkin Doughnuts as part of his regular evening routine. It’s late when I walk in, passing a mother and daughter on their way out. A quick scan tells me that the place is empty and the security mirror has Willy alone, in the back, reading a paper and slopping down doughnuts. I slip a hundred to the bored counter worker. “Lock the door, go out back and have a smoke.”
He looks at me and I see his eyes flutter as he takes the money and nods.
It’s just me and Willy, who’s just now hearing my footsteps as I approach. He’s bringing the paper down. Willy’s face is a blur, as the first punch goes to his nose and blood spurts like a geyser. Left and rights to the jaw take him all the way down and through the chaos, I make a mental note: dual brass knuckles pay off in spades.
Willy’s on the ground with both hands to what’s left of his nose. I grab one of his arms, pull it straight, twist it, lay it flat on the ground and stomp the elbow. I grab the other arm and repeat. Picking up a table, I bring it down hard on Willy’s hip and I hear the bone crack. He yells and I hear his pain. I close my eyes and see Millie’s face.
“How’s my Millie doing?” I lay out the question and my voice is dead calm.
Willy knows the answer and his words are muffled through a broken jaw. “It wasn’t me Simms. Goddamnit, Maurice is fucking crazy!”
I reach for a response and come up simple: “It doesn’t matter Willy.”
I leave Willy on the floor and walk out the back way. Looking around, I see the counter worker, pacing by the dumpster. I pass him an extra five hundred. “A couple of big ass black guys did that to him. Make sure, that they don’t pay a visit to you,” I look at his name tag, “you get me, Chuck?”
Chuck is chain smoking nervous and stutters out a “yeeaah.”
Final stop: Maurice. I don’t even know the guy’s real last name; it’s always been Maurice, just like it’s always been Big Willy. Sometimes, the less you know, the better off you are. But, I know where he lives. And by now, he knows I’m looking for him and he’s scared. He’s scared, because I don’t care about this life anymore. When you stop caring, all bets are off the table. You are free.
I am free.
As my car idles outside his house, I’ve made the decision of what will happen to Maurice. He’ll die, but not until I’ve extracted Millie’s due. I know you want blood. I know you want to see him begging, or the back-spatter as a bullet rips through his skull. But blood’s for me and most of all, for Millie. You can always read about it in the paper. If you’re upset that I’m selling you short, I’d say that’s more your problem than mine and we can take up the issue later. But, if you really want to go that far, you need to recall what you’ve just read and remember what I told you from the beginning:
I make the rules.
And I am still the King of this town.
Mike Wilkerson is currently hard at work on a crime novel, based where he resides in St. Petersburg, FL. His short fiction appears on A Twist Of Noir and Thrillers, Killers N Chillers.