Tuesday, 29 March 2011
TORALOO by Sean Patrick Reardon
"KG is a fucking force," I tell Layne, who's more interested in his iPhone than watching Kevin Garnett slam home an alley oop pass from Shaq.
"Best move they ever made getting KG,” he says, fingers still moving around on the touch screen.
The Celtics are crushing the Kings by twenty-six with six to go. The spread is more than covered. Layne’s up a grand and happy about it.
We’re down from Jay, Vermont hanging out in our room at the Crown Plaza in Nashua, New Hampshire. Layne’s waiting for a Facebook status update from Shannon that will let us know if our game is on for tonight.
At ten-thirty it comes and Layne comments on her status to acknowledge receipt.
“It never ceases to amaze me how stupid some people are,” Layne says, walking toward the bathroom. “What the fuck was he thinking? This Little Chucky dude sounds like a real fucking pissah.”
“If his picture is any indication, yeah, I’d have to agree. Stupid and ugly is a tough cross to carry through life. The odds were stacked against him from day one.”
Layne laughs. “Fucker does look like that psycho doll though, deserves the nickname.”
“Don’t even know the dude and I’m feeling bad for him. Not our problem though, we’re just a solution. He dug his own grave man, had choices. Just didn’t make the right ones.”
Little Chucky Arla is the guy we’re here to see. He fucked up by selling a pound of indoor to some college kid who was dealing out of his dorm at Saint Anselms. Schoolboy got busted, gave up Little Chucky, who then rolled on someone who works for the people that contracted us. Word is the weed’s tied to eighty pounds that was stolen from an evidence shed in Londonderry during the policeman’s ball right before Christmas.
He’s been cooperating and carrying on like it’s business as usual, not knowing a connection on the force put out the good word that Chucky has been telling tales out of school.
Just like learning your ABC’s, everyone knows the Italians don’t…fuck…around. Chucky must have been in the bathroom sneaking a cig during that class.
We get our shit together and head out, looking like a couple of clean cut guys going for a drink. We drove down this afternoon in my Durango, but get into the Toyota Tacoma that’s been left in the parking lot for us. I drive and we leave for a strip joint called the Blue Moon Lounge in Tyngsboro about twenty minutes away.
I pull the truck into the Blue Moon parking lot, start looking for a black Camaro. We find it in the back lot. The plate number matches and I pull in beside it. Seems Chucky is a creature of habit. Thursday’s are strip joint night.
The bartender’s been paid off and used Facebook from his handheld to let Shannon know when Chucky arrived. He also knows someone’s coming and what the code words are. If he didn’t, he’d most likely make me for an undercover and spread the word.
Layne reaches back into the extra-cab section, pulls out the briefcase, opens it and hands me a pair of gold rimmed glasses. I put them on, slide a wedding band on my finger and I’m just another married jerk-off going to a titty bar. Ten years we’ve been doing this and never had to use our guns. A gun does the job, but it’s so damn impersonal. For me, it’s more like a prop.
He takes a Walther with a suppressor on it out the briefcase case, closes the cover. “Hopefully he doesn’t spend all night in there, already after eleven.”
“Let’s rock and roll. I’ll call you when he’s on the way.”
We bump fists, I get out, and Layne slides over to the driver’s seat.
The Blue Moon is no Gold Club, more like a honky-tonk bar with seating around a runway stage that runs down the middle of the floor. Everything about the place is cliché, although I’m impressed that Weezer is doing “Troublemaker” instead of some Motley Crue song. The red headed chick on the stage is decent looking, but wouldn’t make the JV squad of any city team.
As I walk toward the bar, I see Chucky sitting on the right side of the stage, making small talk with a bleach blonde stripper who’s waiting for her turn in the rotation. The twelve inch Plexiglass barrier around the perimeter of the stage makes it look like a mini hockey rink.
I take a seat near the end of the bar, wait to be served. The bartender notices me, takes his time coming over. He’s big and has the MMA fighter look going on with the shaved head and tribal tattoo’s running down each forearm.
“What can I get you?”
I point to the liquor bottles lining the wall behind him. ”You have any Jameson back there?”
His cocky facial expression transitions as he realizes who I am, like he was expecting Jason Statham or Paulie Walnuts, not someone who could have been his high school English teacher. He’s probably thinking he should make a career change, has what it takes, if someone looking like me can do it.
He says what I’m expecting to hear, “No Jameson, only Bushmills.”
I give him a twenty for an eight dollar bottle of Heineken, turn around and pretend to be interested in what’s going on. A couple minutes later, a brunette wearing neon pink pumps and sheer black negligee comes over for the hard sell. Her name is Destiny and I tell her I’m Rick, not Shane. I know the drill, ask if she wants a drink and pay ten dollars for a White Russian.
She’s nice enough and when I glance at Chucky, he’s draining the last of his drink and starting to stand up, getting ready to leave. He starts bullshitting with one of the girls while he grabs his North Face jacket off the seatback. I tell Destiny I need a smoke and head toward the exit, pushing the send call button on the cell in my pocket. Layne is now on standby.
Outside, standing near the entrance, I light a Newport. I don’t smoke, but it lets me hang out front without getting Chucky nervous. Two minutes later he comes out. I pretend to be on my cell, smoking, not acknowledging him as disappears around the side of the building.
One minute later, my cell vibrates. I flick the smoke into the cold February air and head for the truck. When I get there, Chucky’s in the driver’s seat of the Camaro and Layne is riding shotgun. He’s already made sure Chucky’s not wearing a wire, or they wouldn’t be in the car. Layne opens the door, still pointing the Walther at Chucky’s head. He’s got a Glock in his other hand that he’s taken from him. We knew he would most likely have a gun and true to form, he gave it up. I take the Walther from Layne as he gets out, and sit down.
Chucky starts the Camaro as Layne gets into the trunk. I tell him to follow behind when Layne pulls out.
“Listen, I’m not going to hurt you. They wanted me to. Shit, they wanted me to kill you. But that’s not how I roll. I’m a huge fan of the powers of persuasion. You know, talking things out, man to man, making a gentleman’s agreement. What do think?”
He nods his head, squeaks out a yes. Despite the death grip both his hands have on the wheel, I can see them trembling. More assurance is needed.
“I know you’re uptight, but you need to relax and clear out your head man. Jesus, Chucky, you already proved you’re a cowardly, rat fuck. Now is the time to start turning things around, be a big boy…and man the fuck up.”
It takes us twenty minutes to get to the abandoned quarry in Westford. During the ride Chucky has settled down. I still sense apprehension, but he’s calm and told me everything I need to know. We stop behind the Tacoma. Layne jumps out with a pair of bull cutters, snaps the lock securing the steel gates, pushes the right side one open, and gets back in trunk. He drives through with me following. He gets out, puts the gate back into position.
We drive a couple hundred yards down the dirt road. Layne pulls over to let us pass and Chucky stops the Camaro fifty-feet away.
I tell him to kill the headlights, shut down the engine, and put the interiors on. Layne comes over to my side, holding the briefcase. I lower the window and put a hand on Chucky’s shoulder.
“Here’s how it’s going to play out Chucky. We’re going to secure you to this seat, take the keys and leave you here. I know it’s cold and it’s going to suck being stranded, but sooner or later, someone’s going to see the car, and get you out. Hell, if you can somehow free yourself, go for it. You’ll just have to rely on your survival skills. If you ask me, it’s more of a mental thing than a physical one.”
Chucky shows no signs of being afraid, even though his thighs and upper body are chained to the driver’s seat. His hands are tie wrapped behind his back and duct tape covers his mouth. Compared to dying, this must seem like a minor inconvenience. He’s just waiting for us to get the fuck out of there, while every episode of Criss Angel-Mindfreak is probably running through his mind.
We’re standing outside the driver’s side of the Camaro. I bend down so my head is level with Chucky’s and look at him through the open window.
“You should be thankful Chucky. This is how a real man goes out. You’re leaving a legacy man. And not as a squealing, untrustworthy, little sack of shit either. You’re going to be a bona-fide folk hero. I’m going to make it known that when it came time to pay your dues, you took it like a man. How you told us to fuck off, spit in my face, started saying Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s.”
Just like the bartender at the Blue Moon, Chucky’s expression morph’s before our eyes as he processes what I’m saying. I watch his eyes widen, fill with water, and overflow down his cheeks. He starts hyperventilating, snorting air out of his nostrils.
Layne’s nodding, going along with it, says, “Yeah, that Little Chucky, guy had ice water in his veins right to end. Telling us he was going to come back from the dead, hunt us down, and drag us by our cocks to meet Satan himself.”
Now he’s fighting against all the restraints, almost convulsing.
“Come on Chucky,” I say. “What did we talk about on the ride? This is your time, your moment. Quit your sniveling, get it together, and look at me.”
His body goes limp and his head turns slowly toward me. He’s still in a bad emotional state, but at least he’s looking me in the eye.
“Think back to when you were a kid. Did you have a happy childhood?”
He nods a yes.
“Both parents raise you?”
“Think of those nights when you had a bad dream, then ran into you parent’s room and jumped in their bed. Think of how comforting it was to feel the warmth of the blankets and your mother’s body as you snuggled up next her. How safe that made you feel, like nothing in the world could ever harm you. Take yourself to that place Chucky. Visualize it, go there. You…can…do…it!”
Layne hands me a CD. I reach through the window and push it into the disk player. It loads and the first notes of Bing Crosby singing “Irish Lullaby” start to play. Layne and I watch as Chucky loses it. The sobbing and high-pitched moans are coming from the depths of his soul as snot syrup oozes from his nose.
Layne starts squirting charcoal lighter fluid all over Chucky, stopping when the bottle is empty. He steps back, starts walking toward the truck.
I pull a Mexican made ½ stick from my coat pocket, light the end of the fuse, and toss it on Chucky’s lap.
Sean Patrick Reardon is the author of the crime thriller novel "Mindjacker". He's blogging at: http://seanpatrickreardon.blogspot.com/