Monday, 24 September 2012

Mario Polzetti by Rod Hamon.

TKnC are proud to welcome another debutante, Rod Hamon, with a slick crime tale. 


Mario Polzetti
by
Rod Hamon

“Just ‘cause you’re part of the family, you think you can cross me?”

“You got it all wrong, boss. I ain’t done nothin’ wrong.

“Get outa my sight!”

“But, boss, I’m innocent. I swear on my kid’s grave!”

“Get out!” Mario Polzetti screamed as his brother-in-law, Giovanni, headed for the door, certain to be hunted down.

“Now get out of my sight you smooth-talking low life. No one crosses me and lives. Just crawl right back into that rat hole you came out of and disappear. Got it?”

As the door closed, Mario picked up the phone, dialled, and spat out instructions, “Got a job for you. It’s Giovanni. Do it.”

Mario Polzetti, in his early sixties, was short, stocky with an olive complexion, black swept- back hair and the boss of one of New York’s largest crime syndicates.
      
# # # 

The winter sun shone weakly through the east-facing window of Detective Dabrowski’s office onto a desk piled high with papers. Behind it sat a man in his thirties with gangling legs that seemed to go on forever. His spiky hair and bewildered expression gave the impression he’d been electrocuted. But Leroy Dabrowski always looked that way.

The office door flew open and a dishevelled junior detective called Sam almost fell in. “Been another murder, boss: Polzetti’s brother-in-law.”

Dabrowski looked troubled. “Polzetti‘s never far away when there’s something bad going down, but we can never get anything on him. He covers his tracks like a prairie dog.”

“It would be good to pin this one on him,” Sam replied.

“Get me the details. I’ll go check it out,” Dabrowski demanded.  

The phone rang. He picked it up but before he could speak a voice on the other end demanded, “Get in here, now!”

Dabrowski rolled his eyes. “On my way, Chief.”

 “The Chief ain’t happy?” the junior detective asked with a snigger.

“Sure he is. Just can’t resist my winning personality!”

The phone rang again. It was the sharp and incisive voice of the Chief. “You comin’ or what?”

Dabrowski headed out the door.

Behind a desk sat a man whose double chin seemed to engulf his entire face. The Chief leaned forward and pointed a finger, then changed his mind and instead banged his fist on the desk.

“Another murder – sure to be connected with that damn Polzetti – but still no arrest! What in hell’s name are you doing about it?”

“Well…”

“You any closer to nailing that sleazebag?” he shouted, beads of sweat running through his open collar and down his neck. “We’re looking like idiots.  The Press’re crucifying us. People on the street are demanding answers and so am I.”

“I know but…”

“You’ve got twenty four hours, or I’ll have your badge. You catch my drift, Dabrowski?”

“Sure, boss.”

Becoming even redder in the face, the Chief shouted, “How d’you feel about traffic duty for the rest of your life?”

Dabrowski pulled a face. “Not the career path I had in mind, boss.”

“Twenty four hours, that’s what you’ve got. Now get outa here!

# # #

Dabrowski returned to the police precinct later that day to report his findings to the Chief.

“Not surprised the brother-in-law was bumped off. Word on the street is that he’d been making a play for control of Polzetti’s cartel. Seems that Giovanni was having dealings with another syndicate.  Polzetti wasn’t happy.”

“You got anything that puts him in the frame?”

“Not yet, boss, but I’m working on it. Something of interest, though, is that people on the street say there was an argument between Polzetti and his wife at a restaurant. They say she got up and stormed out after an exchange of words. I’d say it was probably because he had her brother executed.”

The Chief rubbed his chin. “Better watch her then. She’s probably on Polzetti’s hit list and in line to be the morgue’s next guest.”

“Have I done well, boss?  Does this mean I’ve got a reprieve from traffic duty?”

“Go on. Get out of my sight.”

# # #

At eleven fifteen p.m. three days later, the emergency services receive a call from Mario Polzetti. “It’s my wife. I’ve just come home. She’s been shot. I don’t know what happened. I need an ambulance  – quick!”

“Calm yourself, sir. Is she still breathing?”

“I think so.”

“Okay, sir. Just give me your address. We’ll dispatch an ambulance immediately. Just keep calm.”

“Keep calm? How can I with my wife lying here in a pool of blood?”

“I understand, sir. But the ambulance will be there in a few minutes.”

The ambulance and a police car with Detective Dabrowski at the wheel arrived a short time later. Polzetti’s wife, Gilda was taken away by ambulance. Her husband stood in the open door and watched as it drove away. “I ought to be with her,” he muttered wistfully.

“It’s better you stay here, sir,” Dabrowski said. “We need to find who did this terrible thing to your wife.”

Polzetti nodded.

“When did you find her?”

“I came home about eleven fifteen and found her on the kitchen floor and called for an ambulance.”

“Did you see anyone in the house or in the street?”

“No one.”

“Where were you this evening?”

“I’ve been at a business dinner from eight to eleven at a restaurant not far from here. If your next question is, ‘Can you prove it?’ yes, there were at least forty guests at that dinner that know me.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“I need to get to the hospital now. Can we talk later?”

“Sure, I’ll have forensics examine the house while you’re away,” Dabrowski replied.

# # #

Mario Polzetti arrived at the hospital and demanded to speak with the attending doctor.

“How serious is she, doc? Will she pull through?”

The grim-faced doctor gestured for Mario to sit down. “The situation is very serious, Mr Polzetti.” He paused for a moment. “X-rays reveal that a bullet is lodged in her brain and it’s far too risky to attempt to remove it. The slightest movement could result in her death.”

“Is there anything that can be done?” Mario asked.

“She is likely to remain in a coma – probably indefinitely. I’m sorry, Mr Polzetti, but you must accept the fact that you may never see her conscious again. On the positive side, while she is on life support in hospital, she may keep living for a long time.”

Mario stared at the floor and said nothing.

“I’m truly sorry for your loss, Mr Polzetti. I realize that seeing your wife in this vegetative state is not at all comforting for you. Of course, if she doesn’t recover you may decide, after a while, to request that the life support be turned off. That is your choice.”

“Thanks, doc.”
      
# # #

Unconvinced of Polzetti’s innocence, Dabrowski checked out Mario’s alibi and confirmed that he was at dinner with business associates at the time of the murder, although most of those at the dinner were known criminals. 

Interviews with neighbors revealed that two people in the street where Polzetti lived had heard a single revolver shot at about ten that evening. 

Disgruntled, Dabrowski returned to his office. Sam the junior detective looked up as he entered. “Any progress?”

“Water-tight alibi again, damn it!” he moaned angrily. “I know he did it, but can’t prove it.”

Sam scratched the back of his neck and said, “With his sort of cash, he could buy any alibi he liked.”

Dabrowski nodded. “There’s a lot of money in that white powder.”

Sam nodded and said. “Forgot to tell you, I’ve checked and found that Polzetti is the registered owner of a revolver.”

Dabrowski looked up. “That’s interesting; I’ll check that out.”

# # #

Next day, Dabrowski drove to Polzetti’s house. He strutted down the path leading to the entrance door, his long arms swinging from side to side. He knocked loudly. The door opened.

“I need to ask you some more questions; may I come in?”

“How long will this take?” He grunted looking at his watch.

Dabrowski stepped inside. “I need to ask if there were any valuables stolen.”

Polzetti shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, jewelry, money but nothing that can’t be replaced. Looks to me like a robbery gone wrong.”

Dismissing this theory, Dabrowski asked, “Our records show that you have a revolver registered in your name. Still got it?”

“Yeah, bought it years ago. Never had the need to use it, though. Not even sure where it is. Want me to look for it?” Mario asked.

“That would be nice,” Dabrowski replied.

Ten minutes later, Mario returned. “Found it in the garage. Doubt if it works, though. Covered in grim and dust. Let me get you a rag.”

“That’s okay. I’ll take it as it is.”

# # #
       
A forensic examination of the revolver revealed nothing; certainly no powder residue.

“You sure it hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned and then made to look discarded and dusty?” Dabrowski asked.

“It’s possible. I suppose anything’s possible,” the lab technician replied.

“Any evidence that this weapon was used in other crimes?”

“No, we can’t find any other matches.”

Dabrowski chewed his fingernails and sighed. “Didn’t think it would be that easy!”

“You look disappointed.”

“Damned right I am!”

# # #

Mario visited his wife, Gilda about once a week, but spent most of his time doing business on his cell phone. Sometimes he spoke to the doctor about his wife’s condition.

“I’m sorry, Mr Polzetti, but there are no signs of recovery so far. But she seems stable and there’s now no risk from the bullet as long as she remains quiet.”

“Thank you, doc.”

While he was speaking with the doctor, a young nurse entered to take Gilda’s temperature and blood pressure. She made notes then turned to leave, as she did so, she locked eyes with Polzetti. Outside the ward she spoke to another nurse. “That man gives me the creeps. He’s evil and you can see that he cares nothing about his wife.”

# # #

Mario was at his wife’s bedside reading a book one night a few weeks later when he heard a noise and looked up.  She seemed to be making an effort to speak.  Although her eyes remained closed she continued for some time trying to form words, but then stopped.

For just an instant Mario’s face lit up, but then just as quickly, changed to one of anxiety. Rubbing his chin in thought, he stared down at her with a look that was devoid of compassion; a look that only conspired to badness.

He stayed by his wife’s bed side for a few more hours but she remained quiet.  After a while, he called the nurse in charge.

Burying his face in his hands, he said, “I think I’ve allowed my wife’s suffering to go on long enough, nurse.”

 “I’m sure it’s the right thing to do, Mr Polzetti. I’ll arrange with the doctor to have the life-support turned off,” she said.

Almost inaudibly, he replied, “Thank you nurse, I think that’s best.”

The doctor appeared fifteen minutes later and putting a comforting hand on Mario’s shoulder, said, “I think this is the sensible step to take – we’ll take her off the life support immediately. First, come with me – there are some forms to sign.”

They entered the doctor’s office. Polzetti sat down.

 The doctor took notes and asked some questions then turned to Polzetti and said, “Are you quite sure this is what you want to do?”

Polzetti nodded.

“Okay. You’ll need to arrange for your wife’s burial now, Mr Polzetti.”

“Cremation,” he replied.

The doctor peered over his glass. “Cremation, oh I see – just as you wish,”
       
      
# # #
       
Early next morning, there was a knock at Polzetti’s door. it was Detective Dabrowski with another policeman. “We have a warrant for your arrest.”

“My arrest! What for?” He asked mockingly.

“For the murder of your wife, Gilda Polzetti.”

“What’re you talking about?” he screamed.

“Mr Polzetti, while your wife was in a coma with the bullet wedged in her brain we could do nothing. But when you authorized the life support be turned off and she died, we were able to remove the bullet and compare it to markings on your revolver.”

Polzetti’s mouth dropped open.

Looking him straight in the eye Dabrowski said, “They match.”


Bio:  Rod was born in the UK but moved to Adelaide South Australia some years ago. He has had over 30 short stories published in various books and magazine in many countries including the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Singapore and Germany. In addition to fiction, Rod has been a contributor to many science magazines particularly those related to astronomy.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

EVERYTHING HAPPENS SO FAST WHEN I'M SHOOTING METH by Dana C. Kabel.


Dana C. Kabel makes his TKnC debut with a gritty little number.  I've enjoyed Dana's work, having published him before, and I'm sure you will too.....


EVERYTHING HAPPENS SO FAST WHEN I'M SHOOTING METH 
by
Dana C. Kabel


Cherry is on the couch unbuttoning her blouse and staring at me through half lidded eyes.  I don’t know if she’s crashing or trying to seduce me until she tells me explicitly what she wants me to do to her. 

 “I don’t have time for that right now.” I’m peeking out the window under the blanket that I nailed up for cover. 

 “Come on, Jay. I’m so wet. Don’t you know who we ripped off?” 

 I’m checking the door. One, two, three locks all engaged. 

 “Yeah, I know who we ripped off and that’s why there isn’t time.” 

 I jam a chair under the handle like it’s going to stop the ruthless motherfuckers that are coming for us. FUCK! 

 My skin is prickling and I want more meth, but my fixings are in the other room. Bobby took them with him. Said he was cutting me off for a while. He’s making the calls. Guarding the shit. Securing a safe house. 

 I feel so fucked because we ARE NOT out of the woods. 

Stole thirty bags of rocks from the biggest dealer in town and Cherry is the only one relaxed about it. Relaxed hell…she wants to fuck. 

 “Come on,” she says. “It will calm you down, baby. Come over here and I’ll suck your cock.” 

 Damn, I’m sweating it. We shouldn’t have taken the shit or killed Razorwire. What the fuck kinda nickname is that, anyway? When Razorwire’s boys find him, they’re gonna know who did him and they’re gonna come right to us, guns blazing. 

 There’s a knock on the door and the handle rattles and my breath is caught in my throat. They’re here and they are going to fucking kill us. 

 Another knock and I pull the chair out of the way and pick up the shotgun leaning against the wall. 

 Cherry is up off the couch with her tits falling out of her open shirt. 

 “No,” she says, “too much noise. Use this.” She has a silenced nine millimeter tucked between the cushions of the couch. No time to wonder where she got it or what she was planning to do with it. 

 I take the gun. It feels good in my sweaty hands. 

 I take a quick look through the peephole, hoping that I’m not going to be on the receiving end of a bullet through the eye. 

 “What do you see?” Cherry whispers. 

 I see dark, then red, then dark again. A red hat. Someone with a red hat is leaning against the door and bouncing off it impatiently. 

 “Come on. Open the fucking door already,” I hear him say. 

 “A guy with a hat,” I whisper. 

 “It’s them. Shoot through the door,” Cherry says. 

 “What if it’s not?” 

 “Who the fuck else would it be? Shoot them through the door and we’ll make a run for it. Hurry, before they start shooting first.” 

 There was a louder, pounding knock. I put the end of the silenced gun up to the peephole and pull the trigger. PAP PAP PAP. A loud thump. Like someone falling down dead on their own shoes. 

 I look through the smoking hole and see the other side of the hallway. 

 “Open it,” Cherry says, looking more excited than when she wanted to screw. 

 Bobby comes out of the other room as I unfasten the last lock and open the door. 

 “What the fuck is going on out here?” 

 I pull the door in so far, until I see a pair of legs with white sneakers that have an alarmingly bright pattern of blood splatter on them. 

 Down the hall another apartment door opens. The fat neighbor with the leopard print top and the lit cigarette hanging out of her mouth gasps. A man calls out of the apartment behind her. 

 “Edna, what’s going on out there? If that ain’t the fucking pizza boy, I’m calling the place.” 

 Edna screams. The pizza boy’s blood is splattered all over the wall, the floor, and the pizza boxes. 

 “Wow, like fuck,” Cherry says over my shoulder. Death gets her hot. 

 Footsteps echo up from the stairwell. Sounds like several pairs of heavy combat boots clomping at breakneck speed. I might as well have used the shotgun. 

Bio:  Dana C. Kabel’s stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Black Heart Magazine, Darkest Before The Dawn, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, Powder Flash Burn, and Yellow Mama. He blogs at www.thenonstopbullet.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

SIDE STREET HOTEL by David Harry Moss.


David Harry Moss makes his TKnC d├ębut with a story featuring Mark Keating, a parole officer who made his first outing in a story I published at The Flash Fiction Offensive called Santa Noir.  Well worth a read.

Without further ado.....


SIDE STREET HOTEL
by
David Harry Moss

ONE

In a crowded bar on Pittsburgh’s South Side, Mark Keating sat on a corner stool so that he had a view of the traffic cluttered street. A white woman and a pony-tailed white man in a gray hooded sweatshirt stepped off a bus. The woman approached the bar. The man ducked into the yawning, shadowy doorway of a building.  

The woman, mid-twenties and shivering in a dark wool coat, eased into a stool next to Keating. She had frizzy red hair, a gaunt, makeup free face, and nervous, twitchy eyes.  “You look the way you said on the phone. I spotted you right away.” 

Keating was white, forty-one, an inch shy of six feet, and slender. He had dark brown hair, but the woman couldn’t see his hair because a black knit cap covered it. He remembered telling her that he had brown eyes, a small bump on the bridge of his nose, and a slight, faint scar on his chin. He wore a dark green army parka and packed a gun and handcuffs. “You said something about one of my parolees being in trouble.” 

“Big trouble.” 

“I’m listening.” 

The woman kept flexing her fingers. Her twitchy eyes flitted around like anxious birds but never landed on anything.  “You gonna buy me a drink or just sit there stroking your play thing?” 

“I’m gonna just sit there stroking my play thing. It’s nine fucking degrees outside. Why did you drag me over here?” 

She gritted her teeth” “Fuck you then, you cheap prick.” 

Keating pushed his beer glass away, tossed a two dollar tip on the bar, and started for the door. 

“Wait.” The woman caught Keating. “Your parolee, Tanya Novak, murdered that guy last night in the Side Street Hotel.” She licked her dry, cracked, lips, shoved past Keating, barged outside, and almost got hit by a pickup truck running across the street to join the man in the doorway. Keating watched them hurry to a corner and board a bus.

TWO

Keating drove up the hill to Mount Oliver and entered the building where Tanya Novak had rooms. He banged on the door and got no response. Keating left the building and in heavy rush hour traffic drove to the suburbs. He found the neighborhood and the house he wanted. A thirtyish blond answered the door and guided Keating away from the door and deeper onto the porch. 

“I don’t want my kids seeing me talking to a cop about their aunt.” She shook from the cold. 

“Is your sister inside?” 

“No, but you can search if you want.” 

For a moment, Keating chewed on his lower lip.  “I believe you.” 

Half an hour later, Keating re-entered the building where Tanya Novak lived and used lock picking tools on her door.  When he opened the door and stepped into the room he switched on a light and saw Tanya, wearing a blue robe, and sitting in a cushioned chair. She stared at him with haunted eyes.  

Tanya had a photo of herself on the dresser, taken when she was eighteen. Back then, eight years ago, she could be considered beautiful. Not anymore. 

His eyes strayed over the worn gray carpet and drab furniture, and then levelled on Tanya. “Were you here before, when I knocked?” 

Tanya blinked her eyes and nodded. 

Glowering, Keating said, “Open the fucking door when I come calling.” 

Tanya stiffened. “Don’t talk to me like that.” 

Keating scowled. “Before I turn you over to the police, is there anything you want to tell me?” 

“When I went into that hotel room last night that man was already dead.” 

Keating leaned against the dresser. “You’re on parole. You’re not supposed to be doing tricks.” 

Through a glare and tensed lips, Tanya said, “I need money. No one will hire a whore.” 

“Then quit being one.” Keating shoved his hands into the pockets of the parka. “Who sent you to that hotel?” 

“A friend.” She sniffled and rubbed her eyes. 

“Does this friend have a name?” 

She sat up straighter and pulled the robe tight around her body. “Janet Cross.” 

He lifted his hands. “A skinny, redheaded crack whore?” 

“Yes. And you’re so fucking mean.” Her eyes were bitter. “Can’t you see I need a hug?” 

From the hall came thumping footsteps. Two men wearing overcoats appeared in the half-opened doorway. They exchanged “hello” nods with Keating and glared at Tanya who dug bare toes with red polished nails into the cushion of the chair. 

Detective One shifted his gaze back to Keating long enough to ask, “How’s the family? The kids? The wife?” 

Keating sucked in air, and exhaled. “We separated three months ago.” 

Detective Two hooked a thumb at Tanya. “Is she ready to travel?” 

Keating shrugged. “She said she didn’t kill that guy in that Side Street Hotel.” 

Detective One grinned. “What did she say about Janet Cross? We found her shot to death in an alley half an hour ago. 

Tanya made a slight shrieking noise and brought a hand to her mouth. Her face had turned ghastly white. 

Detective One rubbed his square jaw. “We’re betting that the bullets we dig out of Janet Cross are from the same gun used in that hotel killing.” 

Detective Two looked at Keating and said, “An informant fingered your girlfriend here for both murders.” 

Tanya said, “I didn’t kill that man and I didn’t kill Janet.” 

Both detectives smirked. Detective One looked at Keating. “You believe her?” 

“No.” Keating grimaced.  “A while ago I saw Janet Cross with a white dude with long hair tied in a pony. Is he your informant?” 

Detective One said, “Maybe. The tip was phoned in.” 

“Are you going to look for him? This white dude with the ponytail.” 

Detective Two said, “Why should we? We got our killer.” 

On the way out, Tanya peered at Keating and said, “Will you help me?” She leaned toward Keating and their eyes locked. She said, “Please.” He hugged her and breathed her strawberry shampoo scent.  When she pressed against him, Keating said, “Don’t get carried away. This isn’t the start of anything.” 

She pushed free and glared with rising contempt at him.  “What kind of a person are you?” 

“A misanthropist.”

THREE

It was dark now. The temperature had dropped another two degrees and ice glazed the night air. Keating drove uptown and parked in front of a barbershop. The lights were on and there were four tough looking black guys inside. Keating focused on the black guy with dreadlocks, the one shaving a burly, black man’s bald head.

“Hello, Tyrone.” 

“What you doing here? I just seen you this morning.” He used a white cloth to wipe shaving cream from a straight razor. 

“I’m your parole officer. I can be on you 24/7.” 

“What you want, man? Can’t you see I’m trying to earn.” 

One of the black men in the shop snickered. 

With each breath, Keating inhaled the sharp stinging scent of witch hazel. “I’m looking for a white dude with a ponytail. I figure you’d know him, being he’s probably like you, a dealer.” 

“I quit messing with drugs. You know that. I’m a barber. I learned the trade in prison.” 

“This white dude is pals with a woman named Janet Cross.” 

Tyrone set the razor down and shook a cigarette loose from a pack.  “I can’t help you.” He flicked a lighter and lit the cig. “I don’t hang with bad people no more.” 

Keating smiled and said, “Okay.” He pointed to a black leather belted coat draped over an empty barber’s chair. “Is that your coat? Maybe I should look in the pockets.” Keating took a bold step toward the coat. 

Tyrone raised his hands high. “ I just remembered. There’s a punk ass white dude like the one you want.  Ronnie Narem. Snake he’s called. Arrived in the city a few weeks ago. Lives in a room above a place called Frank’s on the North Side.” 

Keating nodded. “Anything else you remember? Like maybe something about that hit in that Side Street Hotel. Think about it. I’m still in a searching mood.” 

Tyrone sucked in smoke and blew it out in an angry cloud. “I heard a rumor that the murdered guy was from Jersey and that he had two suitcases full of something special worth over 200 grand on the street.” 

“Next time I see you, I search that coat.”

FOUR 

Frank’s was a cramped shot and beer dive on East Ohio. It had a dozen stools and a pool table; and it reeked of a rancid blend of urine, beer, and strong disinfect. Keating sized up the half dozen beer guzzlers occupying stools. Local dirt bags, he surmised. Keating saw Ronnie Narem taking on all comers for five dollars a game of eight ball. Keating dropped a fin on the green felt and Narem racked up the balls. When Narem launched the white into the rack, the balls exploded across the table, sending the thirteen ball into a pocket. 

A tattoo on Narem’s neck, a green snake with tiny red eyes, twitched when Narem’s lips twisted in a street-tough sneer. “Your ass is grass, Slick. You might not get a fucking shot.”

Keating half smiled. “You impressed me with the way you framed Tanya Novak for that hotel murder and how you covered your trail by taking out Janet Cross. For a few bullets, you got two suit cases worth over 200 G’s. You’re a cool guy.” 

Narem’s lips tightened against his yellowed crooked teeth. He set the cue stick on the table. His eyes narrowed.  “Let’s talk outside.” 

They went through the back door into a dim, garbage littered alley, Narem leading. When Narem turned, he had a gun in his right hand. Keating also held a gun – but shot first. 

END

Bio:  David Harry Moss writes fiction and acts in movies. Currently he lives in Pittsburgh but he has also lived in Phoenix and Minneapolis. His story, "Angels With Guns", was published on The Flash Fiction Offensive last year and is set in New York City. Has he been there? Many times, including having run and finished two marathons.