Jo-Boy splayed out the queens and sixes with all the suave of a Vegas wannabe. His white wife-beater, if you could call it white, was stained down the middle with a spray of blood. He’d offed Mitch’s partner a half-hour ago.
They were playing in the break-room of an abandoned warehouse on Lincoln Ave. Secluded; that’s why they picked it. Maria’s cries would periodically interrupt the game. Maria was Mitch’s girl, and they had her. Now the dregs of Marco’s gang: Johnny Sip, Jo-Boy and Vince Marco, the boss’s reject nephew played the game as Mitch shuffled his cards.
They had their guns on the table, barrels all pointed at him. Mitch loved it when people went out of their way to intimidate someone. They always left themselves open. They were slugging Bacardi 151. Mitch declined, citing that he was a Mormon. They spent the past hour slugging the fire-water in front of him and, until a half-hour ago, his partner. He might have been offended, if he really was a Mormon. He just needed to keep his edge, and encourage them to lose theirs. He passed the cards to Vince to cut, and he dealt them.
Ace high. Shit else; he’d have to hope for a magic draw, or the action would be starting at the end of the hand. He added twenty to his ante. The rest of them just checked.
“Got something good there, Mitch?” asked Vince.
He discarded the remaining four and held up his ace. They all laughed.
“Twenty bucks on an ace, dumb motherfucker,” Johnny Sip said, “I can beat you sleeping…”
That got a whole bunch of more laughs. Vince took two, Johnny took one and Jo-Boy took three. Mitch dealt everything out. He came up with a pair of aces, nothing to win with.
It was game time.
Mitch took three-hundred dollars out of his wallet and opened the flap, showing them. He tossed it in the pile. They may have suspected something, but they were so drunk that all they suspected was a big bluff. Ricky went all in, and when he lost, Jo-Boy put a bullet in him.
“Oh, you got balls…” Johnny said, “I’ll go all in with ya’… You know what happens if you lose, right?”
“Maria’s gonna’ look good on the web!”
Mitch didn’t respond. He just laid out his pair of aces.
“You got a fuckin’ death wish, Mitch?”
Johnny laid down two pair; kings and tens.
Mitch yelled, flipping over the table with a speed they couldn’t match being drunk. As they were getting their bearings back, he took the table legs and flipped it one more time, throwing it in their direction. The guns were on the floor in front of him. He picked up Jo-Boy’s .38 Special and Vince’s .45 and stood up, crossing his arms to plug Johnny in the head and Jo-Boy dead center in the chest. He trained both guns on Vince.
“Be careful of what you do next,” Mitch said.
Vince had a complete look of shock on his overgrown face.
“Take me to Maria right now, and I’ll let you live.”
“O-okay,” Vince said, “she’s upstairs…”
“Take me there, and move slowly,” Mitch told him, “I want to see your hands the whole time, you hear me?”
Vince nodded, and they went to the stairwell as Vince sobbed. Pathetic.
“You wanna’ play mobster, Vince? You better learn not to get attached to your cohorts. You see me whinin’ over Rickey?”
“Fuck you, Vince. Just move.”
Maria’s cries were intensifying. She must’ve thought they killed him. He listened for the sound of anyone else in the room with her, but he trusted his earlier intel. Those three were the only ones in the building. They were the ones that were supposed to be guarding her. They got to a steel door, and Vince went to open it. Mitch stopped him. He motioned Vince in front, and banged on the door.
“Maria, they’re all dead! I’m coming in to get you!”
He waited for a second, just in case some unforeseen thug was in there prepping to pop him when he opened the door. Then he threw it open with one hand, shoving Vince inside with the other.
He could see the light as he swept through the doorway, his .45 aimed. No one; Just Vince and a sorry-looking Maria tied to a bed.
“That’ll be all, Vince.”
As Vince turned to walk out, Mitch put a slug in his calf muscle. He dropped in the doorway. Vince screamed.
“Asshole! You said you wouldn’t shoot me!”
“No,” Mitch said as he untied Maria, “I said I would let you live.”
He pulled an untraceable cell-phone out of his pocket and tossed it to Vince.
“Call 911," he said, "you don’t want to let yourself bleed out, do you? Because then it’s on you, not me.”
He freed Maria, and they stepped over Vince. As they made their way out of the warehouse, Mitch pulled out another untraceable cell and started dialling.
“Who are you calling?” Maria asked.
He finished dialling and hit send. As soon as he did, the warehouse rocked with an explosion that rattled the whole block. The windows exploded in flame.
Bio: Liam Sweeny is a novelist from upstate New York. He has two books published, and his work has appeared online and in print in various venues. His books, Anno Luce and Anno Luce: Anna's Book can be found at Amazon and BN.com, as well as other online retailers. Sweeny is also a volunteer with the American Red Cross in Disaster Services.