I turned to face him. I didn’t see from where he’d came but my head was spinning from too much Tanqueray so I let it slide.
“Gotta favor to ask. Well,” he shrugged, “it ain’t really my favor to ask. It’s my uncle. He wants you to meet him here.” He slipped me a business card. “Says he knows you bust kneecaps for a living. Says he gotta job for you. If you’re interested that is.”
“Fuck.” The word sailed from beneath my breath.
“What’s the matter? I thought you’d welcome the work.”
My shoulders stiffened. I grit my teeth.
The shit of this situation was that I’d done this guy a favor months back by roughing up some prick who’d cut up and carjacked his wife. The creep had gotten off on some bullshit technicality so I offered my help and Neil never forgot it. Guess he thought he was doing me a favor by spreading my name like he was but I didn’t like it one bit.
I looked at the business card, the number on the back. The address was across the street from some strip joint I use to bounce at years back.
“He’ll drop you ten G’s for this job is what he told me.”
“Just be there by midnight if you want it.”
I looked at my watch. It was a quarter ‘til now. I deliberated on ten grand. It didn’t take long to reach a verdict.
He tipped his head. “Great.”
I turned a heel and strolled back onto the street.
I drove to the place drunk, all the while hoping some prick cop didn’t get too inquisitive about my sketchy driving. I was looking for a club buried among a niche of porn-shops, palm-readers and take-out joints. When I found it I parked in back and hopped out. I didn’t get far. My arrival was anticipated.
A guy in a dapper suit approached me, a stogie pinched between two thick fingers. He puffed at it and said: “You Robbie Vitale?”
“Depends. Who’d I piss off today?” I gave a smirk.
No expression whatsoever. His face just drooped, the look in his eyes triple-shift tired.
“Look,” he said. “I hear what you did for Neil. I need a favor.”
He handed me a paper envelope. It was thick. Big money. Along with it, a photograph.
“There’s five grand here,” he said. “Another five’ll come your way when you finish the job. Now listen. The guy in the photo. His name is Benny Kahlo and that motherfucker raped my niece. He skipped bail but I know where he’s at. Now he’s gonna disappear. Understand?”
I nodded and stared at the picture. The guy in it was smiling. He wouldn’t be for long. What struck me were his teeth, symmetrically split between two colors. One-half enamel, the other glittered gold.
“You can find him at the Montague Club. The place should be closing ‘round one. And Robbie?”
I looked up from the pic.
“Bring back proof.”
I shrugged. “No problem.”
I departed, parking my car at a predetermined spot before hoofing it the short distance to the club. People were crawling out of the building in half-drunk stupors. It didn’t take long to spot Benny Kahlo.
He stumbled out alone, fumbling his keys into the lock of some piece of shit Caprice. They jangled from his hand and dropped to the ground. By the time he reached down and propped the door open wide I was right up on him.
“Get in the fuckin’ car,” I said, wedging a gun in his back.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Your fairy godmother. Move. Your chariot awaits.”
I shoved his ass across the seat into the passenger’s side and yanked the keys from his hand. As soon as the door shut the fucker tried to make a break for it. I punched the automatic locks. He turned on me and swung. It was the most pathetic punch I’d ever taken. I almost felt sorry for the guy as I cracked his nose with the butt of the gun. He yelped, clutched his face, and that was that.
I fired up the car and peeled out of the lot. I trained the gun on him the entire ride. His drunk and worried eyes darted between me and the road, the poor fuck probably thinking I was just carjacking him.
We drove through skid-row to a chop-shop off Rush Street. Behind the garage was a sliding electric fence. I bumped the horn and it was open sesame. I rolled the Caprice into the yard, my own ride parked off to the side. The garage light was on, door open. I eased the car inside and the door rattled down behind it.
“Get the fuck out,” I told Benny, pointing the gun at his head. He did.
I patted him down. Except for his bloodied face he was clean.
A greased-up guy in a mechanic’s garb came out of an office affixed to the garage.
“That car needs to go,” I said to him, jerking a chin in its direction.
He nodded. Wasn’t the first time he’d done this. Wouldn’t be the last.
I stood behind Benny with the gun. “And I got a part that needs chopping.”
“Everything’s set,” the mechanic said. “As always.”
I nodded and me and Benny took a walk to the basement.
Downstairs was a chair, some rope, a circular saw, some vices. I tied Benny to the seat and pointed the gun at him again.
“Smile for me, Benny.”
He forced a grin. His grill sparkled.
I drew a KA-BAR out from my boot. Suddenly I felt like listening to Stealers Wheel.
“Some nice teeth you got there.” I flashed him a smile.
I knew exactly which piece I’d be showing Neil’s uncle.
Jaie Maclane wanted to be a cop. Instead she took a shine to John Dillinger in college and fell hard for bad boys. Since leading a life of crime isn’t in her best interest, she plots heists in fiction only while actively planning to bust out from the joint of her hometown. When not OD’ing on Scorsese and Tarantino she blogs at http://anothernightchainsmoking.blogspot.com/