THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL - CORMAC BROWN
Originally published at Cormac Writes
"The writing is on the wall, Tim, and it's ugly. I mean the kind of stuff that young eyes shouldn't see."
"What are you going on about, Jim?"
"I'm talking about the writing on the wall, it doesn't look good. We're a thing of the past."
"Who says, Tim?"
Me and James Angelo are hired muscle.
"We make sure that people stay informed of their options. We teach people the finer points of paying their loans or protection money on time, as well as the occasional confiscation of personal property to mitigate those debts."
What does all that mean? I don't know. It's what Jim tells people we do and I almost understand most of it. School and fancy terms for plain things have never been my strong suit. It was always cracking helmets on the football field and cracking heads off of it.
I would've become a mover but my cousin, who used to do the job, had a freakaccident where he wrenched his back out something fierce. He couldn't see the little cat that ran in front of him while he was carrying his end of couch and the rest is just wrong. Not to mention the lady, who owned the cat and couch, had the nerve to sue him for the vet bills and the cat's cast.
This has messed with my head...tremendously. I'm always looking down now and no cat, dog, squirrel, bird, or any other pint sized freak of nature, is going to get me.
Tonight, as me and Jim sit in a "gentleman's club" parking lot, Jim's whining sounds a whole lot like my complaining grand-aunt. She always had her hair up in a bun and she wore a black dress. Picturing Jim as my grand-aunt (God knows he has the moustache for it) is the only way I can deal all this nonsense.
We are waiting for a guy named "Barry," who was named after his father's favorite college coach. They won the National Championship back in the day and as recently as in 2000. The problem is, Barry bets stupid. He always bets on that team though, to be fair, barring a trick play in which the other team pulled a win out in the last minute, Barry would be an extremely rich man right now and I wouldn't be listening to the "stylistic bitchings" of Jim.
Jim is back on this, "What are we gonna do for a living? I can't get a real job, my record is too long and no honest employer is going to trust me to even go get sandwiches and coffee with the things I've done."
"I tell you what, Jim; the Board of Prisons could hire you to see if a murderer is truly insane. Having you talk to them in a locked room for half an hour? If they weren't insane before, they'd be insane after."
"What did you say?!"
"Hold that temper for something else. Here comes our chump now."
Barry pulls up in a Corvette that is barely two years old. Impressive, no? No, it isn't impressive at all; it's his sister's. The guy paying us for this job says to grab anything that Barry drives and we have tried like hell, to keep up with this Corvette.
Barry is a little too eager to see the strippers, because we are almost on him before he sees us.
He puts two fingers in his mouth and whistles. Here comes one of the bouncers, lumbering up like a big clumsy attack dog. As I drop him with a small crowbar, I feel bad for the guy because I think we used to play next to each other in junior varsity football. Oh well, business is business.
Jim holds Barry while I go through his pockets. I find the car keys and then I see why that when Barry calls, the bouncer comes. The bouncer must get great kickbacks from the dancers because Barry has a roll of one dollar bills that would choke a Great Dane. I work Barry's face over a little, not too much because if you rough him up too bad, the other gamblers aren't going to want to borrow money.
One of the other bouncers went back inside to get help, so we decide that Barry has gotten the point and we take off.
"I'm driving the Corvette!"
"Says who? I did all the dirty work," I say as I walk over to Barry's sister's car. "And I have the keys."
It handles nicely as I try to chirp the tires, but there are electronics that keep me from burning rubber the way I used to. I miss good old-fashioned American muscle and with all of these computer chips, I can't work on cars anymore. My cell phone rings and I answer it without checking the number...big mistake. Jim's at it again.
"It said in the New York Times, of all places, that the crime families are going into drugs, or going legit."
"Hey, as long as there are degenerates like Barry, we'll always work."
"I don't know, Tim. We are dinosaurs and the writing is on the wall."
I let out a sigh; I'm tired of his whining. "What the hell, I could never read for shit, anyway," as I hang up my phone and I turn it off.
BIO: "Cormac Brown" is my pen name. I'm an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis, and I'm following in the footsteps of Hammett...minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. A couple of stories that I've stapled and stitched together can be found at Cormac Writes.
Irish Times Crime Fiction column, February 2018
13 hours ago