LOVE STRUCK TROUBLE
~ By Kevin Michaels
You are the kind of guy who is not easily surprised.
She was trouble the first time you laid eyes on her and you knew it. Long legs that left nothing to the imagination, an hourglass figure with curves in all the right places, and deep, piercing blue eyes that cut through your heart like a stiletto. And then there was the way her long blonde hair dipped across her face before she flipped it back with a slight shake and twist of her head.
Everything about her made you want more.
You saw her turning heads as she walked through the smoke and shadows and made her way across the bar. On the radio at the end of the counter Mel Allen was calling the play by play from Shibe Park – DiMaggio was digging in at the plate against Robin Roberts in the tenth, but you suddenly lost all interest in game two of the World Series.
So did everyone else in Tony’s Bar and Grill.
She sat down on the barstool next to you and ordered a Mai Tai in a sultry, breathless voice. In a shot and beer neighborhood, culture and class were rare – knockout blondes even rarer. You turned your head to stare at her while the bartender fumbled to make the drink.
I’m told you’re someone who can get things done,” she said.
You turned to her and gave a half-hearted shrug. “Not sure how I got that reputation,” you replied.
“People talk,” she said. “They like to tell me things.”
You would have found it hard to stay quiet around her too.
“Mentioned that Frank McGovern was a man I could talk to about my situation,” she added. “They said you solve problems.”
You smiled. “I do that some times.”
You looked at the whiskey in your glass then back at her - there were warning signs but you sailed right past them.
“I need your help,” she said and you were hooked.
~ ~ ~ ~
Her name was Madelyn and her problem wasn’t that unique. In your line of work it was something you came across more times than you could count. A beautiful but naïve young girl marries an older guy with tons of money and a bad reputation. The attraction lasts as long as it takes for a guy from the wrong side of the tracks to show up and win her affections without trying too hard. It was usually somebody named Rico, Raoul, or Juan – this time that guy’s name was Rico. It was just a matter of time before the husband found out about the affair and laid out a “him or me” ultimatum. No surprise about that.
“It’s not about the money,” she said but you knew that in most cases it had everything to do with the money. Money wins out over love every time.
“You know my husband,” Madelyn added. “Jimmy Lino.”
You nodded. Only you knew him as Jimmy the Horse. A tough guy out of Philly who wound up in Atlantic City after he took out another made man without permission. It was the kind of screw up that got him banished to the boardwalk to run numbers, shake down the local merchants, and provide a little muscle for the local family.
“Did some work for him a while back,” you said. “Seems he forgot I don’t work for free and we didn’t part ways on real friendly terms.”
“But you knew all that,” you said.
“Figured you would understand Jimmy a little better than most other guys,” she said. “Because of your history.”
“Wasn’t such a good history,” you said. “Tough to stay friendly with a guy when he owes you a couple grand and doesn’t make good.”
She batted those long eye lashes and pursed her lips. “So?” she said. “You said some things. He said some things. Things were said that neither one of you really meant.”
You remembered telling Jimmy that you were going to cut out his heart if he didn’t pay you the money he owed - you were positive you meant it.
“I just need you to go talk with Rico,” she said. “Explain to him that it’s over. He doesn’t know Jimmy like you and I do. Doesn’t understand how Jimmy looks at things.”
“Jimmy looks at things only one way,” you said.
“You do this for me and Jimmy, maybe Jimmy will look at things differently when it comes to paying you the money he owes,” she said.
“And you think Rico will listen to me?”
Her smile pulled you in that much deeper. “I’m told you can be very persuasive,” she said. “And I got a thousand dollars that says you’ll know just what to say.”
Against your better judgment, you agreed to do it. It wasn’t something you hadn’t done before and you knew the routine as well as you knew the path to your corner bar. There was a comfortable familiarity in that. You figured you would sit down with Rico, explain why being on the bad side of Jimmy the Horse wasn’t conducive to a long, happy life, and tell him to lose Madelyn’s number for good. Maybe let him see the thirty-eight inside your jacket for added effect.
Nothing different and no surprises.
Madelyn gave you an address and you told her you would be there promptly at six.
She said she heard you were always punctual.
~ ~ ~ ~
You had lived your life a certain way. You were always prepared for the unexpected in every situation but this was a job filled with surprises.
The biggest was when you showed up at the address Madelyn had given you and found the corpse of Jimmy the Horse face down on the floor. You knew he was dead because of the knife that was stuck in his back and the blood that had pooled around his body.
Madelyn sat on a leather couch and coolly lit a Kent. She blew a smoke ring and leaned back as you shook off October’s cold and stared at Jimmy’s body.
“Looks like things went a little south,” you said. “Guess this isn’t going to happen the way we planned.”
She shook her head and smiled. “No. This is exactly how we planned it.”
You didn’t see Rico step out of the shadows. By then he was already swinging the Louisville Slugger, and although you tried blocking the blow, it was too late. With the sounds of police sirens ringing in your ears, you dropped to the floor next to Jimmy’s corpse as the room went black.
~ ~ ~ ~
It was an open and shut case. With the history between you and Jimmy the Horse, and indisputable eye witness testimony from the grieving widow and her good friend Rico, nobody had any doubt that it was you who had plunged the knife between his shoulder blades. They swore you did it because he owed you money and the twelve men on the jury bought the story. They came back with a guilty verdict faster than DiMaggio’s tenth inning blast that had sealed the Phillies’ fate.
Now you’re out of appeals, out of time, and out of luck. You sit in a six by twelve foot cinderblock cell on death row in Trenton State Prison, waiting for the footsteps that will eventually come to lead you to the gas chamber.
No surprise in that either.
© 2011 ~ Author Kevin Michaels
another original ~ AT THE BIJOU
Heartful photo - Seyed Mostafo Zomani
Heartful photo - Seyed Mostafo Zomani
AT THE BIJOU ~
"Writers' Raves are Readers' Faves"
"Writers' Raves are Readers' Faves"
stark classic ~
No surprise the distinctive voice of author Kevin Michaels is the first heard as NOVEMBER GOES NOIR ~ AT THE BIJOU. Second person narrative, impeccably expressed, first heard. Kevin's writing works and perhaps segments of Kevin's life are Noir-endowed. True, gritty, city-wise and chock full of insightful wrys.
Kevin Michaels is everything New Jersey (attitude, edginess, and Bruce Springsteen..but not Bon Jovi). A writer and surfer who lives at the Jersey Shore, to me -- as colleague, pally and promotional conspirator, he's all that, but so much more:
LIT WRIT BIO:
Kevin has also published a number of non-fiction articles and stories in print publications ranging from the NYTimes.com and the Life/Style section of The Boston Globe to The Bergen News and Press Journal.
The heralded HARBINGER*33, naturally . . . and NINE IN THE MORNING. Under current careful author scrutiny of details and design decisions, release of Kevin Michaels latest collection on the crime-side is looming . . . I feel the shaking shadows. Don't you? ~ Promoter Absolutely*Kate
VOICE IN WEB'TOWNE:
I also post my fiction at A COLD RUSH OF AIR. I show up periodically at Six Sentences and Crimespace, as well as on my blog: SLIDING DOWN THE RAZOR'S EDGE to offer my opinion and POV on topics not too earth-shattering in size, scope, or detail.
Absolutely*Kate would most likely get a grin mentioning I'm a well-loved regular at the goings on AT THE BIJOU, from our swinging RAT*PACK*REVUE, annual NOIRAMA and acclaimed author interviews with crime/western prolific living legend author Robert J Randisi and (upcoming) Paul Bishop (Take The Money and Run television creator/co-star). She's urging I put on a tux and tuck my surf board backstage to help her MC this kickass NOVEMBER GOES NOIR ~ AT THE BIJOU month of a show. (Yeah, Kate's smilin' ... and persuasive)
B O O K S ~
Not a misprint ... as of today, LOST EXIT is now #43 on Amazon's list of Best Selling Sports Fiction, ahead of books by greats like Dan Jenkins, Frank Deford, Peter Gent, and Don deLillo. It comes as a little bit of a surprise since I never considered LOST EXIT much of a sports book, even though the central theme revolves around basketball. For me it is more about a troubled kid coming of age, with a few mobsters, drugs, and dead bodies thrown in for good measure, along with a little sex and some more violence added to round out the good, wholesome fun......but I'm excited about the book's climb up the charts. ~ Author Kevin Michaels