Chapter 5 - Peace in Death by Bob Jamison

Ray-Ray sat on his handcuffed hands in the back of a police cruiser...smiling.

"Yo, dee-tec-tive Rohl, how much is Pablo paying you?"

Detective Rohl was silent for a moment, unhurriedly driving the unmarked cruiser.  He'd showed up to the scene minutes after uniformed officers crashed the party.  He'd slipped in, took custody of Ray-Ray in the chaos and hightailed it out of there.

Rohl said, "Shut the fuck up."

"Aww man, you don't gotta be like that, we're all friends here."  Ray-Ray squirmed uncomfortably.  "Did you have to keep these cuffs on me?"

The detective's grip on the steering wheel squeaked.   "At least 2 or 3 of your crew are dead, bled out on the street."

"Yeah, well, my ass is alive.  Always 5 more thugs coming up right behind them to sling that rock."  Ray-Ray shrugged.  "That crazy-ass Russian motherfucker ain't no joke."

The police radio chirped and deadpan voices called out codes and street names.  Rohl drove cautiously through the empty streets towards the Docks, meandering through city blocks as the radio chatter slowed to a blip every few minutes as they arrived at a run-down warehouse.

Ray-Ray peered into the failing yellow light cast by the building's overhead lights.

"Yo Rohl.  Where we at?"

Rohl leaned back and peered at Ray-Ray in the mirror.  "Where I was told to take you."  He rummaged under a newspaper on the passenger seat and pulled a fifth of amber liquid to his lips.  He took a sip, squinting.

He hopped out of the cruiser, opening the back door and grabbing Ray-Ray's arm and pulling roughly.

Ray-Ray awkwardly slid sideways out of the car, banging his dreadlocked head on the jam.  "Fucking corrupt-ass pig."

Rohl hustled him up a few steps and into the building through a rusty metal door.  The large room was illuminated by a single overhead fluorescent, casting a gloomy rectangular spotlight in the middle of the concrete.  Rohl stopped in the middle of the light with Ray-Ray.

"Here's your man.  Now pay me."  He fumbled at his belt momentarily for a key and un-cuffed Ray-Ray.

They heard the shuffling steps of several people in the shadows at one end of the room and the detective walked over and exchanged whispers and an envelope with a silhouette in the darkness.

Ray-Ray peered into the darkness, raising a hand to cover the glare from the overhead light.  "Mr. Perez?"  He licked his lips.  "Yo man, I'm sorry bout all this, know how it and my gangstas were stirring up shit in the the Points like you asked.  But you know..."

Ray-Ray flinched as the metal door banged behind Rohl as he high-tailed it out of the building.

"You know...Santo's men..."

The silhouette strode toward him, the unmistakeable click of a gun being cocked.

The figure spoke, "I told my men to clean your filth out of my Points."

"Santo", Ray-Ray whispered, his throat suddenly dry.  Clearing it, he said more loudly, "Mr. Santo, I umm...".

Santo raised his pistol.  "I have a message for your employer, Pablo Perez."

"Yeah, sure, Mr. Santo.  I can tell him anything you want me to.  Just..."

"My message is that if any of his men show their faces in the Points again, I'll put a bullet there."  The pistol snarled and the bullet tore through Ray-Ray's skull.  His body jerked and he fell heavily to the floor leaking blood and brains.

Santo turned back, eyes shining in the dim light, towards Donny still standing in the shadows.  "Go leave this message on Pablo's doorstep."

"And don't fail me again..."

Chapter 1 - Origin by Bob Jamison

My father always told me a life of crime wouldn’t pay.  

Until I was 13, I watched him toil in the dirt.  From one grimey construction job to the next, barely scraping by.  

I watched him work up to foreman, watched him puff out his chest when we moved out of our run-down one-bedroom apartment in Southie, into an even more run-down house in the slums of Eastwood Heights.

“Son, I told you honesty and hard work would pay off.”, he told me.  Standing on the stoop of that house.  Trash lining the gutter of the street.  Trash staring at us from the dark windows of the other tenements.  

I shivered, and clenched my fists in rage.

A year later, I came home from school to my mother coughing up blood into a kitchen towel.  Cancer.

My father prayed.  Holding her hand at her bed-side.  His job long-gone from missing hours.  Bills piling up on the kitchen table.  Piling up and piling up.  Looming over us.

A month later, December, we were living out of my father’s car.  Driving through the city at night to keep warm.  Christmas lights on houses burning into my eyes.

I boiled.  The bile in my stomach seethed at all the lies of this wretched city.  The fat laughing people taking from my father...from my mother...from me.  Warm in buildings my father wrecked himself to build for...nothing.

I found him in an alley.  Between two dumpsters.  Piss and liquor soaking his clothing.  

I’d been living at the Salvation Army, alone because they would only take in children.  I brought him food every night, snuck into my pocket from dinner or stolen from the kitchen.

I don’t know where he’d gotten a gun.  Maybe he’d always had one?  The blood seeped slowly into the filth of the street.  His face was passive, in stark contrast to the violent gore to the side of his skull.

I picked up the pistol.  It was so heavy in my hand.  It smelled of hell, a bitter oily smoke that filled my nostrils, drowning out the wet iron smell of blood.

I turned my back on him, from the path he’d tried to walk.  Towards the dark.

With a gun.