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Dead Meat-Fiction by Morgan Boyd
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Run, Robby, Run, Part 4-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
All I Want for Christmas-Fiction by Carly Zee
Arterial Spray-Fiction by J. Brook
Murder Boots-Fiction by Jim Farren
The Blueberry Muffin Girl-Fiction by Michael Bauman
Standoff-Fiction by Lester L. Weil
Guns 'N Money-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fester-Fiction by Mark Renney
The Start of a Bitchin' Year-Fiction by Luke Walters
Reprisal_Fiction by John W. Dennehy
Elevator-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Jamie, with the Blue Eyes-Fiction by Betty J. Sayles
All for the Love of a Good Burger-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Multiple Choice-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
Karma-Flash Fiction by Dr. I. M. Irascible
That Poe Story-Flash Fiction by Chris McGinley
Nome-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Underestimated-Poem by Marci McKim
The Stream of Life-Poem by Aiki Mann
Christmas Tale-Poem by Joe Balaz
In Loving Memory Of-Poem by Michael Marrotti
The Tattooed Man-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
You Got a Friend-Poem by Jerry Vilhotti
70,000 Birds-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Migrations #1-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
at the crest-Poem by Meg Baird
Gottingen Street 1998-Poem by Meg Baird
a subtle karate pose-Poem by Mark Young
The chains coil up into helical structures-Poem by Mark Young
Dream I'd Like to Forget-Poem by Alan Britt
Near Dawn-Poem by Alan Britt
Mischievous Ghosts-Poem by Alan Britt
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

gunsmoney.jpg
Art by John Lunar Richey 2017

GUNS ‘N MONEY

Roy Dorman

                                                                                                                                   

 “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”

Eddie Sanders had waited until the train had slowed down for a bend and had then jumped into the tall grass, ending in a rolling stop ten feet from a gravel road.  Eddie was pushing thirty. He smoked too much, drank too much, and generally lived his life as he chose to.

As he sat up, he was immediately knocked back down as he was hit in the chest by a duffel bag that had been thrown from a speeding car. Stunned, Eddie found himself on his back, looking up at the sky. As he lay there, another car sped by, this one a police car, lights flashing and siren wailing.

Eddie decided to just stay where he was for a few minutes until he was sure the parade was over.

Eddie Sanders is a private investigator and has an office in New York City.  But here he was, flat on his back somewhere in rural Illinois, probably thirty miles from Chicago. Eddie thought he’d have to add this incident to the growing list of fuck-ups that comprised what he liked to call the “go where the money is” stories of his investigative career.

The hood he had been tailing had made him about fifteen minutes out of Ohio and Eddie had escaped with his life by jumping from the train in the dark without his hat, coat, .38, or the travelling money stashed in his suitcase.

The plan had been to follow this errand boy back to Chicago with the hope he would lead Eddie to his client’s concern. Eddie’s client, Myron Weston III, had hired Eddie to find out if his wife, Olivia Weston, was behaving herself in Chicago. He had confided in Eddie that he hadn’t been able to reach her for a week. 

The hood, Johnny Marco, had been hired by Olivia Weston to make sure her husband stayed in New York.  Johnny was to let her know if her husband left.  Johnny was about the same age as Eddie, but was pretty much his opposite in all other things. Johnny was a sharp dresser, kept himself fit, and turned the heads of many women younger than himself when he walked down the street. 

Johnny had followed Myron Weston for a couple of days. One evening, Johnny had seen Weston’s driver pick up a woman Johnny recognized and he was pretty sure she had recognized him. After Weston had hired a couple of thugs to slap him around a bit, Johnny had decided his work was done in New York City and he started back to Chicago. Weston had hired Eddie to make sure Johnny got there and also to check on the little woman. He had also paid off the train’s dining car manager so that two more people could ride to Chicago in the kitchen in order to avoid being seen by a certain passenger. That passenger was Johnny Marco.

Now, as Eddie sat there by the tracks at two in the morning, starting to feel some stiffness set in from his jump from the train, he was thinking bad thoughts about the Westons and their so-called marriage. They were the reason he was in the middle of nowhere getting bitten by mosquitoes.

“And for this I make a good livin’,” muttered Eddie as he got up from the bushes.

He walked back up the grade to the train tracks so he wouldn’t be visible from the road. One or both of those cars would soon be coming back to check on the duffel bag he now carried. He sat down out of sight on the other side of the tracks and opened the bag.

“Well, well, well,” he said. “What have we here?”

With only the light of a full moon, Eddie could see the bag contained stacks of bank-wrapped bills and two pistols. He figured there was about twenty or thirty thousand dollars by a rough count. It was probably from a bank robbery earlier in the day in some nearby rural town. 

The government said the Depression was finally over and maybe it was; there was starting to be money in the banks again. Eddie knew that this was good for the type of people who threw duffel bags out of cars.

“Guns ‘n money, but no hat or coat,” Eddie mused, smelling the money.  “But I guess I can afford to buy what I need with this.”

Being a licensed private dick meant that Eddie was usually on the right side of the law. He had to be if he wanted to keep his license. But found money is found money. Eddie would not be making much of an effort to find out who this belonged to. Rather, he would be doing whatever it took to keep it from being recovered by either the cops or the robbers. In the meantime, he had to find a way to get to Chicago. There had to be a car around here that he could buy, rent, or “borrow.”

He clutched the handle of the bag of new found wealth, stood up and stretched. He figured he’d walk down the tracks for a while to put some distance between himself and the spot where the bag had been thrown from the car.

Now he was thinking that trying to get new clothes and a car, either by buying or stealing, would be a bad idea. The locals would take him for one of the robbers, and with the bag of money in hand it would be hard to convince somebody otherwise.

No, he’d walk the tracks until a freight train came along. It would be difficult to try and board another passenger train, but he could easily hitch a ride on a freight into Chicago and get lost in the crowd.

***

After walking on the tracks for only about a mile, Eddie was pulled from the random thoughts about his immediate future by the sound of someone moaning. He had thought himself alone out here in the boonies.

Eddie had stuck one of the pistols from the bag into his belt. He took it out and walked cautiously toward the moaning. Looking down from the tracks, he could see what appeared to be a big man lying on his stomach at the bottom of the embankment. Keeping his pistol pointed at the body, Eddie slowly walked down toward it.

When a couple of loose stones rolled down the embankment in front of Eddie, the guy lying there raised his head. “I could use some help here, buddy,” he said through clenched teeth.

Eddie was close enough now to see a knife protruding from near the man’s right kidney. The handle looked like the handle of a steak knife from the dining car where Eddie had been just an hour ago.

“You’re Johnny Marco, ain’t ya,” he said, “You were gonna shoot me back on the train when I came out of the men’s room.”

“Shoot first, ask questions later,” said Johnny with a laugh that turned into a gurgling cough.

“I don’t think I’m gonna be able to help ya much even if I wanted to,” said Eddie. “We’re a long way from civilization.”

“Nah, I know I’m a goner,” said Johnny.  “I think some of Weston’s guys were on the train with us and must’ve been watchin’ me watchin’ you watchin’ me.  While I was leanin’ out from the last car lookin’ for you, one of ‘em stuck me in the back and another flipped me over the railing.”

“I’m one of Weston’s guys,” said Eddie. “Weston wanted me to tail you back to Chicago to see if you’d lead me to his wife. Why would his guys mess up that plan?”

“Don’t know and don’t care,” said Johnny. “This whole deal is about  people who don’t trust each other. It’s good they’re together; at least they aren’t messing up good people’s lives….” Another coughing fit interrupted Johnny’s tirade.

“Listen, Johnny, I’m gonna go on into Chicago. I’ll have the cops send somebody back for your body. Is there anybody else ya want me to notify?” said Eddie.

Johnny took a deep breath like he knew it was close to the last one he’d be taking. “Tell Olivia Weston that any money due me she should give to you. You can take my .38, my wallet, and that money to The Silver Dollar, a bar off State Street near that old water tower. Lillie Stanton sings there five or six nights a week.  We were…, I thought we were an item, and I want her to know I was thinkin’ about her when I died. Can ya do that?”

“Ya, I can do all that, Johnny. I think we could’ve been friends if things would’ve been different. One more thing I’m gonna do for you – I’m gonna find the goons who stabbed ya in the back and do them the same. That’s a promise.”

***

When Eddie got to Chicago, he started to take care of business. He stashed the duffel bag in a locker in Union Station, keeping out enough cash for new clothes and other expenses. He introduced himself to the Chicago Police Department and gave them the story of the train ride from New York City. He told them approximately where they could find Johnny Marco’s body. Eddie told them about who had employed him and Johnny, but even though they wanted more, that’s all he told them. 

Next, he went to see Olivia Weston. He found her by talking on the street until he found a friend of Johnny’s. Olivia Weston was a nasty piece of work, just as Eddie had figured she would be. She was in her mid-twenties, had a movie starlet’s face and hairstyle, and an overabundance of confidence.

 “So, I’m supposed to give you that dummy’s paycheck because he wasn’t able to go to New York and get back here without getting himself killed?” she said, laughing at Eddie. 

Eddie laughed back with equal cynicism. “Your husband might be interested in knowing there’s a young man lounging on your couch wearing a bathrobe with “MW III” embroidered on the top-left pocket.”

“Maybe Arthur could be a good boy and leave the room. I think I could change your mind about talking to my dear husband.”

“No thanks, Mrs. Weston. I’m a little particular about who I let try to change my mind about things.”

“You’re going to see Lillie, aren’t you,” Olivia said. “If you are, you’re as dumb as Johnny. You might want to check with the manager of The Silver Dollar as to what he knows about Lillie’s whereabouts for the last few days.”

“Thanks, but I can’t see how that’s any of your damn business,” Eddie replied as he walked out the door. He did wonder how somebody like hoity-toity Olivia Weston knew about regular folks like Johnny and Lillie.

Eddie left with two thousand dollars and the notion that he would have to watch his back very closely until this whole Weston mess was finished.

Later that night, about midnight, Eddie tipped the guy at the door of The Silver Dollar ten bucks to get a table near the front. He had a couple of beers during Lillie Stanton’s second set, and when she was taking a break, he got up from his table and approached her. “I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes about Johnny Marco when you’re finished for the night.”

“Sure,” she said. “I guess that’ll be okay…..,  yeah, yeah, we can talk about Johnny. Just follow me back to my dressing room when I’m through.”

Eddie could see that Johnny and Lillie would have made a nice-looking couple. Johnny had his rugged good looks and Lillie was a beautiful brunette. The way she fit into her outfit definitely complimented her singing voice.

Even though he hadn’t said what he wanted to talk to her about, Lillie looked worried during her final set and glanced over at Eddie from time to time.  Once or twice a word seemed to get stuck in her throat and a few times she just hummed the words at the end of a line. Indecision and fear marred what would have been an otherwise fine performance.  

In the little L-shaped dressing room, Eddie gave Lillie a small satchel with Johnny’s wallet, his .38, and the Olivia Weston payout. He explained what had happened on the train trip, leaving out the part where Johnny had tried to kill him.

“I knew it,” Lillie sobbed. “He called me every night, and when he didn’t call for three nights, I just figured he was on the train back. But I knew it didn’t take three days to get here from New York. I was fooling myself.”

“Johnny wanted ya to know he loved ya and was thinkin’ about ya when he died,” said Eddie. “Did anybody ya know have it in for Johnny – anybody ya know who would want to kill him?”

 “Almost everybody loved Johnny, but he was in a rough line of work. He kept saying he was going to get into something a little more legit and we’d get married. And now…”

Just then the door of the dressing room opened. “Get packed, Lillie. Now that Johnny’s gone, Weston says you can go back….”

Eddie had had his gun in his hand the second the door opened. He now had it pointed at a tough-looking goon who had turned a bright red.

“What do you mean, ‘Johnny’s gone’?” asked Lillie. “What have you done to Johnny, Artie?”

Eddie noticed Lillie had also turned red and her question to the goon sounded like a line from a B movie.

“Up against the wall, Artie,” said Eddie, who then frisked him. “Something smells like week-old fish and I’m gonna find out what it is.”

Eddie stepped back a few steps so he could have his back to the wall and cover both Artie and Lillie. He didn’t really know Johnny, and Johnny had tried to kill him, but he had asked Eddie to do a few things for him with the last breaths of his life and Eddie was going to try and do right by him.

“I know this is gonna sound bad,” started Lillie. “I loved Johnny, but I got tired of waiting for him to marry me. He was always saying there’d be ‘just a couple more jobs.’ Mr. Weston came in one night with a bunch of businessmen when I was singing. He told me he could get me set up in New York City in a classier joint and maybe get me into show business. I was gonna break the news to Johnny when he got back. Honest, I didn’t know he was gonna be killed.”

Eddie listened to all this without saying anything. He remembered what Johnny had said about it being good that the Westons were together and not messing up good people’s lives. He wondered if there were any good people in this sordid mess.

While Lillie had been talking, Artie had been looking around the tiny room for an opportunity to turn the tables. Eddie had been watching Artie, and when Artie stopped looking, Eddie figured he was gonna make his move.

With a sweeping motion, Artie cleared everything from Lillie’s dressing table, sending a box of make-up powder into Eddie’s face. Eddie managed to shoot Artie in the knee and he went down. Lillie fell into a swoon and moved toward Eddie. As Eddie was reaching for Lillie to keep her from falling, he saw the knife she was thrusting toward his middle. Instead of catching Lillie, he grabbed the hand that was holding the knife and twisted her arm behind her back. He saw the knife was another from the train’s dining car.

 “It was you!” he said. “You stabbed Johnny, and Artie pushed him from the train. I told Johnny I would put a knife in his killer’s back, Lillie, but life in prison thinking about what you threw away will be harder on you. Come on, you two, get movin’; we’re gonna go find a cop.”

***

As often happens in cases Eddie Sanders is involved in, there weren’t a lot of winners in this one. Artie turned on Lillie and Lillie turned on Myron Weston.  After all of the plea bargaining was finished, a jury of their peers found all three guilty of the murder of Johnny Marco, and a judge sentenced them each to twenty -to-life terms. 

Olivia Weston made some bad picks as to her lovers, with the last of the group setting her up to be kidnapped. From prison, Myron Weston refused to allow any funds to be used for the ransom, and Olivia was found floating in the Chicago River. 

For reasons of his own, Eddie paid for the burial expenses and a stone for Johnny Marco with some of the money from the duffel bag that had been thrown from the car. That found money also allowed Eddie to be a little more picky in choosing his clients, and he actually enjoyed his work for a number of years. 

THE END


Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the submissions editor of Yahara Prairie Lights.  He has had poetry and flash fiction published in One Sentence Poems, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, Drunk Monkeys, The Flash Fiction Press, Black Petals, and a number of other online magazines. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017