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Baby It Was Divine-Fiction by P. K. Augustyn
Reservation Beer Run-Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Dark Streets-Fiction by Harry David Moss
Breathless-Fiction by Mick Rose
The "Birthday Blues"-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Redhead Reba-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Thor's Anvil-Fiction by J Brooke
You Never Know-Fiction by Jim Harrington
Something About the Devil's Pickup-Fiction by Walter Giersbach by
Do I Know You?-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The One and Only Alexa Kalekar-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Guillotines Cause Permanent Disability-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Biology is Destiny-Flash Fiction by David Powell
Knucksie-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Cell-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Urban Renewal-Flash Fiction by Gerald E. Sheagren
Pearl-Poem by Meg Baird
Conundrum Street-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Hope of It-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Endings #2-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Immense Hot-Air Balloons-Poem by Alan Catlin
Red Fires Up the Bike-Poem bt Alan Catlin
Jazz Standards-Poem by Kevin Rabas
The Evening Air-Poem by Kevin Rabas
For K-Poem by Mark Young
The/Secret Life/ of Wilhelm Reich-Poem by Mark Young
A Line from the Leningrad Cowboys-Poem by Mark Young
Delta Leo Remembers Her Nephew-Poem by David Spicer
Rosa and the Creep-Poem by David Spicer
Tribe of Two-Poem by David Spicer
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

doiknowyou.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2018

DO I KNOW YOU?

 

Roy Dorman

                                                         

 

Johnny Adams watched from his parked car as the guy he had been tailing for the last two days staggered out of Rizzo’s Dew Drop Inn.  Johnny already had the engine running, and in five seconds he slammed into the guy just as he had made it to the middle of the street.

He quickly wiped the steering wheel for prints, jumped out of the car, wiped the door handle, and yelled, “Hey, stop him!  He just ran this guy over!”

There wasn’t much pedestrian traffic at that time of night, but those who were on the street looked in the direction Johnny was pointing, and some started off after “him.”  A couple of others were on their cell phones, probably calling 911.

***

“Yeah, I saw the whole thing,” said Johnny.  “I was right here on the sidewalk, waitin’ to cross, when this guy, the dead guy, came outta that bar.  This car came like a bat outta hell and smacked him as he got to the middle of the street.  Knocked him twenty feet, at least.  The driver jumped out and ran off in that direction.”

“Can you describe him?” asked Officer Ned Brown.

“Well, it was kinda dark, but he was well-dressed, ya know; nice suit.  It was dark blue or black.  Oh, and I just remembered; he had a rag or something that he wiped the door handle with.  Like he was cleanin’ somethin’ off it.”

“Tall, short, young, old; any unusual characteristics?”

“I don’t know; sorta regular, I guess.  Maybe six feet tall, well built.  Maybe about thirty; he ran pretty good.  Could’na been much older than thirty then, right?”

“Anything else you can tell us?”

“Nope.  He took off runnin’ and never looked back once.”

“We may be in touch with you, Mr. …, Mr. Edwards,” said the officer, looking at the ID Johnny had given him.  “Are you going to be in town?”

   “Yup, sure am.  I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

***

Johnny Adams, a private investigator by trade, had stolen that car just a half hour before he killed Lance Nichols with it.  He had shown the police a very good set of fake ID and they would never be able to connect him to the murder. 

When they identified Lance Nichols, a hired gun with a long rap sheet, they would assume this was a revenge crime as payback from somebody Lance had wronged. 

They were right about that.  Johnny Adams was the one who had been wronged and he had wanted revenge. 

This was not how Johnny normally took care of business.  He would be the first to tell you that he was totally out of control. 

***

Things had been going well for Johnny for almost six months.  He had helped a client, Jennifer Ralston, locate her lost husband.  Allan Ralston, an import/export wheeler-dealer, had disappeared after telling her he was going to Iran to purchase some antique Persian rugs. 

Johnny’s legwork found that Allan Ralston had actually gone to South America to run away from gambling debts owed to the Russian Mafia.  He was found, but he was found dead.

Jennifer and Johnny had hit it off from the get-go, and while their relationship wasn’t serious, they did enjoy each other’s company and liked to go out on the town now and then for a few laughs.

One of their favorite places to go, was a little dive bar in Queens called The Shot Glass.  Long-time bartender, Sam Johnson, was a personal friend of Johnny’s and that friendship was the reason Johnny was out of control.  It seemed that somebody had tried to get to Johnny through Sam and Johnny didn’t like that.  He didn’t like that at all.

***

“So, how ya feelin’ today,” said Johnny. 

Johnny was visiting his friend, Sam, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens.  The swelling had gone down on Sam’s head, but his normal vibrant chocolate brown coloring was still a little off.                                                                                                     

“Oh, I’m a little better; got some of those tubes out and I’m takin’ some solid food.  Food’s not that good, but better than gettin’ it through an IV.”

“I still feel bad about you gettin’ beat up and almost killed because of me,” said Johnny.

After closing time one night last week, Sam had been emptying some trash in a dumpster outside of The Shot Glass when somebody, Sam was pretty sure it was Lance Nichols, had sucker punched him and then followed that up with some vicious kicks to his head.

“Don’t worry about it, Johnny, it wasn’t your fault.  That Russian Mafia wanted to send a message and they used Lance Nichols to deliver it.  It’s him I’m gonna have a talk to up close and personal when I’m all healed.”

“Yeah, about Lance Nichols; don’t mention his name to the cops if they question you some more.  We should just keep —”

“I’m gonna handle Lance,” said Sam.  “He’s mine.”

“Well, that’s kinda why I’m here this early in the morning.  If you’re reading the paper or watching the news later, you might learn that Lance was killed last night in a hit and run accident.  It wouldn’t be good if Lance was now somehow connected to you and me —”

Sam stared at Johnny for a bit before saying, “I said I was going to handle it.  You had no right taking that away from me.”

“I think the mob’s still pissed about my part in sending Ralston’s partner, Richard Payton, to prison before they could collect any of the money he and Ralston owed them,” said Johnny.  “They also never got any from Allan Ralston —”

“Can it, Johnny.  I know you’re trying to distract me.  I think you should leave.  And when I get out of here, you can come around to The Shot Glass and apologize.  I may be ready to accept your apology by then.”

***

“So, did you stop in to see Sam this morning?” asked Jennifer Ralston. 

They were sitting in Jennifer’s living room having a glass of wine.  “I hadn’t heard from you in a couple days and was starting to get a little worried.”

“I had some things to sort out and take care of.  And yeah, I saw Sam.  He’s gettin’ better, but was kinda crabby,” said Johnny.

“Maybe he was upset because you got into his business last night.”                                    

“What?  What are you talkin’ about?” said Johnny.  “What business?”

“You know damn well what I’m talking about.  That was a stupid stunt you pulled and you’re not stupid.  What’s gotten into you?”

“I wasn’t about to let that Russian mob think they could get away with almost killin’ one of my friends cuz they had a beef with me,” said Johnny.

“This wasn’t about you,” said Jennifer.  “They had a beef with Sam and they sent him a message.  Sam will be more careful from here on out.  That will be better for everyone involved.”

“Why do I get the feeling that once again I don’t know what the hell’s really goin’ on,” asked Johnny.  “This is just like six months ago when I was lookin’ for your husband.   Bits and pieces came my way and I was supposed to put them together to make a pretty picture.”

“You know the expression, ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you,’ right?” said Jennifer.  “This is one of those things you don’t want to know so you won’t get hurt.”

“When you say ‘better for everyone involved,’ who’s ‘everyone?’” asked Johnny.  “Cuz to me ‘everyone’ seems to be you, Sam, and the Russians.  Not Johnny.”

“Oh, come on, relax.  Have another glass of wine,” said Jennifer. 

Johnny got up and put on his coat and hat.  “Nah, I’m leavin’.  I’m gonna get some answers.  If not from you or Sam, from the mob.  Stupid?  Maybe.  So sue me.”

***

“Zharkov?  It’s Jennifer Ralston.  We have a problem.  And it’s because of your boy, Lance Nichols.”

“Oh, then it is okay, Ms. Ralston; Lance is dead.  Last night, somebody —”

“Listen.  I know Lance’s dead.  The guy who killed him is going to be looking to see why Lance put a hurt on Sam Johnson last week.  Johnny Adams is a personal friend of mine and I don’t want anything to happen to him.  Anything, you hear?”

“If Adams killed Lance, maybe we should tip the cops off about —”

“No cops, Zharkov.  And Johnny doesn’t get hurt while he’s nosing around.  Got it?  Tell him Lance has worked for you in the past, but acted on his own as to the Sam Johnson thing.”

“But, Ms. Ralston. I don’t think —”

“That’s right; you don’t think.  You just do as I say.”                                               

***

Johnny walked into Sveta’s House, a Russian restaurant in Queens, and sat down at the bar next to Dmitry Zharkov.

“Zharkov, we need to talk,” said Johnny.  “You wanna talk here or someplace more private?”

Two of Zharkov’s goons had ambled over from a table in the back and now stood behind Johnny.  Zharkov waived them off and they returned to their table.

“We can talk here if you can keep your voice down,” said Zharkov.  “If you are going to yell and wave your arms in the air, we should probably go to my office in my apartment down the street.”

“We can talk here,” said Johnny.  He asked the bartender for a Baltika Dark, a Russian beer he had heard about from Sam.

Zharkov sighed.  “This is about Lance Nichols and Sam Johnson, is it not?”

“Everybody in Queens knows more about what’s goin’ on than I do,” said Johnny.  “Bring me up to speed, Zharkov.”

“I will tell you some things that may ease your mind.  I won’t be telling you how I run my business or who I run it with.  My business is none of your business, you see?”

“So, ease my mind,” said Johnny.  “Why did you have Lance Nichols rough up my friend, Sam Johnson?”

“Lance Nichols has done some work for me now and then, but whatever business he had with Sam Johnson was between him and Sam.  Since Lance is now dead, you will have to talk to Sam about what their business was.”

“You probably won’t be too surprised if I tell ya I don’t believe that line of crap,” said Johnny.  “I have it on pretty good authority that you used Lance to send Sam a message.  Why would you, a big shot, need to send a bartender friend of mine a message?  If you don’t level with me, we might have to go down to your office, cuz I’m startin’ to feel like yellin’ and wavin’ my arms in the air.”

Zharkov’s already thin lips got a little thinner.  He absently scratched the side of his neck and motioned to his two bodyguards to come forward.

“I got it ‘on pretty good authority,’ as you say, that you would be coming around asking questions about this matter.  I was told to tell you that Lance acted alone.  I have told you Lance acted alone.  Our business is finished.  My men will show you out if you need assistance finding the door.”                                                                                                    

Johnny threw the last little bit of beer in his glass into Zharkov’s face.  He felt a sharp prick on his neck, struggled for a bit as two hands held him by the shoulders, and then everything went dark.

***

Johnny wafted into wakefulness.  He was in a sitting position and his head was lying on his arms, which were resting on a hard surface.  He could smell coffee and… rye bread?

Sitting up carefully and opening his eyes, he saw the familiar walls of his office.  Sitting across his desk from him was Jennifer Ralston.

“I thought you might need this,” she said pointing at the coffee and ham sandwich.

“How’d I get here?” asked Johnny.  He had trouble getting the words formed and they came out a little slurred.  “And what are you doin’ here?”

“Dmitry Zharkov called me and I told him to have his boys bring you here.  I guess you and I have some things to talk about.  Before you get yourself killed.”

“So, do you work for Zharkov, or does he work for you?  Is Sam on the mob’s payroll too?” said Johnny, taking a sip of his coffee.

“I’m not going to start at the beginning; it would take too long,” said Jennifer.  “Zharkov and I are business partners.  Sam owns the brownstone where Zharkov has his office and his immediate family and a couple of his employees live.”

“Wait, Sam owns a brownstone here in Queens?  Can’t be; he lives in a little efficiency above The Shot Glass.  I’ve been up there.  Where would Sam get the money for a brownstone?”

“From Zharkov.  Dmitry Zharkov has enough money to buy all the brownstones he wants, but the IRS would want to know where that money came from.  The brownstone is in Sam’s name; he owns it free and clear and Zharkov pays him rent.

“Sweet deal; who’d he have to kill for that to happen?”

“Sam didn’t kill anybody,” said Jennifer.  “He doesn’t have to do anything but collect the rent, pay the property taxes, arrange to have any repairs made, and keep his mouth shut.”

“So, assuming all you’ve said so far is true, and I don’t for a minute think it is, why did Zharkov send Lance Nichols to put a hurt on Sam?”

“Everything I said is true,” said Jennifer.  “There’s a lot more that we’ll get to a little at a time.  Sam got roughed up because he stuck his nose in Zharkov’s business.  I talked to Zharkov about how sorry he’d be if he ever did something like that again to a friend of mine and he got the message.”

“Did you send somebody around to kick Zharkov in the head?”

“Shut up and eat your sandwich,” said Jennifer.  “Here’s what happened:  Sam went over to the brownstone to check on some repair work that had been done.  Since nobody answered the door, he let himself in.  When he called out to see if anybody was there, he heard a muffled response come from down in the basement.

“He went down to the basement and found a woman gagged and tied to a chair.  Sam loosened the gag and she told him that when she had told Zharkov she wanted out of the “escort” business and wanted to go back to Russia, Zharkov had said he’d give her some time to think about it in the basement and then she could either go back to work or he would kill her.”

“And you’re partners with this guy?” asked Johnny.

“It’s business, Johnny; he’s a business partner, not a friend with benefits.  So, anyhow, Sam cut her loose, jimmied a file in Zharkov’s office to get her passport and personal things, and arranged for her to fly back to Russia.  Somehow, Zharkov found out about Sam’s part in it and wanted to let him know that sort of thing was not acceptable.”

“So if I wouldn’t have taken care of Lance, and Sam would have when he was well enough, how would Zharkov have been with that?” said Johnny.

“He would have been fine with that.  I told him he was going to be fine with whatever Sam chose to do to Lance as payback.”

Johnny stared at Jennifer.  It occurred to him that she was his “good authority” and also Zharkov’s.

“Well, don’t just sit there; say something,” said Jennifer.  “Your brow is all scrunched up like you’re thinking hard.”

Johnny continued to stare at Jennifer a bit and then said, “I am thinkin’.  I’m thinkin’ that I probably know a Russian Mafia boss better than my girl and my best friend.  I’m thinkin’ I might need some time to reflect on things.

“I guess you’re saying I should leave, so I’ll go,” said Jennifer.  “But one last bit of advice:  Be careful reflecting; sometimes it can get you into even more trouble than you’re already in.”

Jennifer stood up and left Johnny’s office.  Johnny sat there a few minutes and then made a phone call.                                                                                               

“Hello, Lester?  Johnny Adams.  Ya know that thing we talked about a while back?  If you still want me, I think I’m ready to take you up on it.  I need a change of scenery.”

“Ya bringin’ anybody with ya?” asked Lester Wilson.  “Anybody important in your life right now?  Cuz things can sometimes get a little dicey out here.”

Johnny sat for a bit doing some more reflecting.  “Nope, nobody important in my life right now except me.  I can catch a flight to LA tomorrow.  See ya then, buddy.”

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 2018