by Mark Cotton
anything more than a neighborhood wannabe hustler, but he understood the
concept of dressing for success. The combination of his heavily-gelled
pompadour and the gold sharkskin jacket that he always wore made him look more
like a third-class Elvis imitator than a made guy. And, when he opened his
mouth, you had no doubt about his status at the lower end of the food chain.
telling you this score will be big enough that you can quit that job at Muffler
King for good.”
I didn't break
to him that the rest of us on Delaney Street had stopped calling each other “Homes”
in about 1992. He was
hard-selling me this crazy suicide mission to rip off one
of Valentino Fiorentina’s corner guys, which was the most absolutely batshit
idea I had ever heard of. We were hanging out on the stoop and there was that
freedom of speech thing, so I let Jimmy run with it while I watched the steady
parade of whores and johns in and out of the building across the street. Some
of those younger girls hadn’t acquired that rock-hard exterior shell yet. But,
they were working on it.
I drained the
of my forty and needed to take a piss, so I thought it was a good time to head
to my building around the corner.
I said,” Jimmy told me as I stood up. “I’ll text you with a meeting time
And, I might
even considered Jimmy’s proposal, if it hadn’t been for the furniture truck. I
don’t remember exactly what happened, but I never made it home that night. I
remember lying in the middle of Brooks Boulevard with more pain than I thought
was possible coming from my legs before things went dark.
I was sitting outside my building in a wheelchair a week later, with my lower
half completely encased in plaster, when people starting coming outside and
hauling ass down toward the docks at the end of Brooks. I watched them for a
few seconds before starting to roll myself in that direction.
There was a solid
line of people leaning against the railing along the wharf, looking down at the
water. I rolled up as close as I could, trying to butt in enough to see what
was going on.
probably got caught in a riptide,” somebody said.
gawkers in front of me moved, and I rolled up to the railing. There were a
couple of harbor patrol boats, and two scuba divers in the water were trying to
wrestle a bloated corpse onto a red plastic stretcher.
Even from that far
away, it was easy to see it wasn’t any swimmer. Not unless they shopped at the
same thrift store that Jimmy did.
Mark Cotton is the author of Two Bits
Four Bits and Twice the Heist. He lives in central
Missouri with his wife and two cats.