get the thought of all that cash out of my head. Not for a moment. It had to
be more money
than I'd ever see in a whole life of driving a stinking lousy cab.
drive for Able Taxi, around the city, out to
the 'burbs and airports, into the ghetto to get rich white kids their drug toys. I
usually make $27,000 a year with the tips.
Not bad really, but I wanted more. If I worked until I dropped dead I'd never make
as much money as I thought I was going to make on the deal Fuentes was bragging
to me about that day in the cab.
He said it was big
money. I believed him. I knew he was some kind of mobbed-up guy, kissed the
butts of the Italians that ran Red Hook. I saw it as a wild, one-time score
that would set me up pretty for the rest of my life. Hell, man, I was pushing 40
hard, a chance like this wouldn't come
along again. So I'd do the sure-fire smart thing -- I'd knock off Fuentes and
take the upfront money for myself.
got a big deal going,"
Fuentes told me yesterday. "I hear you work cheap and ask no questions.
That's good. I gotta make a delivery.
I've got some heavy cash and I'm supposed to bring it to the back room
of the Hermoso Bodega on 5th Street. You drive me there tomorrow. Just you and
me. You park your cab outside the place, then take a walk with me inside."
"Sure, whatever you want. What's my cut?"
"Oh, say $1,000.
Cash. Not bad for an hour's work."
not bad at all." I was drooling.
pick me up at 10 A.M. tomorrow morning, sharp."
Fuentes. I'll be there."
You can bet your ass
the next day I was there. Ten minutes early.
Fuentes was there early himself, so he liked that. He got in the back
seat of the cab. I sped
off to 5th Street.
city was quiet that time of day. The
streets looking deserted in the mid-morning chill. It was a frigid March day,
unusually cold considering the recent mild weather, so it kept the people off
the street. That was fine by me.
saw the small briefcase Fuentes carried,
resting so delicately upon his knees where he was sitting in the back seat of the
cab. He looked nervous. Sure, with that much cash anyone would be nervous, I
thought. That briefcase had to be filled
with big money. Maybe all twenties. Maybe all hundreds!
Soon all that
money would be mine.
There was an
alley back of 6th Street tailor-made for the job I had in mind. I'd drive down
5th Street, making it look like everything was going according to plan. Drive
right up to the bodega. Then I'd turn around and slug Fuentes when he least
expected it, then keep right on going
into the alley back of 6th Street. I'd
take the briefcase full of money and drop
Fuentes back there with a welt on his head that he'd never forget. And that
would be the end of that. By late
afternoon I'd be on a nice beach in Bermuda with the best babe I could find and
drove past 4th Street. The city was
quiet. No one on the street but there was a lot of traffic. The bodega was on
the next block, but when I stopped at a red light on 4th Street Fuentes got my
attention -- by pulling out a damn gun.
the brake on, amigo. This
is where I get out. You stay here and don't move." Then Fuentes was out of
my cab like a flash, running through the traffic, down one of the side streets
to be lost in the city.
had all been so unexpected I hardly knew
what to do. I watched him go, astounded by his action. None of it made any
sense to me then. He couldn't have known
I was going to mug him. His actions really
didn't indicate that, they indicated something however, but I just wasn't sure
what it all meant.
I noticed he'd left the attaché case.
My eyes riveted to the back seat where the case sat so innocuously. Not like
Fuentes to leave behind a briefcase full of money -- no matter how much in a hurry
or frantic he was -- unless the suitcase wasn't full of money at all!
mind screamed, "Set-up!"
I flew out of the
cab, rolling across the curb, managing to get under a nearby parked car just as
my cab blew up in the biggest damn explosion I'd seen since a Nam napalming
twenty years before.
the smoke cleared and the screams of the
local people quieted down I saw what was left of my cab. It wasn't much, just a
mass of melted metal, while glass on every store on the block littered the
street. My head rang like one of those giant Chinese gongs -- but as far as I
could tell I was still in one piece and I didn't see any blood.
was alive and that's what was important
to me then. Once I was assured of that basic fact my mind later focused on other
items of interest. Like, where was the
money? Where was Fuentes? Why the double-cross?
you're planning to do someone dirty
you never figure he'll do you dirty first, but it seems that's exactly what
happened to me. It sure messed up my plans.
had disappeared into the muck of
the city. No one I asked knew anything.
I had a few contacts, but I guess Fuentes had better ones. It seemed to
me he had gone deep and wasn't moving.
first I was just happy to be alive after
what I'd been through. Then it began to
get to me. The thing was, I felt like I was supposed to have died in that
explosion. Like it was actually meant for me. I just couldn't figure out why.
took a drastic reevaluation of my life up
to that point. Enemies. People I'd offended.
Jealous or envious types. Not many of these.
It just didn't jibe. I've always kept to myself since I came back from 'Nam.
I've never been in jail, never arrested, never caused any trouble. Had an
amicable divorce years ago, no
money owed the sharks, and didn't use drugs. I was a 39 year old working
drudge, honest (relatively) and clean, you could tell because I was such a damn
failure. I even paid my taxes.
why the set-up?
began to do my own investigating when the
cops couldn't get me any action. What did I really know about Emileo Fuentes?
He was an up and coming hood, into loan-sharking and gambling, dabbling in drugs
and women. Just a guy out to make a buck -- any way that he could. The word
said he was moving up.
asked around. I didn't get much. Nothing
concrete. No one seemed to know anything, they were shut as tight as a clam at a
fish fry. There were a couple of Puerto Rican guys I knew down in Sunset Park.
I went over to see them. One didn't know a thing. Told me to move on out. Right
away. I moved.
other guy was a small-time gangster
named Pedro. He'd been an old time buddy. He said he knew all about it.
man, come on, spill it."
not going to like it, amigo.
I heard it from a very reliable source, a woman I'm doing." He laughed, a
smile crossing his handsome face as he remembered his latest trophy. "It's
Fuentes' wife, my man! Seems she'd be a good source, don't you think? She gets
lonely for a real man. So we get
together sometimes. Usually when Fuentes isn't around. Sometimes when he is.
She is a very nice lady. Very tasty."
shook his head, took a deep breath,
"You're right, amigo, it was a set-up."
why? I've never done anything to
Fuentes. Why does he have it in for me?"
the thing, it's not what you
what the hell is it,
amigo. This is the story
I heard from Rosa. See, Fuentes is a small player, but he's been climbing the
ladder to success lately. He wants to be
one of the big boys real bad, have a lot of fancy cars and hot young putas.
Maybe he's been seeing too many gangster movies. He's on his way up but the
spaghetti benders are in his way. They run things here and in Red Hook and
extract a price for what's called 'upward Mobility.'"
to the point, Pedro."
amigo, you were the price.
Or part of it. See, Rosa told me about this hit Fuentes has to do for his
guinea bosses. A dangerous job. It's against a made man. So it's not 'legal'
and has to be done just right. Fuentes is the only one to do it. It involves a
big cash payoff. Fuentes is scared shit but has to go through with it. The plan
is for him to meet with this big capo. They'll drive up to a corner in a limo
somewhere in Brooklyn, Fuentes gets in and gives the capo an attaché case
that's supposed to be filled with money. Then Fuentes jumps out of the limo and
B-O-O-M! No more capo. Get it? It seems that you were the training, amigo.
You're no one. A cabby without a family.
Fuentes just wanted to see if he could perform the contract according to
specifications. So he had to practice.
You were the practice. The dry run. You
screwed it all up though. You weren't supposed to have lived through
it. Fuentes knows you're after him. He's in hiding for now, scared, but he's
still got the contract on that capo, so he'll have to come out pretty
didn't know what to say. All kinds of emotions were boiling over
inside me, anger uppermost of all. Then that drifted off into a kind of numb
apathy. Fuentes was right, I was a nobody. No friends. No family. No contributor
to society at all. Nothing! I wouldn't be missed. No one even knew I was there!
The reality sobered my thoughts. I didn't know what to do anymore. I couldn't
even think about it.
the door burst open and two of the
biggest guys I'd ever seen rushed in, guns leveled into our faces before we
knew what was happening.
pushed me to the floor and told me not
to move. I didn't. My lips kissed the floor, I shivered. Then they started to rough
up Pedro. It was obvious he was the one they were after. I figured Pedro
had sold them some bad dope or
something. It got intense. Pedro cursed
them in super-quick Spanish. The goons
roughed him up more. Harder. I saw drops of blood hit the floor around me. Land
on my arms and face. It was warm and wet.
I couldn't bring myself to look up at what was happening.
I heard another voice. Rough but
commanding. It was Fuentes! I kept my
face to the floor so he wouldn't see who I was, so far he hadn't noticed or
cared who I was. He had more personal matters to attend to at the moment.
I guess the news about
Pedro fooling around with Rosa finally got to Fuentes. People just love to talk
and Pedro had a dick for brains when it came to women. And the one thing
everyone without money talks about is
sex and who's doing who. That talk gets around. It must have got around to
heard them mention me, the gringo.
They glanced my way. Fuentes never guessed it was me. I made sure my face was
hidden from them as I shook for dear life. One of the goons saw this and laughed. Fuentes
said it would be a shame to kill such
a fine coward. I just couldn't stop shaking.
left the apartment, his two goons
dragging the unconscious body of Pedro between them. I knew Pedro was going for
a one-way, I'd never see him again.
were gone almost as quickly as they
had appeared and left me on the floor alone sweating rivers. I counted my lucky
star that Fuentes hadn't recognized me. I guess I looked like just another gringo
buying drugs from Pedro. I'm sure he never would have guessed the guy looking
for him knew Pedro, was in fact, in his rooms at the exact time he went after
Neither could I.
can be a gutless wonder when I'm scared,
but when someone tries to kill me -- and for no real reason -- it's amazing how
that will stiffen even my backbone. I wanted revenge. I wanted to kick Fuentes'
ass. Who the hell did he think he was anyway?
knew Fuentes had to move on the capo
soon. I figured to follow him and make my move when the time was right.
didn't take long. The days moved fast, the time shooting by. I
followed Fuentes. Stayed clear of his two goons. Watched and waited.
the third day I could feel the time
drawing near. Early that morning Fuentes left his house. He was alone. Not the
usual routine, and he
carried a small attaché case tightly in his hand. He looked at it constantly.
Carefully. I knew
this was it.
took a cab to Foster and 11th
Street. I followed in an old beat-up hack I borrowed from a friend who used to
drive nights, but was shot two weeks ago in the Bronx.
looked nervous. Or maybe it was just
my imagination and I was the nervous one. The cab let him off at the corner of 11th
Street. He walked to the corner of 12th Street. A big black limo waited there.
The driver, decked out in a shark-skin suit, and showing a noticeable bulge under
the armpit, opened the door for Fuentes to enter the back of the limo.
put one foot down on the velvet
carpet. Hunkered down and slowly moved forward. I watched him move in. Saw him
say hello to the capo, who was sitting there like a big Italian Buddha at the opposite
end of the seat. They shook hands. Fuentes sweated. I could see it running down
his face through
the sights of the scope.
pulled the trigger fast.
Fuentes ate two
in the back of the head near the stub of the neck.
spray drenched the capo in blood and
gray matter. He shouted in panic, tried to move Fuentes body off of him, tried
to get out of the limo but then thought better of it.
driver bodyguard was taken by surprise but
responded quickly drawing his piece, guarding the car, looking for me but unable
to pick me out. The capo yelled for him to get Fuentes out of the car and get
the hell out of there. The bodyguard helped him dump the Puerto Rican in the
gutter. Then the capo saw the attaché case.
bodyguard handed the attaché case to
his boss, closed the door of the limo and ran to the driver side of the big
car. He jumped in and gunned the car out into the traffic.
watched them drive away. They'd gone
about five blocks when the capo's curiosity got the better of him.
explosion blew the doors and sunroof
right off the limo. It mulched the capo
and the bodyguard into a hundred red beefy pieces.
watched the EMS workers gather Fuentes
out of the gutter and place him onto a gurney, then roll him into the back of a
truck. The head guy gave the thumbs down
sign over the body. The EMS workers put down their equipment and lit up
cigarettes. That's all I wanted to see.
Maybe I lost all that upfront money, maybe it never was there to begin
with, but Fuentes lost a whole lot more. He's one bastard who won't be messing
with me again.
I didn't mess up on my dry run. I
don't need practice.
1991 & 2020 by Gary Lovisi. All Rights Reserved.
Dry Run" originally appeared in
the UK in New Crimes #3, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Robinson Books, hc,
also has a YouTube book collectors
channel, which is under his own name in the search. This channel has over
100 videos on rare and collectable paperbacks and other books.
GARY LOVISI BIBLIOGRAPHY: (Recent and partial):
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Series:
SECRET ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (Ramble House,
MORE SECRET ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK
HOLMES (Ramble House, book
ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: BOOK THREE (Ramble House,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. HOLMES (Gryphon
HOLMES: THE BARON'S REVENGE (Airship27, 2012)
DETECTIVE: HIS FURTHER ADVENTURES, edited anthology
(Wildside Press, 2012)
SURROUNDING WATSON'S LOST DISPATCH BOX (MX Pub., UK
SOUVENIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (Gryphon
Books, 2002, non-fiction,
new edition forthcoming)
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE
GREAT DETECTIVE IN PAPERBACK & PASTICHE
(Gryphon Books, 2008, large-size, spiral bound)
BATTLING BOXING STORIES, edited anthology, (Wildside
VIOLENCE IS THE ONLY SOLUTION (Wildside
MURDER OF A BOOKMAN (Wildside Press, 2011)
DRIVING HELL'S HIGHWAY (Wildside
THE LAST GOODBYE (Bold Venture,
THE NEMESIS CHRONICLES (Bold Venture,
ULTRA-BOILED: HARD HITTING CRIME
FICTION (Ramble House, 2010)
DIRTY DOGS (Gryphon Books)
EXTREME MEASURES (Gryphon Books)
HELLBENT ON HOMICIDE (Do Not Press, UK, 1997)
BLOOD IN BROOKLYN (Do Not Press, UK
Science Fiction / Fantasy & Horror:
GARGOYLE NIGHTS (Wildside Press,
MARS NEEDS BOOKS (Wildside Press,
WHEN THE DEAD WALK (Ramble House,
SARASHA (Gryphon Books, 1997)
The Jon Kirk of Ares Series:
#1 THE WINGED MEN, 2014
THE INVISIBLE MEN, 2015
#3 THE SPACE MEN, 2015
#4 THE MIND MASTERS (forthcoming, 2017)
#5 THE TIME MASTERS (forthcoming, 2017)
WEST TEXAS WAR AND OTHER WESTERN STORIES (Ramble House, 2007)
THE SEXY DIGESTS (Gryphon Books, 2001, large-size)
THE PULP CRIME DIGESTS (Gryphon Books, 2004, large-size)
THE ANTIQUE TRADER PAPERBACK PRICE GUIDE (Krauss Books, 2008)
DAMES, DOLLS & DELINQUENTS (Krauss Books, large-size trade
BAD GIRLS NEED LOVE TOO (Krauss Books, hardcover, 2010)
MODERN HISTORICAL ADVENTURE NOVELS (Gryphon Books, 2006,
large-size, spiral bound)
THE SWEDISH VINTAGE PAPERBACK GUIDE (Gryphon Books, 2003, large-size).
born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still resides. He has degrees in
Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design. He has been freelancing
illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons and
editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including the St. Louis
award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press zines, e-zines, and he
has illustrated a few books.