Yellow Mama Archives

J. David Jaggers

Adhikari, Sudeep
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Art by Betty Rocksteady 2015

Rule Number Two

by J. David Jaggers


“Look, you can work me over as much as you like, but you won’t get what you’re lookin for. I run a tight business and I have rules. Rule number one, I never lay eyes on the employer. Rule number two, I don’t quit until the job’s done. Period. That’s the way I run my shop. If I end up strapped to a chair, getting tuned up by some cheap suits, I can’t rat. Bein a rat’s bad for business.” I said. I needed to kill some time; create some space to think. My hands were bound behind me so tight I couldn’t feel anything from the elbow down. Tony’s boys had worked me over pretty good and I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I wasn’t sure if it was gone or just crusted over with dried blood. There were two of em; about two hundred and fifty pounds of stupid a piece. I could tell by the way they threw a punch they were hacks, all knuckles and no finesse. No imagination.

          “So here we are. You want somethin I can’t give you.” I said spitting blood on the concrete.   “I don’t know who put the hit out on big Tony. You can roll out your bag of shiny cutlery, and fire up the power tools, but I’m telling you, I don’t know. Cause I don’t need to know.” The one I called Nancy, on account of his soft hands, laid a haymaker on me. I guess he didn’t like my tone. I get that a lot. I spit another mouthful of blood on the floor and flashed a toothy snarl. “I’m a cleaner, independent and a damn sight more efficient than the butchers runnin around these days. It’s a matter of dignity you see. It’s about a job well done.” 

          The other bag of shit, I called Frosty cause he kept pretty chilly during our little tango. I noticed his hands didn’t shake a bit while he was jabbin a thumb in my eye. Not too shabby, but it was still amateur hour.

“I get it.” I said. “Your boss won’t let you come back with nothin to show for your time. How bout I tell you how I got the job, then you can work me over some more. Maybe that’ll be enough to keep you outta the trunk of that Continental outside.” 

Frosty leaned in “This ain’t a joke, wise guy.” He gave my eye another poke for emphasis.  All I needed was to keep these two busy; wear ‘em down. They knew they were out of their league, and soon enough one of ‘em, probably Nancy, would put in a call to the boss. I just needed to tell ‘em enough to buy some time.

          “I keep some P.O. boxes around town under bogus names. If somebody wants my services they probably heard of me through a former client. I don’t advertise. My work speaks for itself. Somebody wants some wet work done they call in to Floyd’s barbershop down on 126th. You ask for Lou. You say you want a straight razor shave. Now Lou was a one of the old guys from back in the day. If you wanted a good shave he was your man. A fuckin Michelangelo with a blade I tell you.” Frosty laid a jab into my ribs. I could tell by lookin’ at his stubbly face, that he didn’t appreciate a good shave. 

“You see Lou died about fifteen years ago. So if you call in askin’ for him, the guys know to give you an address, and a number. It’s a pay phone down on 33rd, one of the few that still work. You go there and dial the number they gave you. You let it ring three times and hang up. You wait and I call back. Now I know what you’re thinkin’, but don’t bother with the guys at the shop, cause they don’t know me. They just follow the instructions old Lou left with them before he died. Fucking cancer! Now you can’t get a decent shave in this town.  So I call you back, and you tell me what you want done, and I tell you the price. Half up front and the other half when the job’s done. All sent to a P.O box.  I never see you, or ask your name. I do the job, collect my money and life goes on, well at least for some of us.” I continued to blab on like a school girl buying time and then as predicted, Nancy stepped away to my blind side and I could hear him on his phone. All I could make out was “Asshole” and “not getting anywhere”. He hung up and the ‘Brothers Dim’ let me be for a while.

Before long I saw shadows on the warehouse wall appear and then get chased away by a pair of headlights. The engine stopped and I could hear someone walkin’ up behind me. The shoes sounded like good leather, and the stride was somebody tall and heavy set. Big Tony was in the house. I hung my head and let some bloody drool run down my lip. I wanted to look as out of it as possible. I wanted him to get close.

“So this is him?” I heard a voice say.

“Yeah, he’s the guy.” Frosty said. Big Tony walked around so I could see him with my good eye. I didn’t react, I just sat there slumped over and droolin’. Big Tony took the white pocket square out of his jacket and wrapped it around his fingers. He grabbed my chin and lifted my head so he could see my face better.

“You thought you could take me out? You piece of dog shit. Tell me who paid you and I’ll kill you quick. Fuck with me and I will cut your fingers off and feed em’ to you. Am I clear?” He dropped my head from his hand and tossed the white pocket square on the ground. My face left a bloody design across the fine silk. Big Tony had Nancy hold my head up while Frosty tuned me up some more. He hit like a little bitch, and I had to try hard not to grin.  Soon Frosty got winded so Big Tony told him and Nancy to go outside and take a smoke break. The big man wanted some time alone with his stalker. Perfect.

“Okay, tough guy, I can tell by lookin’ at you that we can go all night like this. You see, I ain’t got all night. So tell me now who put the hit out on me and we can end this like gentlemen. There’s no need to get all messy.”

 I lifted my head and mumbled quietly, just barely movin’ my lips. Big Tony leaned in, careful not to get blood on his jacket. “Go head, there’s no shame my friend. Just say his name and this will all be over.”

“Rule number two.” I said a little louder.

“What the fuck is rule number two?”

 I jerked up and nailed Tony’s chin with the top of my head. He staggered back but before he could get any distance, I wrapped my legs around him and pulled him down to the concrete. He kicked and struggled, but before he could get his bearings, I had his neck between my thighs. Earlier, while Frosty was working my ribcage, I managed to break the thumb of my right hand, leaving room to slip it out of the thick plastic zip tie. I pulled my hands loose and reached into the waist band of my boxers. I pulled out the mini straight razor that I kept in the lining; the one those fucking amateurs didn’t find.

Tony heaved and gasped for air. He beat the sides of my legs with his fists until he could barely lift his arms. I loosened my death grip on his neck just slightly and he ejected a hoarse scream. “Vito! Stevie!” 

“Your boys are already dead, Tony. By now my buddy Lou the barber has already given em’ a close shave. Now it’s your turn. Rule number two, my friend. Never quit until the job’s done. It’s a matter of craftsmanship.”

Art by Steve Cartwright 2015

The Golden Years Stink

by J. David Jaggers


My name is Charlie Phelps and I’ll tell you why I did it. I was fucking bored! I know that’s not what you wanna hear, but it’s the truth. You’re a young man, your career and life still ahead of you. But wait until you get to be eighty.

I feel sorry for you. You’re out tryin to make a name for yourself, and you get a case like this. I heard the headlines. “Octogenarian goes on killing spree at retirement home.” Fucking pathetic! You seem like a good kid so I’m gonna throw you a bone. How would you like to say you caught one of the best contract killers in history? Do I have your attention now? 

No offense, but I was doin my best work when you were still suckin your mama’s tit. I worked for the Gambino family for years. You ever heard of Joe the Pole Gruzniak? He was a little polish shit who was gonna testify against Paul Castellano back in the eighties. I took him out in the safe house with three Feds on guard. Some of my best work.

My son moved me down here to Boca about six months ago. I was doin just fine in Hoboken, until I fell, tripped on the goddamned carpet and rang my bell. He says to me. “Pop I think it’s time for a change.” So I know what that means, he thinks I can’t get around so good anymore. So I end up down here in this hellhole. The place I got dumped off at is a fucking joke. A bunch of half dead assholes shuffling around, pissin their diapers.

I kept to myself, mostly sittin in the little garden out back. One day this guy sits down next to me. Turns out we’re from the same neighborhood. He starts in bitchin about how he hates this place. Out of nowhere, he says to me. “What I would give to find a guy who could do a job for me.”

Now of course I’m thinkin this guy is some kind of cop. I keep my mouth shut and just continue throwin bread to the squirrels. He comes back every day for a month, and keeps droppin hints that he wants somebody taken out. I tell you, I’m a careful man. But lookin around at the pathetic life I was livin, I was tempted. The guy comes back the next week with the same story. Finally I turn to him and say “What’s the job?” He looks at me sideways and says “I thought I had you pegged right. You look like a man who takes care of business.”

He tells me he’s been miserable since this lady called Big Mama moved into the home. She’s this fat old bird from out west, and she’s got the nurses in her pocket. She gets the best lunch table, and the TV’s always on the channel she wants. So I’m thinkin this guy’s nuts. But then he leans in and starts whisperin.

“I stood up to her a while back. I told her I was sick of watching Judge Judy. You know what she did? She had one of the nurses, that big guy Rick with the wavy hair. She had him go into my room, and right in front of me rip the head off my parrot Jerry. He tells me that Big Mama won’t tolerate any disrespect. Can you believe she killed Jerry?”

 He tells me that she has had several residents roughed up. Mrs. Goldstein, the lady who lives across from Big Mama fell and broke her hip. But what really happened was she did the daily crossword puzzle before Big Mama got to it. Next thing you know, Mrs. Goldstein “fell” down the steps.

The next day I sat down in the rec room and pretended to read a magazine. Big Mama was holdin court at a long table working a jigsaw puzzle. I watched her, and noticed that all the other residents kept their distance. She had a couple of blue haired flunkies sittin nearby, laughin at all her stories. I felt like I was lookin at a freakin Mafia Don or somethin. I noticed the big nurse Rick was always close by. I knew hired muscle when I saw it, and this guy was definitely on the payroll. To test the waters, I got up and walked over to the television and turned the volume down. Big Mama instantly shot me a stare.

“Excuse me. I was watching that.”

“No you weren’t.” I said. Her eyes widened at my blatant disrespect.

“Well! I never!” She said in a huff. She hefted her fat ass up and put on her shawl. “Ladies, I have a headache. I’m going to my room.” As she left I saw her give Rick a stern look.

I spent the rest of the day outside, and after dark I went to my room. I took off my belt and tucked it under the cushion of my chair and sat down. About forty five minutes later I got a knock. It was Rick the nurse wantin to do a routine check of my meds. I let him in, and sat back down. He looked over my pill bottles and pretended to check something off on his clipboard. All of a sudden, he spun around and punched me in the eye. He grabbed my shirt and pinned me to the chair.

“Listen here gramps! You ever cross Big Mama again, you’ll be eating your dinner through a straw. You understand?” He expected me to fold, trying not to have a heart attack, but that’s not me. I reached under the cushion and grabbed my belt. I jerked my knee up and smeared his balls down the side of his leg. He let go and dropped to his knees. I wrapped the belt around his neck and gave it a turn. My old arms aren’t what they used to be, but muscle memory kicked in and I nearly twisted that fucker’s head off.

Once he was dead, I slipped out of the room. I guess I hadn’t lost my touch, cause the fogeys watchin TV in the lobby didn’t flinch. I headed down the hallway toward Big Mama’s room, and passed Mrs. Goldstein. She was shuffling with a walker and gave me a wink. I put my ear to Big Mama’s door and heard music, Sinatra’s I Did it My Way. I slipped in silently. Big Mama was lying in the bed eatin popcorn. There was a picture of a young boy on a table near the door. It had a heavy frame with sharp corners. I picked it up and walked over to the bed.

She stuffed a wad of popcorn in her mouth and turned to look my way. Her wrinkled old face went pale when she saw me. I raised the frame and brought it down on her head, but cause of my cataracts I missed. She thrust a ham sized fist into my nose and I staggered back, tripping on her fucking slippers. I heard my hip shatter like a shotgun blast as I hit the floor.

She was a fast old bitch, and jumped out of bed right on top of me. I guess she got some popcorn stuck in her throat cause she turned purple and started choking. She collapsed and smothered me in her big tits, her eyes bulging inches from my face.

          That’s where your boys found me. Pinned under a four hundred pound dead woman, forced to push that elder alert button they give you when you check in. I had fallen and couldn’t get up. Fucking unbelievable.

J. David Jaggers is a Tullahoma, TN based investment advisor and member of the Fiction writers group and Horror writers Facebook group. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University. He and his wife enjoy ballroom dancing, skydiving, and hiking with their Australian Kelpie, Crackerjax. He is currently working on a collection of short crime fiction.

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