the Mooch had attained senility after decades of racketeering, contract murders,
and spousal abuse. Worse, he was cheap.
Murph had required underlings to pay for their meals together, occasionally
having them offed later that day.
I needed to make Murph my best buddy.
been approached by Dave Walters, with whom I’d worked undercover. “We need you
on an assignment, Liam.”
joke. I’m seventy-two years old, and you’re not much younger. I can barely get
it up, let alone get it on. Why are you really here?”
this job we need decrepit Irish. We need you to drug and interrogate a retired
mob boss who’s been consigned to an elder care facility.”
a bad idea, Dave. If his goons don’t kill me when I make the play his
associates find and kill me later.”
me out. He’s senile and has short term memory loss. Even if he remembered your
talk nobody would believe it wasn’t another delusion. And there’s benefits.”
looked around my run-down condo. “It’d be three or four weeks staying at one of
the most expensive nursing compounds in the country.”
cheapest unit is three quarters of a million dollars, and maintenance fees are
seven large a month.”
was trying to live on forty thousand a year. “What the hell costs that much?”
appeal and amenities. A golf course where the caddies are health professionals,
a fully equipped and staffed rehabilitation gym, two gourmet restaurants and dine
in ordering, masseurs and masseuses who fondle to taste, you get the idea.”
stared at him. “You can’t afford those kinds of operating expenses.”
we can’t but fortunately the resort president has large tax problems we’re
willing to overlook in return for installing you and covering your expenses.”
looked pained. “Isn’t that enough?”
we pay you two month’s salary.”
change. Two months for the attempt, the rest of a year’s salary if I succeed.”
looked even more pained.
your esprit de corps?”
cored it out with your crappy retirement package. Yes or no.”
do I play?”
winced. “I want more money.”
smiled. He never could smile sincerely. “Too late.”
people age into craggy distinction. Murph had the complexion and consistency of
rice pudding. His short-term memory was a window screen with holes in it, but
his long-term memory had held up. He had enough chemically enhanced virility to
keep a dowager resident named Danielle occupied.
chummy proved easy. No one other than the well-endowed Danielle could stand
him, so Murph’s only other companion when I got there was an orderly named Steve
who was built up and bulged out like the armed bodyguard he was.
liked to play gin rummy. When functional he cheated and I pretended not to
twenty-four dollars I owe you. Cash or on the tab?’ I asked.
you shanty Mick, you could be dead before I can collect.”
wore Depends, and figured he could let fly when it pleased him. I wondered if
Steve tended to his cleaning, a chore about as kinky as having sex with a woman
atop her just-murdered husband.
problem, Murph. Here’s twenty-five. You got a single?”
didn’t check his wallet. “Nah. I’ll owe you.”
Steve and I got something to take care of. Besides, yah bog-trotter, I’d just
kick your ass.”
stood up using his silver-handled cane as I forced a smile.
got a bottle of Middleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey at my villa, Murph. You want
to come by later for a snort?”
look of suspicion and anger hit Murph’s face, subsiding into his usual sneer.
“Middleton hah? The good stuff?”
hundred a bottle.”
you what, bring it over to my place around six and we’ll have a pop.”
See you then.”
had been hovering upwind, and moved in to help Murph into his golf cart. I showed
up on Murph’s ornate porch at five after six. Steve let me in and then went out
to the pool. Murph didn’t like him inside the villa, either because he didn’t
trust him or because he didn’t want to have to give Steve food and drink.
stayed in his easy chair and asked to see the bottle. “Looks Kosher,” he
grunted. All right, pour. Neat.”
stick of butter sloshed in my gut as I walked over to the bar and got our
drinks. Murph guzzled while I sipped.
chemicals kicked in quickly and I began recording Murph on my phone. We started
with Louis Falcone.
yeah,” Murph said, “Lingerie Louie ordered Sam the Chef to cleaver Pimples Artie.”
I got fifteen minutes before things went to hell.
came to cursing, grabbed his cane, twisted the handle and pulled out a three-foot
blade. He lurched up and at me, sword pointed.
jumped up grabbed a green sofa cushion, and swung it at the blade. The cushion
got skewered as its swing carried the point back toward Murph. Murph’s feet
slipped out from under him and he flopped forward onto the floor, the point
ramming into his chest. Murph the Mooch had fallen on his sword.
thrashed, squealed and flopped over onto his back before expiring. He looked
like a mound of pudding with an olive stuck on top.
pocketed the recorder, rinsed the glasses, and called out to Steve.
ran in, gun out, and looked down at Murph. “About time, ya rank bastard!”
tripped, Steve, it was a terrible accident.”
shrugged. “Just tell the cops that. No way an old fart like you could ram that
sticker through him.”
called two days later. “You can leave tomorrow.”
thanks but I think I’m going to stay the week.”
a woman named Danielle who assures me she needs consoling.”
originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Havok.
Ed Ahern resumed writing
forty-odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over
two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works
the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the
review board and manages a posse of six review editors.
known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve
Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling
his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel
is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly
Halloween!, available at Amazon.com. He's done art for several magazines, newspapers,
websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling
- on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He
was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He
recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy
magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's
killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.