Not a Lawyer
by David Calogero Centorbi
So, in this business doing a job pro bono would seem like
revenge, and I don’t do revenge. I had to get paid, somehow, is what I tried to
explain to Reggie.
“What about dinner every Friday for a year,” was his
“I come in on Mondays and Wednesdays too, you’re the only
Haitian restaurant around here,” I said, trying to up the price.
He laughed a bit. “Well, you do, but sometimes it’s only
you and a few regulars. At least Friday I can cover…” I looked at him with a
grin that said, how bad do you want him dead. “Ok, ok, yes. Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday.”
“I tell you what, depending on how hard the job is, maybe
I’ll just make it Fridays. Besides, Togo
has to be 80. I might just push him down some stairs, that would probably kill
“No… that would be too easy. I want him to suffer. I will
tell you how I want it done.”
“Oh…well.” I tried to form a sentence, but the surprise
shut me up.
After Reggie finished his torture laundry list I said,
‘Listen, I know what he did to your family, but I have to do it my way. The
client doesn’t get to choose. You know that.”
He looked at me. There was less fire in his eyes. His face
“Ok.” And he put his head down, but then his request shot
it back up again. “A finger. I want his trigger finger. On his right hand. The
hand he used to shoot…”
“Gotcha,” I said, trying to keep it light.
“And I want him to be alive when you take it.”
He smiled and shook his head, yes, waiting for me to agree.
I would have
expected more security in this place, but a Cable Tech outfit and a picked
lock, and I was in the house when Togo came home: a quick goodnight injection
into his neck, and there he sat in a chair I brought from upstairs down to the
basement. His hands and ankles were duct-taped to it, a piece was over his
His hair and beard were gray now. His black skin was
lighter after being off his Haitian King of The Thugs throne for so long.
“So, here we are,” I said. He tried to talk through the
duct tape but it was just a string of “Mmm, mmmm” sounds. “Hold on,” I tore the
tape off, along with a mess of gray whiskers.
“Bastard you,” Togo yelled
“Yes, I am.”
“Why are you here? Why are you doing this?”
“You have to ask. I
should have done this years ago.”
“You have no power. I am protected.”
I looked around. “Really? Your boys are long gone. It’s
just me and you, and a request from a good friend that I make you dead.”
“Fuck your friend.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. All that shit coming out of this
gray-haired old man, some poor kid’s psychotic grandfather.
“Why so funny?”
“It isn’t. Never was. But your chickens have come home to
“My chickens you can’t touch. I
“Yeah, you keep saying that.” And I figured I would make
this more interesting. I wanted to get this over, so I pulled out my GI-issued
Bowie knife. Togo stiffened in the chair, his eyes widened reacting to the
blade. “Listen, I’m not going to play games, but I have a job to do and the
first part starts with your trigger finger,” and I walked toward him.
“Stop. You cannot do this. You have no right. I am
Usually, the mark tries to stop me with money: hey, I can
pay you more than blah, blah, blah. I
knew Togo had money, somewhere, but he wasn’t offering. So I took a step
back and sheathed my knife.
I had to know. “Ok, killer, who’s
He laughed. “Now you listen. Now you believe.”
He leaned his head and chest forward like he wanted to
whisper. “Your old boss, C..I..A.”
I took a deep breath. That explained the attitude and no
money offer. And deep down I wasn’t surprised. How would I explain this to
Reggie is what I kept asking myself as Togo sat there with that familiar,
reprieved grin that so many psychos like him had when they knew a higher power
had their back.
“Ok. Well, now you fuck off.”
“Well,” I continued, and walked toward him as I unsheathed
my Bowie knife, “What I was going to say is, I’m sure no one would mind if I
The next day I met Reggie at his restaurant. He was behind
the counter and motioned me to come back to his office. He pushed some papers
to the side of his desk. He didn’t say
anything. I sat across and reached into my pocket and put a small metal box on
his desk. He opened it. Then closed his eyes and smiled. As he was closing it,
I put another one on his desk. He slid it next to the other box, opened it, and
shook his head. “Why didn’t you kill him?”
“I couldn’t kill him.”
Reggie stood up, his chair rolled back. “You couldn’t kill
him? You couldn’t kill?”
“All that he did.”
“No, I don’t want these. I want him dead.”
“Reggie! Shut up. Sit down.”
He stiffened and sat down.
I took a deep breath. “I couldn't kill him, it wasn’t my
“What? What are you saying?”
I just looked at him. His eyes were glassy. His black skin
started to bead with sweat. I didn’t
want to tell him why, because I didn’t want to hear myself say it.
Reggie stood up and leaned against the wall. Next to him
were pictures of his family. On top of the file cabinet was a smaller picture.
It was me and him standing in front of his restaurant in Haiti. He saw me
looking at them. “You see. You see what we lost?”
“Sorry, Reggie. Really, I am.” And I stood up to leave.
He sat down at the desk, his head in his hands. I stood at
“The CIA isn’t God,” he said. Then swiveled his chair
around and looked at the wall.
I stood in the familiar, angry silence for a minute then
opened the door to leave.
“Thomas,” Reggie said and turned his chair around, swept
his right hand across the desk picking up the boxes. “Thank you, at least, for
His eyes were glassy again. His body looked smaller.
“See you Friday?” was all I could say.
He took a deep breath, then breathed out, “Sure, the
“No, I’ll have that on Mondays.”
Confused, he tilted his head.
“On Fridays, I’ll have Tassot. And Wednesdays, I’ll have
David Calogero Centorbi is a writer
that in the 90s earned an MFA
in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Now, he is writing and
working in Detroit, MI.
He is the author of Landscapes
of You and Me, (AlienBuddha press.)
AFTER FALLING INTO DISARRAY (Daily
He can be found here on Twitter: @DavidCaCentorbi.
Wayne F. Burke's drawings have appeared
in a number of publications, in print and online, including FLARE, Portland Review (ME). Red Savina,
Duane's Poe Tree, Driftwood Magazine, Grey Sparrow, The Octopus Review, About Place Journal,
and elsewhere. He lives in the central Vermont area (USA).