By J.B. Stevens
Getting his brother
out of jail for Kazinski’s murder was not going to be simple. The evidence was strong,
and Marvin didn’t have an alibi.
But Hank couldn’t
stop. Marvin’s wife and daughter needed him. The death penalty was on the table and
Marvin’s sentencing hearing was coming up fast.
Hank had to form a
Hank spent the morning scratching up
a piece of paper, plotting out the situation, and trading text messages with Marvin’s
The lawyer wanted
Hank to focus on taking care of Marvin’s family. Marvin’s wife wanted Hank to
figure out the truth before it was too late.
Hank gathered the
hand-written notes, sat down at his computer, and hit up some search engines. He was able
to track down some of the Kazinski’s social media. There had to be something in there
that would help.
Most of it was set
to private, but what was public showed a lot of travel to Thailand and Brazil. Hank recognized
working girls from a mile away, ever since his time in the Army and as a cop.
pictures, arrest history, and online presence indicated Kazinski liked to pay women for
their time. That made Hank think of extortion. A man with a lot to lose and sexual
secrets is always risking blackmail. Blackmail can lead to threats, and threats can lead
came up in a white pages listing. Hank located the place on a real-estate website. The
home was far too nice for a local bank’s IT guy to afford. It had a heated pool,
a theater room, a gym, and sat on twelve acres.
Kazinski had a lot
of money to spend, but the fund’s source was not clear. Hank found no evidence of
family money and Glassdoor showed that the bank IT job paid on the low end of average.
enjoyed his vices and had the money to indulge them.
ruminated a minute and decided he needed go where the prostitutes plied their trade,
Savannah’s seedier motels. His time as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, before that career
crashed and burned, ensured he knew where all of the city’s underground types operated.
opened the wall-safe and grabbed his Glock 26 nine-millimeter pistol. It was the company’s
smallest double stacked weapon at six and a half inches long, four inches tall, and an
inch wide. It held a ten-round magazine with one in the chamber. As a striker fired gun
the trigger pull was the same, every time.
Hank carried an
extra seventeen-round magazine in his left front pocket, giving him a total of twenty-eight
chances to solve any problem.
He was surgical with
Hank stored the weapon empty. After taking
it out he loaded it. He pressed the slide slightly back and saw the glint of a Federal
Hydra-Shock round in the chamber. The nine-millimeter bullet expanded when in hit flesh
and left a huge wound channel. It was extremely effective. He put the Glock in a leather
holster on his left ankle.
pistol wasn’t his only preparation. He had practiced boxing three times a week for
the past decade. Since he was a smaller guy he liked to really know how to fight.
The art kept him ready
in case he ever needed to defend himself and his Glock wasn’t the right choice. His
messed-up foot from back in Iraq gave him some grief in the gym, but he never stopped training.
his right front pocket went a knife, four zip-ties, and a thick stack of twenty-dollar
He put on a plain
t-shirt flecked in paint, canvas work pants, and some beat up leather work boots. A trashed
Atlanta Braves baseball hat completed the look.
Hank hopped in his Ford
Bronco and headed to a no-tell motel. A loose plan was forming. When he was a Marshal,
he seemed to find a fugitive at this place once a month. He knew a lot of working girls
hung out there.
Driving from his
cabin out in the country to the Day’s Inn on the 1000 block of Abercorn was like
going from Mayberry to Somalia.
Hank felt his senses
prick up. Suspicious eyes followed him as he rounded the corner into the parking lot. It
felt like he was back in the war.
Hank shut off his truck
and waited, letting the location breathe and settle. Everywhere has an ecosystem. Hank
wanted to get a feel for the motel’s before entering.
He watched a few
hand-to-hand drug deals. There were some couples entering and leaving rooms. After a few
hours he had a solid sense of what was going on. Two lookouts were posted up for the prostitution.
Two were for the drug deals. There was an old woman tending to the worker’s kids,
the little ones played in a dirt lot near the parking lot.
had to earn the lookout’s trust, get access to the girls, and get one to spill about
Kazinski, if she even knew the guy. The odds were stacked against him, but he needed the
info, and this was the only place he could start. Ignoring his bubbling stomach and the
sweaty palms, he steeled his reserve. The nervousness worked with his cover. It made him
look like any other new John.
exited his truck. He walked through fast food wrappers, past beat-up plaster walls, and
up to the eastern-most prostitute lookout. Hank’s head was down and his hands were
in his pockets. His chest hammered and adrenaline flooded his blood stream. The smell of
human waste and cigarette smoke filled his nostrils. Trap music lightly tickled the air.
“Yo,” the lookout said. “What’s
up cracker, what you want?” He was small with stained teeth.
looked up and made eye contact. Hank recognized the man… but from where?
lookout stared Hank down, hard. The lookout’s eye’s narrowed and his face became
concrete. Recognition flashed.
the lookout yelled to the entire motel. Then he turned and sprinted to the back of
the building. Hank watched him drop a small baggie of crack and throw a knife.
I’m not a cop anymore. I just like to party.”
Hank said to the runner, laughing to himself at how insane the comment was. Hank turned
and saw the entire area was a ghost town. Only grandma and kids remained.
Hank said. “I’m just a big fan of the call girls. Not a pig.”
When he got back to
his truck he saw the front driver’s side tire was slashed.
After putting on the
spare he made his way to the Alamo Plaza on Bay Street. Hank readied himself for the headache
that was about to come. Second time’s the charm… he hoped.
in, he observed a similar environment. Lookouts were in place, but he only saw three.
Also, they seemed to be covering both the pimps and drug dealers. Seemed smart on them
for consolidating security. An effective business tries to keep overhead low.
watching for a couple hours Hank approached the western-most watchman. As he walked up,
he took the time to make sure he didn’t recognize the guy from the past. The fella
looked young, about fifteen. He was basketball-tall and gangly.
“What’s up dog?
Need a little somethin?”
kid’s voice was smooth and kind. It felt good when it hit the ear. He should be on
the radio or working voice-over in Hollywood, not guarding crack and hookers in Savannah.
shone through. He didn’t try to hide it. He was a horrible actor. The U.S. Marshals
never let him work undercover.
hi. I, uh, wanted to talk to a girl,” Hank said.
out. You seem sketch as hell. This ain’t no thing,” the kid said. “I
got you. What kind of girl you want?”
I guess,” Hank said, remembering Kazinski’s
“This is Savannah.
We got Chocolate or Vanilla.”
want a crack head or a meth head?”
confused. If Asian isn’t an option, can I get a white girl?”
head it is. Head over to room seventeen. My girl Betty is in there.”
watcher gestured towards the room, looked down at his phone, and sent a text.
you only gonna see Betty. But just so you know, Betty got friends. Some real hardcore
pipe-hittin brothers. Betty says the magic word and these boys are going to get medieval
on you. Understand?”
I know I sound all friendly, but don’t let that fool you. I don’t play. You
do me wrong and it won’t work out so well.”
“Aight, let me see
“What? I thought I
was going to see a lady.”
“I ain’t sucking
dick,” the watcher said. His voice was soft and kind. “What I look like, a
little sweet boy?”
cop is going to whip out his dick in the middle of a parking lot.”
“But some horny John
let me see your dick.”
Hank laughed inside.
His dick had been out in many parking lots on many continents. He unzipped and showed off
the goods. He swayed back and forth. A smile crossed his face. Hank made a mental note
to kill Marvin if this all worked out.
“That’s a good
cracker. Ya’ll crazy as hell. Time to go meet your date. Give me twenty dollars.
Once you get in the room give Betty forty more.”
Hank reached in his
pocket and did as he was told. He fished out exactly three bills. He didn’t need
anyone seeing the wad of cash. After paying, Hank went over and knocked on room seventeen’s
“Hey daddy. Come on in,”
a voice said from inside the room.
Hank pushed the door
and stepped inside. A sheet over the window filtered the light into a piss-yellow glow.
It smelled like a gym locker room and axe body-spray. He could taste the sadness. He walked
over and gave her the cash.
Betty sat on a tired
bed. Her age was impossible to determine, but the meth had not been kind. Her skin was
translucent. She wore an ill-fitting emerald nightie.
daddy. Little birdy told me you wanted a good time.”
didn’t make eye contact. There were track marks in both arms. A smoking glass pipe
was on the table in the corner.
man likes to feel good,” Hank said.
make your toes curl, sweetness,” Betty said.
had to get this encounter moved to an interview fast. Betty stood and started to take off
“Betty, how would
you like to make sixty more dollars?”
Her eyes stitched
together and she frowned.
“I’m not into any
“I just want to talk.”
“About what? I can do dirty talk, but you
still got to pay full price.”
Hank pulled out his
smart phone and tapped up a picture of Kazinski.
“Do you know this
She looked at the
photo. Hank saw recognition in her face.
“I don’t talk about
my friends with anyone, Sugar. You might as well call me Vegas.”
Call you Vegas?”
“Yup. Cause what
happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Hank laughed out
loud. He knew it was time to cut to the chase. He reached into his pocket and pulled out
his entire wad of bribe money. It was approximately five hundred dollars, all in twenties.
Betty’s eyes got wide.
“Ok, Vegas, how much
is a little information going to cost me?”
Hank heard the
room’s door. Turning he saw a large man lumber in. The visitor was a foot taller
than Hank, fat, frowning, and wore sunglasses. He was holding a chrome pistol Hank recognized.
The Desert Eagle .50 caliber. A hand cannon.
Nasty,” Betty said, “I got this on lock. Scoot on out of here, Sugar.”
“Naw girl,” Nasty
said while turning towards Hank. “Time for you to shut up. I got questions. What
you really doin here, cracker?”
Hank took a step
backwards and looked left and right. The only exit was the window and the door. Nasty was
in front of both.
“What are you
getting at, Nasty? I’m not sure I understand.” Hank said. “O, and let me tie my
you’re asking questions about stuff that don’t concern you. You’re asking
questions about that dead man on the news. You’re hassling my girl instead of paying
my girl. Time is money. You’re wasting both. That’s going to cost.”
right hand slipped underneath his pants. He unsnapped the holster and gripped the Glock.
It felt like home.
“So, cracker, how
about you show me that stack of cash you playing with,” Nasty said.
fat gangster pointed the Desert Eagle at Hank’s head.
looked at the gun and time slowed. His hearing became muffled and the edges of his vision
blurred. His heart rate spiked. Somewhere on the edge of reality he noticed Betty slink
out of the room.
Hank kept looking
“Well, Nasty, it’s like this.
They say my brother killed that guy on the news. I just want to get to the bottom of it.
I’m not looking for trouble. We can work something out.”
felt sweat roll down his spine. It was cold and slow. He was still kneeling and squeezing
“It’s already worked
out,” Nasty said. “Give me that stack and walk away.”
“Hopefully I don’t
“I’m going to take
“All right, cracker,
stand up and walk.”
Nasty slid left. He
shifted the gun to his other hand and reached out for Hank’s cash. The movement cleared
the path to door.
Hank took a deep
breath. He flicked out with his left hand and swatted away the Desert Eagle. From the crouch
he exploded towards the open door. He flew out of the room while drawing and gripping the
He slid into the breezeway on his right
side and kicked the door closed. Ten feet to his right was a set of red-brick stairs.
mind screamed: Move. Get away from where Nasty
would aim. Hank crawled into the dusty stair-well. The knuckles on his right hand were
scuffed up and bleeding. He was still holding the Glock.
soon as the door shut Nasty screamed, and started a string of words. With every word he
fired a round.
Hank felt a change
in air pressure. He pressed himself against the bricks and focused on remaining calm.
gun was empty.
peeked out around the corner of the stair-well. The air was smoky with a pink tinge from
the impacted bricks.
There was an
explosion of cheap particle board and the large gangster stood yelling on the balcony.
aimed his Glock. The red fiber optic dot rested on Nasty’s sternum.
the pistol,” Hank said.
pressed his gun’s magazine release and dropped the empty. He reached into his back
pocket pulling out a fully loaded seven rounder. He slammed it into the handle and
reached for the slide release to put a round in the chamber.
Hank focused on his
gun’s front sight. He pressed the trigger straight to the rear. The first shot broke.
As soon as the sight returned Hank squeezed again. As the criminal fell Hank fired two
Four shots in the
blink of an eye.
Nasty lay still in
front of the hotel room. Blood started to pool. Hank heard Betty screaming.
counted four holes in Nasty. The gangster was bleeding from the stomach, left shoulder,
right thigh, and gun hand. Nasty began to rattle.
Hank kept his Glock
aimed in and walked over. He kicked the Desert Eagle away from the pimp’s hand.
done now, cracker,” Nasty said. “My people gonna put a hit out. Then they gonna
put a root on you. Got you twice. Bitch.”
think your girl Betty’ll call the ambulance. I don’t think any of those wounds
will kill you. So…”
done. This isn’t over.”
wasn’t sure what to do. He had never shot someone while not on government business.
said. “I guess see you later?”
didn’t respond, he just laid there struggling to breathe. Hank considered first aid,
but didn’t want to risk catching whatever blood-borne diseases Nasty surely
hosted. Hank reached into the hotel room and grabbed a small plastic trash can.
He placed it upside down over the Desert Eagle. Then he picked up the four
brass 9mm casings from his Glock.
Hank left quickly.
The last thing he wanted was to be stuck in the cell next to his brother.
He went the long way
home, checking to make sure no one was following him. Halfway back he stopped
in a Piggly-Wiggly Grocery Store’s parking lot, rolled down the windows, and
called Marvin’s defense lawyer.
After Hank finished
hiring the lawyer for himself, he called Erica.
was all going to work out.
As Hank turned off
the phone he heard a smooth and kind voice call out over his left shoulder.
never left the jail.
J.B. Stevens lives in the
Southeastern United States with his wife and daughter.
His writing has been featured in Mystery
Tribune, Noir Nation, Criminal Element, Tough Crime, Out of
the Gutter, Close To The Bone, Thriller Magazine, and other publications.
He is a veteran of the Iraq war
where he earned a Bronze Star. Prior to the war, he was an undefeated Mixed
Martial Arts Fighter. J.B. graduated from The Citadel.
He can be found online at twitter.com/IamJBStevens and jb-stevens.com