This is a work of Fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in this short story are entirely fictional and are of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or organizations or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. Check out his other works of fiction: The Partisan Ledger (Parts I, II & III), A Border Reckoning, and The Final Letter.

 

Tuesday

 

Detective First Grade Jimmy Boland took three steps into the Tipsy Gent saloon at a quarter past one in the afternoon and stopped dead in his tracks. The owner and Jimmy’s mentor, Tommy Donovan, seated on his elevated perch behind the bar, looked up from his sports page and with his bifocals on the end of his nose, studied Jimmy intently.

“What the hell you doin’ here this time of day?” Tommy asked with his mouth slightly ajar, confused.

Tommy was sparsely white headed and a good twenty years older than Jimmy. As he got closer to seventy, Jimmy could see all those years working the mean streets as a beat cop catching up with him. Two bullet wounds, one back surgery, a complete knee replacement, a fractured skull and numerous concussions had left him not as mobile and sharp as he used to be, but he could still make a mean Bull Shark if you asked him.

Jimmy ignored Tommy’s question and just stood there, looking around the bar like he was dazed.

“What in the hell is wrong with you boy-o?” Tommy asked, taking off his glasses and straightening his posture.

“It just occurred to me that I have never been in this bar before five p.m, ever in my life.” Jimmy replied.

Tommy stared at him like he had a screw loose for a few seconds and then went back to his sports page shaking his head. Jimmy sauntered around behind the bar, grabbed a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt and a glass and took a seat.

Without looking up from his paper, Tommy said. “You may not have answered my question about why you’re here at this hour but by your choice of drink, I think I can guess.” Jimmy poured himself a liberal three fingers, and took a long swallow.

“So you gonna wait for me to ask like a schmuck or are you just gonna tell me?” Tommy said looking over.

Jimmy took a deep breath and looked at Tommy.

“Yeah the bastards canned all of us. A hundred years of combined service between us and they fired us for doing exactly what they trained us to do.” Tommy took off his glasses and gently placed them on the bar. He then got up and retrieved a whiskey glass and walked over in front of Jimmy and poured himself a snort.

“What does it state on your paperwork?” Tommy asked, not looking up.

Jimmy pulled a sheaf of folded papers out of his inside jacket pocket and threw them on the bar.

“Discharged for non-cooperation in an ongoing IA (Internal Affairs) Investigation of abuse of office and gross professional misconduct of Police Detectives First Class Murphy, Duran, Kearns and Boland.” Jimmy replied, shaking his head in disbelief.

Tommy picked up the papers and skimmed over them.

“Since you were not fired for misconduct you kept your severance and your pension.” Tommy stated, pursing his lips together and nodding in amazement. Jimmy looked at him with tired eyes.

“What the hell is that look for?” Tommy laughed and then downed his drink in one go.

“Whatta you mean what’s that look for? You fuckin’ kiddin’ me?” Tommy replied, pouring himself another snort.

Jimmy reached in his coat pocket and pulled out a pack of Camels and his USMC zippo.

“What Tommy? Explain yourself please.” Jimmy asked, lighting a cigarette and then grabbing one of the silver ashtrays that sat stacked at the end of the bar.

“You all were fired, yeah, but you kept everything you worked for, including your reputation intact, so who gives a shit about this IA dog and pony show bullshit?” Tommy replied, a huge grin on his face.

Jimmy exhaled the pale grey smoke and shook his head.

“I don’t see it that way Tommy, I see it as a kick in the nuts from a group of backstabbers I busted my hump for. Hell, most of the people in that room made rank off my collars.” Jimmy exhaled loudly, crushed out his cigarette and ran his hand through his thick brown hair. His pale blue eyes were dim and puffy from lack of sleep.

Tommy replaced the cap on the bottle of scotch and put it back behind the bar. He then turned around, took a deep breath, placed both hands flat on the bar, leaned down and looked Jimmy square in the eye.

“Pride is a son-of-a-bitch boy-o. It can cloud your perception of things, so let your old friend Tommy Donovan. break it down for ya’. The case IA had on you four was paper thin to begin with. A bunch of fucking hearsay with no evidence. No CCTV, no phone video, no recordings, no wire-taps. Nothing. Nada. The only card those bastards in internal affairs had left to play was to threaten you four with termination if you didn’t rat on each other. You all kept your mouth shut, so they fired you, but union rules still apply. No proven misconduct means you keep your pension and benefits. You just got an ace of diamonds for your river card for a fuckin’ royal flush boy-o!” Tommy laughed again and slapped Jimmy on the back hard.

Tommy fished a cigarette from Jimmy’s pack and lit it.

“I thought you quit?” Jimmy asked with a smirk.

“Yeah I did but sometimes certain situations call for a celebration relapse.” Tommy replied, smiling.

Jimmy laughed. Tommy was a fucking hoot.

“Let me tell you something Jimmy. I gave twenty-five years of my life to this city as a cop. It cost me everything I hold dear. My health, my marriage and my relationship with my only son, Logan, who chose the streets and drugs to his mother and me. But that’s the sacrifice. That’s the price you pay for doing this damn job, you understand what I’m saying to you?” Tommy looked at Jimmy with tired eyes filled with tears.

“Shit Tommy, I’ve known you for a long time now, and that’s the first time you ever mentioned your son.” Tommy took a long drag on his cigarette and exhaled the pale grey smoke into the air.

“Some things you keep locked away deep inside, hoping they will fade away like the tide, but of course they never do.” Tommy replied, looking out the window toward the street with a blank expression.

Jimmy got up and hugged Tommy’s neck. He loved him like a father and hated to see him in pain.

“OK Jim, enough of this hugging bullshit!” Tommy said, crushing out his butt and gently pushing him away.

“Guys come in here gonna think the place has turned into a damn gay bar!” Tommy said smiling. Jimmy laughed and patted him on the back.

“Are we still on for poker Sunday night?” Jimmy asked as he headed for the door.

“Hell yeah, I still gotta win back that twenty bucks I lost to you last week!” Tommy answered as he re-opened his newspaper to the sports section. Jimmy just smiled as he put on his Ray-ban’s and walked out the door.

Jimmy got home a couple hours later to find fellow ex-Detectives Mike Murphy and Patrick Kearns sitting on his back deck drinking his expensive german lager.

“Been calling you non-stop” Mike said agitated.

“My phone died” Jimmy replied, lying his ass off.

“Why the house call? What’s the emergency?” Jimmy asked, cocking an eyebrow.

“Patrick has a problem he wants to discuss with you.” Mike replied, cutting his eyes over. There was a lengthy pause and Jimmy noticed his grass in the backyard was looking a little brown. He made a mental note to turn the sprinklers on that evening.

“OK, let’s go in the house if you don’t mind. This neighborhood has ears.” Jimmy replied while he collected the empty beer bottles on the table.

Walking through the patio door to the kitchen he tossed the empties into the trash while Mike and Kearns followed him in. Before Patrick had a chance to speak Jimmy spun around to face him.

“So how much do you owe and to whom?” the bluntness of Jimmy’s question froze Kearns in his tracks.

“What the hell are you talking about Jimbo?” Kearns replied, trying to look dignified.

“Come on Patty, don’t pull that shit, I know that look.” Kearns was quiet for a long moment, looking like a kid who had been busted stealing bubble gum.

“Super Bowl was supposed to get me square.” Kearns replied, keeping his head down.

“Unfucking believable!” Jimmy threw up his hands and walked into the living room over to his corner bar and poured himself three fingers of whiskey and took a long swallow. A bright green neon sign above the bottles of rum, tequila and vodka flashed “Jim’s Place.” Mike and Kearns followed him in and sat down on the couch. With his back to them at the bar Jimmy asked again in a calm voice.

“One more time Patrick. Who do you owe and how much?” Kearns cleared his throat as if the answer was going to come out sideways.

“A hundred K to Nikolai By Saturday” he replied.

Jimmy spun around with his eyes wide as saucers.

“You owe a hundred thousand dollars to the Russian Mob and you come to me?” Jimmy’s mouth was so dry he could hardly talk. Sensing Patrick needed backing, Mike stood up and walked over to the bar.

“Jimmy, Patrick really needs our help man.” Jimmy downed his drink in one go.

“No Mike. What Patrick needs is a fucking undertaker.” Jimmy replied looking at him with an icy stare. Kearns got up and walked over to Jimmy, his head bowed in reverence.

“Jimmy I know I fucked up, I do, but if you could just talk to Nikolai and see what could be worked out? I just need some more time to put it all together.” Jimmy took a long, deep breath and rubbed his temples.

“There are no ‘working out’ things with these people Patrick but I’ll see what I can do. No promises though.” Jimmy filled his glass again and stared into space.

Kearns nodded his head, breathed a deep sigh of relief and in a low voice whispered “Thanks Jimmy.”

That night Jimmy didn’t sleep.

This thing with Kearns was a big problem. Paddy boy was as loyal as they come but he was never that smart and he just could not understand that with the Russian’s you did not work out “payment plans” or “deals.”

You paid what you owed or body parts got broke or severed, both on you and the people you cared about. Jimmy considered squaring the debt out of his own money, but taking a hundred thousand out of his ‘retirement fund’ he had vacuum sealed in his garage wall put a serious dent in his retirement plan. The money would have to be replaced if he did it, and being a realist, he knew Patrick was not good for it.

That meant another job and with IA still up their ass, it was risky. So what to do? Jimmy could not walk into a meeting with the Head of the Russian Mob in Boston asking for leniency on a friend’s hundred thousand dollar debt without offering something in return.

Just before dawn broke Jimmy made his decision on what he had to do.

 

Wednesday

 

Nikolai Petrov had been sitting in his darkened office staring at a picture of his late mother for over an hour now. From a very young age he had accepted that death was as much a part of life as breathing. It was the Russian way of things. As he traced his mothers picture with his finger a tear escaped which he quickly wiped away. Watching his mother die a slow and painful death from ovarian cancer in a filthy, understaffed Soviet hospital outside Moscow had left a scar, a raw, nasty scar on his soul.

Nikolai remembered watching her writhe in agony on the yellowed sheets as a picture of Premier Brezhnev stared down uncaring from the wall.

 

“Those fucking Politburo cocksuckers with their fancy new hospital in Kiev and all the modern western drugs and here we are in this rat infested hovel treating cancer with aspirin!” His father said as they drove home after their evening visit.

Nikolai remembered with clarity watching his father talk and smoke at the same time. It was a Russian art form. The staccato rhythm of his words were like venomous barbs that when combined with the pale grey cigarette smoke resembled a dragon breathing fire at his enemies.

Two weeks later they buried his mother in the same cemetery as his grandfather who had fought in the Great Patriotic War. He did not cry at the service. He emulated his father in that respect and ate the pain, digested it down deep inside of him to give him fuel for the struggle that lay ahead. Before the memory could stab any deeper, there was a knock on his door.

When Jimmy pulled up at Nikolai’s club Trance, he was so damn jittery he had to take a xanax to calm down. After waiting fifteen minutes for it to kick in, he walked inside the club. Like all night clubs it looked unimpressive in the daytime. Amazing what you can do with lighting, Jimmy thought to himself. After asking to see Nikolai, he was searched and then escorted up to the office on the second floor.

“Jimmy Boland! As I live and breathe!” Nikolai said, smiling as he came out from behind his desk and shook hands. Dressed in an impeccable John Phillips grey suit, Nikolai had not changed one bit since Jimmy saw him a decade ago. He had retained his muscular physique and though pushing fifty, had the waistline of a twenty year old vegan meth head.

“Still a single malt man?” Nikolai asked as he walked over to a stocked bar cart.

“Your memory is as sharp as ever.” Jimmy replied, smiling. Nikolai poured Jimmy and himself two liberal fingers each of top shelf scotch.

“My memory is sharp for things that matter Jimmy” Nikolai replied handing him the glass.

“To your Health” Nikolai toasted in Russian. Jimmy raised his glass and took a long swallow. Nikolai walked over and took a seat on a black leather couch and invited Jimmy to do the same.

“The club is amazing” Jimmy said smiling, trying to make small talk and flatter a bit.

“Yes. We just re-decorated and added a new sound system. You and a lady friend must come on a Saturday night as my guest. VIP lounge, dinner, drinks, everything my treat.” Nikolai replied, smiling.

“That’s very kind of you Nikolai” Jimmy said, rubbing his hands together, thinking of a way to broach the delicate subject.

“Listen, Nikolai, we’ve known each other for quite a while so I am not going to disrespect you by wasting your time and blowing smoke up your ass.” Jimmy made a point to keep eye contact with Nikolai even though his coal black eyes were intimidating as hell.

“Patrick Kearns owes you a hundred grand. He asked me to come speak with you to ask for more time but I am not as naive or stupid as my friend so this is what I have to offer. Promise me nothing happens to him or his family and me and my crew will go to work for you recouping the money owed while at the same time ripping your competition apart just like the old days.”

Jimmy kept eye contact for a long minute as absolute silence filled the room like grey vapor. Jimmy could literally see the small cogs and wheels turning behind Nikolai’s cold dark eyes. Schemes within schemes, plans within plans. Angles intersecting with hidden agendas with one mantra and an absolute final goal: self-interest and lucrative profit.

Nikolai kept the stare for a long moment and then smiled and leaned forward to retrieve a silver cigarette box from the coffee table. Opening it, he removed a russian cigarette and lit it with a gold zippo. After exhaling the pale, blue smoke his gaze fell upon Jimmy like a raptor about to devour a meal.

“It’s true we have known each other for a long time Jimmy, so in the interest of time, I will dispense with the bullshit. When you and your crew of corrupt pigs worked for me back in the day you were useful. You did things for me nobody else could do because of the singular reason that you had a badge. Now, I hear you and your crew have been fired from the department. Put out to pasture as it were by your internal affairs. So what makes you think you can still be of use to me?”

Nikolai’s gaze had become icy laser beams now. No emotion. No sentimentality, all business. Jimmy swallowed hard but did not miss a beat in his response.

“Because even though we don’t have badges anymore we still have the two most important things: contacts and information, both within the department and out on the street. Twenty years working the gutter gives you a lot of angles if you know how to play them.”

Nikolai pursed his lips and laughed.

“As always Jimmy, you shine when under pressure.” Nikolai crushed out his cigarette in a black marble ashtray, got up and walked over and sat on the edge of his desk.

“Hundred grand is a lot of fucking money Jimbo. You think you can recoup all that in one job?”

Jimmy stood to his feet.

“Trust me when I say that we can. I have an account from the old days I am going to cash in.” Nikolai  took a seat behind his desk and folded his hands together as if he was praying.

“Typically I would want details but since this is you I am gonna do this. Just like the old days I will provide you any logistical support you need for the job. Vehicles, weapons, etc. Also, you have my word Kearns nor any of his family will be touched but I am gonna need the entire principal amount by Sunday noon. If you can do that I will forgive the ten grand vig and me and Kearns will be square.”

Before Jimmy could think about it, he stepped forward and shook Nikolai’s cold hand.

“You got a deal.” As he was walking to his car Jimmy’s heart began thumping like two jack rabbits fucking. It had worked. He had bought some time. Now all he had to do was go rip off a bunch of armed to the teeth coked out gang bangers. No big deal, Jimmy thought to himself. We got this.

 

Thursday

 

The next morning Jimmy called a meeting at the storage unit over in Chelsea. As the crew filed in with sleepy eyes and grande cups of coffee, Jimmy was trying to play it cool even though he felt like at any moment he was going to shit himself.

“Alright, we don’t have a lot of time so I’m gonna cut to the chase. Saturday night we are gonna hit a Southie Point Dawgs stash house in Telegraph Hill. Estimated take is half-a-million plus.”

You could literally hear the oxygen being sucked out of the garage as everybody’s sleepy eyes suddenly grew large as hen’s eggs. Before anybody could pick their jaws up off the floor, Jimmy continued.

“Before any of you start bitching that this is too quick of a notice to do a job this size, Nikolai has agreed to provide all logistics and front any expenses. If we do it right, we can be in and out of there in less than five minutes and if the take is good enough we can not only square Kearn’s debt, but also walk out of there with a nice payday for each of us to pad our retirement.”

A few moments passed and Kearns, looking like death defrosted, stood up with tears in his eyes.

“I don’t know what to say to everybody except thanks.” Everybody nodded until Mike, in true Irish fashion said

“I tell you what you can say Paddy Boy; promise everybody here that you will never make another fucking bet in your life!”

Raucous laughter could be heard all the way to the street from inside the storage locker.

 

Friday

 

Jimmy checked his watch and yelled “Lunch! check your weapons!”

He made his way out of the shoot house to a set of picnic tables where he removed the magazine from his HK-416, ejected the round in the chamber and placed the rifle gently in the standing gun rack. He then removed his Level IV vest and helmet, mopped his brow with his shirt sleeve and drained a cold bottle of water. He was completely knackered. The crew had been running breach and clear drills since seven this morning and overall Jimmy was impressed. None of the men had lost their edge. Other than being slightly out of shape, Jimmy felt confident that everybody would do their jobs.  After lunch they had another briefing to keep things fresh.

“First things first. I greased our old friend Captain Delaney for Saturday night, so we should not have any noisy patrols investigating gunfire if these assholes get any rounds off. Also, we got lucky with the location of this stash house. It is parallel to a commercial park with around ten businesses close together, so there will not be a lot of civilian traffic to get in the way and worry about. Estimated number of bad guys is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight. Figure three to four out front and four inside.”

Jimmy pointed to a spot on the white board where the stash house had been meticulously drawn.

“If it was me I would post my outside security here, here and here with a possible overwatch position here.”

Mike laughed as he removed a sandwich from his cooler.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but these are coked out gang-bangers Jimbo, not the Taliban. These numb nuts would not know an overwatch position from the missionary position.”

That drew a round of laughter from everybody.

“Point taken, but let’s keep this in mind on the approach, OK smart ass?” Jimmy replied smiling, shaking his head.

“What kind of hardware these boys typically carry?” Duran asked with a mouthful of pastrami.

“Best I can tell from recent UI (undercover informant) reports is AK’s and assorted small arms like Mac-10’s. Let’s not forget these guys move weight for the Sinaloa cartel, Nikolai’s biggest competition, so we have to go in there expecting they will be rolling heavy.”

Jimmy flipped the white board over to reveal an assignment list, timetable and another drawing of the AO.

“OK so to recap, Duran is gonna be on Overwatch with “Leroy” (Leroy was the nickname of a Remington 700 Sniper rifle) to cover our ass and provide security. Number one is Mike as breacher with the shield and ram, me as second and Kearns as third. Timetable will be as follows: 12:45 Duran is dropped off two blocks from the location to setup here.” Jimmy pointed to a red x on the white board drawing, an elevated spot roughly two-hundred yards diagonally opposite from the house.

“The great thing about this perch is it will allow coverage of almost the entire house in the event we have anybody wanting to squirt out the back.” Duran interjected.

“The Van will then post up here out of sight of their hawks until he is in position.” Jimmy pointed a blue x on the board.

 

“If he is able to take the shots without raising alarm, Duran will take out as many sentries on the outside perimeter as possible. Either way, as soon as we get the all clear over the radio, we move in to execute. Remember: Stealth is the name of the game. All weapons will be suppressed so let’s not make any unnecessary noise. As an added precaution, everybody police up their brass if rounds are fired. The ammo is clean and from a random lot but we still don’t need some forensic nerd shaking our tree. Also, as we discussed. there is a good chance they will all be wearing a vest, so put two in the dome and put your man down. OK, so if there are not any more questions, go home, get some rest and we meet at the storage locker ten p.m. sharp tomorrow night.”

 

Saturday

 

On the way over to the storage locker Jimmy’s hands were sweating so bad he had to wipe them on his pants twice. He went through his mental checklist for the tenth time in an hour. He felt confident but as always he had the pre-op jitters. Nikolai had called earlier that evening to make sure everything was still a go.

“I want to reiterate our agreement Jimmy. You leave no witnesses” Jimmy was silent for a moment.

“Hello? Did you hear what I said?” Nikolai’s voice had an edge to it now.

“Yeah I copy.” Jimmy replied. The  line went dead and the tone hung in Jimmy’s ear for a long minute before he hung up the phone.

The dodge work van came to a stop at the drop-off point at precisely 12:45 on the nose. Jimmy took a glance around, The streets were bare, as expected. Duran’s sniper nest lay on the roof of a massive refrigerated warehouse.

 

“See you on tha’ flip” Duran said as he exited the van with Leroy slung over his shoulder in an extra large Adidas bag.

To make it look official, Duran was dressed in workout clothes so to the casual observer, he was just another dude going or coming back from the twenty-four hour gym a few miles up the road.  Duran quickly made his way to the side of the building where the service ladder to the roof was located. As soon as he disappeared around the building, Mike drove the block then turned right into a narrow alley and killed the lights.

Jimmy adjusted his wireless earbud, checked the mic level and then pulled his black balaclava over his head where just his eyes were showing and then topped it off with his kevlar helmet. Everybody else followed suit. Six minutes passed and Jimmy’s earbud crackled to life.

“In position, I got three tango’s on a roving patrol all wearing vest at two-hundred yards. Clear shots on all of them. Give me the count and I will take them out.”

Mike let out a whistle as he started the van.

“Damn. Duran has not lost his touch.” Jimmy smiled as he pressed his mike.

“Roger. We are rolling your way now, give us ninety seconds and let em’ fly.” There was one squelch for a reply and a minute and a half later the first 168 grain HPBT round exited Leroy’s barrel at over twenty-five hundred feet per second with the sound of a delicate whisper.

As the van turned the corner for the final approach to the house Jimmy rolled down his window and turned on his situational awareness radar full blast. It was dark and quiet. No vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Hell, there wasn’t even a dog barking. Whoever had decided on the location for this stash house was smart. It was a ghost town. Must have been somebody from cartel accounting Jimmy thought to himself because no street gang banger was this damn smart.

 

Before the van rolled to a stop the sliding door opened and in one seamless motion the entire stack took shape. Mike took point followed by Jimmy and then Kearns bringing up the rear. Each man covered their own sector as they moved heel to toe, like a deadly black viper going in for the kill.

As they approached the front door of the house Jimmy spotted all three of the lookout’s bodies lying dead in the grass spread about twenty yards apart. Having to step over one of them to reach the front door, Jimmy noticed he was a young kid, early twenties, hispanic with half his face missing.

Once they were in position at the door, Mike checked the exterior for wires and booby-traps and then tried the knob. Right away he gave the hand signal it was locked and barred from the inside. Jimmy whispered into his mike

“Breaching now”

as Mike swung the small battering ram like Conan. It only took two swings and the door and metal bar came away from the frame and crumpled like crepe paper. Immediately Mike tossed the ram aside and retrieved the kevlar shield from his back and drew his suppressed Glock from his holster while Jimmy tossed in a flash-bang grenade which filled the room with ear splitting POP! and a brilliant bright light like an arc welder.

After a count of three Mike charged in with Shield held high and Jimmy and Kearns in tight formation behind him. The front room was empty save a card table with empty beer bottles, ashtrays full of half-smoked blunts and a couple of folding metal chairs.

To the right was an entryway into what looked like the main hallway and kitchen.

“Moving right” Mike announced

“Covering left” Jimmy replied.

As soon as they rounded the corner into the kitchen earsplitting gunfire erupted. A tall, skinny white kid with a MAC-10 and a blue bandanna tied around his head fired wildly from the far corner.

The .45ACP slugs slammed into the kevlar shield with a loud thump as all three men instinctively got low and returned fire. Mike, Jimmy and Kearns all fired simultaneously with their weapons. The kids’s head exploded like a melon and painted the beige walls behind him with a pink spray and brain matter as his limp body collapsed to the floor with a thud.

“Son-of-a-bitch!” Kearns yelled from the rear.

“Anybody hit?” Mike asked.

“I’m Good” Jimmy replied.

“I just shit my pants but I’m not hit, thanks.” Kearns replied, smiling.

“Brass, everybody police it now” Jimmy reminded the crew.

When they were done finding all their spent rounds Mike cleared the rest of the room and then turned around to go down the hall.

“Watch these doors” Mike called out as they started down the hall, walking heel to toe in unison. As soon as they came to the first bedroom on the right a commotion could be heard inside the room.

“Looks like we got a squirter trying to crawl through the side window” Duran called over the radio. A few seconds passed and the earpiece crackled to life again.

“Tango down” Duran called out over the net.

Jimmy smiled and shook his head.

“Duran has not lost a step.” Mike reached down and tried the doorknob. Locked.

“You wanna do the honors” Miked asked, looking at Jimmy with a smirk.

“Gladly” Jimmy replied. Jimmy took two steps back and delivered a front kick right behind the doorknob. The door was flimsy and the doorknob lock a joke. Jimmy’s foot went clean through the door while the lock flew into two different pieces. Mike quickly took his position in front and entered the room quickly. Nothing. Empty. Not a stick of furniture.

“Clear” Mike yelled out as he turned around to continue down the hall.

As they came to the next bedroom door Jimmy could hear voices speaking in staccato Spanish inside. This was it. The target. The epicenter. The Holy of Holies: The count room. All hell was about to break loose Jimmy thought to himself. These fucking cartel soldiers are going to fight to the death to protect this money because if they lose it there bosses are gonna kill them anyways.

As Mike lined up on the door and Jimmy got ready to kick it in, suddenly a voice called out in heavily accented English from the other side.

“Hello? amigos! There is no need for any more people to die here today. You want the money, yes? We will gladly give it to you. Our only request is that let me and my compadre walk out of here alive.”

There was silence as Mike gave Jimmy a quizzical look. Kearn’s was shaking his head violently mouthing the words

“It’s a fucking trap!” Jimmy thought about it a minute.

“OK, here is the deal. You lay down your weapons and lay face down on the floor. We come in, clear the place and once we have the cash we let you go.” Another long period of silence as the two cartel members discussed things in spanish. Finally the same voice replied.

“Amigo how can we know you will do what you say?” Mike laughed to himself and Jimmy smiled. “You don’t but I don’t think you really appreciate how badly you are really fucked right now. I Have a sniper outside your bedroom window ready to blow your asses back to Sinaloa and a team of guys out here itching to paint that room you are in with your brains so what say we cut through the bullshit and get this over with!” Hushed voices could be heard talking.

“OK, we are laying down our guns and getting on the floor.” The man replied. Two minutes passed and Mike pointed to his eyes with two fingers and then pointed to the frame of the door. He was going to look for tripwires to make sure these fuckers were not inviting them into a booby trap. Mike slowly turned the knob and cracked the door and peered up, to the side and down. After giving the thumbs up he stood aside as Jimmy delivered a front kick which sent the door flying back on its hinges.

Inside two hispanic men were lying flat on their stomachs with their arms spread. One fat, one thin. Two AK-47’s lay on the floor beside them. A Large desk with two digital money counters, rubber bands and a notebook lay on the desk. Some loose bills, no more than a few thousand dollars was scattered on the desk as well.

“Keep your head down and do not look up!” Jimmy ordered. Kearns quickly walked over to the desk and started rifling through it, frantic.

“Where’s the money! Where the fuckin’ deniro?” Kearns asked excitedly, his eyes big as saucers. When neither of the men answered, Kearns quickly walked over to the fat one and put the tip of the suppressor in his ear.

“Last chance El Gordo, where the fucking money?”

The fat man began whimpering and cried out “The closet behind the desk!” Kearns smiled and walking over to the desk, unstrapped his carbine and then opened the closet.

Inside were a dozen brown cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other to the ceiling. Kearns quickly grabbed one and put it on the desk, removing the lid with the numbers “125K” written on top, a huge smile spread across his face as he reached in and pulled out three bundles of cash wrapped gangster style with rubber bands.

“Fucking jackpot!” Kearn’s yelled as both Mike and Jimmy let out a whoop.

It took under five minutes to load all the boxes and guns in the van with Kearns and Duran having to sit on top of some of them to ride. Before they pulled away Jimmy ran back into the house. Walking back to the count room the two cartel soldiers were sitting up talking when Jimmy walked in. “OK, so you let us go now, yes?” The skinny one asked in broken English looking up at Jimmy.

“I’m sorry amigo, but I had to promise a very dangerous guy that I would leave no witnesses and send a message to your organization.”

As Jimmy pulled out his suppressed Glock the Fat man began crying out “But!, But! We did not see your face! Please! Plea…”

El Gordo’s sentence was cut short as the first round hit him an inch to the left of his nose, blowing out the back of his sinus cavity and brainpan with a swoosh. The skinny one fell sideways trying to escape but it was of little use as Jimmy pumped two into the side of his head, pinning him to the carpet and staining it a deep crimson. Reaching down he collected all his brass and slipped it in his pocket and then walked out of the house as quietly as he had come.

The crew drove parallels for half an hour to make sure they were not being followed and finally arrived at Duran’s bungalow near Winthrop for the count. Jimmy and Kearns finished the count at a quarter past two in the morning. Mike and Duran both passed out thirty minutes after sitting down. They both had earned it. As the final stack of bills ran through the counter, Jimmy plugged the amount in the calculator for the final tally. His mouth got dry and his throat tried to close up a little when he started to read out the total:

“Nine Hundred and sixty three thousand dollars.” There was silence in the room. Silence like in a church. Nobody spoke. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed for what seemed like minutes.

“Christ Jesus and the Saints” Mike whispered to himself. Kearns laughed so loud he woke Duran and Mike up.

“After we pay Nikolai that is two-hundred and forty grand each” Jimmy said hoarsely, barely able to talk.

He quickly took a drink of beer to wet his throat then let out a “Holy Shit!” that could be heard for two blocks. Duran went over to the cabinet and pulled down a bottle of Irish whiskey he had been saving.

“This calls for a toast gentleman” Duran said, sitting down four shot glasses and filling them liberally.

“To the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse” Jimmy said holding up his glass with a huge smile. “May they forever ride!”

 

Sunday

 

Jimmy awoke to this cell phone ringing the next morning.

“Just dropped off the cash to Nickolai” Kearns said in an exhausted voice and hung up.

Jimmy in turn hung up the phone and mumbled “Thank God” as he fell back to sleep.

By six p.m. that evening he was sufficiently rested and after a shower and some  dinner felt like a new man. After watching the evening news where the top story was a “Gangland massacre” in Telegraph Hill he decided to begin work on stashing his new loot. The garage wall was stuffed with somewhere around $3.5 million, so he considered hiding it in an old standby: Inside the Refrigerator. Jimmy had lost count how many times they had searched drug dealers’ houses and found the guts of a refrigerator stuffed to the brim with cash.

The trick was replacing the rubber gasket sealant around the door you bad to break to get the cash inside. He chose the refrigerator in his man cave versus the one in the kitchen mainly because it was older and he did not want to rip apart his brand new stainless steel Maytag. As he was diving into the project his cell rang. It was Mike.

“So what time are we doing this? Same as usual?” Immediately Jimmy remembered it was his turn to host poker night.

“Oh Shit” was all Jimmy could say.

“What? You forgot?” Mike asked laughing.

“Yeah, I guess so, hell it’s not like I have not been busy!” Jimmy replied, heading downstairs to his man cave.

“No worries Jimbo, I’ll bring everything, just have the table ready! See you in an hour.” Before Jimmy could answer Mike hung up.

In short order over the next two hours Duran, Kearns and Mike showed up, all with their arms full of beer, whiskey and munchies.

An hour into the game and Jimmy realized Tommy had not called or shown up.

“Since when was Tommy Donovan late for poker night?” he asked out loud. Everybody shrugged.

“Tommy is getting old Jimbo, he may have just forgot who knows.” Mike replied, counting his chips. Jimmy called Tommy’s cell. Straight to voicemail.

“Shit I hope the old fart did not have a stroke or something.” Jimmy thought to himself.

“I’ll try him again in half an hour” Jim said in passing as he began to deal the cards. An hour and a half later Jimmy’s doorbell rang.

“My God Tommy, I have been calling! What happened?” Jimmy asked as Tommy Donovan slowly walked into the front hallway. Right away Jimmy could tell something was off. It looked like he had been crying.

“Come on down to the basement and let me get you a drink, all the boys are here.” Jimmy said, leading him down the stairs. When they got down to the man cave everybody was immediately concerned about Tommy.

“What the fuck happened to you Tommy?” Mike asked, standing up. Tommy remained silent and stoic. Jimmy sat him down at the table and poured him two fingers of Jameson’s. Tommy turned up the glass and downed it in one go. He then wiped his mouth and ran his hand through his white hair.

“I just got back from the Coroner’s office” Tommy said, his voice cracking. The entire room went deathly quiet.

“To identify my son’s body.” Huge tears rolled down Tommy’s red cheeks as he reached over and poured himself another snort.

Jimmy swallowed hard, put a hand on Tommy’s shoulder.

“What happened Tommy?” Duran asked leaning in at the table.

Tommy downed the drink and then looked up and stared into Jimmy’s eyes.

“He was killed during that shootout in Telegraph Hill last night.”

Jimmy’s heart shot up into his throat while all the color drained from his face. Mike tried not to react and turned and walked over to the bar. Duran and Kearst just sat there, wide-eyed and dumb founded.

“I didn’t know you had a son Tommy!” Kearst replied, his mouth still agape.

Tommy just kept his eyes on Jimmy, his bloodshot pale blue eyes as chilly as a January morning.

“Yeah, he would have been twenty-two next Thursday.” Tommy replied.

Jimmy just shook his head, patted Tommy on the shoulder and walked over to the bar with Mike.  As Mike and Jimmy’s eyes met, one thought kept jabbing itself into their mind like a splinter: Does he know?

 

Jimmy walked behind the bar to grab another bottle when a thundering gunshot rang out.

Instinctively Jimmy ducked down behind the bar.

“Jesus Tommy! What the hell!” Kearst could be heard screaming.

 

Jimmy moved to the end of the bar and peered around the corner. Tommy was sitting casually at the poker table with his Colt 1911 in his hand. Kearst was standing with his hands high in the air and seated across from them was Duran, slumped backwards in his chair staring at the ceiling with the back of his head blown out.

Jimmy craned his neck around the bar and saw Mike on the floor in the corner, his eyes wide.

“Sit down Paddy boy” Tommy said in a calm voice, directing him with the barrel of the pistol.

“Mike and Jimmy! You two assholes come over here and sit down!” Tommy yelled out. Instinctively Jimmy reached for his cell but realized he had left it in the kitchen. He then quickly began to grab the small .380 he had stashed behind the bar when Tommy yelled

“And I know about the hideout piece behind the bar Jimbo, so don’t even think about it.” Jimmy’s heart sank as he placed the gun back on the shelf and then walked over to sit down with Mike.

“Listen, Tommy, whatever is going on we can help you man, just put the gun down…” Jimmy was quickly interrupted as Tommy pointed the pistol at his face.

“You got some balls Jimmy, some real huge balls. Still trying to con me even now! After all this!”

Tommy’s gun hand began to tremble. “Whoa! What the fuck Tommy! Con you? What are you talking about?”Jimmy replied in his best, surprised bullshit voice.

Tommy shook his head in disgust.

“Let’s begin with this: Kearst, the degenerate gambling piece of monkey shit that he is, owed Nikolai a hundred grand and you decided to get the four horsemen back together and go rip a gang of drug dealers for the money. Sound right so far?” Tommy replied, his eyes laser beams of ice.

The room was quiet.

“See the problem is that the gang of scumbag drug dealers you massacred in that house included my son Logan. He was the kid you popped in the kitchen with the MAC-10, remember?” Tommy held out his phone with a crime scene picture of Logan dead on the kitchen floor.

“So you want to keep lying to me now Jimmy?” Tommy asked, keeping the pistol trained on him.

“OK, Tommy, you’re right, we killed your son. But not on purpose! We had no idea he was part of that crew, no ideal whatsoever.” Jimmy pleaded.

Tommy shook his head in disgust and leaned back in his chair, keeping the pistol level on Jimmy.

“Why did you have to kill Duran Tommy?” Jimmy asked looking over at Duran’s corpse.

“Self-Defense. Don’t you see the gun in his hand?” Tommy replied.

Jimmy shook his head. “You’re losing it brother. He’s not fucking armed!” Jimmy replied.

“No problem, I have a throw-away in my truck, we’ll just plant it on him.” Tommy replied with a smirk.  Jimmy’s mouth fell open.

“What? Does that offend you Jimmy? I thought that was Corruption 101 shit for the Four Horseman!” Tommy spat, his eyes wide with anger. Jimmy stared at Tommy for a long moment.

“I would be really careful throwing that word ‘corruption’ around Tommy. It’s not exactly like you were snow white when you had a badge.” Jimmy replied. Tommy leaned forward and slammed his fist down on the table with a thud.

“Yeah I may have shook down the occasional dealer so my family could go on vacation or my son could have braces,  but I wasn’t a greedy criminal with a badge, murdering and stealing at will like you and your crew!”

While Tommy was distracted talking, Kearns had gradually positioned himself behind him. Thinking he had the drop, Kearns moved to snatch the gun but Tommy was one step ahead of him and turned and fired, hitting Kearns high in the chest, right under his throat. The blast sent Kearns reeling backwards, with the bullet exiting out the back of his neck painting the walls behind him with a wet splash of crimson mist. Kearn’s was dead before he hit the ground.

“Shit! Why did you have to shoot him Tommy!” Mike yelled, jumping out of his chair to check on Kearn’s. Tommy stood up and glanced over at Kearn’s body and then walked over to the bar as if nothing had happened.

“Because the son-of-a-bitch would have killed me if he got my gun! Another clear cut case of self-defense.” Tommy replied self-righteously.

“You have lost your fucking mind Tommy.” Jimmy spat in disgust. In the silence they could all hear a loud pounding upstairs as SWAT made entry into the house.

As Tommy was busy at the bar, pouring himself a drink and mumbling to himself incoherently, Jimmy got Mike’s attention. He mouthed the words it was now or never. With Tommy’s back to them, Jimmy and Mike rushed him like two linebackers, Tommy tried to spin around with the gun but Jimmy controlled his arm while Mike grabbed the half-full bottle of Jameson’s off the bar and knocked the gun out Tommy’s hand with a wallop.

Once disarmed Tommy began to buck wildly. Jimmy was surprised at how strong Tommy was for his age. Even though he had a good 20 plus years on him, the old man was still a street fighter at heart. As Jimmy was positioning an arm bar and a take down, Mike picked up the gun and placed it against Tommy’s temple.

“You going to settle down or am I going to have to fucking kill you Tommy?” Mike asked out of breath.

“You morons don’t get it do you? I don’t give two shits about dying. In fact I welcome it. But I was hoping to kill all of you bastards before I went.”

About that time the door to the man cave busted open with a loud crack and in rushed several armed men clad in black with balaclavas covering their faces. Instinctively both Jimmy and Mike raised their hands and before MIke could drop the gun three rounds hit him high in the chest, spinning him off to the right like a pinwheel.

Jimmy could hear himself yelling “Don’t Shoot! Don’t Shoot!” in the chaos as Mike’s body crashed to the floor with a loud thump beside him. Jimmy’s mind went into freeze frame and as he was studying the expression on MIke’s face as he died, a question pierced his mind like a high beam through a fog bank. Why had they not announced themselves as Law Enforcement? Why had they not given commands to drop the gun?  Why were SWAT using Suppressors?

The chaos and stress had made his mind like molasses in the winter time. As he was raising his head to look around, somebody hit him hard over the head and things went dark. The last thought Jimmy had as the blackness swallowed him up was that those guys did not have helmets or SWAT ID on their vest.

Jimmy woke up with a splitting headache handcuffed to a metal chair. He could taste the familiar metallic flavor of dried blood in his mouth along with nauseating bile. He tried to gather up enough saliva to spit but was unsuccessful. As he rotated his head around to see where he was he realized his left eye was swollen shut. What he could see out of his right eye was definitely not home, maybe a warehouse or garage? The smell of rust and old motor oil permeated the place.

“Hello? Where the hell am I?” Jimmy yelled.

Suddenly, a door opened off to his left and light from what looked like an office illuminated the warehouse. Immediately Jimmy knew where he was. He was at the docks at one of the dozens of shipping container facilities. As Jimmy squinted his eyes to try and see the figure walking toward him, lights came on in the warehouse with a loud thump, revealing several armed men dressed in black surrounding him. The next voice Jimmy heard made his heart sink into his stomach.

“Jimmy Boland, as I live and breathe!” Nikolai said smiling as he walked over and pulled up a chair.

Jimmy smiled back like a fiend, revealing bloody, chipped teeth.

“Why am I not surprised to see your ugly face here Nikolai?” Jimmy replied, shaking his head. Nikolai chuckled.

“Why are you not surprised? I will tell you Jimbo, because like you I am an opportunist and when I see an opportunity, I pounce!” Nikolai reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a cigarette case and took out two, without asking Jimmy, he lit them and put one of them into Jimmy’s mouth. Jimmy inhaled and exhaled the smoke like a pro, his eyes like icy laser beams on Nikolai the whole time.

“So when you discovered Tommy was out on the street asking questions about who murdered his boy, you made sure he found out it was us who pulled the trigger and then encouraged him to come get revenge because it was a really convenient way to kill off all your loose ends and get ALL the money from the heist, not just what was owed to you, right?” Jimmy exhaled more smoke and then spit the cigarette toward Nikolai like an out of control rocket.

Nikolai watched the cigarette land harmlessly well short of his feet, politely stamped it out and then looked up at Jimmy and smiled.

“Once again Jimmy, you have proven why you are such a great Detective. You see all the angles!”  Nikolai stood up and crushed out his own cigarette and nodded to the goons behind Jimmy.

“Wait, before you go, you have to tell me. No way you were alone in all of this, there were way too many moving parts. Who was your inside man at the Department?” Jimmy asked, looking intently at Nikolai with his one good eye bloodshot and swollen.

Nikolai smiled and motioned toward the office from which he had entered. The door opened and out stepped Captain William C. Delaney, Boston Police Dept.

“Me and the Captain here have been partners since the good ole ‘days Jimmy. In fact, he was the one that suggested I approach you twenty-five year ago!” Nikolai smiled like the cat that ate the canary as Delaney walked up.

“Son-of-a-bitch” Jimmy muttered to himself. One of the goons undid his leg shackles and stood Jimmy up.

“Thanks to Captain Delaney here we found all the money you had stashed in the walls of your garage and house. We also found the stashes at Kearns, Durans and Murphy’s place.” Nikolai replied.

“Oh how nice of him.” Jimmy spat.

“Delaney you always were a backstabbing cocksucker.”

The Two goons turned Jimmy around to face an open shipping container of which to Jimmy’s horror were the bodies of Tommy, Duran, Kearns and Mike, all covered in white lime and wrapped in thick sheet plastic. Jimmy tried not show any fear when he saw the large piece of plastic on the ground obviously meant for him, but fear boiled out of him nonetheless.

“So you’re shipping us all off to Russia huh Nikolai?” Jimmy asked as the goons moved him inside the container.

“Yes. It’s for the best.” Nikolai replied.

“You know I only did this job to help a friend. I figured it was my Last Good Chance to do something good in my life.” Jimmy said, looking at the bodies.

“In the end we are all punished for our kindnesses my friend.” Nikolai replied as he motioned to the goon with his hand. The gunshot was loud as it echoed off the inside of the container. Jimmy’s body slumped to the deck like a sack of bricks and the goons began covering him with lime and wrapping him in plastic.

 

Container #456732 was loaded onto a transport ship bound for Murmansk later that day.

 

THE END

 

 

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