The voice on the phone said there was a meeting he needed to go to. A car would be out front in fifteen minutes. Be ready.
The caller was waiting for him at a table near the back of the restaurant. It was early; the place was empty. Tommy sat down, waited to hear what this was about.
“We got a problem in Niagara Falls we’d like you to take care of. It’s all set up. Walk in, walk out—only take a few minutes.”
Tommy didn’t let on he wasn’t falling for the line. “How much?”
“How much do you want? It’s only one hour down the road.”
“Sounds like a rush job.”
He nodded once. “We need this problem fixed right away.” The look saying it was no big deal.
Tommy was quiet for a bit, then said, “Rush job means more risk. One hundred thousand.”
That got him a questioning look and raised eyebrows. “How much?”
“I like to set my jobs up myself. That way I know what I’m walking into. I’ve got no idea what I’m walking into here—I think a hundred’s a reasonable number.”
The eyebrows came down, the rest of the face with it. “That’s kinda steep D. What, you treating me like I’m a tourist now?” He took a sip of his espresso, his eyes locked on Tommy’s the whole time.
Tommy asked, “This guy at the Falls, he one of us?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Who’s treating who like a tourist now? It makes a big difference if it’s one of us.”
The guy gave Tommy a look, said, “And here I thought I was doing you a favor, sending work your way. Maybe you don’t need it.”
Tommy shrugged. He grew tired of doing their dirty work for peanuts a long time ago. He did a lot of jobs for them in his early years for next to nothing—paid his dues, hoping to earn their respect. After a while, he got tired of chasing respect and decided he’d be better off asking for more money.
Tommy said, “I’m thinking this guy in the hotel might be somebody important. The kind of person that would be missed by people that matter.”
The man was quiet for a bit, then said, “Fuhgeddaboudit, we never had this conversation.”
“Hey, I’ll do the job. I just don’t want to get stiffed. This ain’t just some guy nobody cares about you want to get rid of. Am I right?”
The guy smiled like he’d just been playing games. Now the bullshit part was over. “You always were the smart one, D; not like those other guys do this kinda work. That’s why I called you. I got no problem paying a bit more, but this needs to be done quiet, you understand? No one can know why it happened … or who wanted it done. Capisce?”
“Don’t worry, I already forgot I saw you today.”
“A hundred’s a lot of cash. How ’bout seventy-five? Things have been kinda slow lately—people don’t come in like they used to.” He looked around the empty restaurant.
The place wasn’t even open yet, and Tommy knew the guy’s money didn’t come from the restaurant, but he didn’t bring it up. He was in and out quick when he did a job—only amateurs hung around to make speeches or gloat.
“He’ll be in a penthouse suite, room 2700 at the Fallsview Casino Resort, corner suite. It’s all set up for day after tomorrow, ten-thirty in the morning.”
“I just walk up and knock on the door?”
“There’ll be a girl with him. She’ll let you in.”
“Un-huh. And what do I do with her?” Tommy knew all along there had to be more to it—the guy agreed to seventy-five too quick.
“She’ll leave ten, fifteen minutes before you get there; put a piece of tape on the door so it don’t lock. I’ll give you fifty now, the rest later. We good?”
“We’re good.” Tommy started to get up. A hand came out, held him there.
“One more thing. I got a favor to ask. It’s for a friend of mine, but you’d be helping me out if you took care of it for me.”
Tommy was already pretty sure he wasn’t going to like it. “What kind of favor?”
“This friend of mine, he’s got a nephew could use someone to show him the ropes. The kid’s got a lot of nerve, but he’s impulsive—does things without thinking—keeps getting in trouble. You know how it is.”
Now Tommy knew for sure he wasn’t going to like this; run around with some punk that was wet behind the ears. “You know I’ve been working alone for a long time. I’d like to help, but—”
The guy held up a hand, the look on his face more serious than it was a minute ago. “I guess you missed the part where I said I was asking as a favor.” The look he gave Tommy saying he didn’t want to hear No.
Tommy sat back. “Jesus. For how long?”
“Two, three weeks … a month at most.”
Tommy looked down, rubbing his forehead with his left hand, then looked up. “Two weeks tops. This kid puts me in a spot … I’m going to pop him. You understand?”
“Hey, somebody puts you in a spot—that’s a different thing. If it’s a case of him or you, you do what you got to do.”
“Okay. As long as we’re clear on that. Most punks got a short life expectancy in this business—they end up getting busted or dead.”
The guy nodded. “I owe you one. Vinny’s got something for you in the car.”
Tommy got up, followed Vinny back to the car for the ride home.
The Italians called him D. His last name was DeCarlo, from his adopted parents. No one knew his real name. These wise guys had dangled the carrot for years saying he could be a made guy one day if he did enough jobs for them. Tommy knew it wasn’t going to happen. His adopted father was Italian, but he wasn’t blood. Tommy felt in his gut his real parents were Italian, but couldn’t prove it. The Italians put a lot of stock in blood.
Back in his hotel room now, Tommy looked over to the dresser where a bottle of single malt sat waiting, whispering to him, saying it was time for a drink. Tommy knew he’d been drinking too much lately. He thought, sure, I’ll have one. He was going to have to cut back soon—too many people blew it because they drank too much.
Tommy started planning the job—saw himself walking into the fancy casino wearing his dark blue suit. He had three, but they were all tight on him when he buttoned them up. He was swollen and bloated from too much drink and lack of exercise. The blue one looked conservative on him and would make him look like he slipped out of the office for a few minutes. He figured no one would notice him in a place like that; people spending their rent money hoping to win big. Most never did.
Tommy put an ear against the door and listened for a few seconds to make sure no one was moving in the room before he turned the knob. He opened the door, removed the piece of tape as he stepped into the room and quietly closed the door behind him.
He looked in the bathroom before walking past the door; stayed close to the wall till he could see the room was empty. He made his way across the room to the wall of windows, turned and stood to the side by the open curtain, gun in hand. The sunlight streaming through the window would give him enough cover.
The guy came out of the bedroom a few minutes later, wearing one of the hotel’s housecoats. Tommy had guessed right. The guy was somebody. He was one of the casino owners—a silent partner. He looked Tommy’s way, squinting to shield his eyes from the glare coming through the windows. It took a few seconds before the look on his face changed, recognition setting in. The guy knew who Tommy was.
He asked, in a thick Italian accent, “How’d you get in?”
Tommy shrugged. “What difference does it make?”
“You gonna tell me who I got to thank for this?”
“I think you know.”
“Coglione. Fucking partners.”
Tommy nodded. The guy wasn’t stupid, and he wasn’t going to beg for mercy or lose his dignity after figuring it out.
“I don’t suppose we could make a deal?”
Tommy shrugged. “You know how it is.”
The old man cursed, “It’s that fat son-of-a-bitch owns the restaurant in Toronto, isn’t it?”
Tommy had raked the slide and put one in the chamber before coming into the room. It was time. He pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.
Shoot or Die – available on Amazon
My books on Amazon