B.R. Stateham brings Smitty to his debut on cavalcadeofstars this week.
I’ll Take Care Of It
By BR Stateham
The boy was maybe nine or ten playing in the front yard.
Blond haired.. Long blond hair blowing in the wind.
Riding his bicycle up and down the sidewalk in front of the low slung suburban ranch house with the deep green lawn and big elm trees lining the curb. As he watched he noticed the band aids strapped across the kid’s knees. Clear evidence the boy was still in the learning phase of riding a bike.
Quiet neighborhood. Filled with young families. Tree lined with big, wonderful shade trees. Once you pulled onto this block you felt it immediately. Felt welcomed. Felt relaxed. Felt safe.
All the lawns seemed to be littered with the flotsam of kids of all ages. Bicycles. Soccer balls. Baseball gloves and bats. Tricycles. Dolls dressed in fancy pink dresses. Boy’s action figures lined up on the sidewalk like miniature armies. Across the street two brothers—obviously brothers—where yelling at each other and wrestling in the deep green of their lawn over a baseball hat. Yelling loud enough to bring the mother out of the house with a dish cloth and a dinner plate still in her hands. All she had to do was walk out onto the veranda and stare at the boys. Still drying the dish in her hands. One look.
The brothers got up off the grass and turned to look at their mother. And then the oldest grudgingly . . .reluctantly . . .handed his younger brother the baseball cap.
A cruel—almost mocking—smirk played across thin lips. Coal black eyes turned back to the tow headed kid unblinking. Like the eyes of a pit viper. Watching the kid closely. Watching the house. Noting the big Dodge Durango setting in the driveway. Noted the color of the drapes half closed on the big picture window. Noted the healthy array of colorful flowers lining the edge of the veranda in front of the house.
“I want’em dead,” he heard the voice in his head as he watched the boy. “I want them all dead, hear me? Every goddamn one of them. The man—the wife—the kid. All of them. I want their throats slit. I want it ugly. And I want it done tonight.”
It had been three hours earlier. The anger in the voice. The venom in the man’s eyes. The hatred written clearly all over the man’s scarred, pock-marked face. There was nothing that could be done. No way to reason with madness like that. Benny Markus wanted them dead. He was paying the bills. He was the man in charge. He made damn sure he made his point clear.
“Smitty! I want that goddamn cop and his entire family rubbed out tonight. Tonight, goddamn it! I don’t give a shit about killing the wife or the kid. They belong to that snooping asshole of a cop. Kill them first before you kill the cop. Let him feel the pain before you cut his throat. That’s what I want—that’s what I pay you for—and don’t say another goddamn word. Just get the job done!”
Didn’t matter why Benny wanted the cop dead. The cop was just another cop. Just another man doing his job. Just like he was—just a man doing his job. Yeah, a dirty job, true enough. A job few people did. And did it good enough to not get caught.
He said he would take care of it.
So here he was. Sitting in a rental car a block down and across the street from the house the tow headed kid was playing in front of. Sitting. And waiting. Quietly waiting. For night to drape the universe in darkness.
A hand reached out and grabbed the bag of popcorn setting in the seat beside him. One at a time he popped in a kernel of popcorn. And waited. The windows of the rental were done. A soft summer’s breeze—not too hot; not too windy—drifted in comfortably. A beautiful day. A wonderfully beautiful day to just be outside and enjoy it. Strangely, for him, a peaceful day sitting in the car and watching the kids playing. Strangely beautiful. Strangely innocent. Strangely . . . alien. To him.
Too bad it would have to end so violently.
Too bad people had to die tonight. To have their throats cut. To bleed out their lives all over the carpets. Too bad. A crying shame. But . . .
At a quarter past six in the evening he saw a battered, old, rust bucket of a Toyota pickup truck swerve into the drive way and come a stop behind the Dodge Durango. A door was thrown open and a big man with blond hair and big shoulders rolled out. Dressed in the dark blue uniform of a police officer. A spitting image of the boy falling off his bicycle and running toward his father. The cop bent to one knee and took the full force of his son running headlong into the man’s open arms. Boy and father were laughing and rough housing with each other for a few moments. And then just before the man stood up he kissed his son on the cheek and came to his feet, holding his son’s hand in his big paw in the process.
Quietly the dark-eyed man continued to watch the scene in front of him and across the street, popping a kernel of corn into his mouth one at a time. Waited . . . waited for night to come. Waited like the patient killer he was.
Waited for the right moment to strike.
At a quarter past midnight he saw the dark form of a black Chevy Suburban, lights off, slip around a corner and slide up to the curb directly across the street from the cop’s house. He smiled in the darkness. Knew Benny would send them. Knew Benny better than Benny knew himself. Not hesitating Smitty threw the door open of his rental and got out. The car’s interior dome light remained unlit as he got out and reached back into the car for the six-inch barreled .22 caliber Ruger Woodsmen semi-automatic lying on the seat. He knew his car was in a dead zone for light on the dimly lit residential street. He was, as was his car, completely invisible from the two men sitting in the black Suburban. As he stood in the puddle of blackness gripping the heavy Ruger in one hand his other reached inside a pocket of his slacks and withdrew a long, barrel-shaped object. Attaching it to the end of the Ruger’s barrel he twisted it a few times to make sure it was on tight. And then he started walking.
Walking directly for the front grille of the black Suburban.
He knew the two men sitting in the black vehicle. Two of Benny Markus’ best men. Killers—just like him. Killers without a conscience. Killers without feelings. Just like him.
When the two saw Smitty step out of a curtain of darkness, the small porch light of a house dimly illuminating the man’s silhouette, it was too late. The gun in Smitty’s hand was already up and aimed at the front windshield of the Suburban. It spit twice—Phafft! . . . Phafft!—remarkable quietly. Two small holes appeared in the windshield. Two grunts of surprise and pain from within the car.
Smitty lowered the gun only a half-inch and walked calmly around to the driver’s side of the black Suburban. Both men had pitched forward. Both had bullet holes from the super-hot .22 caliber ammunition he used punched directly into their foreheads just above the bridge of their noses. Remarkably little blood. Remarkably quiet. Remarkably proficient.
The dead man slumped over the SUV’s steering wheel he dragged out of his seat and tossed it into a backseat. And then he climbed in behind the wheel, closed the door, twisted the key of the ignition and quietly drove away. Left the quiet street. The safe street. The comfortable street of old shade trees and young families who thought they lived in a safe world—in a safe city—on a safe place.
Two hours later the man with the cold black eyes walked into the office of Benny Markus. Markus, sitting behind a big desk cluttered with papers, head down, tie pulled down and top two buttons of his silk shirt unbuttoned, didn’t even raise his head up.
“Did you get the job done?”
“Yep,” the quiet voice of a killer answered softly in the office’s silence. “Didn’t need any help. I said I’d take care of it.”
And something big—something bloody—something covered in hair—bounced onto the desk in front of Benny, splattering the papers with blood. Lots of blood. Big eyes . . . the eyes of a dead man stared up and directly at Benny.
“Christ! Smitty . . . wha . . . what the hell are you doing!!” the mob boss screamed in terror, pushing himself away from the desk and the decapitated bloody head of one of the men sent to make sure Smitty completed the job.
The cruel, humorless sneer played across the dark-eyed man’s lips again just as the sound—Click! came to the mob boss’s ears. The bloody blade of a switch-blade appeared in Smitty’s hands; into the hands of a smiling killer stepping closer and closer toward him.
“I told you I’d take care of it, Benny. And I am. I certainly am.”
B.R. Stateham writes hardboiled/noir. And although he’s sixty-one years old and has been writing for forty years–maybe in the next forty he’ll get it right. Until then he practices a lot, writing short tales of mayhem and murder. And enjoying every second of it.