“The Mess in Red Hook” by John Jeremiah
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, things turn from bad to worse for John Jeremiah in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The Mess in Red Hook
by John Jeremiah
Red Hook, Brooklyn
Bogo got the call from Sammy. It sounded all wrong.
“Bogo, the bastard brought a crew to the exchange. They damn near killed us, but don’t worry, we still got the goods.”
“You don’t have the money?”
“No, you don’t understand. They tried to rip us off. They tried to kill us.”
“Did you clip anyone?”
“No, they took off.”
Sammy was eager to go on, but Bogo wasn’t interested.
“Shut up and listen to me. Bring the goods right back to the warehouse where you got them. We’ll be waiting. I’ll give you an hour.”
Sammy started to congratulate himself on saving the load, but there was no one there to listen.
“What?” Bogo had never seen Oleg like this. He was trying to speak, but words came out like animal sounds. He was spitting and turning purple.
“S—s—sons of bitches! Have some muscle meet us there in twenty minutes.”
The warehouse was a few blocks from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was four stories of poured concrete. The town car’s tires rumbled on cobblestones as they approached. The overhead door opened for them. Bogo pulled into the darkness and away from the door. He swung the car around and pointed the high beams at the entrance. Two silent goons stood at the ready. Oleg didn’t know their names and didn’t want to. Bogo went over and whispered to them. They unholstered their automatics and stepped into the blackness behind the Lincoln.
“Get ready to open the door. Keep ’em covered from behind,” Oleg said.
Ten minutes later they heard the old box truck bouncing on the uneven pavement. Bogo started the door. They pulled into the glaring light. Both men were trying to shield their eyes. By the time they stopped the truck and got out, they were squinting like moles. The door shut behind them.
“This way,” Oleg said.
They stumbled toward the voice.
“Everything is here, Boss, they didn’t touch—”
“Shut up! Now tell me, slowly and clearly, what happened.”
“The bag man brought a crew. They tried to jack us. We’re lucky we didn’t get killed.”
Oleg looked at them a long time. They were uncomfortable.
“You don’t look lucky to me.”
Bogo stepped up from behind and whacked Bud unconscious. He turned his gun on Sammy.
“If you’re holding, you better give it to me now.”
The driver hesitated just a moment. Bogo knew he was calculating his chances. That option ended when the two goons emerged from behind Oleg.
“Sure, sure, we’re all on the same crew here.”
He slowly drew a .38 from his overcoat.
“Don’t hold out on me.”
“No, no problem. That’s all I got.”
“Okay, what about him?”
Sammy rolled Bud over and pulled a cheap Saturday night special out of his pocket. Bud was coming to now. Bogo took the piece and herded them to the back of the garage. The goons tied Bud to a concrete column. They gagged his mouth with a rag and tape.
“All right. First of all, your story is bullshit,” Oleg said, “but that’s okay. We’re gonna find out exactly what happened. Poor Bud—he can’t tell us, even if he wanted to. He’s got a little speech impediment now. So, it’s up to you.”
“I swear, they jumped us and . . .”
Oleg took pruning shears out of his pocket and tossed them to one of the goons.
Sammy looked on in horror as Bud lost his pinky. The goon tossed it at Sammy’s feet. Bud tried to scream under his gag but only choked. His wild, desperate eyes pleaded with his friend. Although Bogo had a gun on Sammy, he sensed the driver was about to run. Bogo grabbed his collar and kicked his feet from under him.
Sammy knelt before Bud as the ring finger went. This one bounced off Sammy’s chest.
“Listen, pal, what’s your name?”
“Okay, Sammy, he’s gonna run out of fingers. Then it’ll be your turn.” Oleg waited a few beats. “Or maybe we should ask your pal if he thinks you should take the punishment for a while?”
This clearly appealed to Bud. He started to shake his head like a bobble doll. Sammy deflated.
“Okay, Boss, okay. We tried to grab the money. But we saved your goods. We would’ve split the cash with you, I swear.”
“Kill them. Leave them somewhere they’ll be noticed. Do it tonight. Leave nothing here but the truck.”
JOHN JEREMIAH is an alum of the 2014 and 2015 Yale Writers’ Conference. He is a retired gallery owner and former magazine editor. His work has appeared in Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder, Akashic Books’ Thursdaze, Gravel, Transcendence, and others. This story is from his unpublished crime novel, The Fall of Declan Curtis.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 6, 2016
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