Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » October 2019 » “Two Guys Come Through the Door with Guns” by Karen Heuler

“Two Guys Come Through the Door with Guns” by Karen Heuler

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, several mobsters gather in a room, all with the same hit . . . 

Two Guys Come Through the Door with Guns
by Karen Heuler
A room; somewhere in Brooklyn, NY 

Another doorway opens and two more guys come through the door with guns.

“What is this?” one guy says. 

“This is our room. We’re here to get Ed.” 

“So are we.”

“Who sent you?”


“Us too.”

They study each other. 

“Well, who are you?”

“We’re freelance. I’m Pete and this is Jim. We’re from the Trieste mob.”

“Like in Italy?”

“Yeah, but we’re from Staten Island.”

Another door opens, in the back of the room, and two more guys come through, with guns.

“Who sent you?


“Us too.”

“What’s the deal? Are we supposed to kill each other?”

“He just said to come here and shoot.”

“Yeah, from now on I’m not going to take locations as the job. I mean, look at this. He said, open the door and shoot. But shoot what? And shoot why?”

“Everything I do has a reason. Even walking the dog has a why to it.”

Back door says, “I have a dog.”

“Me too.”

“My dog died last week.”

“Oh man, I ain’t gonna shoot someone whose dog just died.” 

Two more men come through the front door with guns. “What’s this?” one asks.

“Did Joe send you?”


“Kind of a mixup. We were just discussing dogs.”

“I hate dogs,” he says.

So they shoot him. His partner starts to protest and they shoot him too.

One man goes over to check the dead bodies. “Maybe this is what Joe really wanted.”

They consider this for a moment.

“Joe’s maybe past his prime. You know? Not paying attention like he used to.”

They consider this now.

“I’m pretty sure this confusion is a one-time thing.”

They pause again.

“My granny had Alzheimer’s.”

“This is a sad conversation. Maybe it isn’t Joe who’s losing it, but some of us. Half of us. Most of us. Why are we all here? What if we only think Joe sent us?”

“I’m sane as can be. I know ’cause my dog just died and it’s the saddest day of my life.”

“Your dog died today?”

“Close enough. Last week. But I still feel it. That’s how I know I’m okay. I can’t forget it.”

“Let’s figure this out. So, Joe sent all of us to an address and just said to open a door and shoot. Right?”


“And we thought that was good enough. Right?”


“Have we ever done that before—not known who we were looking for? Just a place?”




“I wasn’t expecting to kill a place,” one objects. “Like I expected to see someone, maybe tied up or something. This is not right. Joe used to be better.”

“See? I told you. He’s slipping. We can’t have a mob boss who’s slipping. He’ll make mistakes.”

“Like this. This is a mistake. Do we agree?”

They agree.

“So we take him out?”

They agree.

“He’s my wife’s cousin. There will be hell to pay if I do it.”

“Oh man. A dead dog and a sad wife? That’s a lot.”

“It is a lot.”

“So that’s you and me, the two of us, we’ll take care of Joe. It’s our duty and Joe would want it anyway. Who’s got his address?”

“Huh,” the first guy says. “Interesting. He calls me. I’ve never been there.”

“Me neither. But I think it’s Jersey.”

“Jersey’s pretty big.”

“It might not be Jersey.”

They stand there thinking.

“We could just wait till he calls us. Then we could ask.”

“He won’t be suspicious?”

“Why should he be suspicious? I’ll say we got him a gun. As a present.” He grins.

One by one, they all grin. “We’ll give him a gun,” Left says. “A beautiful gun.”

“It’s the right thing to do. Go out with a bang.”

They groan. They roll their eyes.

“If we do it right, like make it a ceremony or something, then no one can get mad. It will be a—what do you call it?—a homage.”

They all look at him steadily. “It means, like, bowing down to honor someone and then shooting him.”

They relax and look around and nod.

They go back to their respective doors, stand straight, nod, and depart.

They leave the dead guys on the floor.  It’s an automatic thing. If there’s going to be a hit, it’s always good to leave a few bodies around ahead of it. It gives the cops something to talk about, and you know they like to talk.


KAREN HEULER‘s stories have appeared in over one hundred literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, such as Conjunctions, Tin House, Weird Talesand a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry Award, and has been a finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award, the Bellwether Award, the Shirley Jackson short story award, and others. She has published four novels and a novella, and her fourth story collection, The Clockworm and Other Strange Stories, was recently published by Tartarus Press.


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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,