The bullet went right through his skull, entering his jaw, opening a hole on the back of his head, and coming out on the other side, splattering his brains all over the sidewalk. I warned him but he did not listen. They never do. This wasn’t the first time I pulled a trigger and I prayed to God it would be my last. I can remember each one like it was yesterday and it made me sick every time. That’s another reason I wanted to quite this job but I always end up on some sidewalk looking at pieces of meat mingled with blood.
What is it with “DON’T YOU FUCKING MOVE!” don’t they understand?
It’s not like I was speaking Italian! Maybe I should have, knowing that more than half of those with guns in this city come from a village or town in that old country. Unfortunately I did not. I tried to, but the only words I managed to learn were to help me get a cup of coffee or a morning kiss from a gal when she woke up in my bed. The only language I did know was English and that didn’t work. So that idiot ended up dead next to his unconscious friend on the sidewalk that night.
Jane was right. She said they would be coming. She also said that they would be coming for her sister, Jade. I did not buy that. It didn’t make any sense and I was right. So at twelve past midnight two of Klutas men walked up Nello Giacomoni’s drive way and that’s where I was, ready and waiting for them. Unfortunately I could only handle one at a time. I had to level the odds so I snuck behind the first as he strolled behind his friend and without warning I struck him on the head with the butt of my gun knocking him unconscious. He was the lucky one. Then I pointed my gun at the lead man and told him to freeze. As I said, he was stupid and he didn’t listen. He brought out his gun, and tried to turn around to face me, shooting a stray bullet in the air which almost grazed my head. So I shot him. The Idiot!
The sound of the two bullets must have woken up the whole neighborhood. A handful of windows started to light up along the once peaceful street, but no one came out of their homes. I didn’t blame them. When you hear gunshots in this town you better lay low. There was bound to be more coming.
Unfortunately for them Nello chose to live in this quite suburban street not far from the bustle of the windy city. I was sure all those who lived here knew who their neighbor was, another reason not to peak your head out of your window. The only one brave enough to come out with guns blazing was Nello himself. He ran out, looked at the bloody scene unfolding in his front yard and cursed out loud, “FUCKING SHIT!”
He probably didn’t know what to make of it at first. Two men were sprawled in his driveway, one was obviously dead, the other, he wasn’t sure about. A black Buick sedan was parked on the street in front of his house with a third man dangling his head out of its window. Oh I forgot about that. That was the get away car. The driver dropped off his two friends and was waiting to take them back to Klutas hideout with Nello in tow. I didn’t have time to ask. I had to act quickly. I had to stop the driver from going for help if things went out of hand. A surprise punch through the car’s open window was all it took to render the unsuspecting man immobile until I took care of his two friends.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” Nello blurted out, with an automatic tommy gun in one hand and a Colt in the other, both pointed at me.
My hands were up in the air with my gun back in its holster. I didn’t want to accidentally shoot the guy whom I came to save. However, I had to explain this quickly or things would have gotten out of hand. “POINT YOUR GUNS DOWN NELLO,” I yelled out, “these are Klutas men and they were coming for you. I’m a friend of Jade’s,” I added that last one in case he was one of those who shoots first then asks questions later.
Nello was a skinny little fellow, with a bold head and a pale face. I knew what he looked like for I had seen him quite a few times at the Huron-Orleans restaurant. Nello didn’t get to where he was by being stupid. He looked again at those men then at me but he didn’t lower his guard until he knew more of what was going on. “And who the fuck are you?” he asked to make sure I was on his side. Besides, Jade’s name was an eye opener which I was counting on.
“My name is Sam Black and I’m a private dick,” I quickly explained as I walked towards the unconscious man on the ground. I took out my handcuffs from my pocket and cuffed his hand to the railings. My badge, my gun, and my cuffs had been my constant companions for years. Even thought I had to give up my badge however I would never turn over my cuffs, not to anyone. Besides, they had many other uses which I could not begin to explain. Needless to say I never leave home without them.
As I walked towards the black car to drag out the driver and tie him up next to his friend, it screeched away hitting a few mailboxes and skidding on the sidewalk. It swiveled along the street, speeding off from the scene of the bloody shooting. “Fucking Shit,” was my turn at cursing. The driver must have woken up and decided to leave his buddies behind. There was a time when my punch rendered a man for hours. I was getting soft. Theodore Klutas was bound to know his kidnaping stunt had failed. That was why I wanted to get my hands on his men, hoping one would lead me to his whereabouts. I wanted to get Jane out of there before shit really hits the fan.
“YOU FUCKING PRICK,” Nello cried out, punching the tied up man on the ground. He sat on his chest jabbing left then right as he continued to yell, “YOU FUCKING SHIT, YOU WANT ME, I’LL PULL YOUR EYES AND FEED THEM TO YOU, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE….” he kept hitting the poor guy until I thought his head would come off. Well, there went my subtle interrogation!
“Nello!” I called out for him to stop but he didn’t. “NELLO! THAT’S ENOUGH.” I pulled him off, “THAT’S ENOUGH,” I shouted again as I dragged him away to the house. His white shirt was soaked red, his hands dripped with blood and he was shaking from rage.
“So Jade sent you?” Nello asked the instant we walked through the door. He grabbed a towel to wipe off some of the blood off his hands and waited for me to explain.
“You can say that,” I didn’t.
“How did she know Klutas gang were coming for me?” As I said Nello wasn’t stupid. He was shaken up from this ordeal but he certainly wasn’t stupid. He was still able to ask some good questions which I couldn’t answer right away.
“It’s a long story Nello,” I replied, “you should call your men to clean this up before the cops arrive.”
“Screw the cops! Let them come,” he said, “these guys came into my house! I had all the right to kill those two,” only he didn’t. I did.
“Now tell me about Jade,” he was an insistent fellow, “what does she have to do with all of this?”
“Nothing,” I replied, “this is why I’m here, to talk to you about her.”
“She wants out,” those weren’t exactly her words but close enough.
“Out of what?” I could see Nello’s confusion as he sat at his kitchen table looking at me to explain further.
“She doesn’t want to sing at your joint anymore,” I said, “she wants out from this. She is a good girl Nello, so stay away from her. You owe me.”
Even though trying to appease to a man like Nello wasn’t an easy task but seeing how I helped him escape the clutches of a gang who was about to kidnap him was a good place to start. When he burst out laughing I knew I failed.
I waited for him until he stopped and started to explain. “You think I’m keeping Jade from getting out of this business?” He looked at me with a hesitant smile on his face then he blurted it all out, “she practically owns that business you FOOL!”
I was dumbstruck but I tried not to show it. I waited for him to continue and he did.
“You think my father could come up with the idea of the Green Tavern all by himself? That’s all hers! We just provide the cover,” he added. “My brother and I own the Orleans, she owns the rest. So you can go and tell your girlfriend she can fucking do whatever the hell she damn wants with it. I don’t fucking care. Besides, I can’t stop her even if I want to.”
Do you know how it feels when you finally see all the pieces of a puzzle click into place only you are left with one piece which still doesn’t make any sense? That’s how I felt as I stood in Nello’s kitchen starring at him with a blank look on my face. I wanted that last piece so badly and it was right there in front of me all the time. What a fool I was!
A few minutes later the cops burst into Nello’s house. He told them what had happened. He told them how some burglars came into his house and how he knocked one out and killed the other. It was all in self defense. He said that I could vouch for him since we were old buddies and we were having a drink when everything happened, and I did. That’s what the cops jotted down in their report. Of course no one believed a word of that crap, not the cops writing the report and especially not Eliot Ness who arrived at the crime scene an hour later.
“What’s this all about Sam?” He asked the moment he saw me, of the record of course.
“Klutas men,” I replied, of the record of course.
“That son of a bitch!” He cursed. “We’re fed up of his nonsense. This has gone too far,” he added.
“Why do I have a feeling you are going to do something about it very soon.”
Elliot looked at me and smiled. “How did you know?” he asked. I knew he had something up his sleeve confirming my suspicions and adding one more piece to the puzzle, unfortunately.
“I told you I have someone inside,” I explained.
“And so do we,” he said, “and that someone just told us where Klutas is”
“And you are going after him tomorrow,” I added.
“How the hell do you know all that?” Eliot was even more surprised with that last one.
“Just call it a hunch,” I replied, “can you do me a favor and let me come along for the ride?”
“Why do I have a feeling I would not be able to stop you even if I tried.”
At six early that same morning a half a dozen police cars and more than twenty federal agents were surrounding an abandoned building on the west side of Chicago.
“THEODORE KLUTAS,” Eliot shouted, “THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO. COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS ABOVE YOUR HEAD.”
“GO FUCK YOURSELVES.” Those were the only words I heard from inside that building before all hell broke loose. For more than an hour bullets flew like rain, kissing every inch of that building until I thought no brick was left untouched. I stood by waiting until the show was over. By eight it was.
An agent walked up to Eliot and said, “Sir. There are four dead men inside. We have three wounded, one very serious.”
I knew something like that was bound to happen and I think she knew that as well. It usually almost comes down to this. A showdown with a gang like Klutas almost always ends up with everyone riddled with holes. I was hoping it would not come down to that but it did. Once a man’s trigger impulse kicks in you can’t stop him until he unloads all his bottled up anger, and fear through his gun, and I’m talking about the good guys here. It’s a survival’s instinct, I guess.
Eliot and I walked inside the building to inspect the damage, “I believe that’s your handsome Jack,” he said pointing to one of the dead men lying in a pool of his own blood.
“No,”I replied, “Jack is not here,” I added.
“And what makes you say that?” He asked
“Because she is not here.”
It was one hell of a long day. I had not slept that night. I’ll sleep when I die. I still had one thing I needed to do to rap this case up before I hung up my gun for good. I needed to see those eyes to make sure I was still the man who I’ve always been. It was a risk I had to take.
She was peacefully sleeping in her bed, naked and waiting for me. I sat on the edge of the bed admiring that angelic face I so wanted to hold in my hands, those lips I so wanted to kiss, those green eyes….damn those green eyes that brightly lit when she looked at me.
“Good morning Sam,” she greeted me inviting me to do all those things I so wanted to do.
“Good morning Jade,” I replied. I leaned over to kiss her and as I did she heard the clicks of the cuffs locking her hands to the brass frame of her bed.
“Ooo… Sam,” she moaned, “I didn’t know you were into this kinky stuff.”
Unfortunately I was, but not that time. I’ve always liked to use my cuffs for foreplay as much as the next guy but I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of play anymore. I had been played upon by women like Jade for too long. It was time everything stopped, even if I had to give up my cuffs for good. I stood up and walked to the door leaving her to wonder what was going on.
Before I stepped outside her room I turned around and the final piece just clicked, “OF COURSE! Jacqueline, handsome Jacqueline…. Oooo…. you’re good… you’re really good sweetheart …. good buy Jane.”
As I left the large apartment block on Michigan Avenue, with the police sirens echoing in the distance, I knew this was going to be the last time I would be walking these streets. This was my last goodbye to this town, a town that had taken a huge chunk off my life. I owed her much but so did she. I guess we were even. All I could think of as I walked up that street was that farm I grew up in when I was a young boy. Deep down inside I’ve always been a farm boy. That was were I belonged . That was were I wanted to spend the last days of my life and that was where I was heading once this was over. But one thing for certain I was going to miss those greens…