Rasty Roxie’s Night Out by Johnny Gunn

“It’s an ugly business, Dusty, ugly, and the people I deal with are raised from the gutter to make the world even more ugly.  I have to spend hours in filthy saloons like this one, reeking of stale beer, bad whiskey, spilled wine, ancient tobacco residue.

“Why would any respectable man do this?”

“Prob’ly wouldn’t,” is all Dusty said in retort, from his side of the long oaken plank in a saloon called “Bar”, according to its dilapidated red fluorescent sign outside.

Simon Sol Dorsey, longtime PI, rocked back in laughter at Dusty’s suggestion that he wasn’t the least bit respectable.  “You better back me up with one more of those short shots you charge too much for after that little slam.”  He was standing at the end of the bar, his back to the wall, supposedly collecting his daily bread by watching the man in the red blazer at the number two pool table.

The gentleman was Richard Fricke, supposed head of the vegetable and fruit dock-workers union, and trying to organize the cannery workers as well.  Simon Sol Dorsey had been hired by the dock operators to tail and report his every move.  He’s been doing that for three days now.

“You’re playing pool with Knuckles Olsen, on parole, same as you.  Put you right back up the river, bad boy.  You wouldn’t be hiring muscle, would you?” 

While berating the union boss, one of the city’s better known prostitutes walked into the bar.  “Hey, Sol baby.”

“Rasty Roxie,” he murmured, grasping great hands full of cute little butt.  “Haven’t seen you for a week.  On vacation?”

“Forced,” and she pointed a big long middle finger at Olsen.  “Bastard set me up with a John, then called the cops and told them where I was.  You bugger,” she yelled at him, shook free of big Sol Dorsey, and started for the ape.

“Whoa up, darlin’,” Sol said, grabbing an arm.  “So, you’re back in the pimp business, eh Knuckles?  What’s the problem chum?  Roxie won’t work for you so you set her up?

“And you, Fricke, what are you doing, hiring a gun?  That what you and Knuckles are doing here tonight?  Making a deal?”  The tension up and down the bar extended across the wide room.  Dorsey kept the razzing going.

“Getting all tensed up there, Knuckles.  Want to take me on again?  Last time didn’t turn out too good, if I remember right.  Were you there, Roxie?  Oh, I smashed that fat nose of his flat, broke three ribs and he went to jail with a broken clavicle besides.  Hard to pick up the soap when you hurt like that, eh Knuckles?”

Dusty saw what was about to happen and hit the panic button under the bar that rings straight to the precinct house, two blocks away.  Knuckles roared like a lion or tiger, maybe both, and charged from the pool table, pool cue in hand, head down, almost foaming at the mouth.

Dorsey let him come, and he had a head of steam when he got there.  The big PI stepped aside and let him go head first into the wall.  Dorsey stood him straight up, drove an oversize fist into his groin, stood him up again, pasted him between the eyes, then spun him hall around, paid attention to his timing, hearing the sirens, grabbed Knuckles by the seat of his pants and the collar of his coat, and running as fast as he could, drove the man, head first, through the solid core door and onto the sidewalk.

“Here you go, Officer Rafferty, one ex-felon, on parole, in a bar fight.  There’s another ex-felon inside, and the two have been conspiring.  The other’s name, by the way, is Richard Fricke.  You’re welcome, Officer Rafferty, anytime I can help the police, I will.”  Once and always, the smart ass.

Back inside, he pinched Roxie, lightly of course.  “Want to go have some fun, my little Rasty Roxie?”

Special Delivery by Johnny Gunn

Tomasso “The Bull” Scavolini rocked back and forth, back and forth, letting the gentle squeak from an ancient plank on his porch slowly put him to sleep, part of a daily ritual here on the old family place now that he told himself he was retired.  The old lady in the kitchen, the one that once excited so many as an exotic dancer with flame red hair and intense green eyes, but now with gray-white matted hair and dull lifeless eyes, the one cooking up a pot of lamb shanks with pasta, snorted every time he mentioned retirement.  “So young, so stupid.”  She remembered how The Bull abducted her, and after a while, she just rode with the flow.

Her brother, Tony “The Nose”, had tried to rescue her a couple of times, but The Bull had too many connections with too many of the families.  He was the hit man to go to, thus he had the protection of those that needed his services.  Broken ribs, windows blown out while driving, all told Tony to lay off.  “The Bull wants that woman, and he will have her,” was the message.

“Retirement?  You gotta have a job from which to retire, asshole,” the anger never left anymore.  He just smiled that soft smile that allowed him to kill so many.  They called him The Bull because of his size, his brute strength, but it was his gentle voice, soft smile, and friendly eyes that allowed him to get close to his enemies.  “They never suspected,” he remembered as the squeaking slowed a bit.  He swatted tentatively at a mosquito, and wondered what that sound was he could hear.  Not a car or truck, not an airplane, but a strong humming sound more like the sound a turbine at an electric plant might make.

She heard it too, and a smile crossed the old face, remembering that a month or so ago she had heard that there was a price on the old hit man’s head.  The Bull knew too much, too many names, too many hits.  No retirement for those that kill for a living.  It wasn’t easy, but she got word to her brother and The Nose is responding.

The Bull pulled a screwed up baseball cap that was a favorite toy of She-Wolf his little yellow cat out of his back pocket and walked off the porch to see if he could find the source of the noise.  “Can you hear that?” he hollered into the kitchen, and too late he understood.  “Company’s a-comin’ and I ain’t home, got it?”

He ran as hard as his fat old legs would go, not getting twenty feet before the bullets tore through him.  “Well, damn me.  The Bull is retired for sure, now,” she murmured, putting the lid back on the lamb shanks.

The motorcyclist spun around, stopped in front of the porch and threw a packet to her, a few bills showing through.  “Thanks, sis, you earned this.”