Witness Protection Program by Roy Dorman

“I’ll have another Lonely Bear IPA when ya get time.”

“Another already, huh?  Ya just sat down.  Guess I’ll have to keep an eye on you.”

“Different folks have been keepin’ an eye on me since I was in the second grade.  With very limited success.”

Jeff Hanson looked up from his book.  He glanced at the wise-cracking customer in the ornate back bar’s mirror.  Nobody he knew.  He went back to his reading.

It was 10:30 on a Tuesday morning and up until now it had been just he and the bartender.  Jeff liked it like that.

Eddie, the bartender at Russ & Tommy’s Saloon, set the fresh tap down in front of the customer.

“So, I’m Ronny,” said the customer, extending his hand to Eddie.  “What’s goin’ on here in Jerome that I might be interested in.”

Eddie shook Ronny’s hand.  “Oh, it’s pretty quiet here.  A few bars, some nice little restaurants, and a couple of hotels and rooming houses.  Whadda ya lookin’ for?”

“Action,” said Ronny.

“Well, you might find some action down the road in Sedona or over in Prescott, but Jerome’s just a small town that puts up with a quiet tourist trade.  No big city stuff here.”

“So, did you grow up in Jerome?” asked Ronny.

“Nope.”

Eddie went to washing some glasses.  Jeff Hanson checked the mirror again to see how the newcomer took Eddie’s short answer.

“Well, where ya from?” asked Ronny, sounding a little annoyed.  “I’m from The Bronx.  That’s in New York City.”

“I know where The Bronx is,” said Eddie, now rinsing the glasses and setting them on a drain board to dry.

Jeff was watching Ronny in the mirror when Ronny looked over at him.  “What’s with him?” he asked.

“He’s in The Witness Protection Program,” said Jeff without smiling.

Jeff then turned on his bar stool and faced Ronny.  “Actually, Eddie and I are both in The Witness Protection Program.  There’s a bunch of us in Jerome who are.  Who ya lookin’ for?”

When Ronny turned from Jeff back to Eddie he was looking at the silencer on the end of a pistol.

“You’re Johnny Sampson, ain’tcha,” said Eddie.  “I didn’t recognize ya at first.  Tell Louie ‘Hey’ from me when ya see him in hell.”

There was a “pfffft!” from the pistol and Ronny, or Johnny, fell backward off his stool onto the floor, taking his IPA with him.

“Waste of good beer,” said Jeff.  “I musta recognized him just after you did.  When you gave him that ‘Nope’ I figured he needed a closer look.”

“Sometimes it’s like you think this is all fun and games,” said Eddie.   “One day, they’re gonna send a smarter wiseguy out here and he may just shoot first without the chatter.”

“Yeah, tellin’ us he was from The Bronx was really dumb.  If we needed anything to snap us to attention, something like that would do it.”

Another beer, Jeff?”

“Let’s move the stiff out back first.  Lunch crowd’ll be showin’ up soon.”

“Right.  I’ll ask Lester to take Johnny here up to the old mine shaft after dark.”

“So, Eddie, this Witness Protection Program we’re in – who is it exactly that’s supposed to be protectin’ us.”

“It’s a Federal program, so I guess it’s the Feds’ job.  Seems like so far it’s been just you and me protectin’ each other.  Here, you take his legs….”

Not For Sale by Roy Dorman

In their shabby two-bedroom apartment above a little Italian grocery, Sarah Winston’s husband, Eric, was passed out drunk where she had left him; on the bed she had grown to hate. Sarah had taken off in their aging Ford Focus with a black eye, three suitcases, her fourteen year-old daughter, Maddie, and little else. Upon reaching the outskirts of town, she had randomly chosen one of the two on-ramps. Pulling into the right lane, she had smoothly accelerated toward a place she had been fantasizing about for a long time. Somewhere Else.

An hour later, Sarah is now stopped at a wayside off the interstate so that she and Maddie can use the restroom. She’s relieved to see that there are no other cars in the lot. As they are washing up, she hears what sounds like a pick-up truck with a dying muffler pull up outside and then a man’s voice say, “Check the Men’s.” A rough looking man who resembles her husband a bit walks into the Women’s.

In their shabby two-bedroom apartment above a little Italian grocery, Sarah Winston’s husband, Eric, was passed out drunk where she had left him; on the bed she had grown to hate. Sarah had taken off in their aging Ford Focus with a black eye, three suitcases, her fourteen year-old daughter, Maddie, and little else. Upon reaching the outskirts of town, she had randomly chosen one of the two on-ramps. Pulling into the right lane, she had smoothly accelerated toward a place she had been fantasizing about for a long time. Somewhere Else.

An hour later, Sarah is now stopped at a wayside off the interstate so that she and Maddie can use the restroom. She’s relieved to see that there are no other cars in the lot. As they are washing up, she hears what sounds like a pick-up truck with a dying muffler pull up outside and then a man’s voice say, “Check the Men’s.” A rough looking man who resembles her husband a bit walks into the Women’s. Continue reading “Not For Sale by Roy Dorman”

The Return of the Salesman by Roy Dorman

Henry Wilson was pissing what seemed to be a gallon of used beer when he heard the front door close.

“I’m home,” came a call from the living room.

“Hi, Honey, I’m in the bathroom,” Henry called back.

“Why don’t you close the door, for Pete’s sake?”

“If I’d walk over to close the door, I’d piss all over the floor.”

“Very funny. Ha, ha. What are these beer bottles doing all over the place.”

“Oh, Jerry and I were just havin’ a few. Jerry, this is Evelyn. Evelyn, Jerry.”

Henry Wilson was pissing what seemed to be a gallon of used beer when he heard the front door close.

“I’m home,” came a call from the living room.

“Hi, Honey, I’m in the bathroom,” Henry called back.

“Why don’t you close the door, for Pete’s sake?”

“If I’d walk over to close the door, I’d piss all over the floor.”

“Very funny. Ha, ha. What are these beer bottles doing all over the place.”

“Oh, Jerry and I were just havin’ a few. Jerry, this is Evelyn. Evelyn, Jerry.”

“Henry, there’s nobody out here. Who’s Jerry?”

Henry finished up and walked into the living room where Evelyn was standing with her hands on her hips.

“Shit, he must have snuck out when I was pissin’. Here I was tryin’ to figure out how to get rid of him and he was tryin’ to figure out how he could get outta here.”

“Sounds a lot like us.”

Ha, ha, yourself.”

“So you gonna tell me who this Jerry is?”

“Oh, he called this morning after you left for work and asked if he could stop in and demonstrate a new state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner. I told him, sure, he could come over after lunch, bring a couple of six-packs, and I’d listen to his spiel. He came over, vacuumed the living room while I had a beer. He then gave me the hard sell on buying the vacuum cleaner and I had another beer. I told him I’d think about it while he vacuumed the bedroom and kitchen. I had another beer. When he was done with that, I steered ‘em into talkin’ about sports. Turns out he’s a Cubs fan. How can anybody be a Cubs fan in New York City? We got the Yankees and the Mets.”

“Well anyhow, he had a beer and I had another. He offered to do the drapes with a special attachment the vacuum had. I said sure, why not, knock yourself out. He did the drapes, I had another beer and when I went to the bathroom he must have done his disappearin’ act.”

“So, I had a tough day, Henry,” said Evelyn.   “Do you think you could throw something together for dinner?”

“Hey, I got the place vacuumed, didn’t I? I had a tough day too.”

“Let’s see; drinkin’ beer, talkin’ baseball, and watchin’ some poor schmuck vacuum the place. Ya, real tough day, Henry. When are you gonna get a job?”

Henry walked into the kitchen and made a noisy show of rattling pots and pans that were in a drawer under the stove. Evelyn had followed him and now stood over him shaking her head.

“I was thinkin,” said Henry.  “Maybe I’ll talk to Jerry about gettin’ into the vacuum cleaner sales racket.  I think I’d be good at it. Hey, sounds like somebody’s at the door; get it would ya.”

“You really take the cake, Henry,” said Evelyn as she trudged to the front door. “Oh…, um…, hello. Lookin’ for Henry? Henry, is Jerry tall, good lookin’ and dressed in a nice blue suit?”

“Yeah, that sounds like him. Is he back?”

“Yeah, and he brought a friend. Looks like a twelve gauge, am I right, Jerry? Go right in; Henry’s in the kitchen. Try not to make too much of a mess, okay? I had a tough day.”

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men by Roy Dorman

“You’ll never take me alive, copper!” mutters Eddie Janson in his best Cagney impersonation.

Eddie’s been a thief for all of his adult life. Any “real” job he’s ever held was only the prelude to somehow ripping off whatever he could from whoever it was he was working for at the time. He’s done time twice and has learned a lot about what he needs to do to make sure that there isn’t a third time. Eddie figures that the trick is to have a good plan, execute it, and then not screw it up by doing something dumb for the next few weeks.

“You’ll never take me alive, copper!” mutters Eddie Janson in his best Cagney impersonation.

Eddie’s been a thief for all of his adult life. Any “real” job he’s ever held was only the prelude to somehow ripping off whatever he could from whoever it was he was working for at the time. He’s done time twice and has learned a lot about what he needs to do to make sure that there isn’t a third time. Eddie figures that the trick is to have a good plan, execute it, and then not screw it up by doing something dumb for the next few weeks.

Last week, Eddie hit a branch bank in the suburbs, did a smash and grab at a small jewelry store, and rifled the safe at a restaurant he had heard also did a profitable bookie business on the side. Three jobs in three days was taking a risk, but the key here was that each job was entirely different from the other. There was no connection; the police would most likely be looking for three different perps. Dopes that robbed three savings and loans in two days were setting themselves up to fail. The cops would stake out every savings and loan in the area and be waiting to make the bust. Diversification was the key.

Eddie had had a cellmate in his last stay who was one of those survivalist types. Frank Wilson was sure that eventually there was going to be some sort of societal meltdown and when it happened he was going to be prepared. Unfortunately for Frank, he was now doing twenty-to-life for murder and might never get to take advantage of all of his planning, assuming the comet hit, or the Martians landed, or whatever.

Now, sitting in an easy chair in Frank Wilson’s underground bunker, Eddie was chuckling at his Cagney imitation. Frank had told him if he ever needed a place to lay low, he could use the bunker that was beneath the basement of his parents’ bungalow in the Bronx. Ten years ago, Frank had spent the good part of some bank robbery money building the bunker. He’d had it vented and soundproofed and built to last. There was three feet of earth between the bunker’s two-foot thick cement ceiling and the basement’s floor. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never find it.

Eddie has stocked the already well-stocked hideaway with some things he likes and plans to live there until the police move on to chasing after somebody else. Frank’s parents had moved to a retirement home in Florida a few weeks ago and the bungalow is empty. The afternoon that Eddie arrived it had looked to him like the whole neighborhood must have moved to Florida; houses on both sides of Frank’s parents’ house appeared to be abandoned. The whole street had been quiet as a tomb.

“I got no use for neighbors; neighbors might start nosin’ around,” Eddie had said to himself that day.   “I’m just gonna lay low until the gas generator gives out. I’d think it should last me a couple of weeks.”

***

Ted Findorff, owner of Findorff’s Demolition and Paving, is having a talk with his senior foreman, Jack Bellwick. “This is gonna be one of those quick and dirty jobs,” said Ted. “The city wants it done ASAP and we’re gonna oblige ‘em. I want that block leveled and paved over in less than three days. The houses are all empty; the city owns the whole shebang. Level the houses and cram whatever wreckage you can into the basements. Haul everything left over to the landfill and then fill the basements with the cheapest dirt you can find. After that, you pave it over, got it?”

“No problem, Mr. Findorff,” said Jack. “Piece of cake.”