Rule Number Two


“Look, you can work me over as much as you like, but you won’t get what you’re lookin for. I run a tight business and I have rules. Rule number one, I never lay eyes on the employer. Rule number two, I don’t quit until the job’s done. Period. That’s the way I run my shop. If I end up strapped to a chair, getting tuned up by some cheap suits, I can’t rat. Bein a rat’s bad for business.” I said. I needed to kill some time; create some space to think. My hands were bound behind me so tight I couldn’t feel anything from the elbow down. Tony’s boys had worked me over pretty good and I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I wasn’t sure if it was gone or just crusted over with dried blood. There were two of em; about two hundred and fifty pounds of stupid a piece. I could tell by the way they threw a punch they were hacks, all knuckles and no finesse. No imagination.

“So here we are. You want somethin I can’t give you.” I said spitting blood on the concrete.   “I don’t know who put the hit out on big Tony. You can roll out your shiny bag of cutlery, and fire up the power tools, but I’m telling you, I don’t know. Cause I don’t need to know.” The one I called Nancy, on account of his soft hands, laid a haymaker on me. I guess he didn’t like my tone. I get that a lot. I spit another mouthful of blood on the floor and flashed a toothy snarl. “I’m a cleaner, independent and a damn sight more efficient than the butchers runnin around these days. It’s a matter of dignity you see. It’s about a job well done.”

The other bag of shit, I called Frosty cause he kept pretty chilly during our little tango. I noticed his hands didn’t shake a bit while he was jabbin a thumb in my eye. Not too shabby, but it was still amateur hour.

“I get it.” I said. “Your boss won’t let you come back with nothin to show for your time. How bout I tell you how I got the job, then you can work me over some more. Maybe that’ll be enough to keep you outta the trunk of that Continental outside.”

Frosty leaned in “This ain’t a joke wise guy.” He gave my eye another poke for emphasis.  All I needed was to keep these two busy; wear em down. They knew they were out of their league, and soon enough one of em, probably Nancy, would put in a call to the boss. I just needed to tell em enough to buy some time.

“I keep some P.O. boxes around town under bogus names. If somebody wants my services they probably heard of me through a former client. I don’t advertise. My work speaks for itself. Somebody wants some wet work done they call in to Floyd’s barbershop down on 126th. You ask for Lou. You say you want a straight razor shave. Now Lou was a one of the old guys from back in the day. If you wanted a good shave he was your man. A fuckin Michelangelo with a blade I tell you.” Frosty laid a jab into my ribs. I could tell by lookin at his stubbly face, that he didn’t appreciate a good shave.





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