New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from Seven Sordid Stories

Seven Sordid Stories Synopsis

  1.  The Blood on the Curb

After two brothers, both ex-convicts, are shot in a drive-by shooting, Detective George “Six-Shot” McGraw and his partner “Mean Mike” Reed are called to the scene, where they find Anthony Giante dead, and are informed Sam was critically wounded and is en route to the hospital.  They also discover that an innocent woman, a young waitress on her way to work, was killed in the shooting.  They learn from a witness that there was a “short man” who was talking to Giante before the shooting, then fled afterward.  Sam Giante soon succumbs to his wounds, but not before informing the detectives that the short man’s name was “Cook.”  At the police station, McGraw deducts from criminal records of the Giante’s that Cook is “Emmanuel Cook Jr.” a small-time crook who served time with the brothers.  After questioning Cook in his apartment, he pulls a concealed pistol and fires at the officers before escaping into the next room.   Before McGraw can follow, the detectives can hear Cook pleading on the other side of the door with someone; saying he “Did everything he was supposed to.”  Machine-gun bullets rip through the door, and when McGraw storms the room he finds Cook dead, the window open.  McGraw pursues the suspect down the fire escape, barley avoided being killed himself before the “Man in the white fedora” escapes in a dark sedan.  Back at the station, McGraw and Reed are berated for their supposed misconduct and improper handling of the case by Chief Undger.  McGraw finds this unacceptable and fires back at the Chief – even accusing his partner of having gone out of his way to slow them down on the Cook lead.  McGraw turns in his badge, but not his gun.  Packing his things, he learns from a rookie cop he sent digging for information that there is a third Giante brother, unknown at first because of a name change.  McGraw goes to the address of the brother, who goes by the name “Charlie Carlo” where he finds the man’s hostile wife.  The woman eventually admits that her husband is in hiding, and that both gangsters and police have come looking for him.  After revealing an alarming detail about one of the visitors, McGraw presses her harder and learns the name of the hotel Charlie is hiding in.  Before he goes the wife admits that she also informed the policemen who came before him of her husband’s location. At the hotel McGraw finds Charlie in, he also discovers Chief Undger and Detective Reed.  Keeping them all at gunpoint, McGraw listens as Charlie explains the history of corruption within the department, and how Undger, Reed, and two more now-deceased policemen where involved in the massacre of a gang they were working with, and how they even had the two other policemen killed later on when it seemed they may inform on them for leniency on other charges. Charlies explains that he and his brothers were the last living witnesses they wanted to get rid of.  In the midst of the confession the machine-gun-toting hitmen arrive, and a vicious gunfight ensues.  McGraw and the last Giante survive, but before he dies, Reed tells McGraw he’s a hypocrite, as he is known to have murdered a reputed mobster in cold-blood.  McGraw admits as much but tells Reed he went out of his way to solve the case because of the innocent blood spilled in it. 

  1. It Comes in Threes

Richard is picked up at the airport by his voluptuous wife, Rita.  They drive to their favorite restaurant and plan to meet their best friend, Sean, a celebrated painter, later for drinks, celebrating Richard’s birthday.  Richard believes that Rita and Sean are having an affair.  After dinner Richard drives her to a secluded “Lover’s Lane” and pulls a gun he purchased on his trip.  But in the excitement, he forgets to load the weapon and instead manually strangles Rita.  Richard meets Sean at the designated hotel-bar, where the three have deep roots.  When Sean asks about Rita, Richard says she went home; Sean finds this strange.  When Richard tries to get Sean to leave with him, Sean instead insists he follow him upstairs.  Imagining that this is where his friend and his wife were planning on informing him of their infidelity, Richard shoots Sean in the back of the head as soon as he opens the door, instead discovering a surprise birthday party with all their friends and coworkers, who flee in terror.  Richard sees a painted portrait of Rita inside the room (something he’d long asked his friend for, with no success), coming to the devastating conclusion that Rita had been surreptitiously visiting Sean’s home for this purpose.  Standing in front of the portrait of his wife, Richard shoots himself. 

  1. A Killer Scoop

In the neighborhood of Dunbar, a serial killer known as the “Switchblade Slayer” is on the loose; with an article in the paper briefly describing his M.O. and a suspected profile of the killer, inferring he is a mentally-impaired loner, incapable of human relationships.  Joan Fuller is a failed actress and waitress in Dunbar.  One evening she meets two men.  The first, though certainly charming enough, she only finds attractive in a superficial way; when this man asks her for a date, she declines.  The next man, John, she meets when he plays her favorite song on the jukebox.  They talk, with John admitting that he’s a writer.  Joan is clearly attracted to him.  He walks her home; the killer and the writer of the article are both mentioned on the way.  She asks John up to her apartment, where the two dance and almost kiss.  But while John is out of the room Joan finds a slip of paper in his jacket detailing the work schedule of someone at her diner.  Suddenly convinced that John is not who he seems Joan flees her apartment.  In the streets, the first man stumbles upon her, comforting her and listening intently to her story.  He takes her to call the police, but they instead arrive back at the diner.  Inside, the man’s demeanor becomes sinister, and it becomes clear that he is in fact the killer.  Before he can hurt Joan, a voice tells him he’s caught.  John appears from the shadows with the police, having obviously been there waiting.  The Killer hurls a knife at Joan before fleeing out the bathroom window, but John steps in front of the knife.  In the chase, The Killer falls to his death while trying to escape across a high clothesline.  John – who admits he is actually the writer of the article, deliberately planting false details to entice the killer into acting so he can be caught – is patched up and reconciles with Joan. 

  1. Devil’s Gypsy

A street gang called the “Devil’s Gypsie’s” engage in a street brawl with the rival Avenuers.  When Voodoo Vic murders another gang member with a lead pipe, he is forced into hiding, accompanied by his younger, loyal sidekick, Hop-Along.  Voodoo Vic is first brought to a gang-associate’s home, but his increasingly reckless behavior concerns those in the house, and before they can ask him to leave, Vic and Hop-Along steal a pistol from them and hold them at gunpoint, ransacking the home before fleeing the scene.  At Hop-Along’s home Vic meets his beautiful older sister, Lily (who none of the gang have ever been told of), before sending Hop-Along out to steal a car for a bank robbery Vic plans to commit.  With Hop-Along gone, Vic goes into Lily’s bedroom and assaults her after his advances are rejected.  Before the assault can go any farther, an enraged Hop-Along appears and the two begin fighting, with Vic stabbing Hop-Along to death while Lily runs away screaming.  Tired and remorseful over Hop-Along’s killing, Vic leaves the apartment, where he sees gang leader, Steady Jack, waiting in the parking lot and watching the building as sirens approach.  At gunpoint, Jack admits to having tipped off the cops about Vic’s location to take the increasing police scrutiny off the rest of the gang.  Voodoo Vic forces Jack into his own car and leads the pursuing police on a wild car chase up a mountain notorious to hot-rodders, where it is clear that he has lost all rational thought and plans to drive off the mountain, emulating a local gang legend. 

  1. The Briefcase

Ricky Blantt and Billy Joe are long time friends and drinking buddies.  One night, on a secluded backroad, as the pair engage in routine binge-drinking and drug abuse, Ricky admits to Billy Joe of a significant debt to a local drug dealer, Tranch, who is known for his violent collecting methods.  At some point the pair hear gunshots coming from the woods, and an initially suspicious Billy Joe shrugs the noise off with Ricky.  When the pair are leaving for home, they come across the grisly aftermath of a mysterious meeting.  They find three bodies riddled with bullets, guns still in some of their hands, indicating a fight.  After the two agree to ignore the scene and flee, Ricky discovers a briefcase under one of the dead bodies – at this point, one of the men they’d presumed dead begins coughing-out blood and feebly pleading for help.  After some convincing, Ricky agrees to drop the stranger off at the hospital and they place the wounded man in the bed of the Ricky’s truck.  Before they leave Ricky and Billy Joe open the briefcase and see that it is lined with money.  Though from the beginning they both agree to keep the briefcase, Ricky believes it means they cannot allow the witness to live to identify them.  Billy Joe refuses until Ricky admits the depth of his substantial debt to the local dealer, pleading for his friend’s help.  Billy Joe agrees, and the pair drive the wounded man to an isolated bridge; when Billy Joe realizes how Ricky wants to carry out the killing he is disgusted, and the pair argue, not noticing the wounded man pulling a pistol from inside his jacket.  Though he sticks the gun in Ricky’s stomach, the stranger is far too weak to squeeze the trigger far enough to fire.  A frightened and baffled Ricky disarms the man, and Billy Joe helps his friend throw the stranger over the bridge to his death.  At Ricky’s home, both men handle the reality of what they’ve done differently – though neither regret taking the briefcase.  When Ricky says he must use the restroom (though Billy Joe hears him going in and out of his backdoor) Billy Joe discovers a series of foreclosure notices.  Realizing the seriousness of his friend’s debt, Billy Joe offers to share a portion of his take of the money with Ricky.  Ricky thanks Billy Joe for all he’s done and follows him into the toolshed the pair frequent.  Inside Billy Joe notices garbage bags all over the wall and floor, before turning around and being shot dead by Ricky.  After disposing of the body Ricky opens the briefcase only to discover the case is filled with phonebooks under the one-layer of money.  Overwhelmed by the macabre irony, Ricky believes he now knows the cause behind the blood-bath they stumbled upon.  After drinking himself to sleep Ricky is awakened by a harsh knock at his door by Tranch.  Without the money to pay the gangster, and having killed his only friend, Ricky sits on the floor of his kitchen deciding whether to answer the door or run away through the back to try and live another day. 

  1. Lunchroom Verdict

A group of mobsters are discussing whether to murder one of their own after the man was recently arrested in a raid.  From the start, one mobster wants only to have the man killed out of fear he will turn informant – with the others more concerned over what they will be ordering for lunch – while another feels the man can be trusted based on past experiences.  The first mobster insists that it is better to be sure of their safety and have the man killed, than to “wait and see.”  The second mobster is outvoted, he agrees, and the contract is out.  When another mobster orders from one of the debated menus, others disagree with his choice and want to discuss their options some more.  The mobster ordering is furious that they would wait to say something about it. 

  1. When They Came Back

Peter Ritten is a professional killer for a criminal organization.  He enjoys the finer things in life and reminiscing on the murders he’s committed.  After he’s latest job – the killing of a schoolteacher who was able to identify a mobster at the scene of a murder – Ritten returns home, but soon notices strange things, small at first, that remind him of the people he’s killed and what they did in life.  But the occurrences escalate, and Ritten is soon convinced that someone is there to avenge one of his victims.  Enraged, he searches his own home and even fires a shot into the ceiling out of anger (this shot alerts his neighbors whom call the police).  He is then confronted by the grisly ghosts of his five victims, who all curse him for cutting their lives short, telling them the good and bad things the would have done in life if they had lived to do it, insisting that Ritten murdered them for his own pleasure.  When it becomes too much for Ritten he fires at each ghost, and though they disappear, he can still hear their voices in his head; this prompts him to attempt suicide, but he has used all six shots of his revolver and the voices begin laughing at him.  He runs out of his home screaming, where a responding police car has arrived.  When confronted by the officers, Ritten insists that someone has “Come back” and is “Inside.”  Not knowing that the gun he’s holding is empty, the police shoot Ritten dead in front of his home.  Detectives arrive at the crime scene, where there is no sign of the intruders Ritten screamed at the officers about.  While one detective surmises that Ritten was crazy or high on drugs, the other notices that everything Ritten shot at was some form of reflective glass.