New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from Shocking Circumstances

Biloxi, Mississippi
March 16, 2010

The gun smacked into the man’s face with a sound only solid metal hitting flesh can make. An arch of pink sweat glistened briefly in a ray of sunlight before sticking to a shadowed wall.
The man’s head rolled around his shoulders, eyes showing whites, his mouth burbling incoherently. A garden hose was pointed at the man, turned on, spraying him in the face. He moaned, rolling his head around again to move his mouth and nose clear of the water.
A second assailant stepped forward with a small Taser in his hand. Stuck it to the man’s neck. Jolted him with a low current, zapping him back to consciousness.
A loud slap resonated throughout the building. “Tell me where it is, Jose. Where did you hide it?”
The slap again. “I will beat you to a slow death, you know that? I will saw off your fucking balls. WHERE’S THE GODDAMN MONEY?” demanded a man of enormous girth. Tall and pale with a hair-trigger temper, his face was unremittingly red, his breath an incessant wheeze. He slapped Jose with a hand as big as a catcher’s mitt. “Where is it?!” he shouted with spittle on his lips, veins in his neck and forehead bulging, turning his skin shades of red into purple.
“Jose, come on, amigo. You don’t have to go through this. Just tell us, okay? Dónde esta?” the partner pleaded, playing his natural role as the Good Guy. He really believed he was a good guy. Doing what needed to be done so that he could take care of his family, watch his partner’s back. Though the term “good” was taken to a new level today, he thought. He fidgeted, his fireplug body and chubby Latin face filled with worry.
The place stank of mildew, rotten wood. Of blood and sweat. Of fear. Odors that imbibe paranoia. Hector was constantly looking over his shoulder, listening to the silence of the building and the lack of wind or natural noises from outside.
It was unsettling.
A train horn sounded from miles away, seeming to crescendo inside the death shrouded room, causing Hector to jump and curse a string of Spanish. He breathed deeply to slow his heartbeat. Tried to focus on the job at hand.
Jose gurgled and choked, coughed to clear his throat. Caught his breath. He lifted his head and glared at his enemies. “Cabrones,” he spat. “La Familia has shown you loyalty. Has taken care of you. And you show your gratitude with betrayal? Goat fucking pigs! The worst kind of traitors.” He tensed in pain, struggling to overcome it and continue talking. “I was only mildly surprised by your treachery, gordo,” he said to the huge white man, then spat blood at him. His eyes moved to the other man. “But you, Hector. You are Mexicano, with roots in Juarez. The cartel is your blood. This betrayal will crush your family. They will be exterminated like cockroaches.” He spat again and glared to emphasize his words.
Jimmy wasn’t impressed. He stepped forward, grunting with the effort as he threw a fist into Jose’s stomach. The thud knocked the wind from him, expelled breath thickening the air with more blood and sweat. The ropes holding Jose to the chair strained as his body tried to double over from the pain.
“Where is it? WHERE THE FUCK IS THE MONEY?!” Jimmy shouted in rage, shaking with something far beyond impatience. He screamed and started throwing punch after punch into Jose’s face, stomach, and ribs, his gloved fists dishing out bruises and fractures with every blow. The abandoned apartment building echoed with the fury, but its filthy walls, trash-strewn floors and busted windows were unconcerned witnesses to the brutality.
Jimmy stooped with both hands on his knees. Bent over and wheezing like he was the one being assaulted. He looked over at his partner. “Hose…Him…Taser,” he gasped.
Hector grabbed the hose and twisted the nozzle. The cold stream of water revived Jose enough so that he didn’t have to use the modified Taser. “I don’t think this was a good idea, Jimmy,” he said, turning the hose off. “He’s not going to talk. Jose didn’t get to be a lieutenant by being weak.”
“What, are you scared now? Getting a conscience all of a sudden? It’s too late for that. We can’t just quit and let him go.” He paused and looked at his partner and only friend. “Look, these greasy motherfuckers owe us, Hector. Everybody owes us, this entire community. We have served the public on these ungrateful streets for ten years, saving lives and sending the trash to prison. And what do we have to show for it? An anorexic bank account and more time on the goddamn streets! They owe us, and so does this trash right here,” he said, pushing a tree branch-like finger into Jose’s forehead. “He owes us for not putting him away years ago.” His face poured sweat, unhealthy with dark red splotches on pallid skin, eyes enormous with lack of circulation and a touch of insanity.
He spun back to Jose, who was laughing.
“Hector is right, Jimmy,” Jose croaked, still laughing. His slight frame shook in his yellow silk shirt, eyes alight with the antagonizing desire he felt towards the man he knew would kill him. “And you are wrong in your justification. There is no just due. Nobody owes you. It is greed that controls your life now.” His teeth showed in a bloody smile. “It’s greed that has sentenced you to death.”
Grunting ferociously, Jimmy reared back and slapped him again, putting his whole body into the swing, knocking the chair over backwards. Jose’s body slammed on the floor, thumping his head on the hard, filthy tile. Jimmy leaned down and grabbed his shoulders, pulled up, setting the chair upright again.
He growled in Jose’s face. “Now, you listen to me, big shot, big shit, mafia wannabe greaser.” His voice dropped to an ominous whisper. “You are nothing now. Nothing,” he breathed hotly. “You have been screwing me out of my money for three years, and now it’s my turn to do the screwing.” He smiled pleasantly. “You know, we learned quite a bit about serial killers and their various torture methods at the academy. I would love to try out a few of my favorites on you. You will suffer in pain beyond comprehension. I’ll give you blood transfusions and bring you back to life with a fucking defibrillator so I can kill you and revive you again and again. And again.” Another smile. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tell me where you hid the money and I’ll end it quick and clean, right now.” He snapped his fingers.
Jose whispered like he wasn’t strong enough to speak. He grunted with a swing of his head, motioning Jimmy to come closer. Jimmy leaned down with his ear to Jose’s mouth. “Chinga tu madre,” he said, then spat blood on the side of Jimmy’s face.
“You’re dead! You’re fucking dead, greaser!” Jimmy flustered in anger, then thundered his fists into Jose’s face once more, wheezing and missing as he tired. After eight punches, he ran out of breath and fell on one knee, gasping loudly.
Jose managed to laugh through the final barrage, laughing even harder when he quit. “No, fat man Jimmy. It is you who are dead. Traitors are stupid by definition, and always make mistakes.” He coughed, blood ran out of his mouth and down his clean-shaven chin and neck. His diehard manner and righteous final words would honor his Aztec warrior ancestry. “If my hermanos don’t avenge me, someone else will get you. Sooner, rather than later.”