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Bareknuckles Pulp No. 16: A Heavy Pugnacious Character

What's that you say? Brotherly love?

A Heavy Pugnacious Character by Paul Greenberg



“You’re with a young boy at the mall and you’re carrying a Victoria Secrets bag. That’s bad news for you, Georgie Boy. Who wants the kid? What were you doing with the kid? Where were you taking the kid? Who is the buyer? You better talk.”

“I know nothin’.”

Larry Johnson grabbed Georgie Boy Rudnick by his scraggily ponytail and pulled so hard that Georgie Boy fell right out of his chair. When Larry finally let go of Georgie Boy’s greasy tail, his brother Gary Johnson leaned over the table and said, “Name him.” Then quickly boxed his ears with both hands.

“He’s a… heavy… pugnacious character,” whimpered Georgie Boy, blood starting to trickle out of his left ear.

“Pugnacious? What are you a fuckin’ wise ass? I’ll show you pugnacious,” said Gary Johnson as he picked up a stapler, opened it flat wise and banged a staple into Georgie Boy’s hand while Larry shoved a dirty snot filled rag into Georgie Boy’s mouth.

Larry and Gary Johnson looked like the Blues Brothers. Larry was tall and lanky, Gary shorter with a stocky build. No one pointed out the dichotomy to the boys. In fact, no one even spoke to them unless they had a really good reason. The Johnson brothers were considered outcasts, psychos, cavemen from an era when Miranda was just a samba singer.

But when they were in the box with a perp it was like synchronized swimming. They were a combination of the Three Stooges and the Busby Berkeley Dancers. If torture wasn’t illegal than what the Johnson brothers did might be considered an art. They had been practicing on neighborhood kids since elementary school. They had studied TV shows and movies growing up, wondering why Jack Webb didn’t slap the criminals around. They enjoyed the way Andy Sipowitz worked but Vic Mackey was their kind of cop. But no one could top Detective Harry Callahan.

The Johnson brothers put the fear of God into anyone that sat in the box with them and they had the best close rate in the precinct to back them up.

“He’s crying, Gary. I tink you hurt his wittle hand.”

“But Larry, all I did was this.”

Gary Johnson feigned stapling another knuckle together and Larry pulled the snot rag from Georgie Boy’s mouth, tossing it in his lap.

“It’s Chet Foster. He’s bringing in meth from New Jersey. The kid was a gift to the guy on the other end. I don’t know his name. He’s making the trade at the loading dock of his trucking company. I was gonna hold on to the kid for the afternoon… you know? Now I’m as good as dead.”

Larry opened a file cabinet in the corner of the room and pulled out a sap. Gary picked up Georgie Boy from the chair and held his arms behind his back. Larry whipped the sap across Georgie Boy’s face breaking his nose with a sickening crack and loosening several teeth at the same time. Blood gushed like a blooming flower across Georgie Boy’s yellow Hawaiian shirt.

“Gotta make it look good,” said Larry, as he pulled Georgie Boy to attention so Gary could lay a forearm smash in the center of his face.

Georgie Boy Rudnick was a bloody, pulpy mess as they opened the door of Interrogation and walked him down the hall to Booking.

“Add resisting arrest to his charges,” said Larry.

Gary signed out an unmarked car and they headed over to Chet Foster’s trucking company which was near the yacht club down by the base of the Salem River. They hid the car behind a fence among the lobster traps and boats up on trailers for the winter. Foster’s building and dock were just on the other side of the fence.

Three hours had passed and Chet had not appeared. The Johnson brothers hadn’t spoken or moved from their positions other than when Gary farted and Larry would lower the window.

Finally, Foster came out on the dock. He was a heavy pugnacious character after all. Five foot six, 250, buzz cut, head like a watermelon, a pug boxer’s nose, no lips, no neck, unibrow.

Foster looked at his watch. It was six o’clock. Georgie Boy was supposed to meet him, with the kid, at six. The New Jersey driver with the meth would come into the yard and the swap would be made.

“So…” said Larry.

“We have a little chat…” said Gary.

“Get the name of the maggot on the other end…”

“Pass it on to our friends in Jersey…”

“Everybody’s happy…”

“The meth?”

“Fuck it.”

They worked their way around the fence into Foster’s yard and didn’t waste any time. The Johnsons grabbed him and pinned him up against a wall. Gary grabbed Foster by the balls and squeezed.

“Larry, I think Chet is getting a boner.”

“Maybe you’re not squeezing hard enough.”

Gary torqued it up a notch until he could feel a testicle dislodge. Foster screamed in pain.

“No noise outta you.” said Larry, pocking Foster in the eye with his forefinger.

A black Mercedes SUV pulled into the lot and quickly screeched out at the sight of Larry and Gary squeezing the life out of Foster’s Johnson.

“Say, bye bye.” Said Larry.

“There goes your collar,” gasped Foster.

“We’re not here for the meth, Chet. We want the name of the lover boy who likes kids and Victoria Secret underwear.”

“Listen. You guys don’t know the kind of pain I’ll go through if I give up that name,” said Foster.

“You’re already dead. You know it and we know it,” said Larry.

Gary had let go of Foster’s balls and fished a pen knife out of his pocket. He flicked open the tiny blade and started cutting into Foster’s forehead.

“Cut ‘baby killer’ into his head Gary? Think the boys at the club would enjoy his company then?”

Foster knew they were right. He was dead. He gave up the name. They let him go but not before going through his pockets. He had a snub nose at the base of his spine. Larry checked to see that it was loaded and handed it back to Foster.

“Do yourself a favor,” said Gary.

As the Johnson brothers headed back to their car on the other side of the fence they heard one single gunshot.

“I’m hungry.” said Larry.

“Chinese?” asked Gary.



A former Capitol Records employee, Paul Greenberg has in the past, sold; production music, radio, billboards, cell phones, worked a cash for gold kiosk and as a plant merchandiser. Lost in the New Economy, Paul has returned to his first love, writing about characters as twisted and lost as he is.