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Among Thieves

Ya gotta love the gals down here in the Gutter. Yeah, they can be heartless and cold at times...

But they're not above lending a helping hand to a sucker in need.

Among Thieves by Jeffrey Kuczmarski

I met Bobby
at Simon’s Tap for fifty-cent draft night; the cheap swill tasted like horse piss but my liver didn’t seem to mind. We’d just gotten out of Cook County jail a year ago, and weren’t supposed to drink, consort with one another or carry a weapon, but in an attempt to overcome our extreme reintegration issues, we did all three. As Bobby strutted in I could see he was a helluva lot better off than me. I’d just gotten fired from a minimum wage gig at a nursing home for falling asleep. He had a construction job at a high rise near Lake Shore Drive that paid good coin, enough that he got himself a fancy hunting knife with a bone handle and a sharp German blade. He also had a brand new pair of black cowboy boots that seemed to wink, reflecting the light as he walked. The boots made a nice solid sound on the worn oak floor and the dark leather looked freshly polished. A stark contrast to my own pair of secondhand Redwings, the left sole torn up so bad it let the wet seep in every time it rained. And the goddamn cats and dogs were falling hard tonight. So there I was in my soaked sock and there was Bobby, all brimful of swagger and pride and success, grinning like a prom queen on a float. Yet, despite his recent triumphs, he was still hungry and he greeted me warmly. We sat down at a dimly lit booth in a far corner out of sight. At closing time we waited for the last juice-head to stumble out the door then went into the bathroom and pulled on our ski masks and gloves. We robbed the tender and encouraged vague suspect descriptions with a few fists to the kidneys, then we tore ass down the street in Bobby’s Camaro and shot to his place for a victory whiskey. His girl, Janie, opened the door in a pair of jeans she must have greased before climbing into knee-high red boots. Janie warmed and gave me a shit-eater of a grin as I tossed the cash on the kitchen table and started counting. I made two piles. I had another drink and asked to see that fine knife of his and ran the edge over a fingernail so I could feel it dig into me. Bobby poured drinks and then sat down and told a story about a dog he had as a kid that ravished the legs of door-to-door Bible-beaters who wanted to save him from the twisted, unrighteous path. There’s nothing that causes those bastards to veer off course like a facial from a mastiff. More drinks flowed and a couple of hours went by. Janie laughed, made eyes at me through strands of her long blonde hair and inched closer, eyeballing the stack of dough. I looked around the pad. It was the kinda place I wished I’d had, gleaming hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel reflections. If my luck held, I could be sitting pretty too. After the fourth drink, I wasn’t sure Bobby deserved a cut. After all, the gig was my idea and he was set already. I was still daydreaming when Janie pulled the pistol out of her purse and shot Bobby in the chest. He fell over like a sack of potatoes. Then she turned the gun on me, motioned that I drop the knife and reverted the two piles of cash to one, which she slipped inside her purse. She made me dig the keys out of Bobby’s pocket and set them on the table. She told me to close my still open mouth and had me remove all my clothes and sit on my hands. I obeyed, and knew then that we weren’t the first or the last. Before I had time to be embarrassed that my cock was at full attention, she smiled, told me that she really should shoot me but instead got up and stroked me with one hand while holding the gun on me with the other. Her hand was rougher than I expected and I couldn’t help but squirm in her grasp. The reek of gun smoke hung thick in the air and filled my nostrils like sulfur perfume as she stuck her tongue in my ear and increased her rhythm until I came, gasping for air like a newborn. Then she took my left hand and placed it on her crotch and told me to rub gently, directing my movements until her head flew all the way back and her hair floated behind her like an angel’s wings beating against the wind and she came too. As she shuddered I could have taken the gun and put a bullet in her but I let her finish and a moment later she told me to be a good boy and not move for thirty seconds, and then she walked out the door. I got to the window in time to catch the orange taillights in the distance as she shifted into high gear. I dressed, reached over and grabbed Bobby’s boots. They were a size too big but they kept my feet dry as I walked in the rain thinking that if I could get robbed more often, I might give up thieving. 

Jeffrey Kuczmarski's little black heart beats in Chicago where he carves wood with steel. Jeffrey's visual stuff has been displayed at the DIY Trunk Show and is available on Etsy under Perpetual Relief. Jeffrey's stories can be found in the anthologies Danger City, Danger City 2, and Hardcore Hardboiled. And there's the tongue in cheek novel, Unnatural Trouble, on Amazon. Jeffrey thanks everyone at OOTG, Shotgun Honey and Thuglit for the wood chipper, the ice pick and the unmarked bills.