It Is What It Is

We cover a lot of bleak territory at the Gutter, but if you look inside

the cavernous heart of any villain, a policeman's may be just as dark.

It Is What It Is by Jim Wilsky

“That ain’t the job Soto gave us. All we do is follow Moody, then do him when the time is right. We take him and Cepeda out. Take the money and drugs. Done.” Jensen sipped and grimaced at the taste. “She’s not a part of the job, hero.”

“I know … but damn.”

“But nothing. That’s it. That’s all.”

“He’s gonna kill her. Just like the one he probably did yesterday. You know that. We gotta do

“Poole, you got no say in this anymore.”

They both sat low, drinking their cold coffee and staring ahead.

“It is what it is”, added Jensen. It was his stock answer for everything.  

Down at the end of the block, Moody was walking a stumbling long-haired girl along an overgrown hedge that lined the driveway. At the street he steered her to his car, glancing both directions, up and down the rotting little side street of row houses. He was in no hurry, right out in the open.

You could drag a dead cop to the middle of Delavan Avenue and it would be a day before you might, might, have someone say something. Dead and dying cars lined the curb like bad teeth. This north end of the township was basically a cemetery. Each house like a big tombstone.

Moody leaned the girl against the old Buick with a stiff arm to her chest and opened the passenger side with the other.  Her head lolled up, staring at the cloudy sky and then back down again like a broken doll. Her drugged look then settled on Moody, her mouth opened and then shut. Like a fish out of water. She rolled her stare sideways to her shoulder and finally down to the ground.

 Then she was gone as he slid her into the front seat, belted her in to keep her up straight and shut the door. Looking at her through the back window, Jensen saw the round shape of her head bob up and then disappear, then up again.

“She’s still alive at least.” Poole said.

“What’d I fuckin’ say, Jimmy? No more now.” Jensen dropped his hand from the steering wheel and slid a frustrated look over at the man in the dark blue uniform.    

Poole lifted a chin towards the windshield. “He’s goin’ now.”

Moody had walked around the back of the car and got in. The rusted Le Sabre cranked and whined in the cold crisp air. Finally it coughed and caught. White exhaust billowed out from a muffler that was barely hanging on.

As Moody pulled away from the curb, he put their car in gear and eased out. Jensen was hoping this shit was finally coming to an end. He had put in for a couple of days off but didn’t have many left to burn. 

It turned out Moody had a thing for killing young working girls. And maybe it wasn’t just working girls. This was one was at the Xeno Club last night when he hit on her. Rough place, but that doesn’t mean she was a hooker.

Two girls in three days. This one wasn’t dead yet but she would be soon enough. Yesterday, Moody had walked a staggering blonde into an old meat plant and came out alone two hours later.

Trouble was Soto didn’t give a rat’s ass about these girls, or anything else like that. Soto only cared about finding the elusive dealer Ezequiel Cepeda, and Moody was the connection. Word was they met twice a week but nobody knew where, always somewhere different. They had to hook up soon.

When that happened, Moody and Cepeda were gonna be dead. Soto would have his revenge, the drugs and money would be a bonus. Jensen would be paid his shitty little cut, that supplemented his shitty little salary, and then it would be back to waiting for another job on the side.

“Think about your own daughter man. Think about Abby…” Poole stared straight ahead as he spoke. His voice was weak, distant.

Jensen glared over at him and then back to the street. Up ahead, Moody had stopped at a red light. He jerked back to Poole. “Shut the fuck up Poole. Last warning.”

Poole held a hand up, started to say something more and then decided not to.

They drove a few more blocks and Moody hung a left on Oleander Road, heading to the edge of town. Same route as yesterday. He felt the burning look that Poole was giving him from across the front seat.

Whether it was the cop in himwhat was left of that anywayor just pure guilt he didn’t know. More likely it was his partner Poole, his partner who had been killed that night on the domestic call two years ago. He would find Cepeda for Soto, just not now.

Jensen left Moody at the old plant with a bullet in the back of his head. He dropped the girl off at a hack doctor that owed him. It felt good but as always these days that had faded quickly. It just didn’t last anymore.

Losing Poole had broken him for good. All he could do was tap the brakes every once in a while on the long spiral down.     

His old partner will leave him alone now. For a while anyway.      

Jim Wilsky is a writer of crime and western fiction. He is the co-author of a three book series; Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds and the most recent release, Closing the Circle. A new book is coming out in early 2015. His short story work has appeared in some of the most respected online magazines such as Beat To A Pulp, Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect, Yellow Mama, Rose & Thorn Journal, Pulp Metal, Plots With Guns, The Big Adios and others. He has contributed stories in several published anthologies, including All Due Respect, Kwik Krimes and Both Barrels. Find out more at: