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When throwing someone in the water,

make sure those concrete shoes are a good fit.

Retribution by James Candiloro

Never mind the fact that cement shoes are a fucking cliché. If you don't let 'em cure, you end up with a body that doesn't sink.

Getting cute with the methods just invites ways for things to go sideways. I know first-hand that if you need info you gotta use your imagination. But, you try to kill me, you better make fuck-sure my body sinks.

Take Nicky Peaches as an example. He needed to live long enough to talk so I took half-a-dozen of those plastic bouncy house stakes, tied them to his arms and legs, and pounded them into the ground. For this I go taut-line hitch every time, it's a simple knot that always does the job. Boy scouts and astronauts can't be wrong. He was half unconscious, so there was plenty of time to let the lawn mower warm up while he came to.

His old lady had one of them sweet, quick-turn jobbies - twenty horse power, fifty-four-inch cutting deck. A machine like that doesn't even drop RPMs when you run over Nicky Peaches’ arm. It sprayed red gobs, white bits, and strips of blue-white Hawaiian shirt a good eight feet across the stone patio. Red, white, and blue. I almost saluted.

He told me the day's password while his blood soaked the grass. A ragged, twitching stump where his left arm used to be. Don't think I felt bad about the tire marks I left across his neck and face, that pig-fucker had it coming.

The cement shoes were his idea.

Then there's Vinny, the door guy at Joey's place. It would've been in everyone's interest if Vinny had just taken the chromed .38 he kept in his waist band and put it to his temple years ago.

Instead, there I was knocking on the door, answering his challenge with the password. He recognized my fuckin' voice and still opened the damn door. As soon as it unlatched, my weight went against it and Vinny's eyes widened while he fumbled for his piece.

He was still trying to form words while I put my Glock in his face and my finger brushed the grooves on the trigger. Once you're close to the five-pound trigger pull, you don't feel those grooves anymore.

Everything in the room, including the cheap-ass wood paneling, vibrated from the movie blasting upstairs and I realized nobody was going to hear shit.

The wall behind Vinny got painted like a Pollock.

The new paint job was done in shades of red, white, and gray, reminding me of a shitty band poster the way the arrangement of the white sort of made like a Soviet hammer and sickle.

What was left of Vinny, from the nose down, toppled back over his black stool. A glob of gray paint hung out the back of his head.

In all honesty, that's when my throat closed up and my mouth got all slick, but that simpleton shit-head had it coming. He was the one that bought the cement.

Upstairs, I took my time looking around, waving the barrel of my Glock into each room until I was satisfied Nicky Peaches's info was good, and that Vinny was working security alone.

In the movie room, Joey was sprawled out on a leather couch, empties piled on the floor.

I let myself think maybe he was trying to drink away the guilt. Fill up the space that hollows out under your ribs when you waste your own friend. That beat-dog look almost made me turn back.


Sneaking around a couch littered with empties—when you want nothing more than to shoot the fucker lying on it in the face—is a challenge all its own. Joey watched the damn movie until I was half in front of the screen. He just laid there, mumbling the word, “Ghost.” Then I saw the pills spilled across his chest. Half a handful of vikes forgotten on his shirt.

I don't know what it was that snapped him back to reality enough to draw his Smith and Wesson. 

Two shots—one to the shoulder and one to the upper thigh—put an end to that shit. The shoulder shot would have been enough to keep him from wasting me again. The shot to the thigh was, well, because I wanted him to bleed out.

Joey, he convinced the others to keep me alive until they threw me in the river.

Watching the black spread across his groin, I told him I forgave him. After all, I had it coming.

James Candiloro lives just outside Albany, New York, with his wife, two kids, labmaraner (it’s a real thing), and chickens. When he’s not putting kids in time-out, James works as an environmental engineer.