It's important to be thorough in every facet of life.

Especially if you work in the Gutter.

Scrubbers by D.V. Bennett

“You gonna shoot him?”

“No, Benny.” Nick Pertwee opened a pocket knife and stepped around the body of the man lying at his feet. “I have questions for him. I need answers.” He grabbed a reel of heavy twine and cut off a ten foot section.

Benny Davis pouted. “I wanted to watch. Shit.”

Pertwee looked disdainfully at his partner. “What have I told you before, Benny? Watch your mouth. Profanity is a crutch, for the inarticulate motherfucker. Turn him over.”
Benny flipped the man onto his stomach.

“Man,” he said, “you really cracked him good.”

“Get his wallet out.”

Benny fished it out and flipped it open. “I thought his name was Caddy. Says here it’s—”

“Give me that.” Pertwee snatched the billfold from the smaller man, “Caddy’s his nickname, idiot.”

Caddy had earned fearful respect in his few years on the Chicago streets, and coming at a guy like this from the front would have been stupid. Pertwee knew everybody had the wrong idea about Caddy, because he drove  a candy apple red ‘73 Cadillac . The man hadn’t acquired that handle because of the car, though. Pertwee knew it was because he carried all the “iron” for his drug-dealing pimp of a boss.

Benny held a hand out, “We split his money, right?”

Pertwee’s patience was wearing thin. He threw the few hundred bucks in the air to see Benny scramble after the fallen bills, clawing them up from the concrete floor.

“Junkie shitheads.”

Benny stopped. “You shouldn’t swear. It’s an inevitable guy’s crutch.”

Pertwee pressed his fingers against the area above the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on.

“He’s waking up.” Pertwee bound the man’s arms behind his back with the length of twine.

“Bet you didn’t think you’d ever see this day coming, did you, Caddy? The big man.” Benny kicked him hard in the ribs.

“You do that again, Benny, and I’ll put a bullet through your skull.”

“What’d I do?”

“We need him to talk.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have hit him so hard.”

They had broken into the old chop shop and waited for Caddy to enter. Four minutes past midnight, the big man had strolled through the door. Benny had tased him, but he hadn’t gone down. He’d was still fighting it when Pertwee stepped in and pistol whipped him.

“Hey.” Pertwee tapped at the man’s cheek several times with the back of his hand. “C’mon, wake up.” 

The eyes opened, centering on Pertwees’ face. 

“You understand me?”

The man nodded, so Pertwee dragged him up to sit against a wall and squatted down next to him. He used the tip of his knife to clean a fingernail, making a show of it. “It’s been decided that you and the man you work for are a detriment to my employer and his business, Okay?”

The man shook his head.

“Right,” Pertwee said, “not okay. You’re well known in this town. People admire you because you’re good at what you do. I don’t have any such regard for you. I think you’ve built a reputation as a cheap bully, and you’ve been torturing and murdering people for so long that you’re believing your own press. If you were as good as you think you are, you wouldn’t have allowed us to take you down. I think you’re a sad, worthless waste of skin without a clue, and tonight you’re going tell us where your boss lives.”

The man shook his head, his eyes wide.

Pertwee stood, leaning over to a workbench to grab a set of bolt cutters. “You know what’s nice about these? They don’t have to cut all the way through a chain link before the metal snaps in two from the pressure. It won’t cut all the way through your toes, either, but you’re going to snap from the pressure, just the same.”

The man tried to kick away, but Benny moved in to sit on his legs and remove a shoe and a sock. Placing the jaws of the cutter over the big toe, Pertwee looked down at his prisoner and raised an eyebrow. “Last chance.”

In the ten seconds Pertwee used to slowly bring the handles together, the man never screamed. A high-pitched moan escaped, more breath than whine.

“You’re every bit as tough as your reputation, Caddy. I’ll give you that.” Pertwee selected another toe. “This little piggy?”

“Hey Nick,” Benny said, pointing.

Pertwee turned to see a large man, leveling a revolver at Benny’s chest. Even with the warehouse lights on, the muzzle flash was briefly disorienting, to say nothing of the sound.

Benny stood for just a moment, pointing at his sternum, where a dark spot grew, trailing quickly down the middle of his shirt. He crumpled to the floor.

The gun rose to a point between Pertwee’s eyes.

“Raise your hands,” the man said. “Turn around.”

Pertwee complied, and something hit the back of his head.

Pertwee woke up to find his hands tied behind him and his back against a wall. His feet were bare, and the big man was sitting in a folding chair in front of him. The bolt cutters straddled his lap.

“My name’s Caddy,” the man said, “and you’ve made a huge mistake. You see, my cousin had an important date tonight, and I allowed him to use my Cadillac. That sweet guy has gone through a lot in life. He can’t talk. He’s deaf and he’s mute. Now, because you assholes were so stupid, I have to explain to his mother why he’ll be going through life without a big toe on his left foot. That makes me unhappy, but not half as unhappy as you’re going to be before you die, you dumb, miserable piece of shit.”

What an inarticulate motherfucker, Pertwee thought.

DV Bennett lives and works in Southeastern Washington State, where he trains in martial arts and writes crime fiction. Find out more about him at