Sloppy Operator

In some places, do your job wrong and you might get written up, even fired. In the Gutter? The punishment suits the crime.

Sloppy Operator by Tom Leins

Her real name is Carol Cummings, but she prefers to be called Khandi Kane.
She likes to tell people she works as a glamour model, but as far as I know she only ever made one topless calendar—for a local petrol station.
She is better known as ‘Snow White,’ after she fucked a couple of midgets while shooting a video for a smut-freak called Caruso back in the ‘90s. She was supposed to fuck all seven but the others were too drunk and sat around in the background, wanking and smoking noxious-looking cigarettes.
‘Snow White and the Seven Dicks’ was filmed in the cellar of the Kirkham Social Club, and what it lacked in production values, it made up for with its plot—which had a couple of well-judged twists. I know—I’ve watched it.
When I arrive at Hakan’s office, Khandi is sat on a patched-up sofa, painting her toenails a disturbing shade of stomach lining pink. She’s not his wife, she’s his mistress. Her flat stomach is heavily scarred, and a rusty-looking piercing dangles from her belly button.
She looks up at me, cigarette smouldering between her glossy lips.
“He’s in a bad mood, Joe. A rotten fuckin’ mood…”
I shrug.
Fuck it.
Bad news coming out of a pretty mouth is still bad news.
Hakan looks unwell. His skin has a sickly sheen, and his greeting comes out as a ragged bark. I heard that he got smashed in the throat with a baseball bat last week, during an altercation with a group of Aryans.
He is wearing a khaki jacket over a white turtleneck. He probably thinks it looks sophisticated, but frankly it looks fucking ridiculous.
He is a low-level guy but he’s running things for his cousin, Suleiman, while he is back in Turkey visiting his sick mother.
No one in Paignton stays powerful for long. They are either wondering how to keep hold of it, or wondering how they lost it. He is no different.
“What can I do for you, Hakan?”
He tries to clear his throat, and it sounds like cheap underwear ripping.
“You know my nephew, Kazim?”
I shake my head.
“You’re lucky. Kid is a fucking punk. He was getting his dick sucked in some boy brothel last week, and got loose-lipped with another customer. Some old Nazi bastard named Garrity. Fuckers raided one of my stash houses later that night. Shot two of my men through the kneecaps. Robbed my—Suleiman’s—smack.”
He rolls down the neck of his sweater, shows me the black and yellow bruising.
“And did this. Now he’s missing.”
“You want me to find him, right?”
He nods.
“What are you going to do with him?”
He pauses, lights a cigarette.
“Did your father teach you much, Joe?”
I shake my head. I never met him.
“Mine did. Before I left home. He taught me how to shoot cattle in the head when the animals were too far gone to save.”
He stubs out the cigarette without smoking it, a pained expression etched across his ravaged face.
When I arrive at the North Atlantic Motor Inn a pair of elderly cops called Benson and Hedges are dragging a floater out of the pool with a big fucking net. That’s certainly one way to check out.
It’s a typical no-tell motel—unless you grease the right palms, that is.
The cocktail lounge is surprisingly busy for a week-night. When this place first opened, the only hookers were he-shes and girls with visible deformities. Today, there are even a couple of high-class working girls further down the bar. Keeping their distance from Wet-Look.
Hunched on a barstool, he cuts a shambolic figure, hair slicked back with its own grease. He is a degenerate ex-cop with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local skin trade.
I pat him on the shoulder. His hound’s-tooth jacket is greasy to the touch.
“Fancy a drink, sunbeam?”
I shake my head. “I’m not staying.”
He shrugs.
“How did you find him so quickly?”
“In this town, it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow…”
He grins queasily at me, and wipes his lips on his Devon & Cornwall Constabulary tie.
“Is he still here?”
“Room 13.”
I start to pat him on the back again but think better of it and wipe my hand on my jeans.
Hakan is lurking in the lobby, still wearing his white turtleneck. It seems to glow next to the shit-brown d├ęcor. He is clutching a Slazenger kitbag. “This way.”
The thick carpet in the corridor deadens our footsteps.
Outside Room 13 Hakan unzips the hold-all and takes out a pump-action shotgun. Fuck me —it looks military-issue.
“Mossberg 590A1. You like it? Heavy barrel, metal trigger guard, collapsible stock.”
As long as it puts a fucking hole in someone, who gives a shit?
I bang on the door with my fist, while Hakan delicately cradles the shotgun like a new-born.
I press my ear up against the door. I can hear voices, but it doesn’t sound like anyone is going to let us in anytime soon.
I take a step back and kick the cheap door off its hinges. Hakan edges inside, gun raised.
There is a naked, stretched-out looking rent boy face down on the chenille bedspread. He is whining—like stray livestock that has wandered into an electric fence.
A stocky man covered in prison ink retrieves a bloodied baseball bat from the bedside table. Gordon Garrity.
“Fuck you, Nazi.”
Hakan blows a hole through the scratchy Hitler likeness tattooed on his stomach. Garrity is still twitching, leaking fluid, as he hits the wall. 
Kazim is slumped, passed out in an armchair.
Hakan stands over his nephew, eyes bulging.
“You don’t have to kill him, you know.”
Hakan grunts, but places the shotgun on the bed. “He needs to be punished.”
Hakan moves closer, cracking his knuckles, breathing heavily.
“What are you doing?”
“Deciding which bones to break in which order...”

Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Spelk Fiction, Near to the Knuckle and the Flash Fiction Offensive. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon, and a collection, Meat Bubbles (& Other Stories) will be out later this year. Find out more at: