Chet was a moron. I gave him very simple instructions for a very simple job and of course he fucked it up. It should have been easy. I said, “See Manny tell him you need two of the usual. Give him the money and bring them back here.”

Simple right? Two guns two hundred a piece. He goes to see Manny and Chet decides he doesn’t like the guns like he’s some kind of fucking expert. Ok, he was in the army, that’s how I know Chet. I was his squad leader. He was a nice kid but he couldn’t tie his own bootlaces without instructions. When we got out he looked me up. He needed a job. I took pity on him and hey I needed a lackey because I was spreading myself too thin.

So, Chet comes back and tells me he didn’t buy the guns from Manny.

“Why the fuck not?”

“Because they were shit. They were Russian or something, like from the fucking cold war and so rusty they’d blow up in your hand.”

Steam is shooting out of my ears. I can feel blood pushing behind my eyeballs and scenes of me wrapping my hands around his scrawny white neck until his pale blue eyes pop run through my head like a movie. I calm myself down. Chet’s got good intentions. At the time I’m thinking, he’s a good kid he gives most his money to his mother. She’s like eighty and on her last legs and Chet’s the only one of five kids that sees her.

I said, “I’ve got to have two pieces for Tony D. by tomorrow or he’ll whack us. What do we do now genius?”

Chet smiled and bared his big square teeth at me like an insult while he brushed back a lock of stringy blond hair.

“I met this guy, see. We’re in the Pine Tavern drinking brews and he told me he can get me prime hardware.”

‘Hardware’, like he’s in a fucking gangster movie. I start to get a bad feeling so I ask him, “What guy?”


“Dave? You fucking idiot what Dave are you talking about?”

“Dave, I think you know him, his uncle owns the pizza joint on Central.”

Now I know which Dave he’s talking about and my gut starts to tighten.

“I thought Dave was doing ten years for unlawful possession of handguns. He’s been in Rahway for only three years.”

Stupid shrugs and says, “He got out on good behavior?”

Now my wheels are spinning like a fucking merry-go-round. “Where’s my four hundred?”

Chet’s grinning and he says, “I fronted the money to Dave. He gets the pieces from a guy he knows. We’re going to meet him tomorrow on the top parking deck in the mall and then he gives us the guns.”

I said, “Let me get this straight, you gave my four hundred to a guy you don’t know and he promised to give you the guns tomorrow.”

Chet is grinning like an idiot and says, “Dave seems like a good guy. I trust him.”

See, I know something that Chet the rocket scientist doesn’t know. In New Jersey they have something called the Grave’s Act. What it says is that if you’re convicted on a gun charge you have to do eighty-five percent of your sentence before you even become eligible for parole. Dave got ten years. Do the fucking math.

I calmed myself down and smiled like Chet is a smooth operator instead of the dumbest fucking white man in the world.

“Does Dave know you’re working for me?”


“Did you mention my name?”


“Never? Never said you were getting the guns for me, maybe just let my name slip out? You know, by accident?”

Chet snorted and said, “Of course not. You think I’m stupid?”

I sighed and said, “Then, that’s the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”

Chet was still grinning when I pulled my forty-five and shot him through the head. I thought of the lost four hundred bucks as stay out of jail insurance. I guess Chet wasn’t a bad kid just not too bright.

~ fin ~

Jack Picurro is a retired cop who thinks he’s going to be the next Joseph Wambaugh or a reasonable facsimile. Serving for 26 years on the Secaucus Police Dept., Secaucus, NJ Hudson County, Jack retired in 2011 at the rank of Sergeant. He has been married to a beautiful, encouraging wife, Nancy, for the last 19 years. After reading the likes of Chandler, Hammett, Ellroy and Wambaugh, all who weren't cops, except for Wambaugh, and a supportive shove by Nancy, Jack has started releasing his work to the wilds. This is one of those stories.