Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Issue #74 -- April 2021

By Rob Pierce

“Hey, Reno.”

It was Casey. “Yeah?”

“You hear?”

“I hear what?”

“You don’t pay no attention to the news?”

“What the fuck happened, Casey?”

“They dredged up the car.”

I lit a cigarette, sat up in bed. It wasn’t early, just for me. “What car?”

“The Lincoln Town Car.”

“Meet me at Benny’s. An hour?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Benny’s was a beer and breakfast joint, breakfast all day, 24 hours. They catered to an interesting crowd. Bunch of guys you might see in the joint, if you were unlucky.

I ordered coffee, bacon and eggs, waited for Casey. The waitress didn’t have a name tag for some reason.

“What’s your name, honey?”

“Shelly.” She said it blank faced, like I was hitting on her. Believe me, I wasn’t. She was pretty, blonde, and thin, the last thing I wanted.

I nodded and she walked away.

The job with the Town Car went back a bunch of years. My plate was almost empty when Casey walked in and sat across from me. We were at a table, far from the counter. The counter was for guys with less private things to discuss.

“So,” I said, “the Lincoln.”


“They find any blood?”

“It’s more than a decade, it washed away. Along with the upholstery.”

“And they didn’t find the body.”

Shelly came by, refilled my coffee and poured one for Casey, asked if there’d be anything else. Casey shook his head.

“Maybe later,” I said. “I’ll letcha know.”

Didn’t want her dropping by mid-story.

“The body,” I said.

“Fuck no. We dumped that a mile away. Fish food by now.”

“The good old days.” We both laughed.

But the day we dumped that car in the river was especially good. We stole it that morning, robbed the bank that afternoon, and an hour after the robbery, pulled up to the riverbank. We left the car in drive and pushed. Me and Casey pushed; not such a good afternoon for Harvey. He was part of our crew and it was his blood on the backseat, a lot of it. The bastards shot him. He bled fast, faster than we could get him to any docs we knew.

Harder work than it would have been with him, pushing the car in. But it did increase our shares from a third each to a half, so we were happy about that part. I mean, he was gone, that was just bad luck, could have been either of us. So when we went out later, we started by raising a glass to lost friends. A couple of others in the bar heard our toast and raised their glasses. A lotta guys out there with friends shot to death.

Truth, though, Harvey was more a partner than a friend, same as Casey, but ideally he’d have been there with us and we’d have skipped the toast. We’d fit all the money into my travel bag, which sat on the floor beneath me, my feet resting on it. After a few rounds we got a cab back to the crash pad and split the money, then two more cabs to our separate apartments. That all went smooth, including getting back sober enough for an even split.

It was a hefty chunk of cash and took a while to count, a reasonable trade-off. We made it back to our places, lived on that money a while. No one looks for marked bills when you’re in a restaurant in another state. Or a whorehouse.

“So,” I said to Casey, “you ain’t worried, are ya? You saw the news. How long ago they say the job was?”

“They didn’t talk about the job. They just said the car was stolen fourteen years ago.”

“And we pulled the job the same day.”


I’d finished my breakfast and when we finished our coffees, I flagged down Shelly. She brought the coffee and started to refill but I shook my head and she stopped.

“What kinda beers you got, Shell?”

She recited the list and we each ordered one.

“So,” I said when she’d stepped away, “you antsy?”

“I guess.”

“About what?”

“I dunno.”

Shelly brought our beers.

“Thanks, hon,” I said, and she skirted away.

“Man, you got her on edge.”

“Kids these days. So fucking sensitive.”

He nodded. He agreed with me, but he was getting sensitive too.

“What the fuck is it, Casey?”

“It’s about the car.”

“What’s about the car?”

“We should go back, make sure it’s clean.”

“Jesus Christ.” I drank. “How long a fucking bath it gotta take? You wanna see it wrinkled?”

“Nah, man. It’s just…”

I swear, every word felt designed to piss me off. “Just what?”

“Just…” and he whispered the rest, too soft for me to hear.

“Okay. We ain’t gonna talk. We got the beers, let’s drink. You gotta whisper, we go somewhere and talk.”

Asshole had me worried. Like I said, we weren’t friends. We drank and paid. I said good night to Shelley. I was amused, she wasn’t. Like I said, fucking kids.

Anyway, in the parking lot he could talk above a whisper.

“That car,” he said. “Harvey died there. Our accomplice in a armed robbery. That makes us, murder one.”

“Fuck, Casey. It’s a long time.”

“Ain’t no statue of whaddayacallits on murder, Reno.”

“Okay. Chill. Lemme think through this. I’ll figure the best way to deal with it.”

The best way would be if I had a piece on me, I’d take this stupid shit into the woods and blow his head off. But I wasn’t packing, I was out for breakfast with a former partner. A guy who’d lost all his nerve. Only one way for this to end.

“Give it a day,” I said. “I call ya tomorrow.”

After I grab a pistol and figure how to get rid of the body, asshole. Never shoulda split that money with him. Coulda raised that toast alone, him dead in the river too. Woulda been harder to push the car in that way, but I’d have managed. Just needed fourteen years notice that Casey was gonna lose it.

Home, I grabbed a .38, checked the cartridge, one in the chamber too. Put it in tomorrow’s jacket, hung it over a chair. I grabbed a fifth, half full, didn’t bother with a glass. I wouldn’t sleep tonight. Casey used to be a good guy. I drank, drank some more. I got so drunk I proved myself wrong. I passed out.


I woke up. I didn’t look forward to it. My head throbbed. Aspirin on the bedside table, I popped a few. Looked at my watch. Just past noon. Shit, I wanted to sleep in. I sat up in bed, kicked aside the empty bottle that lay on its side on the floor. I needed coffee. God, I needed coffee.

I staggered to the kitchen, grateful for the furniture I could cling to on the way, the walls I leaned on. Regret in advance, I guess. Casey should not have gone crazy, should have got to stay alive. I didn’t know if it was choices. Brains sometimes go. I’d seen it in my mom, dementia, but she was old by the time she started mixing me up with Dad. Thank God she didn’t like him, I’d had no desire to tell Mom I couldn’t fuck her. Like I had no desire to kill this stupid piece of shit. Damn you, Casey.

I braced myself against the counter as I made the coffee. Felt like I should be able to just chew on the granules. Maybe if they were beans, but then I’d have to have a grinder and keep it clean and fuck that, this was bad enough. Didn’t have to deal with the sound of grinding beans, just waited for the water to boil, then poured.

I put on more water as soon as I’d poured a cup, knew I’d need two. I’d put this off another day but that wouldn’t help, I’d get twice as drunk tonight.

I drank the coffee, then the second cup, took a shower, threw on a shirt and jeans and boots, grabbed the jacket from the chair and walked out the door. Called Casey from the hall, set up a meet. Decided against the woods. Along the riverbank would do. Would do justice.

I stood there, chewing on a cigarette, lit it when I heard him approach.


“Hey, Reno. We going?”

“To the car? I don’t know, man. That still what you want to do?”

“We got to, man.”

“That’s how they involve us. Cops have that car now. We gotta go where they stash evidence. Their yard. Cops guard that.”

He nodded. “So, you was up all night figuring how to get past the guard?”

“Ain’t like that, Case.”

“You tell me, Reno. What’s it like?”

I couldn’t answer, not in words. I looked down, frowned, put a hand in my coat pocket and looked up, held it on him.

“Shit, Reno, no.”

“You’re gonna crack, Case. You crack, we both die.”

I shot him in the gut. I knew a gut shot hurt like hell and wouldn’t kill him right away, but I couldn’t bring myself to shoot him in the head.

“Fuck, Reno. Fuck.”

“Sorry it came to this, Case. Only way.”

“I hoped the only way would be us going to the car.”

“That was impossible, Case.”

He was grimacing. I was tempted to shoot him in the head and put him out of his misery.

“I already talked, Reno. Whatcha call a cooperative witness.” Took him forever to say that much.

“Talked? To who?”

“FBI,” he said, his eyes closing.

I heard people running toward us. “Shit.”

I shot Casey in the head, raised the .38 to my temple, and fired.

Rob Pierce wrote the novels Blood By Choice, Tommy Shakes, Uncle Dust, and With the
Right Enemies, the novella Vern in the Heat, and the short story collection The Things I Love Will Kill Me Yet. All books are available at, as well as via the usual slumlords. He lives and will probably die in Oakland, California.