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▶  More from Fiction The Filthy Few
Coconut Groove
First of the Filthy Few: Joey Bennett, Congenital Criminal, Bookmark One

West Sample Road, Coconut Creek, Florida, Publix Supermarket parking lot.

Two men sat inside the spacious Lincoln Town Car at the center of the substantial lot, crowded as it was with customer cars and the constant handful of customers on the go. Behind the wheel, wearing an enormous blue leisure shirt flowered in yellow, was a large, square-headed man with a shock of black hair, grown like the grass of a golf green, helmet-like about his head, beginning to streak with silver and salt. One big, meaty hand rested on the steering wheel absently. The other hand spoke puppet-like next to his cheek as its elbow rested heavily on the doorframe.

In the passenger seat, head shining bald, jaw permanently darkened with a heavy growth of stubble only hours old, head hung slightly, nose bent to the right, big hands between his knees, fingers entwined restlessly, cannonball shoulders confined in a lime green sweat shirt, sat a much younger man, intensely athletic in his stayed way, listening intently to his elder with slight nods of comprehension now and again.

“Jeez-uss, Joey! What a fuckin’ day dis 'as been! Brother, I could hardly believe it but that I saw that shit with my own eyes. A fucking coat hanger, a coat hanger already, you fucking nut! Jeez-uss I laughed my ass off. But let me tell you, that fuckin’ Jew snitch wasn’t laughin', was he? Bother, all I got to say is you got some strong hands. You, do know of course, that the garrote is a sacred weapon of my people, a tool of quick, sure justice and honor. I told you to get a fucking wire, man!”

Joey looked up from under the eaves of his heavy eye sockets and intoned sheepishly in his deep voice, “I’m sorry, Vince, really. I never done no construction or nothin’—didn’ know that a coat hanger were not a wire, and the picture hangin’ wire at the dollar store jus’ broke off in my hands.”

“Look, Joey—I’m just busting your aching balls. I fuckin’ had the best time of my life! On top of that, I—no offense intended—always thought you was too much of a dumb jock for a sense of humor. But you sure showed Old Vince, didn’t you? Humor is something I’ve missed since Chapps bit the organ pipe in the sky. Brother, that shit was a masterpiece! I mean, to remember that fuckin’ pencil necked shyster’s face will bring me laughing to tears for the rest of my days—a fucking coat hanger? Are you kidding me!”

Vince then gave Joey a mirthful slap on the shoulder, pinched his muscular cheek with the forefinger and thumb of his talking hand, gave a hug to the reluctant jock and then reached under his seat, between the bare swollen legs that emerged unhealthily from his massive cargo shorts.

“Joey, you are like a little brother to me. Even so, I’d only pay you the ten thou, but what-the-fuck, the story you gave me to tell to Big Dom en the boys. Shoot, I’m cuttin’ your strong ass in for twenty-percent. Here you go, Bro.”

Vince straighten up like a walrus in a lounge chair and held out two bundles of bills with the paper bank tabs around them, just like in the movies.

Joey was aghast, “Whole stacks a cash? I never had more den a half knot in my pocket. What do I do wit all dat?”

“Broads, booze, steak dinners—what-a-yah think, knucklehead? Take it already before these fuckin’ irritating people see…there yah go, My Boy Joey.”

Joey held the bundles of twenties, as thick as his dick and as wide as his wrists, in his two big hands, and said, “Wow, tanks, Vince. I dunno what ta say?”

“Of course yah don’t know what ta say, you fucking knucklehead! That’s why I do the talkin’ and you twist off heads, am I right?”

Joey seemed to experience a pain somewhere in the middle of his forehead, as if trying to remember an impossible equation, like that trick story about the three little pigs going to market that he could never remember the lesson to.

“Shoot, Vince, you oways right.”

Vince slapped him again, “My brotherman—I love yah kid. Now get da fuck out da car. I gotta sit-down wit Big Dom.”

Joey nodded, momentarily hurt about not being included, but figuring it was way over his head anyways. As he kicked the door open and began to get out with the stacks of bills in his hands, Vince’s big hand stayed him, “Whoa, Genius, what-da-fuck already. You wan’ people thinkin’ you robbed a bank? Put dat shit in your pockets, Slick. Get a room, get some groceries and go to the gym already. Just lay low. I’ll call you when it’s time to kickoff.”

Joey nodded, ‘okay’, slipped the two bundles of twenties into his cargo short pockets, one to each side, stood, feeling the weight of that twerp-killing Jacksonville dawn lift from his shoulders, shut the door and walked off as he waved to Vince, who was backing out from the spot in the middle of the lot he had chosen so carefully.

Joey walked aimlessly through parcel pickup, where some rich dude in a Beamer almost ran him over. The guy seemed like he wanted to fight over this slight, so, remembering Vince’s orders, he smiled stupidly and said, “Sorry, boss,” and walked on inside—but never made it, because he saw it there on the trash can top, an American Top Team flier!

Joey had always wanted to be an MMA pro, and had never dreamed that working with Vince would bring him to Florida, let alone to the doorstep of the famed Coconut Creek training center. He snatched up the flyer, rolled it up in his hand like a scroll of ancient hope, forgot how thirsty he was from strangling that poor old dude, recalled he had been neglecting his roadwork since he hooked up with Fat Vince and simplemindedly, with the impulsiveness of a child, headed off on a five mile—well, he’d call it his five mile run, as he had no idea how many steps went into a mile. He’d head back down that road they came into town on until the ramp, then he’d turn, kick up the speed and head back here for his Gatorade—best juice in the world for a running man.

As he broke easily into a swinging trot it occurred to Joey that a good sweat might be the cure for not being able to get the scent of that old dude’s sweat out of his nose. It would do a body no good to be haunted, even for the rest of the day, by that fear sweat that had beaded up like bullets on his morning’s work’s bald head, a head as bald as Joey’s shaven, fist-catching mitt.

There went Joey Bennett, headed out Sample Road in his white Nikes, trying ever so deliberately to outrun the smell of dying tears.

Books by James LaFond

Breakfast with the Dirt Cult Paperback – October 12, 2012

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