Mystery and Crime Fiction posted May 27, 2013

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To Be Or Not To Be... Dead part5

by Gregory K Shipman

Whipping Up Confusion... I mean Conclusion

Lucas has the 4-1-1 on his Monique relationship handed to him by his hairdresser girlfriend, Loreen. Loreen has filled in the blanks on stuff Lucas never really wanted to have filled in but the bottom line is he wanted sex and she wanted resolution. Seems like 'resolution' is going to win. So Loreen has her way and then sends Lucas out to Robin's Nest with a promise of 'easy undressing' after he sends Damien to the hereafter or thereafter or someafter.


It's 7:30 and the night life is getting ready for down and dirty.

The ride over was uneventful. The traffic lights were kind and Damien didn't leap out of any alleys along the way. The sun is pretty much done and no one's taking it seriously anymore. The moon is now more solid, less transparent and more in charge.

Robin's Nest should be cranking up for the evening trade. The bartenders should be pouring, the drinkers should be drinking, the jazz band should be jazzing and the cash register should be jingling. The place is whisper quiet. Did somebody die?

The walls are fake oak paneling; the floor is real wood which means it used to be a tree. The lighting is muted as if secrets should remain secretive. If there were a coating of dust everywhere one would imagine this as an abandoned Hollywood gangster set from the forties.

The tables are haphazardly spread around and the chairs, which usually hold a variety of customers, are resting upside down on the tables. The joint must be closed.

"Hello, Lucas."

And there she is. Five-foot-four inch, platinum blonde, ageless-face, open-smile Miss Robin. She is the Queen here and she dresses the part. Her black slit skirt ends way north of her knees. Her white silk blouse has a neck line way south of her throat and her heels are a perfect match for the black fishnets caressing her legs. It may not be 1945 anywhere else but it damn sure is here.

She has owned and managed this club since Eisenhower stopped being a General and took the political 'Big Chair'. She has defended her turf with all the tenacity of a she-wolf while still wearing femininity like a Coco Chanel original. There's a rumor that she and my dad once spent some horizontal time together. Some matches are made from love... some from lust. I'm betting on lust for that one.

"Evening, Robin."

"Welcome to the 'Nest', Lucas."

"Surprised to be here, Robin."

"Loreen's pretty persuasive when she wants to be. Would you like a drink?"

"I gave it up for Lent."

"It's May, Lucas. Lent is long over."

"I'm getting an early start for next year. Shorter lines and smoother paperwork."

"Your tongue is snappier than your father's."

"Thank you."

"Are you as good a shooter?"

"I'm a security consultant."

"What's the difference?"

"My tongue is snappier. I suppose our friend, Damien, hasn't shown yet?"

"Not in here. Loreen told him 9pm. She said she wanted you to get this out of the way."

"She did say that to me too. She's your friend... you trust her?"

"Depends on what I'm trusting her with. You trust her?"

"Of course I do. We're doing the bump and fine grind."

"Is that bullshit?"

"Of course it is."

"You know how you're going to play this 'Damien' thing?"

"Of course I don't."

"You see that big straw-haired hunk wearing the ill-fitting jacket and the gabardine pants?"

"The one slouching in the corner with 'out-of-towner' written on his forehead? The only other person in here?"

"Very cute, Lucas. We're closed for spring cleaning. His name's Nate. Nate's from West Virginia. Nate's been shooting since he was knee high to a Nehi. His favorite flavor of Nehi being orange. He was shooting the nuts off of squirrels when other kids were shooting spitballs off each other."

"I'm impressed. But you said that to say what?"

"Nate's here to keep the peace."

"By shooting the nuts off of overly rambunctious visiting squirrels?"

"Among other things, my dear. I have a young cousin named Melissa. She has a husband named Nate. Nate is filling in for his brother, Luke. Luke is now 'vacationing' in a West Virginia jail. Three men tried to rob him one night. Two are dead and one wishes he were. The cops will eventually let Luke go. Three against one is pretty much self-defense for the one wherever you go."

"And the Nate in the corner is your cousin Melissa's hubby?"

"Right as raindrops. Nate has my back; I have your back... so you know what that means?"

"Melissa's Nate has my back? How tough is Nate?"

"Tougher than his brother."


Robin and I have been standing since I arrived. We decide to give our feet a rest. The table faces the front door. We maneuver the chairs so we do too. Nate swivels to face the back door. Tough... and smart... betcha Melissa loves him too.

"If and when Damien shows up, I'll take it outside," I say.

"Thank you, Lucas. I think Nate may want to get some air around the same time."

"Damien and I have unfinished business... alone."


"So says Loreen."

"What do you say?"

"Damien and I have unfinished business... alone."

Before Robin can respond we hear a series of shots from the back alley. It's three in rapid succession. Robin goes between her legs before rising. I jettison from my chair while yanking off my sports jacket. It hits the floor. I'm sloppy at times. I catch movement and take a quick glance to see Nate repositioning himself.

Robin and I twirl. I see a flash of pearl-handled between the fingers of her right hand.

"Nate," says Robin. The back door is now the center of attention.

Nate nods and slides behind the bar. Not hiding, just standing. Once there, he rests one hand on the bar. From here it looks like one .45 too.

A few minutes later, Fat Moe waddles through the door. His hands are in the air. Not an easy task for a fat man. After him comes my father. Not being as dramatic as Moe, his hands aren't raised but there is blood on the left sleeve of his jacket. Drawing up the rear is my main squeeze, Loreen. Her hands aren't raised, they're leveled at the other Lucas. There's a Beretta in each hand. This not only says a lot but means a lot.
"You shoot my father?" I ask. Her eyes are a bit wild... and not very pretty.

"Her brother did," says Lucas Sr.

Loreen smiles. It's not a pleasant one.

I stare at both of them. Not a hard task since she's using him as a shield. "And her brother is Damien?"

"Yes," he says.

"Dead?" I ask.

"Doornail," he replies.

"Your bullet?" I ask.

"And my pleasure," he replies again.

"How'd she get you," I ask.

"I thought she was on your side."

"So did I," I reply. I look at Moe. "How'd she get you?"

"She had guns. I had a desire to live."

"Are you all finished?" asks Loreen.

"I think we got you out-gunned, Loreen," I say. She takes in Robin and Nate.

"You in this, Robin?"

"It's my club, Loreen, and your 'shield' is very special to me."

"And the hillbilly?"

"Shoot 'em up, bang bang," says Nate. He keeps a straight face.

I wish I'd used that line. Maybe even with a straight face.

"So Damien and Elmore were your brothers?" I ask.

"Through and through," she says.

"Psycho-nuts run in your family?"

"Fuck you."

"It's safe to say no more of that between us. You been in this since the beginning?"

"I put Elmore onto taking the Fat Moe protection gig. When Elmore got aced, I used Damien to get to Monique."

"Monique didn't give me up, did she?"

"No she didn't. The fool loved you to the end. Before I cut her throat she told her simpleton husband she still loved you."

"You did the deed, huh?"

"I sliced her like a watermelon, Lucas."


"She wanted you back."

"I'm not a Frisbee."

"You're a man. A man's dick is a handle. That's how we lead you around. I didn't want her fingerprints on your dick."

"Don't tell me you're jealous?"

"Simple ass. I'm possessive."

"What's the difference?" I ask.

"Possessive is more aggressive."

Loreen glances at Robin, then at Nate. Both are casually quiet. Neither appears to be nervous. Fat Moe is nervous enough for both. His hands have drifted down to his sides. Fatigue has outweighed fear. My father seems almost bored.

"This is between Lucas and me, Robin. You and your gunny stay out of this." Loreen nods towards Nate. Nate nods back. West Virginians are so neighborly. Squirrels might disagree.

Robin half turns to me. "Lucas?"

"Lovers spat. My guess is Loreen and I just broke up."

My ex-lover smiles her unpleasant smile again. I didn't smile back since we just broke up.

"What do you want now, Loreen? Talk is boring. My dad's bleeding and I think Fat Moe's losing weight from shaking so much."

"I'm going to kill you, Lucas. Are you as good a shooter as your dad?"

"I'm not a shooter, I'm a security consultant."

"What's the difference?" she asks as she brings the Beretta in her right hand towards me.

My dad, sensing her shift, does his own, dropping six inches and moving slightly to his left. I had started my shoulder holster draw before I had finished speaking. My holster is a special one my dad designed. The upside-down 'nine' almost falls into my hand.

"Not a damn thing." I reply to her question as my bullet creates a third eye in her forehead on its way to her brain. It's not even close. Her Beretta was slow motion compared to my 'nine'. I'm as good a shooter as my dad. A few men would say I'm better... if they weren't in their graves. Loreen drops like the temperature in November.

"What a night," says Robin in response to the final gunshot. Lucas Sr. smiles at her.

"You did Damien without my permission," I say.

"He drew first and I never ask your permission for anything. Besides you were busy planning this O.K. Corral event and dating his sister."

I turn to Moe. "Where's my money?"

Moe is still shaking. "You didn't kill Damien."

"But I can kill you."

"I'll have it in the morning."

"Good. Loose ends can become hangman nooses," I reply.

I stare at the lump on the floor. It doesn't stare back, even with the three eyes. I head towards a side door.

"Where you going?" asks Fat Moe who is sweating more than a cheating tax-payer at an audit run by cheating tax collectors.

"To use my penis for bladder regulation." I send a second stare at the lump. I think I loved it before I made it a lump. "Doesn't look like I'll be using it for anything else tonight."


It's hard to tell who the bad guys are when they ain't all... guys, that is. Damn, it took a while to get here. But sometimes predictable gets boring. And as Miss Loreen said earlier, 'This is the type of women you get in this zip code'. And remember, 'In God we trust... all others are suspect.
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