“Two hours,” Kyle said.

I nodded.

“Two hours and that kid hasn’t shut up for one minute. Ray, let’s just blow him away as soon as he comes out of the bathroom, we’ll tell Jesse and Jay it was an accident.”

“We can’t do that. Now just relax. It won’t be long.”

I had to admit, it was tempting. Jesse and Jay asked us to take their nephew along for this latest hit, get him ‘used to the ropes’. Considering that Jesse and Jay ran basically everything on the East Coast from drugs to prostitution and considering those who did not do what they asked usually found themselves very dead, we agreed. The brothers had been in America for almost ten years now, and little by little they’d been bringing other family members over from the old country. Their nephew Lonnie was the latest…and the worst.

Kyle was right, he hadn’t stopped talking from the minute he got in the car. His chattering was incessant, and his voice was one of a high pitch, it reminded me of those whistles that only small dogs could hear. Fortunately, he had to pee so we stopped outside the local

McDonald’s and got some respite while he relieved his bladder. Ordinarily, I’d be reluctant to park at a local fast food place with someone stuffed in our trunk, but the place was pretty empty and the guy was pretty unconscious, so I thought we were safe. Kyle continued.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if he actually said something, but he just babbles on and on and on and on. I mean, how’s he going to be a hit man? What’s he going to do, talk people into committing suicide? I tell ya, right now I’d consider it if it would get him to shut up.”

Kyle and I had been partners in Jesse and Jay’s operation since it started. It wasn’t that we were friends, or even that close, but we played to each other’s strengths and I guess the guys at the top liked the results. Kyle was explosive, impulsive and could scare the shit out of people when he wanted. I was more cautious, calculating, always going with the odds.

Kyle was about 6’2″, 240 lbs, played some linebacker in school. I was a straight A student, with a degree in science and history. How I came to be a hit man is a long story, and one I don’t need to get into here.

Lonnie came out of the McDonald’s grinning like a hyena and holding up three milk shakes.

“Just one shot to the head,” Kyle said under his breath. “I could do it easy from this angle.”

“Knock it off,” I answered and Lonnie got into the car.

“Hey, I figured some sugar would do us good,” he said, “Keep the energy up, you know? You gotta have a lot of energy for this kind of job, right? I mean, the adrenaline helps and all but still, you need some kinda extra boost, some extra kick, to help get things going.”

He put the shakes into our cup holders as I started the car and drove off. The place we were heading was only twenty minutes away and I couldn’t wait.

“So what this guy do, anyway?” Lonnie continued, in between sucking on his milkshake. “Was he like an informer on Uncle Jesse and Jay, or did he embezzle money, or refuse to pay some protection, or sleep with someone’s wife, or what he do? What?”

Kyle sighed heavily. “Kid, I told you, we don’t know what he did and we don’t care. It’s not our job to ask questions. We just do what Jesse and Jay tell us.”

“Yeah, but he must have done something really nasty to get bumped off, right? I mean, you don’t just kill someone for no reason. I bet he did something pretty bad.”

“Maybe he talked too much,” Kyle said. If the kid got the hint, he didn’t show it.

“So how long have you guys been partners?” Lonnie went on. “I hear it’s been like forever. I wonder if I’ll have a partner. I wonder if it will be a chick, like in the TV shows. A blonde, maybe, with a British accent, or someone Spanish. Big boobs. I like big boobs.  Don’t get me wrong, small boobs are ok, too. I’m not prejudiced. They say you guys have been partners forever, you’re legends, like Batman and Robin, only, you know, you kill people.”

“Ten years,” I said, to interrupt the flow of gibberish. “We’ve been partners for ten years.”

Lonnie leaned forward so his head was almost in the front seat. “So, what’s it like? You know, to kill someone. What’s it like inside? I’ve never done it. Uncle Jesse and Uncle Jay don’t think I can, but I think I’m ready. I think I’d be pretty good at it, actually. I got nerves of steel. They don’t know that, but I do. But you guys have done it, I mean, really done it. What’s it like? Do you stay up at night, do you sleep, do you see the victim’s faces in your dreams, do you ever hallucinate?”

“Kid, it’s just a job,” Kyle said. “Like accounting or dry cleaning. Just a job. Besides, we never kill anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”

This last part wasn’t true, but it made Kyle feel good to say it, so I let it pass.

“I should probably have a gun,” Lonnie said thoughtfully, switching topics as he tended to do. “I don’t have a gun and I think if I’m really going to be a hit man at some point I should probably get one, don’t you think? Or at least a sharp knife.”

Kyle rolled his eyes at me as if to say ‘how much longer do we have to put up with this idiot?’ when the woods came into view.

“There,” I said, bringing the car to a stop. “That’s where we leave the body.”

Jesse and Jay had picked the place, and I had to say it was perfect. About as far away from civilization as you could get and still be in New Jersey. There wasn’t a car, a house, or a soul in sight.

“Damn,” said Kyle. “I didn’t know a place like this existed in Jersey. Let’s do this and get it over with. I’ve got a date with the wife tonight.”

“I didn’t know you were married,” Lonnie remarked.

“I didn’t say she was my wife,” Kyle grinned, and winked.

The trees were thick and dark, long branches hung down everywhere and since the sun was starting to set you couldn’t see for more than thirty yards in any direction.

“So this is where we’re going to do it,” Lonnie said excitedly, but his voice low. “This is where it happens.”

“Apparently so,” Kyle said and we all got out of the car. I went to the back and opened the trunk. The guy had woken up somewhere along the line and was staring up at me.

“Damn,” Lonnie said, to no one in particular. “He looks scared.”

“Well, it won’t be long,” Kyle answered and reached into the trunk. He lifted the guy over his shoulder and held him there like a sack of potatoes. Kyle was monstrously strong and the guy couldn’t have weighed more than 170 pounds. He looked almost comical flung over Kyle’s shoulder. “Where do we do it?”

“Straight that way,” I said, pointing to a small clearing in the woods. “We’re supposed to leave his body out in the open so eventually someone sees it. Those are Jesse and Jay’s orders.”

Kyle grunted and turned to walk towards the clearing. Lonnie followed, his head down, possibly thinking of whether his new partner would be Swedish. The small man looked up at me. His eyes grew wide with fear when I lifted my gun.

Once, twice….three times I shot Kyle in the back of the head. The blood was everywhere. He died instantly, I know that. I insisted on that part.

Lonnie began screaming in terror, clawing at his eyes as if to take away the sight of what he had just seen and falling backwards over himself. I went to the small man and undid his ropes, cutting them neatly.

“Thanks,” Joey said. “I was beginning to get claustrophobic.”

“I’ll see you at the bar tonight.”

Joey smiled, winked at Lonnie and took off.

I went over to Lonnie, who was still shaking uncontrollably and offered him my hand. He took it…probably afraid not to….and I lifted him up. Together we walked back to the car. He sat in the back.

“You see, kid,” I said, as I started the car and began driving away, “Kyle was a good guy, but not too bright. Your Uncle Jesse got married a few years back to a girl thirty years younger than he was. A real beauty from the old country. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, but Kyle and she…well, let’s just say they became acquainted. And now they’re not. By the way, that’s our next stop. Jesse’s wife. We’re not going to do anything, we’re just going to deliver the news.”

The trip from the woods to Jesse’s house took about two hours, with traffic. About halfway there I got bored and turned on the radio. For the entire trip, Lonnie never said one word.

Which I guess was the point.
Tony Sportiello is an award winning playwright and author. His work has been presented all over the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, China, Russia and Finland. He is the producer of four Off Broadway shows and has two scripts in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He lives in New York and is married to actress Kelli Maguire. He is the proud father of Antonia Jacqueline.

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