Why don’t you hear about gay men in the Irish mob? Because the head guys kill ‘em off. Stay with me, this isn’t a bad joke. It isn’t a joke at all.
It’s the truth.
I saw it myself, when David Shaughnessey killed Tommy Finn.
The Irish mafia’s not subtle. There’s never any question about what someone did wrong, why they’re being punished. Same for Tommy. No matter that by age twenty-five he was already loyal for a decade, no matter that he never skimmed the takings, no matter that whatever he did with men in his private life never interfered with his job.
We were always careful, Tommy and me. Working together day after day, never one stolen look or touch. What we were existed purely on our own time. Which is why they didn’t suspect me.
Young and in love, but not 100% exclusive. Someone, somehow, got word and caught Tommy, jeans at his ankles, on the edge of bliss.
They dragged him in front of us, paraded him like some kind of pervert. Hell hath no fury like a man responsible for more drug deaths than hairs on his head lecturing on abominations of nature.
And Tommy being Tommy, even then he didn’t try to catch my eye. He protected me ‘til the end. And me, a couple years younger and scared shitless, didn’t do a damn thing in his defense.
Five years ago this very night.
I’ve kept my head down and myself safe ever since. Gone on dates with girls. Fucked ‘em, when I had to. No choice, really.
And I worked my way up. Bash in someone’s face, break some legs, amputate a finger or two? Must be Tuesday.
It’s all paid off. Because I am now David Shaughnessey’s head of security. The thuggest of his thugs. The muscle behind the brains, as he likes to say.
And tonight’s the night.
It’s a Monday in July and we’re all in the pub, watching Dublin beat Kerry on the telly mounted behind the long wooden bar. David’s at his usual table in front of the fireplace, counting out the weekend’s takings. I’m standing behind his right shoulder, legs spread, feet planted, hands loose. Prepared.
This pub is where he killed Tommy. Right there, at the bar - walnut because it’s the hardest wood. It doesn’t so much as crack when you smash someone’s head into it. Someone’s standing on the very spot Tommy fell when David finally let him die. We all stepped over his body that night. The next night, the mess was gone and we acted like he never existed.
But I remember.
David grunts, pleased by the take. He’s expanded into the new drugs, ketamine, DMT, flakka. The stacks of bills pay homage to his business sense. As much as he loathes homosexuality, he loves money.
Standing behind his shoulder, I can’t see his face, but his thumbs riffle the edges of the stacks and his fingers caress the bills. I know he’s got that faraway, lascivious look in his eyes. This is when he’s most vulnerable, and he knows it, which is why I’m on duty behind him.
On the telly, Dublin scores again and the men erupt into cheers. I’m the only one not lost in my own world so I hear the whomp whomp of the police chopper first. Just as promised. Adrenaline shoots through my body like the moment before orgasm.
“On it, sir,” I immediately say. “Hey, Mike!” I yell to my second in command. “Go check that out!”
Match forgotten, the lads snap to attention and the pub falls silent as the helicopter circles. David sweeps the cash into a duffel bag.
A second before Mike makes it to the door, it’s kicked in. The Gardaí pour in wearing full gear: helmets, riot shields, guns.
David’s already out of his seat. I grab his arm and we speed around the bar, where a door leads to a storeroom, where a trap door leads to a tunnel that leads to safety.
I slam and bolt the storeroom’s metal door behind us, bar the trap door from underneath.
“Right this way, sir. Come on,” I urge. David complies, his face purple with rage.
“Fucking Gardaí, how the hell did they know, who the fuck told them, those goddamn cunts.” He can’t stop talking as we run, spittle and vitriol equally mixed.
Then he turns on me.
“What kind of security chief are you, let something like this happen? You’re my bodyguard, I don’t pay you to twiddle your fucking thumbs!” he spits.
I turn and slam him against the wall of the narrow tunnel. The fury in his face turns to outrage. He struggles to free himself, but he can’t.
David’s a hard man, but by reputation, not physical strength. And he’s built his reputation on the strength of men like me.
“The fuck you doing?” he blusters. “Get off me!”
I whip out my knife, the one Danny gave me, and rasp it against the skin of his throat. The blade judders against his stubble.
“Stay still, or I’ll slice you up.”
My knife keeps him against the wall as I grab the syringe from the pocket of my coat. It’s loaded with a little bit of everything: PCP, flakka, meth. A cocktail for a painful and ugly death.
We’re as close as lovers, my thigh shoved between his legs.
“The fuck?” he breathes, barely moving his lips.
I stare deep into his eyes. Blue, like Tommy’s, but nothing here to love.
“There was only one body I ever wanted to guard,” I say. “Tommy Finn’s.” And I jam the needle into his neck.
About the author:
Janet Innes (@Janet_Innes_ ) is a member of Sisters in Crime and spent last summer living with hawks. Previous flash fiction has appeared in Lucent Dreaming.