A questionable individual knocked at the front door. I saw him perfectly from the living room window. He was wearing a black overcoat and a gray fedora. I looked to his hands, noticing that they were placed calming to his front. We made eye contact, and I opened the door.
“May I help you?”
I thought that I was seeing things or maybe that I missed something, as the man now held a white envelope. He offered it to me, and said, “For the gentleman.”
His voice was quick and sly. It was hard to make out exact facial features, as the collars of his overcoat were pulled well above his neck. In my mind, I imagined this man portrayed a bad guy in some Scorsese flick. Not the main antagonists, either. Just a lackey that took orders.
“I am not touching that without an answer to what it is and who it is for.”
I heard Ghoul enter the room from behind me. Bruce followed, barking at the stranger in our doorway
“Quiet now, he’s a friend,” said Ghoul. “Tony! I hope things are well?”
“As good as ever, sir.”
Ghoul steps in close and begins to nudge me from the doorway with his hips. I stepped out of his way, taking the hint that he wanted privacy with this Tony fella.
“I can’t believe you guys were able to get this together so quick.”
“Mr. P wanted to make good on yous-twos new friendship.”
“That means a lot. Make sure to give him my best wishes—and please—let him know if there is anything I can do.”
“Absolutely, sir. I don’t mean to speak on behalf of the boss, but I think he is going to love to hear this.”
I was lingering just out of sight in the living room, making it so that I could keep an eye on Ghoul while staying out of sight. I didn’t notice it until now, but Ghoul had an envelope in his hands as well. The two then made an exchange.
Tony felt the weight of Ghoul’s envelope in his hands, then said, “This feels much heavier than what Mr. P asked for.”
“I put in some extra as a wedding gift. I hope Mr. P and his bride-to-be have a very special day.”
“You are very gracious, sir. I will be sure to let him know.”
I listened to every word they spoke, thinking heavily into the details of who this Mr. P could be. The thought of an existing mob family in Knowlton was laughable and far-fetched. Crime in our town was normally low. We had our fair share of arrests—sure—but nothing beyond the occasional drunken rowdiness, minor car accident, or small-time dope deals. None of this made any sense at all.
Who was this Mr. P?
And why was there a pustulent, round mass falling to the floor from underneath Ghoul’s basketball shorts?
I could only stare, hoping that whatever this foul clump of rotting matter was remained unseen by Tony.
“What is that on the ground? Whatever it is, it sure looks nasty,” said Tony.
He pointed to the rotting object that sat on the carpeted spot between Ghoul’s prosthesis. Bruce bent his neck over and gave it a quick sniff before grunting with disgust. I acted quickly, moving and speaking without much thought.
“Jesus, look at that rat!”
I lunged forward, bringing my foot down onto the unknown ball of putrefying mass. A pronounced squish followed the hard impact.
“Who is the rat?” Tony asked.
I twisted my ankle around to show him the sole of my show. Then I said, “In the literal sense. Why? Are you paranoid?”
“No-no, not at all. I just hate rats, you know? I would hate to part of a business arrangement with one so close,” Tony then stared at Ghoul with eyes that seemed betrayed. “Mr. P will be in touch very soon.”
Tony left and Ghoul closed the door.
“What was that all about?” I asked.
Ghoul tore open the back of the envelope and pulled out what looked to be a driver’s license. Then he said, “That was Tony. He was dropping this off for me.”
He handed me the fake ID and I read aloud the information, “Steve Stephenson, Esquire. Born 1973. Height… eyes… weight… no prescription needed to drive. Lives in Knowlton. The picture looks nothing like you.”
A young man with more piercings than face smiled back to me.
“I have an entire back story created around this. I’ll tell you about it after we clean this up.”
He studied the wet mess on the carpet below, commenting on how it was going to stain. Bruce agreed with a yip, then followed Ghoul into the kitchen. He returned within a few minutes with a scrub bucket filled with industrial-strength degreaser. I handed him back his license, making sure to point out the subtle joke that was written in small red letters on the back.
“That is awful good of you to be an organ donor.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017