The career of the famed mob boss begins inauspiciously enough when he goes lovesick crazy during a chance encounter with a xenia, a girl outside the family. The comedy continues when he inadvertently kills the twin brother of a mob rival who might be his father. LEARN MORE
Abandoned by his beloved Kelly, George gets drawn back into the family business. He and Mose, a junkie, drive a load of marijuana cross country. At the end of his odyssey, he will wed a girl he's never met in an arranged marriage. GEORGE: THE LOST YEAR, tells the story of a mob boss in training. LEARN MORE
COMING IN FALL, 2021
The career of the famed mob boss begins inauspiciously enough when he goes lovesick crazy during a chance encounter with a xenia, a girl outside the family. The comedy continues when he inadvertently kills the twin brother of a mob rival who might be his father. BUY NOW
George stared at the pretty girl at the adjacent picnic table. She sat with her family, all of them blond and perfect, the men in boots and starched jeans, the women in western skirts. In contrast, he sat with his family, eleven Greeks, enough for a football team. They wore their ethnic uniforms—floral dresses for the women and khaki work pants for the men. The only variation was One-Eye, his great grandmother, who always dressed in black.The girl stared back.He tried not to get excited, assuming she was looking at something behind or beyond, and he only thought she was staring at him. That was how life worked. You got all stirred up by the proximity of all that beauty and interpreted events from your own pathetic bias and escalated from staring to gawking to outright ogling only to realize she was looking at the big, strapping high school fullback who happened to be standing behind you.There was no one else around, though. She laughed like she knew what he was thinking,A breeze gusted off the bay and rippled through her hair, which was wild and free, not like the coiffed helmet hair of the other women at her table. She wasn’t dressed like the others either. She wore faded jeans and a white muslin cotton blouse that rustled in the breeze along with her hair. She looked like—a hippie.He sat fused between Mother and Uncle Nick. The Holy Trinity they were. Nick checked his Rolex, and Mother checked her Lady Seiko. While the white people had better clothes, the Greeks had better watches. Nick swapped marijuana for them, and everyone had a good one, even One-Eye, who could barely see and was too senile to tell time.George looked at his, a Timex chronograph with dials, a stopwatch, and a display of the phases of the moon. It was almost time to meet the courier, so he ratcheted up the flirtation, leaning toward the girl and smiling big.She smiled too.Mother noticed the drama and raised an eyebrow. When Nick saw what was happening, he shuddered. In their Pantheon, skinny blondes were right up there with demons, and they did not want George tempted. He, The One with the Precocious Vocabulary, would be needed in the inevitable battle with their sworn enemy, Lazarus.Bold action was needed if he were to get her phone number. Rising from the cement bench, extricating himself from the suffocating embrace of family, he unfurled himself to his full five foot seven inches and fixed a steely, manly gaze on her. She looked him up and down, with great interest, it seemed.He would stroll over nonchalantly and introduce himself.“What are you doing?” Nick asked.“Going where the wild geese fly,” he announced in a voice loud enough for everyone at both tables to hear. “I have no wings and no inner compass to guide me on cross-country migration. But I have determination and free will.”Nick’s Marlboro bobbed up and down in his mouth as he talked, confusion etched into his face. “What?”It was like the ancient times, and he was a toga-clad Thespian delivering lines at The Theater of Dionysus, or, mixing his literary allusions, Romeo below Juliet’s window. “To slip the surly bonds of Earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.”“What in the hell are you talking about?”“That last line is from the sign-off on TV every night. It’s a poem.”“What are you doing staying up late?”He decided that he was making a fool of himself and started to sit.But the girl stood too!Everyone at both tables froze, their mouths in mid-chew, forks in mid-air. It looked like a tableau on the Parthenon. Only One-Eye didn’t know what was happening. Her empty socket, permanently shut from glaucoma surgery, faced the girl, so she didn’t see a thing, and she kept yakking in Greek about some dispute over olive groves back in her village when she was a girl. Finally, even she realized there was a problem, and she turned and focused her good eye on George and then at the temptress. When she realized the girl was a xenia, a stranger, her mouth dropped open in shock.An older man, had to be the girl’s father, stood and grabbed her wrist to keep her in place, and a young man jumped up and stood in front of George. About George’s age, but a full head taller, he wore fancy snake-skin cowboy boots and a bright blue shirt with pearl snaps. What a caricature of a cowboy. He had a square jaw that jutted forward; his pearl snaps glistened in the sunlight. He leaned forward and scowled. Was he her boyfriend? That square jaw beckoned, and George was about to punch it, knowing the guy wasn’t expecting it. How surprised would he be when his head got knocked back? His eyes would roll up in their sockets, and his body would crumble and fall to the ground.Merriment reigned in the rest of the park. People sang happy birthday at one table, men drank beer and turned steaks on a grill at another, teenagers threw a softball in an open field, children played tag, squealing with delight.But that was all far away. All that existed was that jaw. And the girl. What would be the outcome of that blow? A race riot? Would the others in the park be drawn into the melee, choosing sides based on skin color? Would the hostilities escalate into the looting of nearby stores? Would it rival the Detroit race riot of the previous long hot summer? Would it be called the Greek vs. Cowboy Fourth of July Barbecue Riot?“George,” the voice of reason called. It was Mother, standing behind him, talking in his right ear, putting herself at risk if the punches flew. “What are you doing?”Nick appeared on his left, his hand on George’s sleeve. “Let’s go, George.”What was he doing? Fighting over a white girl he didn’t even know? The laws of the cosmos were immutable, set in concrete, etched on stone tablets. White people stayed with white people. Brown people stayed with brown people. Blacks stayed with blacks. And Greeks remained with Greeks. He would be a fool to chuck two thousand five hundred years of collective Greek history into the wastebasket to chase after a white girl.He stormed past everyone and headed toward the bay.But when he looked back, she was looking at him. Framed by the green grass and blue sky, she hadn’t moved.That made him stop.Who said everything was preordained? It was 1968, for God’s sake. The world was going crazy. Boys were letting their hair grow long, and girls were burning their bras. Kids were smoking pot and listening to rock and roll records and fucking people they barely knew in the back seats of their parents’ cars. Why couldn’t he have a girlfriend who wasn’t Greek?Her father had a firm grip on her wrist, though. She squirmed, but he wouldn’t let go.Lest he turn into a pillar of salt, George turned and kept walking, lust bubbling inside him like he was a cauldron. BUY NOW
The fragrant salt air and sea breeze and soaring gulls calmed him. He walked past the jetty to the crowded pier where fishermen hawked their wares. One fisherman, big and burly, stood in front of his boat. His face was sunburned and peeling, one of those pale faces that probably never tanned but went straight from white to red. He had a gap between his two front teeth. A younger man, barely older than George, stood behind him and scowled to reveal an identical gap between his front teeth. Had to be father and son.
“Help a good ol’ Texas boy out,” Gap-Tooth the Father called out to a young couple strolling the pier arm-in-arm. “Buy a few fish from me. When I fill out my income tax, I can’t put that my occupation is a lady’s man. I’ve got to make at least a few sales to stay legitimate.”
The couple laughed and gave him money. The Father wrapped the fish in newspaper, but they didn’t like the smell and shoved them back. They let him keep the money, though. What a sweet deal. Gap-Tooth could report the cash or not report it on taxes. He could eat the fish or resell them. There was no way for anyone to know if there had been any fish at all.
Was this something his family might apply to their own business?
Pondering this, he hiked back. Mother and Nick waited at the picnic table, pacing like they were outside a hospital emergency room, both obsessively checking their watches. As soon as they saw him, they waved frantically. “Time to go,” Nick yelled.
Only fossils of the girl remained. Half-eaten platters of barbecue, a Styrofoam cup with lipstick on the rim, crumpled-up napkins.
Settling into the back seat of Nick’s pride and joy Greek-blue 1958 Oldsmobile, he steeled himself for the recriminations. Nick studied George in the rearview mirror; Mother kept glancing back. Any second, like predators, they would pounce. They never yelled, never hit. They relied on shame. A head shake and a disapproving glance punctuated by the word for shame—dropeé— hurt more than a punch.
Nothing happened. Finally, Mother nodded to Nick, and they turned and stared straight ahead. Most unusual. It portended some greater reckoning.
The marijuana was stored at Nick’s house, a massive two-story Victorian on a tree-lined boulevard of meticulously maintained mansions in The Land That Time Forgot. Once the homes and second homes of oil millionaires and rice farmers, this one had fallen into Nick’s hands. George didn’t know what he’d done to get it, but you didn’t get big houses for selling watches and marijuana.
It had grown steadily more dilapidated over the years. The porch sagged, weeds choked the yard, and most of the gingerbread and spindle decorations had fallen from the roofline. Feeling the desperate need to hang onto their village roots, they maintained a chicken coop alongside the house, unfazed by the fact that the neighbors would have nothing to do with them and never even said hello.
Nick ran inside, carefully stepping over the loose board in the steps, and emerged a minute later with a burlap bag slung Santa-clause style across his back. The next-door neighbor, a prim blonde whose husband was a lawyer, peeked out the blinds of her Colonial palace. George sank into the upholstery in humiliation and fear.
“We need a better place to store the drugs,” he said as soon as they sped away. “Like a farm. The neighbors are going to figure out what we’re up to. If they haven’t already. And let’s get rid of the chickens. They draw too much attention to us.”
“Not the chickens,” Nick said.
“Where are we going to get money for a farm?” she snapped. “We have no choice but to store it here and do the exchange at our house.”
Nothing more was said.
She and George lived in a two-story clapboard on a narrow lot between two bungalows. Its best feature, and the reason they’d chosen the place, was its detached garage, which sat at the end of the driveway. Covered by overgrown oleanders as high as the roof, it was barely visible from the street or the adjoining houses.
She pulled two shiny new keys on a ring from her purse and held them out to George.
“Your copies,” she said. “One for the padlock. One for the cabinet.”
He had been promoted.
Surprised and scared, he strode to the side door and grasped the padlock. It was no flimsy dime-store lock. Made of case-hardened steel, it was big and bulky. The garage might burn down or get knocked all to hell by a hurricane, but that lock would survive.
It clicked open with authority, and he led them inside to the storage cabinet and unlocked it with the second key. Nick handed him the fragrant, fluffy marijuana bricks, and he stacked them neatly inside.
Pride in his new position propelled into the house to the command center: a bay window with a view of the street and the garage. He opened the curtains an inch and peeked outside. The hillbilly neighbors on one side weren’t home. Their hound dog snoozed on the porch. The childless couple who lived on the other side wasn’t home either. No one walked the street
The car with Illinois plates arrived a half-hour later.
“He’s here,” he called out.
Nick and Mother, all smiles, went out to greet him. Nick raised the overhead garage door, and the car drove inside. Time passed. Five minutes. Ten minutes. The padlock weighed down his jeans. He took it out and played with it, locking and unlocking it, and then accidentally dropped it. It hit his big toe. Boy, did that hurt, even though he wore tennis shoes. You could bash someone’s skull in with that.
The side door opened abruptly, and Nick tromped out scowling and raised the overhead door. He looked at George and shook his head. The courier drove away, a smirk on his mouth. Mother, also scowling, came out with two brown paper sacks with the outline of a box inside each one. Way too big for watches. They came into the house, and she set them on the kitchen table.
“Cameras,” she said. She might as well have been talking about lumps of coal. “They sent cameras instead of watches. No one up there in Chicago said anything about cameras.”
She slid a sack across to George, and he pulled the box out and set it on the table. It was a Nikon camera. He spun it around to examine each side. Maybe, if one didn’t sell, he’d get it. “Wow, this is neat. I bet it’s expensive.”
“That’s the problem,” Nick moaned. “Watches are one thing. Everyone wants a watch or jewelry, and we sell them so cheap compared to the stores that we can sell as many as we get. But these are expensive cameras. Who’s going to spend a lot of money on a camera? Maybe if we got a load of Brownies or Polaroids. You pay a few bucks for one of those, more for the Polaroid. You take them out of the box, and you get good pictures. But these cameras, Nikons, you got to pay a lot for these, and who the hell knows how to use them. Boy, Chicago got the better end of the deal on this one. They must have gotten them and didn’t know what to do with them, so they dumped them on us.”
Mother and Nick looked at each other.
“Lazarus,” they said simultaneously.
Whenever anything bad happened, they blamed Lazarus. If there was a storm, Lazarus was behind it. Someone got sick. Lazarus did it. George tried to look at the situation logically. Sure, Lazarus lived in Chicago, and the courier was from Chicago, but that didn’t automatically mean there was a connection.
The wall phone rang. Three times, four times. Finally, she answered. She smiled at first, surprised and happy to hear from the caller, but then her face melted. Her hands trembled. Her body shivered. Her dark skin turned pale.
She hung up. “Joey got out of Joliet Prison.”
Joey, the twin brother of Lazarus, had been in prison forever. Like prophecy in the Book of Revelations forecasting Armageddon, this release signaled that the final battle between Good and Evil was imminent.
Nick gripped the edge of the table. “How is that possible? We should have heard something. Somebody up there in Chicago should have told us. They screwed us again.”
They looked at the cameras.
“Lazarus is behind it all,” she said. “He fixed it so this delivery would be on the same day we heard about Joey. For all we know, he could have slipped the courier a little extra money to stop at the first payphone and call Chicago and tell them we were all three here.”
“They could already have someone watching us, getting ready to gun us down!” Nick said.
They ran from window to window and peeked out onto the street. Caught up in the hysteria, George joined them, looking for swarthy men in dark sedans. Finding nothing, they settled back into their seats. The afternoon shadows grew long and melded with their gloom.
“Why does Lazarus hate us?” George asked. “You guard your secrets like priests guarding ancient relics. You never really confide in me. Why were we exiled from Chicago to this desolate land of cowboys, rattlesnakes, and scorching heat? I feel like the blind man in the Hindu parable feeling a part of the elephant trying to understand what it looks like and getting a distorted impression.”
Nick looked perplexed. “Blind man? Elephant? Hindus? We’re Greek Orthodox. What are you talking about?”
“It’s an ancient Hindu parable about blind men trying to figure out what an elephant looks like by feeling different parts of its body and all coming up with different interpretations. It’s time for you to tell me what’s going on. I will be more effective if I understand why we’re fighting.” He decided to go straight for the jugular. “For starters, tell me what Lazarus looks like.”
Neither of them answered. “You don’t remember him from the weddings?” she asked finally.
“No, he wasn’t at Haralambo’s wedding, and that’s the last time we went up to Chicago. He may have been at the wedding before that. I don’t remember. I was too young. What does he look like?”
“He’s a big, blond-headed guy.”
“Do you have any pictures?”
“Are you kidding? We left Chicago with barely the clothes on our back. There are no pictures.”
“And I was a baby, right?”
“So, if Lazarus is blond-headed, then he must be light-skinned. Right?”
“And Joey is his identical twin?”
“So, he’s a big blond-headed guy too. And he has light skin, too.” He had long guessed that their exile and his birth were connected. He held his arm out into the long, slanting rays of the sun. His skin was a shade lighter than the rest of his family. “Like me.”
Neither of them answered. He’d been told his father’s name was Mike, but he’d never met him, didn’t know if he was alive or dead, never seen a picture. He was an ancient myth. Mike came down from the heavens with wings on his cap and sandals, got Mother the Beautiful pregnant, and flew back up into the clouds. Maybe that wasn’t true at all. Was Joey his father? Or Lazarus?
“Everything that is hidden will one day be revealed,” she said. “At this moment, we have to prepare for war.”
War seemed like a bad idea. They were David without a slingshot about to go up against the mighty Goliath, Chicago. “Is there any way to avoid a fight? Maybe we could talk to them and negotiate.”
“You can’t trust Lazarus,” she said. “No matter what he says, he won’t support us. We’ve offered to give him a share of the drugs we send up there if he’d bury the hatchet. He won’t do it, so we had to go it alone, and it’s been a real struggle. No money for cars or farms. Working out of our houses. Trading the dope instead of selling it. Finally, we were starting to get ahead. We have some of the bigger money people up in Chicago interested. And we were starting to look at— arrangements.”
Arrangements? What did that mean?
She exhaled. “It may not matter anymore. With Joey out of prison, everyone will run for cover.”
“Maybe there’s something new we could offer them to make peace,” George said. “It’s 1968. Time for change. Every day on the radio, it’s the same message. Times are changing. We have to change with them. The Beatles and The Doors and the other groups are the new prophets.”
Nick crossed himself. “God, save us! What’s wrong with the old prophets? Moses and Noah and all those guys? What kind of crazy stuff are you talking about?” He looked at his Rolex. “We’re late, we’re late,” he said like the White Rabbit. “They’re waiting for watches at The Silver Bar, and we’ve got to try to sell cameras. Come on, George.”
They’d never allowed him to go to The Silver Bar. “But I’m underage.”
Nick chuckled. “Like you said, it’s time for change. It’s time for you to go to The Silver Bar.”
Mother nodded approval. They had planned this beforehand. That’s why they hadn’t chastised him about the girl. As the rough beast slouching to Bethlehem, he was coming of age. BUY NOW
The fun continues in the second novel of THE SAGA OF GEORGE trilogy. Abandoned by his beloved Kelly, George gets drawn back into the family business. He and Mose, a junkie, drive a load of marijuana cross country. At the end of his odyssey, he will wed a girl he's never met in an arranged marriage. GEORGE: THE LOST YEAR, tells the story of a mob boss in training. BUY NOW
George took the last puffs off the last joint, and wondered when, or if, Uncle Nick would arrive. He didn’t know how long he’d been waiting or even what day it was. He did remember that he had started with four big fat bombers. A third of the way through the first, realizing that most of the precious smoke was wasted billowing into the air, he’d re-rolled it into two thinner doobies. Eventually he’d re-rolled them all, and re-rolled them again into progressively skinnier joints. If four had turned into eight, and eight into sixteen, and he had smoked five a day, then three days had passed.
Very Biblical. And way too long. Nick should have made the drive in two. Why hadn’t he called? He picked up the motel phone to make sure it was working and, hearing the dial tone, set it back on its cradle and tiptoed to the peephole in the door. No one was on the breezeway. Someone would come, though. Either Nick—or Lazarus and his assassins. If it was to be Lazarus, George wanted to bathe so the coroner would not remark on his Mediterranean oiliness.
He took one last puff. The roach glowed a bright red. Little more than a glob of molten resin, it stuck to his thumb. He stood perfectly still, in perfect Zen-master mode despite the searing pain, and took careful aim with his middle finger and flicked it loose. It sailed in a perfect spiral like a football, or considering his proclivity for mixed metaphors, a comet, its bright red glow fading as it disappeared into the center of the mound of half-eaten carryout meals overflowing from the trash can.
It being Colorado the water in the shower came out Rocky Mountain cold, but heated up fast. Moisture collected on the mirror and walls, and soapy-smelling steam enveloped him. He drifted in a cloud until he heard footsteps through the thin walls. He turned off the water. Two sets of feet were marching down the breezeway. Heavy, clunky, men’s feet, full of purpose, with military synchronicity, the concrete vibrating under them.
They stopped at his door. Knuckles rapped on the wood.
Slipping on his jeans, he got the gun, Original Sin, out from between the mattress and box springs and tiptoed to the peephole. A swarthy man in khakis and a white t-shirt stood outside. Had to be a Greek, but that didn’t mean anything. There was a stain on the t-shirt. Like tomato paste. That didn’t mean anything either. Lazarus could have sent an assassin who worked at a restaurant when he wasn’t killing people. Life was an ongoing existential crisis. An enemy would look exactly like a friend. You never knew the truth until later, and then it didn’t matter.
“Who are you?” George asked through the door.
“I’m with your uncle.”
“What’s the password?”
The man looked perplexed. “Password?”
There was no password. Would an assassin have looked confused or merely busted down the door and started shooting? Probably busted down the door. The odds were 80-20 in George’s favor.
“Gadamn, George, it’s me,” Nick’s voice boomed from the breezeway, a distinctive voice with a drawl on top of the Greek accent, the result of a lifetime of grilling steaks for cowboys and oil men.
George slid the gun back under the mattress and unlocked the door. In an uncertain universe there was one constant: family. They would never betray him. They were bonded by blood, both the common blood that flowed through their veins, and the blood of the men they had killed together, although in George’s mind, he had never killed anyone. He had only had the unfortunate luck to attract trouble, and had acted in self-defense, so technically that wasn’t murder.
Nick marched in. Nick never walked. He marched. He trooped. He stormed. He strutted. Always with arms swaying in time like a metronome, and his stomach leading the way forward. Some men were flabby. Some men were thin. Nick had a bulging stomach that came to a point at his belt, making him look like a bowling pin, but there was no flab. It was all firm, nothing ever moving or shaking in all that fury of motion.
Like a soldier reconnoitering on a dangerous mission, he surveyed the disarray, the Marlboro in his mouth bobbing up and down as he talked. He motioned to the cook. “You remember Manoli, don’t you? He works at The Golden Flame in Denver. It’s owned by my cousin from Chicago. Haralambo. You’ve met him at weddings. He was at that one when we met Maria’s family. No one could ever forget that night.” He stopped and sniffed. “What’s that smell? Like something’s on fire.”
George smelled it too, not the sweetness of marijuana, but something acrid.
A plume of smoke rose from the carryout boxes. The roach had set the leftovers on fire!
Nick and the cook stomped on the garbage like they were dancing the Kalamatiano, scattering it across the floor. George slipped on a boot and helped, stomping with the one foot. Finally, a glowing grease-soaked paper sack emerged from the mass. It split open revealing a wad of burning napkins and wax paper. They kept stomping until the fire was out. In the room below someone banged on the ceiling. “What’s going on up there?” a voice yelled up to them.
Nick’s characteristic aplomb slipped away. “We got to get the hell back to Texas,” he said, as he and the cook threw the clothes into the two suitcases, randomly mingling Kelly’s clothes with his. “The money? Did she take the money?”
George, feeling woozy, settled onto the bed, and pulled on his other boot. “In the bottom of my suitcase. It’s all there. Fourteen thousand. Kelly didn’t take even a dollar. Not one dollar. She left with only the clothes on her back and—our baby.”
Nick stopped and looked at George, not quite believing what he had heard.
“She is pregnant. Kelly is pregnant. She is with child. She is pregnant with my child, and she left because she doesn’t want to be married to a mobster.”
Nick’s mouth dropped open in shock so far that the Marlboro fell out. He picked it up, and they redoubled their efforts. The cook stuffed all the garbage into a plastic laundry bag, moving frantically, sweeping up every last crust of bread and piece of lettuce, even wiping the carpet clean with some napkins. Nick found the manila envelope with the cash, and shut the suitcase, catching a pair of George’s white underwear in the lid. The white fabric stuck out.
“Stand up,” Nick told him. George wobbled to his feet, and Nick took a gaudy Orthodox cross out of his pants pocket. It was beautiful with fluted gold ends. “From now on you will wear this. We’ve got some tough times ahead. This will protect you.”
He put it around George’s neck, like he was knighting him. The cross, still warm and a little damp from being in Nick’s pocket, nestled into his chest hairs. George did feel better, more secure. He put on a t-shirt and crossed himself.
Nick hefted the bag over his back like Santa Claus, and led the way out. The sun blinded George. It was an Allegory-of-the-Cave moment. The enlightenment was too much. When he reached the end of the breezeway, he grabbed the railing to keep from falling, and looked down the steps to the ground a million miles away.
Pic watched Nick the Greek start down the steps with a garbage sack slung over his shoulder. For sure it was Nick. Pic hadn’t gotten a good look at his face when he had walked up to the room, but there no longer any doubt.
Terrified that Nick would recognize him, even though he wore dark sunglasses, he slumped down in his seat. Then, curiosity got him. What was in the garbage sack? Drugs? He peeked over the dashboard of his rented Chevy.
A scrawny kid with uncombed curly black hair was right behind Nick. Had to be the kid Lazarus wanted killed. He was young, really young. Probably not even twenty. Didn’t look like a badass at all, not at all what he had expected. Why was Lazarus so worked up over such a scrawny kid?
The kid wobbled as he walked, like he was really stoned. He stopped at the top of the steps, grabbed hold of the railing and looked down at the ground like he wasn’t sure he could make it. Nick looked back up at him.
If Pic had made his move earlier, when the kid had been alone in his room, then it might have been easy to kill him. But he had expected a badass barricaded in the room with guns. Pic, after all, was not an assassin. He was a singer in a rock-and-roll band, a good-looking, Mick-Jagger-lookalike with a shag haircut that made the girls scream when he took the stage at Pandora’s in Austin. Demo records of his song “Chick in Slacks” were out everywhere. So far no record producers had shown any interest, and Pic couldn’t understand why, but sooner or later someone would recognize his greatness. Sure he’d had that setback when his enemies stole all his band’s equipment because he couldn’t pay his coke debts. They should have been more understanding. No equipment meant no gigs. No gigs meant no money. No money meant no coke. That desperation had led him to Lazarus and that dark alley, the whole thing happening so fast he hardly realized how serious it was when Lazarus gave him the gun, and he blew the guy’s brains out. He hadn’t minded killing the guy, messy as it was, but he hadn’t understood until later that Lazarus kind of owned him after that.
The other guy followed the kid. He carried two suitcases. Since Nick and the guy had their hands full, and the kid was stoned, none of them could react real fast. What if he ran up and shot all three? Would that make Lazarus happy? He never could tell how Lazarus was going to react.
What was in the suitcases? Drugs? Why else would Lazarus want the kid killed? The kid had stolen drugs from Lazarus. What kind of drugs? The sack Nick carried might hold pot, but it wouldn’t hold enough to be worth killing someone over. The suitcases might hold powders, though. Maybe coke. Two suitcases full of coke would be worth killing someone over.
Something white stuck out of one of the suitcases. A piece of cloth. Or wrapping paper. He’d seen a shipment of coke once with all the plastic bags wrapped in white butcher paper. That was it. Those suitcases were filled with coke, and the paper around one of the bags had come loose and gotten stuck in the suitcase lid. He imagined the plastic bags. It had been almost two days since he’d had any coke, and he stared lovingly at his snorting kit on the seat next to him. He picked it up and looked at himself in its mirror. How handsome he was. Whenever he felt low, he looked at himself in that mirror, and he felt better.
The gun lay under the seat. For coke he would run a risk. He put up the kit and gripped the gun.