She had me at the title. What follows is pretty good too. Two sad suckers, not the best tough guy gangster types around – my kind of people. Enjoy what J.F. does with the fist portion of the challenge. It caught me off guard and was the only interpretation of its kind in the contest. Well done!
Dim Tim and Jukebox Johnny - By J. F. Juzwik
Oh yeah. This day's gone straight to hell. Got to figure out how a simple 'go and get' went so sour.
Let me introduce myself. Name's Jukebox Johnny. Folks call me 'Jukebox' since these feet don't go near a joint unless there's a box of tunes in it. And 'Johnny'? Well, that's my name. My partner? He goes by 'Dim Tim'. Before you get your nose out of joint, that ain't a put-down, like I'm saying he's a dummy. He is a dummy, but he follows orders good, and he's got a punch like those rods the dicks use when they're raiding Mr. G's game parlors. It don't hurt his feelings, since noone knows better than Tim what a low watt he is.
Let me tell you about Mr. G. He's the man--really, and Tim and I work for him. See, Mr. G don't like to get his hands dirty, so when somebody needs a lesson taught or a remind made, that's where we come in. There's one other thing about Mr. G. He has a different sense of humor and has to get the last laugh. How? Cross him, and he'll have your lips removed and put in a jar. I heard he keeps the jars somewhere in his office. I've never seen them, but my sources are good.
Back to figuring out how this day ended up so fucked. The job was simple enough. Mr. G hired a floater to pick up his cash. Now, a floater don't belong to one crew; he just does for whoever. Trouble with this one, Artsy Arty, he hadn't done much for anyone to build a rep, so he was kind of taken on cold--see?
Why 'Artsy' Arty? No matter what the job, if some beatnick lumped up some clay or dripped paint on a bedsheet and set it up on a corner, Arty'd stop and scope it out. Shows, they call them, but it's nothing but crap--really. But Arty couldn't pass them up, so, he's 'Artsy' Arty. And 'Arty'? Probably just his name.
So, he decided to get Mr. G's cash, but not do the deliver part. Word went around that this mo was going to skip with Mr. G's green, so all the crews did a hands off. Until he could connect with some ijit who didn't have the sense God gave him not to help somebody who'd cross Mr. G, he figured he'd just stash the bills in a locker.
We were sent to get the cash. Tim and me were having a cup of joe at the diner on Fifth, and, out of the storage place, comes Arty, balls of steel, like he's taking a stroll down the lane. We came upon him and damn, if there wasn't a shitload of that fuckin' hippie crap all out on the sidewalk. There was also a boatload of people, so Arty blends. I went in one end and Tim in the other, thinking we'll meet up with Arty in the middle.
To be straight, it was tough to focus because the junk was all hands. Yep, I said hands. Pictures of hands, sculptures of hands, snapshots of hands--nothing but hands. That tic in my left eye started to come back, when I saw Tim grab Arty and move him to the street. Just then, this punk pushed his way by, jumped in a cab and yelled for the driver to get him to the airport fast. Sorta wish I had a plane to catch about now...
Where was I? Oh yeah. We took Arty someplace quiet. Couldn't figure him because he should've been pissin' his pants, but he kept laughing. Laughing when Tim nabbed him, all the way to the warehouse, and while standing on a chair with a rope around his neck. Tim and I both had frisked him good, but no key, and he wouldn't spill. Went right from the storage place to the hand show to the chair. So, what did he do with the locker key?
I guess I got kinda excited because I jiggled the chair too hard and his feet slipped off and, well..., bad news for Arty. But, worse news for Tim and me--no Mr. G's money.
So, now, we sit, Tim and I, in Mr. G's office. Trying to figure out what to say so we can save our skin--well, not our skin, exactly. I touched my lips with my fingers so I'd remember them later, when I heard Tim laugh. Now, I have as much a sense of humor as the next fella, but what the fuck was so funny?
I admit, there are times when I wish I wasn't so much of a sophisticate as I am, and was just a short stack like Tim. Maybe then, I wouldn't be shaking in my fucking shoes. He told me he remembered how he found Arty, all over a sculpture of a hand--like, feeling it up. Sorry, I didn't get the joke, until Tim corrected himself. Arty wasn't making his move on a hand. It was a fist. Okay then. What the fuck...?
Arty was feeling up a..., a fist? Fuck me until a week from Tuesday. That's what he did with the motherfucking key. He put it in the fist. All we had to do now was go to the corner, slide the key outa the fist, and get the money. I stood up, and was gonna say we needed to go before Mr. G. came, when Tim stated laughing harder. Said he didn't understand people; like that chump who almost knocked me down. How he grabbed the fist, threw money down, and jumped in that cab. I sat back down.
Since I hadn't actually seen it, Tim made my day with one last gem.
"You know," he said, "on that statue of the fist, the middle finger was up."
I didn't say anything, but somehow I'd already known.
Bio: J. F. Juzwik's crime fiction novel and stories can be found at DiskUsPublishing, Crooked and A Twist of Noir. Her thriller will soon be appearing in Mythica Publishing's anthology, Maybe Tomorrow. Information on all her projects, and her blog, can be found on her website at jfjuzwik.webs.com