Same Name Exactly

I didn’t much enjoy sitting in the piece-of-shit car that smelled like puke, smoking, and watching Dad push a mop around a diner floor, but it didn’t break my heart either.

The way he shuffled, dragging his right leg, I could see his back was hurting him. His own damn fault trying to ride that bucking horse. Everyone told him not to. I told him twice.

But Dad didn’t listen much sober, and he listened even less drunk. And, well, you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.

Dad gave me his name exactly, no junior or senior. Same name exactly, like his dad had done. He said it’d come in handy.

“When?” I asked. “Where?”

“Funerals,” he said. “Banks.”

Grampa died young, so I believed the part about funerals. As for the rest, Dad never could hold on to money long enough to get it to the bank. Probably the only time he’d been in one was right before he spent two months drinking up Grampa’s life savings.

Not that I’m complaining about how I was raised. Dad kicking my skinny white ass every time he drank til I moved out was the second-best thing ever happened to me. The best thing was a group of Mexicans kicking my ass for no reason. They said I’d looked at one of their girls. I asked what girl, one of ’em took me down, and the rest jumped in. It was bad.

Afterward, hunched over in the alley, bleeding and spitting teeth, wondering where I could hole up for a couple days without getting my throat slit, I heard footsteps.

I was too messed up to move anything besides my eyes, and even that hurt.

First thing I saw was his shoes. I didn’t know shit about shoes or anything, really, back then, but I could tell this was nice leather.

He asked me if I liked getting my ass beat. The way he talked, I could tell it hadn’t been long since he’d come over on a boat.

I managed to look up at him.

“Well?” he said.

“No.”

“Didn’t think so,” he said. “These Mexicans are getting to be a problem. You wanna do something about it?”

“Yeah.”

He nodded. “Come with me then.”

It took me a while to get up, but I did. I walked to his car. He opened the back door. I fell in and passed out.

We did something about a lot of things in the years since then, me and Tommy Dominoes. I got nice shoes, nice suits, nice cars — and one recently purchased puke-smelling piece-of-shit car with a dent in the fender. Some kind of mess on the fender. Hair and blood and I don’t know what else.

Alec, one of the newer recruits, tapped on the window. “Car’s here, boss.” He meant my Lincoln.

“Anything happen on the way down?’

“No way, boss.”

“Cops comin’?” I finished my smoke.

Alec nodded down the block. “Donaldson and Horvath, like you wanted.”

I dropped the cig in the gutter, got out of the car. Took off my gloves and tucked them into a coat pocket. Probably never get the puke smell out of the leather.

Horvath went into the diner. I stood off to one side of the door, by the Lincoln. Alec stood next to me.

Donaldson opened up the passenger door of the piece of shit, dug in the glove box.

Inside, Horvath didn’t mess around. He shoved Dad against a wall, cuffed him, dragged him outside in about three seconds, running his mouth the whole time. Horvath was good at that.

“That ain’t my car,” Dad said when Horvath had him on the sidewalk. “I don’t even own a car.”

“I’d love to believe ya,” Donaldson said, “but your name is right here on the title.” He waved the paper in the air, all cute like.

Dad didn’t say anything to that. He knew enough about how the world worked to know he was cooked.

I snapped my fingers, a quick little one-two patter Dad used to let me know it was time to fix him another drink.

His head came around fast. He recognized me right off, even though it’d been years. I tipped my hat. “You always said it’d come in handy.”

He thought it over for a second then sagged a bit. I give him credit, he didn’t beg or ask why or any of that. He just nodded.

Horvath jerked him down the block toward the unmarked, and Donaldson replaced the registration in the glove box.

“Better get this evidence down to the station,” he said, coming around the front.

“Thank you, Officer,” I said.

“You got it, Boss. Take it easy.”

I climbed in the back of the Lincoln. Alec got behind the wheel.

“Where to, Boss?”

“Vincenzo’s. I need a new coat. This one stinks.”


Prompted by Anonymous (mobster, coat, alley)

Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.

Photo by Ana Itonishvili on Unsplash

Jim’s Taco Fund (trying not to be a starving artist)

If you’ve ever tossed some coins to a subway saxophonist or a juggler working a stoplight, please consider sending a few bucks my way — $5 covers a day’s worth of tacos. Or, for $3, buy me a coffee!