Crime Suspense Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“What exactly does basil smell like?” He wondered, thinking about his abundant basil plant back at home. He, mentally, was among his plants, walking down the carefully tended rows.

His thoughts continued, “If I had to tell someone who had never had basil before what it smelled like, what would I tell them? I could talk through the acrid, herbaceous, and earthy taste of sage, and just tell them it’s that- but not.”

He chuckled to himself, now pondering his sage plant, fuzzy leaves most likely wet with dew in the early morning. It was late summer at this point and his garden had reached its seasonal peak and was soon going to begin to decline. New Jersey was always good for business, but never a place you want to keep a garden. He began to muse through his winter plans for all his plants when he was interrupted.

“Hey boss, what do you want me to do with him?” said a gruff voice, still gravely in the early morning hour. The sun was on the precipice of rising and suddenly Frank was no longer standing in his pristine plot among his produce. No, Frank was now back in the moment. Back in a cool alleyway with blood dripping from his associate’s hands. The blood dripped onto a recently (very recently) deceased individual who never quite learned how to pay a bookie back on time.

“WhaDidITellYah Johnny?” He said and clapped the young twentysomething on the back of the head.  

“I know boss, get the carpet, then kill the asshole,” he said gesturing, “but I just-“

“You just what? Decided not to think this morning?” he said, staring daggers at Johnny who sheepishly looked down at the body in between them. After a beat, he continued,

“Lucky for you, I decided not to be stupid this morning. You should try it sometime.” He tossed Johnny the keys to his Cadillac that was parked in a way that obscured the alley from the road. “In the trunk, you’ll find a rug. If we hurry with this, we can still make it to Do-Rite before they run out of their limoncello cream doughnuts.”

“Yes boss” Johnny said and made his way over to the car. His wingtips clattered off the asphalt and echoed up the sides of the old brick buildings on either side. Franky followed the echo up and saw fire escapes snaking up both sides with windows overlooking the alleyway. Now fully awake he knew he’d have to call in a few guys to make sure everyone in the building didn’t see anything, and even if they saw something- they didn’t see anything. Next he had to make sure he didn’t have any tie to the scene. He’d have to gift the Cadillac to one of the new associates, take his suit to the dry cleaners, and have his contacts at the force make sure that all the rumblings about this murder die out. Seven out of ten murders in New Jersey go unsolved every year, he’d just have to make sure that this fell within the majority which usually wasn’t hard. The people who end up getting killed were always the city’s trashiest. Cons, gamblers, derelicts- the kind of people who won’t be missed. He was officially a Waste Management Associate, but in spirit, he was still a garbage man. He stood over his latest disposal, looking at it disinterestedly. He rolled the man over with his shoe to get a better look at him and suddenly his blood ran cold.   

“J-Johnny” he croaked, cleared his throat, and tried again, “Johnny” he said more authoritatively now, “get your ass over here.”

“Yessir” Said Johnny, dropping a carpet in front of them.

“Who do you think you killed?” He asked incredulously.

The answer came back distorted and indecipherable as he looked down at the body. Looking back up at him through bloodshot and unblinking eyes was the nephew of one of his most prominent opposing families. He’d never been a part of this life, which made this even more tragic still. Probably wrong place, wrong time. He could remember meeting him one night for dinner, one of the many dinners that were held to try to come to a peace agreement.

Not just any peace agreement, but a monumental one that brought peace between the two families for the first time in all of their lifetimes. Not only an agreement that had helped business tremendously but one that had saved lives. Before his time, the streets were red then black with blood. They were animals. It was like Camilla had plucked him out of his quiet gardening lifestyle and introduced him to this because he was the only one who could do it. He felt the years it took, full of late nights and soul-wrenching work, all for not. Once word got out that this kid had been killed, peace would be called off and the war would resume. In an instant, he had lost those years.

His thoughts were beyond the point of racing, now his mind was quiet. He heard the sound of a trunk closing. He knew soon, as an ultimately futile gesture, it would be Johnny in that rug. But for now, it was best that he was kept in the dark. He called one of the leaders from a lesser rival gang who he had become chummy, and asked him to get breakfast. It was time, once again, to form alliances. He looked with pity at Johnny, leaning on his Cadillac smoking a cigarette. He had his whole life ahead of him, but sadly that would only be a few more months. As he closed the phone he felt himself mourning the loss of youth, of peace, of the years it took to get to where they had arrived. He opened his phone again and dialed.

“Camilla, hey”

A groggy voice answered, “Hey baby, is everything ok?”

“It will be dear, I’m safe for now.” He said, then continued, “Look, I’m sorry to call you so early dear, but would you mind watering the plants a few days while I’m gone?”

The line was silent for a moment, then Camilla asked, “Are you sure you’re ok?”

“As long as the garden’s ok, I’m ok” he answered and hung up. It was time for breakfast.  

September 02, 2022 21:24

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