THE LAST BULLET
By Rory Steves
"Double or nothing," I told my reporting lieutenant over my sat phone as I sped away from my former don's cabin.
The cabin, and the bodies within, burned behind me as I skidded my Hummer around a corner. I had mixed all the gas and motor oil I
could find to provide a nice funeral pyre for don Vito and his thugs.
"What?" he asked, showing the brilliance police lieutenants are so famous for.
"Don Vito and his son are dead," I explained. "Double or nothing that I can decapitate another Mafioso family without blowing my cover."
One of the tree branches I was dragging got snagged. I stopped to free it, setting Stiff's Contender on a nearby rock.
"Deal," he agreed. "Need help?"
"Take Vinnie into protective custody," I answered, "as close to 9 a.m. tomorrow as possible."
"Vinnie?" he asked, "Why?"
"Just do it," I said, "then call the Sarge."
Sarge would handle the financial side of our contract.
Another mile and I was on plowed road, so I cut the branches loose and left them on the shoulder.
* * *
Half an hour later I parked at the airport and caught a flight to Miami.
The owner of the red Corvette I parked next to would be saving a day's parking fee, thanks to the more recent parking stub I left on his
dash in place of his day old parking stub.
I doubted he would mind.
* * *
"What are you doing back?" don Louis asked me as I parked my Hummer in don Vito's driveway late the following morning. "Aren't you
supposed to be at the cabin?"
"Don Vito changed his mind," I answered, "and gave me a couple errands to do instead. I really hate skiing."
Then I looked at Angelo, don Vito's third cousin, as I asked, "Aren't they back? I'm supposed to report to him."
"No word," he said, concerned. "We've tried the cell phones, even the radio. Nothing. Maybe the cell tower is down."
"What were the errands?" don Louis asked, his own thugs starting to group around me.
"He told me to take out The Baker," I looked straight into the don's eyes, "and Vinnie the Snitch. His own words."
"Vinnie ain't no snitch," Angelo insisted, showing his excellent command of good English.
"Not anymore," I smiled.
"How did you ever get close enough to The Baker," don Louis asked, "much less take him out?"
The Baker's condo in Miami was thought to be impregnable. He was also hated by both the deceased don Vito, and don Louis. Their
hatred was why his condo was so heavily fortified.
"I knifed the two guards outside and grabbed one of their Uzi's," I explained. "Then I used a cold cell phone to call him. I said I was with
the alarm company and told him that his bakery was on fire."
I paused dramatically. "He ran out the door, and I shot him."
One of don Louis's thugs spotted the airport parking stub, and showed it to the don. Nice of him to verify my story.
Another called a friend in Miami to ask if there was anything interesting on the news.
"Besides The Baker getting nailed?" his friend said.
I neglected to mention that I had also used his home computer to transfer his millions to various charities I like. And a modest five percent
finder's fee to the offshore accounts belonging to me and the twins.
To cover expenses.
"Vinnie ain't no snitch," Angelo repeated.
"Then why," I asked him, "were the cops and a couple of feds escorting him away from his house?"
"Arresting him?" Angelo suggested, as if to a moron.
"Do they always put body armor on people they arrest?" I asked. "And no cuffs. Besides, don Vito said to whack him."
Angelo spat. The body armor meant Vinnie was a VIP witness.
"You shoot him?" Angelo asked.
"Tooted my horn," I said, "He looked over, and..." I tapped my forehead to indicate where my bullet had hit.
"Good," he said, pissed his friend had betrayed him.
"Still no answer," don Louis held up his cell phone.
I looked hard at Angelo. "You want to ride shotgun?" I asked, running to my Hummer.
"Hell yes," he said, jumping into the passenger seat.
I looked at don Louis and mouthed the word "tower."
He nodded, he had heard it too.
Good thing I blew it down yesterday. C-4 is handy that way.
* * *
I threw Angelo a shotgun from my trunk and threw my M-110 rifle, a gift from don Vito, onto the back seat.
My hummer rocketed out of the drive, don Louis and his men racing behind us.
* * *
"No tracks." Angelo pointed at the snow covered road leading to the cabin.
"Erased," I said.
"Those branches we saw?"
"Likely," I agreed, as he racked a shell into the chamber of the shotgun.
* * *
A mile later I cursed velmently as I braked to a hard stop and jumped out of the Hummer.
Don Louis's small convoy skidded wildly, as each driver tried their best not to get tangled up with the other cars.
Stiff's Contender was resting where I had left it on my way out. I picked it up and cursed again.
"That's Stiff's piece," don Louis observed.
"Someone is leaving us a message," Angelo said.
"They won't like my reply," I said, jumping back into the Hummer. Stiff's beloved Contender joined my rifle on the backseat as we raced to
* * *
Angelo, and don Louis, stood in silent shock at the sight.
Even I was impressed, and I had done it.
The charred corpses from yesterday were lined up next to each other in the pile of ashes that had been don Vito's cabin.
Don Louis signaled his men; half started to search the area, the rest set up a perimeter.
"They've been shot to pieces," Angelo exclaimed, looking at the bullet-riddled corpses.
"There's 9mm brass scattered in the woods, and in the cabin," one of Don Louis's thugs told him. "Looks like they dragged the bodies up
to the cabin with snowmobiles, then dragged tree branches to cover the tracks."
I stopped pacing and squatted by the cabin and cradled my rifle in my arms, starring at the bodies, grieving.
My drama coach would have been proud.
* * *
"You son of a bitch," I snarled as I walked up to Angelo, reversed my rifle, and rammed the stock into his gut, then into his face, then his
gut got seconds.
Angelo went fetal on the ground, but I kicked him onto his back, and jammed the barrel of my rifle into his mouth.
I pretended not to notice the growing number of gun barrels pointing at me.
"You filthy, back-stabbing traitor," I shouted at Angelo, my finger wrapped around the trigger.
"Why him?" don Louis asked, looking down with only mild curiosity at Angelo's wild eyes.
"Who benefits?" I said. "Cops are taught to ask that when investigating a crime without apparent motive. I spent a lot of time studying cop
theory," I explained, "when I was a guest of the state."
"Vito told me about that," don Louis said, looking at the corpses and then back at Angelo, "He knew the tower was down."
The cell tower was a twisted wreck on a nearby hill.
"With don Vito and his son dead," I said, "Angelo would be don. He's the only one that benefits."
"Vinnie was his best friend," a thug observed.
"Vinnie the Snitch," another added.
"Vinnie worked for don Anthony," I said, "and his nickname was..."
"Tony the Torch," don Louis finished. "He liked to pepper his victims with an Uzi and then cremate them."
"Blanks." A thug showed don Louis the shotgun I had thrown Angelo.
"You suspected?" don Louis asked, looking at me.
"For a while," I said, "when don Vito told me to whack Vinnie, well..."
"Take the gun out of his mouth," don Louis ordered as he pulled out his own piece, a chromed Smith .50 caliber revolver, the meanest
handgun ever made.
The huge bullet tore through Angelo's chest.
The don nodded his head to the log cabin styled outhouse, and a couple thugs threw the corpse, head first, into the latrine.
A third thug handed the don a road flare.
* * *
"Be a good thing," don Louis told me, "if you joined us as we talk to don Anthony about this."
I released the rifle's magazine, checked the bullets, and slapped it back into the rifle.
"Yeah," I said, "I'd like to have a few words with him myself."
Driving away, I made a brief call on my sat phone.
"Send the e-mail."
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