Family Matter

Vinnie Simonini and his young brother Frankie strolled casually and coolly down lower Fourth Street. It was obvious they were brothers, just by looking at them. They both had a knockoff “Jersey boy” look with their spiked black hair, black sleeveless muscle tees and shiny track pants; they’d even managed to score identical Air Jordans.

Vinnie was about twenty-one and clearly spent a lot of time in the gym. His body was hard and thickly muscled and he stood just short of six feet. Frankie was eighteen and a little shorter, about five-nine. He wasn’t quite as developed as his brother, but he was getting close.

They were cocky to the point of arrogance—the kind of arrogance that comes with stupidity. They were about to make a terrible mistake, and they were going to pay dearly for it.

Their mistake was entering Sal’s Pool Hall. Sal Pistoli, the owner, saw them and knew what was coming. He didn’t know the Simonini brothers but he had anticipated their purpose. Sal was in his seventies and had owned the pool hall for nearly forty years. He’d come to learn early on that lower Fourth Street was a boundary line between two of the many families that ran the city. Since the boundary was arbitrary, it wasn’t always steady. Sometimes, he paid his protection money to one gang, sometimes to the other.

For the past few years, lower Fourth had been the turf of the Dei Rossi family. Rumor on the street, though, was that Angelo Dei Rossi was getting old and weak. Sal had figured that sooner or later someone from the Giancotta family would show up and demand that the money be paid to them instead. Sal was concerned; if old Angelo wasn’t as weak as everyone thought, he’d be in serious trouble. Having the pool hall torn up would be the least of his concerns. He wasn’t going to let that happen.

Sal’s reasoning was correct in all but one detail. Vinnie and Frankie were indeed there to demand the payoff for the Giancotta family—but the family was completely unaware of the fact. The brothers were looking to get themselves in good with the Giancotta by performing a little free-lance enforcing.

Vinnie had been hanging around the Giancotta since he was sixteen. Frankie was fourteen when Vinnie drew him in; not a lot of persuasion was needed, since Frankie idolized his older brother. Together, they’d performed a number of commissions for the family, but it had all been low-level work—delivering cash or drugs for the most part; occasionally roughing up someone who’d incurred the displeasure of the Giancotta in a minor way. The Simonini brothers were anxious to move up in the ranks and they thought their experience with beating up helpless old men would enable them to tangle with the Dei Rossi.

They were about to find out otherwise.

Sal approached them. “You’re Giancotta? I been expectin’ ya. I’ll meet you in the basement soon as I get someone to cover the bar. I don’t do this kinda business in public. The stairs are through that door. When you get down there, go to the room on the left. And don’t fuck with the door on the right; that’s where I store the booze and I got an alarm on it.”

The boys slouched nonchalantly to the door Sal had indicated. As they left, Sal shook his head at their naivety. The stupid little fucks were actually following his directions. There was no cure for that kind of dumb. Oh well, not his problem anymore.

Vinnie made his way cautiously down the dimly-lit stairs with Frankie trailing him. At the bottom was a small space lit by a single 40-watt overhead bulb. There were doors on the left and right and a brick wall in front of them. They obediently turned to the left and Vinnie’s hand had just grasped the doorknob when the door behind them suddenly opened. Vinnie had no time to turn before there was a blast of pain at the back of his head. He crumpled unconscious to the floor, unaware that Frankie’s lights had been put out as well.

Vinnie came to slowly, in a haze of pain and confusion. He didn’t remember getting clocked; the last thing he could remember was starting down the stairs. He became aware of his situation gradually. He was sitting in a folding chair, his hands tied behind his back. His legs had been tied to the front legs of the chair; he was completely immobilized. He was also completely nude. His rank socks had been balled up and shoved in his mouth and were kept in place by a strip of duct tape.

Vinnie slowly lifted his head. He was in a circle of light cast by another overhead bulb. The rest of the room was so dark he couldn’t have seen anything if he tried. But he didn’t try. His attention was focused on Frankie, who was bound to a chair and gagged in the same manner. Frankie was facing him; fear shone in his wide eyes.

Two figures stepped out of the dark. Vinnie recognized them as Dei Rossi mooks, both mid-level enforcers. They were wearing dark blue jumpsuits and work boots. The significance of the clothing didn’t escape Vinnie; it’s hard to see blood on dark blue fabric. These were cold hard men who’d killed before.

Vinnie knew that he and his brother were fucked.

The goon on the left spoke. “Ok, punk, lissen up. We’re gonna ask you just one question and you’re gonna answer it or else. And we’re gonna use your buddy here to show you what we mean by ‘else’.”

Frankie’s eyes darted frantically. He struggled violently in the chair but was too well bound than to do more than to jerk it a few inches around on the floor. He tried to beg, but the reeking socks in his mouth muffled the cries. He stared desperately at Vinnie, pleading silently for help. His fear grew stronger when he saw that Vinnie was crying. Vinnie knew he was going to watch his kid brother die and he couldn’t do anything about it. He could only hope to save his own life by giving these men the information they wanted.

The man on the right pulled a glittering object from the pocket of his jumpsuit. It took Vinnie a moment to realize that it was a staple gun. He stared in horror as the enforcer pressed the gun against Frankie’s smooth hairless pec and squeezed the handle. Frankie jerked in pain as the long sharp staple pierced his flesh and penetrated his muscle. His scream was audible despite the gag. It didn’t seem to bother the goons. No one could hear it down here.

The session with the staple gun went on for a while. Stapled were embedded in his arms and legs, in his belly and on his face. Each one left tiny trickles of blood; each one made Frankie jerk and scream. He was already sobbing uncontrollably when his torturer moved the gun to his scrotum and shot staples into his balls and the head of his dick.

Snot clogged Frankie’s nose and he began to turn blue. The man with the staple gun noticed. “Ok, party’s over. Time to say goodnight.” He stepped back as the other enforcer moved back into the light. He held a long knife with a viciously serrated blade. “Hold his head up. Make him watch,” he said to the torturer, jerking his head at Vinnie. The he spoke directly to Vinnie, a cold grin on his face. “Looks like your pal is havin’ a little trouble breathin’. What say we open up his airway a little?”

Vinnie’s head was clamped in a vise-like grip and pointed straight ahead. He had no choice but to watch the executioner stand behind Frankie and jerk his head back by the hair. He stared Vinnie right in the eyes as he started sawing Frankie’s throat open.

Frankie’s piercing scream ended in a gurgle. Blood gushed from the gaping throat wound, spurting over Vinnie. A drawn-out spluttering, like someone blowing out a mouthful of water, came from the terrible gash—Frankie was trying to cough up the blood he was aspirating.

Frankie’s short, wasted life came to an agonizing and brutal end. The fountain of blood became a sluggish stream before it ceased altogether. His struggles slowed to a stop and the smell of piss and shit from bowels gone loose in death filled the room. The only sound was Vinnie’s gagged attempt to call his brother’s name.

“All right, punk, tell me one thing and we’ll let you go. You can tell those Giancotta bitches what’ll happen to ‘em if come into Dei Rossi territory. Capice?”

Vinnie nodded. The hitman snatched the tape off Vinnie’s face, ripping out his light facial hair by the roots and pulled the balled up socks out of his mouth. “All I want is the name of the motherfucker who sent you here. He’s gonna learn a lesson about keeping his hands off our property.”

Vinnie exhaled in a shuddering sob, “No one sent us, it was my idea, oh fuck please don’t kill me. I won’t tell anyone anything and I’ll tell the Giancotta to stay away, please, just don’t fuckin’ kill me!”

“Aw shit, ya little bitch, are we gonna play this game? We ain’t got time for this. Tell me his name or I’m gonna whack ya and leave the both of ya’s stretched out in the middle of the street for the Giancotta to find.”

Vinnie started sobbing and babbling hysterically. He knew he was about to suffer horribly and die through his own stupidity. He really had thought it up on his own; there was no name to give. These guys were on a high enough level to know the names of their counterparts in the other family. Vinnie, on the other hand, wasn’t. He hadn’t even been a foot soldier, just an errand boy. They’d know he was lying if made something up and they wouldn’t believe the truth.

There was no hope. He was going to die in agony in this basement and no one would care. The Giancotta would spit on hearing his name when they realized he’d started a turf war; they’d drag the bodies off the street because it would look bad but he and Frankie would end up rotting in an unmarked shallow grave out in the swamps. Vinnie pissed himself in terror.

“All right, you stupid punk, I warned ya.” The killer grabbed Vinnie scrotum and thick cock and began slicing them off—slowly.

The pain was so intense that Vinnie couldn’t breathe. He sat bolt upright, eyes dazed and mouth gaping as his junk was sawn off. When the enforcer stepped back, Vinnie took a deep, shuddering gasp. It was the opening the killer was looking for. With a single swift motion, he jammed the bleeding mass of flesh into Vinnie’s mouth. As he gagged on his own dick, Vinnie was peripherally aware that the goon had a massive erection tenting his jumpsuit. This wasn’t just a job for him; he was getting off on it.

The killer suddenly drove the knife into the right side of Vinnie’s chest, slicing through the pectoral muscle and puncturing the right lung. A quick twist and the knife was yanked back out. Vinnie trembled in shock and the knife was plunged into the left side of his chest. It missed the heart but penetrated his other lung. This time the executioner caught the knife on a rib while twisting it and had to rip it out of Vinnie’s body violently. The goon moaned and shuddered while grinding the knife in the wound. The sadistic bastard had shot his wad in his shorts.

Vinnie leaned back in the chair, losing the fight to breathe as his lungs collapsed. His cheeks bulged obscenely with his severed manmeat; he could taste his own piss. He could see the man who’d had the staple gun slicing Frankie’s package off and stuffing it into his ripped-out throat, a semen stain barely visible in the crotch of his jumpsuit.

They had been such badasses; they were gonna own this place and get the recognition they deserved. Vinnie’s last conscious thought was that their mutilated corpses were going to be dumped like garbage; his last emotion one of pathetic bewilderment. Then death took him down and all that was left was twitching nerves and shredded flesh.

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