Sara Jacobelli grew up in the factory city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, dropped out of high school and left home to hitch-hike around the country as a teenager. In New Orleans she ran errands for the doormen and strippers on Bourbon Street before going to work in restaurants and bars. She writes about the streets and the characters she has met along the way. Her stories have been published in various places including First Stop Fiction, Drunk Monkeys Literary Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Fiction on the Web, The New Laurel Review, and the New York Times Metropolitan Diary.
Short Story Blog: Capitare a Fagiolo: https://capitareafagiolo.wordpress.com/
BIG RUBY'S GASOLINE HEAVEN
“You got your sweet tea, Slim Jims, donut and your God damned Tweety-Bird Pez dispenser, get in the car.” Crazy Dave ran a comb through his long red hair. “Their fried chicken takes too long.”
Gina got in the back seat, popped a Pez into her mouth. Maybe Scraggly Hair in the trunk is already dead.
Rocky drove the Coupe Deville.
Dave leaned over the seat. “We just crossed the state line.”
She looked out the window. There’s nothing lonelier than a black Mississippi night.
“This Caddy’s pretty, but cars are cages. Rather be on my cycle, The Widowmaker.” Dave fiddled with the radio. “Can’t get shit out here. Tape deck work?”
Rocky grunted. He steered the Caddy with his beefy tattooed arms. Gina wished she could drive. She couldn’t swim. She couldn’t cook. All she knew how to do was run errands on Bourbon Street for the doormen and strippers and bartenders and cocktail waitresses and gangsters and bikers and pimps and prostitutes and drug dealers. She regretted going for a ride. Dave said he’d pay her fifty bucks if she talked Scraggly Hair into getting in the car. “Easy gig.” She missed running the streets of the Quarter and it had only been a few hours.
“You think Scraggly Hair’s dead?”
“Not yet. Fucking snitch.” Rocky lit a camel and looked at Gina in the rearview mirror. “Better keep your mouth shut or you’re dead too.”
“She knows.” Dave found a Doobie Brothers tape, shoved it in the tape deck. “She’s one a them kids grew up on Bourbon. Knows when to keep her mouth shut.”
“Tell her no more questions.”
Gina pretended to fall asleep.
“She seen some shit, seen a girl blow her brains out, blood splattered all over. She worked the card games with gangsters bigger’n the God Damned Godfather. She’s run errands for our club for years, guns, drugs, you name it. She’s a good gopher.” Dave turned his head and looked at Gina. “We raised her right. She’s like my kid sister.”
Rocky spit out the window. “We coulda got Scraggly Hair in the car without her. Don’t like another set of eyes.”
“Ever tell ya bout the time the fucking Doobie brothers came to the Bastille? The God Damned Doobie Brothers, and Jerry Jeff Walker. Little Feat. David Allen Coe tried to come in the bar, but we had to run em off. Runs with another club.” Dave lit a Marlboro. “They all came to see their favorite bartender, Little Joe. Til he went away.”
“Well I don’t want to be bunking with Joe over by Angola. You capisce? Gotta take a leak.” Rocky parked the car. “Be right back.” He stuck his gun in his belt and pissed in the bushes.
Dave opened the passenger door, shook Gina. “You gotta take a piss, kid?”
“Went at Big Ruby’s. Where we going?”
“Gotta find a place to get rid a the guy.” He touched Gina’s face. “Don’t say nothing’ll make Rocky nervous.” He adjusted his leather vest over his black Harley Davidson t-shirt.
“I won’t. How long you gonna be a Prospect? When you gettin your real colors?”
“Gotta make my bones, kid.”
He shook his head.
He shook his head.
“You won’t see twenty-seven.”
Crazy Dave and Rocky came in carrying bags of whiskey, cigarettes, cheeseburgers and barbecue potato chips.
“Fucking dry county. Had to drive forever to find booze. Found a town drunk who told us where to find a package store. Can’t wait to get back to New Orleans, where it’s civilized.” Dave pushed Gina. “This bed’s mine. That one’s Rocky’s.”
“Where’m I sleeping?” She grabbed a cheeseburger.
“The floor. Gotta sleep in shifts, to watch him.” Rocky found a Bogart movie on TV, lit a Camel. He gathered pillows, leaned against the backboard.
“If you guys are gonna kill em, why dontcha just get it over with?”
Dave glared at her. “Toldju to shut the fuck up.”
“But you could get money. Heard he went to college, his folks got money.”
“Shut the fuck up! The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I love this part.” Rocky turned the TV sound up. “They got so fucking greedy. If they just divided the gold up, they woulda been alright.”
Dave drank Jameson’s Irish Whiskey straight from the bottle. “Slainte.” He lit a Marlboro. “Kid, you think his family’s got money?”
“They own a place in the Bahamas, with boats and stuff.”
“You ain’t pulling my leg? If they gave us the God-Damned Bahamas joint, know how much money we could make? Running guns, drugs, women and shit? This is like a gold mine. Ya heard that Rocky?”
“Shut the fuck up. This is the best part. Bogart, now that was a bad-ass dude. Let me watch the ending in peace.”
Dave pulled the gag out of Scraggly Hair’s mouth. “Your family got fucking money?”
“Yeah. Plenty.” He gulped for air. “Let me take a piss?”
“Alright.” Dave untied him. “Don’t try nothing. I’m holding the gun on you the whole time.”
“How would SHE know if the snitch’s family’s got any dough?” Rocky yelled during a commercial.
“Heard em talking at the bar.”
Dave walked Scraggly Hair back from the bathroom, gave him a drink of water and a cheeseburger. When he finished eating, Dave tied him to the chair and stuffed the gag back in his mouth.
“Get some ice.” He handed her the ice bucket. “Hey Rock? You think it’s worth keeping him alive to see if his folks’ll give us a ransom?”
Rocky kicked off his boots. “What if they don’t even like him? Lying, thieving, rat-faced bastard. What would Bogart do?”
“Bogart’d shoot em. Damn, fucking boats in the Bahamas, man.”
“Be lucky to get five grand. For our trouble.”
Dave took the gag out of Scraggly Hair’s mouth, stuck a gun to his head. “Did you snitch?”
His blue eyes filled with terror. “No.”
“Your parents got any fucking money?”
“Yes.” Scraggly Hair’s desperate breathing filled the room.
“They pay to keep you alive?”
“Yes. A lot.”
“Were you lying in the bar about that Bahamas joint?”
“No. If I’m lying I’m dying.”
“Who the fuck is it?”
Rocky opened the door. Gina smelled Scraggly Hair’s fear as Crazy Dave held the gun to his head. “Ice machine’s broken.” She closed and locked the door, sat on the bed. Beer-Donuts-Fried Chicken-Ice.
“He was lying in the bar and he’s lying now.” Rocky changed channels. “Wish they played Jeopardy at night. That there’s a good show. All about the facts, something that lying-snitching-college-punk don’t know nothing about. Facts.”
Dave stuck the gag in Scraggly Hair’s mouth. “Yeah. He’s lying.” He held the gun to Scraggly Hair’s head.
Rocky handed him a pillow. “Shoot him. I don’t gotta silencer. Use one a these here pillows.”
Gina wondered if the guy really was a snitch. She wondered if he deserved to die. She wondered if they were all going to go to prison. Beer-Donuts-Fried Chicken-Ice.
“Shoot him. Shoot her too. You’re a fucking Prospect. Do as you’re told.” Rocky turned the volume up as high as it would go.
Beer-Donuts-Fried Chicken-Ice. She pictured Big Ruby as a smiling woman in a purple housedress surrounded by children and grandchildren, frying bacon and eggs in the morning. Sundays she’d make fried chicken, bake pies. She’d welcome Gina into her arms. Come home child. You’re part of the family now. She wished she could have stayed there forever, in the red neon glow of Big Ruby’s Gasoline Heaven.