Poetry and Prose
To live is lightning, to be is to burn.
I know this crime boss, he’s an old Sicilian.
The word out on the street is he’s reptilian.
He’s wanted by the law enforcement members
For famous crimes, and crimes no-one remembers.
I always keep my mouth shut, I deliver.
One word from me could send him down the river.
I do his business, and I do my job.
I am a trigger finger for the mob.
They treat me like some young prince in a palace,
As kind under their code as they are callous.
They show me storerooms where they keep their stash.
They pay me dead on time in cold, stiff cash.
I never saw a killer in this place
Who was not grinning with a human face.
Fifty thousand dollars was not a fortune. As light as cotton candy, it took up very little room in her bag, just five neat stacks, each not much thicker than a deck of cards. In a lifetime of cash changing hands, it was nothing at all, Shannon told herself, and there was always more out there for the taking. She thought of all the money she had stolen, all the lies which she had murmured, all the men who did not know that they were dancing on a string for her while she was dancing. She never pretended to herself that she was anything except a hustler. Lucky was a thief, like she was, and she told herself that it would not be long before he would steal from her. They never stopped working. They had always stolen from one another, it was a given. Nobody got into a tantrum about it. It was survival of the slickest. There was a kind of friendly rivalry in the challenge of it. She had got there first tonight, that was all. In any event, Lucky was quick-witted enough to survive. He was a master at it. He would filch anything he could lay his hands on tonight. A town full of hotel rooms, easy cash and saps who were desperate to believe in their own illusions was paradise for the outlaw. He would skulk through the parking lot of some hotel, or behind a crowd watching the man-made volcano, or catch some red-white-and-blue country boy on the street, and he would come out with a fat wallet, or traveler’s checks to forge or a Cadillac.
The polished limousine floated down the Strip, under the haze of colors from the lights and banners, past the pedestrians hurrying through the bitter wind from one casino to the next, and Shannon stared through the tinted windows. Her breath froze against the cold pane. When she was a child, she etched her name in the slate of frozen mist with her fingernail, but she could not do childish things while Steve was watching every movement and she was trying to act reserved and sophisticated. She half expected to see Lucky prowling along the sidewalk, among the windswept tourists and drifters, but there was no trace of him.
A windy night was always good for thievery, she could not help thinking. Gusts rattled the window-panes, doors slammed, the noise of the wind disguised the sound of house-breaking, and evidence got swept away. The bracing wind took all the blame.
Steve reached his arm around her in the backseat. “I love Vegas…I used to come here a lot with my boss…”
“He’s a gambler…?”
“No, he just has a lot of friends in this town.”
“I’m sure,” Shannon said, playing it cool with him, and then, to turn up the heat, she perched her hand on his knee, twisting her wrist to admire the bracelet. “Its very beautiful, Steve. Thank you.”
The limousine turned into the long driveway of the hotel, thrusting her body closer to him. There was that familiar masculine scent of his aftershave.
“I never apologize, Shannon…but I guess that’s my way of saying sorry.”
She let her hand rest on his leg, and she knew that his hollow ego was working for her already.
He would be sorry, she swore to herself, when she was finished with him.
– From Wild Cards
All they needed for revenge was his mind, her body and one lucky night in Vegas.
Two street hustlers seek payback from a vicious mobster on one explosive night in Las Vegas.
Now in their thirties, Lucky and Shannon have loved one another since they were teenage runaways. They have dipped their fingers in countless small time scams, specializing in the confidence trick, Follow the Lady, where an outside man pretends to conspire with the mark to cheat the inside man. To take on Steve, a connected nightclub owner, they have to play the long con, where so many things can go wrong. They are going to have to adapt and improvise, using every trick learned in a career of deception: sleights of hand, secret confederates, diversion, distraction, and seduction.
Using her feminine wiles, Shannon lures Steve to Las Vegas, and the hustlers engineer a confrontation between Lucky and Steve. Lucky challenges Steve to a unique duel: a heads-up one on one poker game of Texas Hold’Em.
The game is fixed. But it is mob money on the table, so someone is going to have to pay the ultimate price.
More Prose Samples: