“What’s the deal?” asked Freddie Jacobs. “We just got the word that you needed shooters and that you’d be here.”
Tiny Morrison dragged a dirty handkerchief across his face and rubbed it along either side of his greasy nose. “Ibrahim Milak has a hit on me”.
“Who knows? Why do these Arabs do anything?”
“You going after him?”
Louie, cinching up his belt, returned to the living room. He looked lovingly at the faded, overstuffed sofa. He’d spent many nights on it.
“Hey, you guys,” he said to the two newcomers. “Why ain’t you on lookout?” He opened up the venetian blind at the big bay window. Steel sheets covered the bottom three-quarters of the window and only a three-inch gap at the top allowed him to peek outside.
“Nothin’s happening, Tiny,” he said. Louie stood on a wide ledge that had been installed years ago. It allowed a stable platform for viewing the ugly street outside. And for shooting. He sat his own pistol, a heavy, 6” .45 caliber Colt, on a table to his right. It was in easy reach. Spongy Hahnemann sat a cardboard box filled with cartridges next to it. Louie didn’t acknowledge the gift, but he glanced down at it before closing the blinds and saying, “That light’s got to go.”
Tiny nodded and switched it off.
“Let’s go in the kitchen,” he said. Freddie and Spongy followed him.
The kitchen, with its battered old white stove and refrigerator, its mostly-gone linoleum, its ripped, discolored and torn flowered wallpaper, screamed fifties. It also begged for release from its existence. An aluminum and Formica table and countertop would have brought back memories to anyone willing to scrub them clean.
The three gangsters weren’t sentimental. Brown paper shades, once white, were pulled down tight. Tiny switched on the kitchen light. The aged fluorescent fixture buzzed and gave off a blueish light when it wasn’t flickering off.
“You been here ,” Tiny said. “You know the routine.”
“There’s only four of us,” Spongy Hahnemann reminded Tiny. “How can we cover the place?”
“We can’t,” admitted Tiny Morrison. “Jackie and another guy should be here, anytime,” he said.
“Who’s the other guy?” asked Spongy.
“He’s highly recommended. For the time being, we try to cover all four sides.”
“And the roof,” said Freddie Jacobs.
An ancient swamp maple had grown up and over the decrepit hideout selected by Tiny Morrison. Freddie Jacobs reminded him of the troubles they’d had back in 2000, the last time Tiny Morrison had needed to hide from his enemies.
“And why did you pick this place?”
“I thought it would be the last place Ibby would think of.”
“Yeah. He owns this neighborhood,” Spongy said.
Louie trudged past, peering out a window here, and a window there.
“If they come after us, have you got a plan to escape?” asked Freddie Jacobs.
“They won’t come,” said Tiny Morrison. “Trust me. But your van has probably been stolen by now.”
Freddie laughed, “We stole it last night. How long have we got to wait here?”
Louie called from the front room, “Something is happening. Get up here!”