Johnny Black, Dirty Little Double Crosser

Franco and George rolled up on the Bella Vista a quarter after two in the morning.  They were tired as hell, stir crazy, and equally disgruntled that Johnny Black had made them come all the way out to Texas to get their share of the take.

"Sorry guys," he'd said, over a bad, static-ridden connection on the phone, "blame Mr. G, he's the one who sent me out here."

It had taken them three days of frantically shaking down anybody and everybody who might have seen or heard from the little prick, and then he leaves a message at the cigar store.  Old Mr. Alfieri, sitting outside the store on the stoop, scowling at the sidewalk the way he always did, called out to them as they passed by, "Hey, you two. What do you think? I'm running a message service here?"

Franco had made the call, but George was looming over him like a guy bending down to kiss his date on the porch, listening in on the receiver cheek to cheek and mad as hell.  They didn't care what it looked like, two tough guys at the back of the cigar store getting intimate on the pay phone.  Twenty large was enough to get a couple of guys slow dancing the mambo.  Especially when the biggest chunk of that twenty should have already been in their hands.

Franco looked up into George's glaring eyes and pressed his lips together tight, squinting and shaking his head.  The whole thing had been sour milk right from the start.  Johnny Black hadn't told them the job had come from Mr. G.  If he had, they'd have pretended not to know Johnny Black and walked away with their hands in their pockets, whistling.

That was only the most important thing he kept to himself.  They knew it wasn't going to be a smash and grab, but hell, a little more preparation couldn't have hurt.  The guys in the morgue would probably agree.

When Franco and George got to the meeting place, no Johnny Black.  No twenty large.

"Mr. G wants us all to lay low," Johnny Black said, his voice was thin and sounded about as far away as a long distance call could get.  "Come on out here, you'll get yours and have a nice little rest."

The motel was quiet and dark when they pulled into the driveway, except for the light over the lobby door and three snarling mutts trying to chew their way into the car.  George ducked his head down to peer out at the lobby, then out the windshield at the empty courtyard of the motel.

"What the hell?" Franco grumbled, involuntarily flinching from the barking rows of teeth on the other side of the glass. They looked at each other and shrugged. They sure as shit weren't getting out.

A light came on in the lobby and they saw a guy walk up to the door and peer out through the glass.  He was a young guy, but strong looking and damned alert despite the late hour.  He had a hand at his waistband where the butt of a gun was in easy reach.  He came out of the lobby, said something to the dogs and they shut up and got behind him.

Franco cracked the window.

"You fellows lost?" the guy said.

George and Franco looked at each other.  George leaned over and asked, "Is this the Bella Vista?"

"Yeah, who are you?"

"I'm George and this is Franco.  Who are you?"

"I'm Romeo.  Nice to meet you.  What are you doing here?"

Some skinny, half asleep kid came shuffling up the walkway, yawning so wide he could have swallowed one of the dogs.  He stood off to the side, leaned against the wall, waiting.

"We're here to see Johnny Black.  Didn't he tell you?"  Franco said, irritated. That made Romeo and the kid perk up.  They gave each other a look that amounted to a quick conversation.

"Usually Mr. G tells us who to expect. That's the way it works," Romeo said.

"Yeah," Franco said, getting snippy, "Johnny Black said Mr. G wanted us to meet him out here and lay low with him.  We just did a job for Mr. G."

"When did you talk to Johnny?" Romeo asked.

George shrugged. "I don't know, four, five days ago, however long it took us to get out here.  Listen, enough of the third degree, how 'bout you get Johnny Black?"

"Better yet," Franco said, shoving George away, "I gotta piss, you got a rest room in the lobby?  How 'bout we get out of the car and you start treating us like regular guys?"

Romeo nodded.  Him and the kid had another eyeball party and he said, "Tell you what, you guys go relax in a room, and I'll go give Mr. G a call, make sure everything's copacetic."

"Why the hell wouldn't it be?" George shouted.  The dogs stepped out from behind Romeo, growling, and the kid walked over to Franco's door. "Keep your pants on," he said, "he's just following the rules." He opened Franco's door and stood aside, "No need to get excited.  I got a nice room for ya right here "

Franco really did have to pee, so he got out, scowling at Romeo's back as the arrogant son of a bitch walked away from them into the lobby and picked up the phone on the front desk.  The kid walked them a couple of doors down to room #9 and unlocked the door.  They went inside and he said, "I'll get your bags for you soon as everything's straight." He shut the door and they heard him walk away to the lobby.

They stood there a moment staring at each other in shocked indignation. "Can you believe this shit?" Franco seethed as he snapped the lock on the door.

"When I see Johnny Black, I'm gonna punch his clock," George said.

"Nothing good has ever come from knowing that guy," Franco said. "I say we get our dough, and just hop over the border for a quick vacation."  He looked around at the sparse, small room.  "Why stay at this dump when we could be on the beach in Mexico?"

George smiled for the first time in a week.  "Yeah, Mexico... I like Mexican dames.  They know how to treat a guy."

"My bladder's gonna fuckin' burst," Franco said, heading for the bathroom.  "Jeez, middle of the night and it's hot as hell in here," he glanced up at the ceiling fan, "turn that fan on."  He stepped into the bathroom and shut the door.

George reached up and pulled the chain hanging down from the fan and sat down on the end of the bed. He sighed as the air started to circulate.  He had a chance to glance at his reflection in the mirror above the dresser and mutter, "Sexy senoritas..." before the mirror rippled, flexed and shattered.