This is a short story written by me. Its very much a story about the Westie’s & Hell’s Kitchen
Those old stairs, we used to play on them as kids, we have walked up and down them a thousand times, these old Hell’s Kitchen apartments were being pulled down one by one and replaced with fancy new buildings with prices so high that you would have to hit an armoured truck just to buy one and another armoured truck because, why not. The old neighbourhood was disappearing fast, it wasn’t Hell’s Kitchen anymore just another neighbourhood full of bankers and brokers from Wall Street.
Walking up these stairs tonight though there was a sadness, we knew this guy all our lives but we knew what had to be done. He had being going around ripping people off all over the city, getting loans and using our name. Then he killed that guy in a West Side bar, he shouldn’t have done that, he was a made guy, Italian, they wanted blood. There was a time we would have told them to fuck off but not anymore Jimmy wanted to do business with them and this is what business meant, killing one of our own.
There was me Jimmy, Mickey, Edward and Billy, poor fuck didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Jimmy got the orders from the Italians, so it had to be done, Jimmy was more Italian now anyway he didn’t give a fuck about the neighbourhood anymore, he didn’t even come here anymore, he got his orders, he sent down the orders to us and then it had to be done.
This guy had been hiding out in this apartment for weeks now, he reached out to Billy to see if he could get him off the hook one last time, for old times’ sake. That was all behind us now, it was business to Jimmy none of the old times mattered anymore, he would put one in me if he had to, it was all about Jimmy, Jimmy this, Jimmy that, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Maybe we should put one in Jimmy I thought, that would sort out a lot of problems.
These stairs, this used to be a nice place, Mrs Reilly used to sweep these stairs at least twice a week, the kids used to play here, like we did before them, now it’s a dive, the smell of urine followed us all the way up, needles and crack pipes from the junkies littered every landing, what a dump I thought and seemed to be a fitting end to what was once a great neighbourhood.
He knew we were coming, he knew Jimmy wouldn’t come alone, Jimmy never did. But he didn’t know what was coming next, he thought we were all friends all brothers from Hell’s Kitchen who never turned on our own, who had each other’s backs, who played cops and robbers in these stair wells, poor fuck he didn’t know Jimmy like we did.
As we entered the apartment, I had a look around, how anyone could live like this was beyond me, Ive seen better in the dump. He looked like he hadn’t seen a shower in weeks, he looked like one of those junkies from the street. There were beer bottles everywhere, he looked like he had just been living on beer the last while.
Jimmy told me and Billy to have a look around, to make sure we were alone, he promised us we were he had no reason to lie but we looked anyway, you never know in these situations people get desperate, they do stupid things. I checked the bedrooms down the hall, Billy took the bathroom and kitchen that were to the left.
Man, how can anyone live in such filth I thought, this was beyond human, this is something you see in the movies. There was nothing in the first room, I mean nothing, no furniture just an empty room. The second room was pitiful, a mattress on the floor, no bed, no furniture, just a mattress and some old sheets, I guess you could call them sheets. Empty beer and whiskey bottles lay around the room, some old clothes in piles. Looked like the windows hadn’t been open in weeks all it had was a rag covering the window and newspaper to fill in the holes where the rag didn’t cover. The smell of stale air and someone who hadn’t showered in a while was in the air. How did it get this bad, how can anyone live like this, Id rather kill myself than live like this. I was just glad I didn’t have to check the bathroom.
By the time I got back Jimmy had already been sitting down on a chair, there wasn’t much furniture in the room, a chair, an old crate for a table which was covered in bottles and old pizza boxes, there was an old sofa, ripped and battered from years of neglect, he was sitting on that facing Jimmy, Mickey was standing behind Jimmy looking at him and Edward who had been quiet till now was behind him looking out the window. I didn’t like Edward much, he was sneaky, he was ruthless and he enjoyed it, there was only one reason for him being here.
We gave Jimmy the all clear. Then Jimmy asked him, whats going on? Why didn’t you come to me for help? We go back so long. He apologized to Jimmy, told him he couldn’t, he was embarrassed , he knew he fucked up this time, he thought Jimmy would kill him, Jimmy told him he wouldn’t, it was going to be ok and that when Edward turned and put one in the back of his head, the sneaky fuck had been looking out the window screwing the silencer on the gun, he didn’t even say anything as he turned, it was one movement, movements that had been refined over the years, the movements of a pro. He didn’t know what happened to him, it was over in seconds. Edward walked forward over his body and put two more into his head.
We knew the routine, we knew what was going to happen next, Jimmy was given the orders, he had to disappear, there was no other way. Jimmy just wanted to shoot him and leave him, he wanted him to be found as a message to others but the order was clear, he had to go and he had to disappear, that’s that.
I hated this part, I could never get used to it and didn’t like it. Edward enjoyed this, he was skilled, he loved it, he brought his tool kit just for this bit, to him it was just part of the job. Jimmy was just as bad as Edward but he hadn’t done this for years, in fact he hadnt got his hands dirty for years, he just barked out orders these days. This time though he wanted to do it, he wanted to run back to the Italians in the Gemini Lounge and take all the glory for this one.
We stripped the body of its clothes and carried it into the bathroom, it was a dank, foul place, the toilet didn’t flush, the sink was black with dirt and the tub was the same, it was ironic, with the dirty deed that was about to take place. When we got the body into the tub I left, I didn’t want to be part of this, I never did I wasn’t cut out for it. As I was walking out of the bathroom I could hear Jimmy and Edward laughing, just like the first time, he said something I didn’t quite hear and they laughed again. Prick, I thought, he hadn’t got his hands dirty in years and here he was still carrying on as if he is still one of us.
I sat outside in the stairwell and had a smoke, I thought about the times we used to play on these stairs. Good times before Jimmy became Jimmy before the Italians before any of this, we were happy, none of this mattered. After a few minutes Mickey came out, it wasn’t his thing either, he just didn’t like this part. He knew Jimmy thought less of us for not being part of it, it bothered him. We sat in silence for a few moments, just thinking, then I broke the silence and said to Mickey if Jimmy could do this to one of the old crew, he would do it to us, Mickey just looked at me….
This story originally appeared on A Picture With A 1000 Words Facebook Page
The photo was taken by Carmen Scott