Bateman and the professor were sitting at a table covered with a
crisp white cloth in a small private room on the second floor of
Locke-Ober, a restaurant in the alley off of Winter Street in
Boston. The uniformed waiter had just placed a gin and tonic in
front of Bateman and a white rum and ginger in front of the erect
black man with a clean-shaven scalp sitting across from him.
Bateman took a sip of his drink and said, "They run it overland
from Guadalajara to the gulf coast of Mexico but never to the same
place twice. They got a freighter sitting out there in the gulf
with a couple powerboats with twin diesels. Those babies zip into a
prearranged pickup spot, load the kilos into the boats and beat it
back out to the freighter that hauls them up and covers them over to
look like cargo, case anyoneís watching from Heaven. Freighter chugs
along for a day or two. When theyíre close enough they lower the
powerboats at night so that they come in somewhere either side of
New Orleans. The boats lay off the coast till they see a signal then
come in fast and dump the shit. Boom. Guys stash it or haul it right
off in trucks quickerín you can say God bless the USA."
"Sounds real big time. Your friends must be laying out some
cash," the professor said.
"You shitting me? There ainít a mayor or police chief on the
route from Guadalajara to Tampico and from there down to Vera Cruz
who doesnít have his hand out. Course, they gotta pay the
higher-ups. I canít imagine the politicos all the way up to the Fed
level ainít raking it in. From what I hear you can go for hours and
see nothing but dope growing down on the old hacienda."
The professor laughed softly. "Bateman, man, you are fucked."
"Iím fucked all right. Iím fucked if I donít get those beans you
promised me would be here a couple days ago."
"Be cool, man. I told you what that gig involved. Thatís gonna
happen real soon."
"How cool you want me to get? Thereís lots of guys know how to
boost a warehouse."
"Bateman, you sound like a million other honkies. I thought you
was together, man. Whatchoo layin this shit on me for? Iím Top of
the World here, Mr. B; I donít need no light weight."
"Schoolís in around here in a week in case you havenít heard. I
got guysíre ready to bust their ass peddling beans. Iíll be cool for
the next five days. After that Iíve got to take my business
elsewhere. You know my set-up. I got guys Iím paying the rent and
theyíre in there watching the shit, dealing it out. I got people put
in a lot of dough help get this thing going. They are gonna want
their money back before Christmas."
The professor finished his drink and buzzed the little button on
the wall. The waiter appeared in a moment and the professor nodded
"You got to be patient, Bateman. You been in this business a few
years an you got in it cause you knew some dudes, man, and you had a
roll. Am I right? You a on-trep-a-nooer, man, like a Capitalist fool
taking his money to the bank same time every week. Shit, man. You
forget already where we met? You was hawking O-Zís on the corner,
had a baggie-full of pills you was fuckin-over high school kids for
an thought you was King Shit the Dope Dealer.
"You know, Bateman, you a bright boy despite gaps in your
knowledge, an now you come on like Mr. Marketing and Distribution.
Just might be a lot of guys, like you say, know how to boost a
warehouse, but you ainít one of Ďem. You the mother ready to buy
what they go out and git. You goin to school all this time while you
learnin to hustle. Getting yourself a nice education both ways.
Thatís all right. Thatís cool. Like you got two lives or something.
But when you through with this one life, man, you got the other one
to go home to. My black ass been on the street all the time you goin
to school and a long time befo that, so I know what the fuck Iím
talking about, you dig?"
"Yeah," Bateman said, "I dig."
"Yeah? Well, I am happy to hear that, muh man. I put the word out
on you and you wonít get jack-shit from any nigger this side of the
river, never mind what you lookin for."
Pete knocked on the glass set in the top half of the door. Fat
wet snowflakes broke against the grocery bag Donovan held in his
arms. They saw nothing behind the black curtains. Donovan watched
the snow swirl in the cone of light from a streetlamp at the far end
of the red brick tenement houses. A light came on in a wire cage
above the door and bathed them in blue.
"Nice touch," Pete said. "A blue fucking light. Very cool."
The door opened a few inches. Donovan could hear Hendrix on the
sound system. He saw an eye, cheek, half a mouth, big chin.
"Merry Christmas, John," Pete said. A big man opened the door. He
had no neck. His jaw occupied most of his face.
"Itís about fucking time," John said, as the two men stepped into
the hallway. Donovan saw an Iron Cross welded onto Johnís belt
buckle and the wide leather bracelet studded with steel balls on one
"We got slowed up," Pete said. "Itís snowing out. Maybe you
didnít notice, youíre so busy studying for Divinity School."
"Fuck you, too," John said, and shut the door as Donovan followed
Pete into a parlor where a guy with a red beard and ponytail sat in
a wooden chair in front of an old steamer trunk. He turned the
volume down on the giant KLH speakers.
"This is Frank," Pete said.
"Hey, man, you brought the groceries. Great."
Scooter reached into a bag as Donovan set them down on the
steamer trunk. He pulled out a kilo of pot wrapped tightly in green
plastic and masking tape. "Well, O-kay." He threw the brick to John.
"Put some of that in the pipe, man. Letís get cookiní."
Scooter ripped the paper bag down the side and slid forty white
boxes marked "Sample" onto the trunk. He opened one and held up a
clear plastic sheet with a dozen black ten milligram Biphetamine
capsules encased within it. Each box had three-dozen sheets. There
were two zip-lock plastic bags each containing three hundred 15
milligram desoxyn tablets.
"Beauties for the cuties," Scooter said. "And yellows for the
Pete and Donovan found chairs. John had stuffed a hookah with
buds and placed it on the trunk. He handed out flexible surgical
hoses, each with a clip on one end attached to the body of the
He lit the bowl. They smoked for a minute. Donovan got the hang
of it. Not bad. He watched Pete take a wad of bills from Scooter,
count it, fold it, and put it in his back pocket. Cartoons were on
the TV with the sound off. Porky Pig, in a helmet, machine-gunned a
"Get that cock-sucker," John said.
Donovan had closed his eyes for a minute and opened them to see
John standing in front of him. "Beauty?" John held a few black
capsules in his cupped palm until Donovan told him no thanks; he
hadnít any need to see the sun come up.
They all heard the three hard raps on the glass of the front door
as John put a Black Sabbath album on the turntable. He didnít press
the play button, but looked at Scooter, who told him to check it
out. Scooter reached under his chair and brought up a Colt
forty-five, Army issue, blue-black and bad looking, and laid it on
"You guys expecting trouble?" Pete said.
"Nah," Scooter said, "We pay our rent on time."
The early movie came on, World War Two in the Pacific.
John peered through the black curtains and saw a girl about
nineteen or twenty. Collar up, scarf around her neck, she was
pulling a knit cap down tightly over her ears. There were no other
signs of movement, no cars in the street other than Peteís van.
"Who is it," Scooter said.
"Itís a chick," John said.
"See what sheís selling."
John hit the light and could see the girl had her hands in her
pockets. She looked cold. He opened the door to tell her they
werenít buying any cookies. He opened it wide enough to get a good
look at her in the light, wide enough to see the black dude who
stepped into sight with a chopped Winchester twelve-gauge shotgun
braced against his thigh.
"What the fuck," John said.
"Shut the fuck up," the girl said, shoving a 9mm Walther into his
stomach. "You havenít been doing your sit-ups, Fuck-face." She
forced him back into the hall and turned him around. He felt the
shotgun against his back. He heard the door shut.
Donovan saw them first, framed in the entryway to the parlor, the
light from the hall behind them. John came in with something
sticking out of his back.
Attached to it was a brother in a leather jacket and cap, wearing
shades. The girl bounced into the room, pointed the gun at Scooter,
and grabbed the forty-five off the trunk.
"Donít think bad thoughts," she said.
She herded them against the far wall, face-first, told them to
kneel on the floor with their hands behind them. Donovan was in
front of the TV, where the Marines were eating sand, pinned down by
"Youíre fucking with the Disciples, bitch," Scooter said.
She put a round into the speaker next to him. He froze.
"Somebody move," she said.
Donovan heard a plastic bag snapped open and the dope being
dumped into it.
"Iím only gonna ask once," she said. "Whoís got the money?"
"I got it," Pete said. "Itís in my back pocket."
"Take it out, real slow, and hold it up, then throw it back
Pete followed her instructions. She grabbed the roll and said,
"Down on the floor. Face down."
"Be cool," Scooter said, "You got what you wanted."
She put the business-end of the Walther between the cheeks of his
ass and said, "What I wanted was to take a couple pictures of you in
your bra and panties. Who does your hair?"
The black dude said, "Letís go!"
When the front door slammed, Scooter rolled over and sat up.
Twenty minutes later Pete swung the Chevy van into an elevated
parking lot above Haymarket Square. He entered the second level and
pulled alongside a black Mercury sedan and shut off the lights.
"You still think Iím fucking you? Roll your window down."
Donovan cranked as the power window in the Merc came down and he
saw the black guy in shades and leather cap sipping from a pint of
Cutty Sark. The girl was next to him. The guy looked up. "Eve-nin,
Pissed off, Scooter had ranted on about revenge and the Disciples
werenít gonna take this; that coon and that bitch were in trouble,
man. Donovan listened to speculation as to whether they had been
shadowed from the pick-up point, or had the apartment been staked
out since who knows, while they just waited for a delivery? They
left and Pete started laughing soon as he turned the key in the
ignition. The big joke was Bateman had planned the heist. Bateman
got some people he knew from out of town. Pete was in on the whole
"Why didnít you tell me?í Donovan said. "What if something went
"You didnít have to know is why I didnít tell you, and nothing
went wrong so donít even wonder about it."
"Why?" Donovan said. "Is Bateman crazy? These guysíll break his
legs if they get the idea heís fucking them over."
Pete laughed. "Theyíll break moreín that. But they ainít gonna
get that idea, Frank. Ideas donít come easy to those guys. And what
do you mean, why? Frankie, theyíre a couple of scumbags. We had the
people and we did it. Scooterís an asshole with that forty-five
under his chair. I nearly burst when Triggy shit-canned that
speaker. I loved it. I thought Scooter was gonna shit. We get the
dope back; they get the money. Thatís the way we figured it. Bateman
is outta town. Theyíll be over the state line in a couple hours. No
muss, no fuss."
The black guy handed up the dope. The Merc pulled out first.
Donovan began to see the humor in it as Pete headed out for the
Marvyn Petrucci's poetry, essays, and stories have
appeared in the Santa Clara Review, the Boston Globe,
Aspect, Southern Humanities Review, Boston Review,
Louisiana Literature, Black Warrior Review, Zone 3,
Rhino, Spinning Jenny, Typo Magazine,