The getaway driver had fifteen minutes to live. Even a desperate night couldn't rook an extra five. Tony Scram, smashed to Hades, vertigo buzzing. Buckshot sloshing his stomach. Blood oozing his lap.
Manhattan loomed. Parkway feeding into the Lincoln Tunnel.
Speed limit, fifty. Watch the pin. Tony hit sixty, sixty three, thumbing cruise. Ten to thirteen stays under the radar. Fifteen, you might piss them off. Punch it higher, you’re in a chase. They box the tube, he dies. Two minutes burned. Thirteen bubbled.
Tony zipped the dog leg in the helix. The Empire State Building huddled in a dark skyline to his left. A dive-bombing straight away, elbow right, the tunnel tolls.
An out of focus road. Warped, waving. The head gremlin busted in, tossing Scram’s attic. Ripping wires, mashing brain meat. Dancing in his belfry, now a mosh pit. One day I’ll bag your ass, you high octane ball breaker. Don’t piss the bugger off, he‘ll light a fuse, and really kick things off. Back to biz. One skull fucker at a time.
If he could only dime that angel. The one with the heister hots. Time, stitches, break out. All points bulletin for Saint Sonny Corleone.
Tony sailed the toll booth. Cops inspecting a box truck.
Scram swerved, blitzing the tunnel. Twelve minutes. Worked this patch his entire career, now pushing seventy. A detour to the big bunk if he didn‘t snap it up.
The tube posted thirty-five, and a double stripe. No passing, watch your speed. They meant it. Scram jetted up to forty five.
Play it safe. An open alley. What do I got to lose? Tony gunned the gas. The CTS catapulted. Strobe lights popped. High-def scoped.
If they had a hall of fame for heisters, they’d put Tony in the getaway wing. His own spread and mantle. Work rods boxed in velvet rope. Monitors squeezing off highlights. Tony’s Greatest Scrams. Gift shop Blue-Rays. X-box editions for Christmas.
That Rockland County raid. The target, a gun shop. The cutter clipped a foul wire, ripping the alarm. They bolted ass, empty handed. A wolf pack of prowlers, high speed chase. Tony shot over a pool of black ice. In the rear view, a NASCAR brew-ha.
Black and white’s spinning into a bumper car rally.
Tony buzzed the Tappan-Zee, hooked the Deegan, and reached the Bronx. The leader bitched, but forked Tony’s fee in full. After all, he got them out, earning his pay. The rep expanded, beamed out wide: Tony Scram's the real deal.
Tony smoked the tunnel in a minute flat. No cops waiting for a stop. They recorded his tags. They mail the fines nowadays. A packet with pics. Another bullet dodged. Twelve minutes in the hopper. Tony banged the right onto Ninth Avenue. A flush of green lights. Ten minutes. Thirteen blocks. Eyeball any floating badge. Punch the reds, keep it wheeling.
Doctor C’s the man. Bad, and city-wide. Big time cred in the gangster’s handbook. The spread, the tools, the tables. An underground funhouse where bad guys bang out slugs, and bandage up. No records, phone calls, or fuzz. An all night stitch and swab, on the hush. Scram dialed a heads up.
"What’s your blood type?" The doc asked.
"Low," Scram said.
"I‘ll figure it out. Get here as fast as you can."
His stomach, skinned, and torn. Every time Tony jimmied, he felt sharp pains. The exposed pulp, stinging as it rubbed his shirt.
Never felt like this before. Never been hit with buckshot either.
Once, a stray bullet. One lousy slug. And wrecks, yeah. C stitched Tony up from those, and splinted a few bones along the way.
If Tony reeled, he’d loop his kid brother Nicky. They stole their first cars together. Jersey City juvies. Hot-wiring wheels, sailing joy rides. "If you guys were smart, you’d sell ‘em," said Bobby, one of Mama Scram’s derelict boy toys.
"Where do we do that?" Nicky asked. The boys quizzed.
Bobby spammed the chop shop lingo. The boys dug in. Mother chopped Bobby.
Nicky would be sixty five himself if not for the VC’s and Nam.
Whacked in the siege at Khe-Sanh. Four minutes in pocket. He still had it.
No time to scope legit parking. Tony found a hydrant, and ditched the wheels. He popped the trunk, pulling a suitcase from the well. Scram stumbled into an alley, crashing a side door. One hand on the wall, the other, a railing. He let the suitcase tumble the steps, banging a tiled floor.
He was met by Doctor C, and two nurses. Not bad for a graveyard call. "Get him clean," C ordered the women. The nurses poured him onto an aluminum gurney, stripping his duds. The suds and bubbles job. Tony’s plexus, a pelican’s jaw. Floppy, folded, dimpled brown. The rest, burger meat. Black and blue pocks smeared his chest. The pellets. Shallow, scattered. A saline rinse. The nurses shuffled Scram to a slab beneath a large octopus lamp. "I don’t know if I could help. You lost a lot of blood," C laid law through a surgical mask. Rubber gloves snapped. A tray of sharp tools rolled up slab side.
"Do what you can," Tony said. Doctor C got down with it. A ball of road kill. The pellets burrowed in like termites. C wanted a skin graph. Tony, knock-off gas.
The nurses linked up the works. Bags, tubes, intravenous needles. C cut, pulled, and twisted. Another yank. Intestines snapping like elastic bands. Funny thing, Tony didn’t think it a mistake by going into that hornet‘s nest. The bungle was getting struck.
Tony would have to cook up the get out of town scheme. A number of people wanted him, big time. Snatch and bag missions dispatched. Badge punching tickets to the pen. The wise guy's, their funky grinders.
The bloody suitcase, stuffed with mean green. Enough wool to cash out the rest of his days, no doubt. C’mon C, you could do it. A nurse prepped the mask. The battery pumped gas. Scram shut his eyes. C dug in. Flaying flesh, pruning pellets.
Saint Santino shook the dice. Maybe the gremlin had enough and bolted. He's got hot hands, that Sonny. Especially in a pinch.
Maybe he'd break out the loaded cubes. Maybe.
Scram went under. Diving deep and dark. Into the fathoms of beginning and past...