An essay by Jake “The Hammer” Hurley, as provided by Michael Rettig
Art by Shannon Legler
I sat in the back of the old wooden fishing boat, gripping the outboard motor handle with white knuckles. I’m a member of the most powerful gang in the country. My grandmother calls me a thug. But a thug that tonight was rising up in the ranks of my gang. I was nervous as hell in this stupid small boat in the dark heading to a small island in the middle of Mexico nowhere. My organization rose to the top by two things. Our ability to put hits on anyone and special weapons from the evil genius of Dr. Frombeck.
Frombeck was a German professor involved in poison gas research during the Great War. He’d left Germany after the defeat and now lived alone in a big house on a small tropical island off the coast of Mexico. He charged a hefty price for his inventions, but they were worth it. His pocket brain disruptors had helped us gain control over the Tongs in San Francisco. His tasteless poisons had let us wipe out the Marcesi brothers in Cleveland.
Two weeks ago, Frombeck had sent a coded message. He had a new brilliant discovery that would gain us more advantage.
I slowed the boat and pulled it into the small wooden dock on the island. The guy who usually came to pick up new inventions had been riddled with machine gun bullets by the Capone mob last month. I tied up the boat, then with the leather bag full of cash in hand, followed the instructions to walk up a jungle trail until reaching the two-story stone house. Banging a big brass knocker in the shape of an imperial German eagle on the massive front door, I straightened my double-breasted suit and the tilt of my fedora. After a few minutes, bolts unlocked from inside.
The door swung open. Backlit was the man himself. Tall, cadaverous, wearing an immaculately starched, ankle-length white lab coat with a black leather belt and holster cinched at the waist. In one hand was an odd looking pistol, pointed at me.
“The password please.”
“Long live the Kaiser!”
“Where is the man who came before?”
“He got killed. I’m the new guy.”
“You have the money?”
I lifted up the bag.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016 collection.
Jake “The Hammer” Hurley is a rising member of the South Side Gang. He and his compatriots have interests in breweries, gambling, and protection services. “The Hammer” specializes in the collection of debts for his organization. Capt. Benson of the twelfth police precinct stated that “Jake is a thug’s thug. A man who you’d best not cross. Unfortunately we can’t prove a thing. Witnesses disappear.”
Jake spends evenings escorting Yolanda, an exotic dancer at the Orchid Club. He also anonymously contributes cash to building a new reptile building at the City Zoo.
Michael Rettig is a left handed, red headed only child who sees shapes in clouds no one else does. Once when fired from a job, instead of getting drunk, he went alone to a room and read Orwell’s 1984 straight through. This is Mike’s second story for Mad Scientist Journal. His first story was “Chuck the Alien.” After an insanely stressful career as a stockbroker, Mike writes short stories. He’s won a couple of short fiction contests and been a writing contest director. His writing critique group, “The Word Herd,” meets frequently at the local Barnes and Noble.
Shannon’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://shannonlegler.
“Wrong Guy” is © 2016 Michael Rettig
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Shannon Legler