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The Pig Is Committed
About the Author: Josh Pachter is an author, editor, and translator of crime fiction. His stories appear regularly in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and many other periodicals and anthologies. He is the editor of THE MISADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE (Mysterious Press, 2020) and THE MAN WHO READ MYSTERIES (Crippen & Landru, 2018) and the co-editor of THE MISADVENTURES OF ELLERY QUEEN (Wildside Press, 2018) and AMSTERDAM NOIR (Akashic Books, 2019). He has two anthologies coming out — THE BEAT OF BLACK WINGS: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF JONI MITCHELL and THE MISADVENTURES OF NERO WOLFE.

We don’t call him “Pete the Pig” ’cause of his fleshy pink cheeks and shiny bald head. Thirty years ago, when he made his bones in the Bianchi family in Brooklyn’s Five Points neighborhood by putting two .45s in the gut and one straight through the forehead of a dry cleaner with a bad gambling jones and a worse streak of luck who was a week late with the vig, he was eighty pounds lighter and had a full head of wavy auburn hair, but he’d already been saddled with the nickname.

He was born Peter Theodore Pignatelli, so what the hell else are we supposed to call him?

Pete the Pig sits now, huddled inside a shabby overcoat that must have him sweating like a—well, never mind—in the heat of the precinct’s claustrophobic Interrogation Room 1, hands clasped in front of him on the scarred surface of the deal table, and shakes his fat bald head stubbornly.

“You can’t remember,” my partner, Detective First Jerry Alvarez, says for the third time, “where you was last Friday night at eleven?”

Pete doesn’t move a muscle.

“He remembers,” says Sean Jameson, the Bianchis’ pet mouthpiece, “but he ain’t”—he coughs delicately into a fist—“he isn’t answering any questions at this point in time.”

Jerry rubs the back of his neck in frustration.

My partner’s been on the homicide table ten years and I’m a comparative newcomer, so I usually let him do all the talking. But it’s just as hot in this shithole for us as it is for Pete the Pig and Sean the Shyster and Jerry’s not getting nowhere, so I straighten up from where I been leaning against the grimy wall and put my two cents in. “What’s he got to hide?” says I.

“He’s not hiding anything,” Jameson explains patiently. “He’s just—”

The man in the overcoat stirs. “The Pig is committed,” he growls.

Jerry snorts in disgust. “That again. How many times I heard you say that, these last God knows how many years, Pete? What the hell does it even mean?”

Pignatelli licks his plump lips, preparing to make a speech. “You ever have ham an’ eggs for breakfuss?” he says.

“Ham and—? What the—?”

“You ever?” Pete repeats, his intonation unchanged.

“Yeah, sure,” I say, “we sometimes have ham and eggs for breakfast. What about it?”

“They make you ham and eggs,” the fat man rumbles, “the chicken is involved.” He pauses to catch his breath, unused to stringing so many words together in a row. “But the pig is committed.”

Jerry leans back in his chair. “Huh,” he says. “I get it. You’re not just involved with the Bianchis. You’re committed, so you’re keepin’ your fat mouth shut, you fuck, no matter what.”

The corner of Pete’s mouth lifts a fraction of an inch in the closest thing I have ever seen on his face to a smile. “The Pig—”

“—is committed,” my partner finishes for him. “Yeah, yeah, I said I get it. Go on.” He waves a hand at the door in surrender. “Get outa here.”

Sean Jameson springs erect and helps his client struggle to his feet, and they’re gone without another word.

Jerry stares at the closed door for a long moment. “The Pig is committed,” he says at last, shaking his head in disgust. “Jesus H. Christ.”

So Jerry and me discuss the situation and come to a decision.

The problem, see, is that Frankie Bianchi—which is the old don’s son and therefore the what you call nominal head of the family at this point, seeing as how the don himself is like two hundred years old and still alive only thanks to the miracle of modern medicine—ordered a hit on Timothy “Red” Grogan, whose Dundee Boys have been muscling in on the Bianchis’ action these last couple years.

This story appears in our APR 2020 Issue
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Reader Discussion

Josh Pachter does a nice job of keeping the story moving with his use of convincing dialog. Good story!
By Roy Dorman

I liked the story. I knew the Pig was going down, because he wasn't going to squeal (pun intended). This look at the callousness of the police, though, is what made the story for me. I always like Pachter's stories in Ellery Queen.
By Regina Davis-Sowers

Fine work! A great little read!
By Susan R

Thanks Josh! I was just thinking I could use a short story just about now, when in a more ordinary world I would be heading out of the house.
By Kathleen Rockwood

My first time on the site. I enjoyed the story. Not many people keep their commitments today.
By Ed Huminick

Thanks for fun story!
By Warren

Authentic voice, nice noir pice
By George Garnet

I loved the touch of humor in this short story. It was a great read, loved the ending. well done.
By Frances Dunn

I like the story. Committed to the end, uncommon these days. I enjoyed the humor.
By Tina Jude

Thank you, readers, for your comments! I'm delighted that you enjoyed "The Pig is Committed." I've had that title in the back of my mind for years, and it finally percolated into a story I felt ready to tell....
By Josh Pachter

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