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About the Author: Martin Hill Ortiz teaches Pharmacology at the Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico where he lives. Along with three novels, he has had over twenty-five stories in print including Philosophy 101 appearing in Mystery Weekly Magazine's recent anthology, Die Laughing: An Anthology of Humorous Mysteries.

"All I'm saying is, if the moon did hit your eye like a great pizza pie, well that would be nothing like amore. It would probably kill you."


"I'm not saying it's possible. The moon is pretty far out there, not too mention, big-mama-ass huge. I'm just saying if it did somehow come down for a surprise stopover and would choose to smack you, that's fatal."

"Shuddup, already."

"And even if you only got hit in the eye with a pizza pie that would hurt a bunch too. Probably burn. Especially if it was fresh out of the oven."

"Shuddup, shuddup, shuddup."

"Amore is different from all that, that's all what I'm saying."

In one deft motion, Joey pulled his automatic and pressed its muzzle to Vance's temple. Joey said, "You understand now? You understand what I'm saying when I tell you, shuddup?"

"Okay, okay, already. I get your point," Vance said. Joey slid his gun back into his jacket. "It's just, you know, a stakeout is boring. And I saw that sweet-ass moon up there looking like it was mooning us. When I saw it, I remembered up that song."

"Listen, stakeouts are supposed to be boring. We do nothing flagrant or the mark gets wind. For example, if I got to whack you to keep your yammer shut, well—that would be a stink-pie level of flagrancy."

"Gotcha," Vance said then kept silent for a whole five seconds. "Stakeout. Sounds like a barbecue. If a barbecue hit you in the eye that would be almost as bad as a pizza. But not so bad as the moon."

"Remember when I told you, shuddup? Fuggedaboutit. Talk all you want. ’Cause my ears are on vacation for the night. No one's home. Come tomorrow, I go to Al and I beg for permission to whack you."

"Hey, Joey, come on. Don't kid like that. How am I going to learn the business unless it's from you?"

" 'Cause you're never gonna learn ’cause you're a moron."

"I've done two years in college."

"Even worse, you're an educated moron. Look at you." Joey tugged on Vance's denim jacket. "Where'd you get that, The Gap?"

"Could of."

"Lessons one, two, and three. This is a business. Dress like it. See my tie? Real sharkskin. Virgin olive oil to keep the luster."

"What does that have to do with …"

"It has everything to do with. Lessons four, five, six. You wanna learn? Listen and watch. Don't talk."

"Don't talk," Vance repeated.

"All we gotta do is make our mark, mark our mark, and whack our mark."

"What if Louis the Icepick knows we're coming?"

"Listen Mr. Not-A-Moron. We are going to drop in on Louis the Toothpick. Louis the Icepick was last Wednesday."



Vance fidgeted. He wanted to say something but he was certain the next words to come from his mouth would be labeled stupid regardless of what they were. So much silence made him think about his insides. He heard his stomach rumble. He felt his muscles ache. "Joey, okay if I stretch? We could be here all night."

"Now you're talking," Joey said.

Vance and Joey got out of the car. When they made it to a secluded spot, Vance made propellers of his arms. Joey rolled his shoulders and punched at the moon.

"Got a smoke?" Vance asked.

"You kidding? I'm keeping in fighting shape." Joey gave him a once over look. "You're a baby. You don't understand what's needed to keep in shape at forty."

Vance thought, the you're-just-a-kid speech. Again. I need to show him I can do this. "Joey. I was wondering if this time maybe if I could do the deed."

"The deed. That's precious. You can’t even say the word, and you want to do the deed.” Joey cocked his head. "Look, maybe I ride you hard, but this is a hard business. Everybody starts a virgin, but in the end there's no room for failure. There are no second chances."

"Joey. I was wondering if I could give Louis the kiss. You know, the kiss of death." A rose came to Vance's cheeks. "Please, come on. I'm ready."

"Aw, Vance, you're blushing. Your first kiss."

"I’m ready, Joey. I’ve been watching, studying your moves."

"So you think you ready for your first kiss?"

This story appears in our MAR 2022 Issue
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