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Skimming Joey Lemons
About the Author: Robin Yocum is a former crime reporter and an Edgar-nominated author of six novels and two non-fiction crime books. Favorite Sons was the 2011 USA Book News Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense. A Brilliant Death was an Edgar finalist. His short story, "The Last Hit", was selected for 2020 The Best American Mystery Stories anthology. His next book, The Sacrifice of Lester Yates, is set for release April 27.


“Get me a beer. Do you think you can do that without screwing it up?”

I could, of course, but he wouldn’t live long enough to find out.

Jimmy was still screaming at the television, something about Florida State sitting on the ball and not covering the spread, when I put a slug from a snub-nose .38 into the back of his skull.

That was one of the benefits of being married to a guy who worked as an enforcer for Joey Lemons; there were always plenty of loaded guns lying around the house. I was coming back from the kitchen with his beer—a longneck Rolling Rock—when I saw the .38 sitting on the book shelf next to a copy of From Here to Eternity, and I thought, How friggin’ appropriate is that?

I’d had all the slaps, backhands and degrading remarks that I was going to take. I made the decision to kill him that instant. I’m not sure I even broke stride. I made my way across the living room with the Rolling Rock in one hand and the revolver in the otherUnder different circumstances, he might have found that incredibly arousing. But definitely not this time.

No, definitely not.

When I was close enough that it was impossible to miss, I extended my arm and pulled the trigger.

Simple as that.

The roar was deafening in the living room and flames shot out the barrel and singed his lacquered hair.

I took a hard swallow of the beer.

By God, that was justice.

Jimmy’s Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum had been on the shelf next to the .38. I wanted to kill him, but I didn’t want to blow off the front of his face and risk having bullet or skull fragments penetrate the sixty-inch, high-definition flat screen television he had bought earlier in the week. I think he would have appreciated my choice of weaponry and my consideration for fine electronics.

The hollow-point split apart and rattled around inside his cranium; he fell sideways, neatly staying on the couch without spilling blood on the hardwood floor that I had waxed the day before. It was the most considerate thing he had done for me in years.

I looked out the window and saw my neighbor, Giff, standing on the front porch looking up and down the street. He had doubtless heard the shot. I set the beer and the pistol on the bookshelf, grabbed the electric bill I had stamped and was ready to mail, and walked out the front door toward the mailbox. My ears were still ringing.

“Hi, Giff,” I said.

“Hey, Christina.” He waved. “Did you hear that?”

“That boom?”

“Yeah.”

“I did. What was that?”

“I don’t know; it sounded close.”

“It sure did. Are they blasting over at the quarry again?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. It sounded closer than that.”

“If I start losing windows, they’re going to pay for them.”

He chuckled and went back into the house.

I went inside and locked the door behind me. First things first. I fished the money clip out of his front pocket and stripped it of the bills; he had been carrying more than twenty-eight hundred dollars, mostly in hundreds and fifties. That’s another nice thing about being a mob headhunter—it’s an all-cash business.

Overlooking the disaster that was my living room, I probably should have given a little more thought to shooting a made member of the mob in the back of the head. But, as the saying goes, no sense in crying over spilled brain matter.

I stood for a long moment pondering my situation. Jimmy weighed two hundred and forty-five pounds, and it was no long longer the solid muscle I had married. Trying to maneuver his body into the trunk of the car would be like trying to lift a massive water balloon. I decided to think about it later. I had a two o’clock appointment to get my nails balanced at Chez Talons. They booked two weeks out; I wasn’t running around with chipped nails for another two weeks. Rosita did her usual great job. I gave her one of Jimmy’s fifty-dollar bills and went back home, where, of course, there was still the problem of the dead mob enforcer on my living room couch.



This story appears in our AUG2021 Issue
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