GATEWAY by Stephen D. Rogers

“When I was your age, this town hopped. That was before they tacked 25 onto the end of 495. Every single car headed for the Cape drove through here, stopping for gas, food, and beach toys before heading over the bridge. Not the bozos from Boston, but everybody else.”

“You fronting me the money or not? You said two thousand.” Dice rocked forward, swinging his head back and forth, sweeping for customers, sweeping for cops. “Double your investment.”

“I had a restaurant on Cranberry Highway. Worked like a bastard and made a fortune every summer. Had the whole family with me, my boy bussing tables when he was only seven. They all have better lives now. They made something of themselves, moved away.”

Dice spat on the sidewalk. “I know you had a restaurant in the dark ages and you’re still living off the money. That’s why you’re here.”

“It’s a public bench. That’s why I’m here.”

Dice turned to stare. “Just answer the question. You’re either giving me the two grand or you’re not.”

“I’m giving you the two grand, but I want in.”

“You?” Dice laughed, resumed sweeping. “You’re a broken old man.”

“I was making money hand over fist before you were making doo-doo in your diaper.”

“And you’re probably wearing diapers now. Shit. Either front me the two thou, or get off my bench. I’ll break into your house and take the money myself.”

“I want in.”

Dice laughed. “You want in? You want a piece of the action? You couldn’t find the action if it jumped up out of your oatmeal.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. You think you’re so tough? Try running a restaurant. You woke up today at, what, noon? I’ve been up since four, and I can still run circles around you.”

“You could move fast if maybe you fell out of your walker.” Dice raised a hand to point. “There’s a package store across the street, a consignment store a block down. Get yourself a bottle, a suit from when you were big, and celebrate the good old days. You’re scaring away my customers.”

“So that’s it? You stopped being interested?”

“You’re dicking me around, and I’m losing money. When I need what you have, I’ll take it. Get the hell out of here.”

A gull landed on the other side of the street, pecked at something growing out of a crack, searching for nourishment in a place that was barren.

“I lied before. Not everybody in my family moved away. My granddaughter decided to stay and watch out for me. She made a bad choice in boyfriends, got herself hooked. She’s gone now.”

“So what? She’s not watching over you, that makes you free to be a gangster?”

“If only you’d brought me into your operation, I could have taken what I learned to the police so they could stop the blight you and those like you are to this town. Instead….”

The knife went in and up, all over blood.

Dice screamed as he tumbled off the bench.

Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH, THREE-MINUTE MYSTERIES, and more than 900 shorter works.  His website,, includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.

Copyright © 2016 Stephen D. Rogers. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. 

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