Crime don’t pay.
Ain’t that what they teach you in reform school?
Here’s something else they teach you: don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. Was a time I didn’t know what that meant.
I do now.
It all started when I fell for Angelina Bartolucci. First time I saw her, I wanted her: long black hair, big brown eyes. And curves? Mama! That girl knew how to work her stuff.
Took a while before Angie noticed me. She was an uptown girl, but the broads have always liked me. Angie was no different.
There was a problem, though.
Angie liked jewelry – a lot.
She wasn’t shy in telling me that if I wanted what she had to offer, I better be able to deliver. I was so in love, I’d have done anything to have her… and to keep her.
That’s how I got in trouble with the Boys. I started doing small jobs for Nicky Pellegrini, taking bets, running errands… two-bit hustler stuff. Tending bar at Giannelli’s wasn’t cutting it; Angie had her heart set on a diamond bracelet. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if I couldn’t deliver, Angie would find someone who could. So I delivered… to the tune of a $10,000 bracelet.
I started holding out on Nick, keeping back a little, not thinking he’d notice. Meanwhile, Angie was parading that damned bracelet all around town.
One night the Boys came to see me when I was leaving work. Said they had a little message for me – it was one anybody coulda read on my face the next morning. I ended up in the ER with a broken nose and a warning not to fuck with Nick.
You think I woulda learned my lesson, right? But Angie caught sight of this ring, see, a three-carat rock she had to have. Spent a lot of time on her knees one night, convincing me just how much she had to have it.
I started holding out on Nicky again, and Angie got her rock. But I was scared – it was just a matter of time before Nick figured things out.
I’m easy to read, like I got ‘SCHMUCK’ tattooed across my forehead. Harry Shapiro, the neighborhood loan shark, told me the word was out: Nick was sending the Boys my way. Compassionate Harry offered his services.
So me and him cut a deal. Shoulda known better, but I’m a schmuck, remember? Nick got his money and I got to keep my new nose.
All’s well that ends well, right? Not exactly…
I missed a couple of payments, and while Nicky once had my nose broken, Harry broke my heart.
Last night when I got home, there was a package waiting for me – and a note.
I kept the ring and bracelet; now we’re square.
Tearing open the package, I shoved aside the tissue paper.
Then I threw up.
I knew that arm.
I knew something else, too.
Angie wouldn’t be needing any more jewelry.
Word Count: 500
Author’s Note: Written in response to challenge to write a story in which a man steals a large sum of money to pay a debt to a loan shark, is saved from a beating, but is then haunted by what he has done. Weekly flash fiction challenge hosted by ThainInVain.