VisDare – Joe McCloud


The blindfold was removed from his eyes and Joe found himself staring at a man with a pockmarked face. A scar ran across the man’s right eye and another scar zigzagged across his chin. He knew who the man was and Joe didn’t like it.

“Hello, Joe,” the rough voice was like a punch to Joe’s gut. It came from behind the man in front of him. It was the last sound he’d want to hear.

George, the scarred and pockmarked face man who removed his blindfolds, grunted at Joe before he took a step back into the shadows.

“Bossman,” Joe spat out the words like they were the nastiest thing he’d ever tasted. “Your boys here broke down the door of my apartment and interrupted my nice dinner.”

Bossman laughed a guttural laugh. “Send me the bill.” Bossman said. “This here’s what I liked about you, Joe. You have no care who’s the person in front of you. You just do your own thing.”

The room was dark and windowless. The only source of light came from a lamp that hung from above. It casted an orange glow within the room but its light wasn’t enough to fully push away the darkness. Bossman sat in front of Joe, behind a huge table that must have been made from oak. Joe couldn’t properly see Bossman’s face as it was hidden behind the veil of blackness and cigarette smoke.

“Do you know why you are here, Joe?” Bossman said.

Joe didn’t answer. His mind was working overtime trying to figure out how to get out of the mess he was in. So far every scenario he came up with ended up with him lying on the ground bleeding from gunshot wounds.

Joe heard the footsteps but just barely. He heard the voice but only slightly. The punch to his gut though, now that he felt quite vividly. George planted his fist again into Joe’s gut. The man moved his head closer to Joe’s ear.

“When Bossman asks you something, you better fucking be respectful and answer him,” George whispered, the whiff of his breath contained traces of alcohol and cigarette.

Joe gasped for breath. He smiled and nodded. “Will take note of that, chief,” Joe answered. Joe watched the tip of Bossman’s cigarette glow red as Bossman sucked in a lungful of smoke. Joe had a gut feel why he was dragged here.

“I asked George to bring you here because I am in need of your…services.”

And there it is, Joe thought.

“You’ll be paid handsomely of course,” Bossman added.

“I no longer do that kind of work,” Joe said.

“People like you, people like me, we never really retire,” Bossman leaned in closer from his oak desk. His face passing through the veil of orange light. Bossman had sleek black hair brushed to the back and cold, gray eyes. White smoke poured out of his mouth as he spoke. “We can trick ourselves into thinking our last job is the last. But this life we have, I’m sure you can feel it, this life has a way of dragging us back. Our retirement is in the form of a wooden box buried six feet below the ground. If you want to retire, I’ll give it to you no problem.” Bossman pulled himself back into the darkness.

Joe knew Bossman wasn’t kidding. The man didn’t have a sense of humor. That’s what made him so dangerous. Joe knew the only way out was to say yes. His mouth opened and the words flowed with hesitation. “What do you want?”

Joe could see the smile behind the darkness.

“I knew you’re an easy man to talk to,” Bossman said. “George, give Mr. Joe McCloud the envelope.”

The henchman shoved the brown envelope to Joe. Joe opened it up and took out the piece of paper from within. He read its content.

Joe’s eyes grew wide. Things were getting worse by the minute. He looked at Bossman. “This is…”

“The job that you will be doing for me,” Bossman said. “Cakewalk for someone like you and your talent.”

Joe crumpled the piece of paper into a ball. “You’ll leave me alone after I do this. That’s not a request.”

“I will leave you alone after that,” Bossman agreed. “But remember what I said, Joe. There’s no quitting for men like us.” Bossman’s laughter filled the small confines of the room, mixing with the orange glow and the cigarette smoke.