Showcase: Stretch O’Brien: Weekend in Vegas, Prologue: On the Q.T.

by Martin Maenza

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“You’re gonna be so proud of me, boss,” Q.T. said with excitement in his voice. The tall, gangly man wore a brown suit with a white shirt, the collar undone and his tie kind of loosened. Q.T. didn’t like to wear them tight; made him feel like he was being strangled. He slid open the warehouse door and stepped to the side.

A large figure stepped into the warehouse first. He was easily seven feet tall, and his body was an impressive mass of muscles. He wore a long camel-hair coat over an expensive, handmade Italian suit. His shirt was neatly starched, and his solid violet tie was woven from the finest pure silk. He looked the part of any of the big names in the crime business.

But what made him stand out was his profile under his well-kept, flat-top haircut. His name was Vincenzo Dyke, but he was known in the crime world more by the moniker of Ape-Face. The son of George “Boss” Dyke — the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City — and a Sicilian beauty, he very much looked as his name sounded.

Ape-Face looked around the room as a few of his other associates, including Q.T., shuffled inside the building. “You called me away from an important meeting,” the boss announced. “I hope for your sake this is worth my while. I don’t like to have my business interrupted for trivial matters.”

“Oh, it’s worth it!” Q.T. gushed. “I tracked ’em down just like you said and dragged them in.” He gestured toward a wooden door across the way. “Got ’em locked up good and tight. Figured you’d wanna take care of ’em yourself.” The man reached into his left jacket pocket, and a panicked look crossed his face.

“Problem?” Ape-Face asked.

“No, no problem,” Q.T. said nervously. He then reached into his other pocket and sighed in relief. “See, no problem at all.” He produced a key, quickly fit it into the lock, and opened the door dramatically. “Ta-da.”

The man stepped aside so his boss could get a good look into the small room.

It was a small office with some clutter on the desk. In the center of the room were two wooden chairs, and tied down to the chairs was a couple. The man was young with dark hair. The woman was a blonde. Both were gagged with duct tape. When the two saw the simian-faced mobster, their eyes grew wide in panic.

Ape-Face frowned and then stepped back from the doorway. He turned to Q.T. and asked impatiently, “What’s this? Who are those people?”

The gangly man looked at him with surprise. “Who are they? You’re kiddin’ me, right? Just yankin’ my chain?” Q.T. turned to the other guys. “I’m new with you fellas. Is the boss yankin’ me? This some kind of initiation joke or somethin’?”

Ape-Face quickly became annoyed with the man’s antics. With his massive hand, he reached out and spun Q.T. around. He grabbed the man by the front of his rumpled shirt. “Care to tell me why the #^@% you dragged me down here for? You have got three #^@%ing seconds to do so before I lose my patience even further!”

“It’s them!” the man said in his own defense. “That O’Brien couple! I trailed their rental car on the way across some states and ambushed them at a rest stop just outside of Phoenix.” Ape-Face just silently shook his head in disgust. The man turned to the other guys, who also looked concerned. “What? What’s going on? It’s them. It has to be them! The car plates said MRV-2271, just like our sources gave us.”

The veins on the boss’ brow began to swell. Ape-Face wanted to pulverize the man, but instead just pushed him back into the wall hard. Q.T. hit it squarely with his back and slumped a bit. “You stupid, dyslexic fool! You reversed the digits. Tell him, Johnny.”

One of the other guys, also well-dressed, said, “Yep, the plates were MRV-2217.”

Ape-Face stepped forward, looking down on the man with his dark eyes. “I give you one simple task and you manage to #^@% it up. I don’t take well to people in my organization making mistakes. Mistakes cost time and money.” He gestured back to the room. “You got the wrong people. Those two in there, they ain’t who I sent you to get. They’re just innocent bystanders who got caught up in your #^@%-up. Now, tell me, is that fair to them?”

A bead of sweat ran down his brow. “Uh, no?” Q.T. said hesitantly.

Ape-Face started to turn away, then spun back around quickly. The sole of his Italian leather shoe slammed firmly into the man’s chest, causing Q.T. to double over in excruciating pain. The boss regained his composure quickly as he stepped away. He straightened his suit jacket underneath his coat. “You’re right. It isn’t fair to them. But now, they’ve seen our faces, heard our voices, and even our names. That’s not good. Now we’ve got to go and kill them.” The other men reached into their coats and removed their handguns. They had been with Ape-Face a while and knew the drill without being told.

Ape-Face turned to the three with guns. “You know where to start,” he said as his eyes darted to the side. The three nodded, turned, and took aim. A number of shots rang out as they riddled Q.T.’s body with bullets. The boss merely turned away and started for the door. As he did so, he pulled out a pack of Chesterfields and lit up a cigarette. “That’s the problem with the world today. So hard to find decent help.”

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