The Comeback

By: George Sparling Email:

When one of the detectives said to cook the corpse for five days, making Vince’s body disappear, I knew Dickie wouldn’t be charged with murder. The other detective objected, not about Dickie murdering his brother, both were glad Vince was dead, but his method of punching him senseless with barbed wire wrapped around boxing gloves bothered him. The mutilation and lacerations surpassed anything Dickie did in the ring during his boxing career. Dickie and Vince’s two children would remain with us, our marriage saved thanks to the law.

“Get a 55 gallon barrel and slow-cook the scumbag, ” the fat dick said.

“I’ve been to many of Dickie’s fights and saw fighters massively cut up. I could’ve brought my kids and sat at ringside seats for those. Strictly PG-13,” the other plainclothes cop said.

They left, dropping off their cards.

The wire had pierced Dickie’s gloves. From a formidable and expensive medical kit I found in Vince’s bathroom I used cold compresses to clean and cool Dickie’s lacerations and cotton swabs soaked in epinephrine, then applied petroleum jelly to cover his hands and fingers. Vince had everything.

“Vince knew what cutmen used in the corners,” Dickie said.

We lived in Vince’s house.

“I’m your cutman,” I said.

“Good as Chuck Bodak, Angelo Dundee’s cutman. That fat detective, I saw him come and go at Score when I worked there.”

Score Inc., Vince’s start up company. Where had he gotten the capital?

“Not connected with the business end of a tool and die of Vince’s?” I said.

“No, I was just a janitor. Saw Vin at lots of my fights. My manager pointed out mobsters he was with.”

“Gambling and fixes are part of the trade,” I said, trying not to sound smug, too knowing. Dickie hated people who thought they were better than him, one reason he killed his brother.

“A few times I saw fat dick carry two suitcases and hand them to Vince in the parking lot. I’d be weeding outside and outta sight. The dicks probably owed money to Vince."

“Maybe he was selling him suitcases,” I said.

Damn, why the levity. We have a body to dissolve and I had to be jokesy. That big, gluttonous, lardy cop made disposal of Vin’s corpse easy.

“He reminds me of the grossness of that Orson Welles’ character in Touch of Evil we saw together after we tucked the kids in for bed.”

Dickie mulled that over.

“Maybe I’ll get in better shape at the health spa’s weight room.”

He pulled flab from his sides, patted his stomach from the cheap foods he loved. I’ve tried to get him to eat better food, only sometimes succeeding. I felt sorry for the movie allusion but Dickie hadn’t been spared from his own corruption, murder the top of the card, the main event. But Vince’s death I could live with because I felt closer to his brother Dickie.

“We need to purify ourselves, put distance from the past,” I said, Dickie’s blood on my brown trousers. He wiped a wet cloth over my face and showed me the blood.

“Yeah, life’s messy. I knew that early on when I got head-butted during an amateur fight.”

The dicks put the corpse into a zipped body bag to not bloody the rugs and floors, and dragged it to the basement. We’d cook Vince there. A large drum used for debris was in the corner. The dicks left. Dickie unzipped the bag, pulled him out, stripped him, and stuffed Vince’s naked body into the drum. He slid two wooden planks to the stove, making a ramp. Dickie rolled the drum to the stovetop and righted it on two electric coils. I set the temperature at low.

“I’ll be here when you get back, just cruising the net,” I said.

We kissed. I was surprised how his eyes shone brighter. Nothing like boiling the dead to perk one up.

“I’ll get a driver’s license someday,” he said.

Dickie packed his gym clothes and walked to the health club.

During the boxing years, he, at first, rode in limos, then chauffeured cars. As his career tumbled, taxis. I read on Google News about a new synthetic drug called 2C-I, how the ingredients were listed online for druggies to make in powdered, pill or liquid form. Users, thinking it purely an amphetamine and psychedelic high, found themselves running into power lines and walls under 2C-I’s rule, and died from force of impact. Watching a person’s face turn black, black tears sliding down another person’s face like death-mascara was a milder effect. As I had seen Dickie pound Vin to shreds, I wondered whether Vin’s eyes streamed blackness. Had Dickie’s? Human metabolisms generate lightness or darkness, depending on the moods of killers, of victims, of God having a bad day.

“I used lots of machines today,” Dickie said, tossing his bag in the closet.

“Going 21st century, uh.” He smelled good. “I like your scent.”

“Aromatherapy. I rubbed essential oils over my body.”

“You shower?”

“Not yet. I used four machines and they smelled like blood. Metallic blood. I feel cleaner, purer though.”

“Immaculate. Not like Vince.”

“Not like the dicks or Vince.”

“Not rotten and cruel?”

“Vince didn’t have kindness in his bones, growing up or below boiling.”

The kids were doing fine staying with my sister until we could straighten our lives. I told him about 2C-I.

“It’s called smiles on the street,” I said. He seemed interested, showered, and watched reruns of The Waltons, about three generations living in a big house during the Depression. A poor family in the South struggled to survive; each episode averted catastrophe. Troubles resolved; hope lived another day. Corniness lied.

The smell of boiled veal seeped from the basement and made us hungrier than usual.

In bed, we normally talked before sex or sleep but not that night. “Machines take getting used to,” he said before turning over and went to sleep.

Those smells downstairs, how they reminded me of Nell, Vince’s kept woman below us in a basement apartment. We raised two kids and had many arguments over that bitch it made my blood pressure rise and gave me nosebleeds. Every day she jogged an hour then came back to lift ten-pound hand weights. She had been a mobsters’ gal until she got shunted to Vince, a “legit” gangster. The chief reason for leaving him was Nell: Who knew where she hung out now that he was steaming? I never referred to her in conversation. If I had, Dickie would think I was foolish to repress memories better off discussed.

Dickie walked to the health center. After two hours, he returned.

“Nell worked out of machines today. I bought her a power shake.”

“What’s she up to these days.” I was shocked but concealed it.

“She’s marketing online her own power shakes.”

“She’s independent now and for that I applaud her.” I really wanted her existence lobotomized from my brain.

“We drank shakes in the center’s café.”

“Did she mention Vince or me?”

“No. But you might like to know I added liquid smiles to her shake.”

“Damn. Why? She could get hurt or worse.”

“It’s the least I could do for you.”


“For the pain you suffered.”

“Had smiles acted yet?”

“She ripped off her clothes and ran into the weight room. She crashed into one machine after another.”

He told me about a huge machine, with a heavy barbell between two massive steel supports on either side of the incline press machine. She bruised herself and gashed her forehead when she smashed her head again and again on the supports.

“She collapsed to the floor. I stopped watching. No one was there.”

I jerked myself off the couch, went to the bedroom and packed all I could into luggage and one small trunk. After calling a taxi, I said: “I need to get away from you, Dickie. You’re on your own.”

In the taxi, I thought Dickie might do worse things alone. I pitied a woman living with him in that house. Let him find a grease trap to pour Vince’s thin veal soup down. Maybe those detectives will lure him into their unscrupulousness and rot.

Thoughts of Dickie entwined themselves with the movie, The War of the Worlds, how the aliens, machines, proved indomitable at first until the earth’s viruses and diseases killed them. His permanence was unacknowledged artificiality and eventually his weakness would be exposed.