1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Winner mbhammer07 Short Story Contest 116: Happy Ending

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jun 27, 2012.

    “Johnny, what have you done?”

    “What? I did what I always do, I saw money and I took it.”

    “Do you realize the implications of your actions? Do you have one inclination about the gravity of this situation?”

    Johnny shrugged. Johnny and Dan had been friends since they were seven years old. In the 25 years since then, Dan had never been this mad. Not even the time Johnny ‘borrowed’ Dan’s car and crashed it in a drag race when they were 17.

    “Danny, it’s okay. Trust me. I’ve done this trick a hundred times across this country. This time is no different.”

    Dan shook his head, “No John, this isn’t another one of your quick cons with a smooth getaway. You stole money from the one person that you do not take money from. That cash belonged to Tito.”

    Johnny walked across the shabby hotel room, one of a thousand he and Dan had shared during their careers as professional grifters. He poured some Jack Daniels into a small Dixie cup label ‘El Paso Inn’ and took a drink, “Who is Tito?”

    “Who is Tito? Are you serious? Who is Tito? Tito-freaking-Sanchez, drug lord, gun lord, murder enthusiast, Tito Sanchez.” Dan grabbed the bottle from Johnny and guzzled.

    Johnny scratched his chin. “Tito Sanchez, yeah, the name sounds familiar. Do you think he’ll care?”

    Dan plopped down on one of the twin beds in the room, “Yes, I think he’ll care. There’s stories about Tito. The most famous being the time some small-timer stole 150 dollars from one a delivery trucks for Tito’s front business down in Mexico. The robber’s wife got an ear in the mail three days later. Tito holds grudges.”

    “Danny, Danny, Danny. Mr. Tito will never be able to trace this to me, I took precautions.” At that moment, a knock sounded at the door.

    “Precautions, huh? We’re dead.”

    Johnny sauntered to the door and opened it. The last thing he saw was the butt of a shotgun.


    Johnny sat on a patio chair drinking a beer while Dan manned a grill. Dan’s kids giggled as they swam and played in a pool. The smell of fresh cut grass and Dan’s steak lingered in the breeze. Johnny walked over to the grill, “Danny boy, I’ve got something cooking this week. A contact has informed me of a deal going down in El Paso. Mucho dinero amigo, and we are going to separate them from said dinero. What do you think?”

    Dan nodded, “Sounds good, who’s the contact?”

    “Don’t worry about that. Our flight is the day after tomorrow. We’ll get the particulars sorted out when we’re in Texas.”

    Johnny walked over to the edge of the patio and watched the kids play, “Danny, I’ve always admired what you’ve done here. You and Sally marrying, having these two angels, I couldn’t be prouder for you. I never had much family, but you’ve been a brother to me. I can’t pay you back for all the things you’ve done for me, but one of these days I will try. I promise.”

    Dan laughed, “What are you talking about Johnny? Are you okay?”

    Johnny turned his back to Dan, “Yeah man, I’m fine. This job is wearing on me. This El Paso thing might be my last score, at least for a while. Why don’t we both layout, huh? You could finally open up your restaurant you always wanted”

    “I can’t quit this now. I can’t start up a restaurant now. I have to support this family.”

    “Danny, just answer me this, if you had the money, would you start the diner?”

    “I’m not big on hypotheticals.”

    “Just tell me, if you had the money, would you quit conning and start a restaurant.”

    Dan stared into Johnny’s eyes. Johnny was rarely serious, but this time his eyes burned a hole through Dan.

    “Yes, if I magically got enough cash I would start up a restaurant.”

    “You swear?”


    “Okay, let’s eat then.”


    Johnny woke up and began to look around, but a burlap sack covered his head. He could feel the steel handcuffs dig into his wrist behind his back. The smell of rubber and gasoline lingered in the air. The sound of footsteps and men speaking spanish echoed off metal walls. Someone jerked off the burlap sack from Johnny’s head and he cringed at the rug burn on his nose and cheeks. They were in a warehouse, but there was no way to know the location of the building. A spotlight blinded Johnny for a moment then went dark. A man in a business suit holding a machete walked up from behind the men and joined four armed men. The man in the business suit spoke in a thick Spanish accent, “Hello Johnny, you finally join us. I would introduce myself to both of you, but I believe you already know who I am.”

    Johnny looked to his right to see Dan, handcuffed in a folding chair as well. Then he looked forward to see Tito Sanchez.

    Tito checked the sharpness of the machete with his thumb, “You see gentlemen, you have taken something from me. And although 100,000 dollars is a small drop in my bucket, it is still my drop from my bucket. I cannot tolerate any leaks. I have found the best way to stop my bucket from leaking is to brutally murder anyone who puts their fingers near my bucket. Now normally I would just murder you without this explanation, but you needed to hear your entire punishment. You will both die quickly, do not worry about that. However, Mr. Daniel Bishop of 1352 Spruce Lane, Sally, Christy, and Dan Jr. will also pay for your sins.” Tito looked over to Johnny and grinned, “I guess you should consider yourself lucky that you had no family.”

    Danny hung his head, then looked over to Johnny who was staring at him. Johnny’s face showed no signs of fear, only a slight grin.

    Johnny slowly turned to Tito, “Tito, do you have any idea who I am. No? Do you remember what you did to me on August 21, 1986? Still No. It was the day you killed my father and mailed his ear to my mother. Over 125 dollars! You destroyed my ma’s life…you destroyed my whole life over 125 dollars. You are the reason I have no family. But I am the reason you are going to die tonight. HELP!”

    Tito laughed, “Help? Do not worry, no one can hear you. I assure you, your friend, his family, and you are the only one’s who will be dying tonight.”

    Johnny quickly glanced at the doors of the warehouse and shouted once more. “HELP!”

    At that moment, a side door to the warehouse behind Johnny and Dan blew open with a crash. Men dressed fully in black riot gear flooded into the building from the door shouting inaudible commands to the occupants. Tito’s armed assistants instantly opened fire on the incoming men, who then returned a hail of gunfire. Dan attempted to shrink himself down in his chair as the bullets whizzed by his head. Johnny stood from his chair and jumped over on top of Dan, trying to cover Dan up as much as he could. On the floor, Dan looked around Johnny to see the four armed men and Tito all fall to the ground.

    The room fell silent except for the footsteps of the intruders. Four of them surrounded Johnny and Dan and shouted, “HANDS UP! NOW! PUT YOUR HANDS UP NOW!”

    Dan yelled, “We are not with them! They kidnapped us.”

    A voice came from behind the four soldiers, “Stand down men, these two are with us.”
    One of the agents walked up and moved Johnny away from Dan, “Sir, it appears one them is dead.”

    A clean cut man with a bullet proof vest labeled DEA in yellow walked up to Johnny and checked for a pulse against Johnny’s neck. The DEA agent stared at Johnny for moment, then slowly shut his eyes as his head dropped slowly. Dan yelled, “What is it? Help him! Please, help Johnny.” The agent looked over to Dan, “He is gone. Please go with this agent and I will come talk to you in a moment.” One of the four soldiers helped Dan up from the floor. Tito Sanchez and his men were each riddled with gunshot wounds, and the blood had slowly began to seep from the bodies out into the surrounding concrete floor. Johnny lay on his back on top of his hands, which were still handcuffed together, but the hint of a grin was still present on his lips.

    Outside of the warehouse, an agent led Dan across a dusty yard to a van. Dan leaned on the bumper of the van with his head buried in his hands as the clean cut agent walked over to him.

    “Dan Bishop?”

    Dan looked up and nodded.

    “I am Special Agent Streeter with the DEA.”

    “Are Sally and the kids okay?”

    “Yes, we had them moved into custody yesterday. They are fine.”

    “Am I under arrest?”

    “No, you are not. Johnny negotiated your freedom with his compliance in the capture of Tito Sanchez. Johnny was arrested on fraud charges about three weeks ago. When his identity was confirmed Johnny, and you, faced the possibility an awful lot of jail time. However, with the information Johnny had compiled on Sanchez over the years he was able to parlay that into all charges being dropped against both of you in exchange for Sanchez, dead or alive. When the drug deal earlier this week came to light we hoped that Sanchez would come out of hiding to do what he has done for the past 30 some odd years, exact revenge. Luckily he played into our hands and you get your part of the deal. Your friend has given you a second chance at life, I hope you use it well.”

    Dan was speechless. He leaned back against the van and stared into space.

    “Oh, by the way, Johnny wanted me to give you this.” Special Agent Streeter handed Dan an envelope. Dan opened the envelope to find a handwritten letter inside.

    Dear Danny,

    If you have received this letter then I am probably dead. Hopefully I went out in a good way, if there is such a thing. The old story about Tito Sanchez killing a thief and mailing the ear to his wife is true. I know this because the robber was my father. Soon after that my mom died, and I was left alone in foster care. I vowed then to find that man and kill him. I was getting closer to pinpointing him in Mexico, but I got dinged on some silly fraud charge. After they figured out who I was I was deep into it. But, I had an ace in my pocket, which I was able to play for the DEA. Me and you were both given a clean slate and the reward for Tito’s head, about five million dollars, as long as I could keep up my end of the bargain and deliver Sanchez. Well, while I am writing this letter we have stolen Tito’s money, we are just waiting for our eventual delivery to Sanchez.

    I want you to know that you have been a true brother to me. Just know that if this is the end of the line for me, helping you break free from this life will be worth it. Now you just need to hold up your part of the bargain.



    “Now, if you will just sign here and here, this building will be yours Mr. Bishop.”

    Dan signed the papers and handed them to the lawyer. Dan’s wife and kids clapped and cheered as the lawyer handed Dan the keys to the building. The lawyer said, “So Mr. Bishop, you are entering the restaurant business, huh? That can be difficult.”

    “Yeah, I made a promise to my brother that I would try.”

    “Do you have any ideas on the name yet?”

    “Yeah.” Dan, with tears in his eyes, replied,


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