Mumbles Finnegan They took his lips with a pair of red-handled garden shears; the curved steel blades sliced off flesh until he was left with a raw, bloody hole backed by pearly teeth. He never said a word. Not the whole goddamn time. He just sat there, took it, took the pain. I guess that’s why they let him live; guy like that, takes that abuse and doesn’t say a word? It’s gotta make an impression. So they let him live. The plan was to give him the Buckwheats. That’s when you shoot a guy up the ass and let the bullet tear up the guts, the intestines. Sepsis is what they call it and it’s a pretty goddamn ugly way to die. He’d deserved what he got and he’d be the first to tell you that, if he ever said anything. He understood the ramifications of his actions. There was money shown, product agreed upon and then the gunfire started. Money gone, product gone and he’s sitting there, deaf from the percussion in such a small space and not a scratch on him. The only one not bleeding out, tore open by buckshot and .45 ACP hollow points. Lucky bastard. Or unlucky. He’d have to answer to the bosses. He told his side of the story, truncated I guess, and they chopped off his freaking lips. Jesus, those guys can be cruel. Finnegan was one tough mother, I’ll tell you that. And his toughness saved his life. Hell, you could say it increased his career opportunities, his chances for advancement, in his chosen line of work. His profession. Thug, muscle, enforcer. Broad shoulders that were forever squeezed into a ribbed undershirt under a black button-down shirt, black Levis, black Doc Martens and a black wool overcoat, for when the nights got cold. Compact hands like bricks, alabaster skin covered in a thick, black cape of hair. Military haircut, the acne scars on his cheeks, the hazel eyes that never smiled from under the broad, bushy eyebrows that he’d never trim. He never smiled before and he sure as hell wasn’t going to start now. I mean, not with no fucking lips. He’d talk and it’d come out in a tangled jumble of syllables and grunts and it was up to you to unravel what he said. I never heard him repeat himself once. And no one called him Mumbles, I mean, not to his face. Guy like that? Nothing is funny to a guy like that. I remember this one time, Finnegan’s in the pub and he’s drinking a pint through a straw – you try drinking a beer without lips asshole – and this guy starts in on him. I mean, Finnegan ain’t that tall and all, but chrissakes, this guy just starts in with his friends on account of Finnegan’s drinking a pint with a bendy straw. He walks over, grabs the guy by the elbow and jams a lock-blade knife between the guy’s ulna and radius bones and pins him to the oak tabletop. Finnegan pulls out his own pair of red-handled garden shears from the back pocket of his jeans and manages to lop three of the guy’s fingers and his thumb off before Greg yells from behind the bar that the cops were coming. Finnegan wipes the shears off on the guy’s silk tie and puts ‘em back in his pocket, not saying a word and walks out the door and stood for a time like he’s got no particular place to go. Am I afraid of him? Fuck, you bet. So why am I telling you all this? Maybe this is my confessional, maybe I just can’t help myself. You see, I heard something through the lowlifes on the streets and I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t tell anyone, kept the information for myself. Tried to make the score myself. They said Finnegan was coming by to talk to me. Finnegan don't talk on account of that lipless hole he’s got. He’s coming for me with those goddamn shears. Finnegan’s gonna take my goddamn ears.
Thom Gabrukiewicz is both a communicator and a writer of flash fiction. Most of what he writes is kind of dark, with occasional forays into the light.
He’s a winner of some awards and has covered two Winter Olympics. He’s also written a guidebook about hiking with dogs.
He’s fiercely loyal and has a malevolent side that seems to visit less and less. He’s both a hopeless romantic and a realist.
He's currently working on community wellness issues in Wyoming.