“Have you thought about what you want to do?” Manny asked.
As Joe picked up another package and threw it into the back of the white, unmarked delivery truck, he gave Manny a questioning look. “What do you mean?”
“I mean after this. What do you want to do?”
“You mean, after we get through cleaning up and getting rid of the body?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Go eat a raw steak?”
As they went back inside, Manny’s expression twisted with disgust. “Gross. Why do you want to do that?”
Joe sighed. “I don’t. It was a ridiculous answer to a ridiculous question. Can we just get this done?”
Without even looking, he knew Manny was pouting. A small part of him felt bad, but only a small part. Manny always started this sort of thing, and it always made the work take twice as long. Probably his way of coping with the mess. But Joe couldn’t cope with it until it was done. The faster the better.
Manny was still quiet, but he wasn’t moving any more quickly. This wasn’t better. “I always go for a drink or 5 after these jobs. You want to come with me?”
The change was immediate as Manny perked up. “Really? That sounds good.”
“Okay, but the place I go closes kind of early, so we have to hurry.”
The body was already moved, but a lot of the mess remained. The work started going faster now, though. In fact, Joe thought it was the quickest he’d seen his partner go. He wished the idea had occurred to him sooner. Before long, all traces of blood had been removed. Joe pulled out a picture of the room from before.
“Move that table,” he pointed, “over to that wall.” Manny did it. “Perfect. Don’t you think?”
Walking over to him and peering at the photo, Manny nodded. “Yep. We’re good.”
They got in the truck and drove away with Joe at the wheel.
Manny gestured to the back with his thumb. “You think he was a bad guy?”
“They’re all bad guys,” Joe replied. “We don’t get called if they’re a good guy. Or if they’re rich. Same thing.”
“Rich guys are good guys?” Manny was puzzled.
“As far as we’re concerned, they are.”
Silence descended as Manny thought about it for awhile. Joe simply enjoyed the peace.
They pulled up to a grey, unremarkable building. A door opened, and Joe backed the truck up next to it. He and Manny got out and grabbed the bag holding the body. It was always heavier than it Joe expected it to be.
Through the door, it nearly looked like an operating room, except for the door leading outside. Inside there was a lot of metal, all of it clean. They put the bag on one of the tables in the room and nodded to the night man, making sure he had seen them.
Back in the truck, Joe headed for the bar. He couldn’t get that first drink fast enough. Nor the second. In fact, he was so focused he nearly forgot Manny was with him until the other man spoke again.
“You can’t be right.”
Joe nearly jumped in his seat. “What?”
“What you said before, about the rich being good guys. You can’t be right.”
“Okay, why not?”
“I saw someone in a really expensive car run someone over once.”
“What kind of car was it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then how do you know it was expensive?”
“I just do.” Manny was clearly getting agitated. “Anyway, he ran this other guy over. No reason. That’s not good. And nobody did nothing.”
“There you go.”
“Nobody did anything. Did the cops chase him?”
“No.” Uncertainty crept into Manny’s voice.
“See? Nobody else thought it was bad. If you or I had done that, the cops would have been all over us. But not your rich guy. See?”
“But that don’t make it right.”
“Maybe not. But if society treats it like it is, then I guess it is. You and I, Manny? You and I? We’re bad guys. We clean up other bad guys. Maybe someday other bad guys will clean us up. But the rich? They’re different from us.”
“But why can’t we change it?”
“Because nobody wants to. Except maybe people like you. And nobody listens to you.”
Obviously distressed, Manny looked like he might burst into tears, but he didn’t. He just sat silently as Joe continued driving.
When they finally stopped outside the bar, Manny turned to him once more. “You listen to me, don’t you, Joe?”
Joe nodded. “Yeah, Manny, I listen to you. But nobody listens to me, either.”
“I’ll listen to you.”
“I know you will. Now let’s go get some drinks.”