Home Books Crime Comedy Short Fiction By A.J. Britz

Crime Comedy Short Fiction By A.J. Britz

Crime Comedy Short Fiction By A.J. Britz


A.J. Britz, author of Two Holes Plus One, grew up in West Cork, Ireland and currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota where he teaches Writing and English at one of the local colleges. His work has appeared in various non-paying genre publications, including —most recently —The Chamber Magazine.


A field mouse scurried across the ground and only narrowly avoided the falling guillotine of Jerry’s shovel. It was late. Mosquitos left little pinpricks on his jugular. He slapped his neck and breathed in the rich, loamy midnight air. His hole was shallow, full of big, flat stones and worms as long as shoe laces. Frank stood beside him, matching his efforts —his undershirt welded to his back and torso with sweat. For the last half hour he hadn’t said a word, completely absorbed in the task at hand.

“Don’t you think it’s cruel?” Jerry said, continuing to stab at the earth with his shovel.

“What is?” Frank mumbled.

“That they’re making us dig our own graves?”

Frank paused as a chill shot through his spinal column. “Bit of a sore subject at the moment, Jerry.”

Jerry glanced over his shoulder at the two trench-coated gentlemen standing a few yards away, their pockets bulging with the muzzles of their .38 Specials. Bathed in moonlight, they looked like a couple of potbellied angels, or ghosts come to watch the excavation of their decades-old bones.

It was a dark, critter-infested field next to a barren stretch of road outside of town. At that hour of the night, the only vehicles on I-20 were long-haul delivery trucks and the occasional taxi cab headed to the airport. Every time headlights bloomed in Jerry’s peripheral vision, he felt the urge to scream for help. Not that it would do any good. They were alone out there in the dark, entirely at the mercy of those homicidal goons.

Jerry glanced over his shoulder at the two trench-coated gentlemen standing a few yards away, their pockets bulging with the muzzles of their .38 Specials.

“Who do you think they’ll shoot first?” he asked, morbidly.

Frank pretended not to hear the question.

“You ask me, it ought to be you.”

“You don’t say?”

“It’s logical,” Jerry explained. “You shoot the weaker one first, leaving the stronger, faster digger alive long enough to fill in his friend’s grave. It’s called efficiency.”

“Don’t call me your friend,” Frank grumbled. “I’m your business partner. Former business partner, actually. And if you’re the better digger, why am I waist-deep in the ground and you’re barely past your knees?”

“Nonsense,” Jerry replied. “We’re about even. Besides, it isn’t a race. I’m biding my time until I come up with an escape plan.”

“You could tunnel to China,” Frank suggested. “You know…since you’re the superior digger.”

“You think Lana will remarry?”

“I’m warning you, Jerry.” Frank’s eyes were suddenly teeming with fire. “One more word and I’m gonna lay you out with this shovel. I mean it.”

“Relax. I was just making conversation.” Jerry leaned on his shovel and heaved a sigh. “I’m sure Anne-Marie will shack up with the first guy she meets. She doesn’t like being alone.”

“No one does.”

“I’ve always thought of myself as a lone wolf,” Jerry mused. “Solitude comes naturally to me. It’s the way of most intellectuals and poets.”

“Having no friends doesn’t make you a poet.”

“I contain multitudes!”

“I’ll tell you what you contain,” Frank said.

Jerry shook his head in disbelief. “Funny how things panned out. I would have never pegged Don Linguine for a germaphobe. We cater to all types, I guess.”

“You sneezed on his bisque!”

“Only because a certain someone got carried away with the pepper mill. What I can’t figure out is why you felt the need to step in and take the blame?”

“I wasn’t taking the blame,” Frank said, tossing a spadeful of dirt aside. “I was merely explaining what had happened and asking for clemency on your behalf.”

“Clemency? From Don Linguine? You seen the papers lately? Six corpses laid out on the front page —all former employees of the Don. Did any of them get clemency?” He stopped to refill his lungs, then went on. “How about that snitch in Rikers who had his tongue carved out and mailed to his mother in Queens? Or that barber who nicked the Don during his weekly shave and hasn’t been heard from since? If you’re expecting forgiveness and understanding from a man like Don Linguine, you’re living on another planet, pal.”

“I’m gonna crack your nut if you keep gabbing,” Frank said, venomously. “I’m serious. Can’t we just dig in peace?”

“Testy today.”

“Wonder why?”

“If that’s how you feel, you should have never stuck your oar in to begin with.”

“You’re right,” Frank said, flinging more dirt over his shoulder. “That was my mistake. Every time I open my dumb mouth to defend you it backfires, spectacularly.”

“Who needs defending? People love me. They travel far and wide to eat at my restaurant.” Reaching into his ass pocket, Jerry removed a folded up piece of paper and held it a few inches from his nose. “Did you see our latest batch of reviews? I printed one off. Hang on a sec…”

“Please don’t,” Frank protested. “We don’t have time for —”

“’I came here for dinner with my husband on a Friday night. Even though the place was packed, we were seated right away. The atmosphere and décor were both impeccable…’”


“’I ordered the Ravioli and hubby ordered the Frutti di mare. Never has so scrumptious a meal graced my palate…”

“Jerry, that’s enough!” Frank barked, drawing scowls from the two heavies watching them.

“I think I’ve made my point.”

“For the record, I know you wrote that review yourself.”

“No, I didn’t,” Jerry lied. “Trish Merriweather from Toledo wrote it.”

After adding another spadeful of dirt to his mound, Frank paused to give his aching muscles a rest. He fixed his eyes on the moon —a glowing white disc that reminded him of a communion wafer —and thought of something approximating infinity. After a while, he said: “You have a head for this business. I’ll give you that. And you know your way around a balance sheet better than most. It’s your people skills that are seriously lacking. If I were you, I’d start with sock puppets and work my way up.”

One of the mobsters doffed his fedora and ran a white hanky over his shiny, bald pate, polishing it like a bowling ball. Replacing the hat, he began patting himself down for a lighter, his eyes shifting around in their sockets. If Jerry didn’t know any better, he’d swear the guy looked nervous.

Suddenly, he heard Frank say: “This can’t continue. The way you behave is becoming a liability.”

“You’re crazy.”

“I must be for letting you anywhere near the front of the house.”

“It’s called schmoozing with the customers. I can’t help that I’m gregarious by nature.”

“I thought you were a lone wolf?”

“Yes, well, I’m also the owner of DiMaggios,” Jerry said with visible pride, “and thus I’m expected to show my face from time to time. It’s how you build rapport. You ought to take notes.”

“What I ought to do is gag and hogtie you as soon as you show up for work. That way we might go one day without an incident.”

“And what exactly constitutes an ‘incident’?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Frank said, pretending to ponder. “Let me think. Ogling women in front of their husbands…”

“Now, hang on —”

“Tickling the waiters…”

“You mean Eric?”

“Juggling the salt and pepper shakers. Getting drunk and playing the piano…”

“I was tuning the piano.”

“Insulting Don Alfredo’s mother.”

Jerry said: “I don’t remember doing that.”

“You told her her mustache was so thick you could lose a shuttlecock in it.”

“That was his mother?” Jerry said, mortified. “I thought I was talking to Alfredo Sr.”

“Point is, we narrowly avoided being kneecapped and force-fed the table-cloth.”

Jerry waved away the remark. “It’s not my fault we’re popular with the Sicilians. Am I supposed to hang a sign on the door that says ‘No Wise Guys Admitted’? Think of the tips Eric would lose. You gonna deprive him of a living?”

“Eric agrees with me,” Frank said. “They all do.”

“If this is how you felt, why not say something sooner?”

Frank shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I figured —”

“You figured you’d badmouth me to the staff and turn them against me.” Jerry lifted his shovel and hurled some dirt clods in Frank’s direction. “You want to take over the restaurant, is that it? Never mind that I rescued you from the gutter, gave you a job and a purpose…not to mention a sizable stake in DiMaggios.”

“Rescued me from the gutter?” Frank’s tone was indignant. “I was doing data entry before you hired me. And I’d hardly call two-and-a-half percent a ‘sizable stake.’”

“You ungrateful little —”

“It might not seem like it right now,” Frank said, picking a splinter out of his thumb, “but I’m on your side. I want DiMaggios to succeed as much as you do, but that’s never gonna happen if you keep up this Rodney Dangerfield routine of yours.”

“And what about you, huh?

“What about me?” Frank said, defensively.

“Playing slap-n-tickle with every hostess we hire when you got a devoted wife waiting for you at home.” Jerry spit to underscore his disgust. “It’s appalling. And it’s against God.”

“At least I know to keep my business and the business separate,” Frank growled. “Honestly, I sometimes think you want us to get shut down.”

“I refuse to be lectured by an adulterer.”

“I’m gonna kill you!”

The two crossed shovels and for a moment it seemed like they might come to blows. Neither one had an obvious physical advantage, though Frank did ROTC in college and used to spar with Golden Gloves champ Chip “The Mountain” McNally until Lana forced him to take up a new hobby. After another minute of heavy panting and teeth gnashing, the two backed down.

“Don’t worry,” Jerry said, turning his attention back to the hole. “These fellas will save you the trouble.”

Frank studied the two henchmen for a moment, then whispered: “Not necessarily.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You see the one with the facial scar?”

Jerry squinted across the field. “They both have facial scars.”

“The big guy. The one on the right. Don’t stare, damn it! You’ll give the game away.” Frank lowered his voice again. “In a few minutes he’s going to give his buddy a lead migraine, then he’ll cut the two of us loose. It’s all been arranged.”

“How much did that set you back?”

“Eight thousand.”

“Eight grand!,” Jerry gasped. “Are you moonlighting as a stockbroker? Where did you come up with that kind of scratch?”

“Yeah, er, I was gonna talk to you about that,” Frank said, attempting to clear his throat. “Thing is, a bribe of that size just wasn’t in the budget so I had to sell something.”

“Sell what?”

“You promise you won’t get angry?”

“I’m already angry!” Jerry roared, his voice nearly cracking. “I’m fuming. I can feel another ulcer popping into existence this very moment. Now tell me what you sold!”

Frank hesitated briefly, then said: “One of the pizza ovens.”

“You didn’t!”

“Afraid so.”

“Which one?” Jerry asked, bracing himself.


“Ah, the humanity!”

“It was either that or one of my kidneys.”

Jerry scoffed. “Your kidney doesn’t happen to make pizzas, does it?”

“It makes stones from time to time.”

“I’ll keep that in mind if I ever decide to start a gravel company.”

“Listen,” Frank said, climbing out of his hole and sitting down in the damp timothy. “There’s something else I wanted to tell you. I was gonna wait until after our grand escape, but now seems as good a time as any…”

Just then car headlights appeared in the distance, piercing the tarry blackness of night and sweeping the field as the Honda came hurtling round the bend. Loud music boomed from the radio and mingled with the voices of the college students on their midnight joyride. A few seconds later they were gone, and it was crickets again.

“Let me guess,” Jerry said, hopping back into his hole and picking up his shovel. “You want a fifty-percent stake in the new restaurant, plus reimbursement for our plane tickets. I assume we’re flying first class?”

Frank made a face. “What? No. Lana and I are getting a divorce.”


“It’s been a long time coming. She says she met someone else. A race car driver named Anton. He’s moving in and I’m moving out, and that’s that.”

Jerry pondered this new piece of information. “Race car driver, huh? Do you think he sleeps in a race car-shaped bed? I’ve always wanted one of those. Better than the boring four-poster we got from my in-laws.”

“It’s just as well. Lana and I have been growing apart for a while. I can’t even remember the last time we went on a date.”

“You’re better off,” said Jerry, reassuringly. “Marriage and you were never a good fit. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have settled down so young.”

“Anne-Marie is the best thing to ever happen to you, bar-none.”

“You’re probably right.”

“I know I am,” Frank said.

“Quit your yammerin’ and dig,” shouted one of Linguine’s goons. “Don’t want to be out here all night.”

The two henchmen approached the half-dug graves, pistols drawn, looking a little overzealous for Jerry’s liking.

“How about we knock off early?” Jerry quipped, unable to hold his tongue. “Come back tomorrow after we’ve had some sleep?”

“Tomorrow I’ll be watching the ponies and you’ll be fertilizing this here field,” the goon spat.

“Tell you what,” came the smart-aleck reply. “The ponies can fertilize the field and Frank and I will take a red eye to San Francisco. You’ll never hear from us again. I’ve always wanted to catch a Giants game.”

“Are you slow or something? Less tongue and more shovel. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Another peep out of you,” Goon #1 added, “and my associate here is gonna tear off your gonads.”

Jerry said: “You should probably check with him first. See if he’s comfortable. Personally, I’d be fine with just a twisted arm and a headlock.”

“This is your final warning,” Goon #2 chimed in. “Shut up and dig or bad things will happen.”

After the heavies were out of earshot again, Jerry turned to Frank and said in hushed tones: “He’s right, though. The night’s getting on. Any idea when your boy is gonna make his move?”

“Hopefully soon,” Frank said. “My arms are starting to burn.”

“Maybe he’s waiting for the guy to go take a leak? Catch him off guard, you know?”

Frank threw up his hands. “That could take all night. And he doesn’t look like someone who stays well hydrated.”

A thick fog was rolling down the hills and within a few minutes, both the highway and the field in which they toiled were completely engulfed. They could have made an easy escape, using the fog as cover, but they didn’t. Neither man could bring himself to abandon his hole. Not while things remained unresolved between them.

“Where were you planning to go?” Jerry asked, pitching his voice as casual as possible.  “Now that Michael Schumacher is…er…parking his car in your garage.”

“I haven’t figured that out yet,” Frank said, solemnly. “But I’ll tell you this. Wherever I end up laying my head, it won’t be in this state. Don’t you have kin in Indiana?”

Jerry cocked an eyebrow. “Home of the Indie 500?”

“Fair point.”

“I would suggest somewhere farther afield. I hear Holland’s nice this time of year. We could get you set up in one of those windmills. The amount of wind you generate, it’d be a perfect fit.”

“That’s rich coming from you.”

“Listen,” Jerry said, turning maudlin all of a sudden. “I’m sorry about all this. Truly. I never meant to jeopardize the business, or our friendship. I just want to be popular, you know? To get along with everybody. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“I’m sorry too,” Frank said. “I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way.”

“Here’s an idea. After we get out of here —”

Two loud pops interrupted their chatter. Jerry’s head whipped in the direction of the sound, his hands instinctively reaching for the nearest blunt object, which happened to be his shovel. Frank did the same. For a few seconds, no one said anything, their eyes hunting for figures and signs of movement in the fog. Then, as if a curtain had been parted, one of the henchmen emerged from the gloom with his pistol pointed straight ahead.

“Gonna need you to dig a third hole,” he said.

Once he realized the man standing before him, giving orders, was not the man he’d paid off earlier that morning, Frank’s heart sank. “What happened to your friend?”

“He ain’t no friend of mine,” replied the goon. “And he was no friend of the Don’s either.”

“So you put a bullet in him?”

“No, that loud bang you heard was his chemistry set explodin’.”

“Didn’t figure him for a science lover,” Jerry said. “Must be terrible.”

“What is?”

“Being so disposable. If I were you, I’d take out a generous life-insurance policy, or consider a change of profession. Otherwise, you may soon find yourself facing the business end of a chemistry set.”

“What’s terrible is having to dig the hole you’re gonna lie in,” rejoined the goon. “Joey over there —though he didn’t know it —had been diggin’ his own grave for months. I tried to warn him. I says to him, ‘Joe, you better leave that girl alone. She’s Linguine’s niece and that means she’s off-limits.’ But did he listen to me? Of course not. A pretty girl’s a pretty girl,” he went on. “I’m not saying she didn’t turn heads. She did. We were all droolin’ over her. Even her uncle would sneak a peek from time to time. But no one was dumb or reckless enough to act on it. No one except Joe. Once the boss found out…well…that kind of behavior is grounds for termination.”

“Sounds like you were the one smitten,” Jerry prodded. “Must have felt pretty good taking out a rival suitor. Now she’s gonna need a shoulder to cry on.”

The goon allowed himself a sly smile. “That obvious, huh?”

“Joe didn’t happen to mention an arrangement we had before you shot him?” Frank asked, nervously.

“What sort of an arrangement?”

“The kind that involves letting us go in exchange for a few saddlebags of cash.”

“Can’t say that he did. Though, it doesn’t surprise me. A girl like Fiorella has expensive tastes. Joe nearly ruined himself keeping her in minks and diamond necklaces. He got desperate. Started dealing in drugs and taking on side work for one of the other families. It was hard to watch. I can’t help but feel like I’ve done him a service here today.”

“Because I’d be willing to honor that same agreement with you,” Frank quickly put in. “You said yourself the girl’s high maintenance. Now, I don’t know what kind of salaries you guys are pulling down each month, working for Linguine —and I’m willing to bet Glassdoor doesn’t know either —but how does twenty thousand in the bank tonight sound?”

Jerry blanched, thinking of all the pizza ovens he’d have to sell.

“A very enticing proposal,” the goon replied. “But I’m afraid I’m gonna have to decline.”

“What? Why?”

“Don’t get me wrong. The money’s nice and all, but it ain’t worth what the Don will do to me if he finds out I betrayed him. I’ll end up like his old barber.”

“You won’t have to worry about that,” Jerry said. “He’ll never find out. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be long gone. Out of sight and out of mind. I might even grow a beard for good measure.”

Frank thought: “Good idea. Hide that weak chin of yours.”

“I can tell you’re a reasonable fella,” Jerry went on. “A goodfella! And unlike my cowardly associate here, you’re not gonna let fear come between you and a mega payout. So, what do you say? Do we have a deal?”

The goon leveled the gun at Frank and tisked. “Sorry, boys. Professional integrity and all that. But if it’s any consolation, I’ll tell them you got the drop on Joey after he bad-mouthed your ladies. Chivalrous…that’s how I’d like to be remembered.”

“Wait a second,” Frank pleaded. “Just wait —”


The goon’s head exploded.

His eyeball burst from its socket like egg yolk and landed just shy of Jerry’s hole.

Frank screamed.

The goon collapsed in a heap on the ground, blood glugging from a hole in his skull, like petrol from a punctured gas tank.

All was silent.

Then, out of the fog, stepped their bald-headed savior, his cheek mottled with blood and dirt. He was moving at a caterpillar’s pace with his .38 dangling from his right hand, looking down at the man he’d just shot.

Frank wanted to cry out with joy, throw his arms around the goon’s thick neck and plaster him with kisses. “I don’t believe it,” he muttered to himself. “It’s impossible.”

“Frank!” Jerry yelled, spinning on his heels and executing an awkward jig. “It’s a miracle. It’s divine goddamn intervention.”

Frank opened his mouth to speak, but no words came.

Resting his loafered foot on the man he’d just slain, the goon looked up at Frank, cocked his pistol and said: “Funny how things turn out.” He spat some blood into the waist-high grass and wiped his lips on his sleeve. “Now…what was that I heard about twenty grand?”


If you’ve enjoyed “Two Holes Plus One”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

For online archive of short fiction (longer pieces) on Mystery Tribune website, you can visit here.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

hot sxe vedio freshxxxtube.mobi iniya hot منقبة مربربة hailser.com زنقها desi wife sex videos pornview.org desisexmovie toradora porn hentaipit.com gender bender comic sunny leone hot sex vedios bukaporn.net indian sexy films سكس عراقى جديد kobiiys.com نيك الام من الابن g spot porn tubetria.mobi reshma ki jawani video english sexy video bp indianvtube.com preperionity اجمل قصص سكس izleporno.biz بوسه نار beserk hentai xxlhentai.net nazi hentai marwadi sexy download kompoz2.com suman ranganathan kamasutra film greenporntube.net telugusex video com indian made sex video bravosex.mobi wwwwxxxv kannada film actress sex goporns.info www.telugusexxx.com office fuck pornotane.info pragathi actress