(Excerpted from the upcoming “Mayonnaise Murders Part 2″ coming October 20)
Everybody on the street called him Munchkin, but it wasn’t just because of his size. Granted, he was what most would refer to as itty bitty, weighing in at a comical 110 pounds, and standing no taller than 5’1″. Rodeo always said he looked like an angry rat on steroids. Munchkin liked the steroids reference because steroids were what those weight-lifting freaks used to pop like popcorn back in the day, the ones gritting their teeth and flex-posing their tanned, shiny, polished muscles on the covers of all those BIG PUMP magazines he had scattered around his tiny apartment. He was probably the only person in North America who still owned actual magazines made out of paper, but he always said that the electronic versions just weren’t as authentic, whatever the hell that meant.
But the other reason they called him Munchkin was because of his love for that ancient movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” He loved everything about the movie, but he especially loved the role of the Munchkins, which is why he religiously maintained a standing uninterrupted appointment with himself to watch his favorite movie on the first Sunday of each month.
The first time Rodeo met Munchkin was on one of those first Sundays when his crew had stormed a raggedy building on the city’s west side owned by a rival crew that Rodeo had grown tired of. Once the word got out that Rodeo was on the way it was as if somebody had dropped a roach bomb. Bodies were spilling out of windows and doors in a frothy panic. By the time Rodeo arrived the place was empty as an echo – except for the apartment on the top floor at the end of the hall on the right. The door was wide open, and the closer Rodeo got the less he could believe what he was hearing.
Jesus, was that really…?
Before he stepped inside he sent three of his lieutenants ahead, just in case. Moments later the room went quiet as someone turned off a stream. Then he heard someone, sounded like Bone, scream a stream of highly inventive curse words. There was some loud tussling, followed by more screaming and yelling.
By the time Rodeo defied his better judgment and made the decision to step inside, the stream had been turned back on, Munchkin was seated in his armchair in front of the screen, and the three lieutenants were scattered about the small space writhing in considerable pain.
“You Rodeo?” Munchkin asked, without bothering to turn around.
“Yeah,” said Rodeo. “That would be me.”
“Sorry about all this. I heard you was comin, but I just couldn’t leave my show. Normally I ain’t like this, but they turned off my Wizard and…I mean…hey, you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz before, right?”
Rodeo nodded slowly.
“Yeah. I have. It was good.”
“Naw. It’s fuckin great.”
“Yeah. You’re probably right. I guess that’s why it’s a classic.”
“So listen, you wanna come work for me?”
“Oh wait, here comes my favorite part…”
“Huh? Oh. Yeah. Sure. Why not.”
“Yeah. Why not.”
And that right there was the beginning of one of the few actual friendships that Rodeo had, which explained why, when word got back to him that Munchkin had been found not far from headquarters, tied up with metal cord and broken up and bent like a twisted rag doll, Rodeo knew the time had come to rain down Armageddon on his enemies. It was one thing to send a message, but this was something else altogether.
He had seen this kind of craziness before with his father when another similarly ambitious crew had made the mistake of thinking Big Rodeo was vulnerable because of a deal gone bad. They made their move, and it was the last move they ever made. Big Rodeo took his son along with him to watch and learn as he systematically erased the entire opposing clan, leaving no trace. All the other gangs knew it had been Big Rodeo, and so did the police. But there was no proof. There was never any proof, which was one of Big Rodeo’s most well-known calling cards.
It was a calling card passed down from father to son.