Big Ed lived by a set of rules. Some he’d devised himself, and some had been given or imposed by others, but regardless of the source, these rules kept him alive. The first rule, the most important, was that business was business. No more, no less.
This had never been a problem for him, not really. As one of the Fox’s junior lieutenants, his job duties consisted mainly of chauffeuring his associates around town. He waited in the car while they did whatever they’d been tasked, ignoring any noises that might come from their activities.
He told his mom, who he stayed with, that he delivered pizzas. She knew he was lying, but she also knew that business was business, and so as long as he was able to help out with bills, she didn’t say anything.
His girlfriend Rana also knew he didn’t deliver pizzas, but she had secrets of her own, including vague family members he wasn’t invited to meet and a past she never talked about, so she didn’t pry.
All told, Big Ed followed his rules, and life was good.
Then one night, the Fox called him into the garage where he did his business.
“How long you been working with me?” he asked.
“Five years, sir.” The Fox always said not to call him that, but rule number two was always show respect to someone who could kill you.
“And how long you been driving?”
“I appreciate you, kid.” The Fox handed him a neatly folded towel. “Welcome to the big leagues.”
Big Ed took the towel and the hard object wrapped in it.
“This is your new best friend. You don’t leave your mama’s house without it. You don’t sleep without it. You don’t drive without it. You don’t take a shit without it.”
Big Ed was true to his word. He kept the gun tucked into his waistband at all times.
His mom pretended not to see it.
Rana saw it and stared at him intently, then never mentioned it again.
Business was business, and life was good.
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.