OLWG · writing

OLWG# 217- The Tale of Red Molly and Her Jigsaw, as Told by my Grampa

Written for OLWG# 217

Me and Grampa stood at the overlook, gazing down on the valley that spread out below. The landscape consisted primarily of rocks, cholla, and prickly pear with chaparral (gobernadora) interspersed. Grandpa got that far away look in his eyes like he could see beyond the horizon. I knew that if I stayed quiet, he would tell me a story.

Shore ‘nuff, after a bit, he cleared his throat and pointed towards a mound in the middle of the valley.

“See that rise over there, boy?”

I didn’t speak, but I nodded my head. He must have heard it because he picked back up.

“Look a bit over halfway up the rise by that cluster of big rocks. That there’s where the underworld boss, Red Molly and her lieutenant Jigsaw McCue, will lie for all eternity.” I stopped talking for awhile and I thought that might be all he had to say about it. Then he picked back up, “See – back when I was a young man Red Molly and her Jigsaw controlled all the liquor, gambling and whores in the county.

“I worked for one of her adjutants, a man called ‘Gentle John’ running numbers on the east side. Gentle John was a giant of a man. He stood about six foot, eight inches and weighed maybe two-sixty. One night, just before I was fixing to go home, Gentle John pulled me aside and told me that Jigsaw wanted to see me. Ain’t that the shits? I asked why? What for? John just shrugged his shoulders. Said I was supposed to be at Andy’s around eight-thirty that night. Andy’s was a drinking establishment that Molly owned downtown on Sweet Street. The Jigsaw usually hung out in the back with some of his guys. They played cards, they hassled the ladies, and they drank. 

“That night, in the backroom at Andy’s, only Molly and Jigsaw sat at the card table. They weren’t drinking. They weren’t playing cards. McCue was on the phone, and Molly had a long thin cigar sitting in an ashtray near her right elbow, a curl of smoke drifting toward the light. She smiled when I came into the room.

“Molly told me that she had a job for me to do. She said she and Jigsaw wanted to take me out to the country and show me what needed doing.

“The whole thing made me nervous, but what was I gonna do? Huh? I shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘sure.’ They both got up, Jigsaw grabbed the deck of cards, and we went out the back door into the alley where a long black sedan waited for us. I opened the back door for Ms Molly and let her pull me in by the hand. McCue climbed behind the wheel, and the engine roared to life. We drove west out of town for almost an hour before we turned off the blacktop onto that dirt road.”

He pointed to the right of the mound, where I could see what might have been a rough track at some time, back in the day.

Grampa continued, “McCue pulled around to the lee side of the hill and stopped the car. He opened the boot and pulled out a shovel, threw it to me. Molly was slowly, deliberately, picking her way up the hill towards that pile of rocks. She sat down on one of ‘em, spread her knees apart as far as her skirt would allow, opened her handbag, and pulled out another one of her smelly cigars.  As she held the tip to a kitchen match, she spoke softly, ‘You need to dig two graves over there, Stitch. One of ‘em’s gonna be for you.’

“My blood ran cold. What the fuck had I done? I searched my memory, but I could not come up with anything that warranted my execution.

“I had a drop gun strapped to my ankle, though, so I got to work digging, working slow, waiting for an opportunity. I got the first hole dug. The night was hot, and I had taken off my shirt before I had dug even two feet deep. But I kept going till the Jigsaw told me it was deep enough. By the time that the second was about four feet deep. I felt beat. I was exhausted. The Jigsaw told me to lie down and make sure that I fit, but I didn’t do it. I crouched down instead and removed my pistol. When he came to look, I shot him. Hit him in the neck. Blood was spraying everywhere. Molly screamed as Jigsaw fell into the hole where I hid. I popped up, real quick like and shot her too. She went silent and fell backwards off the rock. She landed with a thump on the dirt.

“The Jigsaw had been real polite and fallen into the hole I had dug. I had to drag Red Molly to the one I had prepared for her.

“I searched her handbag and went through McCue’s pockets. Between the two of them, they had almost seven hundred dollars. I stuffed it in my pocket, covered ‘em both up and stomped the dirt down as good as I could. I drove back to town and parked the car about a block from Tony the Barber’s place. Next day was chaos. Everyone was running around trying to find Red Molly and her Jigsaw man. They found the car, but that was all. Two days later, The Barber went missin’. Never did find out what happened to him.”

Grampa looked at me over his shoulder. He turned and looked back over the valley. From the corner of his mouth, he whispered, “Don’t make me kill you now, boy. I don’t wanna have to do that.”

I shook my head, no.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. dig two graves
  2. not to be avoided
  3. the red cards