Tico stared at himself in his handheld mirror. He looked like a gangster, dressed like a gangster, stood like a gangster. Tico was gangster. He wiped the blood from his knuckles with a greasy rag. He stepped over the two chups he had just layed low and paced across the garage. Some yupos just had to learn the hard way. He snapped his fingers and three heavily muscled thugs slinked after him like whipped dobermans. He always had them with him. He hadn’t needed them yet, but he never knew when some upstart whippet would grow a pair and he might need an extra set of hands. He hopped into a black sedan and placed his large silver rings back onto his fingers. This was his neighborhood. No one fucked with his people. He lit himself a cigar and sat back twirling the edge of his moustache, amidst a cloud of fragrant smoke. Yupos thought they could come onto his turf and sell GoGo to kiddies. Well they had another thing coming. He started laughing aloud to himself. His whipped mutts cowered away from him. They knew what happened when Tico got the giggles. A giggling Tico was a dangerous breed of animal. A giggling Tico meant sit down and shut the fuck up. The mutts knew better than to yap. Tico reached into his pocket and took out a small, gold case. He opened it and took out his comb. Twenty-two brush strokes through his silky moustache. One more. For good measure. Twenty three. He liked that number. He took out a looking glass. Tico looked gangster. He reached for his leather driving gloves.

Deno ran through the crowded city street. He was late. He had to move the gear. Everything depended on it. He had fallen into debt with the wrong people. His family depended on him. He would have to go into the Gratt District, to move the stuff. The lovely citizens of Gratt were always looking to score. They were beautiful, lowlife lazzas and Deno always sold to them when he could. The risk was worth the effort. He had to. He had no choice. Deno slinked from alley to alley, like a tomcat winding through the night. His wrist began beeping. Deno swiped through the air in front of him and Grazza appeared, shimmering and crackly. The reception was always shithouse in Gratt. They didn’t even have sky cabs. His little brother looked distressed.

“Deno I’ve cottoned up a meet. Yee can shaft a whool wad aft the stuff. Jus urryup. It don feel right. I spise tis district.”

“Be at yee soon litt bov”

Deno hurried along, pulling his jacket tighter around him against the reduced temperatures of the poorer districts. Population control they called it. More like lazza culling. He chuckled to himself and shook his head at a couple of street cats selling their junk as he passed.


Peta nervously stared over at Grazza.

“Where’s yee bov? E’s lat!”

Grazza growled back at Peta. He looked like a rat, he acted like a rat, even talked like a rat. Peta was a rat. He suited the Gratt district perfectly. A right lazza, scompet.

“E’ll be ere owrite! Deno neva les me don.”

Peta cowered away from Grazza’s raised voice. The garage door slid open startling the two men. A softly whistled tune drifted through the open door as cold air rushed inside. A sharply dressed gangster strolled into the garage. He looked slick. He fixed them with a piercing stare.

“Genleman… Yee wouldn be doinn a wee dealzy ere would yee?”

Peta and Grazza sat and stared at Tico. Grazza found his voice.

“Fark off! Min yee ownness bov!”

He was about to say more when Peta clamped his hand over Grazza’s mouth and shook his head wide eyed. Tico threw his jacket over one of the parked cars. He rolled his shoulders like a boxer. He cracked his knuckles and his neck. He began methodically removing each of his rings.

“Yee bovs are na good. Neebody, I se neebody, sells in this district. The kiddies don want it. It aine any good for em. Now yee two scrumbuzzers are gonne get it!”

Grazza picked up a large pipe and rushed at Tico. Tico casually moved aside and began his favourite kind of dance. He would sway and rush in and out of Grazza’s strikes, edging towards a cornered Peta. He countered fast and aggressively and left Grazza stunned. He used this chance to strike Peta. Three times. Fast and hard. Two in the throat and one right hook to the kidney. Peta went down like a tonne of bricks, not breathing. By this stage, Grazza had recovered and put all of his weight into a swing at the head of his opponent. Tico danced inside the arch of the swing and grabbed Grazza by the throat, striking him as he drove him to the concrete ground. As Grazza took his last breath, Tico weighed him up cold and calculating. Just another up-district crump, that didn’t belong in the Gratt.

Deno had heard yells from down the alley. He had rushed into the garage through the back entrance. He cried out when he saw his little brother and a second body, broken on the floor. He ran out into the street and saw a sharp dressed gangster driving off in a black sedan.


Deno and his lads put the boots in. The other guys didn’t stand a chance. It was late. The Gratt district was oozing with life. Like a cankering, cesspool of calamities. They were seizing control of the Gratt. Every alley was the wrong alley. Every street was a dead end. Deno’s boys painted the town in the blood of their enemies. Any street cat with half a brain was tucked away safe in their bed. The hookers were howling and the cops had retreated and shut down the district. Anarchy reigned. Deno howled into the night. He looked like a gangster, He walked like a gangster, he bopped like a gangster. Deno was the gangster. The barbaric streets of Gratt were his. He had taken it from the other gangs. He had wanted it. Deno smiled as his heavy black boot came down on a vulnerable head.

Tico sat in his chair, grooming his moustache and staring at his reflection. He had taken over three more districts and hardly left his office. He dressed like a businessman, looked like a businessman, talked like a businessman. Tico was a businessman. He had just held a meeting with the heads of his districts. He got up out of his chair. He would visit the troubled children’s home. Tico had gone a long way towards cleaning up his act. He now legitimately owned a majority of four districts. He only occasionally had to resort to his old methods. He had people for that now. Tico liked it clean. No cops. No dirty lowlifes. He didn’t sleep with a blade under his pillow anymore. He walked to the elevator of his skyscraper in the Barto district. He touched a finger to his ear. A dull buzz signaled connectivity. He spoke the name out load.

“Front desk.”

“Yes Mr.Tico”

“Get me a sky cab I am going to the Gratt district. To the little children’s home we started.”

“Excellent sir. Right away sir. Do you require security?”

“Paah. I haven’t needed those gorillas in years down in the Gratt.”

“But sir, there was all that trouble down there the other night!”

“Ok just send a few.”

“A few sir?”

“My associates assure me it has all calmed down. It was just a turf dispute between the lesser gangs. Young thugs that think they are somebodies. My head of district still rules the Gratt. They are in the process of teaching them some proper respect.”

“Yes sir.”

Mr. Tico, walked through the streets of Gratt, meeting and greeting. He was aware of the two idiots shadowing him, trying to look inconspicuous. How could they protect him anyway? They were imbeciles. His generosity for the district that was his home rendered him a bit of a celebrity. People only saw the flashy smile and gifts. None of them recalled the slimy, crooked, gangster days. From thug, to icon. He handed a young girl an orange and strolled towards the troubled children’s home. He bumped into a group of youths in black duster jackets. They surrounded him. They pushed him to the curb and began dismantling his bodyguards. One of them stood over him and spat words in his face.

“Daar sho ye sel ere bov?”

Imagine Mr.Tico’s surprise when the man’s hands closed around his throat, making his eyes bulge. Imagine his distress, when, years off of the streets seemed to dull the blows he rained on his assailant whilst slowly dying. Imagine Mr.Tico’s surprise when he looked into the eyes of the boy he had murdered in a garage back in Gratt, many years ago. Murder used to be his game. He had left it behind, but for some reason that had stayed with him. The kid had had spunk. Tico stared into the man’s eyes, as his assassin whispered,
“Is yow turn now.”
He looked like the kid from the garage; he talked like the kid from the garage. It couldn’t be…

Deno dusted off his black coat and called off his boys, whistling softly.