The Three Stages of Bootsie Goldstein by Salvadore Ritchie

Bootsie Goldstein.
Fuck you Bootsie!
Who in the Western Hemisphere smuggles ivory? Who does that? Doesn’t matter. It’s over now. My poor crew. My crew of buccaneers was a tight machine of nimble little thieves. Over the years I built and worked and molded them. We tickled the sweet spots just right until the bootie wiggled free. I wondered if they were all dead yet. Maybe they were in another rusty warehouse like the one I was in. It was supposed to be a ship full of smack. China white. Horse. But no, it was full of hacked ivory tusks and South African mercenaries. It was like they were waiting for us.

Fuck you Bootsie!
I couldn’t feel my feet. My hands were tied to the back of the chair, but not as tight as my feet. All I could hear was the echo of water dripping all around me. It was a hanger sized warehouse. The ceiling seemed a mile above and a big rusty steel door in front of me was perhaps where I would be swallowed into hell. Was my crew dead? It was my fault. My greed. Open season on Bootsie’s assets had long been waning, but I couldn’t help myself with one last hit.
His empire had been crumbling since “the incident”. No one really knew what had triggered Bootsie, no one knew what “the incident” was, but it was something big and immediate. Within the snap of a finger he disappeared from the scene leaving the operation of his global crime clutch headless. The engine without care first rattles, then wheezes, then eventually dies. Months had passed and the vultures moved in. Finally, reports started popping up from all over the globe. He was here; then there. Strange things were said. It was said that he was wandering the Serengeti naked with only the subtle hum of the Earth’s warm embrace to protect him. He was seen at the site of the Mayan ruins and was said to have found comfort. He went to Manchu Picchu and understood the message conveyed. He banged sacred gongs of the Far East and swan dived into rocky waterfalls. He scaled the Andes with only a book of Kierkegaard, caribou jerky and waxed posies. There were credible accounts that he disappeared at the Temple Mount with no facial hair only to appear five minutes later with a fully grown grey beard and long hair weeping tears of joy.
But now he had returned and only wore a white dashiki and kufi. Those of us that had been picking at the dying whale of his empire began to disappear. It was even being said that those who even thought about a heist against Bootsie – zap – were gone just like that.
I sat there thinking about how much blood was sprayed during the heist when a latch clicked on the other side of the big steel door.
“Fuck Bootsie Goldstein!”
It came out of a place of fear rather that defiance.
The door rolled open.
I was about to open my mouth again and repeat my new slogan to what was going to be a very short life when twins walked in. It was a boy and a girl. It was striking how much they looked alike. Thin, tall and nice cheek bones. They could have been models but moved in a creepy melodic sway as if an invisible ghost army were all around us and they were the only visible participants in the march. There was an undefinable evil around them but the smile on their faces was like a drunken broad has when she wants to fuck anything but her old man.
They stood in front of me, arms crossed, legs apart like Mussolini after his closing arguments. Without a word they looked at one another and did rock, paper, scissors.
The girl got scissors. The boy got paper.
“Fuck Bootsie Goldstein!”
I shook around in my chair knowing I was not going anywhere.
They both got on their knees. The boy undid my belt while the girl jerked my pants down. She pulled until my jungle was exposed.
“Fuck Bootsie Goldstein!”
So this was it! They were going to mutilate me in some horrific fashion. Dick and balls. My worst nightmare. Dick and balls.
I was careening across the dozens of ways they could have sliced and diced my boys when the girl immediately stopped the ride by gently licking my balls and working her way to my root, then shaft. I think I lost time because before I knew it she was bearing down on my stick with a vigorous throat gobble. Faster and faster she went. I gasped in confusion and pleasure.
What was this?
And just when I almost abandoned all confusion and was ready to release myself to pleasure she popped her head up and jammed her finger into her twin brother’s mouth. He sucked hard as she pulled back. Not another second passed when she jammed her slimy finger into my one eyed snack factory and wiggled my bean. I was still hard and could only grunt. Her brother took over. He worked my rod like he was choking a vanilla milkshake into submission through a straw. What was this! Was this meant to be torture or heaven? I thrashed more, but this time it was from holding back the batter convoy screaming past my shaft and colliding with my expanding mushroom head. Kaboom went my pearl honey, but midway through a complete body lock, off went the mouth. No more bean tickle. I could only get one last gasp and spurt out before they were at the big rusty door and rolled it open.
Stage two.” The girl said.

The twins exited and standing in their place was a Mack Truck of a man. All he had on was a vinyl apron and leather gimp mask. In both hands was a sledge hammer with a stick as long as a tree trunk and a metal head bigger than five bricks.
“Bootsie speaks of final resignation as the hallmark of true freedom.”
Given his dungeon monster presence, I assumed his voice would have been a lurching baritone trudging through the maw of Hades, thus activating the fear chromosome in any sentient being. But no. His baby doll tone illustrated images of a clown car hijacked of its helium tanks and consumed into his lungs until his pitch was cartoonishly high. It was then the contrast, the juxtaposition of beast and squeaky toy paralyzed me with a sublime horror of knowing that such disjointed proportions could reside in one vessel. Something alien, something I could not categorize or even comprehend was before me.
“I’m here to finish your rebalancing and take you to a place where the body has given up and the spirit can then flourish.”
“You gonna smash my jungle?”
It was all I could get out. I was proud I didn’t barf.
“I’m going to practice conscience relaxation before we begin.” Again, squeaky toy voice.
He dropped the hammer to the concrete with a thud that sent a shockwave through the warehouse. He then grunted down until he was completely on his back. I could hear him breathing through the leather. He didn’t move, but I could see he didn’t have anything on underneath the apron.
“What the hell did you just say?”
I blurted it out despite myself. The surreal moments I had just experienced had me at such a place of imbalance perhaps I was indeed reaching a point of final resignation.
“About conscience relaxation?”
From the floor the dungeon monster opened his legs and arms thus exposing his own jungle further.
“The other crap.”
“Oh, Bootsie believes those that stole from him are now his property. However you have not achieved your True Self. You are at what he calls pre-puppy stage.” The dungeon monster grunted back up.
“In order for Bootsie to find you as your True Self you must first go through three stages.”
The dungeon monster paused as if waiting for some response or protest.
I was speechless.
“You have experienced stage one; clarity through coital release. It soothes the body and clears the mind. You did that with the twins. With me you will experience stage two; acceptance through bodily release.”
He took the sledge hammer by one hand and jerked it into the other.
I felt my time running out. My heart raced. I could feel it throb in my throat. I had to say anything for time.
“Can you explain to me in terms I can understand what acceptance through bodily release means?”
“Oh that’s easy …”
He gripped the hammer and readied his feet for impact.
“ … I’m going to smash your head to a stump.”
My lip quivered, my eye twitched.
“How can I get to stage three if I’m dead?”
The dungeon monster arched his head sideways like he was studying me.
“No one has ever asked me that. They usually have shit themselves by now.”
“What can I say, I’m just that kind of guy,” my eye was still twitching.
“After bodily release, by way of your skull being bashed to mush, you will enter stage three, realization of your full destiny.”
Sweat cooled my forehead. Shitting myself now seemed a very logical choice. I opened my mouth then closed it. I managed a second try and succeeded.
“What does that mean?”
“Bootsie thinks after I smash your skull in you will come back as homeless puppy and will be in desperate need of rescuing. He will then stop at nothing to find you. He will then raise you with love and care. You will be grateful and be taught the true meaning of life – forgiveness. In fact he is already flying all over the planet looking for members of your lost puppy crew.”
In a strange way I wanted his hammer to plow through my brains. Maybe Bootsie was right. I felt a gentle peacefulness empty the confusion in my mind. Maybe my body was ready to let go. And what fun it could be as a very much loved puppy.
“Do you believe any of this?”
It was as if the enormity of the truth outweighed any artificial filter that my parents, teachers, or society had put on me. I was approaching freedom. I was approaching Bootsie. My god, I was coming home.
The dungeon monster drew his hammer up and readied its imminent collision.
“Me? Nah. I think it all bullshit. But the twins believe. I tolerate all this garbage because the pay is good, work is fun, and the twins give me blow jobs all the time and I like fingers jammed in my ass. So I do this whole stupid dance to the end.”
Down the hammer went. Just before it destroyed the top of my head I thought about beagles.


Bio: Salvadore Ritchie works as an IT professional at a hospital that handles large trauma and psych units. Shotgun wounds from beef’s gone bad or naked maniacs high on bath salts, he sees it all. Sal picks up on stories in the lounge or by watching police sprint down the hall with stun guns ready.
His stories have appeared in Yellow Mama and A Twist of Noir.
At home he lives with his wife’s cats.

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