1 Anthony Minelli, his cousin Vincent, and their pal Andrew Foley played five-card draw on a makeshift table in a nearly empty warehouse on the New York docks. "Full house, motherfuckers. Queens over sevens." Vincent drained the rest of his Bud Light, crumpled the can in his fat fist, and tossed it twenty feet. It clanked across the cement floor, echoed off metal walls. Vincent scooped the winnings toward his ample belly. Three dollars and nine cents. "Nice pot," Anthony said. "You can buy a fucking Happy Meal. Now shut up and deal." "Hey, it's the skill that counts. I could be on that celebrity poker show on A&E," Vincent said. "Fuck you. It's on Bravo. And you ain't no celebrity." Andrew Foley smiled, reached into the Igloo cooler for one of the few remaining beers. He enjoyed the playful back and forth between the cousins but never joined in. He popped open the beer, sipped. He'd had a few already and was pretty buzzed. He'd also lost nine bucks at poker, not having won a single hand. But that was okay. Like the Minelli cousins, Andrew had been paid a cool grand for his work at the docks today. The money had come just in time. Andrew was in his junior year at the Manhattan School of Music and he was always short on money. He was a week late on rent when Anthony had called with the offer. Andrew was well aware Anthony and Vincent were wiseguys in training and that a deal with them was sure to be a little shady. Andrew had known the two cousins since they were all in grade school. Andrew's father and their fathers were pals. He balked at the thought of doing something illegal and maybe getting caught, but Vincent continued to assure him that the whole thing was easy money, a big fat moist piece of cake. Andrew needed cash. Period. Andrew's landlord wasn't a forgiving man. Besides, it really did seem like a pretty easy job. A no-brainer really. Somebody (Just never you mind who. Don't ask no fucking questions.) wanted a cargo container from one of the big freighter ships unloaded without going through the usual customs. This was a tall order, and a lot of people had to be bribed or distracted. Andrew, Vincent, and Anthony had a simple job. Shepherd the cargo container from the freighter to the unused warehouse way hell and gone down the other end of the wharf. The guy who'd set up the deal didn't trust the usual union grunts to handle it, and anyway a lone cargo container getting that kind of attention would cause talk. Andrew was being overpaid enough to keep his trap shut. It was understood silence was part of the deal. They'd forklifted the container into the warehouse and that was that. The job had seemed so simple and the guys were so giddy about their easy payday that Andrew forgot all about an overdue term paper when Anthony produced a cooler of beer and Vincent had pulled a deck of cards out of his pocket. "What do you think is in there?" Vincent's eyes shifted momentarily from his cards to the cargo container. Anthony picked something out of his teeth, then said, "Drugs." Vincent raised an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah? You got some inside information?" Anthony said, "It's always drugs. Gimme two cards." They played cards, talked quietly, drank beer. The little explosion rattled the warehouse. They dropped their cards and hit the floor. Andrew covered his head with his arms, his heart thumping like a rabbit's. One of the metal doors on the cargo container creaked open. A chemical smell from the expGischler, Victor is the author of 'Shotgun Opera ', published 2006 under ISBN 9780440241713 and ISBN 0440241715.