A black comedy about an unemployed factory worker who becomes a hit man, by the author of A Working Stiff’s Manifesto (2002).
Like many others in his blue-collar Wisconsin town, Jake Skowran worked for the tractor factory until management went south and found Mexicans to do the same jobs for seven bucks a day. Laid off, Jake took a job as a convenience-store clerk that barely paid enough to keep him alive. So he started gambling to pick up extra cash—and soon owed over $4,000. His bookie Ken Gardocki had a good heart, however, and he’d known Jake a long time, so he cut him a deal: Jake could wipe out his debt if he murdered Ken’s unfaithful wife for him. Happy to oblige, Jake found killing a lot easier than he expected—so easy, in fact, that later he bumped off his store manager just for the thrill of it. Then he traveled to New York on assignment to dispatch an AIDS patient who needed to die of unnatural causes (so his boyfriend could collect insurance), and he even knocked off an undercover cop who’d begun asking too many questions about him and Ken. When the police eventually take notice and call Jake in for questioning, he holds to his story (Ken had provided solid alibis for both of them), and they can’t pin anything on him. In the course of his dealings with the cops, Jake meets and falls in love with Officer Sheila Zadow, who knows that Ken is a small-time mobster but believes Jake is innocent. Jake even takes her “on vacation” to Miami, where Ken has sent him to whack his late wife’s lover. What better cover can a hit man have than a cop for a girlfriend? But love has had a bad effect on Jake: it gives him something to live for—almost as bad as having a conscience.
A witty, deft, well-conceived tale that combines sharp satire with real suspense.