The next day, in the back room of the Monte Carlo, Tony and Junior were looking at a map on Tony’s phone. Their focus was Gravity, Iowa. At first, they had trouble finding it. Then they noticed it was located about two hours from Kansas City and Des Moines, seven from Chicago, an hour and a quarter from St. Joseph, Missouri, and an hour and a half from Omaha. To the unimaginative eye, these geographical distances seem unimportant, but they weren’t to Tony and Junior. In each place, Junior had business interests; Rainey’s had the perfect location for what he had in mind.

“Have Tom make a trip to see this funeral home director as soon as possible.  I think we can do business with this guy.” Saying nothing more, Junior got up and left. Tony got to work.


Thomas Perrin, a tallish, slender man, wore a gray pinstriped suit with a starched white shirt and a patterned gray, black-and-blue tie. His shoes were black patent leather, complimenting his dark eyes and well-trimmed and styled black hair. Having a Mediterranean look about him, J.P. suspected Perrin was not his real surname. He was curious as to why this man had made an appointment to see him. “Where are you from, Mr. Perrin?”

“Chicago. As I said on the phone, I represent an enterprise that is very interested in doing business with the Rainey Funeral Home.”

“Do you represent a funeral home franchise operation? We’re a family business that serves a rural clientele. I’ve been approached with offers to sell before and turned them down.”

“No, nothing like that. Mr. Rainey, you have something my client thinks can be very useful in their business: cremation facilities. You see, my client, on occasion, has need of ‘disposal services’ for sensitive materials. Off-site locations have, let’s say, a ‘certain attractiveness’ for our purposes.”

“And you’re disposing of what?” J.P. said.

“I see you like to get right to the point. That’s good. Sometimes, not often, my client finds that some transactions result in leftover materials that need to be securely discarded and permanently erased. Doing so in Chicago and other large cities is getting to be more difficult with CCTV on virtually every street corner and building. Everybody’s got cell phones with cameras. Nobody minds their own business anymore. We need a place like your crematorium to ‘get rid of things’ we don’t need. We like to do things quietly.”

Perrin then said, “Of course, we realize such services come with a cost. As we understand it, you are facing some hefty medical bills for your boy and will into the foreseeable future. This might help. We are looking to see if there is any interest.”

Rattled by the fact they knew about his son and his need for cash, he tried to stay calm. “You still haven’t answered my question.” J.P. said, pretending he didn’t understand what they were discussing. He was being handed a miracle. His son was still suffering from cancer, but the treatments were helping. The money he got from the Perkins life insurance scam paid what he owed, but was running out. He couldn’t let this chance slip away, so he brought the conversation to a head.

“Our incinerator is not designed for trash. It cremates only human remains. Chicago is a long drive from Gravity. This is a small community; a lot of out-of-town traffic will be noticed. How would arrangements be made? Who bears the costs of transport of this ‘cast-off material?’ And then there’s the matter of how the fee is paid and when,” J.P. said.

“$20,000 per each individual item, cash, after performance. All transportation is arranged and performed by us at our expense. The deliveries occur at night. Don’t worry about where they come from. We handle all that. Communication is done by disposable phones provided by us.”

Perrin said, “You handle the disposing of the ashes unless other arrangements are made with us.”

As an expression of goodwill, Perrin then handed J.P. an envelope. It was thick. Inside, he saw four red money bands indicating the bundles were five thousand dollars each.

“How often do you think your clients would have need of these services?” J.P. needed a steadier source of cash than what he was getting from the random insurance scams. Those were risky; this seemed better.

“We have an immediate situation, small one, which has to be handled quickly. Here’s an encrypted disposal cell phone to use for this matter. Destroy it afterwards. The contact number is pre-programmed. Other phones will be provided as needed.”

Holding the envelope with the money and thinking of his son, J.P. extended his hand to Mr. Perrin, whose reaction was, “Good, we’re agreed. You’ll be getting a call tomorrow night with instructions, then a call from our delivery people as to time and location. Any problems, call on this phone. This should be simple.”

J.P. now had what seemed like a steady source of money to continue his son’s treatments, giving the boy a chance at a future.


With the Gravity deal in place, in Chicago, final arrangements were made to handle the “Candy problem.” Louie and Dom, driving Louie’s car, arrived at Sacco’s near the Chicago Skyway on the South Side right at seven.

When they drove through the open gate, Dom’s car, parked on the other side of the yard in a shadowed area by a building, held the package they were transporting. A hooded figure emerged from the office next to the gate. He didn’t introduce himself. Louie and Dom knew he was Irish Eddie. Then he spoke, making sure to keep his back to any light, showing only a hooded profile. When he leaned forward, his face was still in the shadows.

He handed Dom a burner phone and said, “Leave this car here. You can get it when you get back.” Handing the keys to Dom, he said, “Take these. What you’re delivering is in the trunk. You’re going to Gravity, Iowa to the Rainey Funeral Home. The number you call is programmed into this phone; all you gotta do is hit #1. Call it once you cross into Iowa. Ask for ‘one oak coffin,’ then wait to be told when and where to pick it up. Don’t say anything else, not one more word. Just get the location and time, then be there. When the guy meets you, do exactly what he says.” Pausing for a moment, he said, “Understand?”

Saying nothing more, he turned and went back into the yard office. Louie and Dom got in the car and began their trip to Gravity. Louie looked up the distance to the Rainey Funeral Home on his cell. “Oh man, it’s 445 miles from here. This is gonna take all night. What time is it now?” Dom didn’t answer because it didn’t matter. He backed up the car and headed to the interstate.

It was over a seven hour trip to Gravity from Chicago with the normal gas and pit stops. With the trunk’s contents, all stops had to be quick and smooth. As they headed west on the interstate, the route was lined with fields of tall corn and fully grown soybean plants. Being August, it was still daylight when they left, but darkness was settling in quickly. The setting sun cast a yellowish light on the corn and soybeans that lined the interstate. Dom thought it beautiful; Louie didn’t seem to notice.

As Louie and Dom got further from the urban setting of Chicagoland, with each stop in Illinois, then Iowa, they stuck out more. Instead of dressing in jeans and work shirts, Louie wore a fedora with a little white feather and dressed in black all the way down to his dress shoes. Dom sported a white tie and black shirt. Blending in never occurred to these two.

The trek across Illinois was uneventful. The same can be said for Iowa until they got off the interstate. In the dark, the cornfields lining the road became a tall, solid black wall. After leaving the interstate, they took US 6, the “White Pole Road” for a short distance, heading to State Route 148.

Once on the final leg of the trip, figuring they waited long enough, Dom said, “Louie, it’s time to make the call.”

Looking out the window, Louie heard Dom say something, but he wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he responded. “Too bad we clipped this dancer; she may have had the bag, but she didn’t know dick. We could have just roughed her up. She’d have stayed quiet.”

“We do what we’re told. Why do you care anyway?” Dom said.

“You know, I saw her dance; great tits. I was with Jimmy; I was gonna ask her if she wanted to get a drink after her last set. Jimmy horned in, got her, that prick.”

“What, were you gonna propose? Just make the call, will ya? Let’s get this over with.”

Louie dialed the number. A voice on the other end answered with one word, “Talk.”

“Hey, you guys got one oak coffin there?” The call went dead.

“Dom, this chooch hung up. Can you believe that?” Louie said.

Dom looked at Louie, “Jesus, that’s not what you’re supposed to say. Call him back. Ask for ‘one oak coffin,’ then shut up, wait for instructions on where to go and when to meet. Oh, give me the phone.”

Dom made the call. He asked for “one oak coffin.”

A voice said, “1305 Walter’s Way, behind the stone building, 3AM.” The line then went dead.

Dom told Louie, We got our meet at 3AM. I’ll be glad to be rid of this bimbo and get back to Chicago.” Louie nodded as they drove on through the rural darkness. Leaving the transportation part of the plan’s execution to Louie and Dom was about to create a “variable” which would result in a problem in Gravity.


For all installments of “A Problem in Gravity,” click here.

Previous installments

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2