Dom was the first to hear the thump. Then the car started to shimmy and shake.

“Louie, I think we have a flat. We gotta stop.”

Dom pulled over to the side of the road. As the car moved onto the slim, gravel shoulder of Route 148, it seemed like the corn standing in the fields was crowding closer to the two men.

Getting out, they saw the right rear tire was flat. Dom opened the trunk and found the body of their passenger draped across the compartment containing the jack and spare. Unnoticed by both, the plastic wrapped around her body had not been sealed completely and some blood stained the spare and jack. When Louie grabbed the jack, he felt something slippery.

“What’s this, grease?” Louie asked. Dom turned on his cell phone flashlight.

“Christ, that’s blood. This stiff must be leaking through the plastic,” Dom said. He was about to look for a rag in the trunk when he noticed headlights approaching from behind. A car pulled onto the shoulder behind them. With its headlights shining on the back of their car, Dom realized the trunk with the dead girl was open. He quickly closed the lid.

The car was an Iowa State Patrol cruiser. The trooper in the car turned on his spotlight and shined it on their car. He then stepped out.

“Got a problem, gentlemen? This is a narrow road to be stopping on, especially at this time of night.”

Dom said, “I got a flat. Must have hit some road junk or something. I was just about to get to it when you came along. Appreciate the light, but I change tires all the time. I can do it in my sleep. The dark’s no trouble.”

The deputy, seeing their plates, said, “Whereabouts in Illinois are you from?

“Chicago. We’re headed to KC, thought we’d take the scenic route.”

“Scenic route? You won’t see much this time of night. Here, let me help you with the tire,” the trooper said.

Dom stepped in front of the trunk lid. “No need; I’ll bet you have a route to patrol. We’re fine.”

“I’ve already called this in. We need to get you guys fixed up and we’re going to clear the road. I’ll keep the light on,” the trooper said.

While Dom and the trooper talked, Louie quietly stepped back. From the other side of the car, he reached into his coat pocket, produced a .32 caliber pistol, and fired one shot to the back of the trooper’s head.

“You stupid fuck. You coulda hit me,” Dom said. “That probably got picked up by the dash-cam. It might even be live at their station. You may have just fried our asses. Hurry up; we gotta change this tire and get out of here.”

“What do we do with this sack of meat?” Louie said.

“We can’t leave him here. Pick him up.” Louie got the arms and Dom grabbed the legs. The deputy’s body was dumped in the trunk on top of the dancer.

Not knowing if backup was on the way, they quickly changed the tire. Dom knew the dash-cam video had to be trashed. He figured the only way to be sure was to burn the cruiser. Taking a rag from the trunk and removing the gas cap on the cruiser, he shoved the end of the rag down the fill pipe until it hit gasoline. Wiping the gas cap clean of prints, he then lit the rag. It wouldn’t be long before somebody saw the fire.

As the cruiser exploded into flames, they peeled away. Now they had two bodies to get rid of. The guy in Gravity was expecting one. They drove as fast as they could hoping there was no more traffic along the way.


The drive to Gravity from the site of the burning cruiser was short. Almost missing the turn, they got to Gravity at 2:30 AM. Rainey’s was on the north side of town, before you hit the main street. Louie and Dom just wanted to get to the funeral home as quickly as possible, dump the bodies, and leave. The fewer people who knew they were in town, the better.

When they pulled into the mortuary lot, J.P. met them with a gurney at the back door of the crematorium. J. P. expected a body wrapped in plastic. When Dom and Louie lifted the unwrapped trooper’s body first, J. P. was surprised and pissed.

“What the hell is this? You were supposed to bring a female, not an Iowa State Patrol trooper. What did you do?” J.P.’s then noticed the trooper’s name tag, “Perkins.” He immediately recognized the body as Randall Perkins, Jr., the only son of his childhood friend, the one he helped cover up his wife’s death and scam the insurance company. J.P. felt sick, not because he knew the young man, but because things just became “not simple.”

Louie piped up first. “We had a flat tire. This cop shows up and wouldn’t go away. He wanted to get in the trunk. I had to do something.”

“Every cop in the state is going to be looking for this guy,” J.P. said. “I’ll get another gurney.” When he returned, looking at Louie, he said, “Put the girl on that and wheel both of these through the open doors. Once you get inside, close the doors and stay with the bodies.”

Looking at Dom, he said, “Drive your car over to that garage; the second space from the right is open. Park your car in there. Close the garage door behind you; it’ll lock by itself. Once you’re done, come back in here and stay with your partner. I’ll be back soon.”

J.P. came through the doors after Louie but went upstairs. A call was placed to Chicago on a burner phone with an urgent message. A reply, with instructions, came quickly.

Once J.P. came back down stairs, he moved the gurneys to the extended sliding feeder tray which stuck out of the open incinerator. Louie and Dom lifted the body of the trooper onto the sliding tray first. J.P. threw the bloody sheets the bodies rested on inside on the tray; pushing it in, he ignited the incinerator. J.P. ran it at the highest temperature. The process was repeated with the dancer in the second incinerator. He hoped to be done with the cremation within the hour. Then, J.P. turned to Dom and Louie.

“There’s a room through that metal door down the hall. Go in and get one of the large urns from the shelf.”

“Why do we both have to go?” Dom asked.

J.P., giving them an exasperated look, said, “I need a bigger container since I will be mixing their ashes with other ones to prevent any chance of these two being traced here. I have to watch both incinerators to make sure these bodies burn completely down. I can’t be in both places. Now go.”

When the two entered the room, J.P. heard two muffled shots. Emerging from the room was Irish Eddie. He had left Chicago right after he gave Louie and Dom the car and instructions how to make the call to J.P. His task was similar to theirs, but different. He arrived in Gravity at about 1:30 AM and met J.P., who he helped slide Jimmy Passmore’s body into the incinerator. He then waited in the storeroom to finish his assignment. Louie and Dom were part of the disposal arrangement. Irish Eddie helped get the two bodies into the incinerator, then left Gravity, returning to Chicago.

Although he had cut it close, when all the bodies were cremated and the ashes cooled enough, J.P. set to the work of mixing the remains of Louie, Dom, and Jimmy with their victims.

A little before 5AM, just before sunrise, an auto flatbed transport truck arrived from Kansas City. Dom’s car was loaded, an automobile cover was secured over the vehicle, and it was taken to a crusher in a St. Joseph, Missouri junkyard. Inside the vehicle was the large urn that would become part of a crushed cube of metal once the transport delivered to its cargo to St. Joe. All evidence of five people and Dom’s car would disappear.


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

Previous installments

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3