Johnny has killed people in myriad ways. “I’ve shot them, cut their throats, thrown them out of windows, set them on fire, garroted them. I once disembowled a Yakusa [Japanese Mafia] ‘cause in that particular culture it’s a wimp’s way to die. Nobody I’ve ever killed didn’t deserve to die. If they justified my intentions, they have been greedy bastards. Killing is not an emotional thing. It’s just something you do. I’d be more upset about shooting a dog.”
Back in New York, I meet up with Johnny in his apartment. He opens the door, pale as a ghost. His hand is trembling as we sit down in front of his glass coffee table. Johnny picks up his Beretta, his weapon of choice, from the coffee table to clean it. His hand is shaking so violently that he accidentally pulls the trigger, shattering the glass table.
“What the fuck’s wrong?” I ask.
“I had to blow away a guy on a staircase this afternoon during a collection job. This spic delivery boy came around the corner out of nowhere. I was unprepared. Out of reflex, I shot him. It was unexpected. What I call spontaneous.
“It happened less than an hour ago. It takes me four or five hours to clear my mind when something goes wrong. With a planned hit, you know exactly what’s going down. Unless something goes wrong, you got nothing to worry about. Unexpected, like today, there’s all sorts of things you’ve got to worry about, like did I pick up all the shells?”