The last lines of the novel Big Business and Body Bags truly do sum the main character up in a few short words, “You were just born to be a loser.”
The big city streets tend to swallow up people and Johnny is among the many that seem to be swallowed up without really being seen. Sometimes that feels good, other times it makes him feel a lot less of a man than he wants to be.
He was born without a golden spoon in his mouth and lives off the streets of Chicago. Johnny Howell is one of those people who never seemed to stay put or grow roots. He loves women and leaves them and very few leave true memories in his mind or chip through to his heart. He knows that women mean trouble, usually, so he never gets too involved.
Johnny really is a ‘nobody’ with big dreams. Those dreams push him through the gutters of Chicago and the people that hang there. Slowly he moves up the ranks, taking on different jobs doing different things, very few of them legal. He slowly finds a niché in the drug business, first off as a small guy who is little threat to anyone up in the ranks, but with Johnny’s determination and lack of morals, the pace of advance quickens.
Suddenly this drug thing is paying off well and when that begins to happen people take notice, not the people you want to take notice either. Suddenly you’re hated by everyone, needed by many, and in the cross marks of those aiming to take you down. But Johnny isn’t that stupid, oris he?
The story of Johnny is like the story of many who get wrapped up in drugs. Somehow he ends up battling those who are much bigger and much stronger than him. You find yourself wanting to dislike him, while sometimes still pulling for him. You can’t decide how you can find a speck of kindness and liking in your heart for someone like him, yet you still do. Then he acts like the thug he is and you find your reason for liking him and pulling for him going away and being replaced by disgust. In the end Johnny takes on everything from the Mexican Drug Cartel to the street thugs and while one sounds more dangerous than the other, you quickly realize that anyone in the business uses a gun to solve their problems and Johnny has become a problem.