Welcome to this nighttime guided meditation: The Big Sleep.

If you’re listening, you probably don’t have long. You’re about to be bumped off. Snuffed out. Stuffed in a trunk or a shallow grave, shoved into the drink with cement shoes. Wherever you might find yourself, your mind is likely reeling with an intense inner dialogue of recriminations and unanswered questions: why did I sing? Why did I keep the dope in the couch cushions when they looked so obviously lumpy? Who the fuck is Mikey Elbows?

You might have reactions to this violent chatter, and then reactions to these reactions, and before you know it, your mind is a snowball rolling downhill, and not the China White kind either.

The purpose of this meditation is to step outside of this little chit-chat you’re having with yourself and gently ease into the inevitable darkness that awaits.

First, close your eyes and allow yourself to settle into as comfortable of a position as the situation allows. If you are bound or gagged, or both, do not fight it. Fighting it will only induce panic, or piss off your captor, or both. Simply notice your surroundings. Feel the course fabric of the trunk, the cool dirt in which you lay, the bugs crawling over your skin. They will be your only friends.

Take a deep breath.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

If duct tape or wet rags make this impossible, don’t worry, it will all be over soon.

Allow yourself to sink. Let your body feel heavy. If you are in fact sinking, down, down, down into the murky depths, congratulations: you’re almost there. You might notice that your mind is still racing, wondering, perhaps, why this had to happen to you. Wondering why you took the oath in the first place. Wondering: what will happen to my wife and my mistress? My VIP booth at the Dancing Bare? My Lexus IS 350 with the keyless entry and buttery leather? The condo in Key Biscayne? These questions are all perfectly normal. The answers, of course, do not matter. Soon you will be enveloped by the deepest blackness you have ever known.

But you are not alone. To rat is to be human. A weak, spineless human. Remember: you share this pain with millions of others who, for some transgression or another, have drawn their number at the butcher shop of death.

Breathe deeply. Breathe evenly. If your limbs happen to be unbound, try placing a hand on your abdomen, feeling your belly rise and fall. Feel the breath escape your body. It can be helpful to count the breath, focusing especially on your exhalation. You only have so many left. Appreciate them.

It is said that when you are nearing death, your life flashes before your eyes: blowing out the trick candles at your fifth birthday party, the rough leather of your first baseball mitt, the silky taste of a fine Brunello, the sweet laughter of your children, the weight of a Glock in your hand. You might find remembering these details difficult at the moment. This is because you sang like a canary. Your life is hardly worth remembering at all. Still, you might find it helpful to recall a moment of loyalty. When this family actually meant something to you. When your word was bond. When a kiss on the cheek meant brotherhood instead of betrayal.

Feel the warmth, the security of a time when the blood that flowed through your veins was not just yours, but that of a generational bond. You might remember a time when you carried out the contract on Baby Shanks because he wouldn’t can his yap. A time when you were cool as a monk when the heat came knocking. A time when you completed the count without sampling so much as a pinch of horse. Feel this warmth envelop you. Let it fill your body, or whatever parts are left of it. It feels wonderful to let go, to rest in the glow of knowledge that you will never again have to feel the hot barrel at your skull or the cold blade at your throat, that you will sink deeply into the soft and forever abyss, never to worry, never to snitch again.

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