The Contract
by Anthony Bruno
Sep 11, 2012 | 484 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richard Kuklinski was first drawn to the sprawling woods of Bucks County, Penn., because of their peace and tranquility, solitude and fresh air. The woods reminded Richard of church, one of the few places in his life where he found solace and comfort, and could think without distraction. Like a church, the woods were peaceful, quiet, and serene.

The woods of Bucks County were also a good place to get rid of bodies. By profession Richard was a contract killer, and the disposal of bodies was always a concern. Sometimes it was OK to leave the victims where they dropped, in alleys, parking lots, and garages. Other times they had to disappear. That was specifically requested. One time Richard left a victim in an ice-cold well for nearly two years—preserving the corpse—purposely seeking to confuse the authorities as to the accurate time of death, thus earning his eventual moniker: “Ice Man.”

Richard was careful never to leave two bodies close to each other here in the woods, lest the authorities become suspicious and stake out a given area. His business was the business of murder and he was particularly adept at it. He had honed killing to a kind of fine art form. No job was too difficult. He successfully carried out every contract he’d ever been given. He prided himself on that. In the netherworld of murder, Richard Kuklinski was a much sought-after specialist—a homicide superstar.

* * *

By now the leaves of the trees in Bucks County had taken on colors, bright reds, hot oranges, bold yellows. Slowly falling leaves seemed like multicolored butterflies on the first days of spring. Richard parked his car in a remote spot. He pulled the mark from the trunk and led him to the cave he’d found, and located the spot where he had laid out the meat. He made the mark lie down there and carefully wrapped duct tape around his ankles and legs and arms, tightly bound him as a diligent spider wraps silk around its prey. The man’s panic-stricken eyes bulged out of his large round face. He desperately tried to talk, to offer Richard all the money he had, anything he wanted, but the gray duct tape held tight and only panicky, mumbled grunts came from him. What he wanted to say Richard had heard many times over. There were words he had become deaf to. Richard had no remorse, no conscience, no compassion. He was doing a job, and none of those feelings even remotely came into play. Richard calmly went back to his car. He retrieved the camera and tripod, and a light and a motion detector that would trigger both the light and camera when the rats came out. Richard carefully set up the camera, the light and motion detector just so. Satisfied, he cut the man’s clothes off—he had dirtied himself—and left him there like that.  

Excerpted with permission from The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer (Delacorte Press/Random House, 1993).

Anthony Bruno is the author of books including the Bad Guys series, Devil’s Food and The Seekers: A Bounty Hunter’s Story. Bad Apple was adapted for TV.  The Iceman will be re-released by Random House this year.


U.S., 2012, 103m

Director: Ariel Vromen

Starring: Chris Evans, Michael Shannon and Winona Ryder

Adapted from: The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, by Anthony Bruno

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