I was completely taken aback from what I had just heard. This guy? Seriously? This scroungy, Italian slob was the head honcho around here? I mean just look at the guy! He was wearing a scuffed up leather jacket with patches on the back in a few places. He had on a pair of stained slacks that looked like they had been pissed in. His hair was greasy, he smelled like cheap cologne, and had scars, cuts and bruises all over his face. To put it plainly he looked like he had seen better days. It’s a good thing I kept all of my thoughts to myself because the next thing he did scared me a little.
“Hey, kid, are you looking for any work?” he asked as he pulled out a gun. It was a .44 magnum. I only knew that from playing countless video games my whole life. In real life, I had never even seen a gun up close. My mother hated guns and never let my dad have one. I bought an airsoft gun once, but my mom caught me with it and nearly beat me to death. I took the gun from his hand and just kind of held it out, like it was a diseased cat or something. It was heavy for it's size.
“That depends, what kind of work did you have in mind?” I wondered out loud. He had a smug look on his face. It looked like he had a plan, and just for saying anything I was immediately going to be a part of it.
“We're gonna go find the guy who shot me last night. Then we're gonna fuck him up. Understand?” I stood there bewildered that he just explained that I was about to be an accomplice to an assault, or possibly murder.
“What... happens if... I don't want to?” I replied shakily. I had a feeling that I already knew.
“Well, I would thank you for your help and be on my way. But that would be your only warning. If you cross the Union again, I’ll have to personally smash your fucking skull in.” he added that last part with a grin. He could easily imagine curb stomping me in the middle of the strip. I weighed out my options and decided to take the one that didn't involve me being an example for anyone else who crossed him and his “Union” whatever the fuck that meant. The last I remember, a Union is a group of people who work directly for the government, not smash people's skulls in.
“I'm in Mr. Morrietti. When do we start?”
“That's my boy! What a good guy! A regular Mensch! As soon as the doctor says I can go, you and me will take the car to my place and get some... uh... supplies. Yeah that's a good word for it, 'supplies'. Anyways, after we get said, 'supplies', you and me are gonna go down to his place on Jefferson and ice that cocksucker!”
I sat there and waited with my new boss for the doctor to walk in. I learned a lot about him, and told him pretty much everything about me. I told him where I was from and why I was here. All of my skills and my plan to get rich quick. He said that I reminded him of himself when he was just starting out. When he was 16 he ran away from home in Italy and got on a boat to America. He lived with his Uncle in New York for a while before being “Assigned” to work here. He used finger quotes around the word “assigned” like he was forced to be here or something. I asked him some more about it but he wouldn't say anything.
“Alright Tony, your good to go. Just stay away from those assholes what shot ya.” the doctor advised. Tony thanked him with a hug and by slipping a couple hundred dollars in his shirt pocket. I wasn't too sure if he was a real doctor or not. We walked out to the parking lot and a young man in a nice suit pulled up in the Audi. He stepped out, took Tony's hand and kissed the ring on his finger. Tony patted his face and gave him some money too.
“Wanna drive again Johnny Boy?” he asked. I didn't answer, I held the passenger door open for him and then hurried over to the driver's side. I couldn't wait to be behind the wheel again. There's nothing that gets the testosterone going like doing 80 in a 25mph zone and not get caught. Well, I can't say that. There were plenty of cops, but when they saw that the car speeding down the strip was Tony's, they looked the other way. This was the life I wanted to live.
“Alright, now your gonna take a left here and go on 'til you see a billboard for a strip joint, then you take the next right.” I followed his directions and squealed around the corner of his street.
“This one's mine.” I pulled up to the curb in front of the massive hotel. The valet came up and took the keys from me and parked it in the underground lot. We walked inside and everyone cheered for him. A man in a red suit and slick, black hair greeted us at the front desk.
“Benvenuto, Mr. Morrietti! How-a are you? Did you make it back from the hospital okay?” he smiled at us and held out his hand. Tony grinned and shook his hand.
“Jus' fine, Charlie, Jus' fine. Charlie, I want to introduce you to my newest apprentice. This magnificent bastard is Johnny Boy. He's the guy who drove me to the hospital. Just ran out into the road and helped me to my car. Doc says if he didn't do what he did I woulda died.”
“Did he now?” he grinned at me. “How's it hanging, Johnny Boy?”
“I'm good, Charlie. Thanks for asking.” I didn't even bother being professional. I felt at home here. It was like I found a place where I belonged. Tony and I walked over to the elevator and he pushed the button marked “Penthouse”. We flew up the elevator shaft to the 35th floor and stepped out. The place was massive. There was a pool out on the roof, a huge flat screen TV on the wall and it smelled like delicious Chicken Scampi.
“Welcome home Johnny. I got 6 bedrooms in this place and I want you to take one. We don't want a member of the Union living in a dump of a place like that motel you were in last night.”
“Are your sure? Thanks Mr. Morrietti!”
“Hey, enough with that 'Mr. Morrietti shit. Just call me Tony, okay? Or Fat Tony. Your not one of those money-grabbing cunts downstairs. You work for me, right? Well you'll get your money just like them but you'll make a helluva lot more. You'll actually work for it not, 'I parked your car for ya Mr. Morrietti! Can I have some money to start my own hair salon?'. Understand?”
“Yeah, I got it Tony. Thanks again for the work. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do on my own. If it wasn't for you I would be on the streets in a week.” he smiled and patted me on the back.
“Well, my young protege, let's get to work.” We walked over to his huge bookcase by the TV. It had to have had at least a thousand books on its shelves. He pulled out the novella, “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck and a clicking sound was heard. It was like some kind of 007 movie or something. The bookcase swung open to reveal a large weapon cache. I could name all the guns in there if I wanted to. He reaches up and pulls a Winchester SXP Defender Pump-Shotgun off the rack to make sure that it was loaded. He grabbed a couple shells and put them in his pocket.
“Ya still got that piece I gave you?” he asked. I almost forgot the colds steel pressing against my lower back. I raised up my shirt and pulled the gun out from between my belt and my pants.
“Yep. Still got it.”
“Good. Let's put this scumbag in the ground.” The following couple minutes were a complete blur. We got into the car and drove to Jefferson Street. It was definitely the ghetto of the city. There were broken down houses and gang members everywhere. I was surprisingly calm for a man about to go kill some guy. I think it was the music. The whole ride we were listening to Frank Sinatra. Another thing me and Tony have in common. We know the difference between good music and the shit that’s on the radio these days. Right about the time Ole Blue Eyes was done singing about getting kicked in the head, Tony pointed out the guy in the middle of a basketball court with a bunch of other guys. They were picking up their stuff and saying their goodbye's as they broke apart.
“That's the guy. It looks like they just finished their game. I want you to follow him home and blow his brains out on the front door. Got it?”
“Yeah... sure, Tony.” I was terrified. We slowly followed behind the guy about 5 car lengths. As he was walking I was almost positive he knew we were there. He finally walked up the steps to his house and that's when I parked the car. I got a sudden rush of adrenaline. Even though I was scared shitless, my body just acted on its own. I jumped out of the seat and ran, balls out toward the guy. I caught up with him before he could even pull out his keys. I hit him on the back of the head with my gun. He crumpled in a pile on the porch. He looked up at me, the barrel of a gun pointed at his head.
“No man, don't do it!” he was petrified. So was I. I said the first thing that came to my mind. It was a saying from a Mafia movie.
“The Don sends his regards.” I aimed the gun between his eyes, looked away, and squeezed the trigger.