A taste of what’s to come

Here is a little of the latest short story. I still don’t have a title for it, and I’m still in the process of editing. Please forgive any problems you may see.



The Beginning

“Tim, your place is going to be robbed tonight,” said the voice on the phone.

“What,” said Tim. He stood at the bar of his pub while Charlie, his head cook, walked through the door connecting the area behind the bar to the kitchen. “What do you mean my place is going to be robbed?”

“Just that,” said the voice. “You owe me money, and I’ve been patient. If you’re not going to pay me, then I’m going to take your booze.”

Tim recognized the voice now. After saying “Hello” and the shock of the first words coming over the receiver, he wasn’t sure who he was talking to, but now he did. It was an associate of his, a silent partner in his establishment Maybe’s Bar and Grill. Tim had worked for this man while he was in college, and it was this man who helped him establish his own bar. The only setback was Tim was now part of Mickey Russo’s web of “organized business,” as Mickey liked to call it.

“Mickey,” Tim spoke into the receiver as Charlie made himself look busy behind the bar. “What are you talking about? I’m up to date with all my payments except one, and they’re paying me this weekend.”

“This weekend isn’t the due date,” said Mickey. His voice sounded like scraping gravel, a lifetime of drinking, partying, and smoking cigars scarring his vocal chords. “You know the deal, and this isn’t the first time this has happened. You’ve been late for the past few months, and I’m getting tired of letting things slide with you.”

“If it’s all about the money I can give you that until my guy pay me,” said Tim. “I was merely waiting on them so I can hand it over without causing any problems for myself.”

“Hold on a sec,” said Mickey. He cleared his throat and made a sound as though he hocked up and spat out a ball of phlegm. “You mean to tell me that you have the money to pay me, but you decided to not pay me instead.”

“Not exactly,” said Tim. He looked over at Charlie and noticed him sneaking shots of Rumple Minze while he eavesdropped. Tim pointed at him and motioned for Charlie to cut it out and get back to the kitchen. In dramatic fashion Charlie raised his hands in apology and walked back through the door.

“Not exactly,” repeated Mickey.

“I try not to mix my business with the others,” said Tim. “You know that.”

“I don’t care,” said Mickey. “I’m not running your business, or the businesses you manage for me under our little branch of the tree. I’m asking for my money, which you have and aren’t handing over. And the thing is, this isn’t the first time you’ve done this, but it’s the last time I’m going to let you slide. It’s time to pay, Tim. So, your place is going to be robbed tonight.”

Tim let the words sink in. It was true, he could pay Mickey the share normally allotted to him, Tim had plenty of money saved up over the years, but as simple as that seemed it was more complicated. As a member of Mickey’s web Tim, like other bar owners in the area associated with Mickey, had their own silent partnerships with other businesses who needed help getting started, or making payroll, or a multitude of financial needs. In exchange for money, or security, or even services entrepreneurs repaid their “loan” with a few percentage points of their profit each month with no expiration date in sight. This is what Mickey encouraged, and this is what Mickey’s “boys” did. What bothered Tim was Mickey’s reaction to Tim’s predicament. Mickey, even though he was a hard ass he was fair, and all about keeping the books to any, and all, business ventures legal. He, and all of his associates, paid their taxes and reported their earnings. Sometimes, however, a business would suffer a strange mishap such as a fire, stolen merchandise, missing shipments, and so on. As a result of such crimes, police reports would be filed, insurance claims would be made, and payments that were not available suddenly found their way to Mickey. It was a pyramid of money coming in from the vast facets of Monroe city businesses slowly making its journey to one man. The web also worked as a cyclical flow of bureaucracy as one entrepreneur relied on others until the only new money entering the system came from the unknowing and unconcerned citizens of the area. In Tim’s situation one of his silent partnerships was late, but they were habitually late and Mickey knew this, but never raised a fuss.

“Look, I’ll just come over right now and settle this,” said Tim. “There’s no reason for all this drama.”

“Drama?” said Mickey. “There’s no drama. Even if you do come by and pay me in full, your place is still getting robbed tonight.”

“Why?” said Tim.

“Because the order’s been given,” said Mickey. “The play has been set and is already in motion.”

“Wait,” said Tim. He could tell something was going on, but he wasn’t sure what it was, especially for Mickey to call and let him know what he was planning on doing. “Why are you telling me this?”

“I just thought I’d do the right thing and give you a heads up.”

“But there’s a problem with this,” said Tim.

“I don’t think so,” said Mickey.

“Forgive me here Mickey,” said Tim, as he began he realized how the quiet in his bar felt like another presence making it more obvious that Charlie was listening in on the conversation. “David, God rest his soul, isn’t around anymore and he was your main guy to do something like this.”

“That’s true,” said Mickey, “but I’ve got somebody real special. I call him ‘The Kid.’”

“The Kid?” said Tim. “What make’s him so special?”

“He has skills I think would be useful,” said Mickey. “He’s got raw talent, and we have similar interest. I feel like this is someone I could really mentor.”

“Similar interests? Mentor?” said Tim. “Who is it? This town is only so big.”

“You don’t know him,” said Mickey.

“Try me,” said Tim. “You’ve told me this much so far, you might as well paint me the whole picture.”

“OK hotshot,” said Mickey. “The Kid, as I like to call him, is Desmond.”

“Desmond?” repeated Tim. “You don’t mean Jim Reid’s son?”

“The very same.”

“I thought you two split the sheets after his wife died,” said Tim. “I was under the impression he was out of the organization.”

“He is,” said Mickey, his anger flaring up slightly. “And that’s my business, not yours.”

“I understand that,” said Tim. “I’m not prying but I don’t think Jim would be too happy about his son working for you.”

“That’s not your problem,” said Mickey. “Besides, he’s someone who needs a little guidance and I’m the one to help the kid out.”

“So you’re going to have Jim Reid’s son rob my place?” said Tim. “Because of one payment that I can handle in 20 minutes?”

“You got it,” said Mickey.

“What if I stop this so called robbery?” said Tim.

“If you want to stop it, that’s your prerogative,” said Mickey. “I’m just letting you know what’s hitting you so I don’t have to hear your whining tomorrow. You want to stop it? Go ahead. You want to call the cops and get The Kid thrown in jail? That’s on you. Regardless of what you do, I’m getting my money one way or the other.”

The phone clicked loud in Tim’s ear and he stared at the receiver a moment before returning it to its cradle. He was still a bit taken aback by the whole conversation, as strange as it was, but he was sure he wasn’t letting anyone rob his place. Siting on the stool closest to the phone he decided to not make the payment as promised. If what Mickey said was true, there was no point in paying since the robbery was set to happen. At the very least he could stop Desmond, call his dad, and let Jim handle the boy. Tim’s head began to swim at the complexity of the whole vicious cycle he was envisioning with all the players involved. He shook his head hard trying to rid the feeling from his mind as Charlie re-entered the bar.

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