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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thanks for the Memories II

Thanks for the Memories

Five days before the Super Bowl Arthur came home from a long and profitable shift at the casino and found his parents duct taped to dining room chairs and four thugs on the sofa watching Funniest Home Videos.

“You can take the tape off her mouth, she doesn’t talk much these days,” Arthur said as he reached for the remote and turned to Firing Line.

“Hey Harry Potter Capone, shut your face,” said a fat guy in a bowling shirt. “My employer, Mr. Digotti, is shutting you down. We’re gonna to take over all of your action for the game. If you want to make a bet you can do it with Mr. Digotti and I.” They all got a laugh out of that.

“You mean ‘Mr. Digotti and me.’”


“Never mind.”

If Arthur was the least concerned he was hiding it well as he made himself a ham sandwich and sat down in front of the TV. “Guys, can this wait? I really want to watch this program.”

The head thug in the bowling shirt seemed a little confused with Arthur’s entirely reasonable request as he was more accustomed to a man begging for his life. “Turn it off,’ he grunted.

“Listen, I know that you aren’t going to harm a nine year old kid, so what other choice do you have but to let me watch my show? When it’s over I promise that I’ll listen to whatever dire threats you were sent here to deliver.” Arthur turned the volume up and sat on the remote control.

The TV show comes to the end. The Mafia guys are sitting on the couch. Arthur’s parents are still duct taped to the chairs but their mouths are no longer covered and the chairs have been moved so that they can see the television. Arthur hits the mute button on the remote.

“Who would have thought the Federal Reserve chairman had so much power?” Bowling shirt thug continued his thought, “I mean, you raise the prime rate a half a percent and the whole economy starts spinning.”

“I didn’t realize that Greenspan cost old man Bush the election in’92,” one of the lower echelon thugs added. “What a dick.”

“Can we get to the matter at hand, gentlemen? I have a lot of work to do,” Arthur said as he pulled out his laptop and began pecking at the keyboard. “If I understand you correctly you want me to stop taking action on the game. Let me just talk this over with my associates.”

Just then Arthur’s crew of little league henchman walked in without knocking. For fifth graders they carried a fairly threatening presence. “Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Andrews,” they said in chorus. Even in a show of force the little hoodlums knew enough to show proper respect for the boss’s parents.

“What’re these little punks gonna do, not deliver my newspaper in the morning?” Bowling shirt guy had quite the sense of humor.

The half pint they called Ice Pick pulled a big squirt gun out of his back pack. This cracked up the four normal-size thugs in attendance.

“You’ll laugh and then cry. There’s a half gallon of habañero pepper spray in this thing of my own creation. One drop of this stuff is enough to reduce a seven foot grizzly to a blubbering bearskin rug.”

“Hey boss, I seen that on the Nature Channel. I’d rather take a slug right in the gut,” the lower echelon thug said as they all made their way to the door.”

“I didn’t get your names, but just so there aren’t any hard feelings, let me comp you guys some chips at my casino. Come by and introduce yourselves,” Arthur said as he handed each thug a generous stack and escorted them out.

Arthur wasn’t naïve enough to think that that was going to be the end of it. He knew that the tiresome mob honor dictated that there must be several rounds of retribution and counter-retribution. That was the life they had all chosen, except that Arthur despised people who talked in clichés, even if they were surrounded by heavily-armed men. The members of Arthur’s crew were quite a bit more sociopathic than their leader and they were begging him to escalate this into a full-scale war. Arthur didn’t object to violence as a management tool, but he was thinking of the long-term consequences. Fifth grade Arthur thought that middle age Arthur might be traumatized by the fact that a gang war had broken out in the middle of his childhood. He knew that he could probably out-muscle this Mr. Digotti grease ball, but he was positively certain that he could out-smart him. No, Arthur thought that a nonviolent approach was best—not the Gandhi, turn-the-other-cheek brand of nonviolence, but a rather malicious nonviolence.

The key would be to hurt the Mafia guys in their earning capacity. Arthur had already done a fairly good job of scoping out this Mr. Digotti, but where he had once seen him only as a competitor, they were now enemies. One of Digotti’s main operations, and his de facto clubhouse, was a strip club on the north end of town.

“Peanut, give me everything you got on the Déja-Vu strip club,” Arthur said to his shortest minion. “Slasher, you and Rat Face go mobile and head up there to 1009 North Blanchard. I’ll text message you with further instructions.”

Peanut printed a seven page file on the Déja-Vu and handed it to his boss. Arthur looked over the file and immediately found what he needed. From a desk drawer he took out a small electronic device and gave it to Peanut. “Use this voice box and call all the dancers at the club and tell them their shift is canceled tonight. There is a female empowerment and self-esteem workshop they are required to attend at the Holiday Inn.”

The voice box was one of Arthur’s inventions that could change the sound of a human voice to any human voice that you sampled. All they had to do was record a few sentences of one of the club managers and they could duplicate his voice. When Peanut called the dancers he was even more threatening than was usual for their employer. Arthur instructed Slasher and Rat Face to change the marquee on the club from “Live Nude Girls” to “Amish Night Every Night!”

The plan was to destroy the night’s business at the club but Arthur was surprised at just how much damage he did and he was more than a little surprised to discover that there were only two Amish fetishists in the entire town. They were the only customers at the Déja-vu and were promptly ejected after hounding the staff about when the Amish act was coming on. After those two left in their horse and buggy the parking lot was completely empty. Arthur had taken this round.

to be continued

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