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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Thanks for the Memories III

Thanks for the Memories
part 3

Of course there would be some sort of retaliatory gesture, or gestures, that’s the way it was in all of the mob movies Arthur had memorized. Arthur expected something fairly serious, but even he was a bit surprised with Mr. Digotti’s heavy-handed response to the strip club gag. Police investigators found over three hundred shell casings at the scene of what was to be called “the recess massacre” at Arthur’s grade school.

It was meant as just a warning but Ice Pick took a slug in the leg and Peanut was slightly injured when he dove under the merry-go-round for cover. Arthur wasn’t even at school that day—not that he would ever condescend to participate in recess. He said that recess was for wimps. Arthur had called in sick so that he could cover as much Super Bowl action on this last weekday before the game. On the strength of his outstanding picks in the last half of the season and thus far in the playoffs he was actually tilting the Las Vegas odds gradually away from Pittsburg and towards the Seattle Seahawks.

Arthur heard about the shooting almost immediately. Ice Pick was treated and released for the bullet wound but Peanut was being held for observation for the merry-go-round injury. Funny how stuff like that goes, Arthur thought. He wondered if this incident would somehow traumatize him later in life even though he wasn’t there. Arthur decided that enough was enough. He dialed Mr. Digotti’s cell phone.

“Hello,” answered the mafia don.

“Dude, that was just completely rude,” Arthur said.

“That is but a trifling of what I will do to you and your associates if you fail to heed the warnings that I have instructed others to impose upon you to carry out without question and to the letter.”

“What the fuck are you trying to say? Stop talking like that. You sound like the world’s worst fortune cookie writer,” Arthur shouted.

“Shut down your gambling operations or you’ll end up in a dumpster, kid.”

“That’s better. At least I understand you now. But here’s the truth: I need this last game. After that I’m out. I promise.” Arthur had actually processed several thousand dollars in wagers online since he had begun this conversation. He had three other phones on his desk that had been ringing constantly. “Listen, I’d love to talk but I’m really busy right now.”

“I’m not gonna warn you again, kid,” Digotti screamed.

“Losing your temper is never good in business. Just keep this thought in your little head, tough guy. There are some fates worse than death. That is my threat to you, so back off or you’ll understand what I’m saying. I have to get back to the calls. Go Seahawks!” Arthur hung up and manned the other phones, two at a time.

The next wave of retribution from the Digotti camp occurred on Saturday morning in a group of coordinated attacks against Arthur’s operations. Arthur was impressed by the extent of the assaults if not by their originality. Several of his employees had their BMX bikes vandalized, every window of the casino was smashed, and there were several incidents of personal attacks. Three of Arthur’s boys received rather severe wedgies and someone put gum in Frankie One Eye’s hair. For safety reasons Arthur had sent his parents out of town for the weekend and he had moved his operations to a suite at a downtown hotel. Digotti didn’t have too many moves available to him at this point. Arthur had nothing but options and he planned on using all of them.

Digotti was planning a huge Super Bowl party at the Déja-vu. They had placed three extra big-screen TVs on the dance floor. They were planning on a $50,000 day on strictly legitimate business on top of all of the wagering that would be going on right up until the end of the game. The big game was a big tradition at the Déja-vu. Mr. Digotti himself manned the barbeque grills in the back lot. It was Mr. Digotti’s pride and joy, his annual sweet sixteen gala.

The Super Bowl was a day of truce, a sort of cease fire between rival gangs in the city. Arthur knew that every no-neck thug and nickel and dime gangster would be at the strip club for the Super Bowl party. It was their one day of unity as they all cheered for the same team—the spread. Even with every tough guy within 50 miles in attendance, Arthur saw the party as a turtle on its back. Striking out at Digotti’s football bash would be more than retribution and revenge for Arthur, it was going to be entertainment, it would be performance art, and it was going to be too easy to pass up.

Ice Pick checked himself out of the hospital that same day because his room didn’t have cable TV. Peanut’s injuries were more severe than a gunshot wound, something not at all difficult to understand if you’ve ever looked under a merry-go-round or under any other piece of playground equipment. He had to undergo boosters for typhoid and tetanus with a cholera shit thrown in just to be on the safe side. He was released early Saturday morning and met up with the rest of the gang in Arthur’s bedroom to get their assignments for what was soon to be called Operation Overkill.

Arthur knew that the smart move would have been to simply take his winnings thus far and whatever he would make on the game and walk away and concentrate solely on building his perfect childhood memories. That is what he started this whole business for in the first place. He had gone toe-to-toe with the local Mafia boss and got away with it with only the scratches picked up by Ice Pick and Peanut. Firing off a couple dozen Uzi clips into a schoolyard was fairly reprehensible behavior, but what really pushed Arthur to carry out the final blow against Digotti was the sheer arrogance and stupidity of the man.

In the midst of all of his plans for the Super Bowl and Operation Overkill Arthur had a bit of overdue business of his own to look after. He had a childhood to live out. He knew that all too soon he would be an adult and he would need happy memories to look back upon to get him through the tough times. At least this is what he had read in all of the self-help books on the best seller list and in countless text books on childhood development.

On a personal level he thought that childhood was pretty overrated. Arthur had never played with toys and the games most kids enjoyed bored him half to death. Take hide and seek, for instance. What was the point? The only thing Arthur liked about it was when he was “it” he could send his friends off to hide and then sit down and read a book undisturbed for an hour. His playmates would straggle back one-by-one to find Arthur sitting in a lawn chair reading a chemistry text. “You guys really did a great job of hiding. I couldn’t find anyone.” No matter how many times Arthur pulled that one on them, they always were proud of themselves for eluding him.

Just beneath the surface Arthur knew that he really wasn’t missing anything, but he wanted to cover his bases on this whole happy childhood concept, and he wanted pictures to prove it. He still had over 24 hours until the kick-off and he planned to use this time to the best advantage in gaining a few priceless memories. Because they had both been wounded in the line of duty he decided to take Ice Pick and Peanut with him to join his parents at the beach house he had rented for them. He told them to pack for an overnight trip and meet him at ten o’clock.

Peanut showed up with his backpack, skateboard, and a Mac 10 sub machine gun. Ice Pick knew better than to come armed but he was wearing a flak jacket. “Guys, I should have told you that dress was casual for this thing,” Arthur said. “You’ll scare the crap out of my parents. They are freaking out enough already.”

Arthur hired a car from the service to drive them the hour up north to where his parents were staying. Arthur suggested that the three happy playmates sing songs along the way and perhaps the driver could video tape them. Ice Pick told him that it was a good thing that he was unarmed or he’d shoot Arthur in the foot. He wasn’t about to perform in a sing along and he certainly wouldn’t agree to have it documented on film—he had a reputation to uphold. “I was just trying to think of something that normal kids would do on a car trip,” Arthur explained as he turned his attention back to his New York Times.

The car pulled up to the gatehouse just before noon. Arthur gave the digital code for the gate and as it began to open Arthur’s parents came running out of the small, two bedroom gatehouse. “What are you guys doing here?” Arthur asked.

“Ain’t this the house you rented for us? This is the right address,” Mr. Andrews answered.

“This is just the gatehouse to the compound. Before there were electronic gates the gatekeeper would live here. We’re staying at the main estate up the driveway,” Arthur explained. He knew from reading People Magazine that people like the royal family and the Kennedys spent their vacations at compounds, not houses. Arthur had rented this place from a prominent CEO who was now on trial for embezzlement.

“What’s wrong with this place,” his dad asked. As far as Arthur could tell there was nothing wrong with the gatehouse, it just wouldn’t look nearly as impressive in the photographs he had planned for later in the day. After a little fuss Arthur convinced his mom and dad to move into the mansion a quarter of a mile down the driveway.

to be continued...

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