On the Job

“Hey, Vinnie,” Tony asked me to come over with a gesture and then he told me about a job. We left the club and walked the streets of Brooklyn on our way to the restaurant. Back in those days, children would play in the street after school. Shopkeepers would stand out on the sidewalk talking, sweeping, smoking, or just catching the last sunrays of the fading summer. The two of us, dark haired paisan, swaying side to side as we strut without fear like a couple of animals in human skin, kings of the block, cocks of the walk, the two of us were completely in the right place at the right time.

“The thing is,” Tony was explaining, “Rico’s sister’s husband, I forget his name…”

“Gino,” I said.

“Yeah, Gino. Gino owes Rico some money, but Rico did not want to pressure him, because family is family.”

“Family is family,” I said.

“Up to a point. Gino threw his wife out and the kids and now he’s living with his goo-mah. That’s Rico’s sister, Sophia, that he left, you know what I’m saying?”

“Jesus Fucking Christ,” I said.

“Yeah, so Rico was willing to let it slide, he did not think Gino was a good husband for her anyway. But the money needs to return to its rightful owner, so to speak.”

“And that’s Rico,” I said.

“Exactly, so we’re gonna go over there and have a little conversation with Gino.”

“Fucking Gino,” I said.

“You damn straight fucking Gino. Now, we don’t wanna hurt him yet. Just put the fear of god in him. If he does not pay up, then it’s going to be justice.”

We walked along in silence for a block. Then I said.

“Do you ever think we are not just? I mean, we’re crooks.”

“Semantics,” said Tony.

“Is that what semantics means?” I said, “I never know what it means.”

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