I really had to pee.
I mean, that wasn’t the only thing I was feeling, but it sure was the strongest. The usual dance-and-and-make-a-strange-face combination wasn’t even making a dent in it. Far worse was the knowledge that it would be several hours yet until I’d be able to relieve my suffering.
It wasn’t as though I didn’t have the energy to keep on dancing, or to flex whatever muscle it is that keeps you from wetting your pants. (Embarrus preventus, if I had to guess…) The excitement alone could have propelled me past the finish line of a marathon, if not all the way to the moon. Big Tony was coming to inspect the merchandise personally.
Big Tony! Personal controller of over 30% of the illegal merchandise on the East Coast. The man who snapped 30 necks in 30 days, just to see if he could. He’d broken out of 3 different jails on 4 different occasions. Where this man walked, dead bodies and cash followed. I wanted in on that. The killing or the money, really. With one came the other.
I got the assignment pretty suddenly. I was sweeping up after the bistro closed, planning on stealing my neighbor’s Playboy from his box (a monthly tradition), when the phone rang. Since we were closed, I let it ring through to the machine. Imagine my surprise when I head a voice asking for his “brother” to guard the “merchandise” in warehouse #3 down at the docks because his flight had been canceled.
Everyone who was anyone in the city knew that warehouse #3 was where Big Tony kept his goods before distributing them to a grateful public; that wasn’t the surprising part. This “brother” stuff, though… I mean, I’d always known that Mr. Bianchi didn’t make enough money selling soup and sandwiches to afford a Ferrari, but I thought maybe he’d brought it with him when he immigrated.
Whatever. It didn’t matter what I’d thought, what mattered was what I knew: Mr. Bianchi had the flu. He wasn’t going to stand guard on some warehouse all night, even for his brother. This was my ticket to the big time. And it was important that I didn’t screw it up. So I turned the espresso maker back on and gulped down 4 demitazzas. (I normally can’t stand coffee, but c’mon…) Then I snagged 4 cans of Rockstar out of the cooler, loaded them onto my bike, and pedaled south.
Once I got to the docks, I punched the code from the phone message into the keypad, found a box suitably sized for comfortable sitting, and settled in.
Whenever I started to feel drowsy, I pounded another Rockstar. This liquid assault on my insides eventually took its toll.
I really had to pee. I mean…
Well, you’ve heard this part before. So, anyway, it’s not until 11:00 the next morning that Big Tony shows up, but who am I to complain? Nobody, that’s who. Hopefully once he sees the level of responsibility I’m capable of, that will change.
When I hear the keypad beeping, I get up quickly and check my butt for splinters. None. So far, so good. The doors rumble open, and Big Tony strolls in, flanked by two vey large bodyguards. Big Tony has a big smile on his face, and his hands are lifted in a friendly way… until he sees me. Then it’s the frowning, and the yelling, and the guns… (By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys were carrying six weapons apiece. There’s something to be said for the combination of a traditional suit and concealed weaponry.)
I manage to stand my ground, but only barely. My hands fly into the air, and I hurriedly explain the whole situation vis-a-vis the phone message and the flu. It is met with some skepticism, but once Big Tony sees everything is in place, he’s far more receptive. Dare I even say, proud?
“Dat was smart thinkin’ you did, there,” Big Tony rumbles. “You have done me a large favor. Therefore, I owe you a large favor in return.”
“Thank you, Mr. Bian—uh, Mr. Big Tony, uh, sir,” I manage to stammer.
I’m not showing that I’m the cool customer that I want him to think I am, but no plan is perfect.
“Like the flag of my homeland, my favors come in red, white, and green. Which would you like?”
Having no one I want killed, nor any need for cocaine, the choice of money is obvious. I don’t want just money, though. I also want a chance at future employment, but I’m not sure how to slip that in politely. While I’m thinking, the pints of extra liquid inside me end their assault and settle back in my bladder comfortably. This seems to cause a backflow of caffeine into my bloodstream, though, as my entire body twitches once, twice, then three times.
Big Tony looks concerned, then asks, “Hey, uh, you doin’ all right, there?”
“No.” I figure I should answer honestly. “I’m wired.”