“You know why you’re here, don’t ya, Vinnie?”
Vinnie lifted his trembling head slowly, sweat dripping from his anxious brow.
The room was well-lit, a stark contrast to how the scene felt to Vinnie. He was a thin man with thinning hair and a thin lip. He was everything the Boss wasn’t, and the large, extremely sophisticated man reclined in his ornate chair behind a desk. A few other cronies looked on in silence.
The boss cracked his knuckles.
Vinnie swallowed hard. His heart was beating much too fast, he was sure of it. He wanted nothing less that to have to say what he was about to say.
“I, uh… I don’t have it,” he whispered.
“What?” the boss returned in a calm, yet intimidating fashion.
Vinnie just shook his head.
“You mean to tell me,” the boss began, raising his voice and leaning forward in his chair, “that you borrowed 25 mil and can’t pay me back?”
Vinnie shook where he stood, staring desperately at the ground. Sweat played down the sides of his face.
“You come to me a year ago and tell me that you have a sure thing, but now you don’t have it. You gambled away my 25 million dollars?”
“I, uh, I don’t-”
The boss sighed.
“Get this joker out of here,” he said to the suited bald man next to him. “Take his wife and put her to work in our factory. Send his kids to live with his sister. And break his hands just as a reminder while we go through and sell his house and everything this leech has. Then when that’s done, make him disappear.”
“No! Please!” Vinnie screamed as he fell to his knees. He was not a brave man, and tears swelled his eyes. “I just need time, Boss,” he sobbed. “I just need time!”
The boss folded his meaty, ring-accented hands and looked at the pathetic specimen of a man who kneeled sobbing before him.
“I’ll pay you everything! I’ll pay it all back! I just need time!”
The boss chuckled.
“You kidding me, Vinnie? I know your salary. I pay your salary. It ain’t enough to pay me back. And word on the street is you already lost every dime you borrowed from me. Don’t insult me.”
Vinnie rubbed his face into the rich, crimson rug, sobbing for all he was worth and muttering “I’ll pay it all! I’ll pay it all!”
The boss looked down at the twisted creature as two of his lackeys began to pick him off the floor and drag him away. His head hung down and he wept.
“Geez, Vinnie,” the boss said softly. “You’re the most pathetic thing I ever met.” The boss raised a hand, signaling to his men to let Vinnie go. He fell to the floor in a heap. “I don’t think much of ya, Vinnie, but I married one of your sisters and havin’ ya disappear won’t make her too happy. I gave you a job and some men,” the boss continued, “and you still screw me like this.” He sighed. It was a deep and intimidating sigh. Vinnie had not stopped weeping.
“Guido,” the boss called, “find my ledger. Wipe out this shlup’s debt to me. Vinnie, it’s done. Now get out of here and don’t expect another free pass. I’m gonna forget about the 25 million.”
Vinnie sniffed hard and looked up, stemming the flow of his tears.
“I just need time, boss. I’ll pay you back.”
The boss leaned back in his chair again, shaking his head.
“That’s a joke, Vinnie, you don’t have the means. Your youngest sister is my wife, so I forgive the debt. Don’t worry about it and go about your affairs.”
“Thank you for the time. Thank you for your… benevolence,” Vinnie said, smiling a pained smile, backing up towards the rich, mahogany doors. “I’ll pay you back, boss. I’ll pay you back.”
“Don’t worry about it,” the boss called as Vinnie turned and walked out of the room into the richly decorated hall of Italian marble.
Vinnie rubbed his hands nervously as he walked into the marble hall. His crony who had been in the room with him followed behind silently. The only sound was that of harsh footsteps echoing off of the walls, mixed with Vinnie’s hyperventilation.
One thought occupied Vinnie’s mind- how could he get his hands on 25 million dollars? It was way above his pay grade.
While consumed with anxious thoughts, Vinnie made his way out of the large, ornate house. He rubbed his hands together and continued to sweat. He plotted in his mind as to how he might begin to raise some of the money, despite the insistence of his suppressed better judgment that told him it was impossible.
On the front steps leading into the house Vinnie stopped rubbing his hands. He stopped altogether. His eyes alighted on a house servant who was just walking up to the impressive abode. Vinnie’s entire countenance changed. His brow tensed downward and he narrowed his eyes.
“Carlo!” he shouted, barreling over to the servant.
The servant looked surprised and jumped a bit at the loud mention of his name. He turned, bewildered towards Vinnie.
“Oh, hey, Vinnie.”
“Shut up. Where’s my money?” Vinnie gave the servant a shove.
The servant smiled nervously and his fragile eyes looked hesitantly into Vinnie’s.
“It’s been a rough month, Vinnie. Kids got sick, you know? And my wife, she’s had to take off work to take care of them.”
Vinnie reached back and slapped the servant across the face. He felt emboldened by the presence of his crony behind him, whose face rarely betrayed any emotion. The crony looked on warily at the scene.
The servant winced and rubbed his face shamefully.
“I’ll pay you back, Vinnie, I just need some time,” he said softly.
“Time? You’ve had plenty of time, Carlo,” Vinnie said loudly. “I want my five hundred bucks and I want it now!”
“I’ll pay you everything I owe ya, Vinnie. I just need another month. I’ll pay it all,” the servant said, stooping down and wiping off Vinnie’s wingtip shoes. “I’ll pay it all, I just need some time.”
Vinnie pulled his foot back sharply, then brought it up into the man’s face, causing him to cry out in pain. Vinnie’s face was red and he shook. He looked down at the servant with a crazed expression and kicked him again, hard and in the ribs.
“Please!” the servant shouted from the ground, trying to cover his head. Vinnie was in no mood for mercy. He continued to beat the servant and stomp on him until the man could only groan, no longer able to shy away from the pitiless blows. Finally, dripping with sweat from the heat of the day and from his exertions, Vinnie wiped his forehead and signaled to his crony.
“I don’t want your excuses, Carlo. I’m gonna take you to my place and tie you to a frickin’ chair. You’re gonna stay there until you don’t owe my any money.”
The servant only groaned in response, too weak to argue at the impossibility and the cruelty of it all.
Vinnie stepped into his limousine that pulled into the expansive driveway and his crony put the servant inside the vehicle, as he had been instructed to do. He eyed Vinnie askance, but spoke no words.
Vinnie did as he promised the servant. He had him tied to a chair and locked him in his basement, where his moans of pain would not be heard. Vinnie did not resume his anxious mannerisms, feeling that he had accomplished part of his goal. His mind still swam with plots, and he drank a glass of red wine to relax before he fell into his queen-sized bed and slumbered immediately. He dreamed of ways he might once again come to be in the good graces of the boss.
Out of a dead sleep, Vinnie was violently torn from his bed. He could see only darkness and his wife screamed as he felt a bag being placed over his head. Strong arms bound him and he was carried away, confused, fearful, and exhausted. He was shoved into a car, and not gently. The sounds of car doors slamming reached his ears, then a motor roared and his vehicle raced off he knew not where.
At long last the car stopped and Vinnie was roughly pulled from his seat. He was forced to walk up many stairs and he tripped several times. His hands were sweating and his body began to shake. He racked his brain for explanation, but nothing would come.
The bag was ripped off of his head and light blinded Vinnie’s unadjusted eyes. As he got used to the vibrant interior lighting, he recognized his surroundings. He was back in the boss’s office.
The boss swiveled around in his chair, now facing the trembling, skinny man. He held his hands palm up in incredulity.
“…Boss?” Vinnie asked timidly. “What’s happening here? This is some kind of mistake.”
“You’re the mistake, you sniveling rat,” the boss replied, rising from his seat. He was tall, and Vinnie shrank before him as he walked around the desk.
“You think I don’t know what goes on? You think I’m blind, Vinnie? ‘Cuz I think you must think that I’m blind to try and pull some crap like this.”
Vinnie’s already over-active sweat glands upped their production. He swallowed hard.
The boss reached back and slapped Vinnie hard. The impact of his many rings stung Vinnie’s sallow face sharply.
“I forgive you a debt of 25 million friggin’ dollars,” the boss spoke softly and incredulously, “and then you have the nerve to shake down a butler for five hundred?”
Icy chills of realization rushed down Vinnie’s spine as his eyes grew wide.
“No! No, see, it wasn’t like that. I was just collecting on some of my accounts- I was trying to pay you back!”
“I cleared your ledger, Vinnie!” The boss responded loudly and slow, as if he was speaking to a simpleton. “And you tell me you were trying to pay for yourself? Don’t insult me.” The boss grabbed Vinnie by the hair and pulled the man’s ear close. “I let 25 million dollars slide today, and then you shake down one of my guys for some change. That pisses me off, Vinnie. It pisses me off bad.” He then let go of Vinnie’s hair and patted him roughly on the cheek.
“Guido,” the boss said, returning to the other side of his desk, “get creative with this one. Do all the stuff I said earlier, but I want you to make him suffer. Tie his head down and make him watch you break all his fingers and toes. Pull his teeth out. I don’t care, just take your time before you whack him.”
An odd smell suddenly overtook the room and the boss turned to see a stain appear on the front of Vinnie’s pants. The boss scoffed.
“Get this trash outta my sight.”