A mob story about finding inner peace.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
The glaring sun beat down on a dry patch of grass right next to the old, abandoned railroad. The area was silent with the exception of the warm breeze breathing through the long, brittle blades swaying side by side. This forgotten industrial block had been abandoned for close to a decade now, rarely seeing any visitors besides your usual tramps and vagabonds looking for a dry place to sleep. But today, a new traveler had arrived. A lone coyote weaved through the grass patch, hot on the scent of fresh dead flesh. He had followed his snout on this trail for hours and he was close now. His heart raced with anticipation, his eyes darted back and forth, his wet nose fluttered violently whilst his tongue wagged heavily back and forth with each dry pant.
He stopped at the top of the hill and looked down at four black town cars parked in the old abandoned lot next to the old abandoned factory. The sun beamed off the chrome lining around the town cars’ tinted windows. The scent was coming from the trunk compartment. From the trunk compartment of all of them. The coyote wiggled his nose. No. Just three of them.
His tail wagging, the four-legged traveller raced down the hill, kicking up dirt clouds as he went. He had to be quick! Soon the flesh would rot and be of no use. Once at the foot of the hill he pawed at the first town car, but it was no use. It was locked shut. The delicious meat was trapped in there. He let out a soft whimper and tried his luck at the second car. The same problem occurred. Then he tried the third. No luck. All of them were locked shut. The coyote somberly realized that he was wasting his time and decided it would be a better idea to head back into the bush before the humans that owned those town cars returned. He could smell them near. They were in the factory…they were predators.
Four men in suits sat around a long table dead in the center of the old abandoned factory. Each of them were impeccably dressed in Italian designer three piece suits and well-jeweled in gleaming gold and silver. These were tough men. Vicious men. The vast space between them and the rows of shattered windows remained silent, echoing every clink of a Rolex, every face scratch, every shift in a seat.
Donny JeBroni sat at the head of the table. He was the eldest of the four and the head of the infamous crime syndicate. After taking a sip of his water he placed the slender glass down on the table. He picked up his satin napkin and dabbed the bead of sweat rolling down his bald head. His took his time, cleared his throat and then spoke, “Welcome and respect to the three families from the east, west and south, for coming to this monthly congregation. As we all remember, at last month’s meeting I swore vengeance on my enemy, Joey Twinkle Toes. I am happy to announce, as of last Thursday, Joey Twinkle Toes has been whacked.”
Two of the men surrounding him rapt softly on the table, nodding their heads. They approved of this.
Next to Don Donny sat Vinnie Malone of the east side. He was short but built sturdy and strong. After adjusting his tie he leaned in and spoke, “At the last meeting I too vowed vengeance on my enemy—on that no-good rat, Jimmy the Rat. As of this morning, Jimmy the Rat has been whacked.”
Once again the other men rapt on the table gently, nodding their heads. They approved of this also.
Next to Don Vinnie sat Southy Joe from the south. His face was long and thin like the rest of his body. The emerald green suit seemed more draped on him than tailor fitted. His expression of discontent matched the discontent he felt about his tailor’s work. This was not new. Even the highest paid tailor found it a near impossibility to fit his odd angled, slender figure. Many of them had quit, given up. Needless to say, there were a lot of missing tailors in the south. He crouched over the table, eager to for his turn to speak. “And as we all know, I had some problems with my most recent tailor. That Polish hack couldn’t dress a salad! Look at me! Such disrespect! So you know what I did? I strangled him with a wire and then I shot him in the head! Bing! Then I cut him up into little tiny pieces and I buried him in a cornfield!”
The other three stared at Southy Joe, leant in. He looked back at them wondering what they were waiting for. Then it came to him. “Whacked,” he said, rolling his eyes. “He got whacked.”
The three men relaxed, nodded and rapt against the table. They approved.
Donny JeBroni raised his hand for silence and extended his arm towards Willy the Bodybag from the west. “And Willy the Bodybag! What about the vengeance you swore at last month’s meeting?”
Willy the Bodybag adjusted the cufflinks on his brown suit, cleared his throat and pulled in his chair. He ran his ringed fingers through his silver-fox head of hair and spoke in a tone of voice that wasn’t the usual cold, merciless Willy. His voice was lighter now, not timid but very much apprehensive. “Yes. Um, last week I did do that. I did swear vengeance on my enemy from the competing family in the west, Don Fazool. The truth is, is I saw Don Fazool face to face just the other day. We were both at the orange stand buying oranges. I had the chance to whack him and I didn’t whack him.”
Southy Joe cleaned out his ear with his pinky. “I’m sorry, I must have not heard you so good. Did you say you didn’t whack him?”
Donny JeBroni raised his hand for silence. “Please, Southy Joe. Some respect. Bill Bodybags is a cold-hearted killer. To suggest that he would forego a chance at vengeance is an insult. You must have heard him wrong.”
“No,” said Willy, somewhat embarrassed. “He heard right. I didn’t whack him. He was right there and I didn’t whack him.”
“Why not?” asked Vinnie Malone. “Were you out of bullets? Was it the cops? I hate those fucking cops.”
“Fucking cops…” muttered Southy Joe.
Willy the Bodybag shook his head. “No, I had bullets. Wasn’t the cops either…I just had a change of heart.”
Don Donny looked back at him, lost. “A change of heart? What do you mean ‘a change of heart’?”
“I mean, I changed my mind,” answered Willy. “You see as I was looking over to him, reaching for my gun, I realized something. It occurred to me how many people I’ve whacked over the years to get to where I am. And when I looked inside myself and saw what kind of person I have become…well, it made my stomach turn just a bit. Not with regret, not with remorse; it was like when you’ve eaten the same thing every single day for ten years and one day you decide, that’s it. I never want to eat this again. I’m sick of it. I’m tired and worn from it. It no longer satisfies me. Even the smell is enough to make me nauseous. That’s how I feel about all this whacking.
You see, when I was younger I thought maybe I would have to kill ten, twenty people max to assert my place and be safe from my enemies but, the truth is, it never stops. There’s always someone else that needs to be whacked. They’re out to whack me before I whack them; I’m out to whack them before they whack me. I’ve become a lonely, untrusting and paranoid old man. And all of this leaves me feeling very tired and unfulfilled. Will there ever be a day that I don’t have to look over my shoulder? Will there ever be a day I can stop whacking all these shmucks and settle down? A time where I can enjoy my life rather than fighting for it? A time of peace?”
Vinnie Malone’s face went cautious. “You ain’t going soft on us, is ya, Bodybag?”
“If wanting to live a life free of looking over my shoulder, free of greed and of pride is called soft. Well, it doesn’t sound so bad. It sounds kind of nice actually. In fact, I would be willing to give away my fortunes to obtain it.”
“But if we stop killin’ people, howz we gonna punish those no-good-stinkin’ rats when they go to the cops?” asked Southy Joe.
“Our lifestyle invites all kinds of conflict,” said Willy. “I mean, the cops want to set us up, informants want to give us up for reduced sentences. And so what do we do? We whack the cops and we whack the informants. We whack everybody. The guilt of all the people I’ve whacked just sits right here on my chest and, guys, it’s suffocating. Really.”
“I think Willy the Bodybag is on to something. The more people we kill, the more enemies we make. Maybe, instead of whacking our enemies in the territories we are looking to take over, we can buy them out. And then, if they still refuse, then we whack them.”
“Hey, ya,” said Vinne Malone. He appeared as though he had just had a revelation. “Give them a chance to join us before we whack them! That’s pretty smart, Willy.”
“Yeah,” agreed Southy Joe. “Good plan, Willy! We can expand our numbers and grow our syndicate by buying out the competition. Merging, like corporations! That way we can take over more territories!”
A soft applause went around the table but stopped at Willy the Bodybag.
“That’s not what I was getting at,” said Willy. “Why do we always need to expand? To take over more and more territories? Why is it never enough?”
“It’s simple math,” answered Donny JeBroni. “More territories mean more money rolling in. More money rolling in means more politicians in our pocket, which means the cops ain’t hassling us for putting the drugs and the girls out on the street.”
Vinnie Malone and Southy Joe agreed.
“Okay,” said Willy the Bodybag. “But if we stopped putting drugs and girls on the street we wouldn’t need to worry about the cops, which means we wouldn’t need to pay off politicians which means we would have to spend less money and would be financially secure with less territories.”
Southy Joe pet his pencil moustache. “So then what are we selling if we ain’t selling drugs and girls?”
“How about shoes?” said Willy.
Southy Joe recoiled. “Sorry, I don’t think I hears you right…did you say fucking shoes?”
“Everybody needs shoes,” explained Willy the Bodybag. “And we would be helping people get to where they need to go. We would be a positive contribution to our community.”
Donny JeBroni took a calm sip of his water and placed the glass down. “I think Willy the Bodybag has a point,” he said. “It’s time we focused our efforts away from drugs, guns, prostitution and gambling. These things have poisoned our communities for too long. Familia, destroyed. With our fortune and our political friends we should be investing in a future for the next generation. Things like clean, renewable energy and better schools for the children. And shoes for the people’s feet so that they can walk around the town without stepping on glass or rigid stones.”
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Willy exclaimed.
Don Donny continued on, “Starting immediately our organization will cut our ties in the narcotics business and go completely legitimate. We will make our fortunes by crafting high quality shoes for other legitimate business men like ourselves is. Not one more man shall be whacked, does everyone understand?”
Willy nodded, satisfied. Southy Joe and Vinnie Malone,though reluctant and confused, nodded as well.
“And in closing,” said JeBroni. “I would like to thank Willy the Bodybag for having the bravery and the respect to bring up these issues to the family.”
Willy stood up from his chair and gave a small bow to the Don, Vinnie Malone and Southy Joe. “You have always been reasonable men,” he said. “You won’t regret this, I promise! Thank you and respect to you all. Now I must take my leave. I’m trying out this new thing called Yoga. I hear it really helps center your energies. Ciao.”
And with that, Willy the Bodybag walked out of the old abandoned factory with the weight on his chest lifted and a new hope for the future.
For a moment the other three men sat in silence around the table, casually sneaking peeks at their shoes while they thought the others weren’t looking. Finally, Donnie JeBroni looked up and said, “Someone needs to whack Willy the Bodybag.”
Vinnie Malone and Southy Joe both let out a sigh of relief.
“I was just thinking that,” said Vinnie.
“The guy’s talking about shoes…” said Southy Joe.