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Episode Ten "The Deal"


After Tony left, Uncle Joey again began the persona of the doting relative Frank had remembered from his childhood.

"So, boys, you want some cake? I got some fresh pastry and hot coffee — the best in the city. Vinny, get them some coffee and cake."

"Thanks Uncle."

"That friggin' Tony is such a pain in the ass. If he ever steps too far out of line, Madonna, what a beat down I'm gonna give that prick. But, he has some qualities which are very useful and he always respects what I tell him. I just wish I did not have to tell him so much. Now, so do you boys have something for me?"

The boys, getting handed the cake and coffee at the same time Uncle Joey asked them this most ambiguously loaded question, managed to stammer and think and ponder for a second.

"What do you mean, uncle?" Frank said.

"You know what I mean."

Long pause. Fast chewing. Uncle Joey sat and smiled.

Frank was looking for Tommy to say something but as he had told Frank earlier, Uncle Joey always wanted to hear what Frank haad to say. Since he was his nephew, he knew that he could not lie to his uncle.

"We didn't know we were supposed to bring something," Frank said with a smile and a look to Tommy.

"Well, sure, I'm realy friggin glad you didn't just waltz in here with the cash. That would have made it a bit sticky as far as Tony is concerned."

"But I already told you I didn't take any money."

The baker was done cat and mousing.

"Cut the crap. Vinny saw you with the briefcase. He's been following you for two days. I know you hid it somewhere in the church early this morning. Now stop with the bullshit."

Tommy and Frank never figured that if Vinny had seen them, that Uncle Joey would keep that from Tony. Made guys usually don't screw made guys. 

Their earlier conniving had led them to a similar scenario — where Uncle Joey found out but they managed to get him to partner on a new basketball franchise in Phoenix — and Tommy jumped on the hunch that they should give it a shot now.

"We are really sorry, Uncle Joey. Frank and Tony just had one of their flare-ups and it got way out of control."

"Yea, no kidding. But I want my money. All of it. You two little lying weasels should be lying in a ditch right now. Especially you, Frank. You lied to me. You damn well know, I do not like being lied to. But, since I got Tony's balls in a vise, its not all bad. But I want my fucking money. Today."

"What if we told you we had a business proposition for you and that $2 million?"

"I'm a business man. I'm always interested in making money. But don't forget, my lawyers are not the ones that impose justice. I knew you jugheads must have some sort of plan already rattling around."

"Well, I know the league is looking to put a team in Phoenix and with that cash, I could probably manage it so that we could buy a majority stake in the franchise and run it. We take the $2 million, run it through some life insurance policies that Frank can set up, then a bunch of dummy companies would re-gather the cash and make the investment. We would then pay you back $2 million in three years and then throw in another $1 million in two years. We'll generate that cash by siphoning off concession and parking revenues. The league will never notice. You would make $3 million thanks to Frank here stealing a bag to piss off Tony."

Uncle Joey sat their silently for at least a minute pondering the plan. For Frank and Tommy, it felt like 10 minutes, at least.

"What do you have to say, Frank? You are going to launder money now? Your Ma would not like that one bit. Where you gonna tell her you got the cash? She will tell the neighborhood. It will get back to Tony. He might even take a shot at me if he finds out about this."

"Well, I'm going to leave the corporate office here in Chicago and head out to Phoenix in about three months. That way, we'll do everything out-of-sight. The area out there is growing in leaps and bounds and I have already staked out a great office in a newly affluent area. It's called Paradise Valley. We will use some of the cash to get that going and to finance the other businesses that we will need to clean the cash. The "story" will be that I made a few million in Phoenix. When the league asks for the money in about three years, we will already be ready."

Uncle Joey turned to Tommy.

"And you are sure you are going to be able to manage Frank taking the team?"

"I'm positive. No one at the league office believes that it will work there, although they are willing to take the local money on a franchise and move the team later if they have to. But I know better. I scouted a kid last year at Arizona State University. The university pulls in hundreds of thousands of fans a year — even in late summer for football when it is still 100 degrees. They have already started construction on a stadium even without a team. I can manage it to Frank because the big money people in Phoenix have been both scared way by the league and dedicated to the university. The politicians and regular joes in the city just need someone with at least half of the franchise fee of $4 million to come in with a signed check. I know them all since I have been down there a bunch. I can make it happen."

"Seems kind of flimsy."

"It can happen."

"I'll think about it."

"But Uncle, its a really great opportunity."

"I said I'd think about it, Frank. Now go get my money."

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