Episode Four: "New Tricks"
“Mr. Guidano, how nice to see you again. I thought we were supposed to meet tonight. I told your man that Frank was getting nervous, so I didn’t want our meeting before tomorrow to get back to him.”
“Calm down, Tommy, no one will come in the way of the business we have going. No one. Understand?”
Tommy had dealt with men such as this since he was just a child. The secret to getting what you want from them is to seem as in control as they, while not contradicting them. It is much like walking a tightrope.
“Besides, this plan to get Joey out of the way so I could take over the family has been going off like a masterpiece. I don’t want no one to know I’m here either, but I have other business tonight. I could have been boss years ago, but that old man hated me for that business between me and Frank. Thirty years and nothing changed. I made a lot of green for the family. But that old bastard wouldn’t go along. He always fought my taking over,” Anthony abruptly stopped his confession, realizing he was showing too much of what drove him, inspired him, scared him. “He ain’t fighting anymore, though, huh?”
Laughter erupted, not all contrived.
“I appreciate the visit, Anthony, but I thought your people and I had worked out all the deals. I got rid of Joey out here, without it looking the least bit connected to you or anyone else. It was a clean job. Now I get Frank’s part of the team.”
“Whoa, whoa, there stallion, no need getting all fired up, I just have a proposition here for you. I’ve heard Chief Montoya was helping you on your little side deal. Yea, I know you set up those guys. You want the rest of the team. We talked about getting you Frank’s piece but no one ever told me the rest of what you had planned, about acquiring almost all of the team,” Anthony said with eyes as calm and cold as 100-year-old ice. “Understandable, but you must understand I was handling you with kid gloves. But if this is business, it is business, I want one other thing, if what I have given you protection from means you get the whole team.”
“Surely. I mean you killed Joey. I will protect your secret for a favor.”
Tommy knew he was dealing with men of suspicious morals and rules of ethics, but was unready for this development.
“And the favor is?”
“I want Montoya.”
“I thought you had him.”
“No, I want something on him. Yea, I work with him now, but he forces a cut like he is a partner. He lets us work, but for a fee and madonna, what a fee. This guy, I need something on him. Our business is too dangerous. I don’t want to shine a spotlight on it or it doesn’t really matter if he is out of the way. We would then no longer be a secret. Can’t you get some local people to crack down on him? Do-gooders, you know?”
“Anthony, I don’t know, I’ve been working with the Chief for years. He makes many things possible. What if the guy who takes his place is the second coming of Elliot Ness? Let’s just keep the deal going.”
“Look, Tommy, when I asked you this as a favor that was merely to be a gentleman. To show I have manners. But really this is an order, capsice?”
“Well, think about it and after the meeting with Frank tomorrow, we’ll talk again.”
Anthony hugged Tommy good-bye and he left with his two men out the door.
Tommy - now alone - sat for what seemed like a intense minute but must have been more, then was jolted back from his thoughts of worry.
“Sir, Billy Spikes is here and he wants to see you.”
“What the hell, send him in.”
Billy snapped the door open, obviously pissed.
“So is that how you’re going to play this, Tommy? I mean two weeks ago we were righteous and now we are shit? What the hell does it matter anyway? I lived here in this god damned place and now I’m ruined in this town. Everywhere I go, my kids go, Tommy, we will hear “Doper.” How the hell could you do this to me man, I mean, Columbus? That ain’t no town.”
Billy was on a roll and Tommy just let him vent until both men melted into the big couch flabbergasted and completely frustrated. Tommy had seen it many times. Getting traded by people you like is a lot like a woman telling you, “We can’t see each other anymore, but it’s not because of anything you’ve done, it’s because of me.” It’s a damn hollow feeling. With all the money and fame, many men can never get over the idea of being bartered and traded for like property or an animal. If taken in the wrong perspective it can be most damaging to anyone’s psyche.
“Billy, you know that I feel what happened wasn’t anyone’s fault, but we just needed to go in a different direction. We needed to change some faces. You were the biggest star this team has had and we never even made it to the big dance. Come on. Columbus ain’t so bad anyway. Those people are huge sports fans and there is not much there except the team. You will be the show. Those people up there will only know they are getting Billy Spikes, superstar. They won’t care about this bull. They’ll blame it on us, the organization, the town. This is a fresh start for us all.”
“But damn, Tommy.”
“I know, Billy. But sometimes, life simply refuses to carry out the designs of we meager men.”
By early the next morning the team’s minority owners had called in their yes votes. They had agreed to Tommy’s terms and by the end of the day Tommy knew he would not only be in sole control of the team, but also very rich.
By tomorrow the news would be everywhere. He hoped no one would see through his deceptions.
The price had been high. He surely would be losing Frank — a lifelong friend — but he definitely would be gaining security and prestige. Besides, business is not just business as the old saying goes.
Business is personal, or else you get crushed.
The meeting with Tony was set for 6 p.m. at Frank’s house so that gave the new owner a few hours of the day to think of a way to serve up Montoya to Guidano. Tommy went to the gym since getting into a “workout zone” was how he inspired some of his best thinking.
Strapped into a rowing machine and pulling his heart out, Tommy had a vision, or one rather appeared before him. Lt. Barrick sauntered in, looking frustrated as usual. Tommy congratulated himself on the foresight to open the gym to prestigious members of the community — and of course season ticket holders.
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