After returning to Gaea from the Underworld Dinlas quickly discovers that making money is harder than it looks. Having set up his business he quickly realizes there is more to it then just calling yourself CEO, but never doing any work. Fortunately the smart-mouthed cigarette smoking God of Hate and Jealousy is cunning enough to figure out how to work both sides of the street.
The first thing I learned is that being mortal is harder than it looks. I gotta admit, these brainless mortal meat-sacks really do endure a load of shite. Grandfather Zeus agreed to me setting up shop outside the Olympus Complex, but that meant I pay rent. Me, pay rent to some mortal. In addition I bought a computer, apparently everything in the world is now done by computer and I needed to learn how to use one. It is nice that I have been able to watch and absorb a lot of the current and past media on it. Since that helps me blend in better when I move amongst mortals.
Business has been slow. I go to the courthouse every day and talk to the bail bondsmen, but nobody is interested in doing business with me. No one wants to deal until I make a capture, but I can’t make a capture until someone is willing to deal. No money coming in means no money to pay for office equipment or furniture, so the building is still empty. I’ve been sleeping on the floor in the office with Jealousy and Hate. They go out every night after midnight to hunt for dinner. Rabbits, stray cats, the other night it may have been a homeless person. They smelled awful in the morning and I had to give both a bath. All in all though, I’ve had worse accommodations. At least it isn’t Tartarus. There, I was lying on the bare ground with Titans moaning and sniveling all around me.
On a positive note, I discovered coffee. Puts quite a buzz in the brain first thing in the morning. I’ve been going to a place down the street, Sal’s Delicatessen, and getting coffee in the morning. When I haven’t eaten for a day or two, then I indulge and get a thing called a bagel with a schmear. Still not sure what the schmear is, but it’s good.
Today, I’m sitting and sipping my coffee while trying to come up with a grand plan to get this thing working, when I see two guys come in and start talking to Sal behind the counter. I can’t hear what they are saying, but it’s clear that Sal is unhappy. I keep watching and after a few minutes, Sal goes in the back and comes back with an envelope. He gives one of the guys the envelope and they leave. I hear them say as they go out that they’ll be back tomorrow. I finish my coffee and as I’m headed out, I stop at the counter to talk to Sal.
“Hey, what was that all about?”
Sal glanced over at me and answered, “Nothing. Thanks for coming in, now mind your own business.”
“What?” I said. “That looked serious. What was that about?”
I guess Sal must’ve warmed up to me being there every morning, because looked around and said, “It’s a protection racket. They make all us shop owners pay them each week for protection.”
“Protection from what?”
“Protection from them coming and tearing the place up. Or worse, busting both my kneecaps.”
“Who does this?”
Sal looked around again before whispering, “A guy named Eddie Pastorini.”
“Pastorini?” I said aloud. “Sounds Roman to me.”
Sal shook his head. “No, he’s Italian. He’s a wanted felon.”
Now I was listening. “Wanted? Like by the police? Is there a reward for him?”
“Sure, a big one. Only thing is no one has ever lived to collect it.”
“So, if this Eddie guy was gone, would that make your life easier?”
Sal shrugged. “Maybe, but probably not. Most likely someone else will just take his place and charge even more. I mean, there are people running scams like this all over the city.”
That’s when it struck me like a ton of arch-stones. A plan for exactly how to make the money I need. The idea started in the back of my brain and raced forward, like a cool breeze on the neck, that made me shiver. I felt startled by the suddenness of it.
“Sal,” I said as I turned back to address him, “what would you and the other business owners think if I said I could get rid your problem? Specifically, I will get rid of your Eddie problem in exchange for half what he is charging. Then I will make sure you’re protected after that. For me, if I need any of your services, well, I get them for free. Is that a deal?”
Sal looked thoughtful. “Well, yeah, I suppose. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we would take that deal. I mean, do we have a choice? But are you gonna take on Eddie by yourself? He’s got fifty guys working for him.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve got backup. Just tell your friends to get their money together. I also need a list of all the businesses, so I know who everyone is and what everyone does.”
“Okay, you got it. Good luck. Just so you know, if they carve you into little pieces, I’m gonna swear I never heard of you.”
I nodded and waved my hand as I headed out the door, then fumbled to light a cigarette as I trotted across the street toward the warehouse.
This was going to be a good night. I needed to get everything ready, especially my girls.
COPYRIGHT © 2019 WAYNE DAVIDS. Originally published June 18, 2019