Sunday, July 31, 2016

Team Mafia

The mud and marsh water had well and truly taken the shine off of Joey Prosciutto’s shoes.  He was thirsty, tired, and the mosquitoes of the Pine Barrens had made a veritable feast out of the fleshy parts of his ear.  Never mind the fact that his back and arms hurt from trucking his end of the rolled up carpet around all morning.  When he looked back and saw that Jimmy Fingers was staring at his phone again, he lost it.

“Man, we shoulda called you Jimmy Thumbs for all the time you spend friggin’ texting on that thing!”

“I’m not texting,” said Jimmy.  He returned his phone to the front pocket of his sweat shirt and, once again, devoted both arms to hauling his half of the carpet. 

Joey’s burden felt lighter, but that didn’t make him any less irritated.  “Look, can we just dump this stiff somewheres and get back to the car?   It’s the day of my niece’s wedding, and I’d like to get back in time to squeeze my ass into my suit.”

“Sorry, Joey.”

He started to trot, double time, causing the carpet to bounce up and down between them.  The rolled up end poked Joey in the back, speeding him down an incline that led to a rocky defile.  There was a little brook running through the bottom.  It wouldn’t be strong enough to take the carpet away unless the whole Barrens flooded.  If they chucked it under the rocks, it’d be hidden from anybody walking by or trying to spot it in the air.

“Hold up, hold up,” said Joey.  “We’ll dump it here.”

To reinforce the finality of his decision, he dropped his end of the carpet.  It landed with a thud on a pile of wet, rotting leaves. The shock of the impact forced the tip of a Ferragamo out of the carpet rolls.

Jimmy eased his end of the carpet onto the ground and fumbled his phone out of his pocket.  “Let me just check something first, all right?”

“Whaddya gotta check?” shouted Joey, loud enough that a distant flock of birds took flight.  “We’re in the middle of nowhere.  We found us a good dump spot.  Let’s just dump him here and get it over with.”

“We can’t.”  Jimmy seemed like he was trying to hide behind his phone.

“Whaddya mean we can’t?” 

“Well, it’s just that this little creek here is, you know.  Whatchacallit.  A water feature?”

Joey peered down into the ribbon of splashing water before looking dagger eyes at Jimmy.  “So?”

“Well, a body of water like this, you know, it attracts a lot of water types.  And since we’re off the beaten path, and all, it actually attracts a lot of rare water types.”

Joey felt his blood pressure spike.  He took a deep breath and let it out noisily.  “Are you talking about that Pokemon Go thing?”

“Yes,” said Jimmy, in a tiny voice.

“You mean to tell me, you’ve been making me drag his fat ass and your fat ass around the friggin’ Pine Barrens because of a goddamn app, Jimmy?  I oughtta kill you and throw you down in this friggin’ hole!”

 Jimmy held up his hands and his phone, as if to ward off the imminent incoming blows.  “Hang on, hang on.  I got a reason.  Look, I know you’re steamed with me, but hear me out.  See, the thing is, I was watching on the news the other day about how some kids were out playing this game on their phones, right, and they found a body.”

“Yeah?” said Joey.  He had heard about that, too.  “So?”

“So I started thinking that maybe I don’t want to traumatize no kids with having them find our leftover hits, you know what I mean?  Like, this thing between the Boss and Jerry the Carpenter, that’s just business, right?”


“Like, I don’t want no little kids out here huntin’ Polywags, or whatever, and run into this.  That’s why I was trying to find a place where there weren’t any Pokemon, so that we could dump the stiff with no problems.”

Joey laughed.  “Jesus Christ, Jimmy, why didn’t you just friggin’ say so!  That makes perfect sense.”

Jimmy gave him that nervous look that guys often gave him, the “you started laughing, so either we’re good or you’re gonna start pounding the crap out of me and I don’t know which one to plan for yet” look. 

Joey took out his own phone, turned it on, and flashed the app in Jimmy’s direction.  “I love this app.  My niece’s kid turned me onto this thing a week or so ago.  Lotsa fun.  Me and Vinny Doombats—that’s my Ghastly—have been tearin’ up the gyms downtown.

“I just wish you would’a told me sooner.  We could’a been back in town buying cannolis instead of sweating our asses off out here.”

Jimmy let out a long held breath and sagged with relief.  “That’s great to hear, Joey.  That’s really great.  I really thought you was gonna flip your lid when I told you.  I’m glad you’re okay with it.”

Joey stuffed his phone back in his pocket.  “Yeah, yeah, sure.  I even got a plan as to how we can rectify this situation.  Here’s what we do.  We tell the boys, right, that they’re gonna get the app and start setting up lures all around town.  That way, all the kids and whatever will be goin’ to those hotspots instead of coming out here.  Nobody disturbs old Jerry’s final resting place here and you can sleep at night.”

“That’s a good plan,” said Jimmy, stowing his own phone.  “Here, grab your end and we’ll sling him down here, and…”

As easily as it was said, it was done.  Jerry the Carpenter was snug in his carpet down among the rocks and Jimmy and Joey started their long walk back to the road.  Joey smiled to himself—even without setting up lures, there was no way kids would come all the way out into the Pine Barrens just to find Pokemon.  The cops probably wouldn’t come out here, either, and even if they did, the Boss had things fixed so that nobody could trace the hit on Jerry back to them.

“So, hey,” said Joey, his mood much brighter.  “I’m on Team Valor.  What about you?”

Joey noticed after a couple of steps that Jimmy was no longer beside him.  Something tickled at the back of his brain.  He turned around to see Jimmy slipping a pair of brass knuckles on the calloused fingers of his right hand.

“Whaddya doin, Jimmy?  Come on!”

 “You made a big mistake.”  Jimmy sank his armed fist into the meat of his left palm.  “Spark is my boy, Joey.”

Joey spread his arms in disbelieve.  “You serious about this, Jimmy?  You want to throw down with me over a goddamn phone app?”

“Serious as a heart attack, Joey.  I’ll go easy on your face, though.  You know, ‘cause of your niece’s wedding.”

Joey dropped into a fighting stance and dragged the back of his hand underneath his nose.  He made a come-on gesture.

“Jesus Fucking Christ,” he said, as Jimmy rushed him.  “I knew I should’a stuck to fucking Candy Crush.”

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