It’s been six weeks since I’ve had a drink. The shakes are still there, and my head continues to throb. I keep trying to convince myself that alcohol is for the weak, but God only knows what I’d give for that rich taste of whiskey on my lips right about now. I can’t shake the thought of a drink, and I’ve only been awake five minutes. I lazily lean up against the headboard, reach over to the nightstand and pull out a half empty pack of Marlboro’s from the top drawer. I open the box, pull out a cigarette with my teeth and fire it up with my handy zippo lighter. I snap the lid shut and toss both the lighter and the pack of smokes on top of the nightstand. The old piece of shit nightstand barely stays standing when they land…this place is falling apart. I take a giant drag and exhale the smoke toward the rickety ceiling fan above the bed.
“What are you doing awake?”
The voice of an absolute beauty from the other side of the bed, startles me a bit. She shouldn’t be awake yet, it’s only 6am. She’s covered from head to toe underneath her blanket, her brown hair barely peeking out of the top of the blanket. Last night was one of the coldest we’ve had in years, and we haven’t had a heater in this piece of shit house since the fire last winter.
“Nothing, sweetheart. Go back to sleep, I’ll see you in a few.”
I slowly creep out of bed. Every joint in my body pops as I slowly and painfully get to my feet. I slowly limp across the cold hardwood floor in the bedroom, trying not to make a sound as I head toward the kitchen. I need some fuckin’ coffee and IB Profen; old age is kickin’ my ass. I start up a pot up the cheapest Maxwell House that Walmart had to offer, and look through the cabinet above the stove for any kind of pain relief medicine, but there’s none. Just a bunch of empty pill bottles. She must have forgotten to buy some the last time she went the store.
“God damn it.”
I mutter under my breath, definitely not loud enough for her to hear it. I peer into the refrigerator, which – believe it or not - has no fucking light in it.
“Yer a real son of a bitch, ya know that?”
A high pitched, but man’s voice from behind me catches my attention. It’s Tommy The Killer. Funny thing about Tommy, he is no killer. He’s a bitchy little fuck, who stands about 5 feet tall, and is overweight to boot. I look behind me and see the squirmy prick sitting there in some kind of Mafioso track suit. His double chin from this angle is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and it’s only accentuated by the unlit cigar between his teeth. He’s unshaven, his skin is greasy, and he reeks of yesterday’s booze.
“The fuck are you doing here Tommy?”
He snickers, the jolly little bastard.
“Word on the street Kutter, is that you’re goin’ ta’ be fightin’ again.”
I grab the orange juice from the fridge, walk over to the cabinet, grab out a cup and slam it to the counter.
“Oh yeah?” I fill my glass with orange juice, take a swig and look back at Tommy.
“Yeah, word is. You’re trying to make it big time, this time,” Tommy says spittin’ all over the damn place.
I down the rest of the juice in my cup and put it in the sink. I sit down at the table across from Tommy, and blow my cigarette smoke in his face. I’ve never respected this little asshole, no need to start now.
“Come [cough] on [cough] Kutter. Tell it to me straight!” He says, barely making it through the second hand smoke. That high pitched voice drives me up the freakin’ wall.
“Well, Tommy...that ain’t none of your damn business, now is it pal?”
I’ve heard the rumors to, the problem is, they’re not rumors. They’re facts, and the news has leaked. The problem when this kind of things get out to the public is that the leaches come out and want to suck your damn blood and take everything you got. That’s why Tommy’s here. But Tommy’s not here because he wants to be, Tommy’s here cause his boss told him to be. Tommy works for Paulie Pedrini, a known crime boss in the Philly area. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and for the most part you’re right. The Mafia is dead, but Paulie’s a different kind of crime boss. Paulie runs little gambling rings and does a little bit of loan sharking to make ends meet. He never got big, never wanted to be big. He keeps a low profile, he’s a smart man. But just because he keeps a low profile, doesn’t mean you want to cross a guy like that. Paulie’s got a mean streak.
“Come on, Kutter. I’ve got ta’ take some kind of news back to Paulie, or I’m goin’ ta’ be back on the docks.”
Tommy can’t work the docks; nobody respects the guy. He’s not an earner out there, and he knows if he goes back to the docks he’s going to have to come up with Paulie’s money out of his own pocket, cause there ain’t no way the guys out there are going to give their money to him…for Paulie or not.
“What’s this little grease-ball doin’ here, Shawn?”
There she is. Dressed in a little tank top and boxer shorts, she leans against the refrigerator at the entrance of the kitchen. The cigar drops from Tommy’s mouth on to his chest, nearly burning him until he freaks out and knocks it to the floor. He attempts to clean off whatever bit of dirt might have gotten on it and puts it back between his teeth.
“Why’s she always so mean, Kutter? What did I eva’ do ta’ her?”
I laugh at the question, he knows why she doesn’t like him, he just doesn’t want to admit it to himself. He’s a foul piece of shit.
“Take it easy, Tommy. She likes you fine.”
I get up and plant a kiss on her cheek, wondering how I got so lucky to land a woman like this. She whisper’s into my ear, “Get him outta’ here baby.”
“Let’s go for a ride Tommy.”
I go to the other room, and get dressed in my usual. Jeans, my boots, a white shirt and my Carrhart coat. I meet Tommy out front and we get in my old truck, I start it up and we start a drive down to the docks. That’s where business takes place, and we’re going to meet with Paulie.
We get to the docks and walk into a makeshift office that Paulie set up years ago. Paulie doesn’t like flashy, he likes to stay small. As I walk through the door I see Paulie seated behind his desk. He’s got two cronies behind him on either side, both of them dressed in all black suits with black shades.
“Shawny!” Paulie’s the only one on the planet that gets away with that shit, and he knows it.
Paulie stands up and walks around his desk with his arms out ready for a hug. Reluctantly I give him the hug before he lets me take my seat across from his desk.
“Tommy tells me you’re makin’ a bit of a comeback?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Share some details, Shawny.”
“No details yet, Paulie. Still working on those.”
“Any idea where you might be working?”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
This discussion is going nowhere, but the prick is persistent.
“Soon, I hope.”
“Cut the shit, Shawny. What’s the deal? What are your plans?”
I’ve annoyed him, it’s written all over his face. This is about as close as you get to pissin’ off Paulie, and once you’ve pissed him off; you better leave the country.
“Look, Paulie. I’m just lookin’ to make a few bucks and beat a few guys up. That’s really it. There’s money to be made in FWF. They’re putting together a solid roster, and they have a pay-per-view right around the corner, Make America Wrestling Again. I was just visiting the place the other day, and some douche-knuckle named Michael Byrd really got under my skin, and I’ve requested a match against him at this event. I don’t know much about the kid at all, he hasn’t done shit in FWF and he’s not putting his information out there. But, I can tell you this. I have all of the confidence in the world that I am going to win this match, make some money and be right back here in Philly with my old lady when this is all said and done. Now, I’d really appreciate it, Paulie, if you didn’t send the midget over my house to check on me. I know that anyone that makes any money in this town owes you your due, I get it. You don’t have to keep reminding me. Just let me make the fuckin’ money.”
Paulie leans back in his chair, a smile on his face. I can already tell what he’s thinking.
“And how much money am I going to make?”
“The usual?” I ask, knowing for sure that’s not what’s going to happen.
“Well, Shawny. Seeing as I loaned you 200k this year, and you’ve yet to fully reimburse me. I’d say we’re gonna be asking for a little more than the usual this time around.”
Here comes the bombshell.
“I’m thinking 35 percent until your 200k is paid in full, and 10 percent annually thereafter.”
Ain’t this some shit. I haven’t even signed on the dotted line and Paulie’s already counting his money.
“Whatever you say, Paulie. But if I pay back the 200k inside a year, the annual percentage drops to five.”
“Seven and a half.”
“Alright, seven and a half,” I say, through my gritted teeth.
“Good luck, Shawny. We’re all praying for you.”
"Hope you’re hungry! ‘Cause I got a Knuckle Sandwich... WITH YOUR NAME ON IT!"
- Lunchbox Larry