Business as Usual


It was a brisk July morning, and the sun was cascading over the Flatirons. The town was starting to wake up, with just a few people out and about. A young man was walking his pudgy dog; two older women were jogging. The police chief made his usual morning patrol, with a shocking stop at the local donut shop. A little kid struggles to get out of his snug, toasty bed as his mother yells at him that breakfast is ready. 

The chilly dew-spotted grass folded as two pairs of dark black shoes stepped upon it. Suited in matching outfits, Louie and Frankie made their way across the street. Frankie was short, and to put it plainly, fat. Well past 200 pounds, yet standing at a staggering five feet and five inches. He rocked a slick back look, with shiny black hair and a gold tooth of similar glossiness. His shoes were freshly polished, clean and gleaming. Frankie shone just about as much as the sun. Louie, on the other hand, was of opposite stature. Thinner than a sheet of paper and taller than your average basketball player. He wore a black cap, and thin round glasses with a dull silver frame. 

The two had identical calm brown eyes. The two had welcoming grins, deceitfully kind to the untrained eye. The two carried exclusively cash, usually in the form of many hundreds. The two each kept a small pistol in the glovebox. The two had twinning Cadillac Devilles. The two walked side by side, Frankie taking two steps for Louies one. The two were “businessmen” and as such had business to discuss.

They entered an old greasy spoon diner for breakfast and a couple of coffees.

“Table for two,”Frankie said as he held up his two meaty fingers.

The waitress was a short little lady, with a white apron and pale pink dress. She gave a soft smile to the gentlemen, and escorted them to their table.

They sat down, and the waitress took their order and walked away.  

“No bullshit. No small talk. Let’s just get to it,” said Frankie. “You can’t run a business for shit, you’re tanking my profit, and I don’t think you should continue to manage my stores. Convince me otherwise,” Frankie said bluntly. 

Without hesitation, Louie protested, “We’re pals Frankie, I’ve known you since you were waltzing around in diapers grinning dimple-to-dimple to each person who came by.” 

Louie was devising a plan in his head, doing what he did to everyone. Tell them what they want to hear, get what you want to receive. “You and I Frankie, we’re not like other people. What we have is special. Where are you gonna find another relationship like this?” Louie said, with a somber expression.

Frankie sat for a minute, stirring his coffee, formulating his next words mindfully. 

“That just won’t cut it Lou. Some sappy shit story doesn’t tell me how you are gonna turn things around. What will you do differently?

“Frankie, c’mon, you know I can turn it around. Remember when we’d used to fool around in grade school and get caught doing something stupid? Who got us out of it, huh?”

Frankie knew just what Louie was doing, because it was exactly what he taught him to do. This is how he made Louie deal with customers, employees, anyone in the business. 

“Do you think I’m an idiot Lou?” Frankie asked.

“What? No I don’t think you’re an idiot, that’s ridiculous, why would you say that?” Louie said, raising his tone.

“You think I don’t see what you’re doing? You think the gears aren’t turning in my head?” 

It was right then that Frankie wished he would have grabbed his coffee, dumped the steaming hot liquid on Lou and smashed the mug over his head. He wished he would’ve stopped putting up with Lou’s shit, and finally stuck it to him. Instead, he thought, why not ride it out? See where it goes. 

The diner was sitting quiet, only a few occupied tables. There was a couple in the corner, and a lone man at the counter reading the paper. One line cook, two waitresses. One refilled coffee while the other one idly played a game on her phone. 

“Frankie, I swear I’ll fix things. How about I hire a new manager at the spot on 11th, they haven’t been doing so well,” said Lou.

“They haven’t been doing so well? None of them have Lou, that’s why we’re here!”

Frankie was starting to get hot, like a boiling kettle. 

“Lower your voice Frankie, there’s no need to yell. Look, I will admit I’ve been a bit busy. Perhaps granting someone else with one of the locations would give me more time to focus on a specific few.”

Frankie didn’t like the way Louie was talking to him, telling him what to do and whatnot. 

“Louie, I don’t think that is gonna work. Look I’m sick of this joint, I’m leaving. Good luck with your future endeavors, Lou, you’re done,” Frankie said while starting to shuffle out of his seat. 

“Frankie c’mon. Let’s be civil. Is this what your mother would have wanted?” Lou asked. 

Just like that, Frankie lit up. It was the equivalent to watching the finale of a fireworks show multiplied by ten. Say what you wanted about Frankie, he couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Mention his mother? You’d be in for it.  

Frankie threw Lou on the floor, stomped on him, kicked him in his pretty little chiclets, and flat out beat him up. Frankie walked away with nothing but bloody knuckles. A small price to pay for finally getting rid of his problem. He threw a twenty on the table, and walked out with one phrase to those in the diner,

“Not a single word,” he said, holding his fat little finger to his mouth. 

The police chief had yet to finish his patrol. The dog wished he could walk for longer, and the ladies still had two miles left on their jog. The little kid was still fast asleep, unaware of his discontent mother advancing up the stairs towards his room.