Health and Safety

“I’m disappointed in you, Vinny.” Carleto struck a match and drew on the cigar. “I thought you were family, you know? I thought you wanted to be one of us. Instead you rat us out. What sort of man does that to his family, huh? I’ll tell you. A man doesn’t. A rat might. A worm. Some base animal, but not a man.” He patted Vinny’s cheek. Tied to the chair, Vinny had little choice but to accept it. “You made the wrong choice, Vinny, and choices have consequences. Truly, I’m sorry.”

He blew cigar smoke into his face then looked at the bloody smudge Vinny had left on the palm of his hand.

“Tony, gimme your handkerchief.”

“Um, I don’t have one, boss.”

“What? No handkerchief? That’s disgusting. What are you going to do if you sneeze? You want us all infected?”

“I got some baby wipes, boss.” Saul reached into his bag and produced a plastic pack. “Here. They moisturise as well.”

Carleto looked at the pack distastefully, but then shrugged and took one.

“Saul, do we need another chat? What sort of image does it project when people see you walking round with a purse?”

“It’s not a purse, boss, it’s a manbag.”

“If you have to explain to people it’s not a purse, then it’s a purse.”

“But it saves the line of my suit, boss. You said we got to look smart and respectable. How am I going to do that with bulging pockets?”

“How you going to do that with a bulging eye after I black it for you? Next time we got business, lose the purse, you hear?”

“Yes boss.” As Carleto turned to face Vinny, Saul scowled at Tony, who was grinning at him.

Carleto stared at Vinny, then shook his head. “Sorry, Vinny, but you know the rules. You transgressed, and there’s only one punishment for that. Tony, stop pulling faces behind my back and waste him.”

“Waste him, boss?”

“Yeah, waste him. What, you need a diagram? Written authorisation in triplicate? Waste him, then let’s get the hell out of here. I got a hair appointment.”

“You want me to waste him, boss?”

“Well, unless you changed your name by deed poll since this morning, yeah, I want you to waste him. Who else did you think I meant?”

Tony looked down at his feet, his grin suddenly gone.

“I can’t, boss.”

“What do you mean, you can’t.”

“I can’t. Not after Wednesday at Papa’s Diner.”

“What? You going soft on me? You suddenly lost your stomach? What happened? You found God or something? Jesus, you didn’t even hit anyone. You shot the jukebox, for Christ’s sake.”

“It’s Health and Safety, boss,” said Saul. “The slide on his piece pinched his hand, and he reported it in the accident book.”

“Aww, did ickle Tony get a boo-boo on his hand? Jesus, Tony, you’re three hundred pounds. You’re my enforcer. You got two bullet wounds in you already. You saying because you caught your hand in the gun you can’t shoot no more?”

“Oh, no boss. I ain’t lost my nerve. I can still do the business, it’s just, well, I put it in the accident book, like you’re always saying. So we look legit. Well, the union rep, he saw it, and now I’m scheduled for weapons training. Only weapons training ain’t till Friday, and they said I can’t use a gun till then, boss.”

“The union? You’re kidding me. The union? We own the union. We are the union. We can do what we like, and screw the union.”

“Well, we could change the charter,” said Saul. “Though technically that would need a sixty percent majority in an open meeting.” He saw the angry expression Carleto shot his way. “I mean, sure, our boys would ensure the vote went our way, I’m just saying, is all.”

“Saul, why don’t you look inside your purse for some lipstick, then shut the hell up while you put it on. Tony, I don’t care what the union said, waste him.”

“I got no gun, boss,” said Tony, quietly.

“What?”

“Well, when they said I couldn’t use it, I thought, what’s the point of carrying it, you know?”

Carleto turned to Vinny. “You see? You see what I got to work with? Clowns. They should be in a circus. I should be the freaking ringmaster.”

Vinny looked sympathetic. Carleto turned to Saul. “Saul, give Tony your gun.”

“My gun, boss?”

“What is it with you guys today? I got to repeat everything? Give him your gun.”

“I ain’t got a gun, boss.”

“What?”

“Well, it’s not a big bag, boss, and I just didn’t have room to pack one. I’m sorry. I didn’t know Tony was going to leave his behind too.”

“You got no room for a gun, but you got room for baby wipes? What, you thought we were going to hit a kindergarten? What’s wrong with carrying it in a shoulder holster?”

“The line of my suit, boss. Plus, they tend to be leather, and you know I’m a vegan.”

“I don’t believe it. The most feared boss in the whole east end, and my two lieutenants are a moron and a fairy. Okay, so we got Vinny here, who’s been a very naughty boy. What do you suggest we do? Have Tony sneeze on him till he catches pneumonia? Have Saul beat him to death with his purse? Or maybe we should ask him if he’s got a gun we could use. Hey, Vinny, you got a gun you can lend us?”

“Um, no?” said Vinny, a little too speculatively.

The boss stared at Vinny, then slowly shook his head and turned to his two colleagues.

“What did I tell you two clowns to do?”

“You said to bring Vinny here, boss,” said Tony.

“You said to make sure he couldn’t run away when you had your little talk, so we tied him to the chair, boss,” said Saul.

“Yeah, yeah, okay. So you brought him here to me, right?”

“Yes boss,” they chorused.

“You knew I was going to be here with him, right? You knew how it was going down, yeah?”

“Yes boss.”

“So, as the two guys tasked with protecting me at all times, tell me, oh please God tell me you searched him in case he had a gun he was planning to bump me off with.”

The two henchmen looked at each other sheepishly.

“Tony picked him up,” said Saul.

“Saul was the one tied him up, though,” said Tony.

“I don’t care,” screamed Carleto. “I don’t care who did what, neither of you searched him. You both should have done that. Jesus, what if he had a gun? What if he had a bomb? Jesus, what if he’s got a wire?”

“You never said, boss,” said Tony.

“I never said to answer back, but there you are, doing it. You know what being boss means? Delegation, that’s what. I hire you two idiots to do stuff so I don’t have to. Now I’m going to search Vinny here. If I find a gun, then we can proceed. If I find a wire, then after I’ve wasted him, I might as well go down for a triple homicide, you understand?”

He turned, reached into Vinny’s jacket and pulled out a pistol. He turned and held it up for Tony and Saul.

“See? See? You want me dead, is that it?”

“Sorry boss,” they chorused.

“You will be.” He turned back to Vinny and patted him down. “Okay, lucky for you two, no wire. And you know what, I can’t bring myself to trust you to do a simple whack job.” He pushed the end of the barrel into Vinny’s temple. “You want a job done properly, you got to do it yourself. Any last words, Vinny?”

“Yeah, I just -”

“Not interested,” said Carleto, and pulled the trigger. “Jesus!” He threw the gun aside, his curse mingling with the echo of the gunshot in the empty warehouse. Clutching his hands between his thighs, he hopped around, cursing and sucking air between his teeth.

“You all right boss?” said Tony.

“Do I look all right? Jesus!”

“What happened?”

“The slide caught the skin, right there between the thumb and finger. Jeez, that smarts.”

“Tell me about it,” said Tony.

“Here boss,” said Saul , reaching into his bag and pulling out a small box. “I got a travel first-aid box. You want a band-aid on that.”

“You know,” said Tony thoughtfully, as Saul carefully smoothed the sticking plaster in place. “I bet they can bring weapon training forward to tomorrow, if we all go on it.”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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