Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Story

      “And that’s how we’ll do it.  Moran’s boys aren’t going to know what hit ‘em.  Any questions?” Al Capone swept the room, his dead eyes not inviting questions from any of the 6 Capos that sat around the table in the back of the noisy italian restaurant.  Capone sat back in his chair and made a move to pick up his fork and dig into his linguini, the signal that the meeting was adjourned, when a young, newly made Capo spoke up.

“Al, um, all due respect,” Jimmy Stripes said, clearing his throat.  Stripes was  named for his predilection for pin stripe suits.  His father, Jimmy Sr, had come up with Capone and greased Stripes ascension within the organization.  “It’s just, well.  It’s just that my daughter’s birthday is that day.”

The room was silent as Capone stared down the length of the table at Jimmy, hand resting on his fork.  He remained silent for what felt like hours to the men seated around the table, the clinking of cutlery from the other restaurant patrons rising up to fill awkward silence.  Stripes squirmed in his seat.

“And?” Capone said.

“And, well, you see, we already made all the arrangements.  We even booked Happy the Clown.”
“You booked Happy the Clown,” Johnny the Mouth shouted, drawing stares from a couple nearby tables.  “How the fuck did you book Happy the Clown?  I’ve been trying to get that fucker for the last two years.”

Stripes raised a hand up, palm out. “I swear to God, I booked him over a year ago.  Before my kids last birthday.  And he still only got me in back then because of a last minute cancellation.  I swear, the holy mother was shining -”.

“Am I actually hearing this conversation,” Capone interjected, looking around the table incredulously.

The Mouth chuckled nervously.  “Al, you don’t know how big a deal it is to book this clown.  Happy the Clown is the hardest get in Chicago.”

“I don’t care if you got Fuckstick-The-Clown-That-Shits-Rainbows.  We scheduled the biggest god damn hit in Chicago history and we’re going to follow through with the god damn plan.”

“Al,” Big Mouth again pleaded. “It’s Happy the Clown.  His kid will shit a brick.  Can’t we be a little flexible?”

Capone threw his hands up in the air and started shouting. “Fine fine.  Let’s accommodate everyone.  Hey Flips, you got a puppet show you can’t miss?  Or what about you, Freddie?  Maybe your kid has a stickball game you want to see?”

“Sir - “ Stripes tried so interrupt, but Capone continued on.

“And when exactly do you want me to reschedule this for,” he said, his hands now waving wildly above his head.  The people seated at the surrounding tables made such a point of keeping their heads down their noses were nearly brushing their pasta.  “The 15th?  I’ve got an appointment for a haircut that day and, if you think it’s difficult to book your fucking clown, you should try getting in with Yvonne.  She don’t care who I am and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone else near this hair.”

“Well, what about the 14th?” Big Mouth asked.

“That’s Valentines day!” Capone exploded.

“Well, yeah, but isn’t that sort of okay?

Freddie Marciano, who has remained silent up to this point, perked up.  “Hey yeah.  No need to buy my girl jewelry on account of having to be working.  Or my wife neither.”  A general murmur of assent spread across the table as each man considered the freedom of not having to find the perfect Valentines gift.

Capone sighed, slumping back in his chair.  “Fine,” he said, throwing his hand up in the air.  “Fine.  Saint Valentines day it is.  This better end up being worth it.  I recommend you be sure to take down all of Moran’s men, you hear?”

“You got it, boss,” Stripes said with a grin.  “Anything you want.  And thanks.”

“Hey,” Capone said, looking around the table. “You think we should tell Moran’s boys that they don’t need to bother buying gifts neither?”

The men at the table burst out in laughter.  Capone folder his hands across his chest and watched on as his men smacked each other on the back, a smile playing at the corner of his lips.

Life was good.


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