A Little Problem
Copyright © 2001 by Mahspider
Jo Jo 'Party Boy' Manti had a little problem on his hands ... or to be more correct, on his hands, shirt, pants, shoes, and the left side of his head. If he turned to his left just a little, Jo Jo could see the source of his problem. What used to be his boss and patron sat slumped into the plush back seat of the limo in which they had both been riding. The only indication of anything wrong was the fact that Tony 'Fast Time' Angie seemed to be six inches shorter than he had been two minutes before. The missing six inches accounted for the wet gray matter that now adorned the right side of the back seat and Jo Jo.
Jo Jo had no idea who had done the deed, if they were satisfied with just Tony out of the way, or if he waited for the next shot to cure this little problem for him. No, he had no idea whom, but he had a gut feeling why.
Four weeks ago Arty 'The Thumb' Gambi, the Capo responsible for the delivery and distribution of all the hard liquor into Atlantic City, had decided that he was tired of dealing with Transcon. The Megacom had the license and contract for moving all the consumer goods in what was left of the United States after the collapse. Transcon had the trucks, personnel, contact, and best yet the willingness to move products anywhere. A call was made to the Megacom's dispatch with a product list; dispatch quoted a price at delivery and a drop date. For the past twenty years this had been an easy way to do business.
No, Arty just couldn't see all that profit going to some outsiders and his getting no kick back from it. He had tried for years to muscle in by trying to bribe the drivers, the dispatchers, anyone he could find with a connection to the liquor, to no avail. Frustrated to the point of loosing control of his other operations, Arty had done the only thing left to his low mentality. As the last shipment crossed into the neutral receiving compound, the ten trucks had found themselves confronted by a deal they could not refuse.
Surrounding them were 100 thugs with all sorts of weapons just right for prying into armored cabs. With hands raised and empty, the 40 crew members (2 drivers, 1 road engineer, and gunner) climbed down and were transferred to another ware house for 'Safe Keeping.' Arty took control of the trucks, liquor, and rest of the load.
Arty had called the dispatch office with his next offer, with the cut of the money he expected if Transcon ever hoped to see the trucks again or to have the drivers returned in one piece. The Dispatcher had transferred the black mail call to her superior. The District Operations Manager had expressed his concern for the current contract that had been established years ago. This very liquid deal had been set in place to provide the booze for a thirsty tourist trade. These tourists came from all over the world to gamble, dip their toes in the Atlantic, and drink themselves silly. Now all this could be in jeopardy if the trucks did not deliver and the flow of 'Joy Juice' dried up at the source. Arty gave the D.O.M. two days to think about the new contract being offered before the drivers started returning, one piece at a time.
Two days later and with no phone call from Transcon, Arty decided to make his point. The 10 gunners, blind folded and with hands tied behind their backs, were lined up against the warehouse wall and shot. The roar of the chatter guns carried nice and clear into the cameras of the GFPN crew invited to witness the act. After the bodies had stopped twitching, Arty had appeared in front of the horrified news crew and told the watching audience that in two more days, if his demands were not met, the engineers would suffer the same.
Jo Jo remembered the broadcast and thought to himself that 'The Thumb' had gone too far with this scheme. Troublemakers didn't rock the boat without taking the chance of getting thrown out for their troubles. Being the third man in this Family, Jo Jo had no input or say of what his betters did without taking the chance of finding himself taking a swim. So Jo Jo, like the rest of the Families in Atlantic City, waited to see the outcome. Sink or swim, Arty was on his own.
Arty lived on top of a multi-million dollar casino that was older than anyone could remember. His security was tight. At least 20 boys were within shouting range. The only access to the top floor apartment was via a one-way elevator. The morning after the broadcast, Arty's chief bodyguard found his boss asleep watching the casino floor cameras from his favorite chair. This was not unusual for Arty; after all, he was called 'The Thumb' and he liked to keep it on the pulse of his most lucrative venture. Jagger had reached for his boss' shoulder when he noticed that Arty's eyes were open and staring at nothing. The next thing the large thug noticed was the blood trailing from the hole in the middle of Arty's head down onto his dressing gown.
Jagger, not known for his brilliance, pulled his pistol and made a quick survey of the room. Finding nothing or no one on whom to vent his fear and confusion, Jagger had called Tony, the number two man under Arty. Jagger informed Tony that a situation had come up and Arty needed to see him right now! Jagger waited beside his dead boss until the call from the lobby informed the hulking bodyguard that the elevator was on its way up and that Tony was in a bad mood.
Walking over to the window, the trusted bodyguard took one last look out at the city he had come to love. When the bell dinged from the foyer to announce Tony's arrival, Jagger turned to face the double doors and placed his pistol to the right side of his head. When the doors opened and a startled Tony took in the site that greeted him, the last thing he heard from the head of security was "Didn't do it," and the report of the large caliber pistol as Jagger escaped the many questions that he would have had to answer. Some of those would have been rough in the end, of course.
The next day Tony had received a call on his private phone asking for the release of both crews and the trucks. Tony, still in a rage over the loss of the boss, slammed the phone back down so hard he cracked the cradle. Tony was now the man in charge, the Cupo of the family, and no one was going to tell him what to do! The engineers were executed the next day.
Jo Jo, refusing to look to the left again, let his gaze wander into the front seat area. Beyond the bulletproof glass lay the body of Tony's main guard. This evening Tony had invited Jo Jo for a night on the town to see all the sites that he had just acquired with the passing of Arty. Jo Jo had been impressed. Arty had been able to get his claws into a lot of other people's pies. Tony had inherited casinos, racetracks, a print shop, and a couple of brothels. Yes, a lot of money changed hands, and most of it went to Arty. After they left the last joint Jo Jo and Tony started back for Tony's pad for a nightcap. The streets, deserted with only a few other vehicles moving around on the bright neon turning night to day, never looked prettier to Jo Jo. A half-mile from the garage, the light turned red and the limo stopped. The driver suddenly pointed to the right. When the guard turned to confront the threat, the driver's other hand came into view, placed the barrel in the back of the startled guard's neck and pulled the trigger twice. Before Tony or Jo Jo could react, the driver shot the control column twice, turned toward the back, smiled once, and got out of the car. Without looking back, the figure walked off into the darkness. The flash of blonde hair was the last thing Jo Jo saw before the driver entered the building across the street. The driver had pulled away some kind of a full head mask and thrown it on the ground.
Jo Jo tried the door on his side of the car to no avail and turned back toward his boss. A small splotch of yellow paint suddenly appeared on the glass beside Tony's head a split second before the Capo's head exploded like a melon all over the back seat compartment. The armored glass (glass being nothing more than a stable liquid form) had been flash frozen by the outer coating just long enough for the inner part of the sabot round to do its job.
Just like that, Jo Jo was Capo! The long years of getting to the third spot seemed a lifetime ago. Cutting deals with others, trying to rise faster to the top of the pile than the next guy. There had been sloppy operators that just seemed to disappear overnight. Fail a job for those in charge and no one missed you, shed a single tear, or remembered your name in a week. That just meant an opening for the next rising star.
Now here he sat, hands in his lap, waiting for another splash of yellow. Jo Jo nearly crashed through the roof at the ringing sound of the phone mounted in the armrest. Brushing a few strands of gore from the top of the box, Jo Jo picked up the receiver. "Yes?"
"You know what I want. I hope you will be more accommodating than the last person I spoke with." The voice, with no emotion, sounded like it were ordering lunch.
"I have no problem returning both the trucks and cargo into your care. When and where?"
"Tomorrow night, 2 A.M. Pier six."
"I would like to assure you that the actions of the previous heads of this family were not considered wise nor prudent. As the new head, I would like to return to the way things were before. Of course there will be compensations paid to the wives and kids of those killed." Jo Jo hoped that was enough to get the liquor flowing the way it had been in the past. He knew the next few weeks would be tough with consolidating his house, and one less thing to worry about would be a blessing.
"Deal...for now." The phone went dead.
This must be what being in charge was all about. Jo Jo could deal with this: find a problem, do what had to be done to solve it, then move onto the next one. Looking around one last time, Jo Jo thought that hopefully the next crisis wouldn't be this messy.
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