After a few years of working for Mr. Capriccio, I moved up into a new job. Mr. Capriccio met with me in his office. He asked me if I would be interested in a job doing collections. If Mr. Capriccio offers a job, it would be best to accept it. He really wasn't asking me, he was telling me. I accepted my new position. My new responsibilities included collecting on overdue private loans Mr. Capriccio had made to certain individuals. I knew it wasn't going to be exactly what I expected when I was introduced to Bruno and Jimmy.
Bruno was big and strong, like a gorilla. Next to him, I felt like a child. Bruno was an older man, maybe late forties, early fifties, but he was still as strong as ever. His jet black hair was combed straight back, his eyes were brown, dark, and serious. He gave an impression of great experience from his well worn face.
Jimmy looked like Mr. Clean with tattoos, and without the smile. Jimmy was maybe in his late thirties, early forties. His eyes were piercing blue. Jimmy had an edge to him. He not only looked like he was always ready for a fight, but he looked like he was always expecting a fight.
"These are your two Insurance policies", Mr. Capriccio said. "You’ll need 'em if you have any trouble"
For the next few months, everything went well. I got to know Bruno and Jimmy during the time we spent together. Bruno spoke very little about his past, preferring instead to talk about books he read. Bruno was a man who loved to read. He would read, and read, and read. I was greatly amused by his reading glasses that he would put on before opening his book. This giant of a man, a man that looked like he could tear apart a car with his bare hands, and might have done so for all I knew, sitting across from me with a book in hand, and reading glasses on his nose. He would look up from his book and look at me when he thought I was watching him. Seeing my smiling expression, he would ask me, "Have you read this one?"
"No," I would reply, still smiling, "but it looks like a good one."
"It is." Bruno would say lowering his eyes back to the page of the book. "You should read it sometime." I would laugh quietly, and make note of the book title.
Jimmy was different. Jimmy liked to move. He drank 'stiff' as he called it. He always drank liquor, and usually straight. Jimmy had a checkered past, and he would talk about it. We once got to the point where I thought I knew him, and when he mentioned he was a "retired" member of a certain gang during one of our many conversations, I joked, and I said, "Really? You don't look the type."
Jimmy's expression suddenly went cold. His blue eyes burning at me. I looked at Bruno in confusion. Bruno was already looking back at me with a serious stare. Jimmy stood up from the table, removed his jacket, his tie, and his shirt. Jimmy pointed to a one of the tattoos on his chest, and glared at me.
"Don't you ever doubt my loyalty!” he sternly said.
"Jimmy, I didn't mean anything by it, I was just joking," I nervously said, fast becoming over come with fear at the look on Jimmy's face.
"Don't you EVER doubt my loyalty!" he said.
"Never." I said.
Jimmy got dressed, and sat back down. The silence lasted forever, it seemed. All three of us keeping to ourselves. Bruno was reading, me looking into my glass, and Jimmy staring a hole into me.
Jimmy finally spoke. "Kid, don't worry about it," I looked up at him, "but always remember it."
I nodded, and downed the last of my drink that was growing stale in my glass.
I was collecting on the debts, and Mr. Capriccio was happy. Bruno and Jimmy were around for me if anything went bad. Things never really did. Every collection was from a business. Mr. Capriccio told me I was representing him, so we had to be professional at all times. That was the reason for me wearing a suit. Everything was going so well, I started to think I didn't need my "Insurance policies". Then it happened. I got a a collection at an apartment in a seedy part of town.
Mr. Capriccio had never sent my to a private residence before, never a house, never an apartment, just a business. This was wrong, I thought, but I knew Mr. Capriccio didn’t make these kinds of mistakes. Jimmy called me. He told me he and Bruno were coming along for this collection. Bruno drove, all three of us got out of the car.
He wouldn't answer the door. He never left his apartment. He was a drug addict, and he got his junk delivered to his door. His dealer was the only person this guy would open the door to, and his dealer was at the door at the same time like clockwork. I thought about having Bruno kick in the door, but I knew that would draw unwanted attention to us, and worse, to Mr. Capriccio. Still, this guy wouldn't pay, and I had to explain to an ever increasing annoyed Mr. Capriccio why I wasn't collecting his money. I had to figure something out, and fast.
Jimmy was standing at the entrance door. He had the cigarette in his mouth, and he was sparking his lighter. Bruno and I were in the stairwell, ready to go. Soon came the dealer. Right on schedule.
"Hey, pal, you got a light?"
As he paused to get the light, Jimmy attacked. As soon as it happened, I was on my way to the apartment, with Bruno close behind me. We reached the apartment door just as Jimmy came emerging from the stairwell door, right on time. I knocked. The door opened.
He was tall, skinny, with shoulder length, unkept, dirty blond hair. He looked like he hadn't eaten much in days, and he probably hadn't. His arms were all marked up. He was only wearing blue jeans when he opened the door.
I jammed my foot against the door so he couldn't close the door. I began just as I had countless times before. My script memorized. He opened the door wide. I slid my foot back from the door, as I continued to recite my memorized speech about who I am I why I am there.
His fist struck me hard at the bridge of my nose, between my eyes. The pain was tremendous. I flew backwards into the wall, my head bashing out a hole in the cheap plaster. I felt nothing as I fell, sliding down the wall, to a seated position on the thin, worn out, smelly carpet in the dingy corridor. My vision was tunnel. I lost my colour vision, I was seeing everything in black and white. I saw stars, like little bits of tinsel were falling around the periphery of my vision, flashing in the light. I became a constellation. My ears were ringing. I had a big problem.
Bruno was now standing in front of me. His job wasn't to help me up, or to see if I was injured. Bruno's job was to make sure nobody came and finished me off. A tactic might be to get try to get Bruno and Jimmy away from me by acting as bait, so I would be easy pickings for the ambush. I had to get it together, and get to my feet quickly. Jimmy was inside that apartment, and if I didn't get in there soon, someone could die, and I wasn't worried it was going to be Jimmy.
Just as the punch landed, Jimmy busted into the apartment. Jimmy was in there beating the idiot who punched me. It makes Bruno and Jimmy look bad when they fail to protect me. It was all my fault, but I knew Jimmy didn't see it exactly that way. Jimmy wasn't going to stop until I told him to stop.
I grabbed the back of Bruno's jacket, and I pulled myself up. "Bruno, you're blocking out the sun. Get the door, will you? " I said. Bruno opened the now closed door. I wiped my nose with my hand, as I stumbled forward on rubber legs. My vision was returning to normal, and my head was beginning to feel like it was going to explode. I had to get control of the situation, and fast. I went inside. I saw Jimmy taking care of business. How long this was going on, I have no idea. Jimmy did good work, he didn't need much time. The guy was already pretty damaged.
"Jimmy!. Jimmy. Jimmy, that's enough. Thank you," I said. Bruno grabbed the guy, and threw him like a rag doll across the room. The guy flew through the air.
"You! Don't you move! Don't you…move!" I ordered when he landed. He wasn't going to move, not after his beating, and with Bruno watching him.
Working quickly as I could, I gathered the cash that was lying all around the room. Jimmy had probably messed the place up, but I really couldn't tell. I don't think good housekeeping habits were on this guys list of talents. I ignored the drugs, we weren't in that racket. The cash was what I wanted.
"Okay, let's get out of here." I said.
(c) Trevor Dailey