Redwood Nine: Season 02 Ch. 08byRoyceConnors©
Chapter 8: Respect
Jimmy was happy the meet was with JT and Marlene only. He knew wearing any kind of weapon, would only bring further hostilities towards him, something his father warned him strongly, would not be a very good thing. He stopped in the plaza a couple of blocks away and made the call.
"At some plaza a few blocks from the hotel. What's the plan?"
"Go to the east entrance, there's a side door that's usually locked to the outside, but I'll have a guy there to open the door for you. Knock three times, wait for a count of three and knock three more times. He'll ask through the door, 'The balls are big on a moose'. You respond with, 'Not as big as mine were', remember that?"
"Are you fucking kidding me? I ain't saying no shit like that. Just open the fucking door when I knock."
"I was pretty sure, after talking to Gianni, you follow whatever I say, so I can protect Marlene and everyone's interests at heart. Should I get Gianni to explain it all to you again?"
JT did his best to keep a straight face, as did Marlene sharing the conversation with him. There was a long pause and then Jimmy said he'd follow the password, his voice clearly showing his displeasure at agreeing.
"Okay, leave in about five minutes and walk the couple blocks, that way no one sees your car and spots you. We'll place an order after five minutes and the cop will go down and get it. My guy will sneak you up the stairs and I'll let you in."
"Sounds easy enough. What floor?"
"Fourth. Room 420. They save the floor for special people and stuff like this, so it's quiet right now, just us."
"Four freakin' floors, you want me to walk up?"
"Not unless you can fly, or climb up brick walls. Or, you can wait for the cop to get the order and come up the elevator with him."
Jimmy knew there was no other choice and accepted the exercise.
"Wait five and start walking, okay?"
JT hung up and both he and Marlene burst out laughing and rolled on the back of the couch. Marlene didn't care about the aches and small, sharp pains, the laughter was a good healing for her.
"He is so pissed at you. JT. That was funny, the moose has big balls."
"I just thought it up. I didn't like his attitude and felt he needed a little more humbling."
"Trust me, he needs lots of that. Okay, what should we order for us and a little treat for Wayne after."
"What does Jimmy hate the most?"
"Oh, I know that. Salmon Mousse, caviar and truffles. He wanted to act all suave for this woman and ordered them, thinking he could handle the taste. He took one bite of each and almost threw up each time. I was sitting not far away with Clive and Gianni and Trudy. It took all we had, not to laugh out loud and spoil it all for him. Since then, whenever we want to piss him off, we tell him we're having one of those for dinner and to invite a guest."
"He must get pissed."
"You know it. Like I said, he has an image problem. He isn't as big as his father, so he tries to act tougher than he is. Clive told me he caught him acting out things in front of a mirror, trying different ways to look as tough as he could. Jimmy was pissed at that, like you wouldn't believe."
"Okay, let's order it and I'll call down to Piney and let him know. I better tell him the password, or he'll think some lunatic is out there."
"You are so bad, JT."
"Yeah, ain't I?"
Marlene called and placed the order, then JT called down to Piney to go to the door and gave him the password. He tried his best to not laugh too loudly, but he guffawed down the back hall, shaking his head. JT opened the door and told Wayne about the order and he said to lock up and he'd go down in a couple minutes to get it. JT closed the door and waited for the knock in a few minutes, crossing his fingers at Marlene.
A casual knock came a little later than they thought, until JT opened the door and saw a panting Jimmy. Working out was not part of his routine, like his father. He ushered him inside quickly and closed the door, securing the first part of the meet.
"Nice to see you again, Jimmy. Hope the walk up the stairs wasn't too much for you?"
Jimmy looked at JT with a quickness of his temper, but caught himself and calmed down.
"It's not so bad."
"Good, come into the bedroom and we can talk there. Mar ordered something to eat and drink, so the cop will be here soon with it. We'll be safe in there."
Jimmy followed JT into the bedroom and stood in the middle, trying to find a place of power to sit. The only chair was a flowered brocade wing back, that was truly feminine and looked at JT with disdain at the offer to sit.
"Okay, before we go any further, Jimmy, let's stop all the bullshit between us and get down to business. Fucking sucks when someone else calls the shots and makes you look bad, doesn't it? I really didn't like the double cross and holding the gun to my head. That made me want to let the cops handle this and fuck you and your dad for doing that. But you know? I'm a pretty decent guy to know and honestly, now that it's you and me here, no one else, I know you're an alright guy under all that tough guy shit. All I'm asking is to let me in, just a little, put a little trust in each other and make our lives a whole lot better than they've been lately."
Jimmy listened to JT and saw the offer to end all the unfounded animosity he was feeling and relented with his eyes, nodding his head.
"I can go with that. I actually like the way you handled yourself at the meet. You had balls walking in there by yourself, knowing it was my place and still went unarmed. I respect that. After my dad and I had a little father/son talk, it was made aware to me that with Clive gone, it gave me a chance to explore new opportunities to increase my business. He explained to me that at the present time, I am only working the southern end of the state and there is a lot of business north of me, where you live here."
JT was surprised by the turn of events and Jimmy actually admiring him. The offer of doing future business together, had an interesting end to it and he waited to hear what was offered.
"I need a reliable form of transportation that comes south to my area. I can expand in Frisco, or Oakland and all I need is someone to run the takes to me. I understand you have a business already down here and it makes you a very tidy roll every time, am I right?"
"You know what we do?"
"I know you have some relationship with our neighbours to the south of us. I can guess it's that hippie hay the college kids are smoking."
JT felt exposed, having no idea how Jimmy knew about it. No one outside the club knew, except Chico's cousin and his crew and they were sworn to die, or kill, to keep the family business secret. He was at a loss to explain it, so he opened up.
"Yeah, it's a small favour we do for a friend. We help him out, he helps us out. Makes it worth our while to be consistent and on time. We like to think we are trustworthy and can handle things."
"I get that myself, so does my dad. It is a rare thing that we allow anyone from outside the family to do a business like this with us."
They heard the faint knock at the door and knew Wayne had arrived with the lunch cart. They stayed quiet and listened to what was said. JT heard himself asked about and called out like he was in the bathroom across from him. That was all Wayne needed to hear and left. Marlene came and told them he was outside again and to come and enjoy some lunch while they talked. Marlene reminded them how loud they could talk, before Wayne would hear them.
"Now, why you two talk, don't mind me, when I laugh every now and then, so it sounds like JT is talking to me and I'm laughing at what he said. That way the cop outside thinks it's still just JT and I in here, okay?"
"Got it, Mar."
"I got it, Mar. So what did you order?"
"A couple of your favourites actually."
"That's nice of you, Mar, I'm touched."
"Just to smooth things over and make it go nicer for both you boys to get acquainted. Shit, Jimmy, I remember when Clive first started and the hard time you gave him. He started having second thoughts about joining, you worried him so much. Look how he turned out? Now you have a second chance at getting things started up the way you wanted to originally, without the hard time and the worry, not to mention the fuck ups. Shake hands, make up and settle this problem together. You both win out of this, if you let JT explain his side and you explain yours. Now, talk quietly, I do the laugh bit and let's have a nice time."
Marlene's hands were on each of their cheeks, looking at them with her slyness and sensuality being played for them. She loved to have that power over a man, but now she knew it wasn't to be abused, for anything, not knowing what she did now. She turned and opened the door and took both by the hand and led them to the couch, while she sat in the chair. Jimmy extended his hand to JT, who saw the honesty of its offer, knowing Jimmy meant it as a start to being friends and settling the past and leaving it there. Jimmy was realizing that JT wanted him to be a powerful boss, who was in control of his crew and conducted business in a respectable manner.
They shook and felt a sense of trust pass between them, both feeling better about the outcome of the situation. They sat and Jimmy looked at Mar, a look passing between them that showed his gratitude to her. As much as his father had forced him to deal with this in a better way than he had, he had expected to be humiliated beyond belief and made to swallow his pride, or even worse, be another John Doe toe tag recipient, until someone could identify what was left of him. He truly appreciated Marlene's way of settling things better, than what he imagined might happen.
Marlene took the plates and gave one to each of them, then took the lid off the first tray for Jimmy.
"I think I remembered most of your favourites."
Jimmy saw the caviar and salmon mousse, as well as the other things he hated and looked at Mar with a growing resentment. Marlene looked at the tray and showed a mock surprise.
"Oops, wrong one, that's ours. This one is it, my mistake."
Marlene took the other lid off and a sampling of fine Italian anti-pasto, small meatballs, in a nest of angel hair pasta, the aroma of roasted garlic and butter wafting from it, and three delectable manicotti bursting with filling from the ends. Jimmy's look immediately went to one of complete adoration, knowing Marlene had played a joke, but made amends by remembering every one of his favourite dishes. She saw the look and smiled playfully at him.
"Thought I wouldn't remember, didn't you? Well guess what? Look what's for dessert."
Marlene lifted the smaller tray on the shelf underneath and showed Jimmy a half dozen chilled cannolis. His face melted even further, as he kissed his fingers and prayed to her.
"Bless you, Mar. You're an angel. But hey, that pink stuff, that fish mush stuff, there. I can eat it now and not want to end my life."
JT couldn't help but laugh and Marlene joined in, making it sound normal and fun inside to Unser. Marlene held her hand to Jimmy to wait and then motioned with her hands for him to continue.
"The other things, look like mama made them at home in her kitchen."
"She did. They were here this morning, special delivery from your dad. His way of saying don't fuck this up son, I love you. I'm sorry you fucked up, but here's another chance."
"Yeah, guess you would know, Mar. Always been a smart dame, dad knows it too. He told me keeping Clive around was a lot worse than losing you. Clive was expendable, you have our desire to stay alive and live a long and healthy life and keep what's secret, secret between us."
"Couldn't see your dad seeing any other way really. I never did anything to bring heat to him, Clive did. I just fucked someone worth fucking, instead of him. He was an asshole with money and I used him, Jimmy. I used him for everything I could get. Look what it got me? Nothing. Honestly, what have I got left now? No house, no furniture, no real possessions, other than my beautiful Rosa-lee."
"Rosa-lee is my car. I love my Riviera, like you love your bike and you loved your car. I have my clothes and some decent jewelry, but the one thing I don't have anymore, that makes me feel the worst, is not having any kind of future any more. Gianni says he'll help me out with things, but really, all I'm doing is existing after that. My life as it was, done. Gone. Finished. I have no way now to take care of myself on the week to week thing. What do I know how to do, but me being a mobster's wife?"
Jimmy gently patted Marlene's arm, holding it gently.
"We'll take good care of you, Mar, we promise and not just a handshake and some bobbles to play with. JT and his people want to help you too, so you got a lot of people who want you to have a good life. You got friends."
"Yes, yes I do have friends and they mean the most to me."
"Okay, let's settle this Clive thing and we shall talk about something you must keep very quiet about, and I do mean quiet."
"I'm pretty sure I know what quiet is all about. In 'Nam, quiet meant the difference between a bullet in your head, or not. I'm pretty sure it still means the same thing now."
"Yes, yes it does, JT. I'm glad we can discuss things with an understanding of how they work."
"Not that hard, really. Just a little respect and desire to make money."
"That's a good thing, respect. I said I needed to teach you some, but it looks like you showed me instead."
"Always glad to help out a friend, Jimmy. So look, the Clive thing is pretty easy like I said. I'll give you an address that we pick out somewhere close to our spot. All he knows, is that he's doing what he was ordered to do and making things right again. He won't be suspecting anything and won't be armed, or at least have it on him, because you tell him it's just a citizen and don't show the piece to him. Have someone drive him to the address and drop him off to talk to the owner. When he gets out, your guy drives away and he's left for us to do our thing. We'll make sure it's never known who did it, or why, because the local wildlife are really good at scavenging a meal and don't like to have anything go to waste, if you know what I mean."
"Yeah, They'd be lucky to find him, after that. Very good way of tiding things up, I will mention this to my father. Fucking damn sight better than digging a big hole and pushing dirt over him. This is a good thing, JT. I'm learning new things already. This plan you have, I'm for it. I like the way it's planned out and how you thought it out. You have some smarts JT, I like that."
"Thanks, Jimmy, I'm glad you're on board with us. So, any questions about the plan? Anything you can think of I might be leaving out?"
"I don't see anything going wrong at all. I just make sure the scumbag follows my orders to go buy a car, I'll have one of my guys drive him and have him come back alone, that about it?"
"That's about it, really. Just have to convince him nothing is wrong and nothing to suspect."
"This, I can do."
Marlene burst out laughing, surprising the two and then JT joined in and had a good laugh with her. Jimmy smiled along, shaking his head at the facade they put on. They quieted down again and continued, while Marlene spread another amount of salmon mousse on a thin cracker and savoured the delicacy.
"So Jimmy, you said you had something we might do for you? What's that?"
"My dad gave me this state to run our business and it's time to expand north from where I am. You have a good thing up here, very quiet and everything, so there's no heat on you all the time. I need someone like that in this area. You seemed very surprised that I know about your business trips, am I correct?"
"Yeah. How do you know about it? Who told you?"
"This lovely lady, she told me."
JT spun his head and looked at Marlene, confused to no end why she would tell him and waited for her answer to quell the rising turmoil of betrayal growing in him.
"JT, in this line of business, it's good to know people. I know you're thinking I betrayed you, I can see it written all over you, but trust me Sweetheart, this wasn't betrayal, it was a business opportunity I wanted you to have. I know Gianni well enough by now, that once he accepted your offer, you were both in bed together, whether you knew it or not. When you do business with these people, it's not just a one time thing and everyone walks away and forgets about it. It's something that never goes away, ever. It's not a bad thing though and here's why."
JT's feelings of betrayal began to vanish, but were being replaced with feelings of stupidity and ignorance instead. He was trying to come across as someone who knew the game, but now his naivety was being exposed to him and he had nothing to hide behind any more.
"You made an offer to him, not him helping you. Gianni's indebted to you for this and in return, he feels it's his responsibility to keep things at par. Owing in this business, is, well, not a good thing, to use Gianni's words. You're solving an issue for him, in a manner that puts him in the best light. He's safe from suspicion, his operation is safe as well. All his people and all of Jimmy's are in the clear and Gianni knows you're taking the chances in this, not him. So you see, it's quite a favour to have to return in kind."
JT could see the glimmers of understanding it all, coming together in his head. Marlene hadn't betrayed him, he'd been too unaware of who he was doing business with and focused on his own needs of the plan. He had no idea about the ramifications of his idea, once it was accepted. He looked at Marlene, feeling he had been played, even a little bit, wondering why she hadn't told him this end of things before this.
"So, now I owe Gianni something, or how does this work?"
"No Sweetie, you don't owe, he does. You unfortunately, have to let him help you now, so he can return the favour. This is him helping you, the only way he knows how."
"That's right, JT. Mar is saying the truth here. My dad wishes to make things good for you, like you did for us, so we want to offer you, what basically is, free money."
"Free money sounds good, how much are you talking about?"
"Okay, let's start back at the beginning again, before the confusion thing, set in. I know about the run down south, all Mar said is that it was frequent and regular, not what you did, I guessed that. Not as stupid as I come across sometimes, I know, but listen, JT, here's what we would like for you to do for us. Getting an operation started up in this part of the state ain't a hard thing to do. What is hard, is getting what's up here, back down there. It's no secret that me and my boys are somewhat known to the authorities, you can understand this, right?"
"Yeah, not a month goes by, that I don't hear your family name on the news, that's connected to something that happened."
"Exactly my point, JT. We have no way to do this, without every cop within a hundred miles looking over our shoulders. So here's what I came up with and tell me this ain't a sweetheart of an offer."
"I'm listening, Jimmy."
JT seemed more at ease and comforted, his position wasn't usurped from under him. It was no longer a game of seeing who was tougher, or had more control, it was about mutual satisfaction of both their businesses and that was his primary concern.
"Every time you guys head south to do a run, you come down empty and you make nothing, correct? I'm looking at the run down to make you money and maybe more than the run back will make you."
"I'm with you, so far."
"Good, you'll like this. We can arrange a drop off place, somewhere convenient that's quiet. We load you up with our takes and slips from our business up here and when you get down south, we can have another quiet and discreet place to meet and unload you. You continue on to your usual meeting place, except now you already have a large wad of cash to start back with. Nothing out of the ordinary, that you don't always do, am I right?"