After several hours of driving, Micky O. was losing patience with Louis P. Dauterive putting on airs. The little man liked to preen himself in the mirror at every traffic stop. Often muttering a “my, my, my” when the occasion struck him.
“Perhaps you should use this chance to make yourself presentable,” Dauterive suggested as they pulled over to a refueling station in the middle of nowhere. “It won’t be long before we are in the presence of Mr. Sicero.” Dauterive waited for the attendant to run out to the car.
Micky dug a handkerchief and a clean shirt from his pillowcase and got out. There was a water pump standing beneath a creaky tin windmill. He started pumping the water then momentarily ducked his head under the icy stream. He used his handkerchief to wipe his face. Stubble was starting to form, but he wouldn’t have a chance to shave. He changed shirts and worked on refastening his cuffs and collar as Dauterive sat in his car like a pleased cat. Micky walked back to the car and laid his jacket and vest out on the hood of the car. He tried to brush off the dust as best he could.
“Come along, Mr. O’Kinney the road awaits,” Dauterive said in his Georgian drawl. Micky rushed to fasten all his buttons and got back in the car. He began combing his hair in the side mirror as Dauterive merged back onto the road.
“Besides being such a dreary suit, you do clean up well with minimal resources,” Dauterive commented. Micky grimaced.
“You could say I’m used to getting by with ‘minimal resources’,” Micky replied.
“Well aren’t you clever.” Dauterive started humming to himself.
They parked outside a small Italian restaurant in the middle of a coastal town. Micky got out and looked around. The buildings rose around them. Small shops occupied the ground floor, while the upper floors were a mixture of offices and apartments. Some where in the distance waves crashed.
“Are you coming, Mr. O’Kinney?” Dauterive stood in the doorway of the restaurant. “I for one, am famished and I suspect you are too.”
“I thought we were going to meet Sicero,” Micky said as he closed the gap between them.
“All in due time,” Dauterive muttered. The host smiled when he saw the lawyer and graciously led them to a table at the back of the room. “Please, bring whatever is hot, hopefully something that pairs nicely with the red stuff?”
“Yes, Signore Dauterive, I will tell the boss that you have arrived.” The host disappeared into the back. A few moments later, he returned with a bottle of red wine. Not long after, a waiter appeared with an entrée laden tray. Micky was overwhelmed by how much food was placed on the table. He was barely able to lay a hand on his fork and knife, before a voice cut across the room.
“Well if it isn’t Micky O!” Frank Sicero came sweeping across the dining room. Micky leapt to his feet and shook Frank’s offered hand. Dauterive sat unfazed, helping himself to the various dishes. “Hello again, Louis.”
“Yes, good to see you as always, Mr. Sicero. I have brought Mr. O’Kinney directly just as you required, despite that teensy delay at the jailhouse.”
“Please, sit. Be my guest,” Frank motioned Micky back to his seat. He hadn’t expected such a warm welcome. He was dumbfounded. “Here, you must try some of this.” Frank gestured at a dish and the host sprang forward to put some on Micky’s plate. He had never had this sort of treatment in his life. Of course, Frank had his reasons. He wanted to build trust. Even if he didn’t trust Micky O. he needed Micky O. to trust him. Frank raised his wine glass.
“Salute!” he said. Dauterive excitedly lifted his glass and Micky followed suit. The wine was surprisingly good despite Prohibition.
“Do you like the wine, Micky?” Frank asked as he leaned back in his chair. Micky nodded with his mouth full.
“Yeah, I get it from my priest. It pays to be Catholic in times like these, am I right?” Frank topped off their glasses.
“I was raised Catholic, but I once was lost, you see, but have yet to be found,” Micky joked. Frank chuckled.
“Truer words haven’t been spoken,” Frank raised his glass again, “To being lost.” By this time Dauterive had aggressively tucked into the food and his attention could not be diverted.
“I hope you don’t mind me stepping in and sorting out your legal issues, Micky. Not to mention I dragged you all the way out here to listen to a proposal.”
“I can’t complain about not being in jail,” Micky laughed.
“No, I suppose not, but I should mention that what we talk about today is confidential. You wouldn’t want to end up back where I found you, would you?” Frank’s demeanor cooled as he spoke. Micky realized he didn’t have a choice in the matter.
“No, I understand, Mr. Sicero,” Micky replied. He glanced around the room at the staff standing attentive and yet deaf to the table. A tiny voice in his head wondered if in fact there was actually another bootlegger that framed him for bad hooch or not. Perhaps it had been Sicero pulling the strings all along. Frank’s face broke into a smile.
“Please call me, Frank.” He forked some fettuccini onto his plate. “I happened to come across your stuff while I was on a business trip. Not bad, I have to say. I liked the attention to detail, but I don’t think you had the right resources. That’s where I come in. I got a place and I got all the pieces, you just have to put them all together.”
“I see, what kind of quantities are we talking about?” Micky asked.
“Let’s try a practice run, something small, then we’ll start pushing the big numbers.” Frank pushed more wine on his companions.
“What about money? What’s my cut?” Micky inquired bluntly. This was sounding like a good offer.
“You’ll make enough, believe me. It’ll be more than you were making at the funeral home that’s for sure. But there are rules.”
“First, our business is no one else’s business. Second, what I say goes. If I say jump you jump. If I say stay put, you better not fucking go anywhere. You have the potential to be a very rich man.”
“I think we’ll get along just fine, Frank,” Micky replied. He didn’t have much choice in the matter, but the thought of being well paid made his mouth water.