“Give me the book,” Charlie ordered. Micky held his hands up and turned around.
“You mean this? This is what you want?” Micky asked as he pulled out the notebook from his breast pocket. He paged through it. “It’s because of this, isn’t it? The winning recipe!”
Charlie kept holding the gun on him.
“You think you’re pretty hot shit now that Sicero gave you the go ahead. You think you can stroll into this outfit and become the golden boy? Do you know how long I’ve worked for Sicero?” Charlie growled.
“I don’t fuckin’ care, bud,” Micky shook his head.
“For years. I’ve worked for Sicero for years. I’m supposed to be in charge of his protection and yet I’m only a glorified chauffeur!” Charlie said forcefully. His grip on the gun tightened.
“I’m not even convinced you’re glorified, Chuck,” Micky turned his back on him and walked closer to the pier railing.
“Stop fucking moving!” Charlie ordered. Micky stopped and faced Charlie again. He saw someone move in the darkness behind the chauffeur.
“What are you doing, Charlie?” Frank Sicero stepped out of the shadows. The color drained out of Charlie’s face. “You never made it to the Cabaret.”
“I’m doing you a favor,” Charlie explained. “He’s fucking crazy. You can’t rely on him, Frank.”
“We’re all a little crazy, Charlie. Was that the only reason that you were going to disobey my orders?” Frank said. He was calm, almost relaxed.
“Yes, I’m reliable. I can be your man. I only need the recipe in that book!” Charlie argued.
“All right, Charlie, keep your voice down,” Frank ordered. “Take the book.” Micky froze as Charlie stepped towards him. He waited until he was almost within arm’s reach, then with a flick of his wrist he tossed the notebook over the side of the pier. Charlie dashed after it. Micky lunged at him and grabbed the hand that held the gun. Charlie wrestled against him. Frank stood still and watched.
BANG! The gun went off. Micky and Charlie froze. Micky gazed up and stared Frank hard in the eye as he sloughed Charlie off of him. The chauffeur collapsed to the pier deck. Frank drew his own pistol and pointed it calmly at Micky.
“I needed that recipe, Micky,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, you do, but I got it up here,” Micky tapped his temple with Charlie’s gun that he now grasped in his hand. “If anything happens to me, it’s gone and you’re shit out of luck.”
“You memorized it? Already? What caused you to do that? Did you know Charlie was going to try to take it?” Frank asked. Micky shook his head.
“I’m not stupid, Mr. Sicero. I knew something was up. Did you think I’d do all that work and let someone else get the payoff? No, I needed to protect my formula.” He nudged Charlie with the toe of his shoe. “At all costs.”
Frank nodded and slowly holstered his gun. “I’m really disappointed Charlie wasn’t as trustworthy as I thought he was.” Micky stepped over the body.
“To be honest, I thought Jack was going to be the one to stick it to me,” Micky said. Frank frowned.
“He made his opinion about me pretty clear when we met on the Farm. Let’s just say, he doesn’t think very highly of me.” Micky stared down at the body. “What should we do with him?” Frank stepped forward.
“Empty his pockets. Then we’ll toss him over the side. It’s sloppy, but it’s too risky to carry him back down the pier. We’ll be seen for sure.” Micky knelt down and pulled out Charlie’s billfold, cigarettes and keys. Frank lifted Charlie’s shoulders and with Micky’s help lifted him up to the handrail. They let him drop over the side and after several seconds there was a loud splash.
“Come on, let’s get away from here. There’s some girls I want you to meet.” Frank clapped Micky O. on the shoulder and led the way back to the tinkling lights of the boardwalk.
“Were you really going to shoot me, Sicero?” Micky asked. Frank laughed.
“Don’t take it so hard, Mick. There’s only a handful of people I wouldn’t off if the opportunity arose. I try to keep my hands clean these days, however at times that can be difficult.” Frank stopped Micky on the pier and faced him. “Really, it all comes down to that formula. With that, we’re going to make more cash than your wildest dreams.” He pointed back down to the end of the pier. “Let Charlie be a lesson for you. I don’t like shit going on behind my back. Remember that and you’ll live long enough to enjoy what I can offer you.” Frank started walking again and Micky followed. Frank pulled out his cigar stub and inspected it.
“You know, in New York they would have just canned your ass without a second thought and taken the book out of your dead fingers.” Frank laughed.
“It’s a good thing then that the recipe wasn’t even still in there,” Micky commented. Frank stopped in his tracks.
“I thought you said you memorized it?” he asked. Micky nodded.
“Yeah, I did. Then I tore it out, ripped it up and threw it out the window while we were driving out here. The only thing left in that book was a lot of notes and figures and several failed concoctions. It wouldn’t make any sense to Charlie or anyone else.” Micky stuck his hands in his pockets and walked a few steps ahead. Frank stood frozen in his tracks. Micky turned to stare at him and Frank slowly shook his head before he started laughing.
“Boy, you sure are a trip, Micky O. I gotta keep my eye on you,” Frank chuckled. He picked up the pace back to the boardwalk.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Micky shrugged. It had been a very near miss for Micky and he knew it. He would have to watch his steps very carefully from here on out.