A one-sided negotiation

“Okay, set him there boys,” Jack ordered. His thug pushed a man to his knees. The man had a burlap sack over his head and his hand’s tied behind his back. Jack walked towards the ocean and tried to recall approximately where the last guy he had brought out here was buried. He was certain that the tide was too high tonight to find him. The sky was clear and glittered with stars. The bright, full moon hung like a big orb, a glass bulb on a Christmas tree.

“Hey, hey!” a man behind Jack shouted. He turned around and saw the hooded man making a break for it. The thugs took off after them. The cherry end of a discarded cigarette still glowed on the sand. Jack pulled out his pistol and aimed. BANG! The sand jumped near the feet of the hooded man as he ran. The man stumbled to the side, but kept going. Jack swore under his breath before he took aim again. BANG! The sand shot up closer to the man’s feet. The man jumped in fright, tripped and tumbled to his stomach.

“I’d stay put, McGivern!” Jack shouted as his thugs caught up to the man. They picked him up by the arms and dragged him back to where they had started.

“That was a very stupid thing to do, McGivern,” Jack muttered right before he pistol-whipped the prisoner. “You’re lucky I need to wait for Mr. Sicero or else these guys would be digging a hole right now!”

“Mr. Sicero is coming?” the man mumbled through the burlap.

“Yes, you should have taken the deal, McGivern,” Jack sighed. He holstered his pistol as they waited.

Frank rolled a cigar between his fingers as he strolled over the sand dunes. The moon was full and the way was easily lit. He could hear the constant crash of the waves against the shore in the distance. Charlie hurried to catch up behind him.

“Remind me why we needed to meet all the way the fuck out here!” Frank growled.

“Jack said the guy was nervous about the whole thing…very reluctant,” Charlie panted as he tried to catch his breath.

“So he needs a little convincing? I see, well, hopefully Jack has him softened up then.” Frank chuckled. He paused as he pulled out a match and struck it. He lit the cigar and ocean wind pulled the smoke away from him.

“Let’s get this over with,” he growled. Frank climbed over the last dune before the beach. He saw Jack standing on the beach with two of his men. Between them another man was on his knees, hands tied, and a potato sack over his head. Charlie stayed a few steps behind Frank.

“Good evening, Mr. Sicero,” Jack greeted.

“What do we have here?” Frank asked. “Is that McGivern?” Jack nodded. The man on his knees cringed as the hood was pulled off. He looked up at Frank with wide, bulging eyes. One of them was blackened, his lip was cracked and a fresh goose egg was forming on his receding hairline.

“Mr. McGivern wasn’t amenable your offer. He said he wasn’t open to negotiating either, so I took it upon myself to try to bring him around to our way of seeing things.” Jack gave McGivern a little kick. Frank held up a hand to put Jack in check.

“McGivern, I want your stock, all of it, everything,” Frank said.

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” McGivern stuttered.

“Come on, I know you stashed a mother lode before the Eighteenth took effect and I’m prepared to pay for it. I’ll let you name the price right now.” Frank bent over to get a better look at McGivern. The captive shook his head.

“I can’t. Do you know how much it’s going to be worth when places start drying up? I don’t think you can compensate me enough,” McGivern gave a weak chuckle. Frank nodded in understanding.

“I see what you mean, but things have changed. We’re out here on this…” Frank took a look around them, “…deserted beach and we aren’t talking solely about monetary value anymore.”

McGivern’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t!”

“Wouldn’t what? You know, Pilford, don’t you?” Frank asked. McGivern cautiously nodded. “Have you heard from him recently?” McGivern thought about his answer, before he finally met Frank’s steady gaze and shook his head.

“You wouldn’t have heard from him. I made him the same offer and he decided against it. He’s here…well not here, out there.” Frank pointed at the ocean. “Jack buried him up to his neck during low tide until he told us where the stash was. Unfortunately, he took a little too long and I had already run out of patience.” McGivern gulped.

“So what are you going to do to me?” he finally asked.

“I’m going to buy your liquor,” Frank shrugged. “For half of my original offer, of course, but you’ll get to go home unlike Pilford.” McGivern didn’t even think about it, he nodded vigorously.

“Yes, Mr. Sicero, I’ll take it! Please let me go home!” He shuffled forward on his knees and would have clutched at Frank as he begged if his hands weren’t tied behind his back.

“Damn it!” Jack exclaimed unexpectedly as he punched McGivern in the skull. The man collapsed unconscious on the ground.

“What the hell, Jack?” Frank responded. Jack winced as he shook out his wrist.

“I had a really good idea of what to do with him,” Jack sighed. His disappointment written across his face.

“I see, but as it is, you better hope he wakes up. He still needs to tell us where his stockpile is.” Frank took another look at McGivern to make sure he was still breathing. “Give the office a call of where it is and I’ll send Charlie over with the cash. If McGivern makes it that is.” He turned away as Jack motioned for his men to pick up the captive. Frank and Charlie walked back to their car.

“I wonder what he had planned,” Charlie murmured. Frank stopped walking and studied him.

“I don’t. I like to be surprised.” Frank started to climb the dunes.

“Why didn’t he bury him like Pilford?” Charlie asked. Frank shrugged.

“It was probably a lot of work.” Frank tried to walk faster in hopes that Charlie would be forced to stop asking questions in order to keep up.

They got back to the car and Frank slumped in the back.

“Take me home, Charlie, I think I’ve had enough excitement tonight. I’ll need you to head back to Tino’s. I’ll call Sal before I turn in about the money.” Charlie nodded. Frank shut his eyes and thought about other things he needed to do. There was a dinner on Friday with a city councilman. The man would be running for Mayor next year. He could be useful in the coming future.

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