Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

oooh, nice!

oooh, nice!

the help

the help

Influence Peddling

(Episode 44)

Benny Green got a call from his friend Lazlo in Vegas.  Lazlo was also a loan shark and money launderer.  But at times they traded leads.

“I got this guy here, thought you might find interesting.”

“Oh yeah?  How so,” Benny asked.

“Well, he’s deeply in debt,” Lazlo continued.

“That’s a start,” Benny agreed.

“He’s lost somebody else’s money.  And if that somebody else doesn’t get their money back, he’s gonna be in deep shit.”

“So he’s already in deep shit,” Benny replied.

“Yeah.”

“And this wouldn’t be your money, would it?”  Benny asked.

“Well, it could be,” was Lazlo’s reply.

“Aaahhhh.”  Benny nodded.  This sounded like a two way split.  Which Benny liked better than a favor.  A two way split was precise and people kept their eye on the play.  A ‘favor’ was a sloppy business and involved a lot of conversation and socializing and most of the time came back to bite you.  “And what’s his pitch?”  Benny asked.  “What’s his collateral?”  Benny laughed.

“Well, it’s something you might be able to use, but I can’t, really.”  Lazlo let the last words filter out his lips with the smoke from his cigar.  “But if you could, then we could.  But if you can’t, then we can’t.”

“Hmmmmmmm.”  Benny nodded.  It so happens that they were both, at this time, puffing on big cigars – the same brand actually – and letting the smoke filter out from between their lips.

Lazlo belched and waved someone over.  Benny, on his end, did the same thing.  Benny snapped his fingers, and asked his mistress to hand him a ham on rye.  Down in Vegas, Lazlo snapped is fingers at a former showgirl and demanded a Chivas on the rocks.

“So why would I be able to use this ‘thing’ we’re talking about, when you can’t – or won’t?”  Benny asked.  There was a lot of chit chat and shoptalk embedded in a deal.  And Lazlo employed and enjoyed it as much as Benny.  And when they were enjoying themselves, they often felt the urge to eat.

“It’s a matter of lowkwhoshawn…”  Lazlo murmured through a bite of sandwich.

“THwhaut?”  Benny chewed, spit out a wheat kernel, and checked his filling.  ‘What the hell does this woman buy for bread?’ Benny had to ask himself.

Lazlo swallowed, then took a gulp of beer.  “It’s a matter of loc-a-tion,” he enunciated.

“Uh,” Benny replied, reaching in his pocket for a toothpick.

“What he wants to sell me is a town.  …maybe a county.”

“A town?  What have I got to do with a town?”  Benny replied.  “What am I gonna do with a county?”

But Lazlo was silent, letting the matter crawl around the crevices of Benny’s lizard brain for a moment, while Lazlo studied a sandwich.  He lifted it.  Finally, Lazlo decided where he was going to bite and answered.  “It’s the town’s money he lost.  He’s the mayor, the treasurer, the coroner, the post office supervisor, and a dozen other things as near as I can tell, of the great metropolis of Kimmel, up in your neck of the woods.”  Lazlo bit.

“And so he wants to trade you the town, in lieu of his gambling debt?”

“He wants to trade me his influence,” Lazlo corrected, chewing.  “He figures hi mhight whant tho estahblish,” Lazlo took a gulp of Chivas, feeling the ice tap his teeth,  “gambling, and maybe a little loan-sharking and prostitution up in his neck of the woods.  And he thinks me and him can make that happen.  Of course, if I decide not to ‘help’ him out, then more than likely he goes on the lam, or gets incarcerated, and there goes his influence.  So.  It’s a perishable commodity,” Lazlo summarized.

“Aren’t we all,”  Benny sympathized with a smile.  “How long does he have?”

“Well, there’s the payroll he’s got to meet, which includes the county Sheriff’s salary.”

This made Benny’s brows rise.  “I don’t know,” Benny said finally.  “Currently I’m invested into businesses – legit businesses, some of them even hi tech, you’d be proud of me, I am embracing technology – and making clean money.  Towns cost money.  They got potholes to fix, cops to fix, and all that shit..  I don’t know.  I don’t see any money, unless I go majorly illegal.  You know, corrupt with a big ‘C’.  And then, I still have to put even more money in, you know, to build up the proper infrastructure, to support something that would make it worth my while, considering the risk.”

“Benny!  I can’t believe I’m hearing this.  Corruption always pays better than legit.  That’s why we do it,” Lazlo swore.

“Aaiiii!”  Benny swore.  “But I’m getting so tired of talking to that FBI.  And the legal fees eat me alive.”

“Okay.  Okay.  Only two words I’m going to say,” Lazlo replied.  “Las Vegas.”

“That’s one.”

“No, it’s two.  Look it up.”

“I have.”

“No.  Apparently you haven’t, because there’s ‘Las’, and then there’s ‘Vegas’.  Two words.”

“Las’, is not a word.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it’s not.  What does ‘Las’ mean?  It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It must in Spanish.  Or they wouldn’t use it all by itself, would they?”  Lazlo countered.

“Who knows what the goddamned Mexicans do,” Benny replied.  “Even if it does mean something, it probably means ‘the’, or ‘before’, or ‘on top of’.”

“’On top of?”

“…or something.  And what does ‘the’ mean?  Huh?  ‘The’ doesn’t mean anything.  It’s like a nothing, a, an, empty thought space.”

Lazlo sighed.  “Okay, look.  We’re getting off topic here.  Why don’t we save  this linguistic pissing contest for another time?”

“Fine with me.”

“Because what I am saying in a language we both know and can communicate in is that what we may be looking at here is an opportunity.  And it might be worth the investment because we reduce the risk, like Las Vegas.  They own the desert, and they make the law.  No cops.  No lawyers.  No courts.  No nothing.  Just out of state marks.  Lots of grain fed marks flown in…”

“I heard you say “we”.”

“That’s right.  We split 50/50.”

“So what do I do?  And what do you do?”

“Okay.  So this is it.”  Lazlo lowered his voice – just from habit, and not because he was afraid of being overheard.  It was just habitual to lower your voice when you got to the meat of any conversation.  Everybody knew this.

“The guy’s short $240,000.  It was $160,000, but he tried to gamble his way free.  This ought to give you some measure of the guy’s ability to self-examine and to self-correct in the face of adversity and of his character flaws.”

“Yeah.  I got it,” Benny said.  “Mayor or not, he’s just another normal putz with abnormal ambition and what he thought were testicles.”

“Yeah.  So this is how it is:  I give him $120,000.  This is enough to save his ass for the time being, but not enough for him to lose that sense of urgency, which is so important for a good relationship to flower.  You pay me $60,000, and you’re in for half.  After that we own him.  And you run him and the operation up there, while I raise the money and assemble the backers down here.  And we go big league.  We put Kimmel County on the map.  What do you say?”

Benny thought for a while.  “I knew a broad who lived out near there,” he said.  “One of my clients.  Seemed to like it.”

“Well there you go,” Lazlo agreed.

“Until she got whacked.  Some crazy batshit serial killer or some such.  Cut her head off.  Like, sawed it, with a small knife.  Can you believe that?”

“There’s a lot of sickos in this world,” Lazlo sympathized.

“Maybe.  On the other hand, she was pretty abrasive,” Benny offered.

“Well, okay.  Then there’s that.  You know, like sometimes a person’s karma can catch up to them.”

“Yeah, and saw their head off!”  Benny laughed.  He considered.  “Okay, cut me in.  And I’ll get the money to you by the end of this week.  It’ll be cash, and I’ll have my nephew drive it down personal.  Cause you know him and he knows you.”

“That’ll work, “ Lazlo said.

“Okay.  Nice bein’ in business with you again Lazlo,” Benny said.

“The feeling’s mutual.”

They both hung up, grabbed their drinks and cigars, and sat there thinking.

Photos from Google Images

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4 Responses to “Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene”

  1. Donn Trenton Says:

    I haven’t read this chapter yet, but the graphics are really improving.

  2. Donn Trenton Says:

    Reading that made me want to have a few whiskeys on the rocks. And I did. Not that Canadian shit; Kentucky Bourbon.

  3. schn00dles Says:

    Editor: 🙂

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