“Good evening, Toffer.”
Toffer gulped nervously. Fearfully. He knew that voice. That was Joey Bellanio, a mafioso he had borrowed money from. It seemed like an eternity before he was able to croak out an answer.
“Hi ya, Joey.” He tried to act nonchalant. “to what do I owe this…visit?”
“Ya know full well what ya owe my visit to, Toff. I want my money. My boss is getting tired of waiting for what is rightfully his. Either ya pay back the money, or ya sign over your company. It’s jus’ that frickin’ easy.”
“I-I’ll have yer money in a week. I promise.” Toffer looked around at Joey’s companions nervously. “I-I’ve just been at a rough patch lately.”
“Tommy. Grab ‘is hand. Lay it out on the table.”
Thomas “Tommy the Vise” Morrio grabbed Toffer’s hand and held it tightly against the tabletop. Toffer could see where the mobster had gotten his nickname. No matter how hard he tried to break Tommy’s hold, it remained and his hand remained unmoved.
“Please. Please. Please.” Toffer had begun to get very concerned.”That is the hand I use to write with. Please. Please. Please. I don’t wanna lose a finger.”
“You don’ wanna lose a finger, eh?” Joey was suddenly in his face. “Well I don’ wanna leave without bein’ paid. Got me?”
Toffer nodded in wordless fear. His knees were growing weak and he had already pissed himself. Yet, he could do little more than let out a squeak from time to time.
Tommy looked at his boss. “What ya want me t’do?”
Joey frowned. “Make ‘im sign ‘is comp’ny over. It’s the only way. He owes us big, let’s take his biggest asset. Make ‘im work for us instead of for himself.” an evil smile spread over Joey’s face. He looked at Toffer. “Sound like fun?”
Toffer nodded, again, wordlessly. He had no choice. he could no longer dodge Joey or his boss Frankie. Hell. He was on a ship that was sinking faster than he could bail. At least he would still have a job and an income. At least they hadn’t taken his mansion and cars. At least he wasn’t homeless. Yet.
“Don’ get any ideas, Toff. Yer not gettin’ outta bein’ boss here. Not in appearance, anyway. For your employees, you are still their boss. But to us, you are a mere manager who can be replaced at any time. You will receive a wage like those you have lorded over for so long, though a few dollars more as to mark you as their director.” Joey’s eyes flashed. “But remember. Any cruelty and we shall have you removed. And get that hellion of a boy under control before he destroys you. Or has he already done so? Is that why you have no money to pay us back with?” He looked into Toffer’s eyes and saw the truth. “Ah. Yes. He has definitely done his share. But you taught him well how to use but not respectfully. too bad. His days are numbered.”
Toffer sank to his knees. He was finally able to feel shame. He could no longer borrow money. He could no longer ask for favors.
Hell. He had lost it all. Even the salary he had been so used to. Now, he would get no more than a paltry sum to keep him alive. Even more, he was now no more than a jester in the court of a Don.
The case mounting against him no longer mattered. Toffer, left alone hours ago, sat with his head in his hands. He was no longer the lord and king. His company was no longer his.Life, as he had known it, was now over.
If he had understood Joey correctly, Tobias didn’t have long left to live. Perhaps he had a year, maybe a few more. But Joey never made idle threats. Joey always made promises. Promises he kept.
Toffer was suddenly ashamed of all he had done, all he had taught Tobias. He had doomed his son, passed upon him a punishment that he could not bear to watch. What’s more, he was sure that he had condemned them both to hell. Moreover, he knew that he would be in hell before his son and be there to greet him when he also arrived. But what kind of hell awaited them? Their cruelty had never had an equal. And before Joey’s arrival, he had thought that he would get away with it all.
But not now. The spell was broken. His grasp upon power had been broken. His reason for existing had been taken away. Not that he cared for the company, but the power it represented had given him reason to live. Now he didn’t even have that.
It had been his own fault. Always trying to take away that which was owned by others, never content with what he had inherited, he had caused his own fall. He had borrowed too much and repaid too little. He had abused the privilege of his connections.
Connections which should have never been abused. Perhaps he could prevent Toby’s death. Perhaps he could start getting Toby to turn around. Perhaps…
Life had become one giant ‘perhaps’ punctuated by doubts and the realization that nothing ever goes as planned. The sudden hostile takeover of his company had proven that. He had not planned that. Nor the cases that he was facing both at the state level and the federal level. His own greed had hidden those possibilities from him as it had the possibility of being caught up with for Toby’s infractions.
If it weren’t for the seriousness of all the allegations, he would laugh. But, now, he could only cry. And he began doing so. At first, it was a quiet event. But soon it rose to a loud, shaking sob.
He knew it was too late for any hope of leniency. The records that had made it to the authorities had seen to that. His crimes had seen to that.