The two old men, lifelong friends, sat together at the rear of the small cafe. It was what they did each Thursday morning since they had ‘retired’ from The Family. They talked about old times, old rivalries, old rivalries settled. Today they were talking about their old boss.
“He had an unusual way of telling you what to do, ya know?” Gino related. “It wasn’t like he was the Boss and you was the underling. You know what I mean?”
Vito nodded and sipped some wine.
“He would say things like ‘If I was you, which I am not, I would make sure so-and-so was taken care of.’ Like that, ya know. Never came right out and said, ‘Whack the guy’,” Gino continued. “Classy guy. Kept his hands clean.”
Vito leaned in, his hands together on the table, and nodded, “Yeah, there’s a word that describes a guy like that. Can’t think of it right now. Too much of this,” he said, raising his wine glass. “Anyway, it’ll come to me.”
“And he could run a whole meeting like that,” Gino said. “I was upstate once, doing security for him. The meet was in some old farmhouse in the boonies. Everybody was there. All the old bosses. And he was runnin’ the show. And he’d just sit there and nod or shake his head and everybody knew what it meant. Hardly said a word and things got done just the way he wanted. It was unfrikin’ believable.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. And I’ve got this word on the tip of my tongue. It describes him to a ‘T’. But . . . I just can’t remember it,” Vito added, frustrated.
“And that look he had. Oh, Jesus. Scary as Hell. Froze me in my tracks a coupla times, ya know. I’d be talking, goin’ on, and then I’d say somethin’ and he’d give me that look. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could scare me like that,” Gino said.
“Yeah, there’s a word for that. I’m tryin’ to think of it,” Vito replied. “Jesus, it’s hard gettin’ old.”
“And him being dead for, what, twelve years now. And I can still remember that look. Christ, the guy was fierce! I’m tellin’ you. The guy was somethin’ else,” Gino continued.
“The word. I almost had it,” Vito said, excitedly. “I’m gonna get it. It’s on the tip of my tongue.”
Gino said nothing for a moment as he stared coldly at his old friend. Then he said, “Ya know, he told me right before he died. He said, ‘Gotta watch that Vito. He talks too much.’”
“You still think there’s a word, Vito?” Gino asked menacingly.
Vito could feel his heart beating loudly in his chest as he answered carefully, “Word? No, there’s no word, Gino. My mistake.”