Unwritten - By Brian Law

“Nobody keeps all the money, Ricky,” Vinnie said, a steely look in his eye. “That’s the rule.” 


Ricky shrugged and thought his comeback was somehow going to make things better. “The rule, huh? I bet it’s unwritten, right? That’s why I didn’t know about it,” he said, trying to make a case for himself.


Vinnie leaned in and pointed a fat finger at Ricky. “Two days, Ricky. You got two days to come up with my ten percent.”


There was a moment of silence, and then Ricky replied, “That’s going to be a problem, Vinnie. I spent it, all of it. So, I’m gonna need more than two days.” Then he got an idea. “Tell you what, Vinnie. Seein’ as how I didn’t know about this little unwritten rule, why don’t I make up this little deficit when I do my next job? You get what I owe you plus ten percent, too. No, wait, I’ll give you twelve percent for your aggravation. Deal?”


Vinnie smiled and leaned back in his chair. He puffed on his cigar for a few moments then swung his chair sideways and pointed his cigar at a picture on the wall. It was an older crocheted work, expertly done. “See that little item on the wall. My sainted Mother made that for me. I hang that up just to remind everybody who’s the Boss, see. Can you read it for me, Ricky?”


“Sure, Vinnie. It says ‘Ignore my unwritten rules at your peril,’” Ricky read aloud, his voice betraying a slight fear.


“Good, Vinnie, good. Now, you want to know my other unwritten rule that applies in our little situation here?” Vinnie asked, swinging his chair back around.


Ricky shrugged again, knowing he probably wasn’t going to like what he was about to hear. “Vinnie, look, I’ll get you your money. But I need some time. And I can guess what your other unwritten rule is. It has somethin’ to do with my well-being if I don’t pay, right?”


Vinnie nodded slowly and said, “That’s a nice way of putting it, Ricky.”


“Well, Vinnie, there’s certain written rules that kinda protect me. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is one that comes to mind. You break that rule and God knows what will happen to you, Vinnie. Ever think about that?” Ricky countered. “I mean, don’t written rules trump unwritten rules? I think I read that somewhere.”


“Who said anything about killing, Ricky? Much worse things can happen. Wonder why there’s no written rule about ‘Thou shall not break every bone in thy neighbor’s body',” Vinnie said, swinging his chair to the side and looking again at his sainted Mother’s crocheted work on the wall. “Maybe that’s another of my unwritten rules, Ricky. Maybe my unwritten rule is that if I don’t get paid, I break every bone in your body.”


After a long silence, Ricky mumbled, “That’s a lot of bones, Vinnie.”


“We’ll take our time to make sure we get to each one, Ricky.”


Ricky relented. “Okay, then I think I can get you your money. Two days. Right here. Say noon.”


Vinnie nodded.


As Ricky got up to leave he stopped and told Vinnie he had a suggestion. “You wanna hear it?”


“Sure, Ricky, go ahead. What’s your suggestion?”


“Well, seems that if you wrote down all your unwritten rules and, you know, gave us each a copy, things would go smoother, Vinnie. Just a suggestion.”


Vinnie asked Ricky to sit down and then said, “You’re the second one to make that suggestion. First one was a fellow named Jonesy. A while back, as I recall.”


“Really? So you did write them down.”


“I did, in a manner of speaking. It was about fifteen years ago and nobody has made the same suggestion since then until you did just a few minutes ago.”


Ricky was getting a sense that maybe he shouldn’t have made the suggestion.


“Wanna know why nobody made the same suggestion for fifteen years, Ricky? I’ll tell ya why. It’s because I wrote my unwritten rules on Jonesy’s backside. Took my time, too. Used a pen knife.”


Ricky turned white as Vinnie reached into his desk drawer, brought out a pen knife, and asked, "You want your own copy, Ricky? We got time. Hell, I'll even autograph it."





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