Rich placed a small cloth bag on the counter. “Reach in side.”
“It ain’t a snake is it?” Tommy said.
“No, but it will cure snake bite,” Rich said.
Tommy reached in and pulled out a can of Moxie Soda. “You gotta be kiddin’ me, pal; you really do have some.” Tommy reached in his pocket and used the opener on his key chain.
Tommy took a swig. “My god, that taste terrible, but oh how good!”
Tommy handed the opener to Rich and he opened a can for himself.
“I’m glad you like it,” Rich said taking a drink.
After a couple bites of pizza and another swig of Moxie, Tommy leaned close to Rich. “So here’s my theory about you, Rich, that pistol in your jacket ain’t a cigarette lighter or for balance. If ya was gonna do somthin’ to me it would be over long ago. Besides, hit men don’t come in on sailboats, so what’s your real story?”
“You first,” Rich said.
“What makes you think I got a story?” Tommy said.
“You had me figured from the moment I spoke English,” Rich said. “The first thing you looked at were my hands, the second thing you felt for a shoulder holster, and the third thing you felt my grip and looked in me in the eyes.”
“You can tell,” Tommy said. “Instinct.”
“I’ve been here 10 years,” Tommy said. “Waitin’.”
“Waiting for what?” Rich said
“Waitin’ ‘till they find me,” Tommy said.
“Waiting for who?” Rich said.
“Old associates, let us say, business acquaintances,” Tommy said.
“You don’t seem to be hiding,” Rich said, “your name and your business is right in the open.”
“What am I gonna to do, charter fishing?” Tommy said. “I don’t know nothin’, but what I know and what am I gonna call myself, Harry Smith? I’m proud of my name and I ain’t gonna change nothin’ about it. A Harry Smith is a short fat guy with no hair. Okay, okay, but I do got the hair.”
“So why are you here?” Rich said.
“I got double crossed,” Tommy said. “My father was from the old country. He never wanted me or my brother, Johnny, to get mixed up in the old ways of grudges and revenge. He wanted us to be legit. And we were, but Papa taught us the old ways to protect ourselves. Johnny and I were tough kids, nobody messed with us.”
“Johnny and me were in the dry cleanin’ business. We were doin’ good. He had three stores I had two. He had one more store than me just to pay for protection, you understand? I don’t pay for protection. Once you’re in, you’re in. I influenced my brother to stop. A couple enforcers came around and Johnny and me took care of ‘em. The next time they came around, Johnny was alone. He got beat pretty good and died a week later of a brain hemorrhage. There is something about the old ways from the old country, they are sometimes in you and you don’t know it. I found all three in a club and took care of business. The only way out was the way I took. I stuffed a duffel bag full of the cash I had on hand and the day’s receipts and flew to Buenos Aires. A month later I found my way here. They never heard of pizza.”
“So you can never go back?” Rich said.
“Impossible,” Tommy said. “Usually, they won’t go far to carry out a grudge. It is more about saving face and family honor. If the reason is gone it is gone. For sure they can come lookin’ for you, but if every grudge was carried from the old country to the U. S. there would be bodies in the streets. It is sometimes strange what is in one place never goes to another. That is not so bad.”
“But still you worry,” Rich said.
“It has happened,” Tommy said. “If somebody thinks it’s a sure thing with no complications. Now what about you?”
Rich paused for another bite and a swig.
“It is much simpler,” Rich said. “The man I worked for was involved in subversive acts against the government. I know some things and he’d like to see me silenced.”
“That is simpler, as you say,” Tommy said, “but as long as you are alive, you are a threat. If I had information that could convict somebody, believe me, they would be coming after me. That’s different than a grudge.”
“Will you ever go back?” Rich said.
“That’s out of the question,” Tommy said. “What about you?”
“I try to keep myself up on the news out of the States to see if anything is in the papers about them, but there is nothing,” Rich said. “I will likely keep doing what I’m doing until I grow weary and want to settle some place.”
“This is a good place,” Tommy said. “I could teach you the pizza business.”
“I appreciate the offer,” Rich said, “but I have a goal of sailing around the world.”
“You could come back here when you are done,” Tommy said.
“This is a good place,” Rich said. “I will consider it.”
As they finished customers started to drift in.
“Looks like that time of day,” Tommy said.
“And no Carmelo girls,” Rich said.
“Do you mind?” Tommy said.
“I work cheap,” Rich said and headed back to the kitchen.