“Consciousness is a flowing stream,” said Freddy.
I didn’t respond I just kept driving the van. It was dark out and it was rainy, I had to keep my eyes on the road...and I sure as hell couldn’t risk getting pulled over. Way too much at stake right now.
“Everything in the Universe is either flourishing...or it’s decaying- there’s no in between”.
“Ya know, Freddy, your liver is going to be decaying faster than it should, if you keep drinking that brandy. Maybe you should ease up on the booze.”
“It calms my nerves...I just put two shots in my tea. That’s all. You should try it.”
“Two shots huh, Freddy?...I’m sure Nino would love it we got locked up for DWI. We’re driving away from a fucking jewelry heist. Think. ”
Freddy didn’t respond. He just kept silent for once, and stared out the window. Finally some quiet. I turned up the radio, just a couple of notches, but the music was still pretty soft. I liked to hear the sound of the rain.
In a way I didn’t blame him for drinking...confidence was everything, in this kind of a situation. He wasn’t the driver though, I was.
There’s something about the rain after doing a job that puts your mind at ease. At least it does for me. Now that Freddy wasn’t talking....I could actually enjoy it, and unwind from the tension of robbing a hundred and eighty grand from a safe that was cracked by my idiot savant of a partner. Freddy’s the best safe cracker in the East Coast- but a lousy drunk that looks like he can’t even tie his own shoes together.
It’s not that he’s a complete idiot, he’s just definitely one of these guys that you think, how the hell did he end up doing this? He could have been a master locksmith or a welding ironworker making $40-$50 an hour....what makes him an idiot is that he chooses this instead.
I mean for me it’s different. I’m 44 years old, and I’m an ex-con. I made some bad mistakes when I was younger and that’s it - good luck finding a 9 to 5 when you put down you’re a convicted felon. So then this is what it is.
I ain’t happy about it. I would’ve liked a wife, some kids...that ship sailed though. We pulled up to the General’s office. It’s an office above a welding shop in The Bronx. I call Nino, “The General”, because he has this type of Napoleon complex. He’s a bit of a ballbuster, and he’s cheap as fuck, and he always makes you feel guilty when he’s paying you the money that you worked for.
Instead of paying us both at the same time, he makes us go in one by one for some reason.
Freddy was in the office first. I always let Freddy go in first. For him, I think it means something. For me, I don’t give a shit...I just want to get paid. Plus the outcome is still the same anyways.
Sitting in the waiting area outside the office, I could hear them through the walls. Nino is saying his same old “I’m not making enough money anymore on these kind of jobs...It’s not like the old days type of bullshit”.
Freddy responding with the usual, “I know Nino...I understand...but I got a family to support.”
Makes me sick.
I just don’t get it. The numbers were talked about in advance. He’s paying me forty-five, Freddy’s getting forty-five...and he’s still going to pocket the rest, which is about ninety-
grand. Works out well for Nino.
I have to make this $45k last me for the next year, because these kinds of jobs are few and far between. All the rest is just chump change. Now I’m getting pissed off thinking about this. Nino always pulls this shit. I mean never mind that he’s getting half...but the thing I get pissed off about is that he makes you feel guilty for the little bit that you are getting.
Who else but Freddy and I can be trusted with this type of job nowadays? No one.
Before exiting the door, I hear Freddy saying, “Okay thanks, Nino”.
Now it’s my turn.
I enter the room. Linoleum tiled floor, fluorescent lighting, and wallpaper that makes the place look like a time warp from the 1970’s.
Nino starts talking about his failing health- another thing he does. He has this mug with hot water, and a giant mint leaf in it. It looks like some old world homeopathic type of remedy, that may or may not even do anything.
“Ohh the doctor’s say...it’s no good. Forty freaken grand I’m paying to these doctors. Just for these pieces of chit to say it’s not-a-looking good for me.”
When I first started working for Nino, ten years ago- he used to eat nothing but fast food, and smoked cigarettes down to the filter, sitting in his office all day. What does he expect, of course they’re going to say he’s not doing good?!
“I’m sorry to hear that Nino”.
“Here’s your pay”.
I quickly thumb through, and count the money.
“Nino...c’mon. You paid me five grand less than what we agreed to. What’s going on here?”
“Hey...I’m losing money....on these jewels. I’m not making any money.”
“Look...this is not right Nino. I busted my ass to pull this whole thing off for you. I cased the place for months.”
“I’M THE ONE THAT HAS TO NOW TAKE THE HEAT. If the cops come to me, then I’ma screwed. It’s not like old days.”
Jesus. Here we go.
“Nino...I gave you my word, that I’d deliver. You gave me yours that I’d get paid, today. It’s simple. Please let’s just cut the shit, and stick to that.”
With an angry grandfatherly look...Nino pulls out another five thousand and gives it to me.
“Because I think of you like a son...I’m going to give this to you. But just know I’m losing money on this job.”
“Thank you Nino. Take care”.
We leave and go walk over to my car where I left it, underneath the elevated tracks of the 2 train. I get in the car with Freddy.
“Did he try to screw you out of your pay?” I ask Freddy.
“No he gave me the full forty”.
He did screw him. Typical Nino. I didn’t even bother to say anything because it’s already done.
Driving down the road. All of a sudden I see sirens in my rear view. For some reason all I could think of was, “Fuckin’ Nino”.