“Where the hell is that no-good, lazy, piece-of-garbage accountant, Stanley?” That is the exclamation this chilly Boston New Year’s Eve from Silvio Marino, the CEO of Amalgam Enterprises, a company the general public knows very little about, other than the constant charity donations in the local news and the “Save the Children” or “Adopt a Whale” campaigns Silvio is always showing up at to do volunteer work. The true nature of his business is in the “safety” industry – well, to be more precise, the protection industry. Mister Marino’s organization ensures that bad things don’t happen to the small businesses that pay their monthly dues on time.
“Vincent, don’t I have someone to file this stuff for me? Isn’t that what I’m paying Stanley for? And aren’t I paying you to make sure I never have to do, or see, any kind of paperwork? I feel you’re letting me down, Vinnie. You know I don’t appreciate it when someone disappoints me. Things don’t turn out well for individuals that let me down. Remember poor Antonio?” Antonio was once considered a promising young phenom within Amalgam upper management circles. However, he had made the mistake of flirting with Silvio’s girlfriend at the office Christmas party and found himself reassigned to the New Jersey branch the following Monday. “Jersey,” Vincent whispers softly, shaking his head in disgust at the thought.
“Stanley quit last week after you called him, and I quote, ‘A useless steaming pile of cow shit,’ and said that his mother ‘should have had an abortion.’”
“That ungrateful bum. After all I did for him, treated him like a son! Well, don’t just stand there, Vinnie, get me Roberto in here on the double! Roberto was always good with paperwork.”
“I would like nothing more than to get Roberto in here to help you, sir, but please do recall that you killed…. Erm, excuse me, he met his untimely demise in an unlucky workplace accident three weeks ago. Remember, it was he, as your “Social Media Consultant,” who forgot to DVR one week of the Bachelor and the Kardashians so you could “stay up-to-date with the hip new kids and those damn millennials.” I believe those were your exact words, or something to that effect.”
“Oh, right, right. Well, Goddamn it. Don’t we have anyone besides Roberto and Stanley on payroll?”
“There was Hubert, sir, but he had that horrific automobile accident a month ago. Then there was Stephanie who fell down a flight of stairs at a library.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. No need to remind me of all these unpleasant accidents.”
“Also, sir, as your attorney and personal assistant, I would be remiss of my responsibilities if I failed to inform you of your legal requirements to fill out certain forms and sign these specific documents when one of your company’s employees meets their unfortunate demise, which regrettably, seems to be happening with increasing frequency in recent weeks. And, even with some of your business activities being slightly-less-than-above-board, the IRS website clearly states that you must report all income acquired through illegal means and/or any stolen income. Take my advice, sir, you do not want the IRS to start poking their noses in your company’s record books. Why don’t you hire a good accountant, like my brother-in-law Louie?”
“Hey, how about you don’t tell me how to run my business and I won’t tell you how to suck at being a lawyer, sound good, Vinnie?” Then, mumbling under his breath, he remarks to himself, “If he weren’t my younger cousin, I would’ve iced him months back. Stupid family obligations and societal norms,” then speaking louder, “I mean, I love having family work for me, and I value your insight. Have a good evening.”
After finishing up the dreaded forms and reports on the latest “accidental workplace death,” the fourth such in the past 9 weeks, and dismissing his cousin, Silvio picks up his phone after it starts vibrating. “Oh shit, it is Aunt Adelina,” he grumbles, imagining that his little weasel of a lawyer must’ve been texting his mother while they were having their discussion. “Seems like something that weenie might do, call and complain to mommy about how ‘rude’ his older cousin is to him.” Finally, just before the phone was about to send the caller over to his voicemail box, he answers it: “Hello, why, what a pleasant surprise, my dear Aunt Adelina – always makes me so happy to hear your sweet voice on the other end of the line…”
“Don’t patronize me with that politeness horseshit. I don’t have time for small talk. Besides, you’re terrible at it. So, my son tells me you’ve got yet another ‘messy accident’ you need help getting cleaned up before the authorities start snooping around, is this right?”
“Come on, Aunt Adelina, I’m a grown man and I am perfectly capable of cleaning up my own ‘messes.’ It’s embarrassing for my aunt to always be stepping in and taking over operations in front of the other distinguished gentlemen in my line of work.”
“Is that so, Sylvester?” Silvio cringes when he hears that name. He despises his birth name with a passion, and legally had it changed as soon as he came of age. I don’t remember you complaining when I bailed your ass out of the slammer when you were 18, after that one Halloween party when you had too much to drink. You remember that one, Sylvester? Or how about the time I called and persuaded the police officers not to charge you with a DUI back in your college days? Should I continue on this trip down memory lane?”
“Jesus, Auntie, stop, for the love of all that is holy, I was there, you know. Of course, I remember all this unpleasant shit that went down. And clearly, I’m not saying you didn’t help bail me out of some tricky situations. All I’m saying is that it is past time for Silvio Marino to stand on his own two feet and prove to everyone he doesn’t need his aunt to save him every time the shit hits the fan. The other mobsters will think I’m a wuss. You do understand that, right, Aunt Adelina? Aunt Adelina?” <<CLICK>>
“Well, that’s just great, now not only do I have another dead body to dispose of, I’ve gone and pissed off the only aunt I have, who’s pulled me out of the frying pan too many times to count. Ah, well, I’ll deal with making amends for that later on,” he says as he picks up his stack of paperwork and pen because he just wants to finish up and go home. It’s been a long and stressful day. Scratch that. Stressful year.
He can’t get it out of his mind, that warning given to him a few minutes ago by his attorney, Vincent, so he pauses his paperwork long enough to Google the IRS laws regarding filing his illegal income. Sure enough, it is right there in black-and-white. Now he is biting his nails as he nervously reads the Internal Revenue Service’s web page. Silvio has never been one to fear the police or even the FBI. That’s what being filthy rich and hiring expensive lawyers was for. That, and being a member of exclusive fraternities in college. But now, this is the IRS we are talking about. The stories he’s heard about them make the Sicilian Mafia look like the Boy Scouts of America or the Salvation Army.
<<KNOCK-KNOCK>> His imagination is getting the best of him now, as he can feel the perspiration dripping from his forehead and cheeks. His mind knows that IRS auditors don’t usually show up at 9:30 pm on a Friday, especially on New Year’s Eve, but he has always struggled with a streak of paranoia, which, he feels, has perhaps served him well in his thus-far successful career. He opens the door and then remembers he had ordered DoorDash 45 minutes ago. Relieved, he sits down on his office sofa and begins eating the Chicago-style pizza pie. Suddenly his phone is buzzing again. He lets it go to voicemail since he is currently stuffing his face with pizza. He decides to listen to the message while still chewing and almost chokes to death when he hears the words.
It is a chilling threat issued by his former accountant, Stanley Williams. “If I am not given $100,000 in 24 hours, then I will have no choice but to hand over the proof of your illegal activities to the FBI and the IRS. Now let’s see who’s useless and who is aborted.”
Silvio spits out the chunk of pizza he was eating, and immediately starts dialing a number. “Hey, I know you just left the office, Vinnie, but I have another special assignment for you. … Yeah, this time it is Stanley who has disrespected our business and our family name. He even threatened to turn over receipts to the IRS. Yes, the IRS, Vinnie! You know what must be done.”
Silvio then decided on his New Year’s resolution: “I swear I’m never going to kill anyone again!” Silvio did not select this out of any kind of change-of-heart or sudden pangs of conscience, but rather just because of all the fucking paperwork involved.
“Maybe I’ll just go open up a pizza joint, or a sanitation worker or something — any of those would be less messy and, as long as it doesn’t involve paperwork, I’ll be happy.”
Two weeks later, Silvio decides to, at long last, take that vacation to Miami he’s been thinking on for years. His assistant Charles who has accompanied him on this trip, brings him a cocktail as requested. After swirling it around in the glass and taking a sip of it, he spews it out all over Charles’ leg. “Coconut? Seriously, Charlie? After all the years we’ve been together, and you bring me coconut in my drink? You might as well have put arsenic in it— oh damn, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did that too!”
Silvio reaches over into his duffle bag by his beach chair and retrieves his handgun and fires it before Charles can even finish his apology. Silvio picks up his phone out of the bag next and dials Vincent. “Hey, cousin, I need a favor down here in Miami. … yeah, there’s been another one of those ugly workplace incidents. … yeah, he must have made a dangerous mistake that cost him his life. I keep telling my employees during the safety webinars, ‘follow all the rules and you’ll be fine.’”
“Never again, my ass,” Vincent grumbles to himself. “What was that, Vinnie? I couldn’t quite catch that.” On the other end of the line, Vincent whispers to his boss and cousin, Silvio, “Sir, I am going to have to put you on-hold for a little while. I have an unexpected visitor.” <<CLICK>>
“Sorry about that interruption. Now, how can I be of assistance, IRS agent Stephen Coltrane?”
“I am here for an official audit of Mr. Marino’s taxes.” “Oh, shit,” says Vincent, as he vows to himself, “My New Year’s Resolution is to get a new job.”
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Daniel: I thought your premise was unique, but got a bit lost in the list of characters. Perhaps if you fleshed out the MC right at the beginning so I could be somewhat invested in him. Even the scurviest of MC usually has some redeeming quality that makes us root for him. I found myself laughing at the satire and I don't usually do dark, but this was clever. I just reread the piece, and found your first paragraph was good, better than I remembered once I got lost in the other characters. But maybe that is part of what you were portray...