Posted on | January 10, 2015 | 12 Comments
by Sissypuss the Blog Kitty
Tony Scambilloni isn’t the sort of chap that gives interviews. He operates in that twilight realm at the edge of the law and traditionally documented society. Where everyone is “workin’ real hard, tryin’ to keep ‘the business’ legal”, and failing more often than not. Too many rules, changing way too often for a reasonable man even to read them all, much less keep up, you know?
I caught up with him at his posh little villa between Searchlight, Nevada and Lost Wages, from which Tony’s fourth wife had recently fled. He’s currently batching it with this cat named Guido. A black cat, about my size, who really needed to get his Brian Setzer on, if you know what I mean. So I paid Guido to go out and find some entertainment while I, suitably dyed and lensed, stroked Tony’s ankle. He was relaxing in his art studio. He never noticed the extra charm I’d put on the collar I’d borrowed from Guido, which let me silently beam questions into Tony’s mind. Ah, those clever ancient Egyptians!
While nobody’s art aficionado, it looked to me like Tony was forging ahead on Peace and War, by Reubens. He appeared a relaxed Robert DeNiro, in a comfortable, paint-speckled seersucker robe and slippers, hair jet black and combed straight back. My excellent sense of smell detected some kind of Rémy Martin in the snifter.
“A little frisky tonight, Guido?” he seemed mildly surprised, but not irritated as he fussed with Minerva’s helmet on the canvas. The ancient Egyptian charm worked well.
“Sure is shame, all that news about Harry Reid. . .” I prompted. The charm worked for light prodding, not mind-reading. The target required gentle encouragement to divulge information. Which is why, if you’re not Cleopatra, your best bet is not even to be human, and have someone in a moment as unguarded as this one. Especially when ‘someone’ is a promising mid-career thug like Scambilloni, who thought waterboarding is what the President does in Hawaii when he needs a break from the links.
“Yeah, Harry sure is tough sunny beach,” muttered Tony, putting down the brush and reaching for the snifter. “Goes without saying, though. You aren’t Kermit the Frog and Senate Majority Leader.”
“Some would argue that we now have Bunsen Honeydew for a Majority Leader.”
“Heh. This Rémy sure is packin’ the heat. I better lay off if I want to get this Reubens out by Monday.”
“A lot of people sure are laughing about Harry Reid’s excuse for his ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ look in the new Congress.” I was circling his right ankle, looking up at him. He looked right at me, but was lacking the imagination to grasp that I might be the one whispering in his head.
“See, the funny thing is, Reid’s being more honest than usual about this. Which is commendable. A businessman has got to be about keeping his promises.”
“Ah, but to whom?” I threw in a little purr as he scratched behind my left ear.
“Yeah, there’s hardly a thug in Vegas without a hook in Harry. Now and then I think I should be more curious about who makes these calls, but why bother? The simple truth is that Harry Reid had some commitments, and I was tasked to remind him of them by my union buddy Joey.”
“And how does one manage these. . .reminders?” A little meow, but not too wild.
“It’s always tricky with clients, especially politicians–they’re such sociopaths and narcissists, Harry Reid is a poster child. I guess that implies Harry Reid must have had a mother at some point? Poor woman. Anyway, it wasn’t my first visit to his ranch, so I knew where I was going, and the guards new my mug. Only this time there was nothing in my gym bag that wouldn’t pass muster with those grabby jerks at McCarran Airport–just gym gear. The guards would’ve objected to me packing heat, of course, so I left that in the lockbox in the car. As though I need a gun to conduct business, anyway.
“The gym’s down in the basement, I knew, with the usual sauna, jacuzzi, massage, and changing room amenities. I hadn’t myself worked out there previously, but the client had had trouble getting time with Harry before the Christmas shutdown. Harry was all blustery about being too busy, not having the time, the usual run-around we get from people who don’t want to fulfill their obligations. So Harry was going to ‘sqeeze’ the client in during a workout. I guess Harry still thinks he’s 35, or just doesn’t respect the client. Or didn’t understand that he’d gone far enough over the line that a helpful reminder was deemed necessary.”
“So Reid is on the treadmill, getting his sweat on. . .”
“Yeah, I changed in a flash and walked into the fitness studio. Madonna. He’s got vintage Madonna on the speakers, which works great for my mood: I hate that little strumpet as much as I hate little weasels that don’t meet a commitment. He’s walking on the treadmill in a wife beater and shorts. He’s a bit too old to jog, so he does a brisk walk at 3.8 miles per hour.
“‘Happy New Year from M.W.,” I says.
“‘Well, I was led to understand that he was coming personally. Does sending a lackey indicate that he finally calmed down and decided to be reasonable?’ Reid came out swinging like usual. There was no point in me discussing anything with him whatsoever. So I reached down and cranked the treadmill up to 6.8 miles and hour. Arrogantly, refusing to give anything, Harry tries to keep up, and can, initially.
So I crank the thing up to 10.0 miles an hour. If Harry could have ever supported a six minute mile, it was probably back during the Ford Administration. He tries to put his hand down on the treadmill’s handhold, but he kinda ‘misses’. With some help from me. The belt kinda flings him off the back end, where he SPLATS! on the foam rubber mat.
He’s got a pretty nice gym, including a big crossover frame facing a mirror wall, and the exercise bands he mentioned to KNPR. Seeing the racks of dumbells bolted to the floor in front of the mirror, it wasn’t hard to make a human-sized slingshot with the big rubber bands, and pull them back to the crossover frame. Harry was dazed, and picking himself up from the mat when I set him inside the band and let go.
So he’s being really honest when he says he did it to himself, as his image rushed up in the mirror and really hit him hard by the eye. He bounced off, tried to control his motion, and staggered over into some cabinets holding towels and water bottles and wipes. He’s all laying on the floor real still. I checked to make sure he had a regular pulse, wasn’t bleeding too profusely, wasn’t going into shock, and such. Threw some towels on him for warmth while he lay there on his back, just to be on the safe side. Then I asked him that burning question on the tongues of all the wise guys:
‘What does Marcellus Wallace look like?’
Of course he’s too knocked out to answer.”
“Really? Are gangsters all Tarantino fanatics?” I’d just stopped and stared at him.
“Yeah. Well, I’ve got to change Cognac brands. This stuff must’ve been sitting too close to the absinthe, the way I’m blubbering on like some easy mark that came in on a bus from Duluth to blow his rent check in the slot machines. Guido, do you want the rest?”