Tags: Romantic, .

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: A young man makes a decision that changes his life

There are no descriptive sex scenes in this story. So what's new? Same ole, same ole for my work.

Constructive comments, emails and critiques are requested and much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I hope you enjoy it.

"Don't hit me. Please, for God's sake don't hit me," Jerry Smith begged. The man Jerry was pleading with was Ben Stillman, known as Big Ben on the street. The nickname was due to Ben's size, he was 6' 6. If he'd had been shorter, he would have been called stocky; he weighed 270. Instead, he was considered muscular and not someone to mess with.

Ben was holding Jerry off the ground with one of his big hands around the neck because his boss, Moe Farrell, had ordered him to collect the money owed to Moe by Jerry. Moe was among other things, a loan shark. He was also the boss of a small time criminal gang on the south side of St. Louis. His 'gang' was involved in loan sharking, protection, and gambling. Moe didn't have the 'scones' to get into drugs or prostitution, but he wanted to become affiliated with the family that controlled the crime in the city; Moe was a wannabe wise guy.

"Look Jerry, just give me what you owe and I won't have to hit you," Ben said as he sort of shook Jerry like a dog playing tug of war with a piece of cloth.

"But I don't have the full amount," Jerry complained. "Moe will just have to wait."

"Moe's not a very patient man. I don't think he'll like your answer." Ben sat Jerry back on the ground and shook his head. He really didn't want to rough up the little guy, but it was his job. After his parents died in a tenement fire, Moe had taken in the orphaned Ben at age 14 and took care of him. He'd given the boy a place to live, food, and shelter.

Ben had started working for Moe when he was 16; running betting slips from the neighborhood stores and parlors to Moe's office and other things that a young boy could be counted on to do. Ben was now 26 and had been working as an enforcer and collector in Moe's organization for over four years.

Ben sometimes had to get physical with Moe's "clients", but not often; his size was usually enough to convince the delinquents to pay up. When he did have to actually put hands on people, Ben tried to do little permanent damage. He'd several times refused to cut off a man's finger or ear or any number of other gruesome suggestions made by Moe. Although not please with Ben's refusals to go ballistic on customers, Moe had to admit that Ben's collection success rates were the best of the group.

"How much you got Jerry?" Ben asked.

"I've got $2000 and can get another two by next week." There was a small inkling of hope in his voice.

"That will pay last week's and this week's interest," Ben stated. "What about the principal?"

"I can't get that for another month."

"Well you know the drill," Ben said. "Your interest is $1000 a week and if you don't at least keep that paid ... well you and I will have another discussion: a very unpleasant one. Give me the money." He took the $2000 from Jerry and walked to the door.

Just as the little man started to breathe easier, Ben turned. "I'll be back next Friday for the $2000 you talked about."

"But I'll only owe a thousand interest by next week," Jerry protested.

"Consider it a collection fee," Ben replied and almost stomped out of Jerry's shop.

"Damn I hate this job," Ben said aloud as he walked to his car. He continued his complaint silently, People like Jerry make the mistake of borrowing money from guys like Moe and don't think about the tremendously high interest that Moe requires. He snorted a laugh. Moe likes to call it the 'juice' or 'vigorish' because he thinks it makes him sound like a 'wise guy'. I hate hurting people, hell I hate scaring people. Wish Moe would let me work in one of his warehouses or his club or even let me leave, he continued to himself. Don't know where I'd go or what I'd do but I'd find something.

The warehouses and the club were Moe's half hearted attempt to appear legitimate. Said warehouses were actually a profitable enterprise. They accepted, stored, and set up deliveries for any number of goods for many different businesses; the warehouses were also a good way to funnel stolen merchandise.

The club, called "Acquiescence", was what was referred to as a gentleman's club. That meant, several young ladies would dance, barely clad and usually topless for the entertainment of the mostly male clientele. The ladies were also required to get up close and personal with the customers by doing "lap" dances. A job at "Acquiescence" was one step, sometimes a very small step, from prostitution.

Moe had taken over a neighborhood bar from a client that couldn't pay his debt; it was either give up the bar or go to the morgue. After watching a series on cable TV about a crime family back in New Jersey, Moe decided he wanted a club similar to the one pictured on the TV show. That's when "Acquiescence" was born. Moe was thinking about stepping into the world of prostitution and thought the club would be a great place to "show the wares", so to speak.

Ben walked into the little coffee shop that Moe used as an office; he owned both the business and the building that stood on the border of the Hill. "The Hill" was a closely knit conclave on the mid west side of St. Louis made up of mostly Italian immigrants, their restaurants and businesses; Moe thought it put him closer to the big boys. He doesn't stop to think that the family that runs organized crime in St. Louis was bossed by a Swede, named Gustavsson, Ben said to himself. Moe still believes in the old stereotype of Italian mobsters being in charge. Ben laughed as he walked over to the booth in the rear of the shop to face Moe.

"Here's $2000 from Jerry Smith." Ben said and dropped the money on the table in front of his boss. "He'll have another $2000 next Friday. I told him the extra thousand was a collection fee for me having to come after him."

Moe picked up the money, counted it, and handed Ben five one hundred dollar bills. "Good job on the extra fee Ben. When's the jamoke gonna have the principal?" Moe thought talking like a gangster would help him get in with the big boys.

He really sounds like a character in a bad movie, Ben thought, but he didn't dare say it out loud.

"He said it'd take another month," Ben answered and then quickly continued before Moe could protest. "Smith knows that the vig is a $1000 a week. He won't get behind again."

"You're too easy on them Ben."

"I've never failed to get your money when you've sent me after it," Ben defended himself. "It's not always necessary to break fingers, or arms or legs."

"Louie's a tougher collector than you," Moe said.

"Louie beat two guys to death last year and crippled another one with that knife of his. The crippled guy is still in rehab, not able to work or make payments on what he owes you. Where's your money from those three deals? What did that cost you, $40,000?"

"Got another job for you, if you want it," Moe said. He ignored Ben's statement and questions because he didn't like admitting that his pet pit bull had gone overboard and cost Moe money. "On second thought, maybe I better send Louie."

Ben waited for Moe to go on. He's too full of himself not to show me that he's the boss.

"Got a Mortadella that owes me $10,000."

"Mortadella?" Ben asked.

"Means loser," Moe answered looking at Ben as if he were stupid.

"Okay, a guy owes you money. So what else is new?" Ben remarked.

"Problem is this Peter Johnson, died before I could collect."

"Did Louie go talk to him and cost you another ten grand?" Ben asked, not caring if it pissed off Moe.

"Careful Ben. Don't be a smart ass," Moe admonished, trying to look mean. "You're not too big to be slapped down a notch." Moe took a sip of his coffee. "The jabone has a daughter."

Ben's first inclination was to ask Moe who he was going to use for the slap down. Although one of the youngest of Moe's people, he was also one of the toughest when the need arose. Instead he asked, "Jabone?"

"Means asshole. Anyway he has a daughter," Moe tried to continue.

"Where do you come up with this Italian slang and names? You're Irish for God's sake." Moe frowned and Ben held up his hand. "What's the daughter got to do with her old man's debt?"

"Quit interrupting." Ben nodded and Moe continued. "Anyway," Moe stopped, looked at Ben to see if he was going to keep quiet and continued. "I want her brought to me."

"Why?" Ben couldn't help himself, he had to ask.

"Because I'm gonna offer her a chance to pay her father's debt." Moe looked pleased with himself. "Actually I'm gonna tell her, not ask, that she will work in my club until the debt is paid off."

"How old is she?"

"She's legal, 22 or 23, so she can work in the club."

Ben shook his head. "What if she doesn't want to work in that kind of business?"

"Loretta, that's her name by the way, won't have a choice," Moe replied. He leafed through a briefcase and handed Ben a piece of paper. "This is the girl's address. Go pick her up and bring her to me over at Acquiescence this evening."

"Maybe she won't want to come."

"Persuade her Ben. You're good at persuading people to do what I want; that's why I keep you around." Moe waved his hand to dismiss Ben. "See you tonight, anytime after 8."

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Story tagged with:
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