Mickey & Manny's Second Chance, a short story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Serge Wlodarski

A man is going to ask his ex-best friend to do the same thing that broke their friendship twenty years earlier. A dramedy. 5-minute read.

Sitting in his car, parked a block from his destination and freezing his balls off, Mickey decided he needed to re-evaluate his propensity for risk-taking after this fakakta idea. Showing up to talk to--hopefully talk to Manny after twenty years of no contact, traveling halfway across the country to boot, in the middle of a fucking Midwest winter, need he say more? What if he’s not home? It’s Sunday. Where else would he be? Either way, he had to go through with it. His flight didn’t leave until tomorrow night and the change fee was out-fucking-rageous.

Mickey zipped up his totally inadequate for the weather coat, got out of his car and looked around. Whoever came up with ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ hadn’t seen the demise of this neighborhood. Unkempt houses, one after another. Mickey’s mother said it was because of absentee landlords who just wanted rent money and didn’t care to vet the tenants. He locked his rental which he never had to do in the old days.

On his walk to Manny’s Mickey mentally scrolled through the mental checklist of what he wanted to say. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t use them, just speak from the heart. Manny was his brother, that’s how close they used to be. Off the cuff was the way to go. Mickey Roselli and Manny Sosa, the M&M boys, the kings of improv in the city. Mickey had high hopes for them back then; Manny, based on what little Mickey had heard over the years, not so much. He had so many questions. Would he have the chance to ask them? Without hesitation he rang the doorbell.

Manny choked on his drink when he heard the bell. No one visited him. Just his cousin, Flaco, but he had a key. He walked to the window and peeked out. This time he almost fainted. Was that fuckin’ Mick? What the hell is he doing here? Manny looked around the living room and decided it was clean enough for guests. Especially that asshole. A knock on the door.

As Mickey prepared to bang on the door, it opened and his momentum propelled him into Manny’s arms.

“Hey, dear. Miss me?”

“What the hell are you doin’ here?”

“Just thought I’d drop in,” Mickey said as he broke his embrace.

“I’m serious.”

Mickey turned to leave. “I knew this was a mistake.”

“Only thing I want from you is money.”

“Ah, so you did read my emails,” said Mickey enthusiastically.

“Deleted them upon receipt.”

“Oh.” Mickey started to leave again.

“What’d they say?”

Mickey stopped and looked at Manny. Seconds passed.

“Get your skinny ass in here. I ain’t heatin’ the neighborhood.”

Mickey followed Manny inside. Manny slammed the door.

“Yeah, you’ll need the money for a new door.”

Mickey moved to sit on the couch.

“Over there,” said Manny, pointing to a 1970’s armchair. “Couch is mine. You didn’t see my drink?”

“Got another one of those somewhere?”

“Fuck, you show up unannounced, now you want my booze.”

Mickey took two steps towards the door.

“Sit.” Manny walked to the kitchen.

Mickey looked around but there was nothing to look at. No photos, no knickknacks. He sat in the armchair. Manny returned with two drinks, handing one to Mickey. Then he sat on the couch. Nothing was said for a minute, each sipping on their drink.

“How’s life? You still look like an Italian stallion.”

Manny shrugged.

“Glad to hear it. You been doin’ any improv over da years?”

“Listen, you didn’t come all the way here in fucking January to learn that I still work at the paint store. And not much, no. Almost none.”

“You mentioned something about money,” said Mickey.

“Yeah, for all of my ideas you no doubt stole,” said Manny with a hint of anger.

“Ahh. I only stole the best ones. Like, you remember the night at Jimmy’s bar when the girl with blue hair and a thousand piercings walked in?”

“You had to steal. You sucked at premise ideas.”

“You said that she really didn’t have the individual look she thought she did and I told you you were nuts? And within an hour there were probably twenty other people, guys and girls, with exactly her style.” They both laughed for a minute.

“That was maybe my best. The improv was how bizarre would someone go to be the unique individual.”

“And in the end, we were the individuals because we looked normal. Fuckin’ hell,” said Mickey.

“Most of my ideas rocked and you know it.”

“That’s because you had time to fine-tune them with Roscoe. That store had no customers.”

“Roscoe’s dead. Just last month.”

“Sorry, man. Really. I liked him. I was hoping to talk to him, too.”

“’Nother drink?” Manny ignored the last part of Mickey’s remark.

“Why not.”

Mickey offered his glass and Manny waved him off. He left the room, returning with a pitcher of water and the Dewar’s.

“So, what exactly brought you here.”

“It’s time I pay you for your ideas.”

“’Bout effin’ time.”

“Maybe. But, I’m talkin’ big bucks. For new ideas.”

“Ears are open.” Manny gulped the last of his drink and poured another.

“A studio grabbed a show I created and gave me a 13-episode deal.” No response from Manny. “I need a couple of writers and I thought of you.”

“I could do it from here?”

“Uh, no, you’d have to move. Think about no more frostbitten balls.”

“I’m not the LA type. If you remember.”

Mickey stared at his drink.

“You walked out of Sam’s, threw away everything we were building...and our friendship.”

Mickey slammed his drink and poured a straight scotch. He took his cigs from his jacket pocket. “You mind?”

Manny found an ashtray under the couch and put it on the coffee table. He held out his hand and took the smoke Mickey offered. Mickey lit Manny’s, then his own.

“We were young, man. We played a shithole bar and a pizza place. Neither of us had anything holding us here.”

“Maybe,” said Manny resignedly.

“Maybe my ass. You know I’m right and you’ve held it against me for twenty years. That’s fucked up.”

Manny nods imperceptibly.

“This time man, you’d have enough dough to fly back here whenever you wanted. Although I don’t know why you would. Cali has everything.”

“Cali? Did you just say Cali?” They both break out laughing.

“Well, you don’t have to, for Christ sake. I’m offering the chance of a lifetime. What the fuck.”

“What’s it about?”

“Basically, you and me. Two comedy writers who’ve been bouncing around for years and now at fifty, they get their first big break. Your attitude today would make for a great episode. You wanting to back out for something trivial.”

“How much we talking?”

“Fifty K.” said Mickey excitedly.

“That ain’t enough for LA.”

“Oh, did I forget to say per episode?”

Manny filled their glasses and lifted his. “A toast.”

“To M&M back together again.”

“No, to me thinking about it.”

“Always joking, you are.”

“Not joking. I need time to think. This is a big move.”

“You’re right,” said Mickey. “This had to be quite a shock for you.”

“Tell you what. Let’s meet at Sam’s tonight if you’re not too shitfaced already.

“I’ll be there.”

We’ll have a pie and--”

“Close the deal.” Mickey interrupted.

Manny arrived at the restaurant first. As he sat in his car smoking a cigarette and drinking from a pint of Scotch, the urge to leave grew. If he took off now he could stay at his cousin’s for a couple of days until Mickey left. Not good. Mickey would go to Alonso’s house first. Manny would just have to find someone Mickey didn’t know. Carrie was an option although she’d insist that he fuck her fat ass. Not an appealing thought, but he’d nailed worse. And fatter. And it would still be better than facing his one-time best friend. The car that pulled in next to him blew apart all of his plans. Mickey smiled and waved. Manny stashed the bottle under the seat and got out of the car.

The guys saw Sam, the owner, standing at the hostess station. Sam Rotolo had been a fixture in this location for over forty years; his family for over one hundred. Rotund and jolly, he held his arms wide open for the boys.

“Mickey Roselli, as I live and breathe. How long has it been?”

“Not long enough,” said Manny.

“Mickey and Manny in the flesh. Have I died and gone to hell?”

“We’re in your restaurant, so I’d say yes,” Mickey said with a smile on his face.

“What’s the occasion?” asked Sam. “Are you back together?”

“That’s why we’re here. To--”

“Talk,” interjected Manny.

“Your regular table is open.”

“Perfect,” said Manny as he started walking to it. “Two Scotch and waters, Sam.”

“Coming right up.”

“And get Mickey something, too.”

They took their seats in the booth in the typically styled Italian eatery. Silence until Sam brought the drinks.

“Pizza?” asked Sam.

“Yeah. What’d we have the last time we were here, Mick? Do you remember? Been twenty years.

“Sausage and onion.”

“I’ll make it personally. Great to see yous guys. Just like the old days.”

Sam walked towards the kitchen. More silence. Finally, Mickey broke the ice.

“You been thinkin’?” reverting to the way he talked in his twenties.

“I have,” said Manny.


“I’m a little insulted.”

“’Bout what?”

“The way you treat me.”

“Like how?”

“You’re a fucking selfish opportunist.”

“So’s most people.”

“Doesn’t make it right.” Manny finished his first drink. “When I wouldn’t move to LA in ‘95 you stormed out of here pissed off and I haven’t heard a word from you since.”

Mickey stirred his drink.

“Now, you’re asking me to move again. Because you need me again. Only for that reason.”

“Wrong, my friend. Maybe I needed you den. Not dis time. I got writers lined up around the block wanting to suck me off for dis chance.”

“And you wonder why I hate that city.”

Sam approached the table with more drinks and a bowl of pepperocinis.  

“Yous know you can have your Thursday night slot again. Just say the word.”

“Thanks, Sam. We’ll let you know.” Mickey said, smiling.

Sam walked away with the empty glasses.

“Sam’s real people. Not like the amoral fucks you deal with.”

“For da money, I’ll keep my folks.”

“Yeah, well I hope your dick doesn’t fall off.”

Manny stood, slammed his drink and walked away slowly without looking back.

Manny knew his exit wasn’t as dramatic or effective as Mickey’s was twenty years ago. But, he had to do it. Mickey would’ve sat there for however long it would’ve taken to get Manny to agree. And that was never going to fucking happen. Manny would never, could never admit why he couldn’t go. Even though he wanted to, more than anything. The reason was the same today as it was the first time. Manny wasn’t the premise king. It was Roscoe.

Submitted: January 22, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Michael Licwinko. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

Excellent story. Nice twist at the end.

Fri, January 22nd, 2021 2:24pm


Thanks. The broken friendship is based on real life. The rest is mostly fiction.

Fri, January 22nd, 2021 8:37am

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