Friend of Mine

Reads: 133  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jim is fed up with his job and his life in general. When he meets Tony, an Italian-American wiseguy his life changes dramatically.
*Please note the language in this story is used as it suits the characters.*

Submitted: July 07, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 07, 2014

A A A

A A A


Jim looked at the variety of pizzas over the counter. Too much choice. He was fed up and just fancied something nice to eat. It had been an awful day at work. His workload increased beyond belief. Jim sighed.

‘I’ll have the 14” Napoli pizza, please.’

‘Excellent choice.’ said a voice from beside him.

Jim flinched. He had not seen anyone else enter the pizza shop. He turned. The guy was huge. He was as broad as he was tall. His thinning hair was slicked back. He wore a loud shirt, an expensive watch and gold bracelet. His face was friendly yet Jim sensed a menacing sinister side underneath the surface.

‘I’m Tony.’

‘Jim.’

Tony held out a hand. Jim winced as the guy crushed his fingers. The large man jerked a thumb towards the plastic seats which lined one side of the shop front.

‘Why don’t we sit? They can bring your pizza over when it’s ready.’

‘Go on then.’

As they took seats Jim asked the man a question.

‘That accent. Are you American?’

‘Yeah, I’m from New Jersey.’

‘You look familiar.’

‘Well, every time the Feds drag me in for questioning it makes the front page of the New York Times.’

‘Are you a gangster?’

‘Woah! That’s a stereotype. I’m an honest Italian-American business man. I’m in waste management. Mind you, there are times when my business gets a little heated.’

Jim knew the actual answer was that he was a gangster. There was an air of danger about him. But for some reason he felt at ease in the American’s company.

‘What do you do for a living?’

‘I work in an office.’

‘Oh yeah? You like it?’

‘Not really. They just keep piling the work on.’

‘You gotta be shitting me. How you taking it?’

‘Not too well, if I’m honest. Proper fed up.’

‘Fuck that! This aint about you. Says more about the schifuso that run the company.’

Jim just shrugged. Reached for another slice of pizza. He had to admit Tony had a point. As they finished eating the American gave Jim a dig on the arm.

‘How about you and me grab a beer?’

‘Aye, go on then. Why not?’

 

Jim and Tony went across the road to the Lamb Hotel. The place looked like it hadn’t changed since the Nineteen Sixties. And judging by the people drinking there the punters hadn’t changed either. But, thought Jim, that was precisely the charm of the place. No big screen television or karaoke, just pleasant surroundings and good beer. Jim ordered a pint of bitter and a whiskey for Tony. They took a seat in the corner of the room.

They drank and talked for the rest of the evening. Jim told Tony about his fairly routine life in Salford. Beer, football, curry, and working the nine-to-five at the office to pay for it. Tony spoke in vague terms about the tough world he lived in.

 

The next morning Jim woke with a slight hangover. As he headed for the bathroom he recalled the Italian-American he’d gone for a few pints with. How bizarre. Weird day. Passed over for promotion and gone for a pint with a gangster.

He reached the office the same time as he always did. Made himself a brew. Then got on with his work.

Just before eleven his manager asked if he could have a word. Jim nodded, like he had a choice. He followed his manager into his office. He told Jim to take a seat.

‘I know you're busy. My hands are tied. I cannot give you any more help than I do already.’

‘I understand.’

A voice called out from behind him.

‘Don’t tell him you understand. Come on, Jim. Man the fuck up! Tell this paisan you can only do so much.’

Jim spun in his chair. Tony was standing there. What was he doing? Was he trying to get him sacked?

‘Jim, you okay?’ asked his manager.

‘Yes, don’t listen to him.’

‘Listen to who?’

Jim glanced over his shoulder. Tony had gone.

‘You’re clearly taking this hard. That’s more than understandable. Take the rest of the day off. Get some rest.’

Jim nodded and shuffled out of the office.

 

He crossed the car park wondering just what was going on. Was he finally losing his mind? He had spent the evening with Tony and now he’d appeared at work, except his manager could neither see nor hear him.

He climbed in his car. Started the engine. Pulled off the car park. Tony appeared in the passenger seat.

‘You believe that douche bag?’

‘What about you?’

‘What about me?’

‘Are you in my head?’

‘You tell me, Jimmy. I don’t know but I aint in fucking New Jersey.’

‘None of this makes sense.’

‘Geez, when did life ever make sense?’

 

That evening Jim ordered a take away curry. As he ate the Chicken Madras and drank cold lager Tony expressed his view of things.

‘Look, Jim, whether I’m in your head, I’m a hallucination, or whatever the fuck, that aint the issue. The issue is those jabronis at your office who have thrown your hard work back in your face. That’s the problem here.’

Jim smiled. He had to admit that Tony had a point. He could be imagining strange things because of the stress at work. That was a side effect of the major problem.

‘You know what I’d do if I were you?’

‘What’s that?’

‘I’d go in there tomorrow morning and ask for a raise.’

‘Really?’

‘Damn straight. That’s the least they can do after this insult.’

Jim said nothing.

 

The next morning Jim was called into his manager’s office. His manager smiled. Told him to take a seat. Jim didn’t move.

‘How are you today, Jim?’

‘I want a pay rise.’

‘That’s a decision for head office.’

‘I want something. A gesture. You have until the end of the day.’

‘That sounds like a threat.’

‘Yes,’ said Jim. ‘I suppose it does. You have until five o’clock.’

Jim turned and left the office.

 

Just after four thirty that afternoon his manager summoned him. The more Jim thought about it, the more Tony had a point. The company had been taking him for granted for years. And this debacle with the workload was the last straw. So, it was time for the firm to prove how much they valued his efforts. He tried not to think about the fact that he was conversing with a New Jersey gangster that no-one else could see or hear.

He walked into the office. Closed the door behind him. Took the seat without waiting to be invited to sit. He stared at the man. And said nothing.

‘Right, well, I have spoken to head office. I explained the situation. Unfortunately, as much as we sympathise and understand the way you must be feeling, we are not in a position to issue pay increases at the moment. Perhaps in October-’

‘This is precisely what I’m talking about. I’ve had enough of the bullshit.’

‘I understand your frustration.’

‘Listen, I can see through the sales patter and the middle management bollocks.’

‘Jim, you have to look at the bigger picture.’

‘Bigger picture? Have you fucking heard yourself? Va fanculo!’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means I resign.’

As he marched from the office and out of the building Tony appeared beside him. He walked with him, a cigar dangling from his beaming grin.

‘Fucking A! I didn’t know you had it in you.’

‘I think I’m going to be sick.’

 

Back home in a state of panic he grabbed a beer out of the fridge. He booted up his laptop computer. Tony appeared beside him. Jim sighed. Tony shook his head.

‘Don’t you go weak on me. This is the start of something big. I can feel it.’

‘What was I thinking? Walking out like that.’

Tony pointed to the computer.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Typing my CV.’

‘Oh, your resumé.’

‘Only Alan Sugar calls it that over here.’

‘Who’s he?’

‘You don’t want to know.’

 

Jim typed while Tony helped with the wording. What had started out as quite a modest assessment ended up as a positive fired up statement. Jim grinned. It didn’t sound like him. Armed with his revamped CV Jim set about applying for jobs. The amount of positions being advertised on the jobs websites gave him hope. Surely amongst the thousands of vacancies being posted he would find something suitable. With Tony reading the screen over his shoulder Jim fired his details and uploaded his CV to numerous websites. He applied for clerks positions in offices across Greater Manchester. Tony pointed a thick finger at the screen.

‘What about that one?’

Jim read the details.

‘Tony, that’s for a department manager.’

‘Yeah?’

‘I’ll never get that.’

‘That’s for them to decide. Don’t rule yourself out.’

Jim shrugged. Clicked on the icon and applied for the vacancy.

 

Two days later Jim’s mobile phone rang. He’d had a couple of calls and emails regarding the jobs he had applied for.

‘Hello?’

‘Good afternoon, I’m calling regarding your application for department manager.’

‘Oh yes?’

‘Would you be able to come in for an interview?’

‘Yes, definitely.’

He hung up. His head was spinning. He’d got an interview. No matter what happened they’d thought highly enough of him to give him an interview.

 

Two days later he was shown into the gleaming modern office block of Adams & Bradbury. He rode up in the lift with a woman in her twenties. She had long blonde hair and a skirt which Jim thought was too tight to be appropriate for the office. He felt nervous and out of his depth. Tony had made him apply for the senior position. He wouldn’t get anywhere in the interview, that was for sure. They would see through him. Tony appeared next to him in the small lift space. He grinned at him.

‘You all set, champ?’

Jim shrugged. Tony looked at the woman beside him.

‘And who is this?’

Tony stared at the woman. Jim sighed. Was he finally losing his mind?

With Tony strolling along beside him they were shown through to a board room. The woman told him to make himself comfortable and that Mr Lucas would be with him shortly. As they waited Jim stared out the window at the view of Manchester city centre.

‘Can you imagine? Me working here?’

‘And being a manager.’ said Tony.

‘Do you think I can do this?’

‘Jimmy, the only thing holding you back is yourself.’

At that moment the door opened. Jim and Tony saw a very serious looking man with a thick grey moustache enter the room. He had a bundle of papers under his arm.

‘Good morning, James. I’m Mr Lucas.’

They shook hands. Jim half expected him to shake Tony’s hand. Mr Lucas waved at him to sit down.

‘Why do you think you are suitable for this position?’

‘Erm.’

Tony leaned on the desk between Jim and the interviewer. His demeanour was defensive, aggressive. He reminded Jim of a TV cop interrogating a suspect.

‘Tell him that you thrive off a challenge and that you are always looking for an opportunity to push yourself.’

Jim repeated Tony’s words. Mr Lucas nodded. He scribbled notes on the papers in front of him.

The interview carried on the same way. Lucas would ask probing questions and between them Jim and Tony would come up with the answer. Jim was too busy with the questions to take in just how surreal the situation was.

As the interview drew to a close Tony gave Jim a thumbs up.

‘Now, stand up, shake his hand. Tell him you look forward to hearing from him.’

Jim did as he was told.

‘Walk out of here like you’ve already got the job.’

Jim took a deep breath and left the office with all the confidence he could muster.

 

A few days later Jim’s mobile phone rang. He recognised the number. It was Adams & Bradbury. He answered. A police female voice congratulated him on getting the position. She asked if he could start the following Monday. Absolutely no problem. He hung up. He punched the air. Tony appeared beside him.

‘What did I tell you? They’d have to be ubatz not to hire you.’

Things had gotten strange since Tony had arrived but things were definitely looking up. Jim decided to go for a pint that evening to celebrate. No doubt Tony would tag along.

By seven o’clock that evening Jim was having a pint in a pub called the Gas Lamp. The place was packed. People crammed into the small pub to enjoy the selection of real ales. The sound of chatter echoed off the white tiled walls. Jim took a gulp of beer. He sighed. He’d earned a drink. It felt good to have a new job starting in a matter of days, and at a senior level too.

He drank beer as Tony gave him something of a pep talk about how he had always had the ability to do great things.

‘You can do anything you put your mind to.’

‘You sound like a self-help book, Tony.’

Va fanculo.’

They laughed.

Jim looked around the pub. Among all the people drinking and talking a woman caught his eye. She was about the same age as him and had shoulder length brown hair.

‘You should go over and talk to her.’

‘No way.’

‘Jimmy, you’re on a roll. First the job, now the ladies. Come on.’

‘Oh yeah? What do I say? The invisible man standing next to me told me to come and talk to you?’

‘Just ask her how she’s doing.’

‘That’s it?’

‘Trust me, it works. Just gotta believe in what you’re saying. It’s all about how you say it. I can make How you doing? sound like the best chat up line or the most dangerous threat.’

Jim finished his pint. Perhaps Tony was right. Just by believing in himself he’d managed to get a senior position at a large firm. Why shouldn’t the same principle apply to talking to women?

‘I’m gonna go for it.’

‘Proud of you, man.’

Tony vanished. With the positive words still in his ears Jim crossed the pub.

‘Hey, how you doing?’

The woman looked round, then smiled.

‘I’m fine. How are you?’

‘Great. I’m Jim.’

‘Angela.’

Jim explained that he was having a drink to celebrate getting the new job. She congratulated him. He asked if he could buy her a drink so they could raise a toast. She told him that would be lovely. At that moment he heard someone shout his name. He saw a lad from his old company staggering towards him.

‘Hey Jim. You’re the talk of the office. Everyone has been debating why you walked out. Was it that you just couldn’t hack it any more, you shit-house?’

Jim just shrugged.

‘Or did you spit your dummy out after they gave Craig the promotion? Boo fucking hoo.’

Jim said nothing. His cheeks burned red.

‘Let’s get that drink.’ said Angela.

 

After buying their drinks Jim and Angela took a seat in a corner of the pub. Jim gulped down his drink. Was he going to let this guy humiliate him like that? He felt like he’d made so much progress. He had got a new job and if he played his cards right he would have a new girlfriend to go with it. He felt like a different person.

But the way the guy had made fun of him had really got to him. Where was Tony? He knew what he’d say. He’d say that the schifuso needed teaching a lesson. He took a deep breath. Told Angela he’d be back in a minute.

He marched across the pub. Grabbed hold of the guy’s shirt.

‘What were you saying? Call me a shit-house? You talk to me like that?’

‘Come on then. Let’s go outside and sort this out.’

Jim grinned. Leaned in close.

‘Say that again. Go on. Ask me that again and see what happens.’ Jim growled.

‘Oh, get lost.’

Jim swaggered back to where Angela was sitting. She had a concerned expression on her face.

‘Everything okay?’ she asked.

‘He just wanted to apologise.’ Jim smiled.

‘Really?’

‘Do you like Italian food? There’s a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. Fancy joining me?’

‘Sounds lovely.’

 

As they walked up King Street towards Vesuvios restaurant Jim wondered where Tony had got to. The restaurant, one of Tony’s recommendations, was impressive. Modern décor, dim lighting, Dean Martin playing in the background. Jim and Angela were approached by a waiter. He had olive skin and not a hair out of place.

Vorremmo un tavolo per due, per favore.’

Both the waiter and Angela were surprised that Jim had asked for the table in Italian. As the waiter showed them to a table Angela spoke.

‘I didn’t know you could speak Italian.’

‘Neither did I.’

‘Have you been taking lessons?’

‘You could say that.’

The waiter asked if he would like to order drinks.

‘Could we have a bottle of white wine?’

‘Certainly. Will your guest be joining you shortly?’

‘What?’

Jim looked at the seat opposite. It was empty. There was no sign of Angela.

‘It’s the lady I came in with. Did you see where she went?’

‘I’m afraid you came in alone.’


© Copyright 2017 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by CTPlatt

The Interview

Poem / Poetry

royal blood

Short Story / Horror

Sunday Night

Poem / Poetry

Popular Tags