A Pimp's Notes

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Authors: Giorgio Faletti
cabinet again.
    I move away from the wall, doing my best to straighten my jacket.
    I ignore my adversary and I speak to Tano. With a cool calm that’s nothing like what I’m feeling inside.
    “Since the hen that squawks is the one that laid the egg, at this point I hardly think I need to name names. Laura is a girl who works for me and your man wants to force her to be part of his harem.”
    Instinctively, Tulip takes another step toward me. Tano halts him with a wave of his hand. The only way left for Tulip to let off steam is with words, and he speaks them with flecks of whitish foam speckling the corners of his mouth.
    “Laura’s a whore, and you’re making a living off her pussy.”
    “That may be. But she’s a whore with free will, and she can be a whore when and with whomever she pleases. No matter what she does, she’s the one who decides. I don’t impose, I simply propose, without duress and, above all, without fists.”
    The threat comes as no surprise.
    “I’ll have your hands cut off at the wrist.”
    I turn to look at him, and I stare him straight in the eye.
    “So you’re too scared to do your own hand-cutting in person these days?”
    Tano’s voice, slightly raised, cuts sharply through this little exchange of compliments.
    “That’s enough! And I mean both of you!”
    He goes back and sits down at his desk. He speaks to Tulip without looking him in the face.
    “Salvo, go in the other room and see if everything’s under control.”
    That request is tantamount to a get-the-fuck-out-of-here, loud and clear. Reluctantly, Menno heads for the door, covering his humiliation with a dignified, unhurried pace. Just before he walks through the door, he gives me a look that contains a complete road map of his intentions. I know that he’s not likely to get over this particular humiliation anytime soon and that, in any case, I’ve just made an enemy for life.
    Oh well, nobody lives forever.
    Now Tano and I are alone. I go back to my chair. He puts his hands behind his head and draws his own conclusions.
    “So, for you this Laura’s freedom is worth all that money.”
    “That’s right.”
    He looks at me as if he were seeing me for the first time.
    “You’re a smart guy. You’re no chicken. From the way you talk, I can tell you’re educated. You have a nice appearance. Are you ambitious, too?”
    This sounds like the preamble to a job offer. Which I tactfully do my best to avoid.
    “Sometimes ambition can take you on some strange rides, in the backs of certain cars and inside certain coffins. Plus, I’m allergic to flowers.”
    Tano Casale bursts out laughing.
    “And you’re a philosopher too. Happiness comes to him who settles for less.”
    This time I put a ceremonious smirk on my face.
    “Or you could put it another way. He who is happy to settle for less lives well and much longer.”
    The man sitting across the desk from me seems satisfied, both with me and with the turn of events.
    “Outstanding. I guarantee that Salvo won’t bother your girl anymore. As for the rest of it, give me the time to put together the money and then we’ll complete this operation. I’d be just as happy if it was you supervising it, even though, for obvious reasons, I’d assign a trusted colleague to work alongside you.”
    I pull a ballpoint pen out of a cup and jot down the phone number of the answering service I use on a notepad lying on the desk. I push it across the desk to him.
    “You can get in touch with me any time of the day or night at this number.”
    Tano stands up. This signals an unspoken dismissal. I stand up too and reach out to grip the hand he extends to me.
    “Now, if you want to go take a stroll around the room in there, I’ll have them give you a handful of chips, just so you can’t say we sent you away empty-handed.”
    I put another aspect of my life onto the scale.
    “Thanks. But I don’t gamble.”
    “Smart boy. There are plenty smarter ways to burn up your money.”

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