Manny and Sid swap candidates.
|Manny and Sid
Manny and Sid had known each other since grammar school. They had both joined the Syndicate and come up through the ranks.until they were picked for an operation that was one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Costa Nostra. They sat together in the corner of the lounge speaking in low tones over their drinks. Earlier in the day they had completed a training session with their two candidates, Lenora and Shaundra, who now sat at the bar. They had taken the young women repelling at the Executive Development Center in Aspen Colorado. Their sole mission in life was preparing and qualifying females for a job that was referred to in low tones as "The Enterprise." It was a subject they normally only talked about in the wide open spaces. Tonight however, they going to discuss it mano a mano. At first the conversation was casual and lighthearted as they let the array of sensors in their briefcases sweep the room.
“Remember the Summer we graduated from High School…when my dad took us up to Green Lake? “
“How could I forget…Your Old Man had that new ’68 GTO…When we got up there he handed you the keys…”
“Could that sled haul ass or what?”
“On the trip up from Chicago you told me something I never forgot.”
“What was that?”
“Always feed a woman before you…..”
Manny chuckled….“Good advice then, still is….Seems like I remember that conversation….we were talking about Rita and Chloe.”
“We had some wild times in that car…Remember the grill in the trunk…the cooler full of beer and the steaks?”
“Those were the days.”
“I’ll never forget that first barbeque we had with the girls …How when we finished chowing down, you stood them at attention in front of the Pontiac…. Told them to strip to the waist.”
“Seems I recall something along those lines.”
“It was so unexpected…I was surprised as they were…”
“Now, I don’t recall any argument?”
“Nobody ever argued with you…even back then.”
“Come on now, they were willing….they loved it…Women need a strong man…you know that.“
“I can still see them both…,standing there bare chested…and then… how you went and poured S-1 all over their boobs.”
“I still do that sometimes.”
“It was my first time with a woman…Chloe had a pair of the softest little titties…but big dark nipples…”
“They were sisters for crying out loud….could have passed for twins.”
“When I sucked her boobs they tasted like steak sauce.”
“Duh!….Wasn’t that the whole point?”
“Gawd, could they skip rope….remember how they kept us at it ‘til 3 in the morning?”
…Did the red hots ‘til our noodles drooped…”
Like felines, the two girls sat at the bar, eyes averted but missing nothing. While they couldn’t hear the conversation the warm bond of friendship between the two men was unmistakable.
Lenora sighed, “Reckon those two are old buddies…”
“No doubt about it.” Shaundra noticed her friend giving her the once over.
“Men have a different kind of friendship,” said Lenora, “Ever notice that?”
“Yeah, when two guys are tight they’re really tight…it’s kinda cool watching them together.”
“I have a girl friend and we’re close, but not like that…”
“Between women there’s always that competition thing,” replied Shaundra, “especially when a man comes around; its subtle but gnaws away, if you know what I mean.?”
“Yes I do.” She squeezed Shaundra’s hand. “But women can be very affectionate too.”
Shaundra pulled it away. Lenora changed the subject.
“We really got to strut our stuff today…I think the guys were impressed. “
The smell of her cologne was compelling. I wonder what it’d be like doing it with a woman. She thought? “You’re a much better athlete."
“My ass,” Lenora replied, you climbed like a monkey…no disrespect intended… Her eyes had a wistful look.
Shaundra chuckled…“A monkey…you’re funny…”
“They picked up Marcie…,” said Sid, in a low voice.
Oh Jesus…thought Manny…It was a trainer’s worst nightmare.
“How long did they hold her?”
“Forty Eight hours.”
“I take it Marcie was one of yours?” Sid gave a forced smile but beneath was a sick look.
“So how did the debrief go?” continued Manny trying to sound casual. If she spilled her guts, Sid was a dead man.
“That’s what I’m wondering….Our guys aren’t through questioning her.”
“Forty-Eight hours isn’t that long…”
“The Feds know we’re up to something….every time they pick up a Manager the interrogation lasts longer and gets more intense.”
“Our Associates know this is going to happen sooner or later…they’re well prepared..”
“Yeah! She’ll hold up fine unless the Feds get carried away…”
“They’ve learned some new interrogation methods in the War on Terrorism,…”
Sid was the expert on law enforcement protocols and could have written the textbook on interrogation techniques.
“Worse than waterboarding?”
“They have some new drugs….Look Manny, if anything bad comes of this and I drop out of sight, promise you’ll keep an eye on Phyllis and my boy.” His look was one of anguish and deep seated dread.
“You know I will…” said his friend, in a reassuring tone. He knew the feeling…If one of the girls you trained ever flipped, a couple of high paid hit men showed up on your doorstep. It was something that went with the job…that possibility forever looming over your head. It fostered a deep seated and visceral fear that was chronic and unrelenting.
“Well I guess it’s time we take the girls upstairs…tomorrow will be a big day…”
“I really hate this part, you know swapping our girls…”
“You’re too close to Lenora to do what has to be done….Same with me and Shaundra.”
“I know, but it don’t seem right…like beating up your sister….
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?".
"Only that we work hard to build that trust and confidence and then, when it matters most, we hand our candidate off to a stranger for the worst of it.”
“Well that’s just the way it is…”
“Its obscene… like ratting out a friend.”
“Are you going soft on me…?”
“No way, but this is the part I don’t like.“
“Get over it….Anything I need to know about Lenora?”
“No, how about Shaundra?”
“Take her, she’s yours.”
The two men got up and walked over to the bar. He winked at Sid…“I can still smell those steaks…
"...and the taste of A-1 sause…” came the reply.
“The way they sizzled on the grill.”
“Nothing beats a New York Strip,” said Sid.
Manny took Lenora's hand,” Tomorrow’s a busy day.” She looked up in surprise.
Cid put his arm around Shaundra and smiled, “You ready?”
She looked nervously at Manny and when he nodded, followed Mr. Cavaglia up to his room.