Tuesday, February 6, 2024



Al Bruno III

Now, that was an excellent meal. These guys treat you right. They earn every one of their five stars.

No. No. Don't worry about the check. You are a guest of Boggs International, and we don't spare any expense when taking care of a guest. Would you like a cigar? Some more wine? Food always tastes better when someone else is paying for it.

Am I right, or am I right?

Wait, wait, we can talk business later. We want this much, the stockholders want that much, and maybe you don't want to sell at all. The night is young, and we've barely put a dent in the old expense account. I just hope I can convince you to make your company part of the Boggs family. There is a reason they sent me to you. We are exactly the same, self-made. We both started out at a podunk company in the middle of nowhere and made our way into the Fortune 500. We are innovators and forward-thinkers; we are exactly the kind of people who make this country great.

Besides, you have one up on me, been married what is it? Twenty years?  Congratulations! I'm not the marrying type myself, married to the company, you might say. Soldiers and married folks are the people I admire most, and they say both experience periods of intense fear and intense boredom.

Am I right, or am I right?

And kids! How many? Two? One in the crib and one going to college. My Auntie Kate would have loved you. She was all about the Bible. 'Be fruitful and multiply' and all that. They tell me your oldest boy is starting college, gonna be an Ivy League man. If he wants into a fraternity, let me know. You can't swing a dead cat around the office and not hit an alumni from one of the big ones.

But enough of that, I know what you really want to talk about. The old stump here. You've been stealing glances at it the whole night, wondering to yourself what happened. I bet you thought I didn't notice, did you?

Awww, ain't no big thing. It is what it is, and hey, I'm 50% better off than someone with no hands at all!

How did it happen? Let me tell you a story, but first, let's get the waiter over here and get us some martinis!

It starts in the '80s. Yeah, the crazy '80s back when I was still in diapers. See, there was this guy- Mr. Croad. I still don't know if that was his real name or whatever, but who cares? That's not what this story is about.

Now Mr. Croad works for a company selling bonds. He's not a good-looking guy, short and fat, but he's a hard worker, a family man, an honest man. One day, his bosses start pushing him to sell these high-yield bonds, junk bonds you'd call them. It's the old pump and dump, a little scheme where everyone makes money but the client.

And Mr. Croad, straight dealing, churchgoing man that he is, is having none of it. He warns the three members of senior management- Brown, Ryan, and Mitchell-  that if this company he's devoted ten years to doesn't put a stop to the shenanigans, he's gonna go to the authorities. That was his mistake. Mr. Croad was a little naive, if you get my drift.

It doesn't take long for his bosses to take him down. The company had some bad guys on the payroll, guys with fake names and dangerous reputations. Most companies have at least one of those bad guys somewhere, silently drawing a paycheck until he's needed. Brown, Ryan, and Mitchell don't have those guys kill Mr. Croad- that might raise too many red flags in all the wrong places. Instead, they frame him for possession of child pornography.

Next thing you know, Mr. Croad was going up the river, and if there's one thing you don't want to be in prison for, it's being a pedophile. He was only in for seven years, but those were hard years. How hard? When he finally got out, he had a limp and a dead left eye that stared at nothing. He came out of prison mean- mean and a little bit crazy. He was alone, too; none of his friends or family wanted anything to do with him.

When a man finds himself in a place like that, there are only two things they can go looking for: redemption or revenge, and let's face it, revenge is always easier to find.

Am I right, or am I right?

Ryan died first. They found him stuffed in a mini-fridge that would have been cramped for a child. Mr. Croad had bent and broken him in all kinds of ways to make him fit. And don't doubt for a second that guy was alive when he went in. He probably lived two or three days before he kicked the bucket. I know it sounds like a bad way to die, but the way I see it, he got off easy.

Mr. Croad hogtied Brown's wife and all four of his kids and made them watch. He warned them if they looked away, he would do terrible things. So, the whole family watched Brown's lips being sewn shut with nylon wire, they watched his eyelids being cut off with a pair of nail clippers, and they watched the saucepan Mr. Croad had placed on the stovetop slowly boil.

How long does it take a block of tin to melt? I don't know, but I do know that when it was good and bubbly, Mr. Croad poured the boiling metal first into one, then the other, of Brown's orbital cavities.

I understgand that the poor bastard's dying scream was loud and long. There was no holding it back; he tore through the thread holding his mouth together turning his lips into flaps of torn ribbon. Mr. Croad knew there was no way the neighbors couldn't have heard, so he needed to get the Hell out of Dodge. But he'd had one last thing to do, you see, in the last moment, Brown's family had looked away, and it seemed like a shame to let all that extra tin go to waste.

Lastly was Mitchell; he had no kids, but he did have a trophy wife. She was a former skin flick actress, you know, the kind I mean. The ones they made for late-night cable for old men and teenage boys to jerk off to. Mr.Croad, never being one to repeat himself, let her be; she was off shopping when he kidnapped her sugar Daddy.

It was hours later when Mitchell woke up; he was buck-ass naked and tied down on the floor of an old train station. I don't know
how exactly Mr. Croad got ahold of those twelve pigs, but they were huge, at least six hundred pounds each. Now, they were farm-fed, used to the easy life, but Mr. Croad had been starving them for a while, so all pretense of domestication was pretty much gone by the time Mr. Croad ushered them into the room. Mr. Croad stared down at Mitchell and let him beg and snivel. Then he left Mitchell with the pigs, but not before dousing the man's balls in pork gravy.

Gruesome stuff, eh? Makes me want some more martinis. And yes, it is all true. Every word of it.

What? No, Mr. Croad didn't take my hand. I lost this in a car accident when I was twelve. It was too messed up for the doctors to save it.

Then why the story? To kill time, of course. It's 9:30 now, more than enough time for Mr. Croad to get in your house. As I said before, every company has at least one bad man on the payroll, and when you can afford a man like Mr. Croad, who else do you need?

The important thing is that he is in your house and if he gets a call from me, he'll go to work. He's had a long time to refine his technique since those early days and he's always itching to try new things.

You want proof? Do you really want me to call him and say that? Do you really want to know what proof like that would be?

Now to business, at long last business. I bet you're more than willing to sell to us now, and I bet your asking price is gonna be pretty reasonable.

Am I right, or am I right?

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