Taking Care Of BusinessMature

I place the envelope on my lap and open it without looking down. I run my thumb along the bills stuffed inside, staring at Verbs the whole time as he shifts in his seat, refusing to make eye contact. That unreliable piece of shit.

“You’re short,” I tell him as I shove his payment into the front pocket of my blue jeans. “Again.”

“Hey man, you know I’m good for it,” he mumbles, looking to the other boys for support. “I’ll have the rest of it to you by the end of the week.”

I take another sip of my beer and remain silent. The air around the table goes real still as everyone tenses up, expecting the worst. It’s days like this that make me wonder why I put up with their unrelenting bullshit. Stinky cracks open his oversized mouth to say something but I cut him off before a single fetid breath can escape that diseased whore hole.

“This is the third time this month,” I say, real quiet and real calm. “Which is quite the accomplishment, really, seeing as this is only the second time we‘ve got together. You were short on your late payment last week and the one that was due, now this one.” The dumb bastard could have just made a full late payment and been really short on the one that was due last week, but he had to go and piss me off twice.

“Okay Quarters, settle down - I already covered the last two and -”

“Settle down? Are you suggesting that I’m angry? Why on earth would I be angry? Oh,” I say as I allow understanding to dawn on my face, my voice growing louder with every word, “I suppose it might have something to do with having to put up with your fucking nonsense! You know anger is very bad for the health, don’t you? Maybe I should improve my health by ending our arrangement?”

“Let’s not get hasty here man,” Verbs says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as his eyes dart around the room. “Listen, just wait right here. I bet Nora has got enough on her to cover me, I’ll be right back, okay? That cool, Quarters?”

“You have two minutes.” Verbs scrambles out of his chair and slips from the room as I finish the beer in my glass and pour myself another.

Oh. Yeah, the boys call me Quarters - sorry, I got a little angry there and forgot that I hadn’t introduced myself yet. They call me that partly because I’m overly fond of feeding the jukebox in the corner; at seventy-five cents for twelve songs it’s a hard deal to resist. So I end up asking them for quarters pretty much every week we gather in this sad excuse of a pub.

The rest of the reason, you ask? Let’s just say I’ve been known to settle my accounts with a sock filled with my namesake. I’m a little bit old school that way.

“Say what you will about me and Stinky,” JJ says with a smirk that I want to rip right off his face, “at least we never short you on our payments.”

I don’t bother to dignify that with a response. When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel I guess doing what you’re supposed to do is something to be proud of. Instead I turn and give the waitress my best Where The Fuck Is The Next Round look, to which she responds by sitting down at the bar and lighting up a smoke. Jesus Christ, help these days.

“What do you wanna bet,” Stinky asks, already laughing at what he has to say, “that he’s stealing the money from The Snorer’s purse right now, while she‘s sawing logs? Then tomorrow, when she notices the money is gone, that he’ll tell her someone must have broken into the bus while she was sleeping and that she’s lucky she wasn’t beaten or raped?”

“I don’t give a shit where he gets the money,” I respond, giving my nuts a good scratch. “I just want what’s due to me, when it‘s due to me. You‘d think I was asking for the pope‘s fucking hat, all the God damned trouble I have to go through.”

So what’s due to me and why? The first question is easy enough to answer: fifteen percent of each of their paychecks. The why is a little more complicated. Let’s just say I take care of business.

But I never work overtime.

The End

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