"So, how's business?" Goody asked.
"Business is booming," replied the voice on the other end of the line. The voice belonged to Eddie 'The Weasel' Logan, one of Goody's most trusted and devoted employees. "People are coming in and going out, and they're all taking two or more movies with them. And the magazines and toys are going real good, too."
Good, Good, Goody thought. His small, dark eyes lit up in his porcine face and this thick, greasy lips stretched wide in a smug, superior smile, as he readjusted his ponderous bulk in his padded swivel chair.
"There's over nine hundred dollars in the register, right now," Eddie proudly informed his boss.
Goody froze; his dark eyebrows shot upward. For a moment, he felt an urgent need to explode in an outburst of violent rage. But he forced himself to take a slow, deep breath. His nostrils flared.
"Now, Eddie," he said, in a calm, soothing voice, as if he was addressing a dimwitted child. Although Eddie was thirty-three years old, in Goody's opinion, that's exactly what he was. "You know the drill. Keep fifty in the registe and dump the rest in the safe under the counter."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Eddie suddenly shot back back in a sullen, defiant tone.
Goody smiled again. There was nothing but silence on the other end of the line. Unaware that he was doing it, Goody started to drum the stubby, sausage-like fingers of his right hand on the top of his mahogany desk.
Through a pair of sliding glass doors in the panelled wall, on his left, he caught a glimpse of the crowd cavorting on his back lawn. The sight afforded him a feeling of tremendous satisfaction.
Then his wife Lenore scampered by in her pink bikini. Goody immediately frowned and made a face, wrinkling his nose, and shook his head in disgust. Really, he thought. A woman her age should have more sense than to leave the house in such a revealing swimsuit like that. Every part of her bean pole body was wrinkled and sagging, especially her boobs, which he had once considered her finest feature. Goody hadn't touched his wife in over ten years and seeing her dressed this way now, he certainly wasn't going to start again, now.
Goody saw his ten business associates in their dark suits and ties standing together in a tight, little knot, and looking like a bunch of funeral directors. Goody rarely talked about these men to anyone and when he did, he simply referred to them as The Gentlemen From New York. When they'd arrived, earlier that afternoon, one by one, each of these gentlemen had walked into Goody's study and placed an envelope on Goody's desk. Each envelope contained a crisp, brand new, thousand-dollar bill. These men expected to receive a certain service from Goody before the day was over, and Goody was only too happy and willing to provide that service for them.
He glanced at the genuine imitation Rolex watch strapped to his hairy left wrist. Almost five o'clock. He had to leave in another few hours to attend the fight card he was helping to promote tonight, at the old American Hotel, in nearby Ellentown.
Eddie came back on the line. "Done," he announced, in a proud, child-like voice.
"Good. has our favorite cop been in yet?"
"Not yet. But it's still early. He doesn't get off work until seven-thirty, eight o'clock."
"Well, when he does come in, give him a free movie rental. If he asks why, tell him it's because he's a special customer and we value his business."
"Will do, boss."
A second of silence. Then Eddie screamed in Goody's ear. "JESUS H. CHRIST!"
The line went dead, again. Goody's enormous body tensed, suddenly alert, fearing the worse. The Sitrubla police had raided his adult book store six months ago, and Goody felt the same terrible sensation of fear and trepidation he had experienced then return to him now. His heart clenched like an angry fist inside his cavernous chest and his fingers ceased their listless tapping on his desk.
"Boss?" Eddie asked.
"What the hell was that all about?" Goody demanded brusquely.
"Ah, a customer was watching a movie in one of the booths in the back. The poor, old geezer got so excited, he left a puddle on the floor the size of lake Erie on the floor. I sent your nephew Steve back there with a bucket and a mop to clean it up."
In his mind, Goody pictured Eddie's long, smiling, stupid face. Is that all?, he thought, and instantly relaxed. "How are the, uh, special interest films doing?"
"Not so hot...But then, boss, you've got to remember, not everyone's into the same kind of things you are."
"Yeah, that's true," Goody replied with a forlorn smile.