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Paulie puts on the heat And let the chips fall where they May
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepps Commentaries
May 31, 2004

I glanced up at my waitress and pointedly mopped my brow with a napkin. "It's kinda warm in here," I commented.

She gave me a downward shoulder shrug of resignation. "I'm sorry, but I'm new here, and I don't know how to turn the furnace down."

I glanced at the furnace. "Stop feeding it wood," I suggested.

"And then what?

"And then nothing. It'll burn down and go out." Sigh. Private church-run school kid. What are ya going to do? She gave me a doubtful look, which I more or less expected. She figured I was a kidder after I told her that in Australia, spring begins in September and it's hot in December. She just saw that as more proof that the ungodly couldn't be trusted to tell the truth about anything.

I stared out the window at the rain, brooding. At least I hadn't had to explain that rain was just snow that melted before it hit the ground. Like most of the town kids, she liked to go down to Redding to gawp at the tall buildings and watch the electrical street lights turn different colors, and down there, it rained in the winter most of the time. For all I knew, it rained in the summer, too, but nobody goes to Redding in the summer. Third degree burns aren't much fun, you know?

In some parts of the northern hemisphere, April temperatures in the fifties with rain wouldn't be considered unusual. But here, Spring was at least three months off, and summer a half hour after that. Then we could expect to see fifties and rain. This weather went against nature.

I kept a thermometer on the outside of my office window, on the grounds that most other forms of masochism that profound usually involve large medical bills, and for the previous seven months I had vaguely wondered, from time to time, if the damn thing worked. It was strange seeing all that red fluid in the tube this morning.

I asked myself what I was doing inside on such a fine day. It was unlikely that Miss Thirty-Six Chromosomes was going to believe my advice about the fuel supply for the fire, and the place was stifling hot. I glanced out the window, to see if there were any vacant tables available on the patio. The front grill of a powder-blue limousine advanced into the frame, followed by the hood, which went on for quite a while, until eventually a jet-black windshield appeared, followed by a luxury liner's worth of jet black side windows.

I wasn't in the mood for Paulie Five Fingers, and here he was, right on schedule. I wondered how Creeping Jimmy, the driver, had maneuvered around the main intersection in town. Artie's AMC Pacer (Priscilla) had finally died, and picked dead center in the intersection to do it. The chief of police had mentioned to me that he was going to say something to Artie if he didn't get it out of there by the beginning of next week. Artie had much money, thanks to the late Priscilla, now town monument under the only traffic light and facing impoundment the first day of the week. Sick Transit Gloria Monday. But now the chief of police had stopped arresting Artie for Appearance in Public and instead offered to help him get a new car.

One of the side doors -- the first of six, I think -- opened and Paulie stepped out, directly into a puddle. A look of consternation crossed his face. Five hundred dollar Guccis might look pretty, but they really aren't designed for comfort when you step into six inches of icemelt. Paulie glared down while I hid a grin (dark inside the restaurant, he couldn't see me, but why take chances?) and then peered around, his anger turning to incomprehension. He leaned back and said something to the interior of the car. I saw Jimmy's hand waving angrily in the gloomy interior.

Now the funny thing is that I learned Italian sign language just from watching Creeping Jimmy pick it up from Paulie. To me, Paulie's gesticulations were just hammy arm-wavings until I saw Jimmy emulating them, and realized they were a form of communication.

So I could see Jimmy's side of the conversation. "Of course this is fuggin' Mt. Shasta. Where d'fug you think we are? Queens?" Followed in short order by "How the fug should I know why it's raining? Do I control the weather?" This exchange concluded with, "Well, why don't you ask him? He's probably goofing off in that goddam restaurant." Jimmy pointed a finger right at me, which was pretty creepy. The limo crept forward past the offending puddle, and Paulie straightened up, turned toward me, and strode to the front door, air of calm command and determination only slightly spoiled by his new-found habit of stretching his right leg out and shaking his soaked foot -- much like a cat with a piece of tape stuck on the top of his paw.

By the time he reached the door, I had my facial muscles firmly under control. Paulie made his usual effusive greeting, sounding like a cross between Marlon Brando and Father Guido Sarducci (both styles of speech totally affected for my benefit, of course), gave a dazzled Thirty-Six Chromosomes a kiss on the wrist (probably faking it and kissing his own thumb), and invited me out to the limo for a confab.

I felt some trepidation as I stepped in. I didn't think Paulie had any kind of a beef with me, but I never liked being in a situation where he could control my movements and ability to leave. Too much like having to share a motel room with a tiger.

Ever been in a limousine? There are certain things you expect. Luxurious appointments, TV/DVD players, a good satellite stereo, that kind of thing.

What you do NOT expect is the odor of fish and chips. I paused, letting my nose explore, while Paulie gave me his very best shark's smile. There was a table, white linen, two silver half domes of warmers, a bucket of champagne -- no, not champagne. I crouched and walked over. They've never quite solved the problem limos have with four foot ceilings. Watney's Red.

Paulie regarded beer as soda pop for alcoholics -- and Paulie had no time for soda pop or alcoholics. He was about as likely to drink beer as it was to . . . to . . .

Well, to rain in Mt. Shasta in April.

Paulie inclined his head and waved toward the spread, palm up. Dig in.

I opened the server nearest me and blinked, puzzled. There were two bundles of newspaper there, with glittering grease stains on them.

Then I got it. I once told Paulie about my childhood in London, and how they used to wrap fish and chips in newspaper and serve it that way.

"Paulie, what is all this?"

"What is the date today?"

I glanced at my watch. Oh, hell. It was my birthday. That must have been what those phone calls I refused to answer this morning were about. So Paulie had decided to get some fish and chips, wrapped them in paper, and then served them on linen with real silverware.

Paulie had his moments. I grinned, thanked him, and started unwrapping the paper.

And stopped cold. The paper was the London Times. Only it didn't look like the Murdoch broadsheet. It looked like the old lady of Fleet Street type Times. I opened out a page and glanced at the date. August 7th, 1957. Then I spotted the fish.

I picked up a piece and peered at it. I was expecting to see the type of cod that the local restaurant fried in bread batter. This was real beer batter. I sniffed. Deep fried in lard. I opened the other package, carefully. Manchester Guardian, October 6th, 1956. Prime Minister Eden was doing well, much to the Guardian's chagrin. I personally had no memory of the man, since I was pre-school when he left office.

The chips were the fat, greasy, mottled, lard-fried chips -- Freedom fries, I believe the colonial chappies call them -- from my youth.

"Paulie, where...?"

Paulie put a finger to his lips. "Happy Birthday. Eat."

Roger Zelazny said you should never question miracles. I ate. Paulie joined me, pouring the Watney's into big, clunky, chipped old pint glasses. That, at least, didn't remind me of my childhood. Even in post-war England, very few pubs served beer to four year olds, and chippies didn't have off-site licences.

As for the rest, Dylan Thomas once said you could never go home again, something I took to mean you could never return to your childhood. Everything would be smaller, dimmer, less wonderful. I took a bite of the fish, and decided Dylan Thomas was full of shit. It was exactly how I remembered it. Same rich, greasy taste, rich Icelandic cod, stout Irish potatoes. I sucked grease off my thumb and reflected that there was a lot to be said for infantile regression.

We ate in silence, my friend and I, something that was an homage from Paulie, normally so voluble at meals.

We finished, and Creeping Jimmy cleared the table. I'm quite sure he was enjoying the same repast in the driver's seat while we enjoyed our meal. That's just how Paulie worked.

Paulie put a couple of bright, roughly cylindrical objects about eight inches long, each end tied tight with a loose flare of crepe paper on the out-side, on the table. "How do these work?"

I stared, laughed. "Paulie, those are crackers. You have those for Xmas, or maybe New Year's." I grinned, and picked one of the novelty-cap favors up. And birthdays, too, I reflected. "You see this cardboard tab in the end? You press it firmly with your thumb, against the crepe paper which your front finger will press on. I do the same at this end, and on the count of three, we pull sharply. One, two, THREE."

Paulie looked startled at the bang of the cap. I guess he hadn't known why they called them crackers. Jimmy's arm swung out over the back seat, holding a gun. He peered around, glanced at Paulie. Paulie made some signal hidden from me, and Jimmy nodded and put away the gun. Paulie looked thoughtfully at Jimmy. "Perhaps we should save the other one for New Year's, at that." He lifted his head at Jimmy, who pulled back into the front seat, closing the privacy window behind him.

Well, that's why I always feel a little guarded around Paulie. There's always a risk you might get shot or something. Paulie, for all his voluble affability, is a threat in and of himself.

Paulie leaned back into the well-cushioned seat, interlaced his fingers over his belly, and smiled at me. And held a steady gaze. I was to begin the conversation.

Damn. I hate starting conversations under the best of circumstances, and with Paulie, a certain amount of thought had to go into the opening remark. Something like "So, how does it feel to be a retired Mafia Don?" might fall flat, especially if he was being less than straightforward in his claims to have embraced la voca legitima. "Is your foot still wet?" while promising, indicated that I had witnessed that particular undignified episode, and worse, would call attention to the fact that he was now wearing only one shoe. A faux Paulie. So I leaned back in my well-cushioned seat, interlaced my fingers over my belly, and smiled at Paulie with a steady gaze while buying time. He begrudged an approving smirk.

"I see someone bought the Dodgers."

Paulie shrugged. Eh bien. "Murdoch wanted too much money. I am looking into an expansion team."

"Any particular location in mind?"

"New Jersey, of course. Where do you think I would put a team?"

Several impossibilities came to mind. "And the team name would be...?"

"Do you suppose ĆThe Dons' would be suitable?"

"How about ĆThe Wiseguys'?"

We laughed, and Paulie regarded me speculatively. "I want to offer you a job."

"I don't play ball, Paulie."

He waved my objection away. This was well-trodden ground. From time to time, he would offer me employment at a spectacular rate of pay, and I always turned him down. People who worked for Paulie made lots of money, but they did so with an eye over their shoulder. If office politics didn't get them, the Feds would. It never struck me as an appealing lifestyle.

"This is a bit different. I am not asking you to come into my employ. I wish to secure your services on a contract basis."

Hello. That was different. Paulie had been adamant before that I work for him if I was to associate at all, in an employer/employee relationship. That meant he could determine my hours and general availability, and of course, it would make me a part of his organization, something I wasn't particularly anxious to do.

On a contract basis, it meant simply he laid out a task, I gave him a bid, and upon completion of the work, he paid me, with neither side having any obligation. It greatly reduced chances that I might find myself explaining my relationship to unamused agents with the Department of Justice or the IRS.

I could probably do work with Paulie on a contract basis. Of course, I was going to have him be very, very specific about the job, since I didn't want to find that I was involved, however remotely, in the vice-president having a "skiing accident," or to learn that I could never again visit Reno for a relaxing weekend playing the slots.

I pretended to be pushing a stray piece of fish out from between two teeth with my tongue while I thought it over. I gave him a level stare. He gazed back, relaxed and confident. I realized my next question would come as no surprise to him.

"What sort of job?"

"What is your opinion of the presidential race as it stands now?"

"Huh?" I stopped to think. Paulie used tangents like a handball player. Nothing bounced off a wall without purpose. It also meant he had a pretty good idea what my answer was going to be.

"I don't know, Paulie. With Iraq and the economy and all the fuckups this administration has committed, Kerry should have at least an eight point lead by now."

"And yet it appears he does not. Why do you suppose that is the case?"

"He hasn't been aggressively capitalizing on Republican errors and set-backs. He is still vacillating on Iraq, waiting for the public to lead him to a conclusion rather than the other way around. He's been proposing things that people like, but not really coming out with something that will excite anyone. Democrats have been talking for years about things like workers' rights and universal health care, but they always speak in abstract terms about these things. Kerry is speaking in abstract terms. Nobody is hearing anything that fires them up." I leaned my head back, contemplated. Paulie was as motionless as a Komodo dragon. "Kerry's playing it safe."

"That is how I perceive it, Zepp. Why is he doing that? Is he timid, or weak?"

Kerry? The man has a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts. Quite the opposite of the chickenhawk disgrace whose job he was after. He was fearless in eighteen years in the Senate, amassing one of the most consistently liberal voting records around. Whatever it was that was holding Kerry back, it was not timidity or weakness. And yet his opponent, widely seen as a weak and rather stupid puppet of the right, a man who hid behind staged press conferences, "first amendment zones" and an utterly shameless disposition to lie his way out of any situation, was seen as straightforward and assertive, while Kerry was being painted as dissembling and weak.

"Kerry isn't weak. Or timid. You know his record. But he's being far too careful."

Paulie gave me an Ćoh-yes' nod. "Why is he being too careful?"

"His advisors are telling him to be careful, or the right wing media will do a Howard Dean on him. If he speaks out about the administration's lack of cooperation on 9/11, he'll be painted as a conspiracy nut, irresponsible with national security. If he challenges Putsch to any sort of head-on intellectual challenge, they'll paint him as arrogant and condescending." I sighed. "And of course by being careful, they get to paint him as weak and without direction. He can't win."

"A good answer, worthy of considerable discussion. However, it is not, in my opinion, the correct answer."

I cocked an eyebrow at Paulie and waited. If this circuitous discussion was Paulie's idea of a job offer, I wondered how he ever proposed to his wife.

"He is being careful because he is a member of the privileged class, and they are, by nature, defensive and even reactionary. He has much to lose by upsetting the social order, and it is becoming clear that such an upset will be necessary to offset the one the reactionaries of the GOP have implemented."

"Nonsense." Paulie looked openly surprised. I don't think he got told his political theories were a load of shit very often. "If Kerry was a safe reactionary millionaire, he wouldn't have testified before Congress the way he did in 1973. He wouldn't have stood for the things he has in the Senate, and his views would be indistinguishable from Putsch's."

It was Paulie's turn to muse. "OK. Fair enough. Perhaps I have overstated my case."

"And what about FDR? Wasn't he a child of privilege, a member of the ruling class?"

"I would argue that the fact that he was perceived, in 1933, as a genial dilettante incapable of taking the sort of revolutionary actions needed to deal with the Depression had a lot to do with his being elected."

"And that's probably true. But it didn't stop him from carrying out precisely those types of actions, did it?"

"No, but it did cause him to run a vapid, even timid campaign. It is impossible to guess at what his inner thoughts were, but he clearly was spending more time reassuring his own class that he was harmless than he was trying to assure the country he could take bold and drastic action." Paulie stroked his chin. "Do you think, had the crash and subsequent Great Depression not occurred, that he would have been elected in 1932?"

I considered. Al Smith was still popular despite his loss four years earlier, and John Nance Garner was considered the next big thing for the Democrats at the mid terms. "He probably wouldn't have been nominated to run."

"Possibly so. But he was. So tell me: were the Republicans able to run an effective counter-campaign against him?"

"No, of course not. The economy had collapsed, millions were out of work, and Hoover was seen as ineffectual and out of touch. Basically all the Republicans could do was stand and watch the electoral tidal wave break over their heads."

"So he got elected, not because he ran a strong campaign that inspired people, but because the Great Depression made people angry enough at the administration, and scared enough to vote for him, just because he wasn't Hoover."

"Yeah, basically."

"We do not have a Great Depression now. At the very least, the people have not noticed how bad things have gotten. So why is he running such a vapid campaign?"

"The media will eat him alive if he does anything faintly outrageous. They'll do a Howard Dean on him."

"Quite so. I rest my case."

"Paulie, you haven't made a case."

Paulie smiled, tapped well-manicured fingertips together. "Do you believe in the liberal media?"

"Of course not. The media is corporate reactionary. Oh, there's a few exceptions like Air America..."

"Why is the media, the guardians of the public good, reactionary and eager to pounce on a candidate who doesn't comfort the comfortable."

"Because the media is a creature of the corporations."

"And this influences the political races in what way?"

By now I saw it. "By assuring that only politicians who don't pose an overt threat to those same interests get nominated, and jumping on any who step out of line."

"Suppose Kerry called for anti-monopoly laws to be enforced against the networks?"

"They would crucify him."

"Quite so. Monied interests will blindly safeguard that money, even when it goes against their own best interests. Did you know a sizeable majority of reporters -- nearly two thirds -- think the media is being too easy on Bush?"

"They are being too easy on him. The man should be ridden out of Washington on a rail."

"So why isn't the media harder on him?"

"He represents the interests of the corporate owners of the media."

"And has the media prospered from this?"

I stopped to consider. The public was getting restive, and more mistrustful of the way news was presented. It used to be most Americans listened to and believed Uncle Walter each night. Now it was sad creatures like Rather and Jennings, pretending to be journalists but really just mouthing the best interests of Disney and Viacom. I used to watch Walter Cronkite every night, and held CBS as a beacon of journalistic integrity. Now the only news show worth watching at all was 60 Minutes, an anachronism in a time of "No-Spin Zones" and Baba Wawa.

No newscaster dreamed of approaching the ratings CBS news once had. Combined, all newscasts had lower ratings, despite 24/7 availability and huge technical advances.

The networks had lost credibility and viewership. The cable networks were the province of partisan hacks who didn't want news, but mere reinforcement of their prejudices.

Americans used to be proud of their freedom of the press. Now those Americans not contemptuous of the press were instead contemptuous of the notion that the press should be free and independent. It was a pretty bad fall from grace.

"So let me guess here, Paulie. You think Kerry is tolerated by corporate media because he's seen as non-threatening to corporate interests, and as long as he's well-behaved, they won't savage him."

"In so many words, yes."

"So what am I supposed to do about that? Write a letter to the editor?"

"That would not hurt. But I want you to support clean campaign laws."

That was the optional public financing of campaigns idea that was spreading slowly among the states. It made it easier for challengers to take on incumbents, and most important, reduced the role corporate and other fat cat spending had on the campaigns and candidates.

"I already support clean campaign laws."

"I want you to support them in a meaningful way."

"Go back a step. What does this have to do with John Kerry? You want to get rid of Kerry? I gotta tell you, Paulie, this is not a good time to reject a candidate for being rich. Have you looked at the guy in the White House?"

Paulie tapped his upper lip, which I took to indicate mild self-remonstration. "I like Kerry. I think he'll make a good President, and I've talked to people. He will be our next President. Bush is finished."

"Paulie, if that was meant to enlighten..." A horrid thought struck me. "ĆTalked to people.' Paulie, you aren't strong-arming people, are you?"

OK, that probably was an exquisitely stupid thing to say. Even if he was strong-arming people, he wasn't going to admit it. And if he wasn't, I just pissed him off.

So he smiled at me. "Zepp, these people are people who are in positions where they could most likely strong-arm me. I'm talking about Senators, CEOs, even some religious leaders. Do you think that with a 55% disapproval rating, Bush's opponents are still limited to just liberals and civil libertarians? These people are often Bush's alleged beneficiaries -- the rich, the powerful, the well-connected. They are, at the least, embarrassed by the size of the gifts Bush bestowed upon them, and at most, outraged at the attacks on liberties and freedom this administration has led." Paulie's smile widened. "Do you know, I even had the head of a large timber firm tell me Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative was going to destroy American forests? Can you imagine how draconian things must get for that to happen?"

We were distracted by a series of outraged female squawks from the direction of the restaurant. We peered into the rain, and spotted my erstwhile waitress sitting on her bum in the same puddle Paulie had stepped in, and looking generally furious. She slapped angrily at the water, looking for all the world like an infant in a bathtub.

"That water is cold," Paulie observed with a certain air of authority, "I wonder why she is sitting in it?"

"She probably didn't realize it was water until she stepped in it, and fell because she was startled."

"Should we go help her?" As if to emphasize the point, the waitress hurled herself over onto her hands and knees, and then slipped on the ice beneath the water again, doing a fairly good belly flop.

I shook my head. The girl had written a letter to the editor a few weeks ago, proposing that the city ban non-Christians from all public areas. Her whole family was in a religion that would probably end up drinking koolaid in some Central American compound some day while waiting for the flying saucer to come take them away. "If you want to help her, go right ahead."

By now, the girl had regained her feet and was expressing her displeasure by spitting furiously into the puddle that had claimed her. Paulie pulled his head back, startled. Even mafia dons don't mess with the religiously insane.

"John Kerry," I prompted.

"Well then. This isn't about Kerry, per se. We'll get rid of Bush, and have Kerry in his place. Kerry will run a cautious campaign for the reasons I mentioned, and probably he will be a good president.

"However, the circumstances that led to Bush becoming President will still be there, and it will only be a matter of time before America finds itself with a president as inept and radical as Bush is, or perhaps someone even worse. The only thing saving America this time is the sheer incompetence of the Bush administration."

Paulie nodded his head slowly. "Certainly, there's little hope that Congress and eventually the Courts will consist of anything more than well-tended servants of the rich and powerful. If only 1% of the population would ever be affected by the estate tax, how did its dismissal get through the House of Representatives? Not one in three Americans believe global warming is a myth, and even less believe insurance companies should be permitted to name their price in selling drugs to Medicare, and yet those passed Congress effortlessly.

"The owners of the media were amply rewarded for their refusal to permit questioning of the Bush administration during its first three years. That Faustian bargain that Michael Powell pushed through still stands, and so a small coterie of crackpot right wing billionaires control much of what Americans see, and hear . . . and think. That won't change soon, even if Kerry tries to change it. And that's not guaranteed; the system supports those who play ball, savages those who don't, and Kerry has already demonstrated that he is, at the very least, cautious of these people and their power to make or break politicians.

"With clean campaign laws, we stand a much better change of electing people who aren't afraid to annoy Rupert Murdoch or Richard Scaife or Sun Myung Moon. We might get people who support what 95% of Americans want, instead of what 5% of industry heads and right wing demagogues want."

"OK, you're preaching to the choir, Paulie. I agree with everything you've said."

Paulie gave me an arch look. Of COURSE I agreed with everything he said. I was intelligent, wasn't I? He slapped his hands together. "Good. So all we have to do is work out the details."

"Erm. Details?"

"Of your new position, of course!"

"Paulie, maybe the hot weather has addled my brains, but I don't remember accepting any job offers. In fact, I have a vague memory of declining one."

"You have declined many. This time will be different."

Something to do with John Kerry and the Clean Campaign laws. This didn't sound like the sort of work Paulie normally offered. One of the more memorable -- and somewhat tempting -- was a cost/benefit analysis of the time it took a stripper to get down to the final flourish, and what would maximize audience "interest" and "donations." A slightly crestfallen Paulie reported about a year later that the results depended on how alluring the stripper was rather than how long it took to strip. I had made the same remark in our discussion the previous year, and if Paulie had listened, he could have saved himself several hundred thou. At least he got to keep the videotapes from the test runs on strippers. Hell, maybe that was what he was really after to begin with.

"Paulie, thanks for the meal. It was delicious." I made to get up.

I half expected Creeping Jimmy's arm, with gun, to come snaking through the driver's partition. Nothing of the sort happened. Instead, Paulie raised both hands, palms out, and made a gentle pushing motion. "I am not asking you to work for me as an employee, Zepp. You would be working for me autonomously, as an independent contractor."

OK, that was what Paulie had said before. Apparently he meant it. "Define Ćautonomous.'"

"I would reserve the right to dismiss you for non-performance or unsatisfactory performance. Otherwise, you would have complete say in how you performed your functions, and could tell me to go fly a kite if I were to be so crass as to butt in on your affairs."

He had my interest now. "And what would those Ćaffairs' be?"

"You would write essays and general items of interest promoting Clean Campaign Laws."

I gave Paulie a puzzled look. "I do that now. And I've told you before that you could use any writings I did regarding Clean Campaign. What would be different here?"

"You would be getting paid to do it."

"That couldn't hurt. But why buy a cow...?"

Paulie grinned. "I am establishing a fundraising 521 organization, non-profit, non-partisan, to promote Clean Elections and to help get it on the ballot in all states that have the initiative process."

Well, it had sounded too good to be true. "Paulie, I suck at fundraising. Seriously. I'm doing good to balance my check book. And I have no intention to trying to navigate the labyrinth of laws surrounding 521s."

"You won't need to. You would be working with a staff tasked to those duties. You would write what you wanted, and perhaps give an occasional speech. You can do that, can you not?"

"Full autonomy? My own hours? My own topics? Can I leave at will?"

Paulie nodded at each one, interrupting only at the last question. "I would require you to give notice, and having done so, the relationship would terminate immediately, with severance pay."

"Will you put that in writing?"

Paulie reached down, pulled out a contract and handed it to me. I looked it over. Paulie had foreseen all of my questions and answered them. A guarantee of autonomy, either party could terminate relationship either with cause (see sections 9 and 10) or upon mutual agreement. Section ten gave me the right to leave if Paulie interfered with my writing in any way.

I looked Paulie in the eye. "Why?"

"Because I can't do it. Because I know your opinions, and know we agree on this matter. You'll be doing it out of conviction, instead of just for the money."

Which, I noticed, was quite good.

"Can I have a couple of days to think it over?"

"Certainly. I have to go down to LA." Paulie smiled. "They seem to think I might make a good consultant on a movie about snowboards."

"Say what? Paulie, have you ever been on a snowboard?"

"It is a complicated matter. Incidently, why is it raining in April? Doesn't spring start about the Fourth of July?"

"I don't know. Global warming, maybe. Incidently, leaving your limo running for two hours while we eat lunch probably isn't helping any."

"It is not hurting. This vehicle runs on hydrogen. A gift from your esteemed governor."

"Arnold? Why would Arnold give you a limousine?"

"Because I am consulting on snowboards."

"Do I want to know?"

"At some future date, undoubtedly." Paulie waved a finger. "See you in two days."


"Arnie. It is, as I said, a complicated matter."

-- fin --

Posted: June 1, 2004


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