Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved. Direct inquiries to CIS I.D

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Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved. Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341. ___________________________________________________________________________ How Tubby triumphed over terrorism... By Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie "But the problem is," said the Tubby Bartender, "the problem is that I'm stuck either way. If I don't pay, the plate glass goes. Then I pay for new glass. =Then= I pay not to have the plate glass shattered a second time. If I do what I can to =avoid= paying, I'm a criminal. You can't win, darnit! You just can't win..." "That is terrible!," said Henri, the florist, staring angrily and forlornly into his drink. "Tough spot, really," said Mr. Chips, his ruddy face both compassionate and relieved. His heart was disinterestedly open: the plate glass at his haberdashery was not threatened by the bully. "Ja!," said Bayer, the town pharmacist. "In the old days we know how to fix wiseguys." "O, Father of My People," exclaimed the Padre, "how can things have come to this!?" He muttered a prayer in Latin. "What have I been tellin' ya', huh?," demanded Mort, the caterer. "You give 'em inch and they take a mile. You give 'em the Jordan and they take Tel Aviv. You pay that dog a dime and you'll never =stop= paying, not until you have nothing left! What do you think I been tellin' you all this time?!?" "He's wrong," Nakasone asserted with calm certainty, holding up his pocket calculator. "Paying is much cheaper than replacing the glass." He was the owner of the local computer store and the others deferred to him on matters involving math. It was the nightly meeting of the Commiseraters Club, a happy-hour catharsis that comes with the drinks at Tubby's Stumble On Inn, a dismal dive in a faltering suburb of a faded metropolis. "You're saying I should pay?!," Tubby seethed. "Why should I pay? What am I getting in return?" The Padre looked thoughtful. "You're getting your glass not busted." "My glass is already not busted!" "Well, then," said Mr. Chips. "Call it as insurance policy, what? So long as you pay, your glass =stays= not busted." "Ja! Like Nakasone says, is cheaper in the end," Bayer affirmed. "Numbers don't lie..." "Oy!," Mort burst. "What schnooks you are! You don't see, you pay now, you pay forever? You pay =not= to get hurt, that's not insurance, that's protection! You pay protection 'til you can't pay no more, then you get hurt anyway!" "Yeah!?," said Tubby, ruffled. "What would =you= do?" "Fight! You don't take that from anyone! He threatens to put out your glass, you put out his lights!" "Yeah, right, Mort," Tubby replied cynically. "=Then= what happens? He goes to the cops, says I beat him up. I spend the night in the can, pay a fine, and the next day I'm before the liquour board fighting to keep my license. Smart, Mort! Real smart!" "Yeah, so what are you going to do, Tubs? Give the gonoph =permission= to hurt you?" "...well," Tubby posed cautiously. "I was thinking. What if we all got together and made a joint agreement not to deal with him? Just take our business somewhere else. What do you think?" "The problem is," said Chips, "=where= else? His is the only petrol station nearby..." "Yes!," said Henri. "I have the delivery trucks always moving! I need a near source of fuel." "Ja, ja," Bayer agreed. "My deliveries also depend on fuel." Tubby looked entreatingly to Chips. "Well, it's all one to me, of course. But it isn't quite dignified, is it?" The dapper man polished his nails on his lapel. "Certainly we don't want to tolerate barbarism, but we needn't practice it in our intolerance..." "A =boycott= is barbarous?" "It's just so..., so =pub=lic!" Tubby turned to the Padre. "Holy Mother, guide my parishoners in helping me to decide!" "Who =are= your parishoners?" Chips hid his eyes with his hand. Bayer tunelessly whistled a snatch of Bach. Henri made a sour face. He said, "Mon Dieu!" Tubby said: "...I see..." He turned to Nakasone. "Well, what about you?" "I'll think about it." "What does that mean?" "It means, I'll give it some thought and get back to you." "It means," Mort sneered, "that he'll wait to see if you don't solve the problem yourself. If you do, he's off the hook." "Well what about you? Will you join me in a boycott?" "Sure, if you want. I always stand by those who stand by me. But I still say you should fight. Give the schmuck what he's askin' for!" "How can I? I told you, I could lose my liquour license!" "No, stupid! The way to do it is quietly. When I want to stop trouble, I have my runners go after the bastards with a tire iron. If the cops get called, it's disturbing the peace, ten dollars or ten days. I get what I want done, and I keep my name out of it." Mort tapped a finger against his temple. "Smart!" "Gosh," said Tubby. "Do you think you could do that for me?" "Well, you know," said Mort, suddenly looking sly. "It's a lot to go through..." "I suppose so..." "And I could get caught, couldn't I? Then what would happen? That wouldn't look so good..." Tubby adopted a sly look of his own. "What was it I was hearing last week? About you having some trouble meeting your payroll?" "Yeah," Mort replied, looking sheepish. "I was two days late... Too much faith in my own projection of cash flow..." "I've heard of others having that problem. You know what works for me?" "No. What?" "Timely deposits," Tubby said reverently. "Timely deposits. You know, next time you go to the bank, I could step down with you. I'll bet if we sat down with an officer, we could work out a way to make sure you have the cash you need, every payday." "Now =that's= a true friend! And who knows? It might be that your bully will have an accident... Hey, fellas! What do you say we all go in on flowers for the hospital!?!" "Ja!," said Bayer. "And why don't we all go in on taking over that stinking gas station?" "You know...," Mr. Chips mused, "that's not half bad..." Nakasone nodded, a glint in his eye. "For Napoleon!," Henri said, downing his drink in a gulp. "As God Wills...," the Padre intoned. He fell off to mumbling. Mort sneered at his fellow Commiseraters. He nodded wisely at Tubby. "You listen to me, bubby. You and me, we understand each other..." =W=

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