Like a glove, thought Steve. The leather sleeve wrapped snugly around his prize baseball bat.  Steve had paid over one thousand dollars for that bat. The previous owner claimed it had been used by A-Rod during his time with the Mariners. Although Alex Rodriguez had been involved in some controversies over his career, his equipment still fetched an excellent price among collectors, but it was not about the money. Steve was an A-Rod fan and always would be.

Steve laid the sleeve against the right-hand drawers of his mahogany desk. The freshly tooled tan leather stood out against the darkly wooded workspace and cherry paneled walls.  He had no windows to see out of, but nobody had windows to look into either. Steve liked his dark secluded office. Darkness could hide a multitude of sins from prying eyes. After all, a successful nightclub needed to keep its trade secrets.

Steve’s charcoal painted door opened and Dion walked in. His six-foot-four-inch frame filled the opened doorway. Steve nodded his head, and the bouncer continued inside and stepped to his left. Steve noticed he was able to see the bulge of Dion’s weapon under his jacket. He would have to speak to him about that later.

Frank’s slight five-foot-seven-inch body stood in the doorway, hesitant to move. Dion’s twin brother Aiden assisted Frank inside with a shove from behind. Aiden followed, closed the door, and stepped to his right.  Steve pointed to a chair in front of the desk, and Frank quickly sat down.

Steve rested his chin on his palms and looked at the sight in front of him. Frank’s small frame looked even more fragile in the dark wooden chair. Steve noticed Frank’s hands trembled slightly, despite holding them in front of his body.  Aiden and Dion’s well-built bodies framed Frank from behind. Their three-piece suits contrasted sharply with Frank’s blackjack dealer uniform.

Steve leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk. He pulled an already cut cigar from his shirt pocket and lit it up. The smoke escaped from his lips into Frank’s direction. Frank did his best to stifle a cough.

Steve took one more drag, exhaled, and the said, “Frank, I hear some bad rumors about your blackjack table. I wanted to hear your side of things.”

Frank’s voice quivered as he responded, “Anything Mr. Russo. What are people saying?”

Steve took an even more prolonged drag on his thirty dollar cigar, dropped his feet off his desk, leaned in close to Frank, and exhaled into his face. “I’m told you’ve been skimming from my table.”

Frank coughed violently and attempted to shake his head as it nodded back and forth with each time he coughed. “No, Mr. Russo. Why would I ever do that? I’m not that stupid.”

Steve sat silently for a moment and considered his two options. This guy is a thief and a liar, why not just kill him? Of course, he’s scared; anybody would try to save himself if they were sitting where Frank is now.

Steve snapped his fingers, and Dion stepped up and pulled papers from his inside pocket. Steve took them and spun them around so Frank could read what was written.

“You see, Frank, you have a problem. This piece of paper is a copy of your bank balance. Do you see here where you started depositing an extra thousand dollars a week? The problem is, we didn’t give you a raise or nothing. Adrian spent some time checking into your family. It turns out nobody’s died, so you ain’t getting it from a dead relative.”

Frank’s fingers began to shake even more, despite his best efforts.

Steve continued, “Adrian also checked the numbers your table is pulling in. Want to hear something funny?”

Frank didn’t answer. He sat still as a board, and his face was pale with fear.

“Well, when I say funny, it ain’t funny. Your table started coming up a thousand dollars short every week at the same time you started getting this extra thousand in your bank.”

Frank stammered, “Please, Mr. Russo, I can explain.”

Steve held up his hand. “Please, Frank, don’t do that. I have the video from the casino floor cameras. We can see you pocketing the bills.”

Frank buried his face in his hands and began to weep. Steve hated a man who couldn’t take responsibility for screwing up. Frank wiped his face with the palms of his hands, looked up, and pleaded, “Mr. Russo, please, it’s my mother, she’s sick.”

Steve slammed his palm on his desk. Everything on the desk vibrated and Frank nearly tumbled out of his chair. “Enough!”

The room grew quiet. Steve let the atmosphere grow thick with silence. He reached down for the leather sleeve and his newly acquired bat. With his left hand, he signaled Adrian over. “Take this.” He looked over at Dion and pointed,” Take Frank, and you guys go for a drive. Teach him a lesson, but I don’t want him killed or maimed.”

Frank began to cry and tried to speak, “Thank you, Mr. Russo. I promise I’ll never do it again.”

“If you do, it’ll be your last mistake.”

Frank stood up, and Dion took him by the arm. Adrian opened the sleeve and slid the bat out of its protective covering. Frank’s eyes grew large, and his knees gave way. Dion grabbed him by his shoulders and partly carried him to the office’s rear exit. Steve heard Frank whimpering as Dion pushed him outside towards the parked car.

Adrian slid the bat back into the sleeve. “Nice bat.”

Steve nodded. “Yeah, it was a good find. Now, remember, nothing permanent.” Steve put the bat back down to his right and pulled open his bottom left drawer and handed Adrian two short rubber hoses.

Adrian walked out, and Steve heard the car drive off.  A moment later, the exit door swung opened with a breeze. Sunlight and fresh air invaded the room. Annoyed that Adrian had not shut the door properly, Steve mumbled to himself, walked over, and closed the door.  He preferred the darkness.

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