A LITTLE MORE ACTION

The great ship appeared in our skies like a jewel amongst the stars. I like jewels. I got a few dozen stones in my safe behind the tasteful nude of my second wife. It showed up, and those guys popped in right in the middle of the hit. They managed to duck the slugs long enough for a couple of my guys to pick them up. They were some pretty queer ducks and when they were "escorted" to my office I thought, "These guys are a bunch of clowns."

The leader was this patsy called Kirk. He was dancing around my office in his pajamas, going on about how our "society" was all messed up. I managed to get him seeing things my way and I talked to the people on his ship up there in the sky. Told 'em I needed some of their fancy heaters. Kirk didn't want to play ball, so I leaned on his pointy-eared friend a little. Then I offered him my hospitality so he could think about it. When he kept griping I mentioned a few of the bad things that could happen to his doctor-buddy. I suggested that while he was thinking about it this doctor could maybe stay in my office and observe the day to day action. Shoot some pool, maybe have a drink, y'know, socialize. Kirk didn't like it but the sawbones decided to go along with it. I can be very persuasive. I spent time thinking too. I was trying to figure these new heaters into my plans for expansion.

You can imagine my surprise when Kirk and the pointy-eared guy tricked one of my best guys, Kalo, and tried to escape. Sad for them, Krako put the bag on them. I was furious at the time, I admit. That proved less than beneficial for poor Kalo. But I'm a businessman first. And any good businessman knows that information is power. I started working on figuring out where Krako was holding them. I didn't need him landing any heaters and using them on me. I'd just gotten it figured out and sent a few of my boys over to settle up accounts when Kirk showed back up at my office gliding around in better threads than I usually wore and packing the kind of heat that leaves no room for misunderstanding. He had a plan and I found myself willing to listen. (Hey, he had the heat and he'd gotten the drop on my boys. What's a guy to do?) He wanted to have me call all of the other bosses so's he could bring them over to my office, unexpected, like. He had this gizmo that would take 'em from Point A to Point B without having to drive. I figured, "Hey, why not?" and in a few minutes I had a lot of really confused bosses in my office. Kirk wanted us to combine ourselves into some kinda syndicate. He wanted me to head it up so I was pretty open-minded about it. Sad to say, Krako started beefing about how Kirk's "Federation" wasn't nothing but a bunch of hot air. He shut up a little while later when Kirk's ship pulled a Mickey Finn on one of Krako's hit squads and some of my boys who where trying to convince them to go away.

Things got real organized after that. Kirk explained that his "Federation" was going to come by from time to time to collect a piece of the action. I'd run things with Krako as my number two. The rest of the bosses would run stuff under us and we could put paid to the constant hits on each other. There was a lot of bitching but we worked on it with Kirk's help and got things smoothed out. It wasn't quite the way things were laid out in The Book but it seemed like even more profit for all of us when the day was done. By the time Kirk left we had a system in place. Kirk was happy, me and Krako was happy and the other bosses, even Tepo, knew we were on to a good thing. When that pretty starship left our sky it was replaced by a rising sun. A glorious new era. Yeah, right. If you'll buy that, me and Krako got some land down in the old Southside Territory you might like. Lots of water and the land can't be more than four inches below it.

So there we were with our new syndicate. Things started going wrong soon after. Without the healthy competition of the different bosses it got hard to convince the regular-type people that they needed us. Before, I could say, "If you don't pay me protection Krako will move in and charge you even more." Now I didn't have anything, none of us did. We couldn't get a handle on things and stuff was getting unruly. One day, someone took a shot at Tepo and when the Enforcers got them it turned out to be an everyday citizen. The bosses were worried at the afternoon meeting that day.

"I can't believe they took a crack at me. Who the hell do they think they are, those lousy … well, they're rats, that's what they are!" Tepo was incensed and I couldn't blame him. You could see the crease in the top of his hat where the shot had clipped it.

"They gotta get the message that we won't stand for this! I say we hit a few people on the street, then spread the word that if they don't toe the line that's what'll happen to them, too." Krako slammed his fist onto my desk. I didn't appreciate it but I thought , maybe, I should wait to tell him that in private. 'Sides, he was pretty mad and I didn't want him throwing lead in my direction. I knew he'd popped more than one person he shouldn't have just 'cause he was a little annoyed.

"Let's just calm down for a second," I said. "We got to figure out a way to make the citizens understand that as their leaders we are strong. We gotta get them back in line. I got some of my eggheads working on that portable radio-thing that Kirk's doctor left behind. They tell me we can expect great things-maybe even the know-how to build our own starships. One day we could even go get a piece of the Federation's action. But if we can't keep it together until that day what's the point? We need a handle, something we can use to hold the everyday citizen in their place. As the Boss of Bosses, I'm asking you all to go back to your territories, talk to your people, see if you can get any good ideas. You come up with something, you call or come by and let me know. Ok, we're done for now." Most of the underbosses left but Krako and Tepo stayed for a couple rounds of pool. We batted a few ideas around but nothing sounded good. When we all went home someone threw a bottle at my car. I made my driver stop and jumped out to try and see who did it but the yellow dog ran off into the night. I put my piece away and got back in the limo.

It was about three-four days later that Tepo showed up in my office with Krako in tow. He was all worked up and I had to give him a shot of my best whiskey before he calmed down enough to talk straight.

"Bela, I had an inspiration! You know, those Horizon guys left more than one Book." I told him I didn't know and he brushed it off. "My pops was around when they were here-well, actually my great-great-grand pops but…"

I cut him off. I was in a lousy mood-somebody had egged my office doors that morning. "Get to the point-what books? What are you talking about?"

"I have a small stash of books. And I started looking through them 'cause I thought, 'Hey, The Book helped us so much, maybe one of these can help.' And I was right. You gotta read this." He thumped a large book, almost as big as The Book, onto my desk. Krako smiled at me.

"I breezed through it," he said. "I think Tepo might have found what we need. This book has a real good system, one that covers all of our problems. We might get those starships after all. Then maybe we can go get a little more action." His grin was infectious. I looked down at the rather impressive volume on my desk. The title was in silver gilt. Real fancy looking.

"The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich" I read. "You really think this will help?"

Krako and Tepo smiled. "I think we could get to the stars with this routine," Krako said. His grin was wolfish. I played a mirror and smiled back.
"This should be fun," I replied. I'd skipped ahead to the end. My stomach started feelin' funny.