Issue 6

So the next day came and everyone was early for a change, which was a bit on the weird side of things. It was weird because I was the last one there and the rest were chatting like a bunch of excited schoolgirls. It was weirder still when I walked in. Everyone stopped whatever it was that they were talking about and just looked at me.

“You threatened to rip his arms off? What the fuck dude?” Wil surprised me. I could see why he might be upset, but I was the one working the deal so he really needed to trust my judgment.

“I needed to get my point across. Ralphie, I thought we covered this last night. Before anyone takes this any farther, I want to make it perfectly clear that I was there to work this deal while most of you were not. I fully understood the implications of what I was doing, but I wasn’t going to let us get screwed by Crazy Russ and his asshole friend. Everything that I did I did for our bottom line, which has bottomed out if I’m not mistaken. How could I have possibly made things any worse than they already are?” I knew that would have the result I going for, a dead silence.

“No need to get pissed off brother. I know you’re looking out for us, but don’t you think you might have gone a little too far?” We threw around calling each other brother like a bunch of old wrestlers.

“How about hoping that I went far enough. Okay guys, enough of this ass grabbing, let’s get the store opened. This place can’t run itself.” Though with business as in the toilet as it was having the business run itself might not be a worst idea.

“Sure dude, but can we talk more about this later?” I couldn’t tell if Wil had a genuine interest or if he was trying to help get the others to back off of their questions. Either way was fine with me.

“Sure thing man, we can talk later.” Though I wasn’t sure what more there was to discuss. I may have fucked up and only time would tell how badly.

Everyone just went about their morning routines, and got the place ready to open up, and we actually opened on time for a change. After the previous night and the conversation that had taken place this morning, I knew it was going to be a long two days and an even longer week, but we’d deal with it. It’s what we do.

After the guys had gotten the store ready to open and The Wills and Stevie had gotten settled into their stations, I figured it was time to see what they’d done in regards to finding us someone to sell to.

“Ok guys, have you made any progress on finding someone to buy this shit and a way to communicate with them?”

William spoke up, “Ok, so we had a couple of ideas we were throwing around, but we wanted to run them past you.”

They like to do this shit because they could brainstorm like it was nobody’s business they just had some problems staying on task.

“Alright lay ‘em on me.”

“The best idea we had was to do something through our website. Of course it would be encoded and encrypted in some fashion.” Wil was laying this part out, which told me it was his idea.

“What exactly would we be doing?”

“We were thinking of an online comic. We could use it to outline what we’re doing and as a way of communication with our buyers. We could also use an online submission form to get additional strip suggestions from our buyers. This would help to reduce any real, physical contact and if we monetized the comic it could help us bring in some real money.” William spoke on this part so it was clearly his baby. I liked where they had taken things, but they had missed a valuable point.

“That’s fine once we have buyers, but have you guys found any potential ones for us now?” Don’t misunderstand, they were geniuses when they applied themselves, but sometimes they could be frustrating.

“Uh, no. Not as such. We did find a couple leads we need to follow up on, but we don’t yet have any names.” Coming from anyone but Will that would have started one hell of a fight, but I knew he knew better than to bullshit me on matters of money.

“Well you need to have something by the end of today? There are three of you back here, so you should still be able to do some selling online.” I didn’t wait for a response. I just turned around and headed out to the floor. Ralphie had been left alone for far too long already.

“Alright Big Man, what are you up to all by yourself out here?” I was not nearly ready for the response I got. Sometimes he was like a child, and that made the fact that he was older than me all the more frightening. As I came out of the back room, I could hear what he was up to.

“ so the greatest superhero!” He was fighting with a customer again.

“Ralphie, stop fighting with the customers.” It happened about once a day, that someone who’s comic ideology differed from his. He would then express his dislike in a most angry ape kind of way. His reaction was exactly what I’d expected him to do. He just grunted.

“Fine, dick. You’re the boss.” He was right. I was the boss.

“You need to play nice with the customers, and we can’t keep having this discussion. I get that you have strong feelings on the subject of which superhero’s cock would taste the best, but you need to not run around sharing that shit with the customers.” I figured I could get away with this since the customer in question happened to be one of our regulars, so he was used to seeing this type of behavior.

My statement also had the desired effect of running Ralphie off for the time being. Jimmy just laughed and continued to look for those comics he liked to pick up.

“And how is Jimmy today?” I knew with an almost certainty that he’d offer up some completely random story and I liked that he made me laugh.

“Just out looking for another job.” He was a habitual job hopper, but as it turned out in the end he just needed to find the right work to do, but I’ll get to that later.

“What happened to the farm thing you were talking about last week?” It was quite possibly one of the funniest things I’d ever heard anyone talk about doing as a profession, but I couldn’t remember the exact terminology he used when he first told me about it.

“Oh, the manual masturbation of farm animals for the purposes of artificial insemination? Well, it turns out that you need training and it’s a highly competitive field.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought that there was some stiff competition in the field of jerking an animal off.

“Sorry to hear that man. Any other prospects?” I knew it would be something good, or at least I hoped it would be. Right now I just needed the distraction from the matters at hand. So I just shot the shit with Jimmie for a while.

Finally he paid for the few comics he was going to get, and that was the funny thing, for someone who was almost always looking for their next job he always seemed to have money and he started to leave.

“Hey Jimmy, tell Eli we have that shit he ordered. I call his number and always get his voice mail.” To which he just nodded and left. I hated what was coming now, but it had to be done.

“Ralphie, get your ass out here. I’m going out for a while. Wills, you’re in charge while I’m out.” The non-asshole thing to do would have been to wait for a response of some sort, but that’s just not who I am.

I came back to the shop a few hours later to find Ralphie and Wil fighting in the front room with customers watching the whole show. It was amazing that shit would happen whenever I’d leave them to run things on their own. I often think that if I was gone for more than a couple of hours they’d end up having a knife fight in the parking lot to settle their disputes or the shop would end up on fire. It did help that they were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t even see me come in.

“Both of you shut the hell up now! I don’t care what you’re fighting about! Wil in the back and Ralphie help these people! Don’t argue, just do it!” Both started to grumble at me some shit about who the hell did I think I was, and I almost answered that I’m the only one who seems to give a shit about the image we portray to the customer, and that reminded me.

“Alright folks, for having to witness this display of insanity, you are the luck recipients of 30 percent off whatever you choose to buy right now. Ralphie, make it so. I’m gonna go see what they’re not doing in the back.” If that’s what greeted me, I was sure that the back would be nothing but bad news. I headed back anyways. The news sure as shit wasn’t going to be coming to me.

“Ok guys, let me have some good news.” And I held my breath a little expecting the worst and knowing that it was the best they could do. The Wills just looked at each other trying to decide who was gonna go first. This piqued my interest. It ended up being Stevie who spoke.

“How do you feel about Colombian Drug Cartels and Russians gangsters?” God bless them. They came through.

“Oh, my.” Was all I could manage to spit out at, but it didn’t seem to matter as The Wills had finally figured out who was gonna be the one to give me the skinny. I couldn’t tell if Wil was happy or not to be the one to talk. He still looked pissed about what went down in the front not 10 minutes prior.

“So like right after you left I found a weblog on the darkweb I guess you’d call it for mercenaries and shit and through that I was able to find out that there is a certain group of Russian mobsters, ex-KGB mainly who have some interest in acquiring American military grade weapons. Some bullshit about pissing on the capitalist Americans with their own guns. William on the other hand found the information on the Columbians. They’re also after weapons, but they are looking for a way to transport their cocaine more easily, which means that they might just be the perfect candidates for purchasing that huey we’re getting. There was also the thing with the Chicago mafia but they just seemed like douches.” Maybe he could see the ear to ear smile, cause this is where he got bothered, and waved it off.

“Don’t get too happy there homey. We got call while you were out.” We got call’s here all the time.

“I fail to see how that is an issue. The phone rings here most of the day. We are a business after all.” Now it was William working to clarify what had just clicked in my head. Three potential buyers, but they’d only told me about two.

“Yeah, but that’s the thing. The call was from the Chicago assholes. we didn’t find the Chicago assholes in our dark web searching, they found us.” That was all he said. He didn’t need to say any more.