One day, I was browsing around in Wilson's Toy Store, when a hulking, ominous figure in a trenchcoat walked in. It was Don Corleone's most feared henchman, Luca Brasi. I eavesdropped on the conversation between him and Mr. Wilson, and it went like this:
LUCA BRASI: "Mr. Wilson. I am honored and grateful...that you have invited me to your big clearance sale...on da day...of your big clearance sale. And I hope dat dis coupon...will be a valuable coupon. I pledge...my evah...ending...patronage."
MR. WILSON: "Thank you, Luca, my most valued customer."
LUCA BRASI: "I'm gonna serve myself now, because I know dat you are busy."
MR. WILSON: "Thank you."
So, Luca went over to the Star Wars section to look at the action figures. I noticed that he seemed to have a special interest in the Wookies. After depositing a large number of carefully-chosen Wookies and a few droids into his basket, he then proceeded over to the videogame aisle.
Suddenly, another dangerous figure filled the doorway, followed by two even larger thugs. It was "The Turk"...Virgil Sollozzo. He doffed his hat and rolled it in his hands, looking around with a narrow, suspicious gaze.
Mr. Wilson approached him. "Can I help you?"
Sollozzo regarded him for a long moment. "The word on the street is that you have the new...como se dice...'vee-dee-o game'," he intoned in a no-nonsense voice. "The one that all the children in the world would sell their own mothers for."
"Ah, yes," said Mr. Wilson. "That would be 'Final Apocalypse II: The Penultimate Armageddon.' But I'm afraid we're sold out."
Sollozzo's countenance darkened. "Surely," he said slowly, "a man in your position might retain an extra copy or two...for special customers. Perhaps as insurance, to avoid any unpleasant...circumstances." He favored Mr. Wilson with an intimidating glare.
"Well, I'm sorry, sir," Mr. Wilson shrugged, "but you should've gotten here earlier, because this morning--"
Luca interrupted him. "Mister Wilson, I'm gonna take dese Wookies now," he said. "And dis videogame, 'Final Apockamuss II: Da Pentanimal Ahm...Ahma...Ahmagooch."
Sollozzo stepped forward to examine the front cover picture, and sure enough, there was a fanged, maniacal-looking Elijah Wood jumping out of a large cake, surrounded by dancing circus monkeys. "So...you're sold out," he growled at Mr. Wilson, his hand creeping slowly into his open jacket. "It seems that our business together has been on a less than honorable basis."
Mr. Wilson smiled and waved dismissively. "Mr. Brasi has had that particular item on layaway for weeks," he explained. "You see, he's a very loyal customer and keeps abreast of such things. Perhaps if you'd like to give me your mailing address so that I could send you our sales brochures in advance--"
Sollozzo brushed him aside roughly and confronted Luca Brasi. "I want that videogame. I'm willing to offer you a fair deal...say, twice the suggested retail price. And, I can assure you, I have the full support of the entire Tattaglia family backing me up."
Luca sized him up with a dull look. "Why does da Tattaglia family suddenly have such an interest in dis videogame?" he asked.
"Because tomorrow," Sollozzo said gravely, "is Fluffy Tattaglia's ninth birthday. She has her little heart set on this game. And I have been given full authority to do everything in my power to get one."
"Dat is touching," said Luca. "But I, too, have a very important reason for wanting it. Because dis game is da only thing keeping me from having da greatest collection of Elijah Wood memora...memorabi...stuff in da entire woild. And I am da woild's biggest Elijah Wood fan."
"With all due respect," countered Sollozzo, affecting a more reasonable tone, "I beg to differ. Fluffy Tattaglia is the world's biggest Elijah Wood fan. In fact, she has assured Don Tattaglia himself, on numerous occasions, that she plans to marry Elijah Wood as soon as she is old enough. Can you say the same thing, Luca? Do you...plan to marry him?"
Luca didn't know what to say to this. As big a fan as he was of Elijah Wood, he had never actually entertained the notion of marrying him. True, he had often fantasized about taking him to the county fair, buying him one of those big, sour dill pickles, attending the hog-judging contest, and riding all the most fun rides with him, and then going home and watching TV with him while they ate TV dinners, until it was bedtime and Elijah Wood, in his bunny rabbit footy pajamas, would turn at the door before scampering off to bed and say, "Gee, you're the greatest...Dad."
Sollozzo spoke again, breaking Luca's reverie. "Perhaps," he said, reaching into his jacket, "this will help to convince you." He pulled out something long and black and pointed it at Luca. Luca's eyes widened.
It was a giant, super-chewy Tootsie Roll.
Luca tried to restrain himself even as his mouth began to water. "You don't have to give me your answer right away," Sollozzo said in a silky voice. "Here, take a bite. Think it over. When you're done...we'll talk."
Luca leaned forward and held Sollozzo's wrist, drawing the Tootsie Roll closer. He opened his mouth and took a bite. It felt like an explosion of chewy, chocolatey goodness in his mouth. But he shrugged, pretending that it wasn't all that great. Sollozzo glanced over at one of his companions and gave a slight nod. With a shock of recognition, Luca realized that it wasn't just any henchman, but Don Tattaglia's son himself--the dreaded Bruno Tattaglia.
With an evil sneer, Bruno Tattaglia suddenly grabbed Luca's hand and rammed it into a vat of Monster Goop that Mr. Wilson kept by the checkout stand as an impulse item. The other man came up behind Luca and started tickling him. Luca began to emit a horrible barking noise as he choked on the Tootsie Roll, his eyes bulging, his tongue sticking out. As he struggled vainly to free his hand from the Monster Goop, Sollozzo snatched the videogame away from him and slid it into his breast pocket with a cruel, self-satisfied smirk. "The videogame--and the Monster Goop," he said to Mr. Wilson. "Put them both...on Don Barzini's account."
Barzini! thought Mr. Wilson. He knew from the start that the Tattaglias would never have had the brains to pull off something like this without someone else behind them. But it wasn't until this very moment that he knew...it was Barzini all along.
With a last, mighty pull, Luca freed his hand from the Monster Goop, then discovered that Bruno Tattaglia had tied his shoelaces together. He stumbled backward, banged his head on a Teddy Ruxpin display, and plunged, unconscious, into a bin of "Finding Nemo" plush toys. Only his feet could be seen sticking out of it.
Virgil Sollozzo turned at the door on his way out, putting on his hat. "If you see Don Corleone," he said ominously to Mr. Wilson, "tell him...Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes tonight."
(originally posted at Andersonvision.com)