El Mundo Today


Individuality must be strangled in its cradle

-Good game, Maurice?
-Johnny, my old friend. How are you?
-Good to see you. Been a long time, eh?
-How long have you been out?
-Not long.
-It was difficult, no?
-Yeah. Very difficult.
-You have my sympathies, Johnny. You have not yet learned that you have to be like everyone else. The perfect mediocrity. No better, no worse. Individuality is a monster, and it must be strangled in its cradle to make our friends feel comfortable. You know, I often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They're admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.
-Yeah. Like the... Like the man said, "Life is like a glass of tea."
-Oh, Johnny, my friend, you never were very bright. But I love you anyway.
-How's life been treating you, Maurice?
-About the same as always. When I need some money, I go out and wrestle. But mostly I'm up here, wasting my time playing chess. But I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't have this place to go to.
-Maurice, could you use 2,500 dollars?
-It does have a nice ring to the ear. Quite musical. What is it for?
-For taking care of half a dozen private dicks. Racetrack cops. Start a fight with the bartender. The track cops will break it up. You keep 'em busy, make 'em drag you out. No gunplay, strictly a muscle job.
-Would it be out of order for me to ask why you would pay such a price to see me demonstrate my talents? I would imagine... it is for more than just your personal entertainment.
-$2,500 is a lot of dough, Maurice. Part of it's for not asking questions.
-That sounds not unreasonable. Still, I will probably go to jail, and jails I have found unpleasant. Food is very bad, company is poor, beds are too small...
-It'll only be a disorderly conduct charge. Maybe 60 days, nothing worse. And if a man has a little money to spread around, he'll be comfortable.
-I do not quite understand, Johnny. For what you want me to do, you could get any hoodlum for a hundred dollars.
-I don't want any hoodlum. I want a guy like you, someone who's dependable, who knows he's paid to take a risk and won't squawk if it gets rough.
-I was thinking if perhaps we can work out some other arrangement. $2,500 I like very much. But suppose I were willing to forgo part of it and take a share in your... enterprise instead. No?
-No. It's not mine to share up.
-Very well, Johnny. I sense there will be certain details to work out.
-Yeah. I'll buy you a cup of coffee, huh?

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