International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes
Pringle and the Mob
Ellen and I were having dinner at our favorite Manhattan restaurant,
Marios. Im a science-fiction writer and
my last book was a modest success so wed been eating there
more often recently and had gotten to know Mario fairly well.
Hed come to this country as a teen, started as a busboy and
by hard work now owned his own place. Wed finished
and were about to leave when Mario came over to our table and asked
if he could talk to us for a minute.
Sure, I said. Sit down.
I could see that he was agitated and when he told us his story I could
understand why. Since his restaurant had become well-known
the mob had moved in and forced him to pay protection under threats
of dire things happening to it if he refused. I hear
you talk about your Uncle Pringle, he said. He
has many connections. I wonder if maybe he can help me.
Uncle Pringle is actually Ellens uncle. Hed
worked at a top-secret government agency for years and now was a consultant,
although what he consulted at had never been very clear to me.
But, as Mario had said, he did seem to have many connections, extending
even to the White House, and Id known him to help out people in
trouble in the past. I asked Mario the obvious question.
Why dont you go to the police?
They say if I do that they will hurt my family. These
men, they hold nothing sacred.
I see, I said. Well, I dont know
if Uncle Pringle can help you. But Ill give him a
call and let you know.
The next week Mario and I were on our way to see Uncle Pringle, who
had no office but preferred to work on a bench in a mid-city park.
He said that, besides being out in the open air, it gave him an opportunity
to observe people. Uncle Pringle was on his usual
bench. As we approached, a young man whod been sitting
beside him stood up. If you hate it so much then quit,
Uncle Pringle said to him. Go for your dream.
I will, said the young man. Thanks.
Then he hurried away.
Claude Pringle had always reminded me of his actor namesake, whom older
readers may remember, Claude Rains. He was a small, neat-looking
man with white hair. It was hard to imagine him tangling
with a bunch of gangsters. I introduced him to Mario, who
told him of his predicament. Whats the name
of this hoodlum whos threatening you? asked Uncle Pringle.
They call him Joey Marbles.
Ah, yes. Joseph Marbelotti. Longtime enforcer,
just promoted to a captain in the Tony Baritonelli family.
Not much brains, but ambitious. I think we can take care
How? I asked. One of your old friends
in the CIA?
Oh, I dont think that will be necessary. Ive
never understood the glorification of these mobsters in movies and television
shows. Theyre really not very nice people.
But one of the things they do sometimes get right; the head of a mob
family is paranoid, rightfully so. Theyre much more
afraid that one of their underlings will overstep his bounds, even try
to unseat them, than they are of any law enforcement agency.
So what do I do? asked Mario.
At this point, Uncle Pringles phone rang. Excuse
me, he said. Oh, hello, Hillary.
Yes, I know it can be difficult. Just tell him you appreciate
his help, but he has to stay in the background. Be firm.
An old friend. Now, where were we. Ah,
yes. Mario, youll call Tony Bsritonelli, at a number
I will furnish you, and tell him that Joey Marbles has doubled the amount
of protection hes asking of you. Tell Mr. Baritonelli
you cant possibly afford to pay this. Of course, this
will come as news to him and when he grasps its implications, that Joey
is getting money he didnt know about, nature, as it exists
in gangster culture, will take its course.
But, I asked, if Baritonelli has Joey Bottles
whacked, wont he just put another one of his mobsters in his place
and keep on asking for protection money? .
Good point, said Uncle Pringle. Well
deal with that later. For now, lets take it one step
at a time.
The next week an item appeared in the local newspapers.
Joey Marbles, longtime mobster and suspected member of the Tony Baritonelli
family, was found dead in Long Island, shot execution-style.
It was clearly a gang-killing. That night Uncle Pringle
joined Ellen and I for dinner at Marios. It was complementary
and delicious. Mario told us that nobody had as yet
contacted him about paying more protection money.
I dont think you need worry about that any more,
said Uncle Pringle.
Why not? I asked.
I had a little chat with our Mr. Baritonelli the other day.
I suggested it was time for him to get out of the paltry restaurant
protection business and move on to higher things.
What higher things?
The one thing a mob boss wants to achieve when he reaches a certain
pinnacle is respectability. So I made Mr. Baritone an offer
he couldnt refuse.
An invitation to dinner at the White House.
Thats about as respectable as you can get.
But, a mob boss at the White House? Somehow that doesnt
I can assure you, said Uncle Pringle, that
nastier characters than Tony Baritonelli have been to the White House.
But I agree with you. It wouldnt be seemly for a known
mob boss to have dinner with the President. I said that
Mr. Baritone had been invited. Thats all.
Uncle Pringle refused to say anything more. We finished
our dinner and Mario again expressed his profuse thanks.
A few weeks later the end to this story became known with another newspaper
item. Mobster Tony Baritonelli was found dead in a limousine
at the Washington, D.C. airport. Rumors were that hed
been on his way to a dinner at the White House but the Presidents
press secretary denied this absolutely. Tony Baritonelli
killed. This made me look at Uncle Pringle in an entirely
© Martin Green September 2007
"Collected Stories, Vol. II by Martin Green " is available
online at Tesco for 8 Euros. It's also available from iUniverse
(publisher), Barnes & Noble, Amazon,
in the office
Uncle Pringle and the Witchs
Are you all right? she asked.
Yeah, just another little accident. Theyve been
happening all this month. Its because Ive been
- A Texas girl remembered
Martin Green on life choices
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