Deals in the desert
Stuart narrowed his eyes as he stared down at the four Mafia mobsters in front of him. Man, it had been a crazy couple of days. Fuck Vegas. He was never coming here again, regardless of whom was getting married. Next time they would do Atlantic City. Infact, this was all Phil’s fault to begin with. If he hadn't suggested they go to Vegas for Alan’s bachelor party, none of this would have ever happened. Phil wouldn't have gotten kidnapped, Doug wouldn't have been punched by Woody Allen, and Alan wouldn't be wearing a Spice Girls T-shirt. This was all evidence of a night that never should have happened. Yet here he was, 30 miles out in the middle of fucking no where, bargaining with some low life thug for the life of his best friend.He didn't see Phil anywhere, and that made him suspicious. He had held up his end of the deal-the $4000 of cash was stashed safely in the bag he was holding-,but it seemed like the Boss--what was his name again? Luca di Something-- had not.
“Where's Phil?” Stu asked in voice that sounded a lot stronger than he felt.
Luca just smiled and motioned with his hand. Two of the mafiosi backed away towards the black SUV and opened the back doors. In the bright morning sunlight, it was hard to see what was going on, but Stu heard the definite sounds of a struggle. A good sign, if anything it showed that Phil was still alive and strong enough to still fight. When they had woken up in the deluxe suite of Cesaer’s Palace two days ago, with no memory of the night before, the first thing Stu had done was look for Doug. And to his surprise, he had found him spooning with Leslie Chow in the bathtub in a sparkly purple speedo cuddling an Oscar trophy. It was then he had realized, with deep horror that Phil was the one missing. Then they had found the ransom note taped to the window and realized what deep shit they were in. Apparently they had stolen four grand from one of the Mafia thugs while they had been skinny dipping in the Venetian waterfront that night. This guy, Luca was serious, Chow had said. No one steals from him and lives. Even Chow, who was scared of nothing wanted nothing to do with this guy. Stu couldnt help feeling grateful towards Chow, who had been a groomsman in Alan’s wedding and had accompiaed them to Vegas for the weekend. And for his leadership skills, with the little Chinese gangster they he wouldn't have survived the night t.
Luca tipped his cane slightly and gave a sublte bow. Then, in a thick Italian accent, he started speaking; “Good Morning to you all es-Stuart and friends. I thank you very much for coming at the time we agreed upon. I have your friend here--” and he gestured with his hands, Stu watched silently as the two thugs reached into the cadalliac and brought Phil into the view. Stu tried very hard not to gasp at the sight of his friend; Phil looked horrible. His hands were bound with rope infront of him and he was gagged with duct tap. The white shirt and tan pants he had been wearing were torn and smudged with dirt, and was that blood? Stuart couldn't tell in the blinding light if those were bruises or just dirt on his friend’s face. Luca smiled, “We had a very pleasent time together, but now it is time I returned him to you” he said, then reached for Phil, and Phil jerked, no twitched away from his grasp. Luca paid no attention, gripping Phil’s arm tightly he thrust him a few steps forward “Here's your boy, now please tell me where’s my four grand?” he said, keeping firm grip on Phil’s shoulder.
Stuart held up the bag, and then tossed it towards Luca--one of his thugs caught it.
“Four grand, in cash, just like you asked.” Stuart confirmed as he watched the thug check the bag and give the okay. Luca nodded, mumbled something in itailan and shoved Phil towards them. Phil stumbled, then fell to the ground. Stuart saw Doug’s lips purse with worry. He’s just tired--exhausted. He’ll be fine.
“I greatly appreciate your integrity, gentlemen, but let me tell you; next time you steal from Don Luca Di Claudio, I will not be so nice. I am a powerful business man and next time your friend will not be so lucky. Do you understand?” . Luca said seriously in his accented english. Stu looked up and nodded. “Yes sir” he said and he gave a small bow. Luca smiled and tipped his head.
“It is a beautiful morning, do not waste your time staying out in this desert. I hope you have a pleasant day.” Luca said, and then with a twirl of his cane, he proceeded back to the cadalliac..Stuart gave a sigh of relief. Well, the easy part is over. Now we just have to find Chow.
That was the next thing. Apparently, Chow was still a wanted man, even after his little escapade in Bangkok, and his escape from Marshall last year. Chow had left this morning, after he helped them win back the four grand for Luca. Since he was a wanted international criminal, he had not told them where he was going and Stu desperately wished that he had. Earlier that afternoon, while they had been freaking out about Phil they had been taken into custody by an interpol agent who wanted Chow. Fortunately, Doug had smooth talked their way out, striking a deal with the agent; Stu’s rather expensive, gold wedding ring and a promise to drop all criminal charges for harboring a fugitive for the life of Chow.
They waited until Luca and his men got back into his SUV and drove off, then Stuart walked over to Phil, who hadn't moved from the spot where he’d fallen.
“Phil?” Stuart asked, kneeling down next to his friend and tugging at the rope tying his hands together. Phil mumbled something incoherent under the gag, pulled his hands out of Stu’s grasp, then sat up slowly.
“Hey buddy, how ya doing?” Stuart asked softly, pulling the tape off and putting a hand on Phil’s shoulder. Immediately he felt Phil tense, and then Phil twitched away from his grasp.
“Phil? It’s me, Stu. Can you hear me? Are you alright?” he asked again, his friend shuddered slightly, he ducking his head down and hunched his shoulders as if he wanted to fold into himself and disappear, but then he nodded beforeturning his head away from Stuart and mumbling “I’m fine.”
Stuart took out his pocket knife and quickly cut the ropes before Phil could flinch away again.
“Let’s get you cleaned up, come on we still have the suite for another night.” Stuart told him, and then grabbed his arm to help him up. Phil shuddered and twitched again right out of Stu’s grasp. “I’m fine, I can get up myself.” he murmured, then pushed himself up off the ground, swaying dangerously.
“Hold on buddy, let us help you. You look like you're about to fall over.”
“I’m fine.” Phil repeated
Phil pulled his shoulders back, stood up straighter then started walking towards the car. Phil gave Doug a nod of acknowledgment but when Doug reached out to Phil in a simple gesture of camaraderie, Stu once again saw the flinch.
“Hey Phil” Doug said softly and Phil froze, “ We are so sorry about what happened. Chow drugged the cake. Come on, lets go get you cleaned up.” and he opened the car door. Phil nodded silently and gave a slight smile, then got in the car. Doug closed the door and looked to Stuart.
“Should we get him to a doctor?” he asked
Stuart thought for a moment, we don't have time.
Doug seemed to be thinking the same thought, “Let’s just get to the hotel. If it’s really bad, then we’ll go.”
Stuart nodded, and then motioned to Alan, who was standing motionless, staring at the spot where Phil had fallen, “Come on Alan, lets go.”
“They took it away from him, he can never escape it...” Alan whispered.
Stuart tried not to roll his eyes, he didn't want to have to deal with the eccentricities of Alan right now.
“It’s alright. We have him now. Get in the car, Alan.” he said, almost too sharply.
Alan sighed, then turned around and silently got in the car.