An implicit threat & an explicit request

Monday, 21 February, 9:45

I’d been knocked to the ground, so I expected to be knocked out cold within seconds. That’s usually the way it happens. From my fetal position on the pebbles, I watched the thin man behind the window turn away. As usual, the boss didn’t like watching the dirty work.

The thug who had crept behind me knelt at my head. Without looking at my face, he reached inside my jacket’s chest pocket and withdrew my mobile phone.

“See, that didn’t hurt at all,” said the short guy with mean eyes. And they walked away. They left me my camera, my wallet and 97% of my physical well-being. I was so disoriented that I casually snapped a few more pictures before I left the Park.

I was shaken more by the unexpectedly pacific goons than by the confrontation itself. I walked away from home for a few blocks, doubled back twice (by habit) and found my way home. I called the little lady; she doesn’t mind my line of work, but she hates surprises.

She answered the phone on the first ring. “Where have you been? I called your mobile twice already.”

“Yeah, I’m not getting very good reception lately. Some hoods from Fitzwilliam are interfering with the signal.”

“Eh? Anyway, Eddie Jefferson wants you to call him. He’s in some kind of trouble. Sounds like you’re in your own trouble now.” After more than a decade, I still couldn’t read that tone of voice. Was her patience with my “work” running out?

“Okay,” I managed to say while my head started figuring the possibilities. “I’ll call him back now. Will you be around? I’ll let you know what’s going on after I talk to him.”

“Oh, he gets a return call immediately — pretty special guy, huh? Talk to you later, love.”

Eddie J was an old union man. He made his living about thirty years ago, mostly by persuading employers to settle contracts early and often. He retired young and aged quickly, like they always do. Bored and still in his prime, he was happy to lend me a hand with my business — whatever it might be at the moment. I thought of him often while I was living in Dublin, but we weren’t the kind of friends that keep in touch.

If Eddie called me about his own troubles, then those troubles were serious.