"Pay up!" Big Vinny said with a crooked smile from the other side of the table.
He picked up his cigar and wedged it in the side of his mouth. I looked down
at my very meager stack of cash, trying to figure a way out of this.
Big Vinny, a large man with more chins than a Chinese phone book, motioned
with his hand for me to pay.
"I can't pay you right now," I said, looking at him with a stiff upper lip.
He chuckled as he looked at his thinner pal Jeremy next to him at the table,
then turned back toward me and shook his head. "I don't think so."
"Give me a break," I said. "Times have been tough." Jeremy pretended to play an invisible violin.
"Pay now or else," Big Vinny said.
"Or else what?"
Big Vinny gestured with his right index finger toward his fat neck and moved it horizontally while saying,
"kkkcckk." Big Vinny and Jeremy snickered wildly. I fell back in my chair, flashing back to how a bright
man wound up in financial peril and in debt to the dim-witted Big Vinny. It had to be luck. Real bad luck…
I learned long ago that the key to financial success was through real estate. My goal was simple: economic domination.
Back in the day when a dollar could actually buy something, I gathered up all the cash that I had to purchase my first
piece of property. It was in a poor part of town near the railroad tracks. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
I wasn't about to stop there. In addition to earning a steady paycheck from a bank, I traveled around in my car
looking for good real estate at fair prices. I shrewdly purchased some unimproved property at a bargain price.
This land, which resided in an upscale neighborhood, was cheaper than expected since it was next door to a large
water plant. Undaunted, I spent much of my savings, building a luxurious house on the property.
What seemed like a risk, paid off big time. I rented out the house to travelers who were willing to
pay high daily rates. I used the steady cash flow from this rental to finance several other property purchases.
I was truly on a roll and life simply couldn't have been better. Every chance I took was paying off. But, my
luck was about to change.
I was thrown in jail on trumped up charges that I still don't understand. Without a steady paycheck while
in jail, money started to get tight. Then, real estate and luxury taxes obliterated my savings.
By the time I got out of jail, I was forced to sell several properties, including the very first property
that I had purchased. Not nearly ready to give up, I took several trips looking for good property to buy.
Unfortunately, most properties were no longer for sale and my costs mounted, as I had to pay big dollars for
a night stay at several motels. Finally, I was forced to sell my cash cow, the property near the water plant.
I was now without savings and I was living from $200 paycheck to $200 paycheck.
My last and fatal mistake was when I pulled my car up to Big Vinny's house located in a ritzy area along the waterfront.
"So you're going to pay up or not?" Big Vinny asked, breaking my flashback. "Well?"
I sighed heavily before shaking my head.
Big Vinny smiled and said, "If you can't pay for your stroll on my Boardwalk, that means that it's the end for you.
You lose." Jeremy mockingly waved goodbye.
I stood up from the table and looked at my watch. "Fine," I said, throwing my hands up in the air
before silently vowing never to spend four hours playing Monopoly again.
Eric J. Lee: For the last three decades, Eric Lee has written short mystery and suspense stories,
providing the “leeway” for murder. His individual stories have been published in multiple locations.
He has compiled his favorite short stories and published them in books as short story collections.
He works as a CPA and lives in San Francisco, California. To read more of his stories and learn
more about the author, you can visit his official website at www.ericleestories.com.
“Intuition of Henry Burrows” has been published in Burst Literary E-zine and "Bad Morning" in Conceit Magazine.
Email: Eric J. Lee
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