Just wanted to say before you read that this is a slightly different short story, where there is mostly dialogue, and names before the dialogue so there isn't so many quotations marks everywhere. Thanks for reading.

On Bloomfield Avenue a black Audi pulled up outside Jackís Cafť. A lean man, called Marv Arena got out of the Audi; he had sunken cheeks and greased black hair, and sported a cream polo and black jeans. Marv nodded to the driver inside, who was wearing a light blue tracksuit. The lean man, called Marv Arena, took time to analyse the streets atmosphere by waiting to see if anyone was pulled up across the street watching him. Nothing there but a mother looking at a road map, he bowed his chin down to his chest like he was about to be be-headed and he walked inside the cafť.

The cafť smelt of fried chips and burnt eggs. A couple of older men sat on the red leather stalls at the front, positioning their lips over a steaming coffee, or maybe it was tea, Marve couldnít exactly see. Marv looked to the rows of seats by the line of windows and found what he was looking for. His son sat in the corner with his chin lying on his right fist as he gazed at the street outside.

Marv: Hey. There he is. Sorry about the traffic, got caught up on Washington Bridge. ****ing closed a lane or something.

His son, Tommy, didnít move his chin away from the original position, he just leant his eyes over to his father as he slides into the seat across from him.

Marv: How you doing Tom? Itís been a bit of a while ainít it this time.

Tommy: Surprised you came.

Marv: More surprised you arranged. Is ma alright?

Tommy: Have you got mum a birthday present?

Marv: Huh? Yeah, course, yeah. Itís er, itís in the boot, Iíll get it for ya laterÖ What days of the week is it again, her birthday?

Tommy: Last Tuesday.

Marv: Ha? ****. Iíve had, you know, Iíve had so much on. ****. You know the guys at the rig, right. They canít even ****ing fix a drill string. Top it off; we havenít even got a replacement, its chaos over there. Alright, so donít let her blame me for being a bit lateÖ you do that, huh?

Tommy looks away back out to the curb which he finds more interesting that his dadís excuses.

Tommy: She wasnít expecting anything anyway.

Marv: I will give it to you later ok. Iíve got it. Just, come on, letís talk about something elseÖ Hey, why arenít you at college today?

Tommy: Thatís why I wanted to meet.

Marv: Ah is it? Youíre not quitting construction are you? Thatís not gunna happen you know.

Tommy flicks his head back to face his dad.

Marv: ****, youíve already done it havenít you?

Tommy: No one saw you come here did they?

Marv: Donít change the question.

Tommy: I guess it be too late if someone didÖ

Marv: Get to what the ****ís happened Tom.

Tommy puts both his elbows on the table and holds his head with both hands.

Tommy: Listen I - I, I just donít know alright. I donít know and I want to know. But I - I donít know if I shouldÖ

Marv: If itís a speech therapist you want, I could call someone.

Tommy: If I wanted a joke I would visit your brother.

Marv: Woah. Thatís family. Some respect. Take the plug at your throat. Speak properly.

Tommy: Ok. I donít know how to put this though. The reason Iím here, and not in college, well, Itís erÖ itís you dad. I think itís your fault, in a way.

Marv: Nice. What the **** Tommy?

Tommy: People are looking, take it easy.

Marv looks behind expecting to see a man with shades and a stiff look or maybe just a memberís only jacket. Nothing. Looks back.

Tommy: Do you er, do you whack, people.

Marv: ****ing hell, what?

Tommy: Whack people.

Marv: Yeah. Lean your head over here.

Tommy: No, you know what I mean.

Marv: Ah yeah, I send someone down the ****ing river every day.

Tommy: Be serious. ****.

Marv: Sorry, my face isnít serious right now? Huh? What the **** are you talking about, and who do you think I am? Some made guy from Brooklyn? What the
****.

Tommy: Iíll explainÖ Ok? So last week when I was in construction, I sort of got kicked out of the morning class I was in. Basically there was a little bit a talcum powder on my nose, nothing you could actually see, you know, I mean it was from when I was cleaning my face in the morning. So you know, Mr Nichols thinks itís something else. But itís not.

Marv: ****ing idiot, go on.

Tommy: I can tell you it wasnít that, ok.

Marv: Whatever. Go on, get on with it.

Tommy: Iíve been thrown out of class. For that - you know: misunderstanding. So Iím not just gunna to stand there in the hallway. Who does that? You know, so I walk outside to the gates, to get some air, when some car pulls up, well it was already pulled up, like outside the gate and this guy, I mean, he was big, you know, and heís leaning on the car staring, like, right at me.

Marv: Yeah. Probably thinking ĎThere he is. Floppy Tommy.í

Tommy: Yeah, maybe Iíll write that one downÖ Anyway, he started to talk to me. And I donít know, next thing I know, heís telling me that you been in an accident. And then he says to come with him.

Marv: What? When exactly was this.

Tommy: Three weeks ago.

Marv: I was on the rig then. Itís not possible.

Tommy moves his body closer to the edge of the seats, with his left leg hanging out into the isle, like he was readying himself for a quick getaway.

Tommy: You sent them dad. You. And donít think Iím stupid, because I know what it was. It was that rumour right? Huh? Huh?

Marv: Rumour?

Tommy: Yeah, the, er, queer one.

Marv: You started that?

Tommy: You didnít know?

Marv: No. I didnít, but I ****ing know now don I.

Tommy: So you didnít send the car?

Marv: Shut up. Whyíd you start it? Is that funny nowadays, huh? You gotta tell me where you learn this whip smart humour Tom?

Tommy: It was just, nothing, it was nothing. It was Phil. He always twists stuff to sound different. It was a joke, alright.

Marv: Yeah, a joke, ha-ha. ****ing idiot. You know, Philís dad knows a lot of people this side.

Tommy: Thatís exactly it. Why, for someone who works for an oil company, do they get so worked up about someone being a queer? Itís not against anything these days.


Marv: You know, those other dadís. What I do. Who I deal with. My enemies. Those kind of rumours are good material for them Tom, for Philís type of dad.

Tommy: Exactly. But it ainít the oil business is it? No, itís not. Is it?

Marv: What?

Tommy: Itís wind energy. Yep. Funny huh? Funny I know isnít it?

Marv: No. The only wind energy Iíve ever dealt with is coming out of your mouth.

Tommy: Mum told me.

Marv: Come on Tom, youíre smart enough for this. Itís a ****ing lieÖ She doesnít want the best for you.

Tommy: Some Ďrespectí please, Ďfamily.í

Marv: Doesnít act likes sheís part of it.

Tommy: What makes you think you do?

Marv: Youíre both acting like outsiders.

Tommy: Yeah? Says the one who lives in Manhattan. Away from everybody else in the family who grew up here.

Marv: At least I can feel when I go and get a paper now.

Tommy: But come on, just tell me the truth. Youíre in the wind energy business ainít ya. The oil rig trips you say you do. I mean, why do they even give you a tan?

Marv: Itís the wind burn.

Tommy: In July?

Marv: ****. What did I say a minute ago Tom? Itís jealousy in its purest form. She doesnít want you to be mixing with the dirty little, grubby little gremlins I deal with. Yeah their ****ing dirty, yeah theyíll con ya for all your worth if youíre not smart enough. But I am Tom. I get them on my side. Working for me, because Iím smart. If I sneeze, they get a tissue, maybe some nose spray. You get it? You know what, itís a career you really woulda been suited to. Youíre tough like me you know, and she doesnít even want that for you. You know it.

Tommy: You canít dive around it all the time. You mix with criminals. Thatís it.

Marv: They might be criminals in their private lives, I donít know, I donít care, but Iím telling you they are as straight as an arrow when they work for me.

Tommy: Youíre telling the truth?

Marv: Yes Tom. Why would I lie to you. I know that I havenít been around too much. I know that, but you got to know, those days when Iím on the rig, Iím always thinking of you.

Tommy: What about ma, you think of her?

Marv: Tom.

Tommy: She struggled without you paying her you know.

Marv: Has she thought of getting a thing called a job?

A pause. Tom sat thinking.

Marv: Come and live with me. Just for a while. Not because of ma, but se we can get you a job. I donít know, maybe Iíll get you one on the rig, start at the bottom. You work hard and Iíll do what I can.

Tommy: Not now.

Marv: Yes. Ma can live on her own for a while; you know, youíll see there isnít any mafia entourage Iím with, huh? I donít know thoughÖ you might see me whack someone hehe. A lot of idiots as galley hands these days.

Tommy: Itís not that.

Marv: Then what is it?

Tommy: Itís me and mum. Both of us, weÖ I. Iím here, ok, this took longer than it shoulda, but I wanted to meet to know for myself. Say what you like. Iíve seen the holiday bookings, Iíve seen the pictures.

Marv: Pictures?

Tommy: Before you say they were edited. There not. Mum said they were sent from some dude in over the river, your side. Said they were going to use it against you.

Marv: For what?

Tommy: It donít matter, thereís nothing you could be put away for. Apart from the fact youíre using a kettle, perhaps in a slightly different way.

Marv: Show me.

Tommy: Canít. There at home.

Marv: This is ****ing bull****. A kettle? Iíve never touched anybody.

Tommy: Stop lying dad.

Marv: Iím not.

Tommy: You are. You always say that liars donít built ledges for themselves like honest men do. When they donít build a ledge they fall.

Marv: Well I havenít soÖ.

Tommy: I donít want your ďLifeĒ or your job. If I came with you, youíd ease me into that ďworldĒ and Iím not going there. I want to be normal, have a safe life.

Marv: This is normal, what ainít normal about what I do for **** sakes.

Tommy: Ok, maybe it ainít like The Sopranos, or The ****ing Godfather, but its crime dad. I donít care want you earn for it. I want to be normal.

Marv: Thatís aiming low.

Tommy: Is it? Is aiming to be somewhere, in a stable piece of mind, a place where you know youíre healthy and honest. Is that aiming low?

Marv: I should have taken you with me from the start. You would be more like me, working hard, providing. To be normal, itís better to be where I am, because
god forbit, if I fell, had troubles, at least theres plenty of ledges for me to fall on, Iíd still be earning twice as much as anybody else.

Tommy: Itís a joke, how can you say that with a straight ****ing face? You had the chance to take me with you, but you just pushed me and mum further away like a toy. All you like is drink, Ďfriendsí, and perhaps a little more drink.

Marv: Is that it? Is that what your mother thinks of me. A liar and a criminal, of course. Now a photo thatís so ****ing blurry it could be Ghandi from where we are.

Tommy: How do you know its blurry? I though you hadnít seen it

Marvís face flushes.

Tommy: Itís all business isnít it?

Marv looks down at the floor, refusing to blink like heís just witnessed a murder no one else has seen.

Tommy: Mmm? You know, youíre always saying that the normal or Ďgoodí life is where you are across the river. Well, what is normal? Huh? I know, itís where
youíve been brought up, where Iím from, here, weíve got our own culture. Our own street has a way of doing things for each other you know.

Marv: ĎCulture.í In New ****ing Jersey.

Tommy: Yeah. We donít have to talk about money or getting one over on the next person we talk to, we just know that what ever is right for that person is right for them, being forced to do something isnít gunna help.

Marv: Sheís brainwashed you the ****ing who-are.

Tommy: Iíve just realised, thatís all. Mumís new boyfriend showed me that you can be Ďnormalí and have a steady life without all the enemies you always say you have to have.

Marv: Boyfriend?

Tommy: Yeah, met him through a neighbour.

Now, Marv looks out the window as though his wife is standing right outside kissing her new boyfriend.

Tommy: You gunna say anything?

Marv: When are you moving?

Tommy: Pretty soon.

Marv: Where?

Tommy: Donít know. Mumís boyfriends the one with the plan.

Marv sits in silence.

Tommy sighs and looks at his fingers that are displayed on the table.

Marv gets up, and doesnít even look at his son. However, Tommy tries to reach over to grab the bottom of Marvís T Ė shirt, but Marv pulls away.

Tommy: Dad, I donít mean I donít love you. I just thought we should straighten everything out. Dad? Dad?

He was gone.

Outside, Marv looks at the time on his silver watch, 12.54. He doesnít even take a look back at the diner as he heads for his car, which, now, does not contain his bodyguard/driver. The rest of the street is full of cars rushing by, men in black, or grey suits talking on phones, or just peeling open a sandwhich wrapper. He goes into his pocket for his keys when footsteps from his right side gather pace - then halt behind him. A shadow forms over his figure at the door.

Voice: Marv Arena?