This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Simone Pescatore quivered in the arch-back seat as Ricardo “Roulette” Cleweraro poured a second bourbon into a diamond-cut highball and casually pushed the decanter across the oak desk. “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse,” Ricardo sneered, “You see, Simone, we feel that entertainment is going to be a big factor in drawing shoppers into the market towns, honest we do. We’re hoping that you’ll sign a contract agreeing you control the Market Place, Devizes, but we can’t have the public parking freely when we’ve gone to the effort of providing high-cost, paid parking, now can we? Perhaps convince some of your friends in the Guardians to take the blame, eh?”
The Guardians reigned over Devizes, that much was true, but to the Consiglio di Wiltshire, they were nothing. Simone only too aware, it was complying or face the consequences. Ricardo sensed his anxiety, “we’re counting on you, Simone.”
Anger boiled in Simone, standing, he enraged, with only card left to play. “Now you listen to me, you smooth-talking son-of-a-bitch,” he yelled, “let me lay it on the line for yer and your boss, whoever he is! Consiglio di Wiltshire will never get that deal! I don’t care how many Trow-Vegas guinea chav-greaseball goombahs come out of da woodwork!”
Cleweraro smirked, curved his arms over his shoulders and placed his hands behind his head, brewing in confidence, “I’m from Salisbury.”
Simone Pescatore, “well, let me tell you something, my Sarum-mick friend, people won’t pay to park, they can’t afford to, not with all da other cuts to public services you’ve made! I’m gonna make so much trouble for you, you won’t know what hit you!”
“There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems,” Ricardo continued unperturbed, “That’s all I can tell you right now. If want control you take it, but if you don’t hike up parking charges, the Market Place will be converted into a community space; fiestas, contadino’s mercato, and the odd tumbleweed passing by on a Tuesday afternoon. That’s the deal Consiglio di Wiltshire are willing to make, I suggest you take it.”
“Over my dead body!” Pescatore mumbled, hesitantly. He thought of the good people of Devizes, he didn’t care for a turf war, they’d flock to Trow-Vegas to shop, if they cannot park in their own town. A county-town where Consiglio di Wiltshire had conveniently made parking free, in plush multi-stories with minimal empty drug paraphernalia littering, stench of piss, and dank sleeping bags of rough sleepers; victims of the cuts. Bypass such matters with nose in the air, and they had class, superior shops, functioning infrastructure, and a Wagamamas.
Devizes cannot compare, with its minor boutiques, charity shops and Chick-O-Land. Yet, if he didn’t agree, Consiglio di Wiltshire would continue controlling this expanse, probably threaten to close more education facilities, devise more ineffective alterations to road layouts with their disorganised Muppets erecting perpetual roadworks, and snatch candy from babies, dancing the floss in gloat.
He gulped, pushed into a corner, “okay,” he trembled, “done.”
“I am sorry,” Ricardo “Roulette” Cleweraro confessed slyly, “What happened to your council was business. I have much respect for your so-called Devizes Guardians. But your Guardians, their thinking is old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to do that, the Consiglio di Wiltshire family need feeding, second homes, and a yacht or three moored in the Caribbean. Now let’s work through where we go from here.”
Simone Pescatore smiled his first smile, awkwardly. “Yeah, let’s talk business, Ricardo. First of all, we’re all done. The Guardians don’t even have that kind of muscle anymore, some fly-kid in the teddy bear racket, local businessman trying muscle in. He’s been gone snitched to the local sausage wrapper, da Gazelle n Herod, blubbing all this, ‘following their parking review last year it was clear that this was never going to be an allowable option’ malarkey.”
Ricardo leaned forward in his chair with his hands held out, he was getting somewhere with this two-bit, small-town councillor, minimal threats, if it wasn’t for some shylockbusiness rat. “Yeah, tell me more, don?”
Simone stumbles, “Yeah, gives it, ‘the parking review set out two clear choices for the Market Place: it either became a pay and display car park with a premium charge, allowing parking for up to two hours or all parking was to be removed.’ He’s accusing us of betrayal, us, da Guardians, in da rag!”
“Sheez, your problemo!” Ricardo waived off the delinquent, “deal with him, stuff his bears with crank n call the cops, or take him out, but make it look like an incidente, capeesh? Perhaps he could try turning right out of Dunkirk Hill or sumthuin’.”
“Is no problemo,” Simone assured, “he tows the party line, just worried, as they all will be, about their two-bit businesses; the Godmother’s sick, right? Sick from too much Brexit. The Vizes is a Tory town through and through, they’ll whinge outside Lidl, and post complaints on The Devizes Issue, but they’ll never chase us out of town. We will stop the free parking in the Market Place, spin ‘em a false promise about locating another, fictional place to park free; and you’ll get your readies, but Devizes is ours.”
With grave sincerity Ricardo nodded, “don’t fuck me, Simone. Don’t you ever try to fuck me; I’m frigid.”
Simone of the Guardians knew a good deal when he saw one, and this wasn’t it, but he’d return to Devizes with some pathetic excuse or other, and the people will buy it. He stood up, kissed Ricardo’s ring, bearing the insignia of the Consiglio di Wiltshire. “I never fucked anybody over in my life that didn’t have it coming to ’em,” he told him, “You got that? All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break ’em for no one. You understand? That piece of shit up there, Yan Wallo, I never liked him, I never trusted him. For all I know he had me set up and had my friend, the Basil Brush collection tin outside the Brittox News, killed. But that’s history. I’m here, he’s not. You wanna go on with me, you say it. You don’t, then you make a move.”
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