by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from Pulp Fiction, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary
A twenty-seven-year-old young Hispanic man sat at a table wearing a red and blue T-shirt that read Grant’s Gym. Talking to him from across the table was a middle-aged man who looked like he’d seen his share of fights himself. His voice was a cross between that of a gangster and a politician.
“When this is all over, I think you’re going to find yourself one very happy guy,” the older man told the young Hispanic man. “Thing is, Carlos, right now you’ve got ability. But as unbelievable as it may sound at this point in your life, ability doesn’t last ya. Thanks to your trainer lasting as long as he did, this business is filled to the brim with unrealistic chumps who thought they would age like fine wine. But not everybody’s going to be a Ted Grant. And even if you went all the way like he did, what would you be? Featherweight champion of the world. I doubt you can even get a credit card based on that.” He laid an envelope full of money on the table in front of Carlos.
“Now, the night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride. To hell with pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. Fight through it. A year from now, when you’re lounging in the Caribbean, drinking rum punch out of a hollowed-out pineapple, you’re gonna say, ‘I did the right thing.'”
“I got no problem with that, Franko,” Carlos said, looking at the money.
“In the fifth, you go down,” Franko Morelli said, eyeing him seriously.
Carlos nodded his head. “Yes.”
“In the fifth, my ass goes down,” Carlos repeated.
Floyd Lawton looked cool behind the wheel of his 1964 cherry-red Chevy Malibu convertible as swing music blared from his radio. He pulled into the parking lot of Giggles, a club by the airport that was secretly owned by the Joker. Floyd’s classic Malibu whipped into the nearest empty space and parked next to a white Mustang.
Pausing for a second, Floyd stared at the entrance to the club. Was he sure about this? He could be walking into the lion’s den.
But he’d made his choices to become a hired gun months ago. The money was very good, but this Gotham City millionaire had never been in want of money. It was all about paying off a blood debt, and with this job he would be free of his responsibilities. Then he’d worry about what to do with his life from this point on. He walked up to the entrance and knocked on the door. The front entrance was unlocked and opened, revealing the Dapper Dan fellow on the inside: English Dave. Dave wasn’t really English. He was an elderly black man from Keystone City who had run a few clubs secretly owned by the Joker, including the comedy club known as Giggles.
“Deadshot! You old gun-nut, you! Get in here!” he said in a voice that said they went way back.
Floyd stepped inside. English Dave slammed the door behind them.
The spacious, brightly decorated club was empty this time of day. English Dave crossed to the bar, and Floyd followed.
“Where’s the boss-lady?” Floyd asked, looking around warily. If any guns started blazing, they’d find Floyd Lawton didn’t go down easy.
“She isn’t here,” English Dave said. “Franko’s in charge until she gets back,” English Dave said.
“Is that a fact?” Floyd said. He had never personally had a problem with Franko. In the times he’d met him before he went straight, he’d seemed like an all right guy for a thief and a murderer.
Floyd watched as Carlos shook hands with Franko, who had his back to them.
“Hang back for a second or two,” English Dave instructed. “And when you see the Hispanic guy over there leave, go on over. In the meanwhile, can I make you an espresso?”
“How about a cup of just plain old American?” Floyd said.
“Coming up,” English Dave said. “I hear you’re taking Mia out tomorrow.”
“At Harley’s request,” Floyd said.
“Have you met Mia?” English Dave asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Not yet,” Floyd said.
English Dave smiled to himself.
“What’s so funny?” Floyd asked.
“Not a goddamn thing,” English Dave said, shaking his head.
“Look, I’m not an idiot,” Floyd said. “She’s the Joker’s woman. I’m going to sit across a table, chew my food with my mouth closed, laugh at her jokes, and that’s all I’m going to do.”
English Dave put Floyd’s coffee in front of him. “That’s what you say now. But you’re Floyd, and she’s Mia. Let’s see what happens when the two of you are together.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Floyd asked.
“You think Harley didn’t know you were a ladies’ man when she asked you to babysit a woman who was dating her dad that she doesn’t particularly like?”
“Huh,” Floyd remarked.
Carlos bellied up to the bar next to Floyd. “Can I get a pack of Lucky Strikes?”
While Carlos waited for his smokes, Floyd just sipped his coffee, staring at him. Carlos looked over at him. “Lookin’ at somethin’, amigo?”
“I ain’t your amigo, bub,” Floyd said over his coffee.
Carlos did a slow burn toward Floyd. “What was that, old man?”
“I think ya heard me just fine, punchy.”
Carlos turned his body to Floyd when a voice suddenly called out, “Deadshot has entered the building. Floyd, get your wrinkled old ass over here!”
Laughing, Floyd walked off, never giving Carlos another glance.
Carlos, looking as if he were ready to go into the manners-teaching business, watched Floyd and Franko shaking hands and clasping each other on the shoulder. He quickly made the wise decision that if this pendejo were a friend of Franko’s, he’d better let it go — for now.
“Pack of Red Apples, dollar-forty.”
Carlos was snapped out of his ass-kicking thoughts. He paid English Dave and walked out of the club.