How Marco Got the Business
The Fourth of July dawned red. It had rained for most of the week. But it looked as if today would bring some respite for the parade and festivities along the waterfront.
Marco told O'Donegal that he was concerned about the tunnel. The downpours had softened the earth and Marco needed to secure the roof in parts or risk a collapse.
O'Donegal was not pleased that the tunnel was out of commission. He had planned an extra-large shipment for that evening.
"With the fireworks on the beach and all the pleasure craft afloat," he said, "we can bring in as many loads as we please and no one will be the wiser, not even Bull Larson. I trust you'll get the tunnel ready Boy-o."
Ever since their disagreement in the spring. Marco had been a model of docility. He agreed to all of O'Donegal's demands and even offered a cut of their wine business. On the surface things seemed to be reconciled.
"Peter, will you come by with the shipment?" Marco asked. "I want you to try our latest batch. It's the best. We drink it at home. Double distilled. Good for the digestion. I'll bet you'll need it after all that corned beef and cabbage at the Moose Lodge."
"Boy-o, you are considerate. I'll try to sneak away."
"You won't regret it sir."
Later in the day clouds rolled in purple on the horizon. Dusk presented a mad mural of violet shadows across the sky. In town the torch light parade was in full swing. Drums beat, bands played, lady fingers popped and sparklers sizzled. Marco waited in the shop until just before the appointed time of the shipment. Then he slipped outside. He pushed his way through the tri-colored crowd to a phone booth on the corner.
"Captain Larson please."
Back in the building, Marco went down to the cellar. He set up a neat table with cordial glasses and two bottles of their latest and finest product. He poured one glass and set it to the side. Then he slid open the bookcase and went down the tunnel to inspect his repairs and improvements.
"They'll do," he thought.
The canal was full of pleasure craft and O'D was late. It was almost time for the fireworks over at the beach. Finally, Marco spotted the Chris-Craft bedecked in red white and blue pennants. It weaved in and out of the boat traffic and pulled up to the landing. O'Donegal, Seamus and their cousins were on board dressed in patriotic costumes. The cousins and Seamus were the Spirit of '76. Seamus wore a tiny tricorn; one cousin had a bandage on his head and the other a straw-colored page-boy wig. O'Donegal was sort of a squat Uncle Sam, sporting a cotton goatee that clashed comically with his pencil mustache. His bowler was red white and blue.
"Sorry we're late lad." we were celebrating over at the lodge."
They struggled with the crates up the tunnel.
"You can see all the work I did Pete. Look at the supports. There's no chance of it caving in."
"You are enterprising Boy-o."
They put the crates down near a pile of bricks, trowels, shovels and a bag of lime left over from the tunnel repairs. Marco called the men over to the table.
"Try this, fellas." He opened a new bottle, poured four glasses and placed them in the center of the neat table.
When Marco looked up, he stared at the pistol in O'Donegal's hand.
"What gives Peter?"
"Boy-o, you are a babe in the woods. Today is Independence Day. So, let us drink a toast: To our independence from you. Your wine cuts into our profits.
"I told you, I wanted out Peter."
"And so you will be Boy-o."
Marco didn't cry. He didn't beg. He cleared his throat and in a husky voice said, "Well, let's have a final drink?"
"Of course," said O'Donegal. "Seeing you were so polite as to pour it for us. Gather round boys! And don't move Boy-o." Seamus passed the four glasses of grappa to the men.
"Over to the wall now Mark. Just so. I don't want any ricochet. The fireworks are about to start. They should cover the sound of my shot."