“You’re not going to count it?” Dudley asked Mr. Montes. The well-dressed gentleman shook his head as he slipped the cash-stuffed envelope in a drawer. The two men, one old and refined, the other younger and sloppily dressed, sat in Mr. Montes’ office. Dudley thought it was odd that they were the only two in the office, Mr. Montes usually had a pair of bodyguards in the room.
“Our arrangement is complete, you’re done,” Mr. Montes said with a nervous smile.
“What?” Dudley tilted his head in surprise. “I’ve only made three payments? I’m good for the rest, I promise!” the 18-year old moved forward to the edge of his seat with his hands clasped, begging.
“It’s okay,” Mr. Montes tried to ease Dudley’s mind. “You’re not in trouble,” he sighed. “You’re a good kid, and I don’t feel right taking advantage of you. Your mom’s doing better now, right?” he asked. Dudley nodded.
“Yes! Thank you, Mr. Montes. I couldn’t have paid for the surgery without you.”
“Good, good. That’s all that’s important. Stick close to home and take care of her; don’t worry about this anymore.”
“But, I still owe you so much!” Dudley said. “Is there anything I can do?” Mr. Montes shook his head.
“Stay close to home, out of trouble. That’s all I ask,” he said. He hoped that the more Dudley stayed home, the less chance he had of running into his men.
“I’m really good at fighting,” Dudley mentioned sheepishly. The nervous young man scratched at his neck tattoo; a ’34’ in gold numbers. “Do you need another enforcer?”
The truth was Mr. Montes did need more men; and, he already knew about Dudley’s fighting prowess. Mr. Montes was an intelligent and ruthless businessman. His loans often came with extra trouble that couldn’t be traced back to him. All it took was a well-timed mugging to keep his debtors perpetually on the hook. He didn’t break legs; the real money was in interest.
People were happy to borrow money from him because he was so understanding. Those that couldn’t make a payment one month due to unfortunate luck could make it up the next month with extra. Until he started sending men after Dudley; and, they never returned. He could have used Dudley on his payroll, but he made it a point to avoid risk where he could. The last thing he needed was Dudley learning how he operated. His best bet was to keep Dudley distracted and out of the way.
“No, Dudley. It’s obvious how much your mother means to you, and she should. Stay close to home as much as you can.”
“Please Mr. Montes, I really need a job. If I’m done paying you, that’s great. I appreciate all you’ve done for me, but now that my mom’s home, I still can’t afford to take care of her.”
Mr. Montes always made decisions quickly when he knew what he wanted. His goal was to keep Dudley out of the way; the young man could easily destroy everything Mr. Montes built. Though, he hadn’t realized how dangerous he was until going through three separate snipers. Mr. Montes personally witnessed the third shot. A bullet went straight through Dudley’s head, but here he was without a mark.
He knew Dudley was telling the truth about needing the money despite making all his payments on time. The irony was that if Mr. Montes hadn’t sent men to rough him up, Dudley would not have been able to make his payments. Once his informants told him how Dudley earned the money, he decided to cut his losses. Dudley wasn’t his only source of income; and, it was too minor an amount to risk losing his whole empire. In fact, it was worth some insurance money.
“Okay, I have a job for you. Stay home. Take care of your mother. Don’t worry about a thing, you’re on my payroll now.”
“You mean it!?” Dudley’s face lit up with excitement. Mr. Montes nodded.
“What do you think? 5,000 a month seems like enough, right?” Mr. Montes asked. Dudley was initially on the hook for 10k a month. “Now that you don’t have to make my payment, that should be enough for you and your mother to live comfortably.” Dudley nodded enthusiastically.
“Wow! That’s almost as much as I get for three kidneys!”