Michael Jackson's boyhood home. Gary, Indiana. Aside from the King of Pop, this metropolis didn't offer much. It was a pit. All that was left of this once booming steel town was boarded-up buildings, a few liquor stores that resembled jails with all of the metal bars protecting the premises, a minor league baseball team with a brand new baseball park (the "Railcats") and various river boat casinos, including some that also had hotels.
It was a bitter cold March night in 2003. I was at a casino/hotel drinking a Sprite with a little whiskey dashed in for good measure. I struggled to unwind after spending 8 straight hours in a freezing cold conference room with no windows (but presumably with extra oxygen being pumped into the room - or maybe out of it, so that we would leave the seminar and go to the blackjack tables).
The local Bar Association (for attorneys, not alcoholics) sponsored an introduction to bankruptcy law course for the non-specialist attorney in this rundown, bankrupt town. In other words, we learned some basic bankruptcy law, but weren't going to make it our legal career. My law practice focused on financial services. I thought that learning some bankruptcy law would be good to know.
I finished my drink and pulled my wallet out of my back pocket to settle my bill. I was going to call it an early night. At that very moment, a boisterous guy, with a couple of stunning, yet at the same time, tawdry-looking women on his arms, one dishwater blond and one a brunette, walked up next to me.
"Hey, don't go now. The fun's just getting started," he said extending his hand to me. "I'm Donny. My friends call me 'Donny J.'"
"Hi, Donny J. I'm Jim." I said. Donny was dressed in a several thousand dollar blue suit that shined despite the limited lights in the bar. He wore a classic white shirt and silk red tie. His handshake was unforgiving. He was out-of-place for Gary, Indiana.
"Very nice to meet you, buddy. Were you at the conference today?" Donny J. asked.
"You mean the bankruptcy conference?" I asked, unaware if there were any other conferences going on in the casino/hotel.
"Yes, of course. That's the one. It was huge."
"I was there. You too?" I asked.
"You bet. I needed to bone up on my knowledge of the bankruptcy code."
"How come? Do you do bankruptcy work?"
"You might say that. I'm not an attorney though,"
Donny said as he patted the brunette on her shoulder.
"Really?" I was surprised that a non-attorney would subject himself to 8 hours of torture known as bankruptcy law. Lawyers call it a "code-based" area of law. That's lingo for dryness of the subject matter.
One of the women pulled on Donny's arm, "Donny, don't forget us. Introduce us to your friend. He's kind of cute!" she was saying.
"Absolutely. Oh, hey, Jimmy, I almost forgot. This is Alexis and Olivia. Sorry, I didn't introduce them right away. Didn't mean to be impolite. They're sisters."
"Oh, yeah?" was all I could say.
"Hey, check out Alexis' head. Doesn't she look like a pineapple?" Donny said, pointing to the dishwater blond's head. Her hair was tied tightly into a bun on her skull with various strands sticking out, giving Alexis' hair the look of a pineapple. "I call her 'Pineapple Head,' when she pisses me off."
"Donny, don't make fun of me. You'll make me cry," she said.
"Come on, baby. I'm just teasing you," he said, putting his arm around her and pulling her tight into him. He gave her a kiss on top of her pineapple head.
"Jimmy, let's get out of here and go up to my suite. I have some top of the line booze and some other goodies." I had known Donny for less than five minutes, but I was already "Jimmy" to him. Aside from my parents, my kindergarten teacher was the only person who called me by that name (and she had been dead for years).
"Sounds good." I said to him.
As I went to pay, Donny waved at the bartender, "I got this one. Put your money away, Jimmy. It's not good here. Not going to let you pay for anything tonight." That type of generosity always made me nervous because it usually meant that I would have to compensate my host in some way that didn't involve cash.
"Thank you, Donny. That's very nice of you."
"No problem. Now let's get upstairs to my suite so that you can get to know one of the girls a little better."
"Are you dating one of them?" I asked.
"I'm dating both of them, as well as anyone else that I want. I don't have any trouble in the female department, Jimmy. Let me tell you. I'm the best. An absolute stud. Just follow me and you'll do just fine."
Wasn't sure what I should say to that. So, I just said, "Okay, let's go upstairs."
As we rode the tacky elevator that struggled to look elegant up to the top floor and Donny's suite, he pointed at an older, heavy-set man in the elevator with us, and mouthed the words, "Fat fuck," and shook his head in disapproval.
When the elevator stopped at a low floor to let the fat guy out, Donny said, loud enough for the guy to hear, "Jesus, take the steps next time. You could use the exercise."
We stood silently in the elevator for a moment before Donny turned to me and said, "You know, I own this property. Guys like that are going to break me at the all-you-can-eat-buffet." Donny and the girls laughed at his joke.
"You own the hotel?" I asked.
"You bet. The hotel, casino and the conference room that you sat in today. They're part of my book of property that I own around the country. Around the world, actually. I'm kind of a big shooter. Some would use the word 'mogul,' but I don't know if I would go that far."
"No kidding? That's impressive," I said. Donny J. was amused that I didn't know who he was.
"You're damn right it's impressive. I own a number of casinos, hotels, apartments, condos, golf courses. My casinos and related hotels are in a public company called 'THCR.' You can look it up online, like on that Yahoo site. We're traded on Nasdaq. Do you know what that is?"
"Yes, I do," I said, slightly annoyed that he didn't listen to me tell him that I worked on financial matters. I asked him about his ownership, "Even though your company is public, are you the majority owner?"
"I don't really want to get into that, but let's just say my ownership interest is huge. It's a lot. I run the show. I'm very rich. Really rich. I'm the CEO."
"How did you get into the business?"
"My Dad owned some rental properties in Brooklyn and on Long Island and in other New York locations. So, I learned from him."
"What sorts of things did you do?" I asked.
"I was the rent collector. Had to go to these deadbeats' apartments and rough them up to get their monthly payments."
"Wait, really? You would 'rough people' up?" I asked. "That's like out of the movies."
"Oh, yeah. It was like the movies. There were these idiotic people, though. Morons. A lot of Mexicans. They were animals. Criminals and rapists, many of them. I would bring a police baton, maybe some mace with me and just kick ass. Knock some heads together. I'd get that money. Never disappointed my Dad."
We arrived at Donny's suite. There was a musty smell in the hallway. Donny blamed it on Lake Michigan. Something about the winds off the Lake brought humidity into the hotel that created the musty smell. The room was okay. Donny had some incense burning in the suite to minimize the odor. The aroma brought me back to my college days.
"Hey, Jimmy. Come over here," Donny said. "Here, give this a try," he handed me a joint. "It's 'White Widow,' one of the best brands in the world. Very mellow."
"I don't really smoke," I said.
Don stared at me for a moment. "Don't really smoke? I think that means you can try this. Trust me. It's the best."
What the hell, I thought. I took an easy sip on the joint. Donny was right. This shit was good. Very smooth. I barely coughed after inhaling. I shook my head in approval.
"Ha, see what I mean?" Donny slapped me on the knee. "Only the best. That's my brand. The best of everything," Donny said, as he too took a turn on the joint. He allowed himself a nice yoga-like relaxing exhale. "Ahhhh… nothing quite like that, my friend."
"Can we have some too, Donny?" one of the girls said. My mind was a little fuzzy, so I couldn't exactly tell which one asked.
"Of course, Dolls. Get over here and enjoy. I may have to spank you while you inhale. You know, it's your cost of admission. Lay over my knee and accept the dominance of Donny J.," he said, referring to himself in the third person.
"Okay, I'll do it," said Olivia. She wore a short blue skirt that was tight around her ass along with black tights and patent leather black high heels. She moved over to Donny and laid gently on his lap.
"Hey, can we bring out the Gimp to play with us since you're in a dominating mood, Donny?" asked Alexis, who was also laying on Donny's lap.
The girls both leaned over on Donny's lap to reach and smoke the White Widow. "Ha, the Gimp. Almost forgot about him. How long has he been in here? Maybe we should bring him out for some playtime," Donny said.
"The Gimp?" I asked. What the hell was Donny referring to - this thing that lived in Donny's penthouse?
"Oh, yeah, Jimmy. You'll love him. He's a lawyer too."
"What kind of lawyer?"
"He's actually a big shot. He's huge. Brilliant even. I think he does constitutional law. He's from Texas by way of Canada and he argues appellate cases on behalf of the state of Texas."
"Wow, so he's a solicitor general?"
"I guess so. But, to me, he's just the Gimp."
"What's a 'Gimp?'" I asked.
"You're funny, Jimmy," Olivia said. "Have you seen the movie, Pulp Fiction?"
"Sure, a number of years ago," I said.
"Do you remember the Gimp scene?"
"I think I remember it."
"You know, the scene with Bruce Willis and Marcelles Wallace? When they are kidnapped and tied up by the guy that rode the chopper - Ned, I think? Or was it the other guy? Anyway, do you remember that part of the movie?" Olivia was twirling her finger in her hair, making circles.
"Yeah, I think so. Sounds familiar." I said.
"By the way, I know Quentin Tarantino," said Donny. "Met him many times. Great guy. Huge talent. A real genius. Brilliant. So, sort of in his honor, we decided to have our own Gimp up here… the girls and I. We put an ad in a BDSM magazine and received a lot of applicants. Something like 30 guys. No chicks. Amazing how many perverts are out there. I guess I'd have to include myself. Anyway, Teddy, our winner Gimp, rose to the top. A real achiever. So, he accepted the position and became our Gimp, which is really like a slave, but we don't like to use that word."
"I can understand why. Is he a sex slave?" I asked.
"Hey, I didn't say that, Jimmy." Donny said.
"He is sex slave, Donny. Just tell Jimmy," said Olivia.
"Okay, Olivia. But only because I'm stoned," Donny said turning to me. "Ted performs sex acts on people that we bring around. He prefers guys, but will work with women if we get him drunk and high enough."
"Donny, let's stop talking and bring him out!" Alexis said.
"All right, all right," Donny said. "Everybody off of the couch."
"What?" I asked.
"We have to get off of the couch," Donny said. "The couch doubles as the Gimp's Lair."
"Wait, what? You mean we're sitting on the guy right now? He's in the couch?"
"Yes, geez, don't get so indignant about it, Jimmy. He consented. In writing. We had a lawyer put a document together so that he can't sue us," Donny said. "Anyway, get up so I can open his cage."
With that, the girls and I stepped back as Donny pulled the pillows off of the couch. He then removed a wooden panel that was under the pillows. I could see what appeared to be a homemade cage that had openings on top of a metal box. There were a couple of padlocks keeping the lid secure in place. The contraption reminded me of a torture device that I had seen used on enemy combatants in Guantanamo Prison.
"Do you girls know where we keep the keys?" Donny asked. "I'm so stoned right now, I can't think straight."
"I thought you had the master key, Donny," Alexis replied. Donny went through his pockets. He said to himself, "where the hell…" and then seemed to find what he was looking for at the bottom of his deep pocket.
"Ah, ha. Found it. I could be a janitor with all these keys. Teddy, you're lucky. You won't be in there forever."
Donny unlocked the padlocks and pushed open the lid so that Teddy could get up. Donny reached his hand to
Teddy, "Come on, Teddy. Let's get up." When nothing happened, Donny said, "Ah shit, we handcuffed him. Jimmy, come over here and give me a hand. We have to lift the Gimp up."
I walked over and saw the Gimp laying in the box with a shiny black leather suit completely covering his entire body - from head to toe. He had a mask that covered his eyes, had a small hole for his nose and a zipper for his mouth that was closed. It appeared that he couldn't talk, only make sounds. His wrists were handcuffed in front of him. The Gimp was incapacitated and he wasn't happy that we woke him up.
Donny and I lifted him up. He was lighter than I expected. We helped him get out of the box even though his ankles were chained together. Donny opened his eye slots and unzipped his mouth. "What the fuck?" the Gimp said with an odd combination of Canadian and Texas accents.
"Teddy, we're having a party. Be nice to our guest - this is Jimmy. He's a lawyer too. He was at the bankruptcy conference at the casino today," Donny said.
"Hey, there," Teddy said, nodding his head. "Sorry I was rude, Master. Maybe you could punish me?" He tried to reach his hand out to shake mine, but couldn't do so because his hands were restrained. In light of my germ phobia, I didn't mind not shaking his hand. I just waived to him. "Hi, Ted."
"Call him 'the Gimp,' Jimmy. He prefers that when he's here."
"I do," said the Gimp.
"Hey, let's take your mask off and let you get some fresh aid," Donny said and he reached to unzip the black leather mask. He pulled it off. The Gimp looked like a combination of a cross between a homeless person with his greasy black hair all over the place and Dracula, given his pointy nose and triangular shape of his head. "Whew, that feels good," said Teddy.
"I bet. When's the last time you took a shower? You really stink, Ted," said Donny.
"Come on, Donny. You're the one that kept me locked up in there."
"It's 'Master' to you, Gimp."
"Sorry, Sir. I just meant to say that I did not have an opportunity to bathe. I apologize for that. Perhaps your guest would care to bathe me?" the Gimp asked.
"Uh, sorry, but that's not my thing," I said. Even though I was buzzing like a bee, I knew that I didn't want to go anywhere near the Gimp.
"You sure, Jimmy? We can set you two up," said Donny.
"No thanks. I'm good."
As the joint melted away, Olivia went behind Donny and started rubbing his shoulders. "Ah, that feels great. So, what do you want?" Donny asked.
"Aw, why do you think I want something?"
"Because you always want something."
"Well, Alexis and I were thinking we could have a little party tonight."
"We are having a little party."
"I know, but we were thinking we could have a little bigger party," Olivia said.
Donny thought about this for a minute. Then responded, "As you know, I'm a great businessman and negotiator. So, we can have a party, but it's going to cost both of you, Olivia and Alexis, in the bedroom with me. To be clear, I'm talking about a threesome."
"I kind of figured you would want something for the party. I'm in," said Olivia, who was definitely the more vocal of the two girls. She appeared to be the smartest too, but that wasn't saying very much.
"I'm in too," echoed Alexis.
"Okay, great," said Donny. "You go ahead and do what you need to do, Olivia, to get it going. In the meantime, I need to talk some business with Jimmy."
That was my cue to follow Donny out of the room. As I walked by Olivia, she pulled me near her and whispered in my ear: "Make sure Donny doesn't get too grumpy. He tends to get grumpy when he works. And, well, he has 'small hands,' you know what I mean?" she said, using her hands to make the quote marks for "small hands."
"Yes, I think so."
"So when he's grumpy, he can't perform well and he's already got a small and limp one as it is. Get what I'm saying?"
"Yes, I understand." At least I thought I did.
Donny and I went into a bedroom within the suite. It looked like Liberace had thrown up his approach to decor everywhere. "Gaudy" was the word that came to my mind. The pianist would have appreciated this room, as it came complete with a white baby grand piano in the corner of the room.
"Here, have a seat, Jimmy. I gotta ask you some questions about bankruptcy. You said that you're a bankruptcy lawyer?"
"No, I'm not. But, I went to the seminar today to learn some things about bankruptcy."
"You understand the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 11?"
"Sure, yes. That's one thing they discussed."
"Okay, so I know the difference too, but I want you to tell me," Donny said.
"That's why you asked me to come up to your room? To tell you the difference between Chapter 7 and 11?" I asked.
"No, of course not. I just want to know if you know the difference before I ask your advice."
"Sure, Donny. Chapter 7 means that the company declaring bankruptcy sells off its assets and typically ceases operations, or running the company," I said.
Looking into Donny's eye, I could tell that the lights were on, but no one was home. His mind was elsewhere. I continued nonetheless, "Chapter 11 allows a company to renegotiate all, or most all of its contracts with suppliers, vendors, etc., so that the company can come out of bankruptcy and have a chance to survive."
"Right. Okay. That's good. You understand it. So, before I get into discussing my situation with you, do I need to give you a dollar or something so that we can have an attorney-client confidential relationship?" Donny asked.
It amazed me how many people try to establish an attorney-client relationship by giving an attorney a dollar bill. The relationship is really much more complicated than that, but doesn't need a lawyer and client to exchange $1 to make certain conversations confidential. It was especially peculiar that a supposedly sophisticated business person like Donny would ask that question.
"No, you don't need to give me a dollar. The signing of a fee agreement or exchanging a dollar is not the only way that an attorney-client relationship can begin. An implied attorney-client relationship can be created by simply having a person seek advice or assistance from an attorney with an expectation of confidentiality."
"Okay, whatever Mr. Legalese. So, I don't need to pay you a buck and I'm protected?"
"That's right. No need to give me a dollar."
"Great, I'll keep my money. Okay, so here's the thing. I loaded up this company - the casino and this hotel - with a lot of debt on purpose. We're a public company and own a couple of other properties too."
"How much?" I asked.
"How much what?" Donny asked.
"How much debt?"
"Hell, I don't know. I'm just the CEO. I think it's around $1.8 billion or so."
"Yes. That's nothing. Geez. What are you? Mr. Small Time? Don't stress about it. I'm not stressed. It's not even a drop in the bucket as to how much I'm worth, okay?"
"So, I need to reduce this debt and screw over some of the banks. Oh, and make sure I don't lose any of my personal wealth in this deal."
"I understand," was all that I could get in. Donny kept talking.
"The lenders are a bunch of morons. I can tell them anything and they'll give me money. As much as I want. They love me. Thank God for this country's bankruptcy rules. I just want to confirm that I can declare Chapter 11, keep my investment in this casino and hotel, as well as reduce the debt and the interest rate that I have to pay," he said, taking a swig of some yellow-orange colored drink that I assumed was whiskey. Smelled like whiskey.
"Oh, and I want to reiterate with you that the banks who gave me the loans can't come after my personal assets. That would be bad, okay?"
"Yes, I understand," I said, taking a hit on the pot pipe that had found its way into Donny's room. I had a little bit of clarity after coughing out the smoke.
"As best I understand, Donny, with some exceptions, you can stop your creditors from coming after you aggressively and make them negotiate in Bankruptcy Court when you file for Chapter 11. That said, you may have to reduce your ownership share of the properties."
"Well, that sucks. But, as I said, this investment is just a fly on a horse's ass to me. Very minor. What about them going after my personal assets - the billions of dollars that I'm worth?"
"That depends if you signed anything guaranteeing your personal assets in the deal. Do you remember if you did that?"
"I doubt it. I'm too smart for that. Even though I'm worth billions, I won't let others get at my money. Any of it. That's why I manipulate… well, I should say 'utilize,' the bankruptcy laws to help me with tough business deals."
Before I could respond, Donny kept talking, "you know, if someone else was doing this, using the bankruptcy laws, no one would even know or care. It's only because I'm so huge in the real estate and gaming industries that the media will criticize me about it. It will be all over the major news outlets, the Wall Street Journal, Weekly World News, The Star, National Enquirer and so on. All of the big publications. But, it's a normal thing that happens. Right? Every day. They just love to go after me because I'm so wealthy and good looking. Okay?"
"Yes, I believe that there are a number of bankruptcy filings where the business gets to reorganize under Chapter 11 and reduce the debt, the interest rate on the debt, but as I said, you may need to give up some of the equity, or maybe the business altogether."
"I can tell you that is not going to happen. They're not taking this property away from me," he said. Then, "Jimmy, come here. Let me show you something." I reluctantly followed Donny into his walk-in closet and immediately regretted doing so.
"How do you like this?" he said. "We have lawyers, guns and money in this closet, right? You're the lawyer, I have the guns and money!" Sure enough, lining one side of the closet was a large locked plexiglass case filled with a number of handguns. There must have been around 40 to 50 pistols. Some modern and others antiques. Lugers, a Walther PPK, a few Berrettas, a Colt .45, a Derringer, a P220 Sig Sauer, and a .357 Magnum. There was also a mini-vault that likely contained money.
"You know that song I'm taking about, right?" Donny asked.
"Lawyers, Guns and Money by Warren Zevon?" I said.
"Yes, yeah, that's the guy, Zevon. We should get him here to perform."
"That would be great, but I've heard that he's pretty sick with cancer."
"Really? Ah, that sucks," Donny said, as he pulled out his set of keys. "Anyway, let me find the key for my gun case."
"That's okay. I don't need to see one," I said. I didn't want Donny to get one of his guns in light of all of the drugs and alcohol he was on at the moment.
"I'm not getting it for you," he said. "I'm getting it for me."
"That's what I was afraid of," I replied.
"What? Why? I'm an expert firearm man, shooter, whatever," he said, as his speech was slurred. He grabbed the .357 Magnum, checked to make sure that it had bullets (it did) and said, "Follow me, Jimmy."
I didn't have much say in the matter, so I walked over to the window with Donny. He tried to open it with one hand because his other hand held the gun, and he wasn't putting it down. "Help me out here, will ya?"
"Sure," I said while helping push up the window. After we had success with the window, the cold air hit us like a baseball bat.
"Shit, it's cold," Donny said. I was amazed that he had any feeling left in his body after smoking the white widow. But, I felt it too. March in the Midwest wasn't an ideal time to take in the sights and enjoy the weather.
"Okay, Jimmy, have you ever shot a gun?" Donny asked me.
"A long time ago I was in ROTC in college, where I shot a rifle and a handgun. I wasn't very good at it," I said.
"No kidding. You served in the military?"
"Not really. It was just for one year and I never officially served, except for that one year."
"That's more than I did," Donny replied. "Hell, I did all I could to avoid serving in Vietnam. I wasn't going to get my head blown off in some rice paddy in the middle of fucking no-where for some stupid, made-up politicians' war."
"Where did you learn to shoot," I asked.
"Over the Internet. There's some great lessons on YouTube," he said.
I quickly realized that he wasn't joking. He really learned to shoot by watching YouTube videos. This experience was going to be interesting.
"Okay, watch me," Donny said. "You see that sign over there across the road that says 'Majestic Casino'?" he asked.
"Yes, I do. Is that your sign?"
"Are you kidding me? Have you paid any attention to where you are? Did your coffee cup this morning at the bankruptcy conference say 'Majestic Casino' on it?"
"Okay, then. Majestic is my biggest and only competitor in Gary. I need to blow that company up; literally and figuratively. This is the first step."
With that, Donny cocked the hammer on the Magnum, pointed at the billboard and said, "Almost forgot - plug your ears. This bad boy is loud as hell."
He wasn't kidding. A large pop resonated throughout the room. Everyone on the floor must have heard it.
"Shit, I missed," Donny said. He did, indeed, miss his target, but hit and shattered a car window. The car's alarm went off and was almost as loud as the gun shot. At that moment, one of the girls banged on the bedroom door. "Oh my God, Donny! Are you guys okay in there?"
"Yeah, yeah. We're fine. I'm just showing Jimmy some of my guns. No problem. In fact, can you bring us a couple of drinks? I'll take a daiquiri and Jimmy will take…?"
"I'll pass, thanks. I'm good." I said. The gun shot, really explosion, sobered me up rapidly and I was ready to leave the party, which had gone from a little strange to insane to insanely violent.
Donny fired a couple more shots at the sign and one of them finally hit the "M" in Majestic and the "C" in Casino, so the billboard now read, "ajestic asino." Donny was happy with his handiwork. "Do you want to shoot it?" he asked me.
"No, I think I'll pass."
"Jesus, Jimmy. I thought you were a fun guy. What the hell happened to you? I guess you're like all lawyers, except maybe Teddy. You know what I'm talking about?" he asked.
"You're all b-o-r-i-n-g, boring! You need drugs and alcohol to have fun," Donny said. Despite his intoxicated state, he was making some sense. He wasn't too far off on his lawyer comment.
"Anyway, since we have attorney-client privilege, I want to run one more thing by you before we go back to the party," Donny said, as he wiped off the Magnum and put it back in its place on the wall of guns.
"You remember that I told you how much debt this place has, okay?
"Right, around $1.8 billion?"
"Yes. Okay, so as you may know, I'm a hell of a negotiator. I'm confident that I can take this place into Chapter 11 and get a great deal because I'm going to negotiate the hell out of this deal and screw over my lenders, mostly the banks, okay?"
"Sure, I understand that approach."
"But, I've been giving some thought to a quicker and far more efficient idea. I'd like your legal opinion on this," he said.
"Yes, fire away," I said.
"Very intuitive, Jimmy."
"Your choice of words. 'Fire' away," Donny said, as he brushed his hand through this hair that was a color unknown to this earth.
"What are you getting at?"
"Fire," he said, pausing to stare at me. "I want to burn this place down. You know, like David Byrne and the Talking Heads would say, 'Burning down the house.' Except that we would be burning down the hotel and casino."
"Let me stop you right there, Donny," I began to say.
"But, I'm not done telling you my plan. And it's rude to interrupt me because I have so much money. And, it's just rude."
"Donny, I don't care. I don't want to have any part of a plan to commit arson on your property. The less I know, the better."
"But, burning this place down really helps everyone, except the insurance company that would have to pay for it. I think the insurance company is owned by that obnoxious billionaire guy, Buffett. He wouldn't even miss the money. And, we could make it look like an accident. No one would ever know."
"Donny, no," I said as I began to walk toward the door to leave our "meeting."
"But, Jimmy, it's so much easier than dealing with the Bankruptcy Court. Come on, don't leave," Donny said.
"Sorry, Donny. I can't advise you in strong enough language to not go through with burning down this property. As you said, you're a great negotiator and will get a good deal in bankruptcy. Resorting to arson is not the way to go," I said as I opened the door from his room to leave.
"Hey, Jimmy. One thing," Donny said.
"It's fine if you're not in on my plan. But, this is covered by the attorney-client privilege, so don't even think about saying anything to anyone about my plan, okay?"
"Technically, it's not covered by the attorney-client privilege…" I began before Donny raised his hand up to immediately stop me.
"Listen. I gave you an out by relying on attorney-client privilege. If you don't want to take that approach, fine. But, I want to make this very clear for you," Donny said, as he walked back into his closet and rested his hand on the gun case. "If you talk about what we discussed here, I will find you, hunt you down and eliminate you. Okay?"
"I understand," was all I could think of to say.
"I know some of the finest Italian families in New York who associate with people who are very good with guns - even better than me -- and know of many other ways to dispose of people so that they disappear forever. Quite painful, as I understand it. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yes, I do." I said. I wanted to lash out at Donny, but decided that laying low was the best path forward.
"So, you're not going to say anything, okay?"
With that, I turned and left the room, saying nothing.
"Don't even think about talking, Jimmy," I heard as I walked away.
As I went through the common room of the hotel suite, the "small" party that Olivia and Alexis put together was in full swing. There were probably 30 or so people dancing, drinking, hitting coke on the table and smoking pot. It looked like fun, but I needed to get out of there after my conversation with Donny.
"Hey, Jimmy, where are you going?" Olivia said to me as I was walking toward the door.
"I'm headed back to my room."
"But, the party is just getting going. I was hoping we could have a dance," she said with a wink.
"Maybe sometime, Olivia. But, I'm tired and have to leave early in the morning."
"That sucks," she said. "Did your meeting with Donny go okay?"
"Yeah, I suppose."
"That doesn't sound good, Jimmy," she said. For kind of a ditzy girl, she had good instincts. "You don't want to get on Donny's bad side. He keeps a list of people that he's mad at and finds a way to get even with them."
"Are you serious? How do you know that?"
"He's showed me the list and talked about it. I've seen it!"
"What does he do to these people on his 'hate list'?"
"He ruins them financially. He destroys their businesses. I've even heard that he physically hurts people."
"Come on, seriously?"
"Yep. Remember, he's from Queens. They play by different rules there. He's connected. Big time."
"You mean with the mafia?" I asked.
"Yes. Exactly," she said looking around the room. No sign of Donny and everyone else was in their own zone dancing, drinking or doing drugs. They weren't paying any attention to our conversation. "I like you, Jimmy. I just want to make sure that you remain okay. I should tell you one more thing…"
I couldn't wait to hear this, "what else?"
"Donny is going to be President someday."
"The President of what?" I asked.
"Of America! You know, the U.S.?"
I couldn't help but laugh. Olivia's eyes told me that she believed what she was saying, but my bullshit meter was going off.
"I'm sorry, Olivia. I don't mean to laugh. It's really difficult to become President for anyone and Donny has some disturbing things in his past that I've just learned about tonight without even doing any real research on him. The media would crush him."
"Even so, you don't want to be on his 'enemies list' if he's the President. No telling what he'll do to you!"
"That's true, Olivia. I think I'll take my chances," I said. "Anyway, it was nice meeting you. Good luck and, let me tell you, you don't need to hang around with Donny to make something of your life. You can do whatever you want."
She blushed in response to my comments. "That's really nice, Jimmy. No one has ever said anything like that to me before."
"You're welcome. And, I mean it. Really."
"Thank you," she said. "But, Donny has promised me that I'll get to be a … what do they call it, a drawer secretary?"
"Drawer?" I had no idea what she was talking about.
"Yeah, you know. It's some furniture name."
"Oh, I know - you mean a Cabinet Secretary?" I asked.
"Yes, that's it! When Donny becomes President, he said I can be a Cabinet Secretary or some kind of adviser to him."
"That's great, Olivia. I can understand why you want to do that. Good luck and be careful."
She leaned over to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "You too. Bye, Jimmy."