As he left the motel parking lot, Skinny Pete worried that it might be too late for Jane. At one time, they were quite close, but just now Pete had his own fish to fry. He pulled his car onto the highway and set the cruise control. He was holding some serious shit and getting pulled over was not an option. He turned off his radio and dialed up the kid at school to tell him he was on his way. Pete arrived after sunset and was comforted by the darkness as he made his way across campus to the dorms. He was a little early and so was his customer. They quickly made the exchange. Pete counted his cash, the two shook hands and Pete took off.
With that mess out off the way, Pete made arrangements with his book maker to settle his debt. He had a pounding headache and realised he hadn't eaten since morning. He was a little nervous about meeting the bookie. The man appeared to be very professional, but Pete just never felt comfortable in the bodega where the bookie did business. On edge, Pete hurried to the appointment and found he was early once again. Entering the bodega, he noticed the old woman at the counter struggling with a heavy box. He rushed to her and took the box.
"Oh Peter, you such a good boy, thank you. You here for Nick? He not here. You hungry?"
"No Ma'am." Pete lied. "I just came from dinner with friends."
"OK." said Mrs Nick. "I make you something."
Mrs Nick disappeared behind the curtain and Pete sat at the table closet to the door. He chewed his fingernails and shook his leg under the table. A few minutes passed and Mrs Nick returned with a steaming plate of puttanesca and a cup of strong, black coffee.
"You be a good boy. Eat it all and I bring you some more." she demanded.
"Oh, Mrs Nick, there is no way I could eat all this, just the coffee is fine." Pete tried to hand the plate back to her and she scolded him. "You do what you told! Eat what I give you!" And then more gently, "No more lies, I know you hungry. I can see. Eat!"
Mrs Nick disappeared back behind the curtain. The phone rang and Pete heard her answer it and say sharply "Yes, yes! OK! Yes. I tell him!" Then she slammed down the phone. "Peter, Nick on his way, be here couple minutes." She came back through the curtain with an antipasto, a couple glasses and some wine. Placing them on the table she asked quietly "What's the matter with you? You all nervous. You in trouble with Nick?"
"Oh no Ma'm. You were right, I was just hungry. Thank you for feeding me. I feel much better now."
Mrs Nick looked suspiciously at Pete. She took off her apron and sat across from him. Looking him dead in the eye, Mrs Nick reminded Pete not to lie to her. "I know you a good boy.You no belong here. Nick gonna tell you the same thing. You do the business with Nick and you go. I no wanna see you here no more."
Mrs Nick saw Pete was ashamed and she placed her hand on his cheek. "We lost our boy, you know, Nick and me. Just a little fella. God never gave us no more babies. And Nick, he not like me to tell you this but he mad with God. That's why he do his business. But he see somethin' in you. He don't want you to be like the people who come here. So I'm gonna tell you again. You settle up with Nick and you go. No more you come around here."
The bells on the door jingled and Nick came through the door carrying a bag of peaches. Without saying a word he flipped one to Pete and gave the bag to Mrs Nick. She gave Pete a pat on the cheek and went back behind the curtain. Nick took off his coat, hung it on the peg by the table and sat with Pete.
"You got my money?" demanded Nick.
"Yes sir, Mr Nick. It's all here." Pete handed Nick an envelope, picked up his plate and stood up from the table ."Thank you Sir and please thank Mrs Nick for me. I have to be getting along."
"Sit, Sit! Where you going? Put the plate down! I wanna talk you! Sit!" Mr Nick poured two glasses of wine and dished up some antipasto for himself. He ate in silence for a time. Pete worried about what was coming next.
"Where's that little girl I used to see you with? The little blondie? Why you no marry her?" Nick pushed his plate away and called to Mrs Nick for the next course.
"Jane?' asked Pete, "Well it's a long story... She, ah well see.."
"I no wanna hear no story. She's a good girl. Why I no see her no more? She dead?"
"Well, no..." Pete sat quietly while Nick talked.
"You a good boy, you a talent but you waste it. You waste your life a comin' over here. I'ma tellin' you now. Don't come back here.You say she not dead. You gonna be dead I see you here again. Capiche?"
Mrs Nick appeared with a plate for Nick and set it in front of him. She handed Pete his peach, picked the other plates and looked him in the eye. "What you waitin' for, go!"
And with that, Pete left the bodega. He would return to Mr and Mrs Nick but not for a long time.