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Business Lunch

The reporter followed the maitre de into the private dining room.  The sounds of the lunch crowd talking and clinking their forks against their plates disappeared as the door swung shut behind them. Inside, subdued lighting and thick carpet muted both sights and sounds.  

Martinson sat at the lone table, a still-steaming plate of food in front of him.  He rose when he saw that his dinner guest had arrived.  The tall, slim man wore a charcoal gray suit and a tie with a blue and red regimental stripe over a snow-white shirt.  His hair was cut short, but was long enough to show a touch of silver at the temples.  He contrasted with his guest, who wore a rumpled polo shirt and jeans, and whose long hair was slicked back into a ponytail.  

“Thanks for coming, Mister Nasuto,” Martinson said, waving toward the empty chair next to his own.  “Please, have a seat.”

The reporter looked around at the elegantly simple decor of the room, then sat down.  “I got your call,” he said.  “Look, I don’t want any trouble.”

“No trouble,” Martinson replied.  He gestured to the waiter, who placed a large tumbler of amber liquid in front of Nasuto.  “I can’t say I like what I’ve been reading, but maybe a little background information will let you see my side of things a little better.”

He smiled, his teeth white and sharp.  “Off the record, of course.”  

The reporter returned his smile, picking up the whisky and taking a large gulp.  It was good stuff, and it tasted wonderful as it chased off the remnants of his hangover.

The waiter waited until he had taken another swallow and put it down before asking, “How do you take your steak, sir?”

“Medium, with extra salt,” the reporter answered.  The waiter nodded and turned toward the door.  Martinson waited until he heard the latch click before continuing.  “I like mine blood rare,” he said.  “You can really taste it, then.”

Nasuto shrugged.  “To each his own, I guess.”  he took another healthy swallow of whisky.

“So, what do you want to know?” Martinson said.  He picked his knife and fork up and cut a bite-size hunk from his meat.

“You called me.”

“OK, then I’ll talk,” Martinson said,  gesturing to himself with his utensils.  “Feel free to ask questions.”

The reporter nodded.

“I’m not a bad guy, you understand.  Just a businessman.”

“Rough business.”

“Sometimes, yeah.  But this thing with the studio, I’m being as gentle as I can be.  I bought their debts, they’re behind on paying.  I don’t want to own a studio, so if they don’t pay up, I’ll have to auction it off to make up the difference.”

“And the studio that makes movies you don’t agree with goes out of business?”

Shrug.  “I’m not naive enough to think that I can buy up everything I don’t agree with.  Any goober with the scratch to buy a good camera can make a movie these days.”

Martinson took a sip from his own drink.  “It’s just business.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Just a more….. balanced approach when you’re doing your stories.”


“Yeah.  Try telling it from a different perspective every once in a while,” Martinson explained.  “It’ll make things go easier with the government if they don’t have a bunch of people screeching at them about how evil I am.”

“And why would I want to do that?  I’m already making good money doing what I’m doing.”

“You’re looking for an incentive to tell my side of the story?”  Martinson looked shocked at the idea.

A cynical smile crossed Nasuto’s face.  “Listen, Nancy Rogers is making it worth my while to scream to heaven about you trying to silence her….” He paused and swirled his whisky for a moment.  “Wel, I guess some call it art.”

“Filth, you mean.”

“Like I said, to each his own.  If you want me to break that deal, you’re going to have to beat it.”  He gestured toward his host.  “It’s just business.”

Martinson put a piece of steak in his mouth and chewed it thoughtfully.  He smiled again, saying “I’m not going to pay you to do your job.  You’re supposed to be worried about the truth.”

“Rogers is paying me to say what the truth is.  Truth don’t come cheap.”

Martinson pursed his lips and nodded knowingly.  “Neither does a good Catholic school.”

The tumbler stopped inches from the reporter’s lips.  “What did you say?”

“St. Agnes of the Hills?  Isn’t that where your daughter goes?”

“How do you know about her?”

“Pretty little thing, your girl.  What’s her name again?  Lisa?  I loved that dress you put her in when you took her out for her birthday the other night.”

“Have you got somebody following me?”

Martinson shrugged and took another bite of his steak.  “Nah,” he said around the meat.  “Just getting to know you.”

“Listen, you fascist piece of shit, if you ever go near my family again, I’ll….”

“You’ll what?  Scream about intimidation?  Call the cops?”

“To start with, yeah.”

Martinson nodded sadly.  “Listen, I’m just trying to do business with you.   You want something, I want something.  There’s no reason we can’t come to an arrangement.”

He looked over the other man’s shoulder and nodded.  Nasuto’s head whipped around to see who was behind him, then he squealed when he felt Martinson’s large hand close around his ear and jerk his head back.  The reporter resisted the movement, but that only helped when Martinson reversed his efforts and slammed his head down on the table. 

Nasuto screamed when he felt the bones next to his left eye snap on the table’s edge.  He tried to stand up, but only succeeded in kicking his chair over.  His struggles ceased when he felt the point of Martinson’s steak knife push against his throat just behind the joint where his jaw met his skull.

“Now you listen to me, you greasy little fuck,” Martinson said.  His voice was as butter smooth as it had been when the reporter entered the room.  “I read one more word from you about my business, one fucking word, and I’m gonna gut that pretty little girl in front of you.”

Nasuto started to say something, but closed his mouth when he felt the steel slip a fraction of an inch through his skin.  He rolled his eye to look at Martinson, and felt his bowels loosen when he saw the man’s placid face.  

This crazy bastard’s gonna kill me, flashed through the reporter’s mind.

“Now, you either blink twice and we go back to our lunch, or I make you nice and comfortable so you can watch me cut Lisa’s fucking throat,” Martinson purred.  “Which is it?”

Nasuto blinked his good eye twice.  The other was already swelling shut.  His forehead smacked against the tablecloth when Martinson released his grip with a shove.   Shockwaves of agony and starlight flashed through Nasuto’s head when he felt the bones next to his eye grind together.

Martinson shook his head while he watched Nasuto try to regain his feet, then grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and tossed him back into one of the other chairs.  He straightened his jacket as he slowly walked back to his own seat.

Martinson sat down and put his napkin back into his lap just as the door opened and the waiter brought in the reporter’s steak.  He didn’t seem to notice the blood seeping from his neck and ear, nor the bruising that was already spreading across his forehead and down to his cheek.  He set the plate down in front of Nasuto before turning  to Martinson.

“May I get you anything else, sir?”

“Bring the gentleman another scotch, please.  He seems to need it.”

“Of course, sir.  And for you?”

“I’d kill for a good cup of coffee.”  He grinned at the man slumped in the chair across from him.  Nasuto lifted his head, fear plain in his eye.

The waiter nodded and turned back toward the door.   Again, Martinson waited for the latch to close before speaking. 

“Great service here.  Liked it so much, I bought the whole damned place.”

The reporter snatched up his whisky and gulped down the inch or so that remained.

“Now, about those stories…”

Previous Post


  1. BadFrog

     /  November 6, 2020

    The way things are going today, are you sure this is fiction?


    • Oh, it’s fiction. Not sure where this one comes from. It’s not my normal kind of writing, but the idea hit me a while back.


  2. That was excellent. Hope you work that into a more complete story later.


    • I may. I’ve had a couple of blurbs like this rattling around and I needed to get it out and onto paper before I forgot it. More to come


  3. Old NFO

     /  November 6, 2020

    Ohhh… NICE! Write it!


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