Hard Boiled Plumber, Part V

Part V
Luigi grit his teeth and looked out the cab window. It had been three weeks. Three weeks of riding around in the green and red cab. Three weeks of watching and getting a feel for how Bowser Jr. handled his operation. Three weeks since that wife beating punk had almost turned Luigi into the same pile of ash that was Peach’s house.
He had spent the first week recuperating, just watching from the cab window. He’d banged his head hard on the asphalt and he didn’t need a sudden wave of vertigo interfering with his plan. He’d also taken Peach to Daisy’s. Peach had protested, but Luigi’s saving her from a fireball gave him quite the power of persuasion. Then he had a long talk with the Hammer Brothers. It had been eye-opening in the way that learning you’re going up against a sociopath always is. Junior had a simple solution to any obstacle; excessive violence. By the end of the week Luigi had seen Junior deal out beatings like they were candy.
The second week he noted how the collections were done. Three main goons hitting up local businesses for protection fees would make their count and give it over to Junior. He would take his cut and pass it up the chain. Luigi knew what his move would be.
Yoshi, working on retainer, had served as quite a wheelman. Luigi hoped this would be the final day needing him to pilot the green and red cab around the city, following one of Junior’s head goons. So far, no one had noticed a taxi as a tail. How could they? Taxis numbered just behind the rats and pigeons. Several stops at local businesses and the goon’s pockets bulged. Tonight would be the night.
Around eight o’clock the goon led them to a little pizza shop, Mushrooms. Waiting an hour, two other cars pulled up. From each came a man dressed in the height of goon fashion. He checked his firearm. Six rounds in the chambers. He said a silent prayer that he wouldn’t need any.
“Wait for me. Keep the engine running. In fifteen minutes if I’m not back leave and tell Peach to leave the city.” Luigi slid out of the car and headed towards the pizzeria.
A bell above the boor jingled as he entered. “Sorry, fella, private party tonight,” began the old man behind the counter. He silenced when Luigi pointed his pistol.
“Where?” was all Luigi needed to say. The old man looked at the door in the back marked private. Luigi went back to the main door and pulled it open, letting the bell jingle again. He shut the door and headed to the private room.
One kick swung the door open. Three goons sat around a desk loaded with cash. “What the fuck is this?” said a pink faced goon. He had blotchy skin and mouth that was two times the normal size.
“What do you think? Put your hands in the air unless you want to grow another breathing hole. You, Glasses, start putting the cash in a bag.” The white faced goon wearing coke bottles on his face started to comply. “I-I-I don’t think y-y-y-you’ll get away w-w-with this,” he stammered out.
“I’d worry about yourselves right now. And you, you fish-faced fuck,” Luigi pointed his gun at the third goon who had bulbous cheeks and puckered lips “If you drop those hands another inch I will end you. Now give me the bad.”
“Don’t you know whose money this is? Is this money worth your life?” Fishface wheezed out.
“It’s worth somebody’s.” Luigi slinked out the door, hustled threw the empty pizza shop and dove into the cab. “The Miyamoto Hotel,” he barked as the cab sped off. Looking behind him he could see the three goons spilling out into the now empty parking lot.
* * * *
“I must admit, I am very tempted to have you killed.” For his age, Bowser was still a formidable man. He was tall and broad of shoulder. His belly had the roundness of age and showed his appreciation of rich food, but didn’t it didn’t distract from the way the silk of his dress-shirt hugged the muscles in his arms. But despite the imposing nature of his physique, it was the sharp spark in his eyes that kept Luigi’s mouth dry.
“It’s what you son wants.”
“Then perhaps I will. A father sometimes needs to indulge his son.”
“Some would say you’ve indulged your son too much over the years.”
“Do I seem a man considered by the gossip of others?”
“Then get to your point.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“A private detective.”
“Do you know who my client is?”
“My son’s wife.”
“Do you know he beats her?”
The Koopa family boss sighed and sat down into the plush chair in the penthouse of the Miyamoto hotel. He poured a shot of brandy from a bottle that likely cost more than Luigi managed to scrap together in a month. “He has much anger in his heart. But he is a man, and a man can choose how to run his family.”
“He tried to kill her.”
“I understand she was threatening the release of something that would be bad for business.”
“It would be bad for him.”
“I don’t think you’re following me. If that ledger falls into anyone’s hands, even yours, it would be bad for Junior.”
The spark in Bowser’s eye grew. An instant later Luigi was pulled out of his chair and slammed into the far wall. “You watch your mouth about my son!” His hands squeezed around the detective’s throat.”
“It’s the truth!” Luigi forced out. The boss’s grip tightened. “At the bottom of the bag, beneath the money.” He couldn’t breathe. He saw spots. “The ledger… In bag…”
There was nothing but rage in Bowser’s eyes. Luigi wondered if that rage would be the last thing he ever saw. The pressure lessened. It was another few seconds before Luigi realized he could breathe again. Bowser let go. Luigi slumped to the floor. He watched as the big man walked over to the table and started taking out the money.
A door opened. A guard asked if there was trouble. Bowser grunted and the guard left. He emptied the bag. “Fake bottom.” Luigi rasped. Bowser tore out the thin flap of fabric and took out the ledger. He flipped through the pages. He counted the money. Again and again. Across the room Luigi swore he could see tears. A moment later they were gone.
“There are things a father should never have to do. A father should protect his family, but the hardest thing is protecting them from themselves. At least he can protect his son’s reputation. Are you prepared to save your own life?”
“If anything leads back to you, my hand will be forced.”
“I understand.”
Luigi picked his hat off the floor and left Bowser to his grief. He rode the elevator down, ignoring the glare of his escort. He left the hotel and hoped in the cab waiting for him. He stopped at a random block and went to a payphone. He put in his coin and dialed the number. It was picked up on the second ring.
“Hyrule? This is Luigi. You remember that thing? I need to call in the marker.”
* * * *
It was thirty feet from the car to the door of the hotel. Junior was traveling with his usual entourage of bodyguards, leg-breakers and the three lieutenants he currently blamed for getting him into this mess.
“When we see my father, you’re taking the blame for this. I can’t believe you got robbed by that PI fuck! He is a dead man when I find him. You hear me? A dead m-“ With ten more feet to go Junior stopped walking.
“Boss? Something wrong?” Junior was making small grunts and other mumbles. His legs twitched and jerked.
“Holy Jesus, look at this!” Jutting from the back of Junior’s head was a thin wooden haft with three white feathers at the back tip.
Bowser Junior had been brought down by an arrow.
* * * *
The next day Luigi brought the morning edition over to Daisy’s apartment to share the news with Peach. There had been tears, but mostly there was relief. She packed her things and promised she would call Luigi when she found a place of her own. Maybe she would. Luigi and Daisy walked her down to the ground floor, said their goodbyes and waved as the familiar green and red taxi started down the road.
“Did we do the right thing?” Daisy asked her employer.
“We did all we could,” he tried to reassure her.
“We could have taken the ledger to the police.”
“And within the hour the information would be leaked to Bowser, how could have the ledger destroyed and Junior would have a free hand to come after us. This way he won’t be going after anyone ever again.”
“What if Bowser finds out?”
Luigi looked into the big brown eyes of his secretary. He grinned his silly mustachioed grin and straightened his green cap. “Sweetheart, you are the best bookkeeper I’ve ever seen. When you say a job is done, I know that means it’s done right. And even if he does puzzle it out, we still have the real ledger.”

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