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At 8:30 this morning two men in separate cars pulled up to my house. One Toyota and one blacked out Chrysler with a personalized license plate - JOHNNY M.
I knew they were coming. They called me late last night to make sure I’d be home.
The man in the Toyota got out and stepped into the Chrysler idling behind. Said nothing. Johnny M rolled his tinted window down revealing just his eyes. We’d never met in person. All I knew is that I had to listen to him. That he’s connected with the Italian mob. Whatever he says goes.
This began in January. The mob hired me to re-write a script for them. A murder mystery dinner. Turns out these mobsters are also aspiring actors. They want to put their lives on the page. So they found me on Craigslist. I put up an ad as a writer looking for work. Any work. College essays to screenplays. Whatever. I needed the money, so I didn’t ask many questions.
Get in, Johnny M says. His eyes point to the Toyota.
Follow the directions in the GPS, he says.
Johnny and his passenger tail me up 9W, over Storm King Mountain. We were heading to Mohonk, on top of the big cold mountain in New Paltz.
I can see them reading my script in the car behind me. Swerving over the mountain and down through Cornwall and onto I-87 North. Their reciting lines. I knew this because they were making guns with their hands, spitting and screaming into the windshield. Not letting me out of their sight. I wanted to break off at a random exit, shake them, steal their car, and find a safe place to hide. It’d be useless.
When we take the New Paltz exit, Johnny M flashes his headlights at me and points at the McDonald’s parking lot. Pull over, he yells.
Johnny M is a tall man in a long coat with slicked back grey hair. His passenger is shorter, dark haired, and sinister beneath the yellow McDonald’s sign.
Get out. We’re getting breakfast burritos, Johnny M says.
The three of us sit at a booth by the window.
If people enjoy this dinner, we’re taking credit for your words, says Johnny M. But, you’ll be good with us, he says.
If this script fails. If people don’t laugh, then shit, you’re fucking doomed, he says.
Doomed, he says again, then takes the last bite of his breakfast burrito.
We snake up the narrow road to Mohonk. The Resort is a mountain sized mansion. A castle haunting up out of the ancient rock. There must be a thousand windows wrapped around the face of the building. Attendants park our cars and carry our bags.
The fireplaces are nine feet tall inside. Statues of local Native Americans fill the hallways that smell of smoke.
Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt stayed here. Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radnor, Belushi, and Murray used to come here with the rest of the 1970’s SNL cast before each season premier.
And me - Impoverished writer - Mob hostage.
People’ve been scared to return to Mohonk since the Norovirus outbreak last month. 260 guests vomiting up shellfish. The Resort, with help from the mob and their mystery, hopes to excite people back now that they’ve eradicated the Norovirus.
They’ve put me in a room with access to the free buffet and a view of the Catskill Mountains. Told me to eat ‘til I barf. They’re still joking about the Norovirus.
The rest of the mob is pulling up to the valet below my window. Rehearsal’s going on. I can hear the mobsters reciting my lines in the parlor room.
They’re spitting and screaming throughout the hallway and onto the stage.
I can make out a few lines.
Oh, Jesus Christ, they’re yelling about ninjas. There’s ninjas? I forgot about the ninja jokes. It sounded good when I read it to myself in the mirror. Now the mob is questioning plot points.
Johnny M is going to throw me off the mountain. I’m going back to the buffet. I’m doomed…