Mugsy Cliché: a parable

Don Vito Scripto and Vinny (The Mechanic) standing outside the Wordland Social Club. The sky is gray, and the air is cold and raw.

Don Vito: Da’ time is nigh, Vinny. Da’ Rubicon has to be crossed.

Vinny: Who is dis’ Rubicon?

Don Vito: Nobody, Vinny. It’s figure of speech.

Vinny: What you saying, boss?

Don Vito: Ya gotta whack him, Vinny.

Vinny: Whack who, Don Vito? Dis’ Rubicon figure?

Don Vito: Nah, Vinny. Not Rubicon. Mugsy.

Vinny: Mugsy! Geez, boss, Mugsy Cliché. Why? What did Mugsy do?

Don Vito: You don’t wanna go — I mean, don’t ask me my business, Vinny. I told you, don’t ever ask me about my business.

Vinny rolls his eyes and stays stiff as a board through a minute of awkward silence.

Don Vito: Okay, Vinny. Just this once, you can ask me about my business.

Vinny: Mugsy’s been like a son to you, Don Vito.

Don Vito: He crossed me, Vinny. He’s been disloyal. He needs to sleep with da’ fishes.

Vinny: But what has he done? I mean, yeah, the kid’s a little wild sometimes, and he may engage in some inappropriate behavior, but still he’s —

Don Vito: What did you just say?

Vinny: About what?

Don Vito: Mugsy’s behavior. What did you call it?

Vinny: I said he may engage in some inappropriate behavior, but he still loves you. He don’t want to take over your business, boss.

Don Vito: It’s not the business, Vinny. He’s gotten inside my head. He’s making me say things I don’t wanna say.

Vinny: Like what?

Don Vito: Like a minute ago, when I told you not to ask me about my business. I almost said, “You don’t want to go there.” What kind of a mafioso says crazy stuff like dat’? He’s making me forget the old words, the old phrases.

Vinny: I don’t think so, Don Vito. I think that at the end of the day, you’ll find Mugsy Cliché’s loyalty to be very robust.

Don Vito: What did you say?

Vinny: I said, at the end of —

Don Vito: I know what you said.

Don Vito looks closely at Vinny. What he sees is not a pretty picture.

Don Vito: He’s gotten to you, too. Hasn’t he, Vinny?

Vinny: Whaddaya mean!

Don Vito: You saying things like “inappropriate behavior,” “at the end of the day,” “robust loyalty.” You’ve switched your allegiance to Mugsy Cliché, haven’t you?

Vinny pulls a Saturday Night Special from his hip pocket.

Vinny: That’s right, Don Vito. We’re living in the 21st century. The old words and phrases won’t do. “Sleeps with da’ fishes.” What the hell does that mean, anyway?

Don Vito: You’re wrong, Vinny. We have to remain true to the old ways. We must have honor. We must have respect. We must —

Vinny empties his gun into Don Vito’s chest. Don Vito falls, lying in a pool of his own blood.

Don Vito: Mother of God, is this the end of Don Vito?

Vinny blows the smoke away from the barrel of his gun and strolls away, whistling tunelessly.

______________

The top clichés of 1999?

Slate magazine says they were

inappropriate
at the end of the day
robust

Check the article for clichés to watch in the year 2000.

Also, check out William Safire’s column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, “Don’t Go There.

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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