Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Godfather

The Godfather
‘What’s showing on TVZ tonight?’ I asked.
‘The Godfather,’ replied Sara.
‘That film,’ I said. ‘must be about forty years old.’
‘Quite recent,’ said Sara. ‘TVZ is trying to modernize.’
Sure enough, when the titles came up, there was The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Copolla, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.
And there was the famous opening scene. A busy city street, along which comes a speeding black limousine, coming to a screeching halt outside the Laundry Bank. Out jump eight men all wearing black suits and dark glasses, wielding machine guns as they dash into the bank, with people scattering in all directions.
Inside the bank customers and tellers hit the floor as alarm bells start to ring. ‘Carry on as normal,’ shouts the leader of the gang, ‘we’re not going to interfere with business operations!’
Up to the next floor they dash, as managers and their secretaries now hit the floor. ‘Carry on as normal,’ repeats the leader, ‘we’re not here to frighten you, we’re here to protect you from thieves and gangsters.’
And so this sequence is repeated at each successive floor of ascending authority, until they finally burst into the huge penthouse office of the Chairman, the crafty little Razor Mataki, who is found lying on a sheepskin rug, where his personal secretary is attending to his personal needs.
‘I presume you’ve brought an invitation for me to meet the Godfather,’ squeaks Mataki bravely, as he is simultaneously bound, blindfolded and bundled out of the building, into the limousine.
Now we move to the huge subterranean bar and nightclub which form the basement of the Godfather’s mansion, the infamous Plot Zero. At a large mahogany table presides the huge flabby Godfather, impassively chomping on a cigar and nursing a bourbon, as Mataki is plonked in front of him, and the blindfold removed.
‘The Godfather extended his hand as if in greeting, and then squeezed Mataki’s hand until he squealed. ‘Haven’t we met before?’ he asked, in a friendly tone.
‘I don’t think so,’ Mataki whimpered.
‘I remember now,’ said the Godfather with a smile. It was back inMinnesota, about twenty years ago, when you were the local branch manager. I defaulted on a loan, and you foreclosed on my house, leaving me destitute.’
‘Terribly sorry,’ said Mataki, as he rubbed his injured hand.
‘Don’t worry, old chap,’ he said, ‘I’m not the sort of person to bear a grudge.’ He took the bottle of bourbon, and filled a glass. ‘Here, have a drink!’
‘I don’t drink,’ replied the plucky little Mataki.
‘It’s all the same to me,’ replied the Godfather graciously, as he looked round at the heavies surrounding the table. ‘But these gentlemen don’t take kindly to people who refuse my hospitality.
‘Now,’ began the Godfather, as Mataki sipped and spluttered. ‘I’ve invited you here for a little business discussion. As the Godfather of the Nation I provide protection to all businesses in the country. But I have been disappointed to find that I don’t seem to have any arrangement with the Laundry Bank…’
‘I should explain that…’ began Mataki, but then felt a gun butt in his butt.
‘Please don’t interrupt me,’ said the Godfather politely. ‘These gentlemen don’t understand any lack of respect for the Godfather of the Nation. As I was saying, I wonder why you haven’t visited me here, and offered me some of the well-known services of the Laundry Bank?’
‘How can I help?’ asked the hapless Mataki.
‘I understand,’ smiled the Godfather. ‘that your bank runs a discreet laundry facility for favoured customers.’
Mataki looked round at the heavies. ‘Yes,’ he replied.
‘Well,’ continued the Godfather, ‘I sometimes receive large donations from friends and admirers, and I need a discreet account for recycling funds into legitimate business.
‘In addition, as commander-in-chief of the National Protection Service, I protect all big business from paying taxes, from paying wage increases, and from experiencing workers protests or strikes. So returns from this side of the business would entail quite large amounts of money being paid into your bank.’
‘I understand,’ said Mataki, venturing another sip of 50% proof.
‘Of course, in return, I expect some consideration. I would require a 20% shareholding in the bank. Secondly, as a major shareholder, I would expect the Board’s favourable consideration of unsecured loans to expand my investments on the London Stock Exchange. Thirdly, I would expect that you would call in all your present loans to any person who has criticized my good work for the nation. Fourthly, I would require information on the accounts of any of my enemies presently using your laundry services, so that these criminals can be prosecuted.’
‘And if I don’t agree?’ said Mataki, as one of the heavies gave him a good clip round the ear.
‘Look,’ said the Godfather, in a kindly voice, ‘you should know that you are already under my protection. Luckily the Chief Inspector of Banks is on my payroll. I have told him that I am protecting your bank, and all is well. But if I were to tell him that all is not well, he could suddenly notice all the things he had previously overlooked.’
‘Poor Mataki,’ said Sara. ‘He’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.’
‘It’s bad enough,’ I said, ‘living in a police state. But see what happens if you live in a criminal state.’
‘Terrible,’ said Sara. ‘Let’s hope that never happens here.’

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