I was hanging out at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin last Spring, helping my gonzo attorney and lifelong friend E. Hobart Calhoun promote his burgeoning online law practice site, SueEveryone.com. On a break, E. and I toured the Tito’s Vodka distillery and became friendly during the post-tour tasting with SXSW favorite, Serbian all-girl band, Kitty Riot. E. began matching vodka shots with Dragana the drummer, rushing from table to table to guzzle the complimentary Tito’s. When there was no vodka left, E and Dragana cleared a table and arm wrestled for a few sweaty minutes. After E. lost three matches in a row, Dragana threw him across the table and kissed him hard on his thin, Shylocky lips. When E. broke free, he tore off his shirt, grabbed Dragana by her heavily tatted arm, and ran out the door with her, leaving me alone with the other Kitties.
My Serbian was rusty, so conversation was awkward. After lead guitaress Srebrenka challenged me to a strip Rock-Paper-Scissors match, I did what I always do when faced with danger: I threw up at Srebrenka’s feet and ran as fast as I could back to the festival center. Out of breath, I plopped down in a stuffed chair in the foyer next to an older fellow. I could see his little white ponytail, but his face was buried in the paper. When he folded the newspaper in his lap, I could not believe my eyes.
Henry: Michael Corleone! Holy cannoli. How long’s it been?
Corleone: Oh, hey, kid. Been some time. You smell vomit?
Henry: (Looking around) No. What are you doing here at South By Southwest?
Corleone: This is the hot venue for promoting new online ventures, so my board wanted me here to glad hand some of the venture capital guys, show them around our website. I got a booth inside.
Henry: No kidding? What is your site?
Corleone: MobbedUp.com. The family is looking for mezzanine financing. We’ll eventually take it public.
Henry: How cool is that? What does the site do?
Corleone: Same kinds of things we’ve done since the twenties. It ain’t just olive oil.
Henry: Last time I saw you, you were dancing with Kay in Tahoe, and you were still in the casino business.
Corleone: Yeah, but the Indians, I mean, native-Americans, hurt us in rural Nevada and on the East Coast, plus the big corporations took over Vegas. Those corporate guys play rough—bunch of gangsters. We moved our sports book and gambling operation online, and built MobbedUp.com around the gambling revenue.
Henry: I’m not much of a gambler.
Corleone: Gambling is just a small part of the action. Everything we did in the old days, it’s all online now.
Henry: So if I need some muscle or a hit man to rub someone out?
Corleone: You go to MobbedUp.com. We hook you up with the right people. You pay through PayPal. If you want bids, we set up an auction for you, provide C.V.s on each prospective hitter, who he’s killed, how he’s done it, you know. You want the guy stabbed? We got a guy who’s a pro with knives. You want someone shot, or blown up, we match you with the best shooter or demolition guy we got.
Henry: What a great idea. You have a telephone app?
Corleone: Sure. And we got a names registry. Say you want to be known as Morty The Shiv, or Sammy Two Tone. You pay an annual subscription fee, you get a name search to see if the name’s been used. If the name is available, you register it with us. We provide monitoring to prevent name infringement, and threat levels for enforcement. We start with a warning, then we break a leg, and if the s.o.b. still don’t get it, a bullet between the eyes.
Henry: Man, that’s service. What about the Russian mafia? They in with you on this website?
Corleone: Nah, man. Ever since I saw EASTERN PROMISES, the scene where Viggo Mortensen is naked in the steam bath and kills those two big guys armed with knives, I don’t want nothin’ to do with Russians. They too brutal, even by our standards. Besides, we don’t need’em. Since the government shut down Blackwater and neutered the CIA, we gettin’ a lot of wet work contracts with Uncle Sam. It’s all bid jobs. You remember Clemenza? He does our bids. You wouldn’t recognize him now. He’s skinny. No spaghetti or pizza. Just tofu, organic vegetables, and green tea. Tell you the truth, I liked him better fat.
I grabbed Michael’s paper and buried my face when I saw Srebrenka crash into a Carmelite nun in the lobby. I explained who Sebrenka was, and Michael asked me if I wanted him to “talk” some sense into her. I told him it wasn’t necessary. We said our goodbyes, and as I walked away, I felt a sense of joy, knowing that in a pinch, thanks to technology, a Luca Brasi is only a mouse click away.
Michael Henry is a HottyToddy.com contributor. A graduate of Tulane and Virginia Law School, Henry published his seventh novel, Finding Ishmael, in April, 2014.