Big Pete’s 30-Second Vacation

 

            Big Pete was not, as his name implied, a big man. In fact, he was five feet six inches tall and weighed one hundred twenty pounds. Big Pete was a little man with little dreams. He was a small time hustler and con man who made a living off gullible, greedy people. Big Pete was always chasing that one big score that would give him the one thing he wanted most out of life. He wanted a vacation. Not a vacation to the lake or Cleveland, but a vacation to a tropical beach. And Big Pete wanted to go first class. That was what Big Pete wanted more than anything else. Things didn’t look good though. The closest he ever got to his big score was in the back of a cab along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. Well, a man has to have goals.

            One frigid afternoon Big Pete was at O’Hare Airport stealing luggage and looking for easy marks. He came across a big expensive-looking case and could not resist taking it. He looked around for the baggage porter, and seeing he was alone, he casually picked up the bag and headed for the exit. To anyone looking, he seemed like any other business traveler. Big Pete grabbed the first cab in line and headed for his office. Now Big Pete had an office for two reasons. First, some cons required him to be an almost honest businessman. And, to Pete’s way of thinking, all legitimate businessmen had offices. Second, whenever his landlady was looking for back rent, Big Pete would sleep on the ratty couch in his office. Big Pete looked at it as a cost of doing business.

            Once inside his office, Big Pete wrestled the suitcase up onto the battered desk and unzipped the bag. Pete was so stunned he almost wet his pants. The bag was full of cash, all neatly packaged one hundred dollar bills. Pete just stood there staring at his amazing windfall. Big Pete did some quick math and figured there was a half million dollars in the bag. He slumped into his chair, his eyes never leaving the money. Things like this did not happen to guys like Big Pete. He had never seen his much money before in his life, and he had no clue what to do next.

            What Big Pete did not know was that when that much money travels, it never travels alone. There was one man on the plane and one man keeping an eye on the baggage, while a third waited in a car outside. The man at the baggage carousel knew better than to make a scene, so he kept an eye on Big Pete until his friend on the plane caught up with him. Together, they followed Big Pete outside where their driver picked them up. They had no trouble following the cab through traffic and arrived at Big Pete’s office building almost before he did. One of the men followed Big Pete into the building and onto the elevator.

            “Which floor, buddy?” the man asked.

            “Fifteen,” Big Pete replied. There was an uncomfortable silence as the men rode up the elevator. Mainly, it was because Big Pete’s companion took up a sizable portion of the small elevator. He was tall and wide and towered over Big Pete. At the fifteenth floor, Big Pete got out and headed for his office. The big man held the door open until he was sure which office Pete went into. Then, with a smile, he let the door close. Back downstairs, his two friends waited in the lobby.

            “He’s in 1503, and he has the package,” the large man said.

            “I called Tony. He said get his money back and make sure this asshole never steals anything again,” an even larger man said.

            The three men crowded into the small elevator and made their way to the fifteenth floor. They stood outside Big Pete’s office. Big Pete was still staring at the money, his mind racing, when the door flew open and off its flimsy hinges.

            “Good afternoon, sir. My name is Mr. White, and these are my associates, Mr. Black and Mr. Blue. And you are…?”

            For the second time in less than an hour, Pete thought he might wet his pants. He knew these men had come for their cash but, for the life of him, Pete could not figure out how they found him so fast.

            “I’m Pete,” and because he was not thinking at his best, he added, “Big Pete.”

            Two of the men glanced at each other and grinned, but Mr. White said, “It’s my pleasure, Big Pete. It seems you and I have some business to discuss.” Big Pete started to say something, but Mr. White held up his hand to cut him off. “It seems that there was a mix up at the airport, and you accidentally picked up the wrong bag. These things happen from time to time. One bag looks like another.”

            Big Pete was grasping at straws, “Yeah, that’s what happened alright. And I have your bag right here on my desk, not one thing missing.” Big Pete was beginning to see a glimmer of hope.

            “Wonderful,” said Mr. White. “If you have no objections, we will just take what belongs to us and be on our way.”

            “Of course not. Sorry about the misunderstanding,” stammered Big Pete.

            “Oh…there is one more thing, Big Pete,” Mr. White added.

            “Sure. Anything you say,” Big Pete answered.

            “Mr. Black and Mr. Blue are going to throw you out the window now.”

            Big Pete watched Mr. White pick up his dream and walk out of the office. He put up as much of a fight as he could, but in the end, the two behemoths just picked up Big Pete and heaved him out the window.

            As soon as Big Pete hit the glass, he was instantly transported to a lush tropical paradise. Pristine white sand as far as the eye could see… A beautiful, golden sun blazing against a sky so blue and cloudless that the sheer wonder of the scene took Big Pete’s breath away.

            Big Pete heard, “Want another mai-tai, Darling?” He looked over and saw a lovely native girl with café au lait skin and dancing brown eyes. It was everything Big Pete imagined it would be:  the warm sun against his skin, a stunning vista to look out at, and a beautiful girl to share it all with. Everything perfect. Everything first class. And then, Big Pete hit the pavement.

 

 

Barry Isbell

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