Louis Dumkowski decides to face the loan shark to whom he owes money, and surprisingly is forgiven and hired, along with his friend Cleatus Washington. He even gets a girl friend for the first time, and that’s when his troubles really start.
Louis Dumkowski and his friend, Cleatus Washington, had settled comfortably in their roles as loan-sharks-in-training. Under the tutelage of their boss, and new-found friend, Vincent “Vinnie the Enforcer” Williams, they had found their calling. Vinnie, who had once tried to kill Louis by shooting him through a door, and who had never had a black friend, was happy with his new associates. He had become especially close to Cleatus. He often said, “You know, Cleat, I never knew you dudes could be good at anything ‘sides singing and dancing.”
Cleatus, who couldn’t carry a tune in a box, and who avoided the dance floor to avoid being accused of assault and battery, was for his part becoming accustomed to having a white friend other than Louis, with whom he’d grown up. Besides, he often thought, Louis didn’t even know he was white. He talked, walked, and acted like a very light skinned and somewhat inept black person. Louis was, Cleatus had decided, not too bright, but he had a good heart, and would always be his best friend.
The three of them were sitting in the cubbyhole in the back of the pool hall that Vinnie used as a headquarters of his loan sharking operation, drinking Jack Daniels and coke, and going over the receipts for the week.
“We done really good this week,” Vinnie said. “Ten thousand bucks more than last week.”
“Yeah,” Cleatus said. “When Salt and Pepper hit the streets, people fork over the bread.” Salt and Pepper was the nickname people had given him and Louis; they were the only interracial loan sharking operation in Detroit. Cleatus played the part of the angry young black man and Louis put on the crocodile tears; and between fear and sympathy, they had reduced the number of people who tried to welsh on making their weekly payments.
Louis was getting accustomed to the fiery whiskey, and was busy emptying his glass, so he paid no attention to them. His mind was on Cara Lee Wills, his latest romantic conquest. Actually, Cara Lee was his first romantic conquest, unless one counted the two hookers Vinnie had hooked him up with; but that encounter turned into such a disaster, Louis blocked it from him mind.
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