The House of Secrets

Alan Black loved going to work. He had a fish shop ‘’The Classic Tuna’’ in one of the trendiest parts of New York, and while grocery stores could sell their fish at reasonable prices Alan Black knew he had to charge much more to keep up his reputation as the ‘’hip’’ fish guy. Nobody knew that the grocery chains and Alan Black all received their fish orders from the same suppliers.

One morning, Carmine D’Calio entered the store and asked if he and Alan could have a private conversation. Since there was a lineup of hungry fish buyers and Alan was working the counter alone, it was a tough situation. Carmine, however, had been a loyal and consistent customer, so Alan suggested he come behind the counter and they could talk while he filled orders. Ground Whitefish and Pickeral was in demand as Alan had raised the price. It was the old story, perceived value.

‘’My wife and I are having some friends over for dinner on Thursday night. We live at 790 Oakline Park Drive. My wife, she loves your fish, especially the smoked tuna. She thinks it’s a great delicacy. She also wants you to bring oysters, shrimp and crab legs, mostly oysters. My wife, she loves oysters. I also would like salmon, and sable, and oh yeah your whitefish, everybody wants your whitefish. Do you think five hundred will cover it? You know what Alan, you’re always good to me, so make it an eight hundred dollar order. It will be a nice party, so if you bring the fish around seven o’clock, we can eat around eight-thirty and then you can stay for the party. I promise it’s going to be fun.’’

Alan had a lot of questions but he couldn’t get answers because after Carmine finished giving the instructions, he slipped back to the other side of the counter and walked past the crowd.

Thursday was a tough day as trying to figure out the order for Carmine’s party was challenging. Alan weighed beautiful belly salmon, gorgeous red snapper, grouper, sole and smoked carp. He threw in the standard sable, lox, and the most desired ground whitefish. It was strange bringing an order of fish to a party but money was money.

When Alan pulled up to 790 Oakline Park Drive his mouth fell open. It was a sizeable home, at least seven thousand square feet. A heavyset guy walked out of the garage and came over to his van and started asking questions. ‘’What’s your name? Who told you to be here? Hold on and don’t leave your van till I come back here.’’ The guy walked almost backward into the garage, watching Alan the whole time. He returned a couple of minutes later. ‘’Mr. D’Calio is glad you’re here. I will help you bring in the fish, Mr. D’Calio wants to make sure you brought the oysters. Did you bring oysters?’’ Alan nodded and started unloading boxes. Alan’s new assistant the guy with no neck didn’t take his eyes off of him and it all seemed very creepy.

Once the boxes were placed in the fridge, a woman came into the kitchen with a huge smile on her face. ‘’Hi, I’m Bunny, I’m Carmine’s wife. I know you, you’re the fish guy. I am so glad you brought us the delish fish. I have money for you.,’’ Bunny handed Alan a roll of one hundred dollar bills. After going over each box with her and showing contents, Alan mentioned that he actually couldn’t stay for the party. Bunny furrowed her brow. ‘’My Carmine said you were joining us and we don’t want to disappoint Carmine.’’ The heavyset man chimed in ‘’Yeah, you don’t want to disappoint Mr. D’Calio, that would be very bad.’’ Alan resigned himself to the fact he was staying.

Bunny disappeared and left him in the kitchen with no neck. Alan tried to make conversation but it was useless. All the guy would do was say yes or no. It was like he was afraid anything he said could be used against him. The whole situation was very strange.

When Carmine finally showed up, he gave Alan a bear hug. A woman who Alan hadn’t seen before walked into the kitchen. She didn’t say anything but put on an apron and started putting the fish in the boxes on platters. ‘’Did you bring the oysters?’’ Carmine had a look of excitement on his face. When Alan showed him a box full, Carmine couldn’t contain his delight. ‘’Bunny gets so horny when she eats that stuff, I am going to get laid tonight thanks to you Mr.Fish guy.’’

Another man showed up on the scene and spoke to Carmine D’Calio in Italian. He spoke very fast. Carmine nodded as the man went to the front door. The bell rang and guests started coming in. Alan found it strange because it was mostly older guys in the mid-fifties and sixties with younger women.

Bunny had changed into a very revealing outfit and Alan could see a side shot of her breasts when she walked beside him and there was a slit going up the side of her skirt which revealed a thong when she walked.

Finally Bunny told everybody to take their seats and to check the table to see the seating arrangement. Carmine was at the head of the table, he was flanked on one side by no neck and the other by another guy who looked like he was a former heavyweight boxer. Alan was seated beside Bunny and another woman named Gloria.

When the woman with the apron started bringing out the platters, there was applause. Carmine had another woman (she had appeared out of nowhere) bringing out carafes of wine.

When the oysters were brought out there was a rush to grab them. Alan looked at the plates and it was the guys who were devouring them including Carmine. He was slurping them down as fast as he could and Bunny was keeping pace.

There was a pause when the first platter of oysters had been devoured, and people started reaching for other food.

Carmine took the opportunity to stand up with his wine goblet in his hand and tap the crystal with his fork. ‘’Ladies and Gentleman. Isn’t this fish good. I want to thank Alan for bringing it here. So I want you all to take out a hundred bucks and give it to Alan as a tip.’’ Alan tried to decline the generous offer but it was refused. He collected a thousand dollars from the guests and stood to talk, Carmine motioned for him to sit down. ‘’One more bit of news. As you all know we own Vito’s Bakery, we own Italo’s Beef, and I expect by next week to own ‘’The Classic Tuna’’. As soon as he said it, Alan had a chill, first he felt Bunny’s hand on his thigh, and secondly, he didn’t want to sell his shop. It was all very awkward.

The woman with the apron brought out another platter of oysters and the party commenced again. Alan stood up to move over to Carmine and discuss his pronouncement when no neck shot him a dirty look and with his hand motioned for Alan to sit down.

It was a terrible dilemma. Alan had no desire to sell his shop and work with these people. It was a nightmare. He had figured it out quickly. He was sitting and eating with real-life mobsters. He felt sick, he didn’t want to sleep with the fishes, just serve them.

Once again the oysters were disappearing fast and furiously when there was a loud noise at the front door and it flew open. A team of people with their faces covered ran into the room carrying large weapons. FBI was clearly marked on their uniforms. They ordered everyone on the floor and as panicked as he was, Alan did enjoy lying beside Bunny who had her boobs flying everywhere as she laid down

On the way to the transport vehicles, Alan was pulled aside by a guy in a suit. ‘’You’re free to go. We know you are just the fish guy. We checked you out when Carmine started frequenting your store. We know you delivered the fish tonight and wanted to leave. We know you run a clean business and we’re sorry you got involved in this mess. However, we do want to congratulate you, apparently, your oysters are amazing.’’

The next day Alan woke up and went into his store and passed a line of people waiting to buy fresh Halibut, he had raised the price on it. As he was serving his customers the night before seemed like a bad dream but he had learned a valuable lesson, he was no longer going to sell oysters, not for any reason, they just seemed to attract the wrong crowd.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.