“Fortune Cookies”

A Solomon Stark Story

by Lono Waiwaiole

Wassup, Jimmy Bean?” 

Can we talk?” Jimmy said, his eyes jumping around like they didnt want any part of his skinny face. 

Isnt that what were doing?” 

Yeah, I guess. Thing is, Oswald wants to see you.” 

Not very badly, it would appear.” 

Waddaya mean?” 

Hes not the one standing here.” 

Hes afraid to show his face right now.” 

Is there a reason I should give a fuck?” 

Hes willing to pay you to give a fuck.” 

How much?” 

I dunno, but he paid me pretty good just to deliver the message.” 

That all youre sposed to do, Jimmy?” 

Whaddaya mean?” he said again. 

Where did that fat fuck tell you to take me?” 

Oh. Uh, one of the Chinese joints in Old Town.” 

I thought he was afraid to show his face.” 

Hes holed up in the office.”

Tell him Ill think about it.” 

Uh,” Jimmy said, but his voice trailed off after that like he couldnt remember what the rest of the sentence was going to be. 

Uh, what?” 

He said to bring you now.” 

If you think you can, Jimmy, go right ahead and do it.” 

Im not tryinto start nothin, Stark. Im just sayinwhat Oswald said to say.” 

Well, let me tell you what to say next: Stark said fuck Chinatown. All the best places are out in the burbs now.” 

Hes not gonna be happy about this.” 

Who the fuck is happy these days? My guess is hell get used to it.” 

* * * 

Since the city was no longer paying me to be a cop, it didnt take me long to admit that Oswald had won my attention—and it didnt take much longer than that to get the fool on the phone. 

How the fuck did you find me?” he said first. 

I asked to speak to you, and here you are.” 

Youd have to know what number to dial.” 

Nobody dials the number anymore.” 

You know what the fuck I mean.” 

Nothing to finding out the number, either.” 

What are you talking about?” 

Considering the alternatives, where else would you be?”

Which proves my point, by the way. All the best spots are still down here.” 

You could be right. Youd have to pay me to eat that shit.” 

Paying you is exactly what I want to see you about.” 

Pay me for what?” 

Face to face, Stark. This aint phone conversation material.” 

So far, I wouldnt walk across the street to see you.” 

The phone in my hand went silent after that, and it stayed that way for quite a while. When Oswald finally spoke again, he had a slightly different tone. 

I need a bodyguard,” he said. 


What difference does why make? The moneys the same whatever the reason.” 

Maybe so, but the degree of difficulty inherent in the job might vary significantly.” 

Look,” he said after another pause. I stepped on the wrong toes recently.” 

How clumsy of you.” 

The sarcasm is not fucking helpful, Stark.” 

I dont have to be helpful yet.” 

Oswald obviously didnt like that comment much, but he swallowed his initial reaction and got to the point. You know Omar, right?” 

Everyone knows Omar.” 

He thinks I fucked him on a deal.” 

Did you?”

I didnt know it was him when I did it.” 

Sounds like you should be able to fix that shit.” 

Exactly! But this prick is all sideways about it. Says you cant unfuck someone.” 

I see his point. Thats been my experience as well.” 

Question is can you see my point? I dont want my ass lit up over this before he cools the fuck down.” 

I can see your point, but I have to say I dont give a fuck about it.” 

Thats why Im offering a generous compensation for your trouble.” 

How generous?” 

Im thinking a grand a day until the heat is off.” 

Forget it.” 

What the fuck is wrong with that offer?” 

Too open-ended. I wouldnt know when to schedule my next trip to the Mediterranean.” 

What do you suggest, smart-ass?” 

Give me ten grand up front and order the daily special. Ill have this shit cleaned up before the fortune cookie gets there.” 

How the fuck you gonna make that happen?” 

If I told you how to do it, why would you need me? Just get the money together and enjoy your meal. Ill come by and pick it up when Im done.” 

What if you cant do it?” 

Then I wont be dropping by.”

* * * 

It wasnt hard to find Omar because he still lived in the house he had grown up in. Damn!” he said as soon as he opened the front door. Where you been, bro?” 

On the opposite side of the street,” I said as I drew him into a hug that went on for a while. How you doin?” 

Its all good.” 

Can we walk a bit?” I said when the hug broke. 

Hell, yeah,” Omar said, and he matched me step for step as we walked past my childhood house and into the park beyond it. We climbed a short hill and looked down on empty basketball courts we had almost lived on as kids, and when I shook my head he knew exactly what I was thinking. 

Nowhere near the same, is it?” he said. 

Nowhere near. Used to have to wait in line to get on those courts.” 

Those were some good days, bro.” 

Those aint the days we in now, though.” 

This when you tell me why youre here?” 

Oswald hired me to protect him from you.” 

So I heard.” 

You already know?” 

You ainthe only one knows Jimmy Bean, my friend. Thing I donknow is how you plan to do this new job you got.” 

Doinit right now.” 

Talk aingonna get it done, Sol.”

Depends on what the talk is.” 

Im listenin.” 

What you need to make this right?” 

I need to light his fat ass up.” 

You sure?” 

Have to send a clear message to all the folks not to do the same shit he did.” 

I dont see you have to go that far. He gets a beat-down and you get restitution should be plenty.” 

And if I dont agree with that?” 

Then we have a problem.” 

So what—youre here to threaten me?” 

Im here to secure your agreement, Omar. We sure as hell dont need to go off the rails over shit this stupid.” 

Omar let the conversation die after that, and I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head while we stood there. Ill grant you this shit is stupid, bro,” he said eventually. 

Whats the number you need for restitution?” 

Twenty-five gees would come close enough.” 

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and put it to work. You got some spare feet with you right now?” I said when Oswald got into my ear. 

What the fuck are you talking about?” 

You get twenty-five grand over to Omar, youre off the fuckinhook.” 

Are you kidding me?”

Hes not gonna wait all day for it, Oswald. This offer expires in sixty minutes.” 

Now I know youre shittinme.” 

The thing you need to know is the clock is running,” I said before I cut the connection. 

What makes you think hell go for this?” Omar asked. 

It beats the hell out of the alternative, doesnt it?” 

You didnt mention the beat-down, Sol. The beat-downs more important than the money.” 

Ive got that covered, my friend. Dont worry about the fucking beat-down.” 

* * * 

I walked up to the table Oswald was sitting at with Jimmy Bean and two guys I didnt know by name. Is that for me?” I asked, referring to a brown paper bag next to what was left of a plate of something in some kind of black sauce that I wouldnt have touched with rubber gloves on both hands. 

Yeah,” Oswald said. Not that you did anything but cost me money today.” 

Oh, but Im not done yet,” I said right before I picked up a porcelain bowl full of white rice and slammed it into the middle of Oswalds face. He pitched over backwards from the force of the blow, and blood started spurting out through the rice like it couldnt wait to get the fuck out of his head. 

What the hell?” Jimmy said, but I ignored him and the other two stiffs while I unloaded several more blows with the bowl. It didnt have much rice in it 

anymore, but it was still porcelain and definitely hard enough to make its presence known. 

This process was not as bad for Oswald as it sounds because I concentrated on blows that would look much worse than they actually were. Sure, he was unconscious when I finished, but he could still breathe out of his mouth and could count on being able to do so for the foreseeable future. 

What did his fortune cookie say?” I asked as I picked up the paper bag. 

What?” Jimmy said. 

He didnt read his fortune?” 

Yeah, he did, but I didnt fuckinmemorize it.” 

I looked at both of Jimmys companions, and the shorter one spoke right up like he thought there might be a prize for doing so. “’Beware of glad tidingsor some shit like that,” he said. 

Not bad,” I said. I guess these motherfuckers do know something about the future.”


Lono Waiwaiole lives in King City, Oregon (a suburb of Portland), where he is about to become a great granddad. He has also been a high-school teacher and basketball coach, preceded by a career in journalism. He has published six crime novels and one that is not—or, as he describes it, six books with no guys who are actually good and one with no guys who are actually bad.