Episode 36: Article 5

Everyone present looks at Sam as she sits down at the round table, her subordinate joins the other seconds, all standing behind the chairs of their principals, with their arms folded.  The meeting is called to order, and the chairman introduces Samantha.  She wishes to address us on behalf of her organization.

A rogue wave capsized our boat.  Sam states bluntly.  We seek the aid of The Syndicate in meeting our obligations.  We will pay north of fair value for product.

How long will you need assistance, before you are up and running again?  Deluca asks.  Eighteen months, Sam responds.  Perhaps, but not at your former scale, Kostamo comments.  She spreads her palms in acknowledgement.  We need your pipeline, she tells Kostamo.  Go pound sand, the Hayseed with the long grey beard and ponytail tells Sam.  And take it up with the A-rabs.

Your loss is our gain, and your clients will defect to us.  The Asian tells Sam.  Is that the answer you wish me to bring back?  Sam replies.  Dixie Mafia aint afeared of you, missie, the Hayseed drawls.  Would you please wait outside while we deliberate, Ms. Zeller?  The chairman says.  She vacates her seat, and walks away, followed by her lieutenant.

Thoughts and comments?  The chairman says.  I need to recuse myself from this discussion, Don Ramon announces.  I will support whatever course of action The Syndicate decides to take.  And why is that?  Deluca asks.  Samantha is my fiance. Kostamo puts his head in his hand.  You cannot be serious, the Hayseed shouts at him, his Southern drawl now gone.  Your father would turn over in his grave if you married that woman.  My father is praising God in heaven; earthly things have passed away for him.  Tell him he cannot do this, the Asian man says to Raul, who is standing behind Ramon.  Raul doesn’t respond.

I’m invoking Article 5 of the bylaws, Kostamo states, now staring at Ramon.  I second that, Deluca says.  The other members of the executive committee nod in agreement and glare at Ramon.  You are not a stupid man, Kostamo tells him.  Surely you foresaw this outcome.  Ramon nods.  It says in the Holy Scriptures that I am to devote the first year of my marriage to the happiness of my beloved. Where?  Deluca scoffs.  Ramon pulls out a notecard from his suitcoat, and reads Deuteronomy 24:5 to the group.  He puts the notecard away, and then stands up to address the group.  I intend to officially step down as Don of the Ortega family on my wedding day, and my brother will rule wisely in my stead.  Now, in the interim, if my beloved so much as gets into a traffic accident, if she gets an illness, if thunder and lightning were to frighten her, I will hold all of you responsible.  I am resolved.  With that, he leaves the room.  Raul remains standing behind the empty seat; his face impassive.  Everyone stares at him.  This is madness; the chairman tells Raul.  Raul pushes the empty chair against the table.  And then stands with his hands clasped in front of him.  My don has spoken, Raul says simply.

I motion that he be allowed to remain and listen to the proceedings, Kostamo says. I second that, the Asian agrees.

Setting the histrionics aside, how should we respond to The Jew’s request?  The chairman asks the committee.  Thoughts?  Could your pipeline handle the increased traffic?  Deluca asks.  I’m not going to enter into an ongoing relationship with The Jew.  The others nod in approval at Kostamo’s answer.  He’ll dismantle your pipeline if you don’t, the Asian says, using proxies, so we cannot accuse him of breaking the truce.  Silence.  A one-off transaction is a possibility, Kostamo admits.  You have that much inventory?  The Chechen asks.  Obviously not in one location, Kostamo replies, but yes.  The War on Terror is winding down, and my people need to be taken care of.

So you are in a position to meet his need?  The chairman asks.  Kostamo nods - for a price.  Factor in a contingency fee, Deluca suggests.  The Syndicate gets twenty percent, he states, to be distributed equally among the other members of the executive committee.  All in favor?  The chairman asks.  All hands go up.  What about the Ortegas?  The Chechen asks.  Don Ramon recused himself from this matter.  So be it.  Deluca says drily.  The others grin and a few chuckles are heard around the table.  Security is your concern, and not covered by the contingency fee.  The chairman tells Kostamo.  Make your own arrangements, either internally or among the individual members of the Syndicate.  Kostamo nods.

On to the separate matter - the engagement of Don Ramon Ortega to Samantha Zeller.  Is his proposed voluntary abdication sufficient?  Everyone studies Raul, who looks calmly ahead.  He wants to play house, let him, the Hayseed scoffs.  I heard of taking a week off for a honeymoon, but an entire year?  It’s unmanly. Others nod in agreement.

I move that in the event of this marriage, the Ortegas lose their seat at this table. Deluca proposes.  Others nod in agreement.  I’m against that course of action, Kostamo responds.  A change of leadership is sufficient to alleviate my concerns.  I know Raul to be a serious man, and I, for one, would welcome his insight in the days to come.  The others watch as Deluca studies Kostamo.  I withdraw the motion, he finally says.  So noted, the chairman states and then looks to the sergeant at arms for the meeting.  Sergeant, please call Ms. Zeller back into the room.


Ramon escorts her into the room on his arm.  Gentlemen, please stand.  The chairman announces.  Sam looks quickly at Raul, who gives her a reassuring nod.  Ms. Zeller, allow us to congratulate you on your engagement to Don Ortega.  Thank you, she says quietly as Ramon gives her a big grin.

The Syndicate is willing to assist your organization in its time of need.  The transaction will be a one-off of sufficient scale to tide you over.  Kostamo is hereby vested with the authority to conduct all negotiations and arrange safeguards for an event of this magnitude.

Having no further business, this meeting is adjourned.