Robert Maisano

Content Marketer & Writer

The Stallion in the Corridor

The floors of Pemberton Manor mimic the patterns of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and various elements from St. Peter’s Basilica. The is marble tile is from Carrara, Italy. The stone was reclaimed from an abandoned monastery in Northern Scotland. They’re beautiful but best of all, they’re indestructible. Grigsby knew this when he rode into the halls on Waldo the horse with his daughter, Becky, hanging on.

“Phoenix! Show yourself.” Grigsby announced to the empty halls. They passed family oil paintings and a Cézanne. The stallion’s shoes echoed like distant snare drums. Patina mirrors in gold frames gave the hall a heavenly look.

A confused and recently bathed man walked into view from the guest of guest’s bathroom wing. He wore those strange yoga pants where the crotch begins at the knee and makes the person look like a kangaroo. For a moment though he looked like Michelangelo’s David, except with worse hair.

Grigsby rode up to Phoenix. Becky leaped off the horse and ran to Phoenix’s side.

“Phoenix Wright,” Grigsby said.

“Um, yes, sir. That’s me.”

“Of Wright Confectionary Company?”
“Yep, my dad runs it. You like them Mr. P?”
Grigsby scoffed, “I don’t eat anything wrapped in cellophane, I’m not an animal.”
Phoenix frowned.
“Dad don’t be a jerk,”
“Phoenix, does your family’s company produce meat pies?”
“Meat pies?”
“Yes, meat pies, well they’re called pirozhkis, Putin loves them apparently. I recently acquired a pirozhki company and need a distribution network.”

Ryūki walked into the hall, still holding the silver tray. He informed Grigsby that Ira and the paralegals were having brunch and waiting for him. Grigsby said he’d be there soon. He hopped off of Waldo and handed Ryūki the reigns. “Bring Waldo back to the barn.”

Becky looked at Grigsby, “Dad, I know a pie influencer on Insta—”

“Stop it right there, I don’t want to hear about them. Influencers are your generation’s Mary Kay, before that it was the Tupperware scammers, they’re all the same.” Grigsby said. “Phoenix I need you to do two things or I’ll have Crockett take you out of here.”

“Who’s Crockett?” Phoenix asked. Becky elbowed him and shook her head.

“You need to put on a shirt, preferably one with buttons and sleeves, if you’re going to dine with us. Then I need you to get your father on the line,” Grigsby paused and thought for a moment. “And I’ll have Ryūki bring you a stovepipe hat to cover the plant life growing out of your scalp.” Phoneix tapped his dreads looking even more confused now.

Grigsby phoned Ryūki and requested enough coffee to wake up a small cartel village. The legal team will have to be fully alert for Grigsby’s new plan.


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The Doughnut Thief

Grigsby was holding a doughnut when he entered the barn. “Becky, where are you?” He called out looking inside the stalls. There were only some horses staring blankly at him and his doughnut. Then he heard something from the back of the barn. Grigsby held the donut in his mouth and sprinted for the exit.

Becky leaped onto the saddle but Grisby grabbed hold of the reigns. “Shoot,” Becky said, sounding defeated.

Waldo, the horse, looked at Grigsby, they were inches from each other’s face. In an instant, Waldo snatched the doughnut from Grigsby’s mouth. Waldo chomped the doughnut apart. Grigsby stared at Waldo’s teeth, that looked like a line of motel doors, devouring the doughnut.

“God dammit Waldo! That was mine.”

Becky tried not to laugh but failed. Grigsby glared at up her.

“Ryūki just made them. I’m sending Waldo to the glue factory.”

“Capital punishment for the doughnut thief? That doesn’t sound fair.”

“Forget it. Who’s the guy that has a muppet growing out of his head? Why is he on my couch?”

Becky sighed, “That’s Phoenix Wright, we met at Coachella, he—”

“Wait, Wright? As in Wright Confectionary Company?” Grigsby asked.

“Um, yeah. The cake company, why?”

Grigsby grabbed the saddle horn and heaved himself on Waldo. Becky held on to his belt while he galloped the horse back to the manor.


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Meet Becky

Becky Pemberton ran a stiff brush along her horse named Waldo. The flower crown she brought back from Coachella fell off in the middle of her ride which made her upset. She tried posing for a selfie in front of Waldo. His calico coat complements her strawberry blonde hair. Waldo kept moving though and Becky soon gave up.

The barn is where Becky launched her social media influencer career. She had Ryūki construct a floral backdrop in the barn. Then, clad in high waist jean shorts, bikini top and a felt prospectors hat, she posed for her first photo. #FlowerGal #Blessed. Overnight Becky rose to social media fame. Skinny Detox Tea companies signed her for six-figure sponsorship deals. She modeled for obscure yoga startups and sneaker brands from Los Angeles. Becky was riding high until the market became saturated. Soon there were similar Beckys everywhere and the deals dried up.

Since the fall from fame (and follower count), she’s been trying to claw back to that level. It looked like she was about to succeed five months ago. She had Ryūki run a focus group with Madison Avenue advertising firms and found an emerging niche— obscure stomach ailments. Becky began posting recipes for vegan gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, locally made kombuchas. Grigsby, her father, drank them by the gallon when she told him it was a healthy cocktail.

Things were going well again for Becky. Until the ides of March. That day all the other influencers banded together to expose Becky Paige Pemberton. They found proof that Becky was in fact not gluten intolerant or even lactose intolerant. Since then she’s been persona non grata by the people who preach positivity and well-being.

Feeling dejected once again, Becky took the family jet to Coachella to reconnect with herself. She spent $11,000 of her trust money on outfits. Another $20,000 went to supplies. This included a safari tent, a Tempurpedic mattress, marble vanity and other plush amenities. Here she found her truth… and Phoenix, a strapping 6’5″ DJ who had hazel eyes, stone cheekbones and dreadlocks. He’d never lifted a weight in his life but looked like he spent all day in the gym. She climbed on his shoulders during a set from a new tropic-techno-house band and they fell in love.

Becky wondered if Phoenix was up from his post-yerba matte tea nap. She looked outside the barn and saw Grigsby marching toward her, his face red as a beet. Becky tossed a saddle on Waldo and readied her escape.


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Guests of Guests May Not Bring Guests

Grigsby stirred awake from the afternoon sunlight peeking through his Venetian blinds. He rolled (literally) out of his double Californian King mattress and descended the small staircase that attached to the bed-frame.

Grigsby dressed in Gucci loafers and a kimono that Ryūki gifted him years ago. He phoned Ryūki on the intercom and told him to make three pots of coffee, warm up some donuts and make “healthy looking stuff that won’t make me ill.” Ryūki said Ira and his paralegals were still sleeping.

Downstairs Grigsby walked the long halls of Pemberton Manor and stopped in his tracks when he smelled something…organic. Scents of granola, body odor and vanilla incense lingered.

“Ryūki! Why does it smell like the entire city of Burlington down here?” Grigsby shouted down the hall. He rounded the corner and saw a man lying on the couch in front of the fire place. The man had a long set of black and blonde dreadlocks and wore a sleeveless shirt. “Who the hell are you?” Grigsby asked.

The man looked at Grigsby, his eyes were thin and red and his mouth set agape. “Hey dude,” The man replied slowly. “I’m friends with BB-Cakes,”

“Who?”

“Oh right,” the man giggled, “Becky, we met at Coachella,”

Ryūki walked into the room holding a silver tray containing a stack of donuts, wheatgrass shots and a pot of coffee. Grigsby abandoned the conversation with the stoned man on the couch and ran over to Ryūki. He stuffed a jelly donut into his mouth and ate it in two bites, then grabbed the one more.

“Where is she?” Grigsby asked.

“The barn sir, she’s riding one of the horses,” Ryūki answered.

“Okay,” Grigsby ate another donut, “Take that thing and have him showered in the guest of guest’s bathroom. Dress in something that isn’t made of hemp.”

“Very well sir and where should I tell Ira you ran off to?”

“To the barn to see my daughter!” Grigsby stormed out.


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Hot Air

Crockett, the massive greenskeeper who was clad in samurai armor, stood over the unconscious Russian. Ira and his paralegals were in awe from the speed at which Crockett subdued The Bear.

Ryūki returned to the room with a single bead of sweat on his temple. He managed to take out the two Russian men who were guarding The Bear, yet no one saw how.

Grigsby stood with his hands on his hips nodding approvingly. “Well, they won’t be receiving the invite to my Christmas party.”

Ryūki looked at Crockett, smirked and then looked at Grigsby, “Sir, what would you like to do with them?”

“Are you going to kill them?” Peter the paralegal asked.

The room fell silent. Everyone looked at Peter.

Grigsby spoke, “Jeez Petey, we’re not Italians. We’re going to deal with this how all WASPs deal with their problems, stuff them away in a corner of the attic and never speak of them again.”

Peter nodded.

“Ryūki, do we still have the hot air balloon from the Fourth of July party?” Grigsby asked.

“Yessir. It’s in the barn.”

“Good. You and Crockett bring out to the field and get that thing ready.”

“Why do you have a hot air balloon?” Peter asked.

Grigsby was now annoyed, “Read the Count of Monte Cristo and come back to me and ask me why not.”

A red sun peaked on the horizon and dyed the whole sky cantaloupe. The air felt cold but the sun was warm. Grigsby sent Ira and his two paralegals to the guest wing to get some sleep. Ryūki and Crockett readied the hot air balloon and then placed The Bear and his two men inside. They tossed in blankets, bottles of water and a box of mini meat pies from the company Grigsby stole from The Bear. They also gave them earplugs.

Ryūki fired up the igniter for the hot air balloon. Twenty minutes later a glorious yellow and red balloon inflated beside Pemberton Manor. Grigsby couldn’t stop laughing. Even Crockett sneaked a grin.

The basket began to lift off of the ground. “Oh, one last thing,” Grigsby said, reaching into his Barbor coat. He pulled out a small outdoor speaker connected to an iPod.

The balloon sailed away over the Connecticut sunrise. The speaker blared one German song from 1984 on a continuous loop that sang about of 99 red balloons.


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Wake Up Crockett

“Let The Bear into the manor,” Grigsby said.
“Are you sure sir?” Ryūki asked.
“Do it.”
“Very well,”
“Wait, are you armed?”
“Always sir,”
“Good and wake up Crockett, dress him something frightening.” Grigsby hung up.

Ira and his two paralegals, Peter and Caitlyn, stared at Grigsby as if he sealed their fates.

“Don’t worry. We have home field advantage, Ryūki will frisk them at the door.” Grigsby sat and licked the empty bowl that once held a chocolate soufflé.

“Who is Crockett sir?” Caitlyn asked.

“The greenskeeper, he lives in the cottage passed the barn. Big as an ape, he might be part ape,” Grigsby said.

Ira looked at Caitlyn, “Grigsby hired him because of his name.”

Caitlyn gave a quizzical look.

“Miami Vice, jeez kids today don’t have taste,” Grigsby said.

They went to the Stagg Room. Pemberton Manor has several dining rooms. This one is adorned with busts of Elks, Gazelles and other animals. Grigsby took a seat at the head of the table, underneath a giant Grizzly bear. Ira smirked.

The Bear walked in with the two Russian men Ira and Grigsby met earlier today. Ryūki and Crockett were standing beside them. Crockett did not look happy. Grigsby put his hand on his face when he saw what Ryūki dressed him in.

Crockett, who was the size of a kitchen, somehow fit into a samurai suit of armor. He wore a half-face mask that covered his nose down to his chin. The mask was brass and had ornate beast features.

“Pemberton.” The Bear said, standing in front of the long mahogany table.

No one spoke. Flames flickered atop silver candelabras.

Grigsby stood up and spoke just above a whisper, “Here’s how it’s going to be. If we’re going to have a civilized discussion, you need to follow house rules.” Grigsby paused. “And if you cannot do that, Crockett will eat you.”

Crockett turned and starred at The Bear. His guards tried staring down Crockett but quickly looked away.

“Okay.” The Bear said, taking a seat at the table.

“Good. We have a proposition for you. Peter handed The Bear the documents.”

Peter, the paralegal, didn’t look well, he was recovering from being force fed the Baked Alaska. He slid the documents across the table.

“Now, I assume your Soviet ass can hardly read the Queen’s English, so let me summarize what this says. The vodka company will remain under Pemberton Corp. management. We’ll provide 0.02% of the profits to you if you agree to have it stocked in your restaurants in Manhattan.”

“0.02%? Is this a joke?” The Bear said.

“I don’t think you’re grasping exactly how much vodka is drunk by Connecticutians. It’s their warm up drink.”

The Bear shrugged.

“Pemberton Corp. will start making the vodka in Connecticut and not near that gulag it’s currently being made in. We’re going to rebrand away from that Stalinesque name and give it something trendy. I’m thinking Spruce Cove. This will make the lacrosse moms buy it by the crate. We’ll add the locally made, conflict-free, gluten-free, kale free, all that crap on the label. It’ll essentially be rubbing alcohol in a pretty bottle sold at a 400% markup.”

“Okay. Fine. Now the Pirozhki company you stole—”

Grigsby tossed a folder across the table. It bore the company seal. The Bear opened it and his eyebrows raised.

“What the hell is this a photo of?” The Bear asked.

“A goose egg.”

The Bear was growing red, a blue vein sprouted in the center of his brow and flowed to his hairline.

“You get nothing because no one touches my pies,” Grigsby said.

The Bear stood slamming his fists against the table. He was shouting in Russian, spit flew across the room. Grigsby was chuckling. The Bear looked for his two men and noticed they had vanished along with Ryūki.

“Behave you lunatic,” Grigsby said. But The Bear kept shouting. “Crockett.”

The Bear turned to see the goliath in samurai armor approaching slowly. An instant later The Bear was unconscious.


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Pemberton Manor

Ryūki drove out of the fields and back onto a two lane road. He turned on the yellow headlights and continued for Pemberton Manor. They had escaped the Russians by driving through back roads and farmland without headlights. Grigsby and Ira couldn’t believe how Ryūki was able to see in the pitch of the night.

“We’re ten minutes away Mr. Pemberton,” Ryūki said.
Grigsby nodded, he was eating Tates chocolate chip cookies, two at a time. He wouldn’t share any with Ira.

Tall wrought iron gates opened as the Duesenberg approached. Pemberton Manor was built during the time railroads were sprawling across America. Ellison Kingsley Spruce Pemberton, Grigsby’s great-great grandfather battled Rockefeller for the land. Ellison won. He commissioned the greatest architects of the time to build the family estate.

The Manor has Châteauesque elements and brilliant stonework. The grounds make greenskeepers weep from the labor and beauty. Grigsby modified only a few areas of the Manor between the time of reading Batman comics and receiving access to his trust fund. There’s rumor of a cave somewhere on the grounds. But only Grigsby, Ryūki and a few women who’ve signed NDAs have seen the modified areas.

Grigsby and Ira hopped out of the Duesenberg and went inside while Ryūki brought the car to the motor-pool. Moments later they were in the oak paneled study. The room was dimly lit and smelled of cinnamon and cigars.

Two nervous paralegals had been waiting there for over an hour. Grigsby was suspicious when they both declined a glass of Pappy Van Winkle. He told Ryūki to whip up some chocolate soufflés and a Baked Alaska. Ryūki nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.

“What are your names?”

The redheaded spoke first, “I’m Peter,” he said, making it sound like a question.

“And I’m Caitlyn.” she said, sounding more confident than Peter.

Grigsby shook both of their hands, being sure to crush Peter’s a bit more. They all sat and got down to business. Grigsby lit a fire in the wood-burning stove next to his desk. The hearth warmed the room and the piney aroma made Grigsby think of Christmas. He hoped he’d see his family this year.

An hour passed and the grandfather clock tolled at 4 am. Grigsby ate three chocolate souffles and forced Peter to eat the Baked Alaska. He said introverts should eat more than necessary and wear brighter colors. Peter’s gums were stinging from the amount of sugar and cream he consumed. His face was beginning to match his hair.

Ira kept the meeting moving. They decided on a direction to take with the two companies Grigsby stole from the Russians. It would be tricky, but it seemed like the most profitable direction.

The rotary phone atop Grigsby desk rang. It was Ryūki calling from the security room.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Pemberton our proximity alarm picked someone up at the gates,”

“And?”

“Sir, it seems,” Ryūki cleared his throat, “The Bear is at the gate.”


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Trouble

The Duesenberg cut through forest roads en route to Pemberton Manor. Grigsby and Ira were in the backseat, Ryūki drove. Even though the car was over a half century old, the interior was quiet. Grigsby had it retrofitted with sound insulation used in recording studios. The occasional noise was from a champagne crate that sat near Grigsby.

“Shall we open some bubbly?” Grigsby asked.

Ira, who looked paler than normal said, “No. It’s 2 am and I feel like I’m going to have disaster pants.”

“Pity,” Grigsby said, examining the bottle, “These are Boërl & Kroff Brut, they’re delicious.”

“How much longer Ryūki?” Ira asked.

Ryūki looked in the mirror, “Not long,” he said, squinting from the high-beams of a car behind them.

“Okay, I’m going to try and get some rest,” Ira announced.

“Sleep tight my sweet prince,” Grigsby said, brushing Ira’s cheek with the back of his hand. Ira swatted him away.

The car behind them was tailgating now. Ryūki was getting annoyed, mumbling “go around,” but the car remained fixed to their bumper.

Grigsby looked out the rear window, “What’s the deal with this guy—”

The passenger leaned out the window and was holding a ball of flame. The flaming object was thrown at the Duesenberg. It shattered against the trunk, blanketing the rear in fire. Grigsby and Ira yelled.

“The Russians!” Grigsby shouted. “They’re tossing Molotov cocktails.”

“Hang on,” Ryūki said with calm, He punched the accelerator and the howling of the V12 engine masked Ira’s screams. The fire soon died out but the headlights followed.

“Ira, hold on to me,” Grigsby said, leaning out the window. He was holding a bottle of champagne and in a clean underhand throw tossed it in the air. The bottle sailed through the night and connected with the windshield. The car swerved but stayed on the road.
“Good shot Grigs,” Ira said.
“I need another bottle,” Grigsby said.
Ira armed him with one, then Grigsby shouted at Ryūki in perfect Japanese. Ryūki nodded. Grigsby underhanded the bottle again and it broke through the windshield.

Ryūki immediately killed all the lights to the Duesenberg and went invisible in the darkness. Ira and Grigsby felt the car turn sharply off the road onto a gravel path. They didn’t know how he was able to see this well in the pitch of the night. Grigsby watched the Russians drive in an opposite direction. He smiled and looked at Ira.

“Well done Grigs,” Ira said.

“And people say playing cornhole is a stupid game.”


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Somewhere in Greenwich

Grigsby swerved off the road as the monkey hollered from the back seat of the Bentley. The car skidded to a halt and Ira jumped out and rolled to the ground. Grigsby followed shouting “Abandon ship!” He had a look of terror on his face but was laughing.

The Bentley’s ice blue headlights cut through the night. They were within Greenwich, Connecticut’s town limits near a golf course. Then again, you’re always near a golf course in Greenwich. Besides the idling motor and wailing cries of a South American Spider Monkey, the night seemed peaceful. Ira and Grigsby stared at the car.

“Did The Bear do this?” Ira asked.

“Of course,” Grigsby said, he tapped the window and the monkey bore its fangs. “An eye for an eye.” He chuckled.

Ira looked down the damp road, “Where in the hell are we?” he said, squinting into the night.

“Get Ryūki on the line,” Grigsby said. “Tell him we need a lift from the Round Hill Golf Club.”

Ira shook his head, “Where’s that?”

Grigsby pointed to a low-lying green, “That’s hole 5, we’re about 200 yards west from the clubhouse. C’mon lets go, the bar may still be open.”

“What about the Bentley? It could get stolen.”

“Ira, we’re in Greenwich, the only crime that goes on here is white-collar. Plus, who’s going to touch the car with a goddamn crazed monkey in it?” Grigsby said, “Plus it’s insured.”

The duo walked along the damp golf course. A crow cawed somewhere in the darkness. Ira told Ryūki, Grigsby’s Butler, of the situation and said he’d be there soon. Ira heard him exhale when Grigsby interrupted the call and requested the chariot.

The clubhouse was locked when they arrived. Ira sat on a bench and closed his eyes. Grigsby remained against the door and a moment later it popped open. Ira gave him a confused look.

“What? Don’t you know how to pick a lock? I’ll be back in a second.” Grigsby said, disappearing into the dark building. A few minutes later he returned with two crystal tumblers. “The oldest they have is 12 year Balvenie. Savages.” They clicked glasses and sipped in silence.

A half hour passed until they heard the low rumbling of what sounded like an airplane engine. Two yellow headlamps appeared at the end of the long drive. A metallic beast ambled toward them. Ryūki was behind the wheel.

“There she is,” Grigsby said with pride. A vintage Duesenberg sedan pulled up and Ryūki hopped out and opened the rear doors, his face stoic. Ryūki is a descendant of samurai lineage and maintains certain disciplines. This is why Grigsby has kept him as his confidant for two decades.

Grigsby left $100 in the empty tumblers and set them on the bench. Moments later they were barreling through the wooded roads of Connecticut.

Ira hung up his phone, “My people are waiting at the Manor.”
Grigsby nodded, “Great, we’ll be there soon, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”


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Escape the Russian Tearoom

The shattering of glass is what the diners heard first. Then they saw a plump man in herringbone blazer sprinting out of the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan. The chef chased him, holding a “damn meat cleaver” as Grigsby put it.

The valet saw Grigsby sprinting out and tossed him the keys to the Bentley. Ira was a half asscheek in the car when it peeled out of there leaving smoke and dirt behind. The chef chased them down 7th avenue. Grigsby and Ira thought fireworks were sounding nearby but realized it was the popping of a pistol.

“The Bear owns a gun?” Ira asked as he yanked on the seatbelt.

“Sounds like it. Don’t worry. The car’s retrofitted with bulletproof glass.” Grigsby said, “Those James Bond marathons I watched as a kid served me well.”
They drove north out of the city. Grigsby pressed a mahogany button and a small humidor emerged from above the glovebox. “Cuban?”

“No, goddammit Grigs that was close,” Ira said.

“Suit yourself,” Grigsby said. “Pass the torch will you?”

Ira complied and handed him the pistol-grip butane lighter. A sharp blue flame cooked the end of the cigar. Grigsby took a drag and opened all the windows. He looked at his nervous friend.

“Counselor…” Grigsby’s eyebrows raised.
“Oh don’t counselor me Grigs,” Ira asked.
Grigsby pouted, “Fine,” They drove in silence for a long time until Ira spoke.

They drove in silence for a long time until Ira spoke.

“How did you even meet The Bear?” Ira asked.
“I pissed him off a few years ago when I took something from him,” Grigsby answer. “Besides nukes, warmth and blondes what are the Russians always seeking?”
Ira shrugged.
“Vodka,” Grigsby answered.
“Oh Jesus, you didn’t—”
Grigsby’s grin stretch from ear to ear. “That’s right.”
Ira put his palms against his eyes. “No, no, no, no,”
Grigsby started laughing. “Bit of a hostile takeover. The bear was the owner of a Vodka company I acquired.”

“And now you’ve decided to do this again to him with the pie company.”

Grigsby nodded, exhaling smoke against the suede dashboard. “I guess I didn’t really bury the hatchet tonight?” He said chuckling.

Earlier that evening, Grigsby and Ira brought a duffle bag of sedated rats wearing tiny hats into the Russian Tea Room. When the rats woke up, they all scurried for the kitchen. Most diners didn’t notice. But the Bear, who’s also the head chef, saw the tiny hats and knew of one man who would do this. Grigsby.

“Are we heading to the manor?” Ira asked.

“Not yet. I don’t know about you, but the past hour has given me heartburn. We need to relax, decompress, meditate maybe. And then head to Connecticut.”

Ira sighed, “Where then?”

Grigsby gave him a look Ira knew too well. A half hour later Grigsby was surrounded by 3 strippers in lucite platform heels. Glitter covered Grigsby’s face and one of the strippers wore his herringbone jacket. Ira threw an ice cube at Grigsby to get his attention.

“Ira! Have you met Coco? She’s from Paris.” Grigsby asked.

“I didn’t know Staten Island renamed itself.”

“What?”

“Nothing, Grigs, we need to sort out what we’re going to do with this vodka company and the pie company. If the Bear is that upset, things are only going to get worse.” Ira said, he shooed away another dancer. He hated places that smelled like brass polish and hairspray.

Grigsby took out a stack of cash and made horizontal chops against it making it fly in the air. “Look I’m a sprinkler!” All the ladies cheered.

Ira stood up and went to grab Grigsby but sank in his seat when he saw The Bear walking by the bar.

“Grigs he’s here,” Ira said.

Grigsby turned and spotted him. The Bear was ordering a drink. “Okay, okay. Girls come here.” They leaned in and Grigsby whispered in their ears and gave them more cash. A moment later they were surrounding The Bear as Grigsby and Ira slipped out the back door.

Back in the Bentley, Ira made a few calls to his paralegals. Grigsby wiped the glitter off his face with a monogrammed handkerchief.

“Okay, good, see you soon.” Ira hung up the phone. “One of my people, who speaks Russian, can be at the manor by 2 am,” Ira said sitting back into the plush leather seats and exhaling a sigh of relief.

“See Ira, it’ll be fine.” Grigsby tossed the handkerchief in the backseat and swore he saw something grab it. He tossed the car in gear and drove north toward the Hutchinson River Parkway.

Twenty minutes later Ira asked, “You smell that?”

Grigsby made a foul face. “Yes. What the hell…”

They both turned and looked in the backseat at a leather gym bag that hadn’t been there before they entered the strip club.

“Who’s bag is that?” Ira asked. He leaned back to grab the handle and noticed it was moving. A small furry hand, with thumbs, reached out and slowly began unzipping the bag. “What the fu—”

Grigsby’s eyes widened as he watched a spider monkey in the rearview mirror leap from the bag screaming.


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