“So’s ya wanna join the Family?” – The Boss looked me over appraisingly and i could tell he wasn’t much impressed with what he was seeing. How did i get talked into these things? Money, of course – it’s not easy being a student these days, no matter what you might think we get up to – those damn college coming-of-age sorority films are just hokum, most of us are struggling just to get by in textbooks and pay tier. So, when Lizzie says she knows a surefire way to keep ourselves in clover, i didn’t ask too many questions.
The Boss himself was bulky, dressed in an expensive dark mesh suit that somehow seemed far too tight and shiny for comfort. Greasy, slicked back hair that looked as if it had come from a freebie warehouse and chunky gold jewellery – somehow, i was scared to try and derender it – in any event, if any guy could get away with bling, it was him.
He slowly walked around me – even his ponderous AO seemed to add to his bulk – eventually coming to stand facing me square on. He puffed particle smoke into my face from the absurdly large Cuban hanging between his lips – i fought the instinctive impulse to cough, reminding myself it was just pixels.
“You punks”, he said, taking the cigar from his mouth and prodding my shoulder with the remaining fingers not concerned with holding the fat Havana, “are always on the take. Out to make a fast buck the easy way. Well, I got news for you, sunshine… ain’t no fast buck to be made if you gonna be part of this outfit. I don’t put up with no slackers, no wasters, no bums and no queers and if you ain’t no team player then there ain’t no place on this team for your sort. Capisce?”
i nodded violently, wondering how the hell i’d managed to let Lizzie get me into this.
“Cool.”, he says, then in a casually, deliberate voice, “So, we have ourselves an understanding. Yes?”
The boss paused a moment, looking me up and down critically, before exhaling another lungful of pixels at me. “Well, you’s don’t look no slouch, but I gotta tell ya kid, this ain’t no – shall we say – upmarket kinda neighbourhood.” He sighed and stared reflectively out of the grimy windows, his bling interfering horribly with the alpha channels in the glass – he didn’t seem to notice though. He sighed again, “Ya know, kid, I remember the days when this was a decent, law-abiding sim – proper community where everyone looked after everyone else. That was before the griefers moved in and turned the joint over – place became a goddam ghetto where kids couldn’t play in the skies no more.” He paused reflectively, then turned to face me with a blank look on his face.
“Of course”, he continued quietly, “we wasn’t gonna stand for no disrespect for long: those punks had it coming to them, and we gave it to them good… badabing, badaboom! If you know what I mean?”
How is it possible to get a dry throat when you don’t even have a real body? Even so, i found myself without the power of speech and could only nod helplessly… dammit, that gesture was getting a good old workout today.
He gave me a lopsided grin; “Yes, I’m afraid a few prims got broken and accounts got closed, but it was all for the best.” He turned to the grimy window again, “The old neighbourhood ain’t the same no more though. You listen to me kid, and you listen good: You’re part of the family now… no-one messes with ya and no-one pushes you around, or they got me and the boys to reckon with. But ya don’t go doing anything stupid, ya hear? This here’s still a rough neighbourhood, so don’t go passing no parcel boundaries where you ain’t welcome, or you are gonna cause me one whole lotta grief. You don’t wanna be doing that, sweetcheeks, do ya?”
“N-n-no, sir”, i stammered.
“Hey kid! What’s with the ‘sir’? Call me Luigi… good old Uncle Luigi!”
He clapped me on the shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
“Now, I guess it’s time ya started to learn the ropes, huh? – Mario’s gonna be your buddy for that…”
He walked towards the rear of the room and bellowed towards the kitchens out the back:
“Hey! Mario! Get ya ass outta there! We got ourselves a new recruit!”
He turned to me, gave me a wink and strode away, as Mario came into view – a youngish, thin avatar, with an awkward AO.
“Hi”, he said, “Umm, since it’s your first day, I guess we’d better start with the basics. How about we try this… repeat after me…
…Do you want fries with that?”