"Better Off Dead"

The movie script, based on the novel: Better Off Dead

by: John Paul Carinci

 

 

 

   

    Frank Granstino knew that Life Insurance sales was a difficult business, even though he had only begun six months ago. But he never thought that it would cost him his life. After all, who knew that Tony Vongemi-the restaurant owner, who has been feeding young Frank people to write Insurance on, was in the Mob.   

   

    Not until Frank's clients start dying, does he realize that something very wrong is going on. And by the time Frank realizes that the Vongemi Mafia-Family is connected to the deaths, he knows he's at the point of no return. And to Tony and the Vongemi Family, one day soon he will be; "Better Off Dead." 

   

    This fiction action adventure takes place in present day Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Frank Granstino, the twenty seven year old-realizes his time is running out. He must do something, but what? How can he go up against the all-powerful Vongemi Mafia Family?

   

    After the second client-that Tony Vongemi recommended, dies, and Vongemi has collected two million dollars from the Insurance company, Frank knows that he is in real trouble. With more than twenty five clients now insured through Vongemi's help, Frank sees the Vongemi Mafia Family gaining many millions of dollars through this elaborate Insurance scam.  

   

 C- John Paul Carinci 2005 #Pau2-357-862  WGA#130669-00

SCREEN PLAY SAMPLE: 

  BETTER OFF DEAD
FADE IN:
THE SCREEN IS BLACK. PRINTED OUT ACROSS THE CENTER-MIDDLE-
New York City  Fall 1993
OPENING SCENE  - DAY INT. APARTMENT 16TH. FLOOR
Scan apartment, review award plaques: Jong Lou leading agent Manhattan Commercial life, trophies. Bachelor pad. Two large but suited goons and Jong in discussion. Jong troubled.
JONG
Tell him no more, we can't push the envelope. They're going catch on and we'll all be through. I can't risk it. It went to far already!
GOON ONE
All right, Jong. I don't see it as a problem. We all had a good run. You are a good earner for the Family. In fact we were just saying how much we were able to squeeze out of that company. But they got billions, Fuck Them, Right!!
JONG
So we're alright on this, then?

GOON ONE
Solid as a rock. Not to worry. We'll be in touch, Bud.
CUT TO:
EXT. OUTSIDE FRONT OF APARTMENT BUILDING. WE SEE THE GOONS ENTER THIER LINCOLN
CUT TO:
EXT. NIGHT SAME DAY, DARK VIEWING APARTMENT 20 FLOORS UP
We hear crashing glass, pleading, then blood curdling scream of a man. We see a body flying out of Jong's apartment window, arms flailing until the body comes to a rest on the concrete 20 floors below, mangled.
O.S. We hear the banging of a gavel silencing a Federal Courtroom in uproar as we
SMASHCUT TO:
INT. - FEDERAL COURTROOM
C.U. JUDGE bangs one more time: The courtroom is silent.
JUDGE
I will clear this courtroom if there is one more outburst! As stated, defendant is guilty as charged on all counts and will be immediately remanded to the Maximum Security Federal Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois to begin serving consecutive 99 year sentences without possibility of parole!
He bangs gavel. CAMERA PANS courtroom. We see the defendant, CHARLIE "THE HAMMER" ROSATO, 75 year old Godfather surrounded by his LAWYERS. We see the jubilant faces of the District Attorney, JOSEPH MALONEY being congratulated by his ASSISTANTS. We also see an angry young hood seated behind the godfather who stands and touches his shoulder and kisses him on the cheek as they lead him out. The angry young hood's unforgettable face belongs to BOBBY "THE BULLDOG" VONGEMI. He stares angrily at the prosecutors as they leave triumphantly. We see an FBI agent, BRENNEN, take note of the glare.
CUT TO:
INT. D.A.'S OFFICE - LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM
There is a party going on. BRENNEN speaks with an elderly MALONEY.
BRENNEN
You nailed the Hammer this time, for good. Congratulations, Joe.
MALONEY
(humble)
Not without your surveillance tapes and witnesses. Thank you, to you and your staff.
BRENNEN
So you're really going to retire, hang them up?
MALONEY
I'll be on the noon train to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow. Sold the house, bought state-of-the-art fishing gear and a boat. Mary's already there waiting. The grand-children arrive in 2 weeks, it's up to you guys to carry on.
CUT TO:
EXT. AMTRAK TRAIN - LEAVING NY PENN STATION
CUT TO:
INT. AMTRAK SLEEPING CAR - 1ST CLASS
MALONEY casually dressed glancing out of window - he's reading a magazine on fishing. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS and THE NEW YORK TIMES are on the table - Headlines - (Times) MOB KINGPIN BROUGHT DOWN BY MALONEY; (News) GODFATHER GETS 198 YEARS: MALONEY NAILS DOOR ON HAMMER.
CUT TO:
INT. AMTRAK SLEEPING CAR - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE MALONEY'S PARLOR
BOBBY VONGEMI; as a porter, knocks. MALONEY rises opens door.
MALONEY
Yes?
BOBBY
May I take your lunch order, sir?
MALONEY
Yes, come in.
MALONEY turns to walk away. BOBBY closes the door.
BOBBY
Go swim with the fishes, Maloney...
MALONEY turns. BOBBY empties the silencer-fixed glock into MALONEY, who falls and bleeds on his headlines. With a crazed look, BOBBY snaps MALONEY'S arm over his knee and spits on him. BOBBY leaves slowly, the Do Not Disturb sign on the door swings back and forth.
FADE TO WHITE:
SUPERIMPOSE
1999 Brooklyn, New York
OPENING CREDITS CONTINUE
EXT. DAY
SERIES OF SHOTS
A) FRANK and LISA on bench - eating McDonald's;
B) LISA clearly not liking it all;
C) LISA watching classy couple enter fine restaurant;
D) Car stops her GIRLFRIEND & MAN in a Mercedes wave;
E) We zoom in on rusted fender of 1972 BUICK
CUT TO:
EXT. EVENING - SHORE PARKWAY OVERLOOKING THE VERRAZANO BRIDGE
INT. EVENING - 1972 BUICK SEDAN
With the car parked, FRANK and his fiancee, LISA are seated in the front. They are in a heated argument. She is an attractive young lady, early twenties, auburn hair, green eyes but her bitchy, nagging attitude ultimately detracts from her beauty - - FRANK is at the wheel.
LISA
We're not going anywhere, Frank, It's not working, I need a change!
FRANK
You know I just got the job at Financial Life; it takes time to be successful in sales. Selling life insurance is hard work.
LISA
Yeah, well, why'd ya leave the bank? 3 years and you went nowhere!
FRANK
That's exactly why I left. I was going nowhere. 9 to 5, punch the clock and process paper all day, at least with insurance I've got a career. I'm a good salesman - I just need time!
LISA
Well, its been 6 months and it looks like another dead-end job. You can't support yourself, How are you going to support us?
FRANK
We'll both be working, I thought. Look, Lisa, I'm trying and I thought we loved each other? What's gotten into you? Its been 2 great years.
LISA
For who? Frank, this has been nothing but a low-budget affair. I wanna go on a cruise, do some living. I'm tired of waiting!
CUT TO:
EXT. OUTSIDE FRANK'S CAR
Cars passing and parking, the area is a lovers lane. A couple gets out of their car-near FRANK'S, momentarily stopping the argument. The other couple make out right outside of FRANK'S window, then say good night and are on their separate way.
INTERCUT TO:
FRANK'S CAR
The argument continues, lovers are interrupted, looking in the direction of the noise, FRANK is embarrassed, makes a face at onlookers, looks straight up and shakes his head.
LISA
You're a great guy, its just that I...  
FRANK
Want more out of life than I can give? Where did all this come from?
LISA
(yelling a bit)
I don't think I'm a terrible person cause I want my future husband to be able to take care of me financially!
FRANK
No, Lisa, you're just not the person I thought you were. I understand what you need, but you've changed! I'm going to be wealthy one day, I was hoping you'd be by my side.
LISA
(screaming)
You've got some set of balls! Don't make me the bad guy! Here's that cheap-crap ring! Take it back and get a new muffler for this shit car. You're nothing but a loser!
LISA opens car door. FRANK starts the car. LISA gets out.
FRANK
Lisa, it shouldn't end like this, let's talk!
LISA slams the door so hard, the window rattles loose. FRANK punches it once. It flies out of the door and shatters.
LISA
Talk to this! Sorry Frank, I'm moving on with my life! Jerk!
LISA slowly walks away.
FRANK is dejected, but realizes that LISA was too intense.
DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. SKYLINE - FINANCIAL LIFE INS. BUILDING - PARKING LOT.
SERIES OF SHOTS
A) Agents are arriving in parking lot;
B) Agents in lobby heading to their respective offices;
C) Staff meeting being organized;
D) FRANK arrives early to district meeting and sits in back of the room with his coffee and bagel. Begins eating, awaiting "Terrible Tom" the Sales Manager. The production ledger shows he's written no insurance for weeks. He tries to be inconspicuous.
CUT TO:
EXT. PARKING LOT
HARRY is seated in the lot going over his picks of the day in the Daily Racing Form. BEN pulls up and vainly looks in his mirror adjusting his tie and stroking his hair. He notices AUDREY pull in next to him. He jumps out so he can position himself to watch her gets out of her car so he can "sneak" a peek at her micro-mini. He gets a full thigh view, that opens his eyes wide and puts a smile on his face.
BEN
Hi, Dre'. How ya doin' this morning, doll?
AUDREY
Its with an A U...AUDREY!! Why do you people gotta shorten everything?
BEN
Just tryin' to be like your skirt, "Sweetems"!
AUDREY grins as she tugs the skirt down, closes her car door and sashays towards the door. Ben follows as he keeps an eye on her butt all the way in, behind her. MEL pulls in. He looks around and sees HARRY, in his car, putting away the Racing Form and getting out and heading for the office door. He leans over and grabs a flask from the glove compartment and takes a swig. Wipes his lips. Sprays Binaca and trips towards the entrance.
CUT TO:
INT. MEETING ROOM
The troops have gathered and TOM is about to begin his meeting. FRANK finishes his bagel. BEN is seated staring at Audrey's thighs, he has a smile on his face. TOM starts...
TOM
Good morning!...Where the hell is Freddy, he better be straight!!
FRANK
He's in the men's room.
TOM
I'm going to fire his ass if he doesn't stay away from the powder!
CUT TO:
INT. DOORWAY
In walks FREDDY with his nose slightly running and reddish eyes. He has just taken a hit of coke.
TOM
Nice of you to join us, Freddy! I hope we're not interrupting anything. Sit your ass down and pay attention. Okay, people, we have a major problem. Some call it productivity; some call it sales. I call it the bottom line and you all ain't cuttin' it. Some heads are going to roll next week if the sales don't pick up. Am I clear? Frank Granstino, your numbers are so low, I can't believe you don't owe us money on payday!
FRANK
Tom, I've got a solid sales call set up for today, and I've got a bunch of other calls. This is my week!
TOM
I've been hearin' that story for the last 6 months.
FRANK
This week has real potential!
TOM
Potential! Potential is nice, but performance is everything. You people better deliver next week! Now get Cracking! Oh, and George Flayer, in my office-NOW!
INSIDE TOM'S OFFICE
TOM speaks to GEORGE, GEORGE gets up and proceeds to clean his desk out, FRANK wanders over to see what happened.
GEORGE
You believe that guy! "Mr. Potato              head," he makes me sit through his shit meeting-just to fire me!
FRANK      
So, what are you going to do now?
GEORGE                                                 
Go for a strong drink, then get up enough nerve to tell my wife.
FRANK nervously flips through "sales leads" on his desk taking mail response cards and puts them in his suit pocket. He's clearly worried.
CUT TO:
EXT. DAY
FRANK drives down a residential block looking for the address on a postage free response lead. FRANK has a free atlas and insurance brochure ready for prospect. A beautiful Spanish woman of 30 is unpacking groceries. FRANK shows Ms. Arnonez the return card, and his card.
FRANK
Can I help?
MS. ARNONEZ
Sure, Frank, that's sweet.
MS. ARNONEZ smiles a sexy smile, FRANK smiles,  embarrassed. Two children chasing each other.
MS. ARNONEZ (CONT'D)
You two, go down and play at the Williams' house.
They continue into the house, FRANK has 2 plastic bags hanging from each hand, along with atlas, lead card and brochure.
FRANK
So what does Mr. Arnonez do?
MS. ARNONEZ
Oh, there is no Mr. Arnonez.
She smiles at FRANK, and winks.
FRANK
I gotcha, a single mom.
As they enter through the kitchen, FRANK is weighted down, MS. ARNONEZ unbuttons two buttons on her blouse; showing serious cleavage, while moving closer to FRANK.
MS. ARNONEZ
Can I help you with that?
FRANK
Uh, I'm all...
MS.ARNONEZ, now goes  right up to FRANK, backing him into the kitchen table, and lightly kissing him on the lips. The packages start falling, he quickly catches them, managing to put them on the table. MS.ARNONEZ closes the kitchen door, goes back to FRANK, who's motionless, still back against the table, stunned. She kisses his neck. FRANK loses all control as she leads him to the bedroom, unbuttons and removes his shirt and tie, pushes him on to the bed and jumps on top. FRANK holds onto the atlas and card, one in each hand. There's a lot of passionate kissing, as they hear noise of the screen door.
MS. ARNONEZ
Oh my God, that's my husband!
FRANK
What? Who? What husband?
FRANK jumps up, his pants go down to his ankles. He pulls his pants up, rushes out to the kitchen to pick up his shirt and tie, as he straightens up, he comes face to face with weird character with scared face, and a half filled alcohol bottle.
FRANK (CONT'D)
(nervous)
Hi Dude.
WEIRD GUY
What? Who the...
MS.ARNONEZ
Oh, it's only you Santiago. It's my brother.
WEIRD GUY
You know it's only apple juice.
FRANK
So, Ms. Arnonez, the insurance will run $56. per month. Let me know, call me next week?
MS. ARNONEZ
Yes, Mr. Frank, I will.
FRANK  rushes out the door way, running into MR. ARNONEZ, a tough looking man with piercing eyes, unshaven, startled look, carrying bundles.
MR.ARNONEZ
Where do you think you're going?
FRANK
I'm the life insurance man!
MR.ARNONEZ
Yeah, right! What the..
FRANK tries to walk to the car, MR. ARNONEZ steps in front.
FRANK
No, really! I sell life insurance!
MR. ARNONEZ
You piece of shit! You were banging my wife, weren't you?
MR.ARNONEZ drops bundles, pulls out a switch blade. FRANK takes off like a bat out of hell, drops shirt, doesn't look back. MR ARNONEZ gives chase, but FRANK turns the corner, running all out, cuts through a yard and is long gone.
CUT TO:
EXT. DAY
SERIES OF SHOTS
A) Front door slamming in FRANK'S face;
B) Basement. Fat, hairy, UNSHAVEN GUY, in sleeveless undershirt, with cigar and beer - shakes his head no.
C) COUPLE fighting in kithen, FRANK strikes out again.
D) FRANK, late, falls on rear-end running across toy ridden lawn. Starts to raise his back as a puppy begins licking his face. Gives a defeated stare up at the sky.
CUT TO:
INT.DAY LIVING ROOM
OLD GRANNY with cane, FRANK on couch looks at prospect card.
FRANK
But MRS. Suni, the card you sent says you're 65, not 88. I can't insure someone 88 years old.
OLD GRANNY
Sonny, a woman never admits her age. Drink your lemonade. We could play cards for nickles.
The OLD GRANNY leans on hand on coffee table top, as she reaches for the deck of cards under the table, we hear a distinct but slight fart. FRANK'S mouth opens wide.
CUT TO:
EXT. NIGHT
FRANK is driving to his sales call, focusing on making a sale. His cell phone rings, it's Paul.
FRANK
Paulie, great! Got a sales call. Yeah, headed there now. I'm psyched! Sure! You know, one sale could be worth thousands. Not bad. My only problem is; appointments are so hard to get, and sometimes harder to close. But this one's with a guy named Jimmy Lanski. He's married, with two kids, a perfect prospect. He needs the insurance. Okay, I'll catch you later, Bro!
INT. NIGHT - CAR

 

 

 

 

                      "BETTER OFF DEAD"

 

                              by

 

                      John Paul Carinci

 

 

 

                         Chapter One

 

    "Hi, this is Frank Granstino from the Financial Life

 

Insurance Company, how are you today?"

 

    "Okay," the woman said hesitantly.

 

    "Well, that's good! The reason I'm calling," I said with

 

a smile, "is, I'm helping all the homeowners in your

 

neighborhood with their life insurance needs. I'll be in your

 

area Tuesday and Thursday. Which night would be better for me

 

to drop by and introduce myself?"

 

    "Neither! Why don't you get a real job, and stop

 

bothering people!" she screamed as she slammed the phone

 

down.

 

    I proceeded to cross her name off my list so hard that

 

the pen ripped the page. All in a day's work, I thought, as I

 

closed my prospecting list.

 

    Earlier, another woman - she must've been elderly - blew

 

a whistle into the phone. She blew it so loud that I had to

 

switch ears on the next call. Maybe she thought I was a

 

pervert or a weirdo. But that's the trouble with the phone

 

book, you never can tell who you're going to reach.

 

    Prospecting for new sales is tough. So far, my first six

 

months in the business has been murder.

 

    The district manager, Tom Somi, reminds me: "Hey sport,

 

you're only twenty-seven years old. Give the business a

 

chance."

 

    "Enough of this!" I said, "I already have an earache!" As

 

I packed my briefcase, with calls still to be made. After I

 

take a break for lunch, I'll drop in on some businesses in

 

the area and leave my cards.

 

    The district office was pretty quiet for a Monday,

 

especially for a bright and sunny April day. As the experts

 

say, "You're in business for yourself, your time is your

 

    own."

 

    Now our manager, Tom Somi, is a tough man who screams a

 

lot. Tom only wants to know, each week, total premiums and

 

how many policies were sold by each of the forty sales

 

representatives. He's a bottom-line type of guy, that no one

 

wants to go up against.

 

    Just this morning at our district meeting, Tom fired an

 

agent. George Flayer had been with the company for two years.

 

His first year was good, but his last six months were

 

terrible. No sales, coupled with cancellations brought him

 

down.

 

    Of course Somi capitalized on the firing. He made George

 

come in for the district meeting. Then right after our

 

meeting he fires him, making George clean his desk out in

 

front of everyone. Tom really is pond scum.

 

    "Somi, that 'potato head', let me go!"

 

    That's all George could say to me as he packed up his

 

files.

 

    With my legs up on my desk, leaning back in the chair, I

 

realized that this business can be brutal.

 

    Insurance sales is difficult because we're selling a

 

piece of paper. The one thing that keeps me in this business

 

is that I truly believe in what I'm selling.

 

    I reminisced about my last job, working for a major bank

 

in Manhattan, as a general accounting clerk. All I had to do

 

was show up, sit at my desk till five, with no real work, no

 

challenge. Slowly, I was getting melt-down of the brain.

 

    After I left my dead-end job, I vowed to be productive

 

somewhere. When I started selling insurance a little over six

 

months ago, it was very difficult. Since I have few

 

relatives, and only a couple of close friends, I was very

 

reluctant to try to sell any of them life insurance - at

 

least in the beginning.

 

    I wasn't like most agents, who rely totally on friends

 

and relatives. And after a few months fail out of the

 

business. I relied solely on strangers and referrals. That's

 

why I didn't start off with a bang and was just barely able

 

to pay my bills each month.

 

    I drive a 1972 Buick Century and live in a modest 2 room

 

apartment in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. At 27 I was still able to

 

chase away any thoughts of marriage.

 

    As my phone rang, it startled me back to reality. I've

 

always been somewhat of a dreamer.

 

    "Hello, Frank Granstino here."

 

    "Frankie, it's me, how're doing? I caught a couple of

 

minutes before lunch."

 

    "Pauly, how are you, you got my message a couple of

 

nights ago?"

 

    "Yeah, I didn't get a chance to call. So what did you

 

think about the Knicks game last night?"

 

    "Aw, they stink! Do you believe they blew a twelve

 

point lead? Sometimes that Starks really does stink."

 

    "I know, he gets carried away trying to make those three-

 

point shots. Maybe they'll win tonight. Toronto hasn't been

 

winning lately. Frankie, I'll catch you later, over the

 

weekend. Let's get together. Gotta run!

 

    "Okay Paul, I'll catch the game tonight on re-run. Later,

 

bro!" I said, as I hung up.

 

    Paul was my best and oldest friend; we went back almost

 

twenty years. There wasn't anything I wouldn't do for Paul,

 

or he wouldn't do for me. For the longest time we lived only

 

two blocks from each other, so we saw each other every day.

 

Even our parents became friends. We were so close-knit they

 

had no choice.

 

    "Time to get moving," I said, as I packed up some forms,

 

and realized the time. "Time to blow this joint!"

 

    After lunch, and some prospecting of the business area on

 

foot, I went home to hang out. We make our money in front of

 

clients, not in the office. Since I had an appointment this

 

evening at 7:30, I took an afternoon nap.

 

    The business is lucrative though. It's possible to earn

 

up to two thousand dollars for one large sale. Not bad for a

 

couple of hours of work. This business has its highs and

 

lows. The lows are terrible, when sales are bad.

 

    My older sister Candice helps me keep it all in

 

prospective. Ever since our dad died tragically a couple of

 

years ago, from a car accident, Candice and I became even

 

closer.

 

    She always tells me, "Don't worry about the clowns that

 

don't want to buy, it's their loss!"

 

    At times she's better than a psychotherapist.

 

    My appointment was with a guy named Jimmy Lanski. Jim is

 

married and has two children; the perfect prospect. With

 

children his need for protection would be great.

 

    At the time I made the appointment I found out that Jim

 

worked off the books, had no life insurance and was

 

interested. "This should be an easy sale tonight," I thought,

 

as I dozed off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         Chapter Two

 

        It was 7:20 pm when I reached Jim Lanski's home. I

 

like to be early. The Lanskis and I hit it off great. There

 

was an immediate rapport between Jill, Jim's wife, Jim and

 

me.

 

    The Lanskis knew that they needed life insurance. They

 

had no problem with the ninety dollars a month premium, for

 

the five hundred thousand dollars of protection on each of

 

them.

 

    They were so happy with my needs analysis that they

 

willingly gave me a few referrals. Which was great.

 

Referrals are the life blood of the business. With referrals,

 

you at least have a chance to succeed.

 

    The Lanskis told me to call their cousin, and their

 

uncle. The Uncle is Jim's mother's brother. It really was a

 

great night! I thought as I drove slowly back home, savoring

 

the moment of sweet success.

 

    Bright and early on Friday, I was back in the district

 

sales office. Fridays are our reporting days, and the time

 

when the agents tally up their sales and report them to

 

management.

 

    The office reminds me of the old West that I've seen in

 

the movies. Each week we have many agents coming and going

 

through the doors like the swinging doors of a Western

 

saloon. All the new agents come into the business like they

 

own the world - tough and confident.

 

    In my short career so far with Financial Life, I've met

 

some real characters. There are agents that sit through

 

district training meetings, reviewing the horse racing form,

 

pretending to be listening intently, while secretly itching

 

to get out of the office to bet the ponies.

 

    That's the biggest reason Harry never amounted to

 

anything. Harry has a bad gambling problem, and unfortunately

 

he keeps forgetting which is his money, and which is his

 

client's money for premiums.

 

    Then there's wild Audrey. Audrey is a fairly new agent

 

with the company, and one of only two women of the twenty

 

three agents in the district.

 

    Audrey thinks she's beautiful, when in fact, she's as

 

ugly as sin. So to compensate for her looks she resorts to

 

showing some extra skin. This tactic seems to be working

 

quite well with all the guys. One day she'll wear a real

 

short dress and no underwear, at least that's what Ben, the

 

district's only black agent, claims.

 

    Ben looks like a pro wrestler. He's a big guy, with broad

 

shoulders and a big fat neck and head, much like a football

 

player or a weight lifter. Definitely not someone you'd want

 

to mess with.

 

    Well, the way Ben tells it, Audrey, during a Friday

 

agency meeting, kept lifting her dress up, ever so slowly,

 

until as Ben once said, "You didn't have to use your

 

imagination anymore." All I know is, that all through the

 

meeting, Ben's eyes were getting bigger and whiter than we've

 

ever seen.

 

    Then there's good old Freddy. Freddy's always in the

 

bathroom, and when he does come out he's always sniffing like

 

crazy. His eyes are always bloodshot. He usually looks spaced

 

out. Audrey said one day, "It doesn't take much imagination

 

to figure out what 'coke-head Fred' has been doing!"

 

    It comes down to the bottom line. Some agents get away

 

with murder.

 

    There's also Mel Flaine. Mel is the office rummy. He just

 

plain stinks like a bar rag. Rumor has it, old man Mel can

 

only stay sober long enough to get through the weekly Friday

 

meeting just to get his paycheck.

 

    One day Mel came in the office drunk, tripped over a

 

chair and almost killed himself. The office was almost empty,

 

so only the secretary saw him.

 

    Mel's the veteran of the office. He's been with the

 

company for nearly thirty years. So they just leave him

 

alone, even though he doesn't sell too much any more. It

 

makes you wonder just what the pressures of selling can do to

 

some people.

 

    The last character of the office is Louie Remi. Now,

 

Louie is fifty-five years old, divorced and not all there.

 

Louie is at rock bottom in the insurance industry. Even

 

though he's been selling for some twenty years, he doesn't

 

earn more than a clerk in K-Mart.

 

    Louie is neurotic. He's on a powerful anti-depressant

 

medication. One day he'll come over and hug you, and tell the

 

whole world how terrific you are. The next day he'll curse

 

you out.

 

    Louie always was weird. He has even been known to

 

threaten peoples' lives, then blame it on his medication.

 

One time he threatened to kill another agent because he

 

thought the agent stole a lead off his desk. Five minutes

 

later Louie found it under his phone and tried to apologize.

 

    Louie's also notorious for spreading wild rumors about

 

people throughout the office, especially when he gets jealous

 

of the top sales people. His personality is like Jeckyll and

 

Hyde. It's really a pisser though, to watch the reactions of

 

the new agents Louie comes in contact with. I learned right

 

away that the best thing to do is stay far away from crazy

 

Louie.

 

With all the strange and wild personalities we have, they

 

should re-name our agency: The Outer Limits.

 

    There's just too much pressure to write business each

 

day. To make matters worse, the company threatens to fire you

 

every thirteen weeks, if your numbers don't exceed their

 

minimums.

 

    "The Enforcer", as he's sometimes referred to, is the

 

district's manager Tom Somi. Tom is a tough manager. Even his

 

appearance is intimidating. Tom is fifty five, about five

 

foot ten, big, maybe 250 pounds and bald.

 

He looks tough, like he could take on three guys at once in a

 

bar room brawl.

 

    I'm sure he was in the Army for a while. He's comical

 

though. Every time Tom gets mad, the whole top of his bald

 

head gets beet-red, along with his face and his ears. His

 

whole head gets so red you expect his head to burst any

 

second - a hot tamale ready to blow. Most of the agents try

 

not to get him excited. But not me. I guess I always get on

 

peoples' nerves. After all, I know I can run faster than him.

 

    It is really funny when he gets all red in the face,

 

except when it's you that he's glaring at. Maybe it's been my

 

low-production, but lately Tom's head always seems much

 

redder when he's around me.

 

    The most frequently asked questions from Tom are: "So

 

what have you got so far for the week?" and "How much in

 

premiums did you sell?" Then he always seems to turn red. So

 

I try to avoid him every chance I get. I usually wait for him

 

to go to the bathroom, so I can slip out quickly past his

 

office and through the back door.

 

    Since it was our Friday report day, I submitted my

 

three new applications. Two of them being the Lanski

 

sales. The total annual premium came to fifteen hundred

 

dollars. Not bad for the week. But since I went blank the

 

previous two weeks, I was trying to keep a low-profile, and I

 

definitely wanted to avoid Tom. Quietly and slowly, I slipped

 

smoothly past his door, and into the hallway. Thinking that I

 

made it past the big-guy, I smiled, until I heard a booming

 

voice: "Not so fast Granstino!"

 

   Slithering back I said: "Who me?"

 

    "No your mother," he barked. "So you think you had a good

 

week, do you? You want to cut out of here at 11:30?"

 

    "No, Tom, I wanted to drop in on some people."

 

    "Why don't you just drop back into that seat there," he

 

said, pointing to the chair, "and tell me how you're going to

 

replace the two prospects you no longer have now, Frank?"

 

    I had to admit, the big guy had a point. I had sold two

 

different families this week, so I had two less prospects

 

now. "Tom, I've got new names, I've got referrals!" I said

 

boasting.

 

    "Oh you do, do you? Maybe you think that by keeping them

 

in your briefcase there, they'll multiply like humping

 

rabbits?" he asked sarcastically.

 

    "No sir!" I snapped back.

 

    His head and ears were beet-red again, he smiled

 

sarcastically again and said; "Why don't you make some more

 

calls before the weekend, so maybe we'll all be able to

 

eat again next week!"

 

    "Good idea boss!" I said, as I exited his office by

 

backing out into the agents' room. I knew I wasn't going to

 

win this fight, not with this red-faced gorilla.

 

    I was holding five good-quality referrals, like they were

 

maturing savings bonds. I didn't want to use them. Maybe I

 

was scared that I couldn't convert the referred leads into

 

appointments.

 

    Sometimes agents don't have a single lead to call, and

 

must resort to making cold calls from the phone book. And

 

sometimes, when they do have some quality leads they're

 

somewhat reluctant to use them, for fear of using up their

 

ammunition.

 

    I waited for the big gorilla to go to the bathroom and I

 

quickly slipped out. I'll call my leads when I want to! I

 

thought, as I drove my car into the start of my long

 

anticipated weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        Chapter Three

 

    The weekend was fairly quiet. I'd recently broken off my

 

engagement with Lisa DeVoe. Lisa and I were going together

 

for about two years. And, as is the case in many

 

relationships, it was much better in the beginning. But

 

amazingly, as soon as we announced our engagement the

 

relationship started to sour to such a point that I felt

 

trapped. Like I'd lost my freedom and the ability to do the

 

things that I wanted to do.

 

    Then, one day about two months ago we just blew up at

 

each other. The fight was so intense that we realized it was

 

far better to split up than to possibly kill each other.

 

    Lisa was a beautiful woman. She had long auburn hair,

 

sparkling green eyes, and long legs. She stood about five

 

foot nine and looked like one of those fashion models, tall

 

and slim. Lisa was two years younger than me, and very smart.

 

Maybe too smart.

 

    I realize now, that beauty alone doesn't guarantee a

 

happy life together. There has to be much more than looks;

 

something magical and special. A spark that will last

 

forever.

 

    I did miss Lisa though, I wasn't really sure which part I

 

missed the most. The physical relationship, or just the

 

comfort and security in knowing that I had a girlfriend who

 

cared for me and that I wasn't alone.

 

    On the weekends I try to forget about the insurance

 

business completely. This weekend I took in a couple of good

 

movies on cable. I also watched some baseball on TV, and went

 

out to a club with my friend Paul.

 

    On Sunday, I went to see my mother in Staten Island. Of

 

course I stayed for dinner. Mom made my favorite: lasagna.

 

No one makes it better. Paul couldn't make it Sunday at my

 

mother's, but he has a standing invitation for dinner any

 

time.

 

    My sister Candice was there too along with my niece,

 

Michele. Candice is thirty five years old. Michele is so

 

sweet, she always gives me a big hug and kiss. She looks up

 

to me, ever since her father ran off years ago.

 

    It'd been a couple of weeks since I had dinner over Mom's

 

place. I love my mother, and my family very much, I only wish

 

I could see everyone more often. Life today though is very

 

fast paced. Before you know it a month slips by.

 

    By Sunday night, the pangs of loneliness set in once

 

again. Lisa entered my mind, while I was straightening up the

 

apartment.

 

   Bright and early Monday morning, I was in the office

 

sitting at my desk, planning my week. I was the first one in

 

the office. It was good, there was no one to distract me, no

 

small-talk to waste my time.

 

    As I sat with a large container of coffee, along with all

 

my notes and prospecting names scattered over the top of my

 

desk. I thought, who should I call first? Which ones were my

 

best prospects? I put the hottest ones at the top. It was

 

time to make some quality appointments and keep Tom off my

 

rear end.

 

    By 10:00 I had made a top 50 list. Then, the prospects

 

I've been calling for weeks now, and unable to secure

 

appointments with, were put toward the bottom.

 

    Alright then, number one: Tony Vongemi, Jimmy and Jill's

 

referral, looked real good. Tony is Jimmy's boss and uncle.

 

By far, this was the best lead I had.

 

    I remembered that Jimmy said there was no medical

 

insurance on the job. There were 10 employees that worked

 

there, and it was a family-owned restaurant. The name of the

 

restaurant was: Little Part Of Italy. It was on 86th Street

 

in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. The time was 10:20 am,

 

time to call the restaurant.

 

    "Tony please," I said.

 

    "Hold on!" snapped a deep and powerful voice. After about

 

a minute I heard, "Yeah what is it!" With a smile in my voice

 

I said, "Hi Tony, it's Frank Granstino, from Financial Life

 

Insurance, a friend of Jimmy & Jill Lanski's. They suggested

 

I call to speak with you about medical insurance. I'd like to

 

make an appointment to drop by and see you"

 

    "A friend of Jimmy's, sure, come by tonight at 7:00. I

 

got to run, good-bye!" he said this so fast, I almost didn't

 

catch it, as I heard the phone slam down.

 

    On my way out of the office, Tom stood in my way blocking

 

my exit. "Anything good setup for the week?" he asked.

 

    "How about a ten man group at a restaurant?" I boasted.

 

    "It's about time Granstino!" he said sarcastically as he

 

moved out of my way.

 

    As I walked past him, all I could think to myself was:

 

Watch it, go bother someone else!

 

    My friend, Paul Luggi, worked in the city for Trelane, a

 

large accounting firm. Like most New York City workers, he

 

worked nine to five. I called him a prisoner, because he

 

could never leave.

 

    "Oh yeah, at least I don't have to beg people for a sale,

 

like you, so I can eat each week," he'd always say.

 

    Although he had a point I still felt free, and "freedom

 

does have its price." I keep reminding myself. I knew Paul

 

would be at work, so I called him.

 

    "Hi Paul it's Frank. What do you know about a restaurant

 

called: A Little Part Of Italy, I've got an appointment with

 

the owner tonight?"

 

    All I heard was laughing, then he said, "Don't you know?"

 

    "No I don't know, what's the joke?"

 

    "I think that place is run by the Mafia! Frank, you'd

 

better watch yourself, pal! I'll talk to you later, I've got

 

to run," he said, while laughing hysterically.

 

    That's all everyone knows how to say, I said to myself,

 

Mafia this, Mafia that. Everyone in Brooklyn can't be in the

 

Mafia, not every store and restaurant at least.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         Chapter Four

 

   It was ten minutes to seven, as I circled around the block

 

for the third time passing the restaurant, looking for a

 

parking spot. I didn't want to park in their parking lot, at

 

least not on my first visit. I'm funny like that.

 

    Another five minutes passed before I caught an available

 

parking spot not far from the restaurant. It's times like

 

these, that I really hate Brooklyn.

 

    The place was beautiful. It had an all-stone exterior

 

with hand-carved solid-wood double doors, which were stained

 

in a rich walnut finish. Inside the restaurant there were

 

shining marble floors with white, fluted wood columns

 

throughout. The hardwood floors were walnut with elegant

 

heavy trim gracing all the ceilings at the top of the

 

beautiful walnut-planked walls.

 

    The tables were of solid marble, with black wrought-iron

 

chairs that had lush red-velvet cushions. All this was topped

 

off with soft Italian music. "Talk about ambiance," I

 

thought. It gave me a feeling like I was actually in an

 

elegant cafe in Italy. It was by far the most spectacular

 

restaurant I had ever seen.

 

    A maitre'd, dressed in a white tuxedo, smiled, and asked,

 

"How may I help you?"

 

    "I'm here to see Tony," I said cautiously.

 

    "Is he expecting you?"

 

    "Yes," I said, I have an appointment, just tell him

 

Frank, from Financial Life."

 

    Still in awe of the place, I patiently waited. A short

 

time later the maitre'd returned and motioned me to follow

 

him to a back room.

 

    Seated at a table towards the rear of the room, was a man

 

in his late fifties. I knew it was Tony Vongemi, because the

 

only other people in the room were two big and bulky-looking

 

guys in their late 20's. They were hanging around one on each

 

side of the doorway.

 

   Tony was impeccably dressed, his suit was perfectly

 

tailored, his salt and pepper hair was styled and neat. He

 

had expensive looking diamond rings, but not too flashy. I

 

could tell Tony Vongemi had class.

 

   I introduced myself. He was very cordial. We spoke about

 

his nephew Jimmy, my client and his head waiter. "Jimmy is a

 

good boy," he said. "We also like Jill."

 

    We also talked about the Yankees and the Knicks which, we

 

were both fans of. "I miss Don Mattingly. He was a worker.

 

Really committed to the task at hand. I respect that. We look

 

for hard workers in my line of work. Those are the kind that

 

get ahead."

 

    "I know exactly what you mean, Tony. Mattingly was my

 

favorite Yankee too."

 

    I guess we hit it off well. So well in fact, that Tony

 

had given me two tickets for Sunday's basketball game. The

 

Knicks were playing the New Jersey Nets at the Meadowlands. I

 

was thrilled to death, I just loved the Knicks.

 

    "You're going to the game on me, my friend. Wait till you

 

see the reserved seats we have this season. You've never been

 

this close to the action. You're going to feel like the

 

players are going to pass the ball right to you!"

 

    Tony wouldn't let me talk about business until I had

 

dinner with him, as his guest. Feeling very much at ease, I

 

had the seafood special and a couple of glasses of fine white

 

wine. After a fabulous dinner Tony offered me an imported

 

cigar, which I politely refused. While I watched him smoke we

 

had a couple of cups of espresso, with Sambuca on the side,

 

while we talked business.

 

    "Okay, talk to me. I want to take care of my workers.

 

They're good people. They do anything for me. What can I do

 

to show them I appreciate their respect and dedication?"

 

    "Well, you could start a medical group plan, and pay for

 

some, or all of the premiums," I said.

 

    I then showed Tony a few different quotes for group

 

medical insurance.

 

    "Do it, just start the ball rolling. Let me know what the

 

damage is, and it's a done deal. Okay with you Frankie?"

 

    "That's a good move, your employees will appreciate it,"

 

I said.

 

    "Yeah, a little respect goes a long way. At least that's

 

the way I see it," he said.

 

     Then, Tony asked, "How about life insurance for me?

 

That's a good idea. What would three hundred thou cost?"

 

    "About $6,000 per year."

 

    "That sounds good Frankie, sign me up! You know, I like

 

you Granpino.."

 

    "That's Granstino, Tony, but you can call me Harry, if

 

you want."

 

    "You're a funny guy too! I like that. Just make sure you

 

do the right thing!" he said, as he reached for his checkbook

 

and proceeded to write out a check for a thousand dollars.

 

    Tony handed the check to me as he said, "I'll give you

 

the other five thou, in cash, when you drop the policy

 

off to me."

 

    When I asked Tony for referrals, he told me that he'd be

 

calling me next week with some leads. All in all it was a

 

great night. I made my quota for the month in just hours.

 

    I was thrilled and somewhat relieved that the constant

 

sales pressure I was feeling, from low-production, was

 

finally lifted. On the way home I stopped at Dunkin Donuts

 

and celebrated. Three donuts and a couple of cups of coffee

 

later, I headed home a very happy man. This business is great

 

when the sales are coming in. It's keeping it going that's

 

tough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fiction Novelist John Paul Carinci | SAFE DRIVERS DISCOUNT LINK | Positive Affirmations From " The Power Of Being Different " | SUCCESS AFFIRMATIONS (from An All Consuming Desire To Succeed | SELF SUGGESTION STATATEMENTS | addl. info | AN ALL CONSUMING DESIRE TO SUCCEED | AN ALL-CONSUMING DESIRE TO SUCCEEED (advance chapter-preview) | The Psychic Boy Detective | SAMPLE CHAPTERS "THE POWER OF BEING DIFFERENT" | FREE ONLINE DOWNLOAD - THE SELF HELP BOOK: "THE POWER OF BEING FIFFERENT" | Preview Of: Better Off Dead:In Paradise | ORDER FORM TO PURCHASE BOOKS | Fiction Adventure | PREVIEW OF "BETTER OFF DEAD" | BOOK REVIEW An All-Consuming Desire To Succeed