"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


New York City  Fall 1993
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.
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!
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!!
So we're alright on this, then?

Solid as a rock. Not to worry. We'll be in touch, Bud.
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
C.U. JUDGE bangs one more time: The courtroom is silent.
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.
There is a party going on. BRENNEN speaks with an elderly MALONEY.
You nailed the Hammer this time, for good. Congratulations, Joe.
Not without your surveillance tapes and witnesses. Thank you, to you and your staff.
So you're really going to retire, hang them up?
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.
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.
BOBBY VONGEMI; as a porter, knocks. MALONEY rises opens door.
May I take your lunch order, sir?
Yes, come in.
MALONEY turns to walk away. BOBBY closes the door.
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.
1999 Brooklyn, New York
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
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.
We're not going anywhere, Frank, It's not working, I need a change!
You know I just got the job at Financial Life; it takes time to be successful in sales. Selling life insurance is hard work.
Yeah, well, why'd ya leave the bank? 3 years and you went nowhere!
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!
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
You're a great guy, its just that I...  
Want more out of life than I can give? Where did all this come from?
(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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi, Dre'. How ya doin' this morning, doll?
Its with an A U...AUDREY!! Why do you people gotta shorten everything?
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.
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...
Good morning!...Where the hell is Freddy, he better be straight!!
He's in the men's room.
I'm going to fire his ass if he doesn't stay away from the powder!
In walks FREDDY with his nose slightly running and reddish eyes. He has just taken a hit of coke.
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!
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!
I've been hearin' that story for the last 6 months.
This week has real potential!
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!
TOM speaks to GEORGE, GEORGE gets up and proceeds to clean his desk out, FRANK wanders over to see what happened.
You believe that guy! "Mr. Potato              head," he makes me sit through his shit meeting-just to fire me!
So, what are you going to do now?
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.
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.
Can I help?
Sure, Frank, that's sweet.
MS. ARNONEZ smiles a sexy smile, FRANK smiles,  embarrassed. Two children chasing each other.
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.
So what does Mr. Arnonez do?
Oh, there is no Mr. Arnonez.
She smiles at FRANK, and winks.
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.
Can I help you with that?
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.
Oh my God, that's my husband!
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.
Hi Dude.
What? Who the...
Oh, it's only you Santiago. It's my brother.
You know it's only apple juice.
So, Ms. Arnonez, the insurance will run $56. per month. Let me know, call me next week?
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.
Where do you think you're going?
I'm the life insurance man!
Yeah, right! What the..
FRANK tries to walk to the car, MR. ARNONEZ steps in front.
No, really! I sell life insurance!
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.
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.
OLD GRANNY with cane, FRANK on couch looks at prospect card.
But MRS. Suni, the card you sent says you're 65, not 88. I can't insure someone 88 years old.
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.
FRANK is driving to his sales call, focusing on making a sale. His cell phone rings, it's Paul.
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!





                      "BETTER OFF DEAD"




                      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




    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




    "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




    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




    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




    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




    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




    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




    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




    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




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




    "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




    "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




    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




    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




    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




    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




   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












































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