It's difficult to believe now that when Cesare's guys were at the door of Effe's auto repair shop, demanding to be let in, I actually tried to say no! Bear in mind that these guys are Mafia. Well, two of them are; the other is a mechanic that they'd brought to check Cesare's car which Effe, instead of fixing, has decided to strip of most of its parts to use for other jobs. Don't even ask why.
Oh, this is New York City back in the early 90's, by the way. Effe ran the auto repair shop which was half of a company owned by an Israeli guy called Nachum. The other half was a moving company which I ran for him.
Now I don't know if it was down to some strange Israeli male macho thing - to show he could mess with the Mob, or if it was just good fashioned stupidity. Either way I didn't care because it wasn't my problem - until the day it became my problem. I guess that about three weeks after leaving his car with Effe for a job that should have taken a couple of days, Cesare figured enough was enough and sent a couple of his 'people' over (along with the mechanic) to see what was going on.
Of course I'm alone in the shop when they arrive and, knowing a little about Effe's situation tried to tell them they couldn't come in. When Cesare's guy explains in detail what the immediate consequences of this will be for me I have a change of heart and show them all to the car. So here's the thing, when Cesare's guy pops the hood and we all take a look in, what do you think we see? Nothing! I mean really, nothing; just a great big space where the great big engine of Cesare's great big car should have been. Cesare's guys (and the mechanic) look at me as if they need me to confirm there really was no engine. "Blimey!", I said It felt like blimey might be a nice, cosy English word that would keep a safe barrier between me and the brutal Americans staring at me.
"Limey?" Cesare's guy asked.
"No...Blimey, I said. "It's an expression of surprise...you know "Bilmey".
Cesare's guy just stared at me with a mix of bafflement and contempt before leading the others away.
Obviously that wasn't the end of the matter and, sure enough, the next day finds Cesare himself in the office, gently enquiring of Nachum and myself just what in the hell had been going on. After a full and frank discussion we convinced Cesare that Effe (in presumably a moment of uncharacteristic good sense) had disappeared and was likely long gone. All things considered Cesare took it all pretty well and seemed willing to let the whole thing go. All in all he seemed a pretty gracious guy, given his line of work.
A few weeks later I found one of Effe's old flyers for the shop. It said "I've found a mechanic that is good, reasonable and honest...his name is Effe!".
I felt like sending it to Cesare, but I knew better than to push my luck.