The Wire
Backwash

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"Don't Worry, Kid. You're Still On The Clock."

Port of Baltimore. Frank, in his trailer, has just finished reading through a budget summary, and angrily tells DiBiago, sitting in front of him, that there's nothing in it for dredging. DiBiago makes some excuse involving a revenue shortfall and a limit on bond issues: "But the grain pier is still in there." Frank asks if there rest is just talk, and DiBiago spins, "Talk is good, Frank. Talk is a start." "Talk is your fucking job description," spits Frank. DiBiago patiently replies, "That's like saying that all the checkers do is punch numbers into a computer." Yeah, when they are also responsible for robbing shippers blind! Frank, seething with silent rage, looks out the window a moment, and then leans forward calmly, folding his hands as he asks DiBiago, "Your son, the oldest one -- he goes to what school?" DiBiago says that he's at Princeton. "Princeton," purrs Frank. "And after he graduates, he's gonna do what?" DiBiago kind of chuckles as he guesses, "Whatever he wants." "Right," says Frank. "You sent him to Princeton to do whatever the fuck he wants."

DiBiago blinks, not getting it, and Frank grins bitterly: "You know, back when we was kids, Danny Hare's father stole a couple cases of cognac off a ship. Except when he gets it home, it ain't cognac. It's Tang." Dude, you can still fence that shit to NASA! Frank goes on: "Just invented. TV was saying it's what the astronauts drank on their way to the moon. You drink it--" "You could be an astronaut, too," DiBiago finishes. Frank says that the Hare kids drank Tang all summer, with every meal: "What do you think they grew up to be?" DiBiago shakes his head, shrugging. Frank: "Stevedores." DiBiago chuckles, but he soon puts a lid on the levity when Frank barks, "What the fuck you think? Something tells me Jason DiBiago will grow up and squeeze a buck the way his old man did." DiBiago coldly says that Frank's out of line, like, guy, I think your working relationship is already close to over; just hurry up and cash your cheque before Frank "loses" you in the stacks.

Frank huffs, not taking it back, and DiBiago defensively says, "My great-grandfather was a knife sharpener. Yeah. Pushed a grinding stone up Preston Street to Alice-Ann, one leg shorter than the other from pumping the wheel. And since he didn't want his sons to push the goddamn thing, he made sure my grandfather finished high school, and my old man went to any college that would take him." Frank gets up out of his chair, dramatically, and says, "You're talking history, right?" He kind of menacingly takes a dart off a board on the wall as he goes on: "I'm talking now. Because down here, it's still 'Who's your old man?,' 'til you got kids of your own. Then it's 'Who's your son?' But after the horror movie I've seen today? Robots!" Hey! Bender is a robot and he has a mom! Named Mom! Frank: "Piers full of robots!" DiBiago looks down in shame. Frank: "My kid will be lucky if he's punching numbers five years from now." Frank, your kid will be lucky if he's breathing air five years from now. Frank: "And while it don't mean shit to me that I can't take my steak knives to DiBiago & Sons, it breaks my heart that there's no future for the Sobotkas on the waterfront." He turns around and flings a dart at the board, right into the forehead of a photo of Robert Irsay. Anyway, DiBiago blinks uncomfortably, like he's not sure it won't be his forehead next. He reaches into a bottom drawer and slams a shoebox onto his desk, telling DiBiago, "I think they're your size." He turns and takes darts out of the board as DiBiago lifts the lid off the shoebox and finds it full of bundled cash. Oh, man, you don't even have to go to the bank? Run home now and shove it in your mattress. He sighs heavily, as Frank coldly tells him, "I'm operating under the assumption that because of your relentless diligence, the funding for the grain pier is gonna pass the assembly." DiBiago stands and starts gathering bundles in a businesslike way, so his guard is down when Frank, brandishing a dart, grabs him by the lapel and hisses, "But I'm also talking about the canal. So you're gonna talk about the canal. The Muldoons who run the old line state are gonna talk about it, until some day, some way, that motherfucker gets dredged and we get some ships in here." Frank stomps off to the other end of the trailer as DiBiago resumes collecting all his cash, grateful to be leaving with both his eyes intact.

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