The Negotiation


SCENE: A conference room at Target Field. BILL SMITH is sitting at one end of the table. PAVSTACHE is sitting at the other.

SMITH: Before we start, can I get you something to drink?

PAVSTACHE: You have coffee the way I like it?

SMITH: We brewed it two days ago, it's been sitting in the carafe ever since.

PAVSTACHE: Perfect.

SMITH gets up, fills paper cup with stale, cold coffee, and gives it to PAVSTACHE.

PAVSTACHE: Much obliged. Mind if I smoke?

SMITH: It's a smoke-free workplace. You know that.

PAVSTACHE: Good for it. I'm smoking anyway.

(PAVSTACHE loosens his brown, wide-knotted tie, pulls out an unfiltered Lucky Strike, lights it with a Zippo. The Zippo has an engraved picture of Drew Butera on it.)

SMITH: Damn it all, Pavstache. You know that security's gonna be here the minute they smell that.

PAVSTACHE: Oooooh, I'm shaking. "No, Paul Blart, don't use your stern voice on me! I'll do whatever you want!" Pffffft.

SMITH: Jesus, Pav. Let's get down to brass tacks, then. It looks like we're still your best option for that multi-year deal you want. Carl knows this, right?

(PAVSTACHE takes a deep drag off his cigarette, gulps down the last of his coffee, and speaks in a deliberate, measured tone.)

PAVSTACHE: He knows. It's probably his last chance to get one of those, so he's been doing a lot of tire-kicking. The Nationals looked like they had a lot of potential, but they got spooked when their front office took us out on the town and Sweet Drew almost burned down the Smithsonian.

SMITH: I don't even want to know.

PAVSTACHE: No, you don't. You should also know that we aren't allowed to play them in any interleague games until the NSA completes their investigation.

SMITH: Jesus.

PAVSTACHE: Yeah, it's a mess. After that, there really haven't been any other offers out there that appeal to us. So, here we are.

SMITH: You know what we can give you. We'll go two years at the numbers we've discussed.

PAVSTACHE: No third year?

SMITH: It's not gonna happen. If you can find someone who'll give you that, jump on it.

(PAVSTACHE stubs out cigarettes, lights another, drags, and exhales deeply.)

PAVSTACHE: Will Drew be taken care of?

SMITH: We've literally traded all our other back-up catchers. Shit, I had to call Morneau just to see if he still had Rob Bowen's number. Even if we wanted to move him, we couldn't. I need you two to keep him on the straight and narrow.

PAVSTACHE: That won't be a problem. Carl already told him there's a fireworks store just across the border in Hudson that's open year-round. He doesn't have to make his own during the winter any more, and that goddamn pesky condo association will quit calling the Eden Prairie cops on him about the sulfur smell.

SMITH: Good. I have enough headaches with all the bloggers yelling at me about us sitting on our hands all winter.

PAVSTACHE: Wow, bloggers are unhappy. Christ on a bike, stop the presses. Next thing you'll tell me is they're desperately lonely and a touch overweight.

SMITH: Yeah, yeah, well, it's been tough with the Sox and Detroit making the moves they've made.

PAVSTACHE: Well, when I go to Embers, do I want to take home the prettiest waitress? Sure. But who do I end up with? The experienced one, with a couple kids, a limp and the cloudy eye. And all I know is I wake up in the morning feeling just a little better than the night before, and she has her own smokes.

SMITH: I don't know what that means.

PAVSTACHE: It means I'll go to war with what we have, Billy. We'll see who brings the waitress home in October. Where do I sign?

THE END

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