All characters appearing in this essay are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
But first, he had to secure the services of one of these two fellows.
He knew that Le Gros Robert was a serious eater and he thought that he would be easier to seduce him than the Corsican, so he decided to approach him first.
Since Dédé’s wife was an excellent cook, he resolved to entice le Gros Robert through his stomach.
-Hey Robert, he asked him one day, do you like pheasant? I got a couple of them and if you are available next Sunday, I’d be happy to share them with you.
Le Gros Robert was a little surprised by this unexpected invitation, but he was not a man to pass up a good meal.
OK he said. Very kind of you. Thank you.
-What are friends for? My wife will be very pleased to see you, said Dédé grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Next, Dédé decided to focus his attention on a female partner.
Good female players were also well aware of their talents and as much in demand as their male counterparts. But they were also more difficult to read… and they could keep a grudge for a very longtime…
He approached Pauline first. She was an excellent player but she also had a sharp tongue.
-Hey Pauline, he said, you look good today. Is that a new haircut? If you were not married, I would make a pass at you.
-Dédé, if I didn’t know you any better, I would think that you meant it.
-I meant it Pauline, I meant it.
-OK Dédé, what do you want? You are not buttering me up for nothing… You must want something…
-Pauline you are unkind. Can’t a guy pay a compliment to a lady without having any second thought?
-A normal guy yes, but coming from you it sounds a little odd… So again, what is it that I have that you want?
-You are a little harsh Pauline… but since you ask… How would you like to play with me at the Cup tournament?
-Yes Pauline, the Cup. I am looking for a good female partner and I thought of you first.
-I’ll probably play with Le Gros Robert… If you join our team we’ll have a dynamite formation…
-Very kind of you, but I don’t care much for Le Gros Robert… and frankly Dédé you get on my nerves…
-How is that?
-You talk too much Dédé, and this is one of the reasons why I won’t play with you.
-Pauline, I promise to keep my mouth shut. Let bygones be bygones… play with me and you won’t regret it.
-No Dédé I am sorry… I won’t play with you!
-OK Pauline, I understand your reluctance to play with Le Gros Robert. But I am pretty sure that I can get the Corsican to play with us instead. You don’t have anything against him, do you?
-All right then, if I get the Corsican will you play with us?
-I don’t know… You caught me off guard…
-Don’t you want to win Pauline? Don’t you want to see your name on the Cup?
-All right, all right… if you get the Corsican, I’ll play with you guys.
-OK Pauline, it’s a deal. I’ll get Pasqualini. But promise to turn down any other proposition…
-You won’t be sorry Pauline, I promise you. The three of us will be unbeatable.
It had not been as hard as he thought, but now he would have to dump Le Gros Robert and entice the Corsican instead. After all, he had not formally asked the Gros Robert yet. He simply invited him for dinner.
But the Corsican was a touchy fellow, and any careless comment could be taken the wrong way. He would have to be very, very careful…
A few days later, he approached Pasqualini who was practicing his shooting on the pétanque field.
Dédé couldn’t help but admire the little fellow’s dexterity. I absolutely need to have him on my side, he thought.
Hey Nunzio, he called out, that was a great shot!
-I wish I could shoot like you.
-It’s a question of practice. The more you practice and the better you’ll get at it.
-Still, it is a gift Nunzio, and you have it. By the way, how is your mother?
-She is fine. A little arthritis, but otherwise she is OK. Thank you for asking.
-Family is important Nunzio.
-Yes it is.
A little silence ensued.
After a while the Corsican stopped playing and asked:
-Do you want something Dédé?
-Me? No… I was just admiring your shooting… But actually yes…
-Yes. I wanted to ask you if you would be willing to play with me in the Cup Tournament?
-The Cup hé? You are not the first to come calling…
-Did somebody else ask you?
-What do you think Dédé? Am I not good enough?
-That’s not what I meant Nunzio… Everybody knows that you are a great shooter. But you should not play with just anybody… You need good partners. Guys you can count on…
-Like you maybe?
-Yes like me. I am a good player Nunzio, you know that. And I have already been asked…
-By whom? By Le Gros Robert for one.
-But I’d rather play with you. You and I are “paisanos” Nunzio, we understand each other…
-That’s true… but I have to think about it…
-Take your time Nunzio, take your time… but I need to know fairly shortly.
-If you are in hurry Dédé, you can go with le Gros Robert.
-But I’d rather play with you Nunzio.
-OK then, I’ll let you know in a few days.
-Capisco Nunzio, capisco.
Well, he thought, this guy is not a pushover. He knows his worth. I might have to sweeten the pot to get him to play with us. But what is his soft spot?
The Corsican was a rather ascetic fellow who had no known vices… I hate this kind of guys thought Dédé, but there must be a chink in his armor and I’ll find it. Everybody has a weakness, or a price.
To be continued…