Question for the Group

Suppose you are in opposition to the main characters.  Of course, you don’t think of yourself as a villain; you think of them as annoyances in the way of your Grand Plan.   But consider someone who (as is not unknown in the construction industry) is both a tough, hardnosed boss running a big business…and also someone with some connections to the underworld.     Now suppose that you have told an underling that someone has become too big a nuisance and stumbling block to be tolerated anymore, but nothing should be traceable back to the Family. You know what I mean.

Now the underling has the bright idea of….let’s say…putting a plutonium pill into someone.  That’s not it, of course, that would be a spoiler. And it doesn’t really matter what the bright idea consisted of, whether it was a Rube Goldberg kind of thing with trip wires and marbles running down chutes to release a heavy bottle of ancient Scotch onto the vic’s head,  or letting a venomous snake into the house.  What matters is that the plan doesn’t work, at least not in the sense of quickly getting rid of X.  And the method chosen could indeed be traced back, if anyone works hard enough on it.   You find out, of course, from your various spies, that the plan failed. How long do you wait before calling in the underling and chewing him out?

Originally,  I had scenes relating to this confrontation set days after the intended vic was “merely” in intensive care but might live.  But yesterday I thought, “No, Bossman isn’t going to wait that long.”  And then I thought “But maybe…”  I’m being tossed on the horns of that dilemma.  I’ve moved one of the scenes forward but in the midst of readying the second one…I had second thuoghts.  And third and fourth and fifth ones, too.   So…will he call in underling as soon as it’s clear X isn’t dead yet?  Or will he wait to see what underling does?

No promises that I’ll use the answer y’all come up with, but I might.

9 thoughts on “Question for the Group

  1. It depends if the tracing back is going to involve said underling. It might be prudent to quickly remove the underling rather than just chewing out… of course that might involve another trail and be harder to keep but that’s the typical plot as things escalate to keep the original deed undiscovered. So I ask myself if that’s the typical plot how do I avoid the escalation. Probably create a diversion – it depends what the stakes are – how much risk am I running by doing nothing, will taking some action in fact make it easier to trace the original. What price am I prepared to pay for the clean-up. Obviously I tried to remove the original nuisance relatively on the cheap – do I need to spend a lot more on professional (underworld) help and what will THAT cost me in direct outlay and making me more vulnerable to pressure from the underworld in the future. Lots of scope for nuanced thinking.

  2. First rule of assassination (or attempted assassination): kill the assassin. In this case, presumably, by obfuscating or eliminating any trace back to the “boss” but implicating an overzealous underling. I would also eliminate sooner rather than later because the longer things are left alone, the farther information will travel. It may also have motivational benefits; “pour encourager les autres”.

  3. I don’t think you wait at all. The problem (from your point of view) isn’t so much about whether plan succeeded or not but that the plan was traceable and that it may hurt the Family. The fact that it wasn’t successful makes the situation worse but even if the plan had been successful the Family was put at risk. I think you go after the underling as quickly as you know how badly the underling messed up. You gather the evidence, then bring in the underling and let them know that you know …

  4. Depends on the stakes. Really high? Jack Ruby shows up within 24 hours to tie up loose ends, even if the plot was a success. I mean, you don’t use your right-hand man to do the dirty deed, because the one who does the deed must be… expendable. Middling international embarrassment, as in a polonium pill plot against a nuisance? Meh, it lets everyone know not to ‘mess with the union’ — that kind of publicity isn’t all bad.

  5. If the Boss would do it quick and direct, then that’s what the Boss will do.


    If Underling knows he’s gonna be in deep poo, maybe he tries to keep the Boss from finding out, or claims that wasn’t his plan, or whatever he can do to delay the Boss’ response (to the point that it’s most useful to Story)?

    Oh, and it’s also possible Underling might scarper off, so it takes that long for the Boss to get him back.

  6. I have a couple of ideas on this.

    The first, is that you move when the opportunity presents itself. When a person is in a static environment, the options are limited. Once the person is moved form the hospital to a safe-house, or to another hospital, then all of the other chances will become available.

    However, what if the point was made. the person understands they got “too big for their britches”, and nothing else needs to be done. A what if, but sometimes a brush with death will change a person to a point where they will fall back in line. And they know this was supposed to be more than a warning and will be more permanent next time.

  7. “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest!” (King Henry II of England in 1170). That time X was killed, but far too publically.

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