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Specifically in the context of the following sentence, from 燃え尽きた地図 (1967):

「おまけに、変に小才が効くから、余計にいけねえんだ。特に、飯場の連中に、ツケで飲み食いさせるようにしたのが、まずかったな。事務所の係長に、鼻薬をきかせたりしてよ、そのツケの代金を、給金から差っ引かせるようにしたんだな。」

「なるほど…」

「こんなところまで、出稼ぎに来て、なんの楽しみもありゃしねえ、ツケがきくとなりゃ、後で後悔するのは分かっていても、つい財布の紐が緩んでしまうって寸法さ。」

Background: The speaker is describing a low-level gangster who is running a shady group of unlicensed meal trucks near a large rural construction site.

I looked up 「つけ」 on zokugo-dict.com, but didn't find anything. Is he spiking the food with drugs, or what? Why does he have to bribe his superior back in the city to do it?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

つけ/ツケ is a regular word, not a slang one. I know exactly what it means but am not too sure how to say it in English. "Tab" maybe? You keep an account at your bar and pay monthly or something. The word comes from the verb [付]{つ}ける which means "to enter (numbers in an account)".

ツケがきく means you (are permitted to) keep a tab. きく=効く

Regarding the bribe, it is saying that the workers bribed the 事務所の係長 to have him negotiate with the bar so that the workers can keep a tab and have the company pay for it from their wages periodically.

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How did you know that it was the workers who bribed 係長 and not the lower gangster? –  Trevor Alexander Jan 3 at 21:54
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