As Amato dug up more info on Danny and Destiny, Jimmy was sitting in his cell with Leo when a group of correction officers appeared bringing back Anthony to his cell. Jimmy stood next to the door and leaned against it like he was looking in the opposite direction. He heard laughter erupt as Anthony joined his fellow cellmates and family members. Why were they allowed to be housed in the same cell? It wasn’t hard to guess that one of the guards was either screwing up on a massive level or was corrupt. It was no secret that some guards barely made livable wages. Their lack of compensation made them the weakest link in the prison system. As Jimmy strained to hear, he felt the breeze as several of the correctional officers quickly walked away. Once they disappeared, Jimmy heard someone say, “Did you tell em what we told ya?”
“Yeah.” Was the response. “They bought it, I think.”
“Good, we don’t need them knowing everything.”
Interested, Jimmy listened on, “Just make sure Danny and his bitch gets thrown under the bus.”
“Good riddance” Jimmy heard another person say.
“Yeah, sorry son of a bitch, at least he got Stephano and we didn’t have to start a war but Fenetti is still alive and she was part of the deal. Punk ass, can’t even kill a broad. I bet you if you gave Destiny that gun, she would’ve whacked ’em both.”
“Shame, we hired the wrong gun.”
Jimmy couldn’t believe what he was hearing, these guys weren’t Allunis, they were Cosimos! It all made sense, the Cosimos wanted revenge and so they went to Stephano’s second in command, Danny. They had it all wrong, Danny wasn’t gunning for his boss’s position, the Alunni wouldn’t have tolerated the betrayal. Instead, Danny had joined the other team! Jimmy had to get out of there and warn Amato. However, before he could do that, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, his cellmate charging right towards him and before he could react, Jimmy was knocked unconscious. As his limp body lay on the floor, all hope for Cassie was lost.
As Cassie’s life hung in the balance, Amato was turning up the heat on the thugs they arrested in the bistro raid. To his surprise they brought in a familiar face, and it was just the thing this case needed. Anthony Vello, was a mob associate with no loyalties, in essence, he was a rat and not a very smart one. Anthony used to loan shark, and steal for his bosses but he got caught up too many times in the system. It did something to him, he wasn’t the hardass he used to be. Prison will do that to a man, and now that he was pushing his fifties, he was most likely terrified of doing time. Amato personally watched as members of the Cosimo family would refer to him as Big Pussy, that character from the Sopranos. It had to irk him a little if not, infuriate Anthony, after all, he took many for the team. Amato wondered, if he would still protect his bosses? There was only one way to find out, leaning back in his chair, Amato, began the interrogation, “State your name for the record.”
Crossing his arms, he said, “Ant-nee Vello”
“Mr. Vello, have you been informed as to why you’re here?”
“Yeah, they said summin’ bout a murder.” Anthony answered then began laughing.
“Mr. Vello, what’s so funny?”
Trying to straighten his face, Anthony answered, “U’s guys, are trying to set us up.”
“Mr. Vello I can assure you no one here is trying to set you up.”
“Oh yeah, then how come that bitch Destiny ain’t here wit us?”
“Destiny who?” asked Amato.
Now he was getting somewhere, intrigued Amato asked, “Does this Destiny have a last name?”
“I don’t remember, they said she used to do tricks at the Sapphire Club on 9th. Damn shame, she told Stephano she was some sort of model. Pfft.” He said rolling his eyes and chuckling, “She had him hypnotized or summin’.” Taking notes, Amato was going to be sure to look this up in the database. If what Anthony was saying was true, this Destiny chick had to have been booked for prostitution at some point, but that was only if he was telling the truth.
Amato had reason to believe that Anthony was only playing the game, just to keep his head above water. There was so much more that he knew and was part of but Amato had to stay focused, Cohen said he wanted answers and so he was going to get them. “Who else is working with Destiny?” he asked.
“Dunno.” Anthony answered.
“Bullshit!” Amato said after rolling his eyes. “If you think I’m gonna believe that some stripper is shot calling you’re out of your mind.”
“Believe what you wanna, I said enough.” And he was right, Anthony threw Amato enough crumbs to distance himself from the murder charges. Hell, at this point he couldn’t even get him on conspiracy charges. So Amato pushed, “It’s common knowledge that women aren’t allowed in the mob.”
Not impressed with Amato, Anthony said, “What can I say, it’s a new day.”
Losing his patience Amato growled “Who called the hit?”
“I dunno.” “So you’re taking orders from ‘dunno’. Amato said shrugging his shoulders in an over exaggerated way. “Come Anthony, you can do better than that.”
“Can I have a lawyer?” Anthony said, ending the interview. It was like a bucket of cold water for a detective but he wasn’t a cop, he was an agent and agents had more leeway when interviewing suspects. “Okay, Anthony you can see a lawyer but these processing papers are tricky for us to hang on to. You know what I mean?” Confused Anthony just looked on while Amato started packing up his things. “If something were to happen to these papers, well, nobody’s gonna know where to put you in the jail.” This was a vague threat and Anthony didn’t take it lightly. If he ended up in the wrong cell block that could mean death. His brother was killed while being processed at Ricker’s Island. As he stood in line waiting to be given his bedding and toiletries, he was stabbed in the neck by a Cosimo who just happened to be in the next line. “God damit, it ain’t never enough for u’s. What more do you want?”
“No you didn’t.”
After that the only sound in the room was the buzzing from the clock on the wall. Amato noticed Anthony breathing really hard as he struggled to stay loyal to his boss. Fixated on his face, Amato watched the anguish of a man who had to finally stand on his own. No bosses, no crew, no help. As his walls shattered, Anthony covered his face with his hands and took a deep breath, “If I say anything, I want immunity.”
“I swear, if you give us the boss, you won’t have to face the death penalty.”
“Aiight, Danny Marchesi, ordered the hit on Stephano and Cassandra.”
Standing up, Amato said in his most professional voice, “Thank you for your cooperation in our investigation, I’ll be sending you back to holding until we work something out with the DA.” Seeing Anthony’s body almost deflate as he realized what he was really doing, Amato repeated his promise, “If you testify, you will most likely be put in witness protection and you won’t have to worry about retaliation.” Not like it mattered to him, the life that Anthony knew before was over, no matter how things turned out. Amato couldn’t bring any comfort to him because there wasn’t anything he could do. All he could do right now was find Danny and Destiny before they carried out their hit. That’s if they didn’t do it already. Amato knew the pressure was on both Danny and Destiny to flee New York and they were most likely heading off to some country without an extradition treaty. No matter how he looked at it, time was running out for Cassie.
As Cassie tried to fight her way back to consciousness, she forced herself to open her eyes. When she did a shooting pain griped the left side of her head. She moaned in agony and writhed in pain in the chair. Taking a deep breath, she found it hard to inhale because of a broken nose. Tilting her head just a bit made her see stars from the concussion she received when she hit the concrete floor of the basement. It took a long while for her to get her bearings, but when she did she recognized exactly where she was. Cassie also remembered who was responsible for her current predicament. Even in her weakened state, her first thought was revenge. At least the beatdown didn’t kill her spirit even though it was slowly killing her body. She forced herself to not focus on the pain, instead, throwing all her mental energy into figuring out an escape. Things didn’t look good for her, they had zip tied both arms and legs to a chair and duct tape was fixed across her mouth. She couldn’t make a sound, let alone move, which was going to make escaping difficult at best. The only thing she could hope for right now was for Amato and the Feds to swoop in and rescue her but that was unlikely. Law enforcement was always a day late and a dollar short when it came to these sorts of things. She never thought in a million years that she would prefer jail to a bullet in the head but she had something to live for. Now it was up to her mentally challenged heroes in blue to find her and save her.
The more she thought about it, the more hopeless it felt. Her arms were beginning to feel numb from the lack of circulation and a part of her wanted this to all be over with. As her thoughts turned dark, Cassie wondered was there a special prayer you were supposed to say before you were murdered? The Catholics always had a saint for everything stemming from; illness, employment, and even betrayal. She remembered her father having a medallion of St. John of the Cross, who was the patron saint of betrayals. Though he rarely went to church, he took the whole saints and angels thing seriously. He had medallions and even prayer books all dedicated to the saints. What was the point, Cassie asked her brain which brought up the memory? None of this brought any comfort to Cassandra who felt like the clock was ticking away. What if this was her time? Well she thought. at least she went down fighting like a soldier in a war where the enemies and battlefield were always changing. It was a miracle she lasted this long. Yet there was still a piece of her that wanted to live just to stick it to her enemies.
Meanwhile in the old townhouse that Stephano shared with Destiny, she and Danny were putting the final touches on their soirée. With only their most loyal soldiers, their crew was cut down to size after the Fed raid. Danny promised them if anyone got caught up in the Fed’s net, he would spring them from jail. It was a promise he had no intention of keeping, because after this live execution, he and Destiny were leaving the country. They would have no choice, he knew they wouldn’t be popular after this stunt. Though he was dead, Stephano still commanded respect and his loyalists would make sure to take out his killers. It had to be known by now that he was one of the gunmen. The Alunni had their own people placed in the all of the major police precincts and were probably already shining up their guns for retribution. His mistake was not getting full support when he did the deed. That was his own fault for letting Destiny pressure him into making a move that he wasn’t ready for.
He was going to have to lay down the law when the coast cleared, he couldn’t have some chick bossing him around. When this was all said and done, he would have one less enemy at his back. Whatever happened, this had to work or they would both be dead. Fenetti was too dangerous to let live. She took down the Cosimos and they are still reeling from her betrayal. It was unlikely they would ever recover. “Hey! Snap outta of it!” Destiny yelled from across the room. Embarrassed that he had been caught daydreaming, he yelled right back, “What?”
“I set up the cameras, and the chairs.”
Looking at his right hand man Tommy, he nodded his head and ol’ Tommy was off to the bedroom where they had Casssie tied up. She was carried, right to the chair in front of the camera.
Clapping her hands, Destiny was as giddy as a school girl with a new vibrator. “This is perfect, I sent out the invites, I hope enough people show.”
“Look babe,” Danny began, “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”
“Don’t you dare, we agreed!” she snapped while sticking her acrylic nail in his face, “I helped you, now it’s your turn to return the favor.”
“Alright, but you’d better hurry this up, if they catch up with us, we’re as good as dead.”
“We’ll be fine,” she said glaring at him, “Grow a set.” And with that she left the room while Danny burned with embarrassment. This was the second time she had disrespected him in front of his crew and she was going to have to pay for that. Maybe he would leave her at the border when he fled? He smiled at the idea but kept his mouth shut. He couldn’t trust anyone with his real plans. Heck, he didn’t even really know what those plans were yet. He had a private plane all gassed up and ready to go anywhere in the world but first he had to finish Fenetti. Later on, he’d deal with Destiny.
When they got to the station downtown, they were allotted an interrogation room to conduct business. Before they started on their first suspect, Jimmy disappeared to do his part in the investigation. As the officers brought in their first suspect, Amato watched as they cuffed him to the chair. After he was settled, Amato began to read his file aloud in front of him, “Gianvanni Polenzi, 53, Brooklyn Heights. Says here; burglary, armed robbery, assault, and attempted murder which you are still awaiting trial. Tisk, tisk.” Throwing the file on the conference table, he sat up in his chair and looked him dead in the eye and said, “I’m not gonna bullshit you, if you aren’t careful, you’ll be putting yourself right in the middle of a murder investigation. You don’t want that, considering you’re already about to be put on trial for another murder. You see, judges and juries don’t like psychopaths.” Gianvanni rolled his eyes in front of him, pissing off Amato. “Look shit stain, I’m gonna find out where your boss is and when I do, I’ll be sure to send you all first class to hell.” Not impressed, Gianvanni stared at him, defiant and silent.
As Amato was going through the proper channels, Jimmy was going the alternate route and suiting up to go undercover in the holding area. Using his tools of the trade, he went to what was called, the green room, an area where officers went to transform themselves, kind of like a Hollywood dressing room. Inside were wigs, prosthetics, and makeup. Having decided on a more ethnic look, Jimmy grabbed a kufi, a type of headwear which some Muslims used as a sign of persecution. He has worn this disguise before so the jailers and some of the regular inmates would be familiar with him. He needed that credibility. The mafiosos he was dealing with were old hats and could smell a cop a mile away. If they were suspicious, that could put his life in danger. He had heard stories of undercovers being stabbed in the neck, and one being thrown from a second story floor and onto a commissary area. He wasn’t gonna let that happen to him. So he put the kufi on his head, and began his transformation into someone who could blend in seamlessly. As he looked into the mirror he saw his face was missing something, and so gave himself a scar on the left cheek. When he was done, he looked different enough to move through the jail population without setting off any alarms. All he had to do was put on his baggy, hunter green pants and white t-shirt and he was all set. When he was done, Jimmy signaled for one of the rookies to escort him to his new abode, next to the Alunni thugs and began surveillance.
As the door slid open, Jimmy noticed he would be cohabitating with another inmate. He was a scruffy, and thin tattooed man. Studying his face, Jimmy ascertained that he was in his forties or late thirties. His face looked worn and the gang tattoos didn’t help him look any younger or healthier. As soon as the door slammed behind him, Jimmy began unpacking, “Whaddaya in for?” asked the tattooed man. “Armed robbery,” Jimmy answered. “Oh yeah, note or gun?” the man asked. This was a way inmates tested newbies, it was their way to gauge how dangerous an individual was. It was also for bragging rights. The more violent the crime, the more impressive you seemed. Although Jimmy wasn’t looking to be a seen as a serial killer, he also didn’t want to be seen as a punk, so he answered, “Gun.” Unfurling his sheets and blanket, Jimmy began making his bed while the man continued checking him out. “What crew ya ride wit?”
“Me, myself and I,” Jimmy responded.
The man laughed at the response and said, “Betta watch out, the fools up in here are all cliqued up.”
“Yeah?” Jimmy asked.
“Yep, they dropped off two mafia dudes next door a few hours ago.”
As he tucked in the sheets and blanket, he declared, “I just mind my own damn business and do my time. I’ll be okay, this ain’t my first rodeo.”
Intrigued the man asked, “So you an OG (original gangster), huh?”
Snickering, Jimmy smiled then said, “Yeah, I’m a veteran.”
“What’s your name?”
“Leo, like the lion.”
“Okay Leo, what’s the deal with these mafia dudes?”
“Dunno maaaan,” he said looking rather uncomfortable.
Jimmy figured, he wasn’t be truthful but if he was going to get the truth from him he needed to earn Leo’s trust. But how was he going to make that happen? His answer came twenty minutes later when the guards started delivering dinner straight to the cells. Since most of the inmates on the cell block were considered the worst of the worst, they had to eat inside their cells. They were too dangerous to have running around free, however, the drug addicts, dealers and thieves were allowed to have dinner outside their cells.
When Jimmy got his meal, he had no clue what it was. Inspecting it with the plastic fork, he cut a small piece off and sniffed it. “What the hell is this?” Jimmy exclaimed at something grey covered in a thin brown sauce. “It’s Salisbury steak.”
“You shitting me?”
“Nah man, it ain’t that bad, all ya gotta do is dip it in your mash potatoes and it cancels the whole thing out.”
Even though he was starving, Jimmy wasn’t that hungry and so he offered his tray to his new cellie. Without even looking, Leo grabbed it and placed the tray next to his on the bed and continued chowing down. Jimmy wasn’t sure if he was an addict or homeless by the way he ate. Since he was gaunt looking, Jimmy assumed addict, so he began to casually ask questions. “So Leo, what are you in for?”
“Like you, armed robbery.”
However, Jimmy wasn’t buying it, “Yeah, bank or store?”
“Neither, I robbed some old bitch in front of the 7-twelve.”
That sounded like a junkie move but Jimmy didn’t say anything, he needed Leo to like him, like him enough to talk to him. Continuing the conversation, Jimmy asked, “Gun or knife?”
“Nope, copper pipe.” He said talking with his mouth full. As he took a sip of his little milk, he began laughing, “That old bag didn’t see it coming. I mean WHACK!” he said while reenacting the crime, “She was on her ass before she knew what was going on.” Jimmy felt the hairs on his neck stand up when he realized Leo was a psychopath. Faintly, he laughed right along with Leo and even encouraged him, “I bet she was shocked as shit?”
“Yep. And funny thing is, she kinda looked like my aunt Ronnie.” He said loudly as tiny particles of food flew out of his mouth. This wasn’t going to be pretty, if he was going to get Leo to talk, he needed to get on his level. It was quite a distance to stoop but Leo didn’t seem all that dangerous—now. If Jimmy could keep him entertained, he knew he could get Leo to spill any secrets he may have. Boredom and a personality disorder were things he could work with, he was an awesome interrogator, all Jimmy needed was an angle.
As Jimmy was wondering about his next move, two guards appeared next door and announced that they were taking both inmates to homicide. Homicide? This was confusing to Jimmy, was Fenetti dead?
When help began arriving, Jimmy briefed both the agents and police on weapons, as well as the layout of the building and the amount of people in the building. As they were devising a plan to raid the building and rescue Cassandra, Cohen, finally arrived to take charge or at least pretend to. Jimmy kept his mouth shut as he watched Einstein repeat what was said by the senior officers all while acting like it was his idea. Feeling the effects of the taser, Jimmy assumed the adrenaline was finally wearing off. His head hurt and his ribs ached every time he took a deep breath. Determined to see this mission through, he sucked it up, he wasn’t about to let Cohen screw any of this up. If he so much as saw him going left, Jimmy would be there to knock him back right.
Just as these thoughts entered his head he saw out of the corner of his eye, a white Kia. “Oh thank God,” Jimmy said out loud. Finally, he didn’t feel so alone. Seeing Amato’s face as he pulled up and park three cars down, Jimmy went up to meet him. As he got to the car he noticed the gentleman in the back. “I’ll fill you in later,” he said before Jimmy could even ask. Seeing Amato, Special Agent Cohen marched right toward him, “I thought I dismissed you, Agent,” he declared.
“Yeah, about that” Amato said closing the door to the Kia, “I ran into someone really interesting”. Walking right past Cohen, he went up to an old grizzly vet from the force, and asked him to keep an eye on the suspect in the backseat. “What are you doing?” Agent Cohen asked rather annoyed.
“I’m about to go into enemy territory,”
“No, you’re not!”
“We’re going to wait on SWAT to raid the building, capture Fenetti, and whatever else is crawling around in that cesspool.”
“It’ll take forever for SWAT to show, you know that, that’s why I have my little passport right here,” he said pointing to Devon, the man in the back seat.
“I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing but you’re not going in there!”
“Cohen, the suspect has offered to assist in our investigation and can literally get us in the front door.” The sergeant in charge heard the argument between Amato and Cohen, and his interest was piqued.
“No! We’re doing it my way!” Cohen insisted. However, when the sergeant glared at him, Cohen had to change his tune. The police were the ones who would have to approach and breech, not the FBI. Cohen may have been in charge of the manhunt but he wasn’t in charge of anything else. This became abundantly clear when the Sergeant called all his officers together and began to ask for some spare vests. Handing them to Amato, he in turn offered his gratitude. Going back over to his car, he opened the back door and handed the other vest to Devon. As Amato uncuffed him, he instructed Devon to put it on under his shirt and to zip his hoodie. Amato in turn put his vest on and buttoned up his jacket then put his gun in his front pocket. While he dressed, Jimmy briefed him on the best place to enter and where exactly the basement was.
When he was done, Amato slapped Jimmy on the shoulder and saw him wince. “Get checked out, Jimbo.”
“Thanks mom, but I got some unfinished business first.”
Smiling, Amato turned around and signaled for Devon to step out of the car. He wasn’t afraid of Devon running away because he had over a dozen officers with guns waiting to pounce if he tried anything shady. Nobody was in the mood to screw around. “Come on Devon, time’s a wasting.” Amato said while several officers and agents began to circle the neighborhood to block off the bistro. Once Amato and Devon were in, they would block off the street and sidewalk. Beads of sweat began pouring down Devon’s face. Amato tried to calm him down and said, “You don’t have to do anything but get me through the front door, after that, you can walk away.”
“Aiiight.” Devon responded.
Knowing that the Alunnis would be guarding this place like a pack of wolves after Jimmy’s escape, Amato, knew he had to play it cool. Paranoia and gangster didn’t go well together. That’s why every cop car and law enforcement officer stayed out of sight forming a net around the block. Amato would have to approach the building without any protection outside of his vest. If he was having seconds thoughts, it was already too late because within two minutes they were right at the door of Matteo’s Bar & Bistro. When Devon hesitated, Amato nudged him with his shoulder. Slowly, Devon extended his hand and wrapped twice on the door. Immediately, the antique wooden door opened and an old man’s head popped out. Devon made up some story about needing to see Danny and before you knew it, the door swung wide open.
Stepping inside, Amato looked around and noticed the place was deserted. There was no indication that there was anything unusual going on, no goons, no guns, no nothing. Going over to a corner booth, Amato sat down with Devon and gave him his walking papers, “Okay Devon, you did your job, now beat it.” Without a word, Devon got up and left the bistro before anything jumped off. When the old guy finally disappeared, Amato got up and started snooping around. If caught, he would simply say he was looking for the men’s room. As Amato went towards the kitchen, he noticed a hallway to his left and so naturally, he followed it. The carpet was a taupe color and on it, was what appeared to be blood stains. Instinctively, he reached for his gun and knelt down to see the blood was fresh. “Jesus!” Amato said quietly. Following the trail, he was led to a door much like the one Jimmy described and when he opened it, he saw the stairs leading down. He had found the basement. Though he didn’t want to, he followed it all the way down and found it completely empty. No Cassie, and more importantly, no Danny. Getting on his phone, he called Cohen, “They’re gone” he said, disappointed.
As soon as he reported back, the cops did their job and swarmed the joint.
The police did a sweep of the building nonetheless as Amato, and Jimmy stood in the basement astonished that the Alunni moved so quickly. “They might be a small crew, but they’re good.” Amato said. “Too good,” Jimmy said, “I was gone for less than a half hour and they picked up and found another location, right under our noses.”
“Sounds like they had a plan B.” Amato answered. Stomping down the stairs with his gray trench coat flapping in the wind, Cohen yelled, “How the hell did this happen?”
“They must’ve got the drop on us somehow,” Amato replied.
“I want answers and I want them on my desk before the end of the day.”
A police officer interrupted their discussion, “Excuse me Special Agent Cohen, what do you want us to do with the suspects we found on the property?”
“Take ‘em downtown and hold ‘em.”
Taking their cue, Amato and Jimmy followed the cops to their cruisers and saw there were about 4 men, all of them middle aged and unlikely to be of any help. These guys had been in the game too long, and both Jimmy and Amato knew they were hardcore gangsters. They wouldn’t give anything up even with the threat of prison. Nonetheless, they had to try and so off they went downtown to get answers.
“Hey Cassie, ya alright?” Jimmy asked softly. When he got no response, it concerned him. That’s when he really started to fight in order to free himself. Using the prong in his belt, he started to slowly began to feel for the pins in the lock. One by agonizing one, they clicked until the shackle popped at the top of the lock. It was a miracle, he slid out from under his chains and made his way to Cassie. She was bleeding from the head and was starting to make gurgling sounds as if she was aspirating on her own blood. It didn’t seem to him that she was going to make it to Destiny’s public execution party. He had to get help but in order to do that, he was going to have to leave. Jimmy didn’t have any doubt in his mind that he could pull it off but he didn’t know if she would be alive when he came back? Fate didn’t hand him a good hand in this situation but he knew he had to get out, so he began to prepare himself for escape.
Taking his belt he wrapped it around his hand, placing his middle finger through the metal buckle. It was now a crude set of brass knuckles. He saw inmates do this kind of stuff in prisons. To even the odds, he took Cassie’s belt too and connected the lock to the buckle. He could now use it like a pair of nunchucks. He was no Bruce Lee but he knew how to inflict damage with his new makeshift weapons. He pitied whoever he hit, because he was gonna do damage. He already began coming up with various scenarios in his head as to how this was going to go down. As he mustered up the courage to head off to war, he wondered if he lost, would they ever find his body?
Slowly, he crept up the basement and made it to the door, which was unlocked. Destiny and Danny must of forgot to lock it and that was mistake number one. Quietly, he peeked his head out of the door, and looked up and down the hallway. There was nobody around, was this a setup? He never knew the mob to be so messy, when they kidnapped someone, they usually killed them immediately. There was little mercy and little tolerance for showboating. He knew that once the other families heard about Danny’s plan there would be consequences, the old school didn’t like attention. And they didn’t tolerate soldiers crossing the line and killing their bosses and installing themselves as king. Was this why Danny was riding with such a small crew? It didn’t matter Jimmy told himself, he had to get through this alive and well enough to make it back home. Stealthy, he emerged from the door and closed it quietly behind him. He saw a bright light in the north part of the building, avoiding it, he went south. He didn’t want any confrontation if possible. When he got to the end of the hall, he stood still with his knucks ready but again there was no one to be found. What the hell was going on he thought to himself?
Proceeding into the kitchen he found himself alone and figured the staff of the bistro were sent home while Boris and Natasha executed their evil plan. Seeing a door, Jimmy bolted towards it and spent a good thirty seconds unlocking the latches and chains. Within in moments he was outside and he took off southbound towards a tiny alleyway. Picking up the pace, he got further and further until he almost got to the corner, when a fat guy emerged from nowhere. Jimmy knew he had to get the drop first before the guy knew what was going on so he didn’t break his stride and went straight at the guy. When he was at arm’s length, Jimmy saw the guy reach into his waistband, so lunged himself at the guy, hitting him with his belt. With all the might he could muster he directed the belt, lock and all at the guy’s face. The surprise attack had the guy flat on his behind and Jimmy jumped on top of him trying to wrestled the gun out of his hand. It was fast and brutal, Jimmy had no mercy on the poor bastard. He had him beaten within seconds and his reward was a shiny new gun. Looking around, he saw no one in sight except a homeless lady digging through the dumpster at the corner. Casually as he could, Jimmy crossed the street all the while keeping his eyes peeled for anymore Alunni surprises.
With his heart racing, and the adrenaline still flowing Jimmy found the nearest public space which was a furniture store. There, he startled the cashier who thought the store was being robbed. He had to explain that he was a cop and needed to use the phone, handing over her cell, she threw it on the counter, still not trusting his story. When she saw he called 911, her opinion changed. He asked to be transferred to the department’s dispatch and gave the code words: Tom & Jerry. Immediately, he was patched through to one of the local dispatchers and when she answered, Jimmy requested to be put through to his supervisor and gave another code word: Argos. Within seconds he was on the phone with Agent Cohen who was at the office seeing over the manhunt.
“This better be good, I’m in the middle of an impor..”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re busy!”
“Glad you noticed,”
“Where the hell are you? We’ve been…” Before Cohen could get the rest of the sentence out, Jimmy began talking over him, “Never mind, I was captured by the Alunnis with Fenetti.” “What?!?” exclaimed Cohen.
“Bring backup to Matteo’s Bar & Bistro and bring a bus.”
“Are you hurt?”
“No, but Fenetti is.”
“Alright, I’ll be there in a..” At that point Jimmy just hung up, he had neither the time, nor the patience, to deal with Cohen. He had been through enough without having to play nice with someone he couldn’t respect. For Jimmy this was just another bad day at the office and the future held no promise that it would get any better.
Stopping in his tracks, he recognized the voice, “Fenetti, is that you?”
Looking over her shoulder, Cassandra glared at Jimmy and moaned again, “Shiiit!”
“Nice to see ya too, bitch!”
“Fuck off!” she yelled as the room swirled around her.
“Not fucking with you period,” Jimmy said as he continued trying to pick his lock.
“What the hell is going on?” she demanded to know.
“We’re about to be butchered because of you,” he answered her.
“I didn’t have anything to do with this!” she exclaimed.
“If you weren’t such a shady bitch, me and Amato wouldn’t have been running all over this town looking for your dank ass.”
“Keep talking troll and I’ll shove my foot straight up your ass.”
“Bring it Princess!”
“Oh the language!” A loud nasaly voice said. Shocked, they both looked up and heard footsteps coming down the basement steps.
Though her instincts told her to run and hide, Cassie didn’t. Instead she awkwardly stood up to meet her fate as Jimmy could only look on. Slowly from the staircase emerged none other than Destiny Van Holsten, Stephano’s ex wife. The sight of her made Cassie sick to her stomach and she began to feel just as bad she did before. Nonetheless she fought the urge to not tremble, Cassie would not allow this woman the satisfaction of intimidating her. If this was the end, then she was determined to die with a little dignity.
Walking towards Cassie, Destiny’s black and white sheath dress made her look terribly out of place in a situation like this. Behind her, was her new benefactor/boyfriend, Danny Marchesi. Immediately Cassie demanded to know, “What the hell is this?”
“A celebration silly, tonight we celebrate the life of Stephano Rimaldi while his fiance tragically disappears.” Destiny answered.
“Tisk, tisk, you were always irresponsible Cassandra,” Danny snickered, “But not showing up to your own fiance’s wake, that’s disappointing.”
Being mocked by dumb and dumber made Cassie seethe and she lunged at Destiny but luckily for her, Danny grabbed her by her hair and pulled her back just a few feet out of range from Destiny. That didn’t stop Cassie from spitting on her, which is right when she felt a carefully manicured hand slapping her across the face. Like a sick threesome, the two got off on torturing Cassie knowing that her beloved could do nothing. As Cassie was restrained by zip ties and held by her hair, Danny looked over at Jimmy and said, “It’s gotta hurt to see the one you risked everything for getting gutted.” It was then Jimmy realized they thought he was Agent Amato, knowing there was a way to save Cassie, he said, “I think you got this all twisted. I ain’t her boyfriend.”
Putting her pimp hand down, Destiny walked over to Jimmy and looked really hard at him. “Holy shit, Danny, you got the wrong guy!”
“Don’t listen to him, he’ll say anything to trick us.”
“No, he’s not the guy I saw in the newspapers. He wasn’t this small.”
“Hey, who the hell you callin’ small, Barbie?”
“Oh shut up, Frodo!” Destiny said with disdain.
“Damn it! I knew I should’ve checked before we pounced,” Danny lamented, “At least we got her,” he said yanking again on Cassie’s hair.
“Yeah, two outta three ain’t bad, but still it would’ve been nice to kill her while he watched. The fact that he’s a fed just makes it yummy.” She said laughing like a psychopath.
Taking his gun out of his waistband, Danny put the barrel to Cassie’s head and looked at Destiny, “You want the honor?”
Taking the gun from him, Destiny surprised everyone when she pistol whipped Cassie instead. “Wish I could do it now, but she’s the entertainment.” Lifting up Casssie’s head with her index finger, she explained, “We’re inviting everyone here tonight to watch the great Cassandra Fenetti get capped in the face. We’re even live streaming it on social media.” As Cassie’s face began to bruise, Destiny added insult to injury, “I would tell you to clean up and get yourself together but what would be the point?” As soon as those words left her mouth, Cassie headbutted her, knocking Destiny right on her ass. Though he didn’t mean to, Jimmy snickered and had to conceal his amusement at the events unfolding.
It was no laughing matter however when Danny unleashed several punches to Cassie’s face. Unlike Destiny though, Cassie continued to stand upright and took the punishment. Outraged, Destiny kicked Cassie in the knee all the while shrieking, “You think we’re playing?” As Cassie grunted in pain, she was down to one knee that’s when Danny went in for the final blow punching her in the temple. Cassie collapsed in a heap on the floor still restrained and remarkably quiet for someone getting the stuffing beat out of her. Disturbed by what he was seeing Jimmy yelled, “Hey! You made your point, back the fuck off!” This enraged Danny who wasn’t done dolling out punishment. He took the gun off the floor and was stopped by Destiny who said, “No! He could be a bargaining chip.” Stroking Danny’s face, she explained, “He’ll be useless dead.”
Looking back at Cassie, who was unconscious Destiny growled, “Fenetti, on the other hand is dead.”
Signaling him, while she fixed her messy hair, Destiny said, “Come on, we got a party to plan.” Relieved that it was over, Jimmy watched as they slithered up the stairs and back to whatever pit they crawled out of.
Not knowing what to do, he went downstairs to ask and was met by the little girl he met outside in the chicken coop. “Hi Oscar! Why ain’t you in school with the other boys?” Lilly asked. Shrugging his shoulders, he answered, “I’m going tomorrow.”
“Good,” she said, “We don’t need anymore stupid boys in this place.”
“What about you? Why aren’t you in school?” Oscar asked curiously.
“I don’t need it, I’m already smart.” She declared.
Not believing her, he said, “Nuh uh, everybody has to go to school, Miss Mary said so.”
“She’s not the boss of me!”
“Oooh,” Oscar exclaimed, “You a devil child!”
“A what?” Lilly asked, rather dismayed.
“My momma used to say when a girl wasn’t right, she was a devil child.”
“That’s silly! If I’m a devil, then you’re a devil too!”
Resisting the label, Oscar declared, “Nope! I’m saved by the Lord, and one of his sheep.”
“You look more like a goat to me!”
“Baaah!” Oscar bleeted, having finished his closing argument.
Not quite sure what to make of him, Lilly began walking away and said, “Just another stupid boy.”
The sound of little girls giggling and playing a hand clapping game could be heard all the way up to Old Man Oscar’s porch: “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack…All dressed in black, black, black….She wore her buttons all down her back, back, back…”
“Whacha know ‘bout Miss Mary?” said the old man rocking while the children clapped along. Looking at him one of the little girls answered, “It’s just a song, there’s no Miss Mary!”
“Girl hush! I tell y’all it’s true, there was a Miss Mary and she used to run that ol’ orphanage near LaGrange road.”
Thinking these were just the ramblings of an old man, the girls continued to play on. Meanwhile a skeptical little boy asked, “Oh yeah, how come I ain’t never heard of no Miss Mary?” Seeing a little bit of himself in the boy, the old man answered, “Befo’ yo time boy.” As he slowly rocked back and forth in his chair, the memories began flooding back. Having caught their attention the children came closer to the porch. Noticing he had an audience, the old man took a knife to a scar on his arm and pointed, “You see that there, those is boins (burns) I got fo eating befo’ sayin’ Grace. She grabbed a lit candle stick and just pressed it into my arm like it whattin nuthin’.” The children gasped in horror and now that the old man had their undivided attention, he felt obligated to finish what he had started.
Chocking up as he remembered the dust from old dirt road that led up to the ancient manor. Old man Oscar pulled on his collar feeling the blazing Alabama sun as he recalled the hard labor he was forced to do for the demanding matron, Miss Mary. Finding it hard to breathe, he began to take deep breaths as his hands shook, from the trauma at the hands of that unforgiving serpent. Hearing the sound of her leather strap as it whipped in the air before making contact with his skin, he had no choice but to take another sip of gin from his flask so he wouldn’t lose his composure in front of the children who were now demanding to know who this Miss Mary was.
Unlike most people old Man Oscar, considered the memory loss that old age bestowed upon him a blessing for a hard and sorrowful life. He had lost so many friends, and family over his 70 years, but it seemed God himself would not allow Oscar to completely forget Miss Mary, so reluctantly, he began the tale…
He was around 8 years old when his mother brought him to the orphanage ran by the First Apostle Church of Morecliff Hills. As she led him up the stairs Oscar’s mother promised, “Now, don’t fret I’ll be back for ya. This is only for a little while.” When they reached the top of the final step of the porch, she hugged him. Holding on tightly Oscar pulled on her blue cotton shawl, tears streamed down his mother’s eyes as she instructed him, “Now you be good for Miss Mary, she’s gonna take care of ya.” As on cue, a woman appeared from the porch door, as though summoned by all the sadness. Clad in a black dress covering all her flesh, the woman looked like a ghost emerging from the shadows. Peering down at Oscar she asked, “The people ‘roun here call me Miss Mary, what’s your name?” as though she didn’t already know. What little Oscar didn’t understand was that this arrangement had been in the works for almost a year. Though Oscar’s mother promised to be back, Miss Mary knew she wouldn’t, most parents never returned. A few guilty ones might write a few letters but eventually, all contact would cease. This was why Miss Mary felt it was important to build a rapport with the children in the beginning to make the transition easier so she smiled and spoke sweetly to the young boy to keep him calm as his mother walked out of his life.
Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person. 😉