Monthly Archives: April 2023
To read this serialized blog of A Relationship Beckons from the beginning, click here: Crisis Averted #1 . Then navigate to the next post using the links in the upper corners
The ceiling wavered like pond water disturbed by a tossed rock. It rippled outward from a single point in concentric waves. Luca tried to lift his head but was stopped by a spasm of dizziness and nausea brimming in his temples. Bile surged from his gut. He swallowed it and lowered his throbbing skull back onto the sofa cushion which felt like a block of concrete. Ever so gently and slowly, he rotated his eyes, taking in the room and trying to remember how the hell he’d ended up like this.
The coffee table was a post apocalyptic landscape of crushed beer cans, two shot glasses holding remnants of a clear liquid, several small pimples of a snow white powder dotted the glass top in a patina of fine dust. A pizza box lay toppled on the carpet its cardboard yawned revealing the remains of crusts and half-eaten triangles of baked dough. An ashtray lay at the center of the no-man’s land. A bunker of smoldering butts sending tendrils of blue smoke wafting toward the wavy ceiling. Beside that lay the wooden vessel lined with blue velvet in which rested the instrument of death.
Luca licked his lips and tasted bits of the anesthetic powder beneath his nose. A burgeoning headache was erupting behind his eyes. The acidic tang of vomit clung to the back of his throat. He rolled to his left and dropped from the sofa on the thick pile of carpet. Sucking in slow, deep breaths, he waited for the spinning to subside. Every movement was a Herculean achievement.
I’ve got to stop this, he whispered. The words sounded like a blasts of a fire alarm.
As he lay there, the vague conversation with an irritated Debra suddenly spoke to him. She’d placed the tracker on the bitch’s car. Now he would know where she was all the time. Why was Debra mad? There was something wrong. Even through his dense drug-induced befuddlement, Luca knew her words were curt and filled with disdain.
The capo managed to push himself to all fours in the narrow space between the coffee table and the sofa. He struggled to his feet and eventually pulled himself to a semi-erect posture. Shuffling toward the guest bathroom, he kicked the pizza box and the rigid wedges within re-organized themselves. It was then that he noticed that one foot was bare. The other still clothed by a sock half dangling over the toes. The naked foot revealed red dots of clotted injection sites between his toes which ached. The crack of breaking plastic under foot told him he’d stepped on the syringe. He studied his unadorned wrist. His Rolex was missing. What happened to his watch?
Eons later, he found the bathroom and flipped on the light. Daggers of white pain sliced through his brain. He closed his eyes and the intensity and the agony eased. Feeling for the toilet, he raised the seat, dropped his shorts and began urinating. The muted hiss told him he’d missed the bowl. Opening one eye, he re-adjusted and the yellow stream found its mark.
The bells of Notre Dame pealed jolting him. Quasimodo, the grotesque hunch-backed bell ringer was furiously tugging on the imaginary bell pull sending acoustic waves of agony through his ears. He finished his business and awkwardly zipped up. It was then that he realized the loud chimes were that of his own door bell, not some ancient cathedral in Paris. “Coming,” he moaned, struggling again to cover the distance. He sighed, preparing for another wave of vertigo then pulled open the with great care.
The emotionless face that stared back at him appeared to be Quasimodo himself. The dark blue eyes were set in cavernous sockets in a Neantherdalian skull beneath a protruding ridge of bushy black eyebrows. A wide scar cleaved the brow over the right eye. The crooked nose had been mashed by an unsympathetic God and possessed the angles of mountain road. The skin covering the whole bony, angular mug was scarred and resembled a pocked moonscape. The thick lips were pulled into a permanent sneer. The massive humanoid on his stoop seemed to block out the sun. Luca stared up at this behemoth momentarily dumbfounded. He moved his eyes to the neck and shoulders looking for signs of a hump. He found none.
The uncomfortable silence yawned for several moments. Luca moved his gaze back to the mountain’s butt-faced visage then Luca managed one pain-soaked word. “Yeah?”
“Big Tommy sent me,” the stranger growled in a rusty New York accent. The sunken eyes moved beneath the bony overhang and sized up Luca. “Get dressed. We got woik.”
“You Il Gigante?”
“Name’s Lorenzo Esposito.” He stepped closer. The stench of stale coffee, Tabasco and eggs hit Luca in the nose. “And don’t you forgit it.”
Debra’s butt had gone numb two hours ago after she’d sped away from the Caroline’s Williamsburg neighborhood. The all night vigil outside Luca’s ex’s house had been interrupted only by her quick three am excursion from the car to Caroline Clivio’s driveway where she’d quickly slipped under the chassis of her Escalade. She attached the tracker just inside the rear bumper. That four minute trek of nervous pulse pounding had been followed by more hours of monotony capped off by the gray-haired black man banging on her passenger window and threatening to call the police. He’d not said so. Not in so many words. But he’d made his intent clear.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the beep and flash on the app on her phone. The blinking icon on the map indicated the vehicle being tracked. She looked up. Caroline climbed out of her Escalade, circled the vehicle and extracted her son, Peter from his car seat. She led him by one hand toward the entrance of the Newport News law firm of Weedle and Chase. Debra had googled it moments ago. It was medium-sized firm dedicated to family law. Debra thought a moment. Caroline and Luca were already divorced. So why did she need the services of a family lawyer. In her opposite hand, Caroline carried a manila envelope.
Oh shit! She thought.
She’d answered Luca’s call earlier. His slurred and slow words told her everything she needed to know. He was high or drunk. Or both. And she hadn’t wanted to see or be near him right now. She was still pissed at him. He’d brought her to Big Tommy’s house for his meet with the Don. And she’d heard Luca’s boss give him an order to kill a member of the Gomez family.
Debra wasn’t naïve. She knew what Luca did. And she knew what Big Tommy did. There were criminals. It was exciting…dangerous. Debra liked the danger…the excitement. But it had gone too far. Murder. She wanted no part of it. She knew she needed to extract herself from this rabbit hole into which she had plunged. Her relationship with Luca was over. He just didn’t know it yet. And she did not have any clue as to how she would execute her escape. But when the opportunity arose, she would become a ghost.
-To Be Continued-
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