Friday Night – an excerpt from The Good Girl

“Pilot to bombadier. Come in bombadier. Pete! You awake in there?”

Pietro Manetti looked up from his comic book and frowned.

“I’m ready,” he announced to the burley little man scowling at him.

“Coulda fooled me,” Dino scowled. “Reading that crap will rot your brain. What do you think? We’re gonna use x-ray vision to figure out where he put it?”

“Go easy on him, Dino,” Uncle George interrupted. “He’s a kid. ‘Sides, we only need him to watch the door. It’s not like he’s gonna be in the room with us.”

“Giorgio, if he wasn’t Maria’s boy, I’d have put a bullet in his head already,” Dino spat. “Lookit ‘im. He’s a daydreamer. Nose in a funny book when he should be looking for heat. Last time I had to babysit someone like this, I lost three good friends, and the little fucker got himself arrested and nearly took us all down with him. That’s not gonna happen again, you got me?”

“Of course not, Dino,” George replied. “Pete’s a little wet behind the ears, but he’s a smart boy. He’ll make good. Won’t you, boy?”

Pete stashed his comic book in his inside jacket pocket and nodded firmly to his uncle.

Dino turned to Pete and pointed his finger menacingly into his face.

“Listen, kid. I agreed to bring you along because your old man was a friend of mine. But if you screw this up, I’ll take you down to the docks and drown you like a bag of sick puppies. Capice?”

“Yes, Dino. I won’t screw up,” Pete assurred him with what he hoped was the most sincere expression he could muster.

Dino had been a childhood hero of his, but it wasn’t the first time he’d heard the man voice disapproval of him. He hadn’t wanted to be dragged along for this, but his uncle was determined to mold him into his father’s son.

And deep down, he wanted to earn Dino’s respect. He was surprised how much it meant to him, considering the fact that he was pretty sure Dino had been trying to make time with his mother even before papa had died.

Pete gently patted the almost painfully solid shape of the gun stashed in his jacket pocket. He hoped to God he wouldn’t have to use it, but he swore to himself that he’d make this terrible man proud of him somehow.

Uncle George was the first to the door, already pushing the bump key into place and jerking open the back door to the Terminal Building.

Pete was already starting to get nervous. It was almost six, so the building would largely be abandoned. However, his mind was racing with questions; What if the old man wasn’t there? What if security was waiting for them? What if there was a shoot-out and the cops surrounded the building?

He reached into his pocket and carefully fingered the cold steel, the way he would a rosary. It seemed appropriate to him, and he drew strength from the act.

Then the unthinkable happened. They were passing the men’s restroom door when the stick-like night security guard came stumbling out, still buckling his belt into place. The young man looked with surprise at the three dark-dressed men before him and began fumbling for his holster.

From the corner of his eye, Pete could see Dino already pulling his piece loose, and Pete knew that in another moment, there would be a dead guard and the cops would be alerted.

Before he knew what he was thinking, his hand flew out of his pocket, still clutching the automatic pistol, and swung the butt against the guard’s left temple, sending him toppling sideways. The guard’s gun tumbled and clattered harmlessly across the floor. The guard lay very still, doing an amazingly convincing impression of being sound asleep.

Dino frowned at Pete, but George rapped the man on the shoulder twice, reminding him that they had work to do. Dino grimaced and reached for the guard, who remained quite limp. Pete began to breathe a bit easier as Dino proceeded to bind the young man’s hands together with a length of rope, and gagged him with a white handkerchief.

George took the guard’s other arm, and the two men quickly dragged him back into the bathroom. When they returned, Dino had a different look on his face. It wasn’t approval, but it wasn’t the usual look of disgust the man usually levelled at him. Pete tried to return a steady gaze, but Dino’s was too intense, and Pete was forced to look away.

The stalemate was broken by Uncle George, who reached over and gave him a gruff tap on the jaw, grinning. Dino hrumphed and started down the hall. Pete looked at his uncle and nodded. It wasn’t what he felt like doing. He felt like cheering. Dancing. But he knew he’d have to wait to celebrate his small victory. First there was a job to do.

The three men filed into the stairway, stepping as lightly as they could up the marble steps. The footfalls nevertheless reverberated off the walls in a staccato rhythm, like the sound of a jazz quartet playing some sacred jungle beat. It was the rhythm of war drums, like you heard in the picture shows.

Pete was beginning to tense up like the strings of the violin he’d promised his mama he’d learn to play properly when he was still a boy. He could almost feel the strings under his fingers. He hadn’t played in years. It was funny that he should think of that just then.

They reached the top floor and peered through the door. Pete couldn’t see past the older men, but a moment later, they were stepping into the hall. They were still stepping lightly, trying not to announce their approach with the leaden footfalls he feared he was making. Perhaps it was just his heart pounding in his ears that was making his footsteps echo.

He needn’t have worried. The front door to the offices of Clarence Dodson, C.P.A. was unlocked, and not a soul awaited them in the front office. The inner office door was closed, and Pete couldn’t hear a sound from the other side.

Dino reached for the inner door and twisted the knob softly, easing it open even as Pete could see the large automatic pistol rise into view. Pete looked to his uncle, who placed a hand on his shoulder and gestured with his eyes for him to take up his position beside the front door.

“What are you doing here? This office is closed at five. Please come back tomorrow,” a voice from inside demanded.

“We have an appointment, Mr. Dodson,” Dino explained, gesturing vaguely with his pistol for emphasis. “Maybe your secretary forgot to mention it before she left.”

“Well, she has been very busy of late. We both have. Perhaps it slipped my mind,” the voice replied uncertainly.

“Oh, we know you’ve been a very busy man. Very busy indeed. We’ll only take a moment of your time,” Dino replied warmly as he stepped into the room, Uncle George following. “We just want to ask you about a certain item that may have recently passed through your office.”

The door closed, and the voices beyond the door became too muffled to hear properly from where he stood. Even when the voices became louder and more desperate, the words were too hard to make out properly. His uncle might have said that it was the sign of a well-constructed building. His uncle was a great admirer of fine craftsmanship.

Pete knew his job was to keep an eye and ear out for witnesses, and to call for help if there were any. It wasn’t an easy job filtering out the sounds coming from the office to do this, but he was determined not to mess up.

Soon enough, the man in the office stopped calling for help and eventually ceased making any sounds at all. It was then that Pete thought he caught a whiff of woman’s perfume passing by. It was an enchanting scent, like the flowers in his mother’s kitchen window.

Almost terrified of what would happen to her if she had heard anything, Pete quickly pulled the front door open and peered out. He scanned the hall, but saw no one. He thought he heard the stairway door softly bump shut, and thought to go take a look, just to be sure. But then he thought of the man in the room. Any woman who would wear such a scent was probably too beautiful to wind up looking like what he was sure had become of Clarence Dodson.

Pete silently returned to his post and tried not to count the minutes as they rifled through the inner office in search of whatever it was they had come for. He was pretty sure he didn’t want to know what this was really all about.

He was also just as certain that he’d rather take up playing violin again, if it meant he wouldn’t have to come along on any more of these appointments. His desire for approval was already melting away, to be replaced by something he hadn’t expected; disgust. He loved his uncle, and still idolized his childhood hero, but he was quite sure this wasn’t what his mama and papa wanted for him.

He did in fact take up his violin again shortly afterward, more as a form of therapy than any desire to be come a competent musician. Unseen nightmare images of a battered woman laying at the bottom of the stairwell in a pool of blood had been haunting him for weeks. They were the last thing to go through his mind a month later, when he received his own appointment.

© 2013 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

The Uninvited Guest pt 1: The Good Girl

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.

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