from Hunter Leath
I woke as the car rumbled to a halt. My eyes opened as they started to adjust to my surroundings. I lifted my head off of the glass window of the black Lincoln. Light shone through it from a street lamp, all the while it was reflected off of tiny rain droplets that still held to the car. It was a rainy night in Chicago.
"We're here." I looked to my right as I saw my childhood friend, Frank Giordano. I called him Frankie. "What happened to you last night eh Tom? You can't be this tired."
"I'll be fine." I said as I readjusted in my seat.
"Come on, the boss wants to see us." Frankie opened the car door and got out, I followed. The rains had stopped, but tiny puddles of water were still strewn all across the street. We had parked outside of a local bar run by a guy named Tony. He was a friend of the family, so naturally this is where most of us spent our time.
Frankie opened the door and went into the bar, me following suit. As we entered the bar, the smell of whiskey flew through the air as smooth jazz hit our ears. Tony always had live music playing. Frankie was always the social one as he had to say hello to everyone in the bar. I was more self kept. Perhaps it was the war that made me so composed, Frankie never had to go. We made our way to the back of the bar, paying our respects to the heads of family as we passed them by.
At the furthest back table sat the boss, or Romeo. I wasn't quite sure why he was called that, but there was more than likely a story behind it. Standing beside him were two bodyguards who stopped us and waited. "Frankie, Tom please sit." He motioned for us to sit down across from him. We both filed into the booth.
"How are you boys?" He asked. We both kept it simple and replied, good boss. It was a respect thing to call him boss. Only those closest to him would actually call him by his name or actually knew his name. "Good, good. Well I am glad you two could make it. As you are probably aware, we have an issue."
"What's that boss?" asked Frankie.
"Well, I have a job for you two. It's a hit. Vincent Carmarello has defected. He's gotten into the drug game. I want you boys to teach him a lesson and shut him down. Our relationship with the police is edgy as it is, I don't want to give them a reason to start kicking in doors right?"
"Yeah Boss." we replied.
"Good. So you do this for me and then come straight back. Oh, and take Andy with ya's. He's in the car still right?" We nodded.
"It'll be good for the kid to follow you twos. Now get outa here."
Frankie got out of the booth, me following him. Romeo grabbed my arm as I stood up. "I don't want any hero's on this job, okay boys?"
"Good, now go."
We walked back through the bar and out to the car. "Tom this could be it. You thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Frankie.
"Yeah Frankie I know."
"We could become a part of the family for this."
"Easy Frankie, let's just get this job done first ok. No use getting ahead of ourselves."
"Yeah, yeah you're right. But I mean come on. You a vet from Italy, me being me and also with the kid. This'll be no problem." I followed Frankie into the car as he told Andy where to go. I looked back out to the street light. A rainy night in Chicago.
"So you had to go on a raid, is that correct?" Asked Frank.
I took a pull of my cigarette. "Yeah, me and Frankie wanted to become official members of the family, so this was a big deal for us."
Frank sat across from me, as always, and jotted down notes on his little notepad. I never felt too comfortable with the idea of having a therapist, but here I was. "So, Tom, why did you get into the mob life?" asked Frank.
"Well, I was originally from Sicily, Italy. I had always wanted to get into the mob when I was younger."
"But you went to war?"
"Yeah, I was caught stealing from some jewelry store, me and Frankie. He got away, I wasn't so lucky."
"You served in the Pacific, correct? In Okinawa?"
This question struck me in a weird way, as if it held a spark of familiarity. "No," I replied "I was stationed in Italy. I went back to the homeland. I never left the rank of a private. They needed a lot of Italian interpreters over there so that is what I did."
Frank stared at me heavily for a second, then continued to jot down notes on his notepad. I always hated that. I always wanted to know what he was writing. "Ok, so you were in World War II, over in Italy. Your commander officer was a Captain Moore, correct?"
Just as the last this question seemed to spark something inside of me, as if it was trying to remember something long forgotten.
"No, it was some stiff named Gomez. Never really got to know the guy."
"Right, right. Did you ever marry Tom? You know after all of this?"
I thought for a second and couldn't seem to remember. "I... I don't know."
"Can you think of a name, or what she may have looked like?"
"...her name was Selene."
"That's good Tom. What else can you tell me about her?"
"...back in the day I used to date all sorts of women. Selene was different. Romeo even approved of her, I can't be sure why though. Perhaps he thought it made me more grounded somehow..."
The car rolled into an ally as the rains continued to fall down. I had been daydreaming as we came to a halt. "So this is it, huh Frankie. We gonna bust in there and raise all sorts of hell right?"
Frankie rolled his eyes. "Calm down kid. Be smart if you want to keep your life." He really did like the kid. For some reason he seemed to take him under his wing. "Alright, let's go." he said.
We all filed out of the car and walked around to the trunk. Andy threw me the keys and I opened the trunk. "Oh, yeah. This is the show right here." said Andy. In the trunk we had an arsenal of weapons, ranging from Thompson Submachine guns, trench guns, the piano smasher, and even a BAR.
"I'll take the Thompson." I said.
"Give me the BAR. I want to do some damage!" said Andy.
"Slow down there kid. Take the piano smasher. I've seem you shoot, and it ain't that pretty." said Frankie. "I'll take the BAR." Andy let out a sigh, but ultimately took the shotgun. After doing a weapons check, we all prepared ourselves.
"So, Frankie, what's the plan?" I asked.
"Well, Vincent is across the street in that abandoned building. I don't know how many guys we can expect. Shall we make an introduction?"
"If you'd like. I always prefer subtlety, but next time right?"
"You got it."
We all crossed the street, Frankie and I side by side with Andy following behind us. These were the moments I would fantasize about as a child. Clad in a trench coat with a fedora on my head and a Thompson in my hands. Now that fantasy was becoming true. As we crossed into the light of the street, we could see movement in the building in front of us. "Light em up." I said.
At that moment, in a blaze of bright light and thunderous applause from our guns, Frankie and I let loose on the building. Standing still we shot round after round into the abandoned apartment complex. Switching mags as needed, we rained hell onto the building. It felt good, almost like a release. After about a minute, we reloaded and continued towards the building. I could almost feel Andy's anticipation as we closed the distance remaining.
We stacked up on the door, which was riddled with bullets. I took a step back and kicked the door in. Coming off its hinges, the door flung into the dark room behind it. Andy went in first with his piano smasher, followed by Frankie and me. Andy went to the right, Frankie straight forward, while I took the left side. The first room seemed to be a lobby of sorts. It was completely empty. On the left side of the room was a stairway. It led upstairs and downstairs. "Frankie, you and Andy clear the top floors, I'll take the basement and round back up to meet you guys." I said.
"Alright Tom. Be careful eh?" he replied.
With that, I filed down the stairs. I held my Thompson up as I turned the corner. I happened upon a wine cellar. For a small, abandoned building, this wine cellar was rather large in size. It was illuminated by a few hung light bulbs. I heard some shuffling of feet, then the bullets began to fly. I ducked behind a counter to my right and glass bottles began to break left and right. Vincent's men were yelling, almost taunting me as they fired at me. I waited patiently for my turn.
After a few had finished their mags, I looked out the left side of the counter, or bar stand, and started to pick targets. I fired at one hiding behind a stack holding all sorts of wine. The bottled began to break, as he did. Damn shame, I told myself. After he had fell, I looked to another target who was moving through the hallways of wine and kegs. I let loose a few bursts into his abdomen.
Then the bullets began to fly again. I ducked back and waited. I made my move to a pile of kegs in front of me, shooting while I moved. I almost slipped from all the wine on the ground. Once at the kegs, I popped up from behind them and began to spray into the wine stacks. I could see some of the men moving frantically to get away from my piercing array of bullets, most to little avail. A bunch of street thugs, I thought to myself. As far as I could tell, there were only two left. I pulled to the left of the kegs, and made my way down one of the hallways.
I ducked my head as the bottles over me began to break. My pace quickened. As I broke for another stack of kegs, I felt a piercing sting in my right thigh. I had been hit. I dove behind the kegs, while I gripped my thigh. Warm blood pooled out. I tore off my tie and began to wrap my leg, all the while bullets spilled over the top of the kegs. One I felt satisfied with my work, I began my attack a new. Now with a limp in my step, I peered out of my cover and began to fire at a knocked over table on the far side of the room. I heard a scream as one of my bullets tore through the table.
The last guy made a run for different cover. I pulled up my Thompson and aimed true on him. As I went to fire, all I could hear was a click. Shit, I thought. Dropping the Thompson, I pulled out my M1911 Colt .45, and began to fire at the guy. He dove behind cover before I could hit him. They always come back, I thought to myself. So I waited, and as I had thought, he popped his head up and I let loose one final shot. My aim ran true that night as my bullet imbedded itself into his skull. I took a final glance around the room, and then I could feel the crushing sting in my leg. I let out a roar of frustration from the pain, and slowly began to limp towards the back of the wine cellar. The smell in that room was the most interesting assortment of smells from a handful of different wines and ales. I somewhat enjoyed it. While I walked, I gripped the wine holders, as to not slip on all the wine that riddled the floor. I made my way to a door at the back of a room. With my Colt in hand, I entered the threshold.
All around me was shadow, as I tried to gain a better understanding of where I was. The floor that I was standing on was smooth, and there was a faint smell of crushed pines in the air. "Hello?" I called out. In front of me, I could begin to make out a faint light that slowly became brighter and brighter. Standing in the light was a woman. I couldn't see her fully, but I could tell that she had dark hair, and light eyes. I tried to move towards her, but I was stuck in place. "Who are you?" I asked.
She looked up to me, her eyes peering right through me. "Save me." she said. I didn't understand. If only I could get a better view of her. Maybe then I could recognize her.
"Who are you?" I demanded. At this, she started to slowly back away. I fought hard to move from where I was, but I was stuck in place. The light became more and more faint and I could feel a heavy weight over me. Soon the entire room was black, and I could feel myself begin to fall.
My eyes lifted as I looked up to see the rains falling down on me. The street lamps shone orange in the still night. I sat up as my leg cried in pain. I looked to my side and saw my Colt on the ground. I grabbed it and began to study my surroundings. "I must have passed out." I was laying in the middle of the street, in front of the abandoned building.
My attention was pulled as I heard the sounds of gunfire, and looked to the top floors of the building. Through the windows I could see the flashes of weapons being discharged. "Frankie!" I yelled out. I started to get up, my leg wincing with every flex of my leg. I got to my feet, but no sooner there was an explosion. I was lifted off my feet and flown back to the ground. The second floor of the building had exploded, and I could see a body flying through the air. He landed on the roof of a car and rolled to the ground. I grimaced as my back was thrown to the ground.
I looked at the body and could tell it was Frankie, he wasn't moving. Ignoring the pain in my leg and back, I pushed myself up and began to limp towards Frankie. Once I got to him, I rolled him over. He coughed and began to frantically try to get away from me.
"Frankie? Frankie!" He stopped and looked to me. "It's me Frankie."
"Tom! They got the kid! The fucking killed him!"
"Frankie, we got to go." At that, I could hear the sound of sirens in the distance. "Frankie we really got to go."
"No! I'll kill every last one of the Bastards for this! All of them."
"Come on, let me help you up." I pulled Frankie to his feet, ignoring my own injuries as Frankie's were much more severe. We hobbled across the street, the building burning behind us. I helped Frankie into the passenger side of the car and got into the driver seat. We peeled out, as the Lincoln roared.
"So you were hurt, and Frankie was fatally injured. Did you go back to Romeo then?" asked Frank.
"Yeah, I drove as fast as I could and pulled into the back of Tony's place."
"And what happened to Frankie?"
I took a deep breath. "Frankie didn't make the car ride. He died in the passenger seat of that Lincoln."
Frank waited a long while, then held my gaze with his own. "Tell me about the woman you saw in the wine cellar."
Something inside of me began to churn. I could feel the bullet in my leg and my back wining. "Romeo was waiting for me when I got back..."
"Tom, tell me about the woman. Why did she want you to save her. Save her from what? From who?"
I burst into the back of the bar and made straight for Romeo. His boys stopped me as they always did, but Romeo motioned for them to let me in. "Christ kid, you look like shit." he said.
"Feel like it too. He's dead boss. Frankie died. And they killed Andy too."
"Shhh. Keep your voice down ok. Tell me what happened."
"Andy died inside the building somewhere, I never saw him. But Frankie is outside in the car. He didn't make it here. Boss there was an explosion, the building is burning down as we speak."
Romeo took a while and thought. "This is a mess. They are gonna be looking for answers now." He looked down at his cigar, then back to me. "Ok, we can clean this up alright. Come with me."
I was too stupid, and too trusting to realize what was going to happen to me. I followed Romeo out to the back of the bar, his boys right behind me. As we hit the pavement, Romeo turned around. "Griggs." At that moment I felt streaming hot pressure on the back of my head. I was out.
I woke up to the smell of tobacco. Romeo was blowing his cigar smoke on my face. He was leaning in the car windshield. "Wake up Tom." he said.
"Boss, what are you doing?"
"Look kid, this is a lot messier than I planned. I can't have this coming back to bite me. I don't have any other choice ok? You know what I have to do." He leaned over me and dropped the emergency break. "If you try to get out, I'll have to use this." He poked me with his pistol.
The car began to roll, and I looked to see where. We were at the dock. I had dumped a thousand bodies here before. Ironic I suppose. I began to unlatch my seat belt, when I saw Frankie next to me. Damn he really is trying to clean this up, I thought. The car dipped into the water and began to fill quickly. I had to get out. I have had a fear of drowning ever since I was a child, but who doesn't? The car quickly began to sink and I started to open the door.
The pressure of the water was so heavy as I tried frantically to push the door open, but to no avail. The car continued to fill with water until there was barely any air left. I took a final gasp of air, and waited. The car filled up, and I was able to open the door. I swam frantically to the surface and made my way towards the dock. I splashed onto the dock, gasping for air as I did.
I got on my knees and began heaving for every breath. Romeo walked up to me, and pointed his .44 at me. "Don't worry kid. She'll see you in the afterlife. Nothing personal." bang, bang.
Frank looked at me very hard at this point. "What happened after that Tom?"
"We all got killed." I replied, almost sarcastically.
"Tom, we've been through this before. How did you survive being shot by Romeo? How did you survive the explosion in Okinawa? Tom these stories don't add up. You need to be honest with me and tell me what really happened!"
I pressed my head into my palms. It was buzzing. "We all died in Okinawa. He was going to kill her. I had to save her. There was no choice..."
"Tom, who did you have to save. Was it Selene? How did you know that she was in danger? Why was Romeo trying to kill her?"
"It wasn't my fault. I tried to stop it."
"Stop what?! Tell me what happened Tom. I need you to remember!" at this point Frank was yelling.
"His name was Captain Romeo Moore, and I had to kill him..."