Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued
Fiction Saturday – Continued – Chapter Three
The last thing she thought she would be doing on her cross-country vanishing act would be this–pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles of a Target store in Indiana. The waitress at the truck stop had scared her enough to listen.
“If you want to survive you need to blend in with your surroundings, not just hide in a hole. That means getting rid of your New York wardrobe. Now.”
Beverly left her a hundred-dollar tip.
She pushed her cart through the ladies casual-wear section of the store, selecting items that the waitress had suggested. She picked out three turtlenecks in white, black and beige, nothing flashy.
She hadn’t noticed the bruises on her throat. Dominic really had tried to kill her. At least he hadn’t punched her in the face. She didn’t want to have to use concealer makeup.
The cart was filling with slacks, jeans, several comfortable shirts, athletic shoes and a pair of basic black flats. A denim jacket, some “Jackie O” sunglasses and a Chicago Cubs baseball cap finished her new look.
A quick run through the rest of the cavernous store netted her new cosmetics, scissors and Clairol “Loving Care #79” dark brown hair color.
“That’ll be $243.20 cents. If you sign up for a Target charge card today you can get a ten-percent discount. Cash or charge, Honey?”
Beverly looked at the checkout clerk—another Indiana mother holding down a second job so the family could make ends meet. She pulled three hundred-dollar bills from her wallet and asked the clerk a question.
“Does everybody in Indiana call everybody ‘Honey’?”
“No, Hon. Sometimes we call ’em ‘Sweetie’,” the clerk answered with a laugh as she ran the verification pen over the bills. “You’ll get used to it. We’re just a friendly sort of people here. Where you from?”
Beverly froze. She didn’t have a ready answer to that. Not one she felt she could give honestly.
“I’m just passing through…I’m from Canada,” which was somewhat truthful. She did have some family in Montreal.
Once she was back in the parking lot, safely inside the Hyundai, Beverly began to sweat. Her too-obvious looks and accent made her feel completely vulnerable—and that equaled dead.
“Pull yourself together, girl, or you’ll never make it,” she said out loud.
She peeled out of the parking lot and got back onto the Interstate, disappearing into the safety of the approaching dusk.
Beverly crossed Illinois just south of Chicago. She kept driving until she was in Iowa. She found a small motel and slept for the next fourteen hours.
When she woke up the sun was shining bright and there was someone pounding on the door. Beverly sat bolt upright in the bed.
“Housekeeping. Do you need Housekeeping, Miss?”
“I’m fine. Go away. Leave me alone,” she yelled, her heart pounding.
“Okay, okay. Sorry if I disturbed you, lady.”
Once her pulse was back below a hundred-fifty beats a minute she sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the red and white bulls-eye bags from her visit to Target.
“I know how you feel,” she said.
When she left the motel two hours later, she tossed the room key on the bed, avoiding a trip to the office. Beverly Deltino, runaway mob wife, was gone. Someone new had emerged from that desperate cocoon.
Shorter, darker hair peeked out from under the blue Chicago Cubs baseball cap. Someday soon a professional would have to fix the do-it-yourself haircut. She looked at her reflection in the rearview mirror.
“God, I look like hell.”
For the first time in years she was going out without perfect makeup. Her New York wardrobe was stuffed into two plastic laundry bags from the motel, waiting for a rest stop to be tossed into the trash. The expensive outfits were replaced with Levi’s, sneakers and turtlenecks.
Hopefully, at the next truck stop, she would be one of the crowd—an invisible traveler just passing through.
Five days after leaving the house on Patascat Circle Beverly turned the Hyundai south out of Wyoming and into Utah, staying on Interstate 80 as it neared Salt Lake City. From here it was a straight shot to the west coast and… and what? She didn’t know a soul in California or the Northwest. She would truly be on her own, alone, for the first time in her life.
Growing up in the New York area there had always been someone nearby to guide her, guard her, smooth the way for her. Her father had seen to it that she was protected at all times. Families were always considered off-limits in mob disputes, but he took no chances. There were too many loose cannons who did not respect tradition.
In her motel room just outside of Battle Mountain, Nevada, she studied the road atlas she had purchased at the last truck stop. She had to decide where to go, where to hide. If she hid in a small town she would stick out among the locals. Small town people asked questions. Small town people snooped. She was a city girl, comfortable with the city pace and anonymity. In the big city everybody minded their own business. Anonymity meant safety.
But which big city? Los Angeles was the logical choice. It is the biggest city on the West Coast. People get lost there every day. LA was obvious—too obvious. If Dominic ever figured out that she had headed west, LA would be where he would start looking, and the Family had plenty of resources there. Being big was both a liability and an asset. No, Los Angeles was out. Portland and Seattle were eliminated for going the other way—too small and too isolated. If things went badly there were limited options for escape. San Diego looked good, but was too small townish, despite its size. It was too easy to be noticed as a newcomer. It is also the jumping-off point for Mexico, a runner’s destination since the days of the cowboys. That left San Francisco. It was small, but known for its ability to swallow up people who wanted to hide. It was a transportation hub offering a variety of escape options. It was a city with mob connections, to be sure, but with a sense of independence, even defiance, of the East Coast Dons. San Francisco was a place she could hide. A place she could find a hole, jump in, and pull the hole in after her. Hopefully the hole wouldn’t become her grave.
As she drove across the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge and the end of the Interstate highway, Beverly realized that she was holding her breath. “You have to breathe sometime,” she said out loud. “Welcome home, girl. This is it, for better or worse, till death us do part.”
She was coming to San Francisco with two bags. One was filled with a week’s worth of dirty clothes and the other with $600,000 in fifty, and hundred-dollar bills. Her trip across the country, paid for in cash, hadn’t made a dent in Dominic’s stash.
She had stolen Dominic’s working capital. It was money that he had skimmed from the Family, from her father. She took every penny that Dominic had managed to steal.