Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued
Fiction Saturday – Continued
On a pastel-colored sun porch that would have been more at home in Boca Raton than in the New York City suburbs sat an old man who, though frail, still comfortably carried an air of command. Shrunken from time and disease, he was almost lost in the oversized peacock chair. A glass of iced tea nestled in his left hand. He cradled it as if it were as delicate as a swallow’s egg. His attention was focused, not on the man who was talking to him, but on the game table in front of his chair.
Four young and muscular men lounged about on the porch, getting some sun and seeing to the old man’s needs and wishes. They respected his position and feared his power.
Seated across the small round table was a large man who exuded a sense of imminent danger, like a cocked gun. He sat there, bored to death, but never letting it show. He knew that it was his job to play games with the old man. To play games and to lose, but not obviously so. Today’s game was Yahtzee.
Standing off to one side was Dominic Deltino. He had asked for this audience with his immediate superior, his Captain. The old man was one of the so-called “Mustache Petes” who had emigrated to the U.S. right after World War II. He came to America as a teenager, intent on making a quick rise in The Thing. He was now referred to as the “Old Man” or more respectfully, “The Monsignor.”
He’d been around for decades and was still alive while so many others were gone. That alone meant he was smart, powerful and a person to be reckoned with despite his obvious infirmities. He kept his eyes on the dice as they bounced across the cloth napkin placed on the table to cut down on the noise.
Dominic haltingly explained why he was there. The Old Man cut him off after two minutes.
“This is not at all acceptable, Dominic.”
“No, I know that, Monsignori.” He squirmed, uncomfortable in the plastic lawn chair.
“It is unseemly,” said the Old Man
“Unseemly, sir. Yes, unseemly,” echoed Dominic.
“So, what are you going to do, Dominic?”
“Well, sir, that’s why I’ve come to you.” His palms were sweating.
“Really? Why did you not go to your father-in-law, Don Giani?” The Old Man looked up at Dominic for a moment. Then he scooped up the dice and checked the score sheet.
“I need either a two or a four to get my full house.” He tossed the dice. “Nothing but threes and sixes, Damn. Tito, get me some more iced tea,” he called out. One of the young men got up and disappeared into the house.
The Old Man sucked on his straw, emptying his glass of tea. His eyes closed and he nodded slowly.
“This has happened before. Once, just after all that Kennedy business–Carmine Mancini. His wife, Margareta, left him for some guy–the refrigerator repairman, I think. Ah, what’s he to expect? He marries an Outsider. She didn’t behave like a wife should.”
“What did he do? Did he get her back?” asked Dominic.
“He hacked her to death, the guy too,” said the Captain. “Put them both in his refrigerator and dropped it into the East River.”
“Oh.” Dominic cleared his throat. That was a bit extreme, even for him.
“They wanted to be together.” The Old Man shrugged his thin shoulders. “Well, they were together.”
“Sir, I love my wife. I want her back.” Dominic lied about the first part.
“Yeah, I’m sure you do, Dominic. Count those again, Danny. I think it’s only twenty-three, not twenty-four.” He glanced up at Dominic. “Did she run off with the refrigerator repairman?”
“No, sir, nothing like that. She… I…we…we fight a lot and I hit her sometimes.” Dominic felt like a school boy being quizzed by the head nun.
“What do you fight about? Do you have a little something on the side?”
“No, sir, nothing like that either. It’s nothing special, Monsignori. The usual stuff that married couples fight about: the way she spends money, kids—I want them, she don’t, her father don’t respect me like I think he should. So, we fight. I hit her. She hits me back.”
“Yes, sir, I hit her,” Dominic replied, hiding his frustration with the Old Man’s seeming lack of focus on his problem.
“When did she leave, Dominic?” He took a fresh glass of tea from the tray brought by the young tough and took a sip.
“I went to Philadelphia. On business for Don Giani, you know. I’m gone three — four days. I come home. She’s gone. Not there. She left a note for me. Last Thursday or maybe over the weekend. She left last Thursday I think. I don’t know for sure. Like I say, I come home, she’s gone.” Dominic was prattling on.
“A note? Get me some cookies, Tito.” Once more, the young man left the sunny porch.
“Yes, sir, a note,” said Dominic.
“Dominic, I’m old. Don’t make me have to beat it out of you,” he said, holding out his hand and impatiently snapping two talon-like fingers.
“Yes, sir. The note. Here it is.” He took the crumpled scrap of paper from his coat pocket. He was fumbling like the note was stuck to his fingers. “It says, ‘Dominic, I’m leaving you. Don’t try to find me. I’m serious, you stupid son of a bitch. I won’t let you hit me anymore. If I ever see you again I’ll put an ice pick in your eye.’ She signed it, ‘Beverly’.”
“Give me those dice,” said the Old Man. “This is Beverly who wrote this?”
“Yes, sir, Beverly. What should I do? I want her back. I ask your advice.” Dominic was on the edge of his chair. He wanted to slap the Old Man.
“Dominic, it’s proper that you come to me.” He smiled at Dominic approvingly. “Large straight. That’s forty points for me.”
“Yes, sir,” stammered Dominic.
“Shut up, Dominic.” Dominic’s smile disappeared.
“Yes, sir,” he stammered again.
“Here is what you have to do.” The Old Man set down the cardboard Yahtzee cup and looked sternly into Dominic’s eyes. “You have to get her back. That much is obvious. She cannot be allowed to do this. If she leaves you and gets away with it, other wives may up and do it too. Very unseemly. It would set a very bad example. Marriage is a sacrament. This shows a severe lack of respect for God.”
Dominic nodded, keeping silent.
“But,” the Old Man continued, “You must never touch her in anger again. I have to answer to her father as well as you. He is a good man, your father-in-law, but you don’t want him as an enemy. Trust me.
“Also, if you don’t get her back—boy,” he grinned widely and glanced at his collection of bodyguard/playmates, “is everybody going to laugh at you. ‘There goes Dominic. His wife left him. What a loser.’ You’ll never get a good table in this whole town, ever again.” He looked around the sun porch again to see everyone laughing … except Dominic.