Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued
Fiction Saturday – Continued
Chapter Four – Continued
“When she left, sir, she also took some money I had in the house.”
“How much?” The Captain’s eyes focused coldly on Dominic. Missing money was serious business.
“Six hundred large,” Dominic whispered. The Old Man cupped a hand to his ear, straining to hear. Dominic had to repeat it, louder. “Six hundred large, sir.”
Everybody on the porch perked up. One of the young men let out a low whistle. The Old Man shifted in his chair and stared at Dominic for what seemed like a minute before speaking.
“That’s a lot of money, Dominic,” he said softly. “Why do you have so much in the house? Where did you get it? You have a little action going on the side I should know about?”
“No, sir. I’m just careful with my money. I’m … thrifty.” Dominic could feel that his shirt was damp and beginning to stick to his skin.
“Cheap, you mean,” chuckled the Old Man. Reflexively his musclemen joined in. Dominic squirmed and tugged at his shirt collar which had suddenly become too tight.
“It’s for expenses, sir. To pay my boys…and I like to have some cash for emergencies and, you know, opportunities.” This was getting more uncomfortable by the minute.
The Old Man sniffed at his glass of tea then set it down on the table. His tired eyes focused on Dominic again for just a moment as he reached for his pack of cigarettes and pulled one out and broke off the filter.
“She could run a long way on that much cash, Dominic. That was only my second roll,” he said to his opponent who had scooped up the dice. “I have one more roll coming.”
“Yes, sir,” said Dominic, “and there’s something else.”
“More? What? Tell me already,” he sighed.
Dominic took a lighter out of his pocket and reached across the table, nervously flicking the wheel, trying get it to light.
“No. Put that away,” said The Monsignor, waving his hand at Dominic. “My doctor won’t let me smoke them anymore. So, I just hold them. What a world. So tell me, what is this ‘something else’ you’re not telling me about?” He paused, waiting for the now openly perspiring Dominic to speak. “For Christ’s sake, Dominic, I’m waiting.”
Dominic took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped it across his upper lip.
“Well, sir, when I came home and found the note—and my money gone – well, it made me mad.” He twisted the handkerchief in his beefy hands.
“It made you mad? I can understand that.”
“Yes, sir, real mad. I was tearing up the place a bit, looking for my money, and Graciella came into the bedroom and–”
“Graciella?,” The Old Man grinned and perked up. “Who’s this Graciella? Is she another little something on the side?” He licked his lips.
“No, sir, she’s a cleaning woman Beverly has come in three times a week.”
“She pretty? Sometimes those cleaning girls…” The Old Man let out a soft laugh, filled with his own ancient memories.
“No, sir, she just cleans,” said Dominic quickly. “But she hears me yelling and comes into the bedroom and asks me what’s wrong. I ask her where Beverly is, where my money is. She tells me she don’t know. She’s lying to me I figure, so I slap her.”
“You hit her too?” The Old Man picked up a cookie from a glass plate on the side table.
“Yes, sir. I slap her, like I said. I ask her again about Beverly. She says she don’t know nothing. I guess I hit her again and next thing I know, she’s dead. I must have hit her too hard or something. She’s just laying there.”
“Jesus H. Christ, you killed your cleaning woman?” The Old Man stiffened and looked Dominic hard in the eyes. Dominic felt it to the back of his skull.
“Yes, sir. I think I hit her with a lamp a few times,” shrugged Dominic. This is not going well, he thought.
The Old Man paused to take a long, indulgent whiff of his cigarette. Dominic looked around and saw that the others were now hanging on every word.
“What did you do with her remains?” asked the Old Man.
“I left her there. I went out. I drove around, thinking. Thinking about Beverly and my money, about what to do.”
“This was, what, Sunday, Monday? Is she still there, lying in your bedroom, you idiot?” The Old Man nibbled at his cookie.
“Monday, sir, after I got back from Atlantic City. No, sir. I called in a cleaner and he took care of it.”
Dominic’s boss took another bite of his cookie, then rolled the dice across the napkin.
“Well, Dominic, you messed up good on this. Ha! I got my bonus. Let me add this up. Where’s my pencil?” His thin fingers reached into his shirt pocket.
“Yes, sir. I know,” said Dominic, bowing his head.
“Anybody come around looking for her yet?” His ancient eyes focused on the Yahtzee score sheet.
“For Beverly? No, nobody, sir.” Dominic wondered why he asked that question.
“No, you fool. For the cleaning woman, this Graciella? She’s your big problem, you damn—you just don’t go around killing outsiders. You know that. They have families. Those families tend to call the police when one of their own don’t come home from work.” He was losing what little patience he had left.
“Yes, sir,” agreed Dominic, nodding like a bobblehead doll.
“You used a cleaner, you say?”
“Yes, sir, a cleaner, Carl Nouri. He got there real quick.”
The Old Man nodded and emptied his glass and signaled for a refill. “Nouri is a good man, almost an artist. Let’s find her family. What was this girl’s last name?”
“Last name? I don’t know. Beverly hired her. She’s not an outsider though. She’s somebody’s niece.”
“Somebody’s niece?” Looking heavenward he said, “God, save me from fools, please.”
“Yes, sir,” nodded Dominic, missing the direction of the Old Man’s words.
“No, sir,” said Dominic.
“Then shut up!” the Old Man shouted.
His captain was angry now. That meant he was dangerous. Dominic just nodded, staying silent.
“Send some of your boys out to find her, your wife, Don Giani’s daughter, and bring her home. Do it quickly. Don’t do so much as muss her hair or you’ll disappear too. I will have my Consiglieri call you. He can help in things like this. He knows good, private people, who can find her with computers. Don’t tell Beverly’s father. Let me do that. We go back.”
“Find her quickly, Dominic. She’s got a pretty good head start on you and she’s no dummy. I know this girl.”
“Yes, Monsignori, quickly.”
“One last thing, Dominic,” said the Old Man. “What kind of refrigerator do you have?”
“I dunno. Amana, I think.” Dominic was confused.
“Good, very reliable. Don’t need repairmen coming around. Now, go. Get out of here.”
Dominic stood up and extended his hand to the Old Man who ignored the gesture, choosing to wave him away. One of the young thugs rose and escorted Dominic from the house.
After Dominic was gone the Old Man spoke, to no one in particular, “I think it’s time for an audit of Dominic’s responsibilities.”