Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 38 Continued
“Dominic, killing us won’t solve anything,” said Laura. “What’s done is done. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know that Graciella was the law. I ran away from you because I wasn’t going to take you beating up on me anymore. If I’d wanted you dead all I had to do was ask my father and you’d have disappeared.”
“Yeah, well, I’m sorry about hitting you, Beverly. You know something, Bette? Beverly here has a mean one-two punch. She knocked out a tooth of mine once. See, back here.” Dominic opened his mouth and pointed to a gap in his teeth with the barrel of his gun.
“Beverly, you made a real problem for me over the money. It was all skimmed, but with me getting it back I think I can square things on that. And about that pig, Graciella? I can shake that too. But, Beverly, I still–” Dominic looked past the barrel of his gun at his wife. He was struggling to find the right words.
“Dominic, if you love me—”
“I do, Beverly, I swear.” He held out his arms, almost begging.
“If you love me,” she went on, “don’t you want me to be happy?”
The gun returned to its target.
“Sure, I want you to be happy. Happy with me, not with Bette here.” He shifted his aim to Davis’ head.
“If I go back with you will you let him go?” she said.
“Laura, don’t.” said Davis.
Dominic stepped closer to Davis, screaming in his face. “Her name is Beverly! Beverly Deltino, and she is my wife!” Dominic’s anger was beginning to boil over.
“No. You’re my wife. You love me!” Dominic turned to her. He was ready to explode.
Davis and Laura looked at each other, almost ignoring Dominic and his gun.
“Laura, I love you too, and I don’t regret a second of the time we’ve had together,” said Davis.
“Laura again? What’s with this Laura crap? Jeez, this is crazy.” Dominic waved the gun back and forth trying to decide who to kill first.
Davis turned and looked right at Dominic. “Screw you, Deltino, you ape.”
Laura laughed out loud. “Y’know, you’re right, Davis. You should see his back. He does look like an ape.”
“Shut up! Both of you!” Dominic screamed. He moved his gun from Laura to Davis and back again, totally undecided on what to do. He finally settled his aim at a spot a half-inch above Laura’s left eye. He began to exert pressure on the trigger.
A car door slammed at the far side of the parking lot. Everyone reflexively turned to look. A large man emerged from the shadows. He was dressed in a dark suit, similar to Dominic’s. In his hand was a small-caliber semi-automatic, chrome-plated pistol. He carried it loosely, comfortably, at his side.
He came across the lot toward them, passing in and out of the pools of yellowish light cast by the overhead lamps.
For a second Laura thought about jumping Dominic, but as quickly as the idea came to her, it also occurred to Dominic and he glared at her in warning.
When Dominic looked again at the oncoming man, his eyes narrowed. He lowered his gun as a smile appeared on his face.
“Marco? Marco, what a surprise. What are you doing here?” He turned his attention back to Laura and Davis.
“Beverly, you remember Marco? Hey, Marco, look who I bumped into. You can tell the Monsignor I took care of my problem myself.”
Marco said nothing as he came up beside Dominic. He looked at Laura. He nodded to her. “Mrs. Deltino,” he said politely
Dominic raised his gun again and aimed at Laura. It was time for the kill shot.
“Marco, you wanna take the little cockroach here? He’s no matter to me.”
Marco looked at Davis and raised his pistol. It glistened in the light. Dominic smiled.
Without telegraphing his intent, Marco smoothly moved his arm to the right and squeezed the trigger, sending a single .22 caliber slug into Dominic’s head just in front of his left ear. Dominic’s eyes widened, and then rolled back in his head as his limp body fell to the blacktop.
Marco, expressionless, turned to face them. “I was sent here to take care of Dominic. He’s been skimming for years. Now, the skimming stops.”
“Who sent you here? Laura asked.
“What about us?” asked Davis, his voice a little shaky.
“You can go. I got no business with you two. But remember, Mrs. Deltino, wives never talk.” He looked down at Dominic’s corpse. “Neither do widows.”
Then he motioned with his gun for them to get out, to leave. They moved quickly toward the back of the motel and the car.
The gunshot, though quiet, was still enough to reach the ears of the retired police officer inside the Burger King. He came out of the rear door of the restaurant, a registered 9mm in his hand. He saw Marco standing over Dominic’s body. He and Marco made eye contact and Marco started to turn and raise his gun again. The retired cop fired first and Marco crumpled and fell on top of Dominic. Blood was spurting from Marco’s chest and blending into the pool already on the ground. Pink froth bubbled at his lips. The 9mm had cut through Marco’s aorta and went into his right lung. In the dim light the blood looked as dark as India ink. Marco would be dead in twenty seconds.
Laura and Davis started at the sound of the larger caliber gunshot. Several people peeked out from their motel rooms and then quickly closed their drapes.
“Keep moving,” whispered Laura.
Sirens could already be heard off in the distance.
Davis unlocked the door to their room. Their bags were already packed and sitting on the bed. A sheet of yellow notepaper sat on top of them. It was a note from Vivian.
“Kids, I took the liberty of packing for you. I’ve been seeing some nasty looking jokers in the neighborhood this afternoon.
“If you get this then I know you’re okay. But don’t lollygag, if you catch my drift. Be careful.
“Vivian Baderbock, Prop.
“P.S. Look in the blue nylon bag. I made you some sandwiches.”
The sirens were getting closer and coming from several directions. Laura’s spine tingled with the all-too-familiar feeling of being caught in a fast closing trap.
“Davis, we have to go, now.”
“Let’s do it,” he said as he hefted their bags into the back seat. “I’ll drive.”
He slipped the car out of the parking space and turned down the alley toward the street. At the corner he peered both ways and could see blue and red flashing lights several blocks away off to the right, moving in their direction.
Davis turned uphill, away from the approaching lights. He resisted the urge to push the accelerator through the floor.
As they neared Horton Plaza, the first of the SDPD vehicles was arriving at the Budget Traveler Inn. The DEA pulled into the lot a few seconds behind them.
The car carrying Agents Paxton, Richey and Markosi was still five minutes out when Paxton’s cellular phone rang.
He said nothing. His eyes closed as he listened to the report of what the police and DEA agents had found at the motel.
“Thanks. We’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” He put the phone back into his coat pocket and rubbed his eyes. A headache was building.
“Turn off the siren,” he said to the man at the wheel, a San Diego Resident Agent.
Speed was no longer an issue. Nobody at the motel was going anywhere.
In Laura and Davis’s car, speed was still very much the issue. Go fast, but not too fast. Get out of the area, but don’t run a light or blow through a stop sign and get pulled over by some rookie patrolman two months out of the Academy.
Evening traffic was picking up. Commuters and pedestrians were starting to create another night of merriment and Southern California escapism.
At the corner of Broadway and Union Streets, Davis stopped for the light, praying for it to hurry up and turn green. Other cars gathered around him and on the opposite side of the intersection. One of the vehicles at the light, pointed in the other direction, was Paxton’s.
“Agent Paxton,” said the driver.
Paxton looked at Davis. Yes, it probably was the shooter from Horton Plaza, but the passenger was Beverly Deltino, he was sure of that. The hair was wrong and her face was drawn and swollen-looking, but it was her. It was her, but he also knew that Dominic was dead and, that with his demise, the immediate danger to Mrs. Deltino was past. Technically, at least in his eyes, she was no longer being hunted by anyone. He also knew that if he tried to apprehend her, even now, that someone else would surely die in the process. It just wasn’t worth it anymore.
“No, that’s not him. The shooter was bigger and the hair is wrong,” said Paxton.
“Yeah, and the woman looks too old,” said Richey.
The light changed and the cars passed each other, no more than six feet apart.
As they passed, Laura turned her head and she and Paxton looked at each other. Her instincts told her that he was the law, but he didn’t have the look of the hunter in his eyes. He smiled at her. She smiled back, not really knowing why. They rolled past each other, their lives going in opposite directions.
Paxton was sure he had done the right thing. At the next corner he saw a bright red sign announcing the “Best deal on boats in San Diego. Come in today.” For just a moment he envisioned himself on a forty-footer heading out of Key West, bound for the Virgin Islands.
Up ahead, Davis saw a large green road sign that indicated he was approaching Interstate Five. The road was heading north—to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“Let’s take it,” said Laura.
Davis put on his signal and turned left onto the highway.
Laura glanced out her side window at the moon as it was rising above the hills to the southeast. She noticed a small black and white sign alongside the road. It read: Begin Freeway.
She smiled a small, weary smile. Davis smoothly merged the car into the flow of northbound traffic and San Diego receded in the rear view mirror.
NEXT WEEK – THE CONCLUSION!