Being the Smarty Pants that I have been since birth, (And possibly before according to what my mother told me one day after she had downed a couple glasses of wine.) when I went in to get a Dr. Pepper for Dawn, I had something to say.
Being the Smarty Pants that I have been since birth, (And possibly before according to what my mother told me one day after she had downed a couple glasses of wine.) when I went in to get a Dr. Pepper for Dawn, I had something to say.
Throwback Thursday – June 2015
Most days I have it under tight control. Other days – not so tight.
A lifetime of experience and a number of years when I got paid to be a (Fill in the blank) has taught me that if I’m not fully awake, not feeling well, or someone goes “Boo!” and surprises me, my brain and mouth tend to go off on their own to play. When that happens all bets are off and I’m as upset as anybody else at what happens next.
This morning is a perfect example. I apologize in advance and in retrospect.
It was early, I was still a bit groggy, and my back hurt. This is a dangerous combination. It is comparable to taking part in a Pogo Stick Race while carrying a Thermos filled with Nitroglycerine. Cover your ears and keep your head low.
I had just stumbled into St. Arbucks in desperate need of coffee. I was seated in the corner, minding my own business. I had my Morning Blood Pressure Meds spread out on a Kleenex. My iced coffee was at the ready. It was an idyllic scene at 7:30 AM.
A sip of coffee and my Fish Oil was down my gullet. Another sip – another pill.
I ask you – is that any way to start a conversation? With me? At 7:30 in the morning? Before I’ve had all of my coffee?
Without missing a beat the few brain cells that were awake kicked into Defensive/Offensive Mode. I looked up at her. I smiled. I spoke.
“No, they’re not for cancer. They’re to try to control my unpredictable and violent outbursts that happen when strangers walk up to me in public and ask questions. Do I know you?”
She backed up and exited the store.
I consider my reply to fall into the category of a “Public Service Announcement.” I hope she heard it clearly and will think twice in the future before acting like such a dummy.
What if I had been taking a buffet of meds for cancer? Is that her business – or anybody’s business for that matter?
What a yutz.
Most people who know me find me to be a gentle, even kittycat-like, with my playful and loving demeanor. I may jump around and make noise on occasion, but I don’t claw at the sofa and I am housebroken. All I ask is – please don’t sneak up on me with dumb questions at 7:30 in the morning. Later in the day I can deal with stuff like that in a more civil manner, but anyone who does it before I’ve had my coffee is pushing their luck.
We now return to our regularly scheduled program – in progress.
A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.
Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.
They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.
TODAY IS FRIDAY, THE GATEWAY TO REAL LIFE. I sat down this morning to write something brilliant, moving, hilarious, and earth shattering. After about 15 minutes of staring at a blank page I downed half of my coffee in one gulp and started looking through the detritus of links I’d saved on my phone. After another couple of minutes I came across a link that made me down the rest of my coffee.
Chapter 37 Continued
As they passed it, they both looked over into the alcove. The dead man seemed so very small. Davis walked over and pulled the pistol from Lizard Boy’s waistband and started to stick it in his belt. Laura stopped him and held out her hand. He passed it to her. They left the bundle of cash locked in the dead man’s hand.
It was only another fifty feet before they saw a set of steps rising toward a carpet-covered door.
They slowly climbed the steps and listened. They couldn’t hear anything coming from the other side.
“Well, if nothing else, we have the element of surprise,” whispered Davis. He reached for the knob.
“We hope,” said Laura and pulled his hand back from the door. She would go first. The Mexican’s pistol pointed up.
“Let’s go, my dear,” she said. They both took a deep breath of the warm and stale air.
“Things are better at the border. They’re opening up again,” he said to them in his usual staccato style.
A small, stocky man with strong Mayan facial features, held open the door to the shed and motioned them all inside. His face exhibited several prison tattoos. He was bare-chested and wearing a leather vest. His coppery skin showed a number of scars. He had a large knife sheathed on his belt and over his shoulder was slung an AK-47, the Third World’s weapon of choice. In his left hand, he held a fresh caramel Frappuccino.
“I’m glad you liked my coffees,” he said. “Just like I used to make at Starbucks. Good, huh? Well, bien viaje, amigos.”
1) Sky Diving
2) Space Travel
The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.
About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.
Chapter 36 Continued
Outside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.
Just like everyone else, I’ve had personal problems to deal with, but when I have a question 90% of the people I know are lined up to give me “The Answer.” The other 10 % are usually the cause of my problem.
The ranks of the Super-Rich are about to expand by one new member – a rather dorky looking Doctor from Chicago.
By this time I’m sure that everyone has heard the story about the fellow who was dragged from an aircraft, beaten, and bloodied by Private Security Officers in Chicago. I hope that the CFO of the Parent Company of United Airlines has a nice new pen handy because he is going to be writing a lot of checks in an attempt to settle a parade of lawsuits that are going to sprout up. Salivating lawyers are lined up and ready to eviscerate the “Friendly Skies.”
It was time to take care of present business and to move on to whatever the future might bring. She climbed the stairs to the second floor of Molina’s building and stood in front of his door. She was tired. She was spent physically and emotionally. The constant stress of waiting for a bullet in the back was pushing her toward the edge. She opened the door to Molina’s studio and walked up to the speaker hanging on the wall.
“I’m back, Molina. Get out here,” she shouted.
“I’ll be right there, Señorita. One moment, please,” came the tinny-sounding response.
She dropped down into one of the wooden chairs and felt all of the air leave her. She closed her eyes as she leaned her head back against the green-painted wall. Sleep was all she really wanted right now. Sleep, a long soak in a warm tub, a massage and maybe a good long cry.
“Señorita? Miss Lovejoy?”
She jerked forward, disoriented for a second or two. Then her instincts took over and all of her senses were focused on Ernesto Molina who was standing in front of her, his hand on her knee.
“You are alone?” said Molina,
“For the moment, yes.”
“Very well, come with me, Señorita.”
Molina led her back down the hall into the studio where they had done the photo shoot. There was a large plastic shopping bag sitting on the bed, the kind of bag you can buy for a dollar in every shop in Tijuana. The comforter had been pulled down and the bag was resting on the white silk sheets that Molina favored.
“I have everything you’ll need, Señorita—a complete package. Please, let me show you. I’ve done an excellent job, if I may say so myself.”
Standing beside the bed, Molina showed Laura each of the fake documents he had created. He took pleasure in pointing out the details that made them look totally authentic. None of the items looked brand new. All were more or less worn—lived-in, he called it.
“If you will notice, Señorita, I even put in a few customs stamps on both passports. It looks like you and the Señor have been to Ireland and England a few times. It adds a touch of realism.”
He was like a proud parent showing off his children to an appreciative stranger.
“Also, as you requested, Miss Lovejoy, all of the negatives.” He held up a sealed Manila envelope.
Laura was silent throughout Molina’s show. She didn’t know if what she was buying was really as good as he was claiming. It all looked real to her, but would it hold up under scrutiny?
Laura took her eyes from the bed and looked at him. “You want your money now, don’t you?”
“Yes, please, it’s been a very stressful day for me.” Molina took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow. He was sweating.
Laura shook her head and said, “You don’t know the meaning of the word, Molina.”
“How are you planning to get back into the U.S., Señorita?
“We walked here, we’ll walk back. Why do you ask?”
Molina looked at her, somewhat astonished. “Let’s be honest here for a moment, if we may. Señorita, if you are in need of my products then, obviously, someone is looking for you. Am I right?”
“Yes, of course.” She wondered where this was leading.
Molina shook his head.
“Then, Miss Lovejoy, walking through one of the most watched border crossings in the western hemisphere is suicidal. Frankly, I’m very surprised you got this far.”
“We’re fine, thank you,” she said, not believing it herself. She just wanted to pay him and get out of there.
“I can get you back across the border, no problem. I have established an underground railroad of sorts,” he said. “I can get you both back right under the border.
“Under—a tunnel? Are you serious?” she said, genuinely surprised.
“Actually, I have several tunnels, yes, and all I have to do is simply open a file drawer and get you a ticket. I’ll even drive you to the ‘station’ if you’d like.”
“For an additional charge, of course,” Laura said.
“Of course, Señorita, I am a businessman,” he said, ignoring the sarcasm in Laura’s voice.
“I’ll pass, Molina. Let’s settle up and I’ll be on my way.” This was making her nervous.
“As you wish, Señorita, but if you come back later, the price of the ticket goes up.” He shrugged, as if he was adding of course.
“You don’t ever take no for an answer, do you, Molina?” She started to gather up the documents off of the bed.
“Rarely, my dear. After all, many times a person says no when they really mean yes.” He moved closer to her.
“Like I said before, Molina, do you want your money now or not?”
“Have it your way Señorita. Please, yes.”
She moved away from him and started to undo the buttons on her blouse to get at the money taped to her body. Molina’s eyes narrowed.
“Señorita, I normally deal strictly in cash, but I’m not against a little barter.”
He moved close to her again, reached out and grabbed her belt, licking his lips.
“Get your hands off me.” She pushed him away.
“Oh, Señorita, don’t be coy with me. Let me show you what a real man is like. Not that pale rabbit you had with you earlier today.” He moved in again. This time he was not going for her belt. He smiled and his right hand flew out and slapped Laura hard across the face. She stumbled and backed away several steps. Her hands closed into fists. As Molina stepped toward her again, Laura lashed out and hit him square in the nose with a hard left jab followed by a right cross to his jaw. He reeled back and fell to the floor. Her uncle, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano had taught her that combination when she was nine years old.
“Don’t you touch me. Do you understand me, you little pig? I’ll kill you right here,” she said. They were both breathing hard.
She moved toward the bed to finish getting her merchandise. Molina gathered himself and sprang to his feet, putting himself between Laura and the bed.
“You want to get to my bed, Señorita? Let me oblige you.”
He charged at her. His momentum knocked Laura off her feet and they both fell to the floor. Molina punched her hard in the stomach. The bundles of cash dulled the impact, but it still made her gasp. She tried to get to her feet, but Molina was faster. He jumped up and grabbed her from behind, around her waist, and lifted her off the ground. He spun and threw Laura onto the bed, on top of her new identity. She bounced on the soft mattress and before she could react, Molina leaped onto the bed, covering her with his body.
“Stop. Stop it, you cheap little ape,” she hissed at him.
He slapped her again. She felt the heat rising in her face.
“I’m not a cheap anything, darling, and neither are you. We are both very expensive.” He laughed, thinking that he had her right where he wanted her.
As his left hand held her down on the bed, his right snaked inside her blouse. The fear she was feeling left her and rage poured in to take its place. She punched him hard in the face again. He stopped his groping to hit her with his fist. She could taste blood in her mouth.
He smiled at the look on her face and said, “You might want to put some ice on that later.” He was enjoying this, she realized, and that had to stop.
She hit him again, aiming for his eyes with her knuckles. As he recoiled from the pain she pushed with all her strength and managed to roll them both over. She was now on top.
She looked down at him. He was grinning again.
“Ah, now you’re getting into it, eh, Laura Lovejoy?” He wrapped his legs tightly around her waist.
“You could say that.”
He laughed. “Kiss me, Laura. Besame.”
She also laughed and started to bend low over his face. Molina closed his eyes and relaxed. His smile closed into a kiss. He never saw her reach down, lift the cuff of her jeans, and pull at the tape on her calf.
“Ernesto,” she whispered
“Yes, cara mia?”
He opened his eyes just in time to see Laura driving the ice pick downward. He didn’t have time to scream as the tempered steel shaft skewered through his left eyeball, punched through the thin orbital bone, and plunged deep into his brain. He was dead before Laura pulled the ice pick out and jammed it into his right eye.
Then she vomited on him.
The taxi with Davis and Tomás screeched to a halt outside of Molina’s building. Davis jumped out and headed toward the door. He saw Laura slumped against the wall inside the lobby.
“My God, Laura, what’s happened? Are you alright?”
“Let’s get out of here. You’re going to have to help me.” She looked pleadingly into his eyes. “Help me, Davis.”
Tomás rushed over to them, took Laura’s left arm and scooped up the plastic shopping bag. Together he and Davis half-carried Laura back to the taxi.
“Tomás,” said Laura. “Let’s get out of here. I’ve got to think.”
“Good God, Laura, what happened? Your face…?”
“Molina tried to–he got out of hand.” She was not going to allow herself to cry. “I won’t take that from anybody.”
“I’ll kill him,” Davis said. “Tomás, wait here.”
“No!” she cried out. “Don’t do it. There’s no need…there’s no need. Tomás, I paid you to give us a tour, so drive.”
Davis’ anger faded as his concern for Laura grew. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and tried to wipe Laura’s swollen lip and jaw. She pulled away.
“No, I’m fine, please. I love you, but I’ll be fine. Give me a few minutes and then let’s head back to the border.”
“We can’t,” Davis answered. “The border is closed. There was a gun battle with the police and some drug smugglers. The whole place is shot to pieces.”
Laura closed her eyes. She went inside herself to look for more strength, more resolve and more personal anesthesia. Her all-too-human engine was running on fumes. She slumped back in the seat. Her mind was struggling to think rationally, to go over the lessons of her past that might help them. She was looking at everything that had happened to her, everything she had seen and heard. She knew that the answer was filed away somewhere inside her memory. After about thirty seconds, she opened her eyes and leaned forward.
“Tomás, Turn around. Take us back to Molina’s.”
Tomás did a U-turn and had them outside of Molina’s building in minutes. On the way, she told them about the underground railroad and the “ticket” that Molina had tried to sell her.
Before they got out of the cab, she needed to prepare Davis for what he was about to see.
“I need you to come up with me to help find the tickets. They are somewhere in his office.”
“You think Molina will still sell them to us?” Davis was not anxious to see Molina again. He was still angry enough to want to hurt him for what he had tried to do to the woman he loved.
“Davis…Molina is in no condition to bargain. I need your help, but I want you to understand and forgive me for what you’re going to see up there.”
Tomás said a silent prayer, thankful that she had not asked him to go upstairs with them.
“To hell with Molina,” said Davis. “Let’s get those tickets.”
Tomás waited in the cab wondering again what he had gotten himself into with these two strangers.
As soon as they walked into Molina’s studio Davis understood Laura’s words of warning.
Molina’s body was sprawled face-up on the bed. His eyes were two black, oozing holes. The bedspread and sheets were soaked with his blood. It was an ugly death.
“Jesus, Laura.” Davis was stunned. It looked like something out of a cheap slasher movie, only this was for real.
“Davis, we don’t have time. You can get sick later. He said the tickets were in a file cabinet.”
They looked everywhere in the studio. There were no file cabinets anywhere. Davis saw a frosted-glass door by the far wall. He tried the knob and it opened into a back corridor. Across the hallway was another glass door and it was open. He could see a workbench, a draftsman’s table and two rows of five-drawer file cabinets.
“Laura, back here. File cabinets.”
She hurried toward his voice.
“Bingo,” whispered Laura. “We’re looking for tickets or something that mentions a railroad of some sort. Let’s get started.”
Starting at opposite ends of the first bank of file cabinets, they rifled through folder after folder.
Ernesto Molina’s files contained blank documents of all sorts, from at least a dozen countries. He was able to create new identities in such detail that it would make real people look suspicious to the authorities.
Laura pulled out files, flipped through, and discarded them on the floor. She noticed alphabetized folders holding copies of documents and negatives. Half of the infamous missing persons in North America were in that file cabinet. Laura stopped when she saw her name typed on a protruding tab—not Laura Lovejoy, but Beverly Deltino. It contained another set of her photos and negatives. She took the folder and slipped it inside the bag holding her documents.
Halfway through the third file cabinet Laura grabbed a folder with a label marked “Ferrocarril.” Inside she saw sheets of paper, signed by Molina. At the top of each sheet was a line drawing of an old-fashioned steam locomotive.
“Davis, I think I’ve got it. Did you ever take Spanish in school?”
“I had two years in high school. Let me see it.” She handed him the folder.
Davis scanned the papers as he searched his memories of Mrs. De La Vega’s class in eleventh grade.
“It’s a permission slip. ‘Let the person with this ticket travel through the—something. I don’t know this word—ferrocarril means railroad. I’m sure of that. Here’s an address for the estacion. It looks like a ticket to me.”
There were a dozen copies, all signed, in the folder. Laura took two and stepped over to the worktable. She plucked a pen out of the coffee mug pen holder and carefully printed her new name in the blank space provided. She then printed “Davis Lovejoy” on the second sheet.
“Now, let’s get out here,” she said, as they headed for the closest exit.
They opened the door and found themselves on the landing outside of Molina’s studio. Davis looked at the door they had just used. Stenciled on the glass was “Geronimo Morey—Abogado.”
Laura never stopped to look. She was already halfway down the stairs to the street. Davis took the steps two at a time to catch up with her as she crossed the sidewalk and reached out for the door handle on Tomás’s cab.
“Tomás, do you know where 162 Avenida de Negocios is located?
“Sure, Señorita. It’s right up by the border. Lots of warehouses and small maquiladoras, little factories, not much there.”
“That’s where we’re going, quickly,” she said. “When the people at the railroad hear about Molina, they’ll shut it down.”
Driving as fast as he could without killing anyone or getting pulled over by one of Tijuana’s many motorcycle officers, Tomás took his cab through the city’s side streets near the border. They were less than a half-mile from the carnage at the San Ysidro crossing.
I mean, sat down and had a face to muzzle conversation with a dog? If you have you know that it doesn’t take long to see that, aside from their name, and a word or two like “bacon,” or “down,” they really don’t know what you’re talking about. The movement of your lips might keep their eyes focused on you, but deep down you know that nothing is really getting through.
I get that same feeling when I try speaking with some people.
MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.
Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.
Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.
Time for a Reboot!
The only dark cloud on the horizon seems to be that it is getting to be time to take the Toyota in for its 30K mile checkup and an oil change.
“Open your hood, stick out your air filter and say ‘Ahhh’.” The mechanic grabs the fan belt and says to hit the turn signals and cough. Rotate those tires.
I don’t expect there to be any major problems. It seems to be running just fine. It goes forward when I step on the gas and it stops when I hit the brakes. Beyond that I don’t ask for much. It’s a car – not a financial advisor or a podiatrist.
Vivian was near tears. Davis was numb. Laura was torn between comforting Vivian, trying to keep Davis from going into shock, and keeping watch on her own boiling pot of anger and fear.
“Vivian, I don’t blame you,” she said. “It was just bad luck. We’re all safe.”
But she did blame Vivian in a way. She blamed herself as well, for accepting Vivian’s dangerous invitation in the first place. She thought that, maybe, they weren’t all that safe, not any longer.
Horton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher. Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators. The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.
High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant. It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.
It is 16° degrees outside, but I don’t mind it right now because it keeps some people at home and away from me.
These days it seems like most people are screaming – at one another, at the government, at the world, at themselves. When things don’t go the way they like they start to scream thinking that will make things better – “Better” being the way they want things to be. It doesn’t work of course. It never has, it never will.
Self-Delusion is so much neater than Reality.
Fiction Saturday – Continued…
“Oh, for crying out loud.”
“This is not good, Dominic.”
“Really? You think so, Peeto? Jeez, I never would’ve figured that out all by myself. Thank you ever so much, you moron.”
“Well, Dominic, Don Giani ain’t going to like seeing his daughter’s picture all over the newspaper like this.”
“No, he won’t,” said Dominic. This was serious.
Peeto was scrutinizing the newspaper, looking at the picture and slowly reading the story about it.
“Y’know, it’s not even a very good picture of her, Dominic. She’s much prettier in person,” said Peeto.
Dominic grabbed the paper from Peeto’s hands.
“That’s my wife you’re drooling over there.”
“Sorry, Dom, but you know what I mean. She is a fine looking…”
Dominic cut him off with a look and threw the paper to the floor.
That was the second time this morning he had thrown it down. The first time was when he checked the baseball scores and saw that the Mets had blown a four-run lead to lose to the Washington Nationals. He was wearing out his welcome. The owner of the donut shop, standing behind the crullers, muttered something in Chinese. Peeto picked up the paper again. It was part of his job.
Dominic was back at his booth in the donut shop. He still felt uncomfortable going back to his old hangouts. The jokes were getting to him and he knew that some of the guys were not happy with Dominic’s inability to control his wife. It was making things a little uneasy for them at home. Their wives were talking about more than clothes and kids. Several were making secret plans of their own, just in case.
The table was filled with empty paper coffee cups and the remnants of maple bar pastries and crumpled napkins.
“Y’know, Peeto,” said Dominic, a small, lopsided, grin on his face, “There’s a good side to her picture being in the paper.” He wiped his chin with a napkin, cleaning away the last few shards of sugar glaze.
“There is? How you figure that?” asked Peeto. “Don Giani is going to be even more pissed off with you than he already is. He don’t like publicity.”
“Thanks for that news flash, Peeto. Just listen.” Dominic was trying to analyze a complicated situation—not something he did all that often.
“The paper said that they want Beverly about some hit or something. I don’t know what that’s all about. I think they must have made that part up.”
Peeto couldn’t keep quiet.
“That part’s going to piss off the Don even more.”
“Oh, well, so much the better,” said Dominic, holding up a finger as if he had just made a big discovery, or was ordering a beer. “They’ll work really hard to find her, and when they find her, I find her. And when I find her I get my money back, I get the Monsignor off my back, and I put several holes into Beverly’s forehead. It’s like three birds with one stone.”
“But, Dominic, I haven’t heard about nobody getting whacked. Have you? I dunno, but it smells funny. Beverly always seemed like such a sweet and gentle soul. Almost like a nun, but without no penguin suit.”
“Peeto! Will you stay focused on the problem at hand here? Quit talking like that about Beverly. She’s still my wife. Until I find her anyway.”
Peeto was on a stumble down memory lane.
“You remember old Sister Modesta, Dominic? Man, she used to beat the stuffing out of both of us. Remember when she locked me in the closet all day for calling her a penguin?”
“No, I don’t remember and I don’t care.” Dominic tried to cut him off. “‘Cause when she sees her picture and this story she’s going to come popping up out of her hole just like Bugs Bunny and I’m going to be standing there with my shotgun.”
“You’re going to be just like Elmer Fudd, right, Dominic?”
Dominic hit Peeto in the nose with his crumpled napkin.
“Just go get me another maple and bacon bar.”
When Peeto left Dominic alone in the booth he looked again at the newspaper and the first rays of sunlight crept over the horizon of his mind as two and two began to add up and the story started to make sense.
“Oh, my God…the cleaning lady.”
Sitting in the study in his barber chair throne, amid the clutter of his life, Giani Montini was reading the same news story and looking at the same blurry picture of his daughter. His blood pressure medication was getting a test.
He was talking to the Consiglieri, his attorney and adviser, with whom he met twice weekly to keep tabs on the never-ending investigations into the Family businesses. He also met with him because this highly paid lawyer was the only friend from his early days who was still alive. They sipped at their coffee and nibbled at some low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sugar and totally tasteless pastries.
“They think my little girl killed somebody. That’s nonsense. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s not in her. She wasn’t raised that way. If anybody had been hit I would have heard about it.” He tossed his pastry back onto his plate.
“Bobby, what is going on here? Why are they looking for my daughter? This doesn’t make any sense. It’s crazy. Even if she did do something like that, which I’m sure she didn’t, she’d come to me. She wouldn’t just take off.”
The lawyer took another look at the newspaper then settled back in his chair. He looked like an actor from a casting agency hired to play a lawyer on a TV show. He wore a four-thousand dollar Savile Row suit and had just the proper amount of gray at the temples. Looking distinguished and intimidating was expensive.
“You’re right, Don Giani. I agree. Something is very wrong here. Have you talked with Dominic about this?”
“Yes. He says that he doesn’t know anything. I sent him to Philadelphia and he swears that when he got back, Beverly was gone. He hasn’t been able to find her and neither have I.” The Don was feeling powerless. Things were happening and he had no control. “She’s hiding somewhere, but where? And why? Help me find my girl, Bobby.”
The lawyer, acting as both Consiglieri and as a friend, spoke in soft measured tones designed to impart confidence.
“My Don and my friend, I will find her. I will bring her to you, personally, and we’ll get this whole thing straightened out. I give you my word.”
Giani Montini’s face had turned an unhealthy shade of red from the anguish and frustration he was feeling. He stopped and took several slow, deep breaths to try to lower his blood pressure. He was not used to feeling this helpless. He needed to put his fatherly instincts aside and use his Family powers to find his daughter.
“This mess has Dominic’s fingerprints all over it. Call Dominic’s captain, the Monsignor. Tell him I need a meet on this. Somehow, that smelly animal has put my little girl in danger. Go and call the Old Man. I’m going to find her and God help anyone who gets in my way.”