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.”