Sunday, April 1, 2012

At the Island


At the Island

Enzo hung his head. He knew Anthony was lying still as death a few feet away. The pale of his face all that was visible peeking out from a body covered in wool wrappings.
Only the eyes showed life as he kept his gaze on the movements of the man several yards away.

The Man.

He was a lion standing on an ice flow. Strange, out of place, powerful.
The long overcoat moved in slight ripples with the breeze. A dark hat hid the top portion of his face, a short stump of cigar hung loose from the left hand. Smoke was curling, escaping into the space around him.
Tall and lean, the muscles in his back and shoulders tugged at the fabric when he moved from one place to another. Shiny impractical shoes made crunching sounds that filled the air.

Enzo hoped the sound was louder than his heartbeat.

"You should come out Mr. Costantino. It will be easier. But if I have to come to you," he put the stubby cigar to his lips, " well, I think you're a smart enough fella to know what happens then."

Enzo's breathe left slowly, quietly as if leaving a lover never to be seen again.

Anthony's eyes were now closed. No doubt wishing he was home, beside his wife instead of here, freezing in this mush.

The Man casually walked around, speaking to the air.

"Mr. Costantino. Now or later. I have no other business. You are my sole project. "

He tilted his back to face the sky, the cigar between his emotionless lips, both hands warming in the deep pockets of the coat.


                                                                          **


Easy fucking money. That's all it was supposed to be. And it was. The first few jobs. Show up on the island, meet the supplier, exchange the dough for the crates. Nobody asked questions. Row it back and Frankie Pi's guys took it from there. An easy pocket of bills. Didn't know it was Joey Jacks suppler. Or supplies. And by the looks of the man that followed them, Joey didn't much care either.
He should have left Anthony out of it. But his cousin needed some quick dough for the family.
What was he going to say? No. Your kid don't need those pills. Let him tough it out. That would have been their grandfather's answer.
Tough ass.
Course he was dead now. He was never more right than when he said he would die before going to some quack doctor.

But Anthony. He wasn't like that. He was decent. And he never should have brought him.

Enzo closed his eyes to think. The sun was almost set and the lack of sunlight made it colder than it was. His eyes teared with it.

There was no negotiating. The man had one job. Make sure Frankie knew that it was not okay.

But maybe he could keep Anthony safe.

He only let him come with him last minute. Not even Frankie knew he would be here. If they took the boat along the other side, went up river the long way, Anthony could get out without notice. He'd have to go back to the dock and drive the car to the boat for the goods, but Frankie would have the stuff before morning. It was possible.

The Man needed to be taken care of. Once it was started there would be no going back. Straight on to the end. That would give him a day, maybe two, before a new guy was sent for him.
Hopefully The Man thought him gutless. That would give him an edge.

But Anthony would be safe.

Leo owed him a favor. Where did he settle? One of the Carolinas? He'd wire him first thing. Tell him to offer up a job to Anthony. A real good one. One that would make no to hard to say. A legit one. Get them out of here without seeming suspicious.

Enzo turned to see Anthony staring at him. It was settled without a next thought.


                                                                 ***


Dammit.

This was the third tidbit that needed taking care of in the last four months.
And this tidbit had to bring him to an island. In January.
He should give him an extra bullet just for that.

The Man looked out over the river. White caps topped the rapid waters. Feeling a twinge at the back of his neck, he turned and took in the landscape. Snow rested on most of the surface. Large clumps of tall dead grass and groups of rocks poked out here and there. The trees were bare, dry.
They reminded him of the old timers that came in the shop to place their bets.
The land itself rose in spots to form small hills.
They are in there. Somewhere.

He detested this place and wished these boneheads would speed things up. Though he couldn't realistically expect them to jump up and face the metal that waited.
No. First we have to dance the dance.

Lure them. One at a time. Pretend to have not seen the other one. The extra. He'd take him when he ran after the first fell. They always try to run.

"You don't want people to think you were a lousy piker, do you Mr. Costantino? Come out. I'll tell them a real good story about taking it like a hero. "

The sun was gone and the darkness would be widening the distance to the shore soon.
He watched the trees and grass, thin smoke circling around his squinting eyes.
Perhaps Sally's would be open when he got back. A big plate of gravy, soft warm loaf of bread, a bit of veal. A little drink when he hit shore wouldn't hurt either.
He was sure he had more than half in the flask left in the car. He suddenly wished he'd brought it with him.
He could use a pull on that cold metal, the liquid icy and burning all the way down.
This son of a bitch better show himself soon.


                                                                 ****


The scratchy wool scarf keeping his neck warm felt too tight and straggling.

Anthony's mind was a jumble.

So much of everything filling each sense to over flowing. It was becoming a white noise in his head. No solid thought had room to form. Only occasional shadows of Theresa and the baby being alone wavered in his mind. They wanted to know what was going on in his head to do this.

He had no answer right now.

There was only the roar of his blood racing through veins narrowed by fear and panic.

He could only watch as The Man paced around on the ground just below them. It was something outside of him. Like a film he would see at the theater down the street. Two dimensional people on a screen. Nothing to do with him.
But there were no safe seats for this show.

The Man was becoming angry and started yelling.

"I was gonna take your body home! Give it to your family! But now I'm gonna leave ya here to fucking rot ya faccia di stronzo!"

Anthony looked to Enzo.

He could see his arm inside his coat.

A second later there was the dulled metal pistol that he always carried.

There was silence all around. The roar was no longer in his ears and for an instant he thought his heart had stopped.

He could see Enzo reach down by his feet and pick up a small stone. He whipped it to the far left of him. It landed against a tree trunk making a loud clunk sound, then bounced down to where The Man was ranting.

The Man moved like a feline. As if the film Anthony watched skipped a frame, one moment there was no gun, the next, it was there readied in front of him.

But there was another frame missed by his eye.

The Man was shooting wildly in front of him as he dropped to his knees. The last shot flew towards the water as he fell to his side.

Anthony became conscious of the breathe he had been holding. Instinctively he covered his mouth as small gulps of the air made it's way into his body.
His ears rang with an unfamiliar sound and he shook his head.

He kept watch on The Man. It was a trick. Of course it had to be.

Off to his side Enzo climbed down the rocks. Splashes of snow and dirt flying away from where his feet landed. His pistol leveled just in case.
His whole front soaked with snow. The heavy coat flapping open showed mud along his side.
Anthony watched Enzo edge over to the body, pushing The Man on his back with his foot.

The Man didn't move. He didn't jump up. He didn't fire at the target just inches from him. He simply made a small noise and lay where he rolled.


                                                                      *****


Enzo knelt down. His knee in a dark red black mix of dirt and blood.
The Man's eyes flicked back and forth, confused and scared.

"You hit me. You hit me. You...you..." his voice trailed off.
"Yeah. I hit you. But you hit me too old timer." He moved his coat aside to show the dark red stain looking like old mud.

The Man's pale lips smiled as his eyes went milk white.

"I'll pray for you and your family. If there are any to pray for." Enzo reached down and closed the warm thin lids.

Keeping an eye on the body, he stood buttoning his coat.

"Anthony. Get that boat loaded. We're going the long way up river."

The End

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