Just cus I said I don’t got to call nobody anymore don’t mean I don’t got nobody to call if I need to. Right now I need to. Crossing the border never used to be a big deal. Still isn’t most of the time, but Rita doesn’t even have ID and that could jam us up if somebody decides they’re gonna do their job that day. I don’t expect nothing to happen but I didn’t live this long by being stupid.
Calling in an old favor. A guy I know’ll come through and not ask any questions. Once it’s done I’ll get rid of this number I’ve been carrying around forever and never even think of him again. Do I trust him? Fuck yeah.
Malone don’t run with none of the guys I know, he’s not family. In fact, if things had been different that day, he’d be dead and I wouldn’t be standing here listening to the phone ring. A fucking accountant if you can believe that and he looks like one too, right down to the glasses. Guess even those fucks got their vices and Malone’s was the ponies. He got in way over his fucking head and couldn’t pay and Benny sent me round to scare the fuck out of him.
Don’t ask me why the fuck it didn’t go that way cus I don’t really know. Maybe something he said, about wanting something different, and what he could offer. I remember telling Matty about it after and him telling me everything happened for a reason.
Fuck didn’t have money then, the habit had got him pretty deep in, but I listened when he said that wouldn’t always be the way shit would be. I’d heard that shit before from fucks that owed money, so I still don’t know why the fuck I listened, but I did. Something about the way he said it.
He said that if I ever needed him, for anything, it didn’t matter what, that he’d be there. He sat there in that chair in some fucking shithole of a warehouse, not like some guy getting worked over but like he was sitting in a fucking office somewhere, making plans or some shit. Whatever it is accountants do. Never met a clean one, so I don’t know. Never thought about it until after, about the guts it took to do that, to sit there and actually make a fucking deal with me, knowing who I was.
Wanting something different. When he said that to me, wiping blood off his mouth like it was sauce or something, I thought of Matty. Of having a chance to get the fuck out before the life got us. That kind of shit takes money. Lot more than money. Maybe I don’t need much but Matty would’ve. No way he’d live light, not after the way he was brought up.
I paid Benny outta my own money, feeling like a chump while I did it, like I just got took. Except I didn’t think I got took.
Four rings and he’s picking up.
Silence on the other side of the line. I kind of expected him to hang up but you wanna know the most fucked up thing? How fucking badly I didn’t want him to. This guy I met once, to beat the fuck out of him till he paid up and I’m hoping, actually fucking hoping, that he don’t hang up the phone.
“Hold on a moment, Mr. Reese. I’m in my office right now.”
The line goes quiet but he hasn’t put me on hold or nothing, just put the phone down. I can hear him close the door.
“I’m sorry about that, Mr. Reese. How can I help you today?”
Can you believe this fuck? I almost hung up myself. But I don’t, because I need him. Fuck me.
“Calling in a favor, Malone.”
I sure as fuck am not calling in for some sort of a tax consultation or whatever the fuck it is Malone does for a living.
“Yes, Mr. Reese, I’m as good as my word. How can I help you?”
It’s fucking bizarre. You know the really fucked up thing? He sounds just the same as he did then, like nothing fazed him. I can’t get the image of him in that chair, blood all over his shirt, out of my head. Fuck it, I don’t really got anything to lose at this point and Malone sure as fuck isn’t going to say shit to nobody. It’s not his life and he probably don’t want anyone knowing about the trouble he was in, or how he got out of it.
“I need a clean ID for a woman and a kid. And a car. Can you manage that?”
Might as well ask for the moon. There’s some shuffling on the other side of the line but no clicks. If he’s recording the conversation, he’s not doing it off the line itself. Sounds like he’s taking notes, like to bring home milk.
“Yes, I have the contacts to manage that. I’ll need a few details from you first.”
I still feel like I’m asking the fuck to do my taxes and he’s going through my receipts or some shit. Instead, we’re talking descriptions for an ID match and how he’s gonna get the car out to me. Guy’s so fucking clean cut it’s weird to think of him as having connections to anything I’d need. Other than the ponies, Malone struck me as being squeaky clean but he’s got ties someplace or he couldn’t'a borrowed that kinda money from Chains in the first place. He’s not on the mob’s payroll, not like one a Benny’s lawyers or nothing, but I guess the fuck’s got something. Guys that want someone looking out for their books. Somebody that don’t got their hand in the till. No fucking way to know now.
Keeping an eye on the van, I give the guy a phone number he can reach me. No fucking way I’m giving him an address right off the bat. Just cus I don’t think the guy’s a rat don’t mean he’s not so I’m watching my back. Healthy habit.
Still can’t believe I’m doing this. Feels like grasping at straws but it’s a chance I got to take. The longer we stay here the more I gotta worry about Teddy’s guys finding out their boss got whacked. Then the war starts for his spot and for the contracts. Part of that is taking care of me, at least for the guys closest to him. To say nothing about that fuck Tony D’Angelo. Still, New York’s closer than Vegas and that’s the only edge I got, that D’Angelo won’t know shit for a while cus’a Teddy being dead.
When I get back to the van, Rita and the kid are sitting in the open side door, just talking and watching me as I get closer.
“Mom? Is everything okay?”
She’s watching me, trying to get a read on what’s gonna happen next. Guess kids pick up on that shit.
“Everything’s fine,” I’m saying as I get close to them, but she still looks uneasy, watching me to see if I’m lying. “We got to wait for a bit. Breakfast?”
I’m asking the kid, who’s already up on his feet pulling at his mother. I’m not going to make her promises I don’t know how to keep. Fine is something I can manage but I gotta wait to see if Malone comes through before I can say anything else. I know she’d smell a lie, so I don’t bother.
“Can I still have pancakes, Mom?”
I nod at her and point to get back in the van. Get us parked out of sight of the road and put everything in the motel room. This is where shit gets dicey. Every other time I’ve had to move them, nobody’s been around, or nobody’s been around that’d give a shit what happened. Now we’re on foot, out in the open. No telling how it’s gonna go.
Kid’s sitting on the bottom step. Rita’s standing right beside the door, arms crossed over her chest. I’ve seen that look before. Fucking stubborn but I don’t want a fight and she don’t want the kid to see us fight, which is why she’s up here without him.
“We can help each other out.”
Everybody’s always trying to make a deal, get what works for them. I look her over and her eyes harden so I figure she’s not looking to fuck to get what she wants. Didn’t really strike me as that kinda broad but fuck, it’s not like a broad’s never tried that shit. If it works for them, who the fuck am I to blame them for it, right? But it’s not where she’s going. I lock the motel room door and drop the keys in my pocket, waiting for her to get on with it and say what she’s gonna say.
“You need us. You need us to go along and not cause trouble while we’re in public.”
Got a point there and yeah, I been thinking the same thing. She’d fuck this whole thing up if she caused trouble. Then again, if I really thought she’d cause trouble, I’d'a handed her over or kept her tied up in the back of the van but I figure we both know that and she don’t need reminding. Yet anyway. So I wait for her to make her offer.
“If we help you, it’ll make it easier.”
That’s a big fucking if in there and there’s a lot more that’s she’s not saying. Wants something from me but’s too scared to come out and ask. I could say no and she’s got nothing or I could say yes and she still don’t know what she’s got, cus she can’t trust it. It’s like me with Malone, asking and hoping. No way to know if it’ll work out but there’s hope, and she’s hoping. Hanging everything on one thing that she isn’t even sure of but it’s all she’s got.
“Easy enough to say it, lady. Everybody says they’re gonna help. One thing to say it and something else to do it when the chips are down.”
Her mouth thins out into a hard line, all fucking defiant again. Still, it beats her being scared I guess.
“You haven’t told me shit all,” she’s saying, poking a finger into my chest as she does it. I let her. “But I need this. Damn it, I need you-”
That last hurt her, pissed her off a little too, and it takes her a minute to pull her shit together.
“We’re not going back.”
She’s saying that like nobody’s listening. Fucking determined. It’s not just D’Angelo she’s not going back to either. There’s a whole lot’a shit she’s not going back to. I get that. Gotta respect someone willing to fight for what’s theirs.
“-And if that means I have to go along with whatever you’ve planned to help my son, then I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to keep him from that. Anything. Do you understand me?”
I seen a whole lot of broads get pissed off at me. Enough to know it when I see it, and Rita’s about to blow.
“Nothing’s gonna happen to him, or to you, but I’m not gonna make you a bunch of fucking promises neither.”
She swallowing, like she might start bawling and now the kid’s standing up at the bottom a the stairs, eyes cutting from his mother to me, and fuck me if he don’t look pissed too. Like I hurt her or some shit.
“Breakfast first. Let’s take it from there.”
Fine again, fuck me. Diner’s across the street from the motel so it’s not far to go. Rita’s down the stairs with her hand on the kid’s shoulder. Half way across the street, she puts on a smile and slips her hand in mine. Said she could help, guess she meant it.
© 21May2009 xxxevilgrinxxx