Didn’t expect her to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
It takes her a minute to stop. Marbles used to get me like that. Back when he was a kid and shit he did was funny and not just a pain in my fucking ass. Little fuck used to get me all the damned time. Swear he timed it. Fucking milk or coke’d be flying outta my nose, the fuck. She’s laughing like that. Coughing. I wait till she stops.
“He’ll never look for me in Canada.”
I don’t gotta ask who. Tony D’Angelo’d never look for her there. I’m curious but not so curious I’d ask so I wait. I figure she’ll tell me if she wants to and when she stops laughing, she does.
“Back before we first were together, his father took him on some sort of camping thing. Or a hunting thing. I don’t know. Some sort of a guy thing, I guess.”
Shakes her head. It don’t matter what kind of trip it was. If she was a guy she’d'a known but it don’t interest her. Don’t much interest me either. The outdoor part, shooting at fucking birds and shit, sleeping on the ground. When I went, I went for Matty but there’s no fucking way I would’a gone out there if Matty hadn’t of wanted to go.
“Anyway, when he got back, all he would talk about was mosquitoes and how he was never going to set foot in Canada ever again.”
At that she’s fucking laughing again. It works out. One less fuck I gotta worry about. Providing it’s true. If some fuck wanted me dead, don’t think some fucking bugs are gonna keep him from punching my ticket. He could always send somebody else. That’s more likely.
‘A moment of clarity.’
I heard that once. Something drunks and bums are supposed to get when they hit rock bottom. Finally sort their shit out, like they see how shit’s supposed to go and get right.
I’m no drunk or nothing but I know all about moments of clarity. Being able to see shit clearly when every fucking body is lying, trying to save their own ass or carve out a bigger piece is why I’m not floating in the East River.
D’Angelo wouldn’t come into Canada just to whack me. I’d be collateral damage, a bonus, depending on who in Teddy’s crew wanted me whacked, but the person he’d be coming for’d be her. And the kid, and he’s not about to shoot the kid or he wouldn’t'a bothered trying to get him back. When you think about it, if he really wanted the kid, he would’ve come for him himself.
Rabbit’s lucky day when the wolf isn’t that hungry to go chasing your ass all over.
“You really think he’d give up that easy?”
I hold the lighter for her as she takes another cigarette from me and a hard look comes across her face. Thinking about the odds.
“No, I don’t. I’ve not exactly been all that lucky.”
That’s about me but she’s waving it off before I can say anything. Not that I was gonna say anything. I know I’m the worst luck a fucker can get.
“But there’s a chance, a small one, that he won’t look, at least not right away. A lot can happen in that time. He gets some other girl pregnant and turns up with a son that way and his father stops pressing him to get Matty back. Or his father gets bumped off and Tony loses interest in hunting me down. It was never about me anyway. We just need a little bit of time. A bit of a break.”
Everybody’s got someone above them, some fuck breathing down their neck. For Teddy it was Chains. D’Angelo’s got his old man. Lots of ways that shit can go. She’s not looking at me. Hopeful but not stupidly hopeful, looking out across the parking lot. No fairy tales. No happy endings. The wolf gets fed or the rabbit goes free. Till the next time. Not a fuck of a lot I can say to that, having been both. For both our sake I hope she’s right.
Haven’t forgotten about Teddy’s guys either. It’s me they’ll be coming for. Or not. How bad it is depends on who gets what when shit gets carved up. Like her I got a fuck of a lot of maybes and not much else.
I pull the phone outta my pocket before it rings twice, check the ID. Malone. Didn’t even wait till I picked up, just left a message. Gotta meet up with a guy in about a half hour. I got no fucking idea how he set the meet up so fast but I got to go with it. Now who’s being stupidly fucking hopeful.
“You and the kid gotta wait here.”
I can see the push, the calculation in her face before I even finish. Drops the butt into a coffee can off the side.
“For how long?”
I fucking hate that I don’t know who I’m gonna go see or what the deal is. Supposed to meet in a half hour so it’s not much time to get there first and check shit out, find out what the fuck I’m walking into. I don’t know how long it’ll take once I get there. I hate it but I’m used to it, to not being told fuck all and just walking in cus I been told to go.
“Long as it takes.”
“And if you don’t come back?”
No whining about shit or getting pissed off. No asking if she can come, or what the fuck she’s gonna do while I’m gone. She’s not some fucking pampered mob princess used to ordering guys like me around and getting what she wants and we’re a little past her just being a package I’m delivering. I pull a couple of hundreds outta my wallet and hand them over.
“If I’m not back in two hours, take the kid and get as far away from here as you can. Got anybody that’d take you in?”
One look tells me that there’s nobody. If there was somebody around that she could rely on, she sure as fuck wouldn’t be in the mess she’s in right now. So there’s nobody. The two bills disappear into her bra. I stop her before she thanks me.
“I’ll be back in under two hours.”
I would’ve laughed except I think she meant it. I’m always careful but I don’t tell her that. People don’t believe nothing anyway. I leave her behind. I got nobody I gotta deliver her to and if shit goes bad she’s got a chance to run.
The text message from Malone didn’t pass on that much information. Time and a place. I get in the van and drive over to where I’m supposed to meet the guy. Just a strip mall. Hair place, a gas station, couple of businesses and a sandwich place. None of the cars stand out. Nothing smells New York. Lots of trucks and shit.
I go to the back, get out of the van and wait, watching the alley and the doors at the back of the strip mall with no fucking idea who this guy is or how it’s going to go down. Got the nine but that’s attention I don’t need. If it looks bad, I leave, simple as that.
Nothing looks bad, nothing looks off, but fuck me if I don’t keep looking. Like something’s gotta be wrong.
Finally one of the doors at the back opens up and a guy steps out, closing the door behind him. I almost laugh. Don’t know what the fuck I was expecting. Cops or some local fucking hard cases. Instead I got some fat, old guy in a shirt and tie looking around the back alley. For me.
Fuck me. Fucking accountant mafia, that’s what this shit is, all these guys know each other. Makes sense. Malone knows made guys but it’s cus he does their books. They’re not friends, it’s work. He’s not gonna call those guys to do favors for him. He needs something done, he’s gonna call somebody he knows, not some fuck he does the books for.
Where I’m standing, the fuck can’t see me and I’m watching him as he walks up to the van, holding this envelope in his hand. He’s sweating by the time he gets to the window, holding his hand up to look in. Stupid. Fucking stupid to just walk up like that but what the fuck does he know, right? If he was doing my taxes or some shit, then he’d know exactly what the fuck he was doing and I’d probably be looking as confused as he does now.
“You got something for me?”
The guy nearly jumps out of his fucking skin when I come around the back of the van, between him and the door he came out of. Behind his glasses, his eyes look huge as he looks me over, trying not to see me at the same time. It’s like a bad fucking movie.
“Yes, Mister, um, yes. Here.”
He holds out the envelope to me and steps back, looking like he wants to make a run for the door. Except I don’t think this guy’s made a run for anything in his whole life. Envelope’s on the heavy side so it’s not just papers in there.
“There’s a black truck parked out in front; I’m supposed to switch keys with you. There are keys in the envelope.”
I hand the keys to the van to him only after checking the envelope to make sure I got the keys. There’s some other shit in there but I don’t want to be standing out in the alley all fucking day looking suspicious.
Guy looks confused for a second and then the lights go on.
“Malone made it clear to me that it would be best if it were, so yes. My brother in law is going to deal with the van. I wish you luck.”
Not hard to see he’s uncomfortable. Got his hand out to me like he’s not sure I won’t break it off and hand it back to him. I got no idea how much Malone spilled. Enough to get a clean truck, get the van taken care of and enough to wish me luck, so I return the handshake. Guy’s sweating and nervous but he does it anyway and then he gets in the van and drives off.
Pulling the keys outta the envelope I walk around the front, spotting the truck on the other side of the parking lot. Dirty, old, a little beat up. Shitty trade until I look around. Wouldn’t even of spotted it cus it looked like all the rest.
Halfway back to the motel I pull off the road and go over the truck. I don’t think Malone’s gonna fuck me but I gotta check anyway, it’s how shit’s done. The truck’s clean and the last thing to do is check out the rest of the envelope. Clean ID’s for Rita and the kid. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for Malone to get clean ID for me. ‘David Taylor’. Got a faxed note stuck inside, folded.
I had a visit from Nick Fratelli today. He wanted to talk business but he also asked about you. I told him that Chains had sent you around once, years ago to collect a debt, and that I haven’t seen you since. Knowing where Fratelli fits, I figured you’d want to know. The ID’s clean and should get you wherever you need to go. I think this makes us even.
Fratelli’s Teddy’s right hand. Didn’t take long for the wolves to come out. I don’t think any less of Malone for getting a visit from Fratelli. It’s business. If Malone had denied ever meeting me, everybody would’ve known he was lying, so he’s got to offer up something. I don’t take it personal.
Gotta admit, the ID’s another matter. I probably could’a got across the border clean on my own ID, I never done time, but this gives me less to worry about. I didn’t ask him to do it but it makes everything easier. Not a whole lot of people want to make my life easier. Most of the guys I know’d never lift a finger to help me or anybody else unless there was something in it for them. So I’m taking the ID personal. The only way I can thank him for it is to never see him again. We’re even.
Check the time. I been gone a little over an hour. There’s no way for me to be sure that Rita hasn’t left with the kid but where the fuck would she go? We passed a bus station when we came into town. She’s got enough now to cover that, not much else. I don’t think she’s stupid enough to stick out a thumb, not with the kid. I definitely don’t think she’s dumb enough to talk.
It’s still a surprise to see her at the motel. Nearly fucking brained me with an ashtray when I came in the door without knocking. I guess she didn’t expect to see me again either. Which has got me wondering why she’s here. Guess she’s wondering the same thing, about why I came back. I don’t want to get into the whys of it and she don’t either.
I hand over the ID for her and the kid, watching as she reads it over carefully. Turns it over once and puts it in her pocket carefully.
“Ready to go?”
“Yeah, just give me a minute, okay?”
Her voice is shaking like she’s gonna start crying but she doesn’t. Just turns and walks into the bathroom, leaving me and the kid looking at each other. Kid’s halfway between being mad at me and looking confused but before he’s decided she comes back out, looking like nothing’s happened.
The kid gets in first, squeezing in to the half back seat and I throw our shit back there with him. His mother takes the seat next to me after giving me a quick look. I drop off the keys at the front desk and we’re gone, headed for the border. We only pulled off once when the kid fell asleep in the back. I covered up the little fuck with my jacket and we were gone again. We didn’t talk much but her being quiet didn’t bother me so much.
The border crossing was quiet when we got there, just one guy in a shack with a bar across the road. On either side there was nothing, just this shack in the middle of nowhere.
“What’s the purpose of your visit?”
“Looking to do some shopping up in Moose Jaw.”
Moose Jaw. Buffalo Gap. Big fucking Beaver of all places. If the names weren’t right there on the map, I’d'a said whoever named the places was fucking with me. The guard doesn’t bat an eye.
“How long do you intend on staying?”
“Probably overnight and come back tomorrow.”
Another nod and he hands me back my ID, reaches in for Rita’s. All it would take is one fucking wrong word from her but she’s leaning across the seat, her hand on my shoulder as she passes him her new ID.
“Have a nice day, Mr. Taylor, ma’am. Welcome to Canada.”
© copyright 30 July 2009 xxxevilgrinxxx