Read Associates Online

Authors: S. W. Frank

Tags: #Drama, #American, #African American

Associates (4 page)

BOOK: Associates
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Grey-white smoke wiggled across Nico’s eyes. Through the clear glass he spotted a man climbing out of a car. The guy’s frame, stature and profile he’d seen before. It belonged to Tony, Chip’s lackey and he headed toward the park.

In smooth motions, Nico stepped from the car and intercepted Tony before the man entered the park grounds. Biting on the cigar, he pressed the nose of his weapon to Tony’s side.
Another hand gripped Tony’s arm in a vice, and twisted it behind his back. “Where’s your car key?”

“Front pocket.”

“Take it out.”

Tony slowly dug in his pocket to retrieve the car key. He was a righty but that arm was being twisted, so he had to use his left. 

“Unlock the doors.”

Tony did it from the distance and Nico heard the beep of confirmation.

“Walk slowly to the back door and get in. Don’t think, just do as I say and maybe I’ll let you live.”

Tony nodded. “Take it easy. No need for the gun.”

Nico gave a lopsided grin. Did Tony think he was some two-bit robber high on drugs or something? He found it funny the man tried psychology to disarm a veteran who mastered psychological warfare. Their feet stepped in unison to Tony’s vehicle. Nico spat the cigar from his mouth onto a patch of grass. “Open the backdoor and toss the key in the front seat.”

Tony followed directions with Nico pasted to his side. Once in the car Nico turned his back to the door, pointed the gun at Tony’s abdomen and asked, “Why’d Chip send you?”

Tony recognized the eyes. He’d read the Martin-Schultz scale and black irises weren’t common, in fact he didn’t see black eye color on the human scale  at all. The deepest color was dark brown pigmentation, but Mohawk’s irises in broad daylight appeared black as night. The Mohawk was gone, but this was the same guy, a human chameleon with eyes of a hunter, a stone cold killer.

Tony put his hands on his knees, letting Nico know he wasn’t a threat. “Chip wanted your contact info. He has a job offer for you.”

Nico snort. “Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Tell your boss I’m gainfully employed.”

Tony nodded. He was curious about something, though. “What are you, Sergio’s personal bodyguard?”

“Sort of.”

“Sergio must have some cash to hire somebody like you full-time.”

“His finances aren’t your business,” Nico replied. His thumb flicked the safety on. Tony wasn’t stupid or a threat or lying. Nico studied Tony’s body language. He hadn’t fidgeted, got edgy or defensive. His pupils didn’t dilate nor did he detect a rise in his vocal pitch. Either he was a master liar or telling the truth. He didn’t take any chances and pushed the gun to Tony’s flank to quickly pat his torso. He tapped the waist where he found a firearm. “I’ll hold this until we’re done,” Nico commented and leaned on the door again. He removed the magazine clip and placed the weapon on his lap. “You were saying your boss had a job for me. What kind of job, I’m curious?”

“In his camp. Collections.”

“That’s bottom rung work. He wants a gopher, no thanks!”

Tony scoffed. Mohawk certainly had that right. “The pay’s good.”

Nico watched the cars passing and the pedestrians. Two men in the backseat of car might be suspicious except, they could be members of the cricket team, talking game strategy or gearing up in the privacy of their vehicle. Besides, he doubted if anybody cared.  The conversation lasted longer than he wanted. Tony seemed like a loyal soldier, somewhat green. He’d done his homework on ‘ole Chip and discovered some interesting stuff. Chip’s real name was Ellis Lazlo. His father was from Catania and owned a citrus grove. He had two other siblings, both married and living in the same town where they’d grown-up.

Not every Sicilian had connections in organized crime. There were honest hardworking people throughout Italy. Ellis or Chip as he liked to be called came from such a family. Chip came to America ten years ago, stayed with a relative in Bensonhurst, worked in the family’s pizzeria and at some point got it in his head the mob life was a better future than rolling dough. A few run-ins with law enforcement for minor infractions were the only thing Nico found. How he hooked up with the Caminello’s is anybody’s guess. Anyway, Chip had ambition. Those kinds of guys are the ones you watch out for because they’re the impatient people who don’t like waiting in line. They’re the types who try to impress the boss. They’ll steal a co-worker’s idea and shop it as their own for
promotion. There are plenty of Chip’s in the world and when you meet them you’ll know.

Nico passed Tony his gun and stuck the clip in his pocket for safekeeping. He didn’t want to get shot in the back when he left the car. He offered parting advice to the affable guy. No sense in letting him return empty handed to his boss. “Tell Chip Sergio’s acquaintance isn’t interested. Let him know you spoke to me directly. My name’s Mr. Undertaker, that’s what he’ll need if he sends anybody else sniffing in Sergio’s backyard.” Nico backed out the door and paused. “By the way, that envelope in your pocket, I assume it’s a pay-off to get Sergio to talk names. If I were you I’d keep it. Your boss isn’t worth getting killed over. He’s a nobody in the mob and will sell you out in a heartbeat. He’s Italian; you’re not, which makes you expendable.”

Tony didn’t budge when the door thud shut. He sat there as Mohawk entered the ball field and went to Sergio who was in the midst of securing his leg guard. They talked and Sergio looked in the car’s direction. Mohawk’s head didn’t. Whatever they discussed Tony didn’t care because he couldn’t shake what Mohawk said. Grunge work is what he called what Chip had him doing. It sure felt that way, too. Chip did treat him like a gopher. He wasn’t given the same respect those mafia dudes gave their second in command. Tony hadn’t thought much of it until Mohawk pointed out a simple fact, the men were Italian and he wasn’t, he was black.

Tony got out the car, noticed the cigar Mohawk discarded and picked it up between two fingers before getting in the driver’s seat. He planned to uncover Mohawk’s identity. Maybe, he’d dump Chip’s ass and go freelance. Mohawk might be the man who could teach him the ropes. First, he needed a name. Everybody’s given one.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 

Selange sat cross-legged on the floor with the twins as she went through stacks of congratulatory cards filled with cash, bonds and even stocks. She placed them in a high box near the sofa away from Angelina who unlike her brother refused to sit. Instead she grabbed hold to things, exercised her independence by standing and trotting about on shaky legs.  She was gaining confidence and each step she took without falling, the bolder she became.

Anita was busy preparing dinner. The aroma of spices and meats drifted throughout the house. The Diaz’ family was carnivores, especially her husband who could not go a day without a piece of meat in his mouth. She chuckled at how her mind thought of Alfonzo. Geez, the man was so damn sexy; the mere thought of her husband had her creaming her panties.

Angelina pulled over the box. Unstable chubby legs gave way and she sat hard on her padded ass. Her lip quivered. Selange
smiled, waiting for the sound of a cry, but none came out. She didn’t say anything, sometimes parents can make minor incidents worse with an exhibition of anxiety.

Selange calmly sat the box upright and gave Angelina a reassuring smile. “Are my loves hungry?”

“No!” Vincent answered and threw his plastic truck in the air.

“Whoa, no throwing big guy,” Alfonzo’s voice bellowed when he suddenly entered with Allie and Sal.

Angelina exclaimed, “Da-da.”

“Sí, niña. Papa aquí.” Alfonzo responded and then crossed the wide open space to where his rambunctious half-pints played. Apparently, they were giving his poor wife hell from the looks of things. He picked up Angelina and noticed Sal and Allie had discarded their backpacks at the foot of the stairs. “Where do those belong?”

“It’s Friday, we don’t have school tomorrow, dad!” Allie declared.

“Because it’s Friday doesn’t mean the homework gets set aside. Vamanos, ahora!”

They moaned. Allie cut him a face, but she retrieved her colorful book bag and did as her father said. Lately, Alfonzo stayed on the girl. The wayward behavior wasn’t tolerated by her doting father anymore. The poor child looked about to cry any time Alfonzo chastised her. Selange and Alfonzo had outlined the punishment when behavioral boundaries were crossed.  Miss Allie had to learn proper etiquette and consequences.

As parents they worked as a team, none of the divide and conquer bullshit the kids did nowadays. Mother and father had each other’s back because with four children they were outnumbered. Having a disciplinary plan beforehand is the only way to ensure they didn’t lose the positive direction of their little team. 

The blue eyes gave attention to his wife once the children traipsed away. “You started without me, babe.”

“Yeah. I came home early.”

“How are the courses and fundraiser coming along?’

Selange pulled Vincent to her lap. There were two piles of envelopes she had yet to open. The gifts were unwrapped with the
assistance of Anita and the housekeeper and put away. The congratulatory cards were the only stuff remaining. “It’s going.”

Alfonzo sat on the sofa and removed his shoes with one hand as he clutched Angelina who began playing with his ear. “That’s not saying much.”

She shrugged. She hadn’t done well on her last exam. She passed, but her grades were slipping. Trying to juggle everything made it impossible to get any studying done. With Sophie’s constant calls about Shanda’s reluctance to assimilate despite their warm welcome, she found concentration impossible. Sophie compared Shanda to a wild filly which needed breaking in. Who in the hell talks about a free-spirited woman like that? Sophie, Selange thought. The women were to work cohesively and any contention upset the Giacanti order. Selange understood Sophie’s concern, yet only time would determine whether Shanda was fit for this life. In any event, Giuseppe and Shanda both needed to grow-up. Talks weren’t going to make that happen. Still, with each episode of Shanda’s rebellion, pressures mounted for a friendly intervention on the family’s behalf. By the time Selange cracked a book, her eyes were often too tired to read, forget about using the computer, the glare of the screen made her eyes hurt. She wouldn’t complain to Alfonzo because his stresses were mountainous. At night she heard him tossing and turning. In the tightness of his muscles and grim set of his seductive mouth lay the evidence. No, she would not burden him anymore. She had sworn to ease his trials. Every word spoken to the gentle caresses to his tatted skin were designed to bring serenity.

Selange felt Alfonzo’s hand on her shoulder, gently squeezing. His voice was masculine and tender. “This is when you lean on me, babe.”

She leaned back holding Vincent to her breast, relaxing as Alfonzo’s hand kneaded the turmoil, letting her know he was there and cared. “I’m good.”

“Where’s the nanny, babe?”

“I gave her time off.”

“Stop trying to be superwoman.”

“I’m not. I just don’t know any other way to exist. I’m the product of an amazing black mother who worked when I attended school and when I came home she was there to nurture me. I don’t know how she managed it without a nanny or housekeepers but she did.”

“Que, you black, damn I thought you were Puerto Rican, ‘cause my mom was the same way?” He joked.

Selange laughed.

He massaged her neck lovingly, now. “Babe, we have four children. I understand the culture. Our people are accustomed to being self-sufficient and taking care of our own. It’s rare you’ll find us putting our parents in nursing homes or employing nannies for our kids, but, when you have money, there are times when it’s good to hire someone and take a break. Maybe, if we let go of our parents hardships and do it our way we’ll live longer.”

“I know…so true.”

“Stop feeling guilty for wanting to pursue your Masters, or wanting to help young people. You’re a damn good mom and a fucking awesome woman and I’ll throw money at whatever will ease your stress because it’s not the money I care about, it’s you. I’m proud of you esposa, can’t you tell?”

She inhaled his words and closed her eyes gratefully. “I am so thankful to have you. I love you so much.”

“How thankful?”

Her eyes opened. He could not see her naughty smile. “I’ll show you later.”

“I’m banking on it.” He laughed.

Vincent got tired of being held and pushed against Selange’s breasts wanting his freedom and Angelina chose to get attention by pulling her mommy’s hair. “Alright…alright.” Alfonzo chuckled while untangling the child’s fingers. He put the feisty child to the floor.

Selange scrambled to her feet. She sat Vincent beside his dad. “I better check on the others. Do you think you can handle these munchkins for a few minutes?”

“Psst, no sweat.”

He watched his wife’s ass sway in the little shorts as she sashayed from the room. His lips spread wide and he shook his head staring.

Look at my honey. Go, babe…Ooooh mami…you have one sexy ass!

BOOK: Associates
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