Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sliding onto a barstool,
“Sure thing.” Dave poured her a glass of bottled water and then looked at her with concern. “I wish you would tell me what’s wrong. I might be able to help.”
“Not yet. Just pray for me, okay?” Changing the subject with barely a pause,
“Yeah, I did. It looked good. What type of entertainment are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure yet — a band, a singer, a piano player? Whatever.”
“What’s the matter, Mrs. Cavelli?”
Panicking, she asked, “Where’s Vinny?”
“He left about fifteen minutes ago. He said he had an errand to run and he’d be back in an hour. Why?”
John walked over and sat down two stools away from
Dave poured the drink and dropped a healthy slice of lemon in the glass. “Will that be all, sir?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“That’ll be two bucks.”
John reached for his wallet, but then
“That’s very nice of you, Mrs. Cavelli,” John said, without looking her direction.
Dave walked down to the other end of the bar to serve another customer.
“Detective Nelson, what are you doing here? I thought I made myself quite clear when you were here earlier that I have nothing to say to you.”
“Yes, ma’am, you did. I thought that maybe you’d be more willing to talk to me if we were alone.” He took a drink from his glass. “I’ve been reading about you.”
“You’ve been investigating me?”
“No, I just wanted to learn more about you. It seems that you’re a kind woman with a good heart, and you help people.”
“Oh, I see.”
“So what puzzles me is how someone like you is married to a monster like Anthony Cavelli.”
“Look, this conversation is dangerous for both of us. Maybe you should leave.”
“I need your help. You can trust me.”
“I can’t trust anyone. Trust is expensive.” She paused then continued, “If I decide to help you, you need to understand that no one must know. I would be risking everything.”
“I promise. Does that mean you’ll help me?” John glanced at her. The possibility sent butterflies through his stomach.
“Look, I’m deadly serious. I need your word that you will keep this just between us, or else no deal. You can’t even tell your partner, understand?”
Without showing any of the emotions he was feeling, John responded simply, “Yeah, I understand. And I promise.”
“Now please leave before someone notices that I’m talking to you.”
“Thanks for the drink, Mrs. Cavelli.” John got up and started toward the door. As he stepped through it, he passed Vinny coming in. He tried to keep his head down, but he knew that Vinny had seen him. I hope this doesn’t cause her any trouble.
Vinny walked over to the bar and sat down next to
“You mean Detective Nelson.”
“Yes, how did you know?” she asked, as if surprised. “Did you see him?”
“Yes, I did. Is everything okay?”
“He came in for a drink. He sat over there. I think he just wants me to know that he’s watching me, to keep me on my toes.”
“Mrs. Cavelli, I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention this to the boss.”
“Why would you want me to keep something from him, Vinny?”
“Well, he told me to watch out for you, and if he finds out I left, even though it was just for a little while, I could get in a lot of trouble. I would appreciate it, ma’am, if we kept Detective Nelson’s little visit between us. Okay? I mean, nothing happened, right? You’re okay and all — no harm done.”
“I wouldn’t want to get you in trouble, Vinny. I don’t think this will be a problem. Besides, you’re right; it’s no big deal, anyway. This is a public place and anyone can come in for a drink. Right?”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you.”
Vinny seemed appreciative that
Driving home, John started to smile to himself. He turned on the radio to relax.
He was so excited. This could be the break he’d been waiting for, and he wanted to make sure everything went smoothly. Seeing Anthony Cavelli in jail would bring this chapter of his life to a rather satisfying conclusion.
© Nadine Z. 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
But back to the matter at hand — Vinny.
Her gaze landed on the antique phone on her desk, and for some reason, she felt a draw to it. She lifted the receiver, unscrewed one end, and was not surprised to see a tiny electrical device hidden inside. This wouldn’t be the first time he had done something like this. Instead of being angry, she wondered if she could use this to her advantage. Anthony had no idea she’d discovered his little bug. Of course, if he’d bugged her office phone, what else had he bugged? Was her car or even her home safe?
But who was she kidding? Home was never safe. Lord, show me the way out.
The knock on her door startled her. She quickly screwed the receiver back together.
The door opened, and it was Dave, one of the bartenders. “Mrs. Cavelli, I thought you might like to know that we’re out of gin.”
“Did you check the cellar? We were supposed to have gotten a shipment today. Didn’t it come in while I was out?”
“No, I’ve already checked the cellar. We don’t have any. I guess I can stretch out what we’ve got.”
“No watered-down drinks. If you run out, then apologize and give a free drink of something else.”
“No problem.” Dave started to leave, but then he hesitated, and a frown pulled across his forehead.
“Mrs. Cavelli, is everything okay?
“Sure, Dave. Why do you ask?”
“You look like something’s bothering you.”
“This is the third time this has happened in the past two weeks. I’ll have to change suppliers. I don’t like firing anybody.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Cavelli. If you’d like, I’ll call them for you.”
“Thanks, but no. I’ll take care of it. Thank you for your concern, Dave.”
Dave was obviously not satisfied with her answer, but there was nothing for him to do if she didn’t want his help. An ex-con, he was as big as an ox but as gentle as a lamb.
Dave was very loyal to
Sitting in his semi-dark office, Anthony was on the phone. He wasn’t happy and was getting more upset by the moment. “Look, you moron, what saved you today is the fact I had lunch with my father, and by the time we were back, you had the books ready. If he finds anything amiss, you can kiss your family good-bye.”
Anthony slammed down the receiver. He had bigger problems on his hands than that idiot, like what to do about his father. He’d grown accustomed to being the boss; his men had grown accustomed to his being the boss, too, and he didn’t relish being sent back to second place. That couldn’t be allowed to happen.
Mario knocked then stuck his head in the door. “Hey, Boss, is everything okay? I heard you yelling. You want me to take care of something or somebody for ya?”
“No. That moron accountant won’t make the same mistake again.” He rubbed the back of his neck, scowling. “Poppy is starting to . . . Poppy is starting to breathe down my neck. He wants back in, and I know he wants full control again. The old man didn’t fool me for a minute. I won’t let it happen! I’m in charge, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”
Mario couldn’t believe how Anthony was talking about his own father. He knew Anthony was ruthless, but he almost sounded like he was threatening Poppy, something Mario had never thought possible, even for him. Mario didn’t know what to say or what to do, so he remained silent and just stood there, waiting for further direction.
“You know,” Anthony began, “if only I could find a way to distract him from this idea of coming back to work . . . but what?” He got up and started to pace.
“Well . . .” Mario began, but then, after getting that one word out, he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue.
“Well, Boss, if
Anthony looked at Mario like he had ten heads. “Are you crazy? That would mean I would have to . . . ya know. That only happened once, and I was drunk at the time. That won’t work. She hates my guts as much as I hate hers.” He hesitated for a moment and then continued, “But you know . . .
“I don’t know, Boss.”
“Maybe between the two of us we could come up with something. You hungry?” Without waiting for an answer, Anthony continued, “Let’s go get some pasta, okay?”
“Sure, Boss. I’ll get the car.”
Before Anthony left, he looked at the picture of
Anthony picked up the picture of
© Nadine Z. 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
John pulled into the parking space behind Frank’s blue sedan as his partner climbed out and headed toward him. All right, let’s get this over with. John opened his door.
“Thanks for coming. I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I showed up here without you,” Frank said, sounding relieved.
“No problem. Annie is a terrific cook, and I always enjoy seeing the little rug rats.”
As they walked up to the front door, Frank’s youngest child, Nick, came running out of the house, shouting, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” He launched himself into his father’s arms. “Oh, looky! It’s Uncle Johnny, too. Hi, Uncle Johnny!”
Nick left his father’s embrace and ran to John. At five years old, Nick already wanted to be a detective like his father and Uncle Johnny. He thought they were the best. His dark hair and big, brown doe eyes could convince you to do just about anything. As they got to the door, Frank’s middle child, Lynette, greeted them. She was a twelve-year-old beauty with long, reddish-brown hair and green eyes.
“Hi, Dad. Hi, Uncle Johnny. I’m helping with dinner,” she said with pride. Then she turned and yelled at the top of her lungs, “Mom! Dad and Uncle Johnny are here!”
“Where’s your sister?” Frank asked.
“You mean her highness? She’s upstairs in her room. She’s too cool to associate with us mere peasants. She’s in high school now, you know.”
“Now, Lynette, that’s not very nice, is it?”
Lynette just shrugged her shoulders.
“Nicole, I’m home,” Frank yelled up the stairs as Annie entered the room and welcomed them both with hugs. Annie was a very beautiful woman with shoulder-length red hair and green eyes. She looked much younger than her age. People often thought her eldest daughter, Nicole, was her sister.
“Oh, John, it’s so nice to see you. I’m so glad you came. We’ve missed you around here. Sit and make yourself comfortable. Lynette, go check on the sauce. Nick, Sweetheart, go wash your hands — they’re filthy. Honey, would you go see what’s keeping our elder daughter? I want her to set the table.”
Now looking back at John she said, “Do you want a drink? We have soda, wine, beer, water . . .” Annie said all of this without even coming up for air. She sure was a fast talker, but John didn’t mind at all because she usually could carry the conversation by herself. All you ever had to do was nod once or twice so she knew you were paying attention.
“Soda is fine, thanks,” he answered.
Finally, Nicole descended the stairs as if she were royalty making an entrance at a ball. A younger version of her mother, she had the greenest eyes and the reddest hair. Frank always told John stories about her latest boyfriends. “Hello, Uncle John. Hello, Father. Did you guys kill anyone today?” she asked sarcastically, with a smile.
“Very funny, kiddo. Give Daddy a kiss?”
She walked over and greeted him with a peck on the cheek.
“You get prettier every time I see you, Nicole,” John said. It brought a smile to her face and she graced him with a peck on the cheek.
“So who’s this week’s heart break?” John asked with a sly smile.
“Daddy! You talk way too much about us at work.” Nicole rolled her eyes at her father, but she smiled at John to let him know she had liked his question.
Annie re-entered the room with drinks for her men. “Nicole, please go set the table,” she requested firmly.
“Mom, dinner isn’t for another hour. Can’t I do it later and visit with Uncle John and Daddy?”
Annie, a very structured and organized woman, preferred things to be prepared in advance. “Just do it now and get it over with. You’ll have plenty of time to visit later when all the work is done.” Nicole left, looking unhappy. “Why don’t you fellas go into the living room and sit and relax? I’ll be back after I check on the girls, and we can have a nice visit.”
© Nadine Z. 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The ride to Mama Rosa’s was harmless enough. What Poppy said out loud didn’t worry
“Well, my dear, that sounds like a very good idea. I knew if I bought you that place you would make it successful. You should be very proud of your wife, Anthony.” Poppy’s face glowed with pride.
“Of course I am, Poppy,” Anthony said with a plastic smile. This was his own doing; for whatever reason, he had chosen to endure an afternoon of hearing
“After lunch, Anthony, I would like to go back to the office with you and look over the books. That’s still okay with you?”
Anthony’s hesitation was barely discernable. “No problem,” he responded with the same brittle smile.
Just then, the waiter came over to the table. “Good afternoon. My name is Carmine, and I will be your server today. May I take your order, or do you need some more time?” He looked about fifteen, but
Anthony seemed grateful for the interruption. “No, I think we’re ready. I’m getting hungry. Sweetie, do you know what you want?”
“Would anyone like a cocktail or an appetizer?”
Anthony said, “I’ll have a scotch on the rocks.”
Poppy glanced at him. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to have a drink, son?”
Anthony ignored him. “Just bring it,” he told the waiter.
“Anyone else?” Carmine asked.
“Espresso,” Poppy said.
“I’ll just have water,”
Poppy returned his attention to
“Last week. They’re doing fine.” She paused. “Thank you again for keeping them safe and hidden so well.” She said that only because she knew you could catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. He acted like she saw them regularly, when she was taken to see them only twice monthly — if she was lucky.
How could she leave Anthony . . . and still keep her parents safe? She was not allowed to call them; they could call her once a week, but the calls were always monitored. She hoped that one day, she’d be able to save them completely and have them home again. It was a situation she tried to change whenever the opportunity came up, and now seemed as good of a time as any.
“Poppy, do you think all of this secrecy is still so necessary?” As soon as the words came out of her mouth, she realized this hadn’t been a good idea. Anthony shot her a look. Questioning any Cavelli could be dangerous. She knew she took a chance every time she asked about her parents, but Poppy genuinely seemed to enjoy her and her company, so, perhaps, she wasn’t as afraid of mentioning it as Anthony would like her to be.
He paused as the waiter came back with the drinks and salads. When he had gone again, Poppy continued, “As a matter of fact, I hear you had some interesting visitors today.”
Poppy gave them a moment to absorb what he had said.
“Two detectives came to see if I knew anything about the family business. I told them I didn’t, and then they left. That was the end of that. It really wasn’t a big deal.”
“I’m proud of the way you handled yourself. You have been an asset to this family from the beginning. I always knew that you would be. It was nice to see how you and my son have gotten along. Who says arranged marriages don’t work?” Poppy smiled broadly and continued on that subject for what seemed like an eternity. They finished their salads, and the waiter came over with their entrees.
“Thank you, Carmine. This smells wonderful.” The rest of the meal was spent in idle chitchat, mostly dominated by Poppy.
Both wished they were elsewhere.
© Nadine Z. 2007
Sunday, April 1, 2007
John settled down to watch some TV and unwind until it was time for him to go to the restaurant — it was still way too early for dinner. He’d been feeling a little edgy lately, and he hated having time on his hands like this; it made the loneliness seem more apparent.
Most of the time, he didn’t consider being sent home early much of a gift, but today it had given him some much-needed time to think. Spread across his lap lay his file on Regina Cavelli. He’d discovered some interesting information about her in the past few months.
For one thing, she had married Anthony during a break from college and had never returned to finish. Her father had worked for Antonio Cavelli as his accountant and had been in police protection when she had suddenly married Anthony. Antonio Cavelli had planned an extravagant wedding for his son and new daughter-in-law. The press was invited to attend, and it was front-page news in all the papers. That was where it got interesting. After the wedding, Michael Palmetto,
John’s brother, Sam, was working on the case at the time.
Sam had been very frustrated by the whole thing. All his hard work had gone out the window with Mr. Palmetto’s memory. But as frustrated as he had been, Sam had had so much to live for; he never would have gotten mixed up with drugs. A short time after the Cavelli wedding, Sam had been found in his apartment, dead from a drug overdose. They had ruled it an accidental suicide, but John would never buy that. He knew his brother too well.
The doorbell rang and roused him from his thoughts. Who can that be? John slid the folder under the couch cushion and walked over to the door. “Oh, hi, Frank. Come on in.”
“Hey, John. I’m here on an important mission from Annie.”
“She told me and I quote, ‘Don’t come home unless John is with you.’ She says she misses you and so do the kids. They’ve been asking for their Uncle Johnny. They want to spend some time with you this afternoon since there’s no school today.”
“That’s sweet, but I plan on having Chinese food later. I have a craving. Then I was going to turn in early. I haven’t been sleeping so good lately.”
“Are you trying to get me into the doghouse with my woman? You know how Annie gets. Come on — you know I can’t go home without you. Besides, Annie is a great cook. You know she’ll want you to stay for dinner. Come on; we’ll drive over together.” John didn’t respond, so Frank continued, “I promise you, I’ll get you home early enough to get a good night’s sleep.”
John realized that if he didn’t go, it would look suspicious. “Okay, but I’ll take my own car. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“All right, but if you’re not down there in ten minutes, I’m coming back after you.” Frank left with a big smile on his face.
Maybe an after-dinner drink then . . . John grabbed his keys, shut off the lights, and went out the door.
© Nadine Z. 2007
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Mario pulled into the garage next to the two-story office complex. It was about twenty minutes from
“Of course, I can. I forgave him a long time ago for forcing me to marry you and live in hell,”
Instead of being sarcastic in return, Anthony said calmly, “That’s exactly what I mean. The old man thinks we are happily married. I’d like to keep it that way. Now just do as you’re told and everything will be all right.”
Normally he would come back at her or threaten her in some way. For the second time today,
Stepping into the building with Anthony and Mario at her heels,
A little prayer never hurt in stressful situations.
They walked into the outer office and a very nervous Mary greeted them. She came out from behind her desk.
“What’s the matter with you?” Anthony asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Mr. Cavelli, your father is in your office,” Mary said with much excitement in her voice. “He came about twenty minutes ago and just walked right in. Then he started dictating letters to me. I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t get a chance to call you. I was just about to now. He’s been making phone calls and asking me questions . . .” Mary was very close to being frantic.
“Calm down, will you? Just bring us some coffee and type those letters like he asked. Don’t worry about it. Did the accountant drop off anything?”
“No, sir, he hasn’t.”
This did not seem to make Anthony happy at all. Grabbing
They walked in and found Poppy on the phone, sitting behind Anthony’s desk. He motioned for them to come in, as if it was his office they had just walked into. Instantly, heat shot through Anthony’s body. He didn’t like this situation at all. Poppy had no business, none whatsoever, appearing so comfortable in Anthony’s office.
Poppy hung up the phone and, with a huge smile on his face, got up to greet them.
For a second, Anthony smirked at
“What a pleasant surprise! Anthony, why didn’t you tell me
“I’m sorry, not yet. You know we’re still young. There’s plenty of time for that in the future.” Forgive me, Lord, for telling such a lie. It amazed her how this man seemed to forget that he had forced them to get married. He lived in some fantasy world in which they were all one big, happy family.
Mary walked in with the coffee tray and set it up on the table.
“Okay, I’ll drop it for now. But I have a wonderful idea. Why don’t we all go to lunch together? I would love to visit with you in a more pleasant environment.”
Anthony smiled and said, “That sounds great. I guess we won’t be needing that coffee, Mary. Thank you anyway.” He turned to his father. “Why don’t you two go out to the car? I have some instructions for Mary before we leave.”
As soon as they were out of hearing distance, Anthony whispered in a low growl, “Mary, I want you to call the accountant and tell him that he’d better be here with the books before I return from lunch. Make sure he understands — wait. Forget that. Instead tell Jimmy to go there in person and pick it up. He’ll know what to do if it’s not ready.”
“Yes, sir. No problem.”
On his way out to the car, Anthony made a call. “Yeah, it’s me. Can you talk? Listen, I want to know what he is up to before it happens, not after. Why wasn’t I told about the visit? That’s not what you get paid for! No more excuses — just keep a better eye on him!”
When Anthony joined them in the limousine, he was back to his pseudo cheerful self again. “So, Poppy, where to?”
“Great. Mario, you heard him — Mama Rosa’s.”
© Nadine Z. 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
John arrived home tired and frustrated by his day. Captain Merrill had sent him home early, since he had come in around four a.m. to do paper work. He often did that when he couldn’t sleep. John lived alone, except for some goldfish, in a small one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope,
His living room was dark beige. He wasn’t sure it had been painted that color originally, but years had passed since anybody had tried to do anything with the walls. John didn’t mind the fading, since he was rarely home anyway. He was able to fit a recliner, a loveseat, and a nineteen-inch color television in the living room area. He had a small portable CD player on an end table next to the recliner. His bedroom was cramped with a double bed; a dresser; and one end table that held a phone, a lamp, and an alarm clock. The bathroom had a tub with a fish shower curtain.
The last area in the apartment was what some would call a kitchen; others would call it a closet. It contained a small oven with a four-burner stove, a refrigerator, a sink, and a small counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. He had two stools by the counter where he ate his meals. It was a small place, but he could afford it, and it was located only about twenty minutes from the precinct.
Out of habit, he went right to the answering machine and hit play. A familiar voice filled the air. “John, this is your mother. I was wondering if you could stop by for dinner on Sunday. Your sister will be here and . . . well, we all miss you. I love you, Honey. Call me.”
The next message was from some salesperson telling him he’d won free airplane tickets to
He couldn’t help but think how lucky he was to have a family who cared so much for him. They were always trying to make sure he stayed connected to them.
He felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a message from Mrs. Cavelli. He was about to press the button and reset his caller ID box when he noticed that it read four new calls. Funny, he thought he’d heard only three. He reviewed the calls listed and noticed that one of them was from
I wonder why she didn’t leave a message. He thought about calling her back but quickly dismissed the idea. Too risky. He didn’t want to get her in trouble. Thinking about his next move, he pulled open the refrigerator and saw there wasn’t much in there: some beer, an apple, and milk that was probably expired.
“Well,” he wondered out loud, “since there doesn’t seem to be anything for dinner, maybe I should go out to eat. And wherever shall I go?
© Nadine Z. 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Driving back to the station, John didn’t say much.
Maybe she was afraid to talk to him in front of that big goon — or Frank. Maybe he should have gone alone . . .
Frank was the first to break the silence. “You see, John? I told you it would get us nowhere. She practically threw us out! If she knows anything, she’s not telling. Now are you gonna give up on this crazy idea of yours?”
“I think she’s just scared. That big guy works for her husband. He’s probably there to keep an eye on her. At least now she knows there’s someone out here who can help her.”
“Have you lost your mind? Help her do what? She doesn’t look like she needs any help. Do you live in some kind of fantasy world? Were we both in the same place? She’s not going to call you! She seems to be very loyal to her husband. You need to just leave this alone and look for another angle, or else you’re going to get yourself killed.”
John was quiet for a moment. “Maybe you’re right. I guess I’m just kidding myself.” He didn’t want to continue this conversation. Next time, he’d go see her alone. It would be less intimidating for her, and he wouldn’t have to hear “I told you so” from Frank.
He changed the subject. “Hey, Frank, did you watch the game last night?”
Anthony looked at Mario. “Get the car. I want to go and have a little talk with my wife before Poppy comes over.”
Mario knew that tone all too well. For
Anthony stepped through the restaurant’s front door and walked over to where Vinny sat at the bar. “Where is she?”
Startled, Vinny answered, “In the back, Boss.”
“Follow me.” As they walked toward the kitchen, Anthony instructed, “While I talk to her, you go into her office and bug the phone. Use this.” He dropped a small listening device into Vinny’s palm.
“No problem,” Vinny answered, closing his hand over it.
As they approached, Anthony saw
“Chef Paul, please excuse us,” Anthony said as he grabbed her by the arm and started walking her toward the back door. “I need to talk to you alone,” he hissed.
Before she could protest, Anthony had her outside the building. He spun her toward him and released her arm with a shove. “I heard you had a visitor today,” he said as he stood nose-to-nose with her, glaring into her eyes.
“I see Vinny couldn’t wait to call.”
“He told me you handled yourself very well.”
“Now, what else would I do? I know how this works.”
Anthony closed the distance between them, and she hurriedly asked, “Did you come over here just to tell me that? You could have called.”
“I wanted to see your pretty face,” he replied as he reached up and brushed her cheek with his hand.
Anthony didn’t appreciate her tone and made it known by grabbing her arm again and squeezing it.
“Anthony, stop — you’re hurting me! I only asked a simple question.”
“Let’s get something straight, Babe. You don’t ask me questions, simple or otherwise. I’m the only one who can ask questions. Is that clear?”
“Good.” He let go of her arm and continued, “I’m here to convince you to come back to the office with me. Poppy is coming for a visit and I know he would be happy to see you.”
Anthony eyed her with a superior air. He always enjoyed these little bouts for power. They ended the same every time — with him on top. “Sure, go ahead. I’ll wait in the car. Don’t take too long.”
“I wasn’t in your office,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I was just standing here waiting for you, ma’am.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Vinny said with a smile.
Anthony was waiting in the limousine. Mario saw her approaching and climbed out to open the door for her.
“Let’s go,” Anthony immediately instructed. They drove in silence, which was fine with
© Nadine Z. 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Vinny pulled into the parking lot of the
"Thank you, Vinny." She went to the back door and unlocked it.
"Is there anything I can do for you today Mrs. Cavelli?" Vinny asked, following closely behind her.
"I’ll be in my office getting some paperwork done. I really don't want to be disturbed. When the staff comes in, will you let them know that?"
Vinny nodded and then walked over to the bar. The bar was made out of beautifully crafted oak, with a dark brown finish, and a dozen or so stools that neatly line the one long edge. Behind the bar was a large mirror with grapevines etched along the edges. The left side of the mirror held two shelves with all the different alcohol and mixers lined up on them. On the right were the drinking glasses. At the end of the bar a television set hung from the ceiling. Vinny walked behind the bar and poured himself some mineral water. He turned on the television. He might as well watch TV, since there wasn’t anything else to do.
“David said about him: 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also will live in hope, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”
Oh Lord, thank You for Your word of encouragement to me,
"It's Vinny, Mrs. Cavelli." He opened the door a crack to stick his head in and continued, "I know that you didn't want to be disturbed, but you have some visitors that insist on speaking to you. It's a couple of cops."
"Show them in."
Vinny walked in, followed by two men. The blonde haired one walked over to her with a smile on his face, holding his badge in one hand and extending the other one.
"Mrs. Cavelli, my name is Detective John Nelson and this is my partner, Detective Frank Holstrum."
Frank nodded his head in acknowledgment.
Since there was no response from her, John continued. "If you don't mind, Mrs. Cavelli, we’d like to ask you a few questions." He took out his note pad from his pocket and opened it up.
Cops made Vinny nervous. He interrupted, "As I told you before detective, Mrs. Cavelli is a busy lady, and she ain’t got time for your questions."
"Does Mrs. Cavelli have a tongue or do you always speak for her?" John asked, sarcasm sliding through his tone.
Before Vinny could protest further,
"Well Mrs. Cavelli, I have questions regarding your husband and some of his business affairs."
"In that case, why don't you ask him your questions?” Before he could answer, she continued, "I'm quite sorry, because I don't know anything whatsoever about my husband's business dealings. He doesn’t tell me how to run my restaurant, and I don't tell him how to run his business. So I have nothing I could possibly help you with. I'm afraid you've wasted your time coming here and now you’ve wasted mine as well. If that is all, gentlemen, I have work to do. Good day to you both. Vinny, please show the detectives to the door."
Conversation over, she returned to her paperwork as if they weren’t there.
John was a bit surprised by her words and her cold manner. Everything he'd ever heard about her or read described her as gentle and kind. He was not expecting this forceful, strong-minded woman who didn't even give him a chance to speak. He decided he wasn't giving up that quickly.
"Here's my card, in case you change your mind."
"Good day, Mrs. Cavelli. Sorry to have troubled you. Let's go Frank."
After the three men left,
"Is there anything else I can do for you, ma'am?"
"Thanks, but no. If you don't mind, I'd like to finish up my work."
Vinny closed the door to her office, took out his cell phone, and placed a call. Anthony answered on the first ring.
"It's Vinny, boss. I thought you’d like to know who just paid your wife a visit. It was that detective."
"He wanted to talk to her, but she just blew him off and sent him packing. She was really something," Vinny was quite impressed with the way
"Interesting." Anthony paused, considering what he wanted Vinny to do next. "I want you to bug her office phone just in case she decides to contact him."
"I don't think so boss. She ripped up his card."
"Don't question me, just do as I say."
Anthony hung up in Vinny’s ear. Vinny hadn't meant to upset him. I was just that you would think a man could trust his own wife. What do I know? I do as I’m told.
© Nadine Z. 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Before Anthony left, he took another look at
“I’d better get ready and see what is going on over at the restaurant,” she said out loud to herself. Sometimes in this hostile environment, the sound of her voice eased her nerves.
She was nearly dressed when she heard a knock on her bedroom door. "Who is it?"
"It's Vinny, Mrs. Cavelli. I just want you to know that Mr. Cavelli asked me to drive you to the restaurant. I'm ready whenever you are."
"Just a minute."
Vinny smiled as he said, "Mr. Cavelli was very worried about you this morning and he wanted to make sure you got to work safely. He also wanted me to hang around and drive you home later. I’m at your disposal today.”
“Isn’t that nice.”
“Besides, you wouldn't want me to get into trouble with the boss?" Vinny smiled.
"After you, Mrs. Cavelli." He stepped out of the way to let her pass. He didn't mind the days he had to watch her. It was an easy way to make a living. She was usually pleasant and never caused any trouble. To tell the truth, he liked her. Why the boss didn’t trust her was beyond him, but it wasn't his job to ask questions, just follow orders.
After his mom died a year and a half ago from a heart attack, Anthony wasn't sure Poppy would ever recover from the loss. It was then that Anthony had taken over the daily business operations. But now Poppy wasn't in mourning anymore, and Anthony was afraid he'd want to come out of retirement.
He arrived at his father’s house right on time. He walked up the front steps, and before he could knock, Stuart opened the door.
"Good day sir. Your father is waiting for you in his study."
"Thanks, Stuart." Anthony said as he entered the house. He always thought it was creepy how Stuart knew someone was at the door before the doorbell rang. The man had been with the family since before Anthony was born. No one knew how old he really was. His English accent added a touch of class to his persona. Stuart's thin frame made him appear even taller than his six foot stature. Poppy trusted him, and as long as Stuart wanted a job he had one. Poppy offered him retirement, but Stuart refused. Since he had no family of his own, he enjoyed keeping busy. His loyalty had been proven on more than several occasions.
Anthony walked down the long hallway and found his way to his father's study. The door was open and his father was on the phone. Poppy motioned for Anthony to enter.
Anthony sat down on one of the leather back chairs opposite Poppy's large mahogany desk and looked over at the pictures to his left. There were framed, smiling faces of his mother, of him and some of
The entire wall to his right contained floor-to-ceiling bookcases that held hundreds of books. His father, an avid reader, enjoyed collecting books, especially first editions. He had a separate library in another part of the house that contained even more books, but he kept his favorites in his study.
Finally, Poppy finished his call and hung up.
"Buon giorno, Poppy." He walked over to the back of the desk and greeted his father with a kiss, as was his custom. Poppy motioned for him to sit back down.
"So my son, two things I have to ask before we get started. First, how is that beautiful wife of yours? And second, am I any closer to being a grandfather?"
Anthony hated it when his father started conversations like this. How could he explain to his father that the marriage he arranged for him was not one of love. And as far as he was concerned, kids would never enter the picture. It would require more than he was willing to do.
"She's a bit sick today, but I think she'll be all right."
"Morning sickness, perhaps?" Poppy asked with hope in his eyes.
"So, Poppy, why did you want me to come by today?” Anthony was determined not to talk about
"Can you only think of business?”
Anthony didn’t answer him; he just looked around the room.
“Very well then. Let's talk business. I want to discuss something with you." Poppy paused, then got up from his desk and sat in the chair next to Anthony's. "Since your mothers death, God rest her soul, I've been a little out of it. I mean, her death was so unexpected. That was why I needed some time off. I started to lose my edge. I became . . . complacent."
Anthony sighed. He did not like the direction the conversation was going.
"But I feel the time has come for me to get involved again in some of the daily operations. This is no reflection on you, of course. You've done a fine job. I don’t mean to take over the whole operation again, just . . . I would like to be kept abreast of different situations and deals that come up."
Anthony just kept silent. He could feel his blood start to boil. If the old man thinks I'm going to just roll over and play dead, he's got another thing coming to him. He enjoyed the power he now possessed and would not give it up without a fight. Poppy couldn’t just give him ultimate control and then change his mind again on a whim.
Keeping his true feelings to himself Anthony responded. "If it's not going to be too much of strain on you, then I think it's a great idea. It’ll be good for you to get involved again. I welcome all your experience." Anthony placed his hands over his heart and hoped he sounded sincere. "Look, Poppy, there's some things that need my attention back at the office. If there isn't anything else, I'd like to go."
"No, nothing else."
Anthony gave his father an awkward hug and kissed him good-bye.
When he was about halfway out the door, Poppy said, "I’ll see you over there later." This made Anthony stop in mid-step. Poppy continued, "I thought I’d look over the books and see where things stand."
"Sure thing, see ya later." Anthony said without looking back. He felt his heart start to beat faster.
When Anthony got back to the car, he took out his cell phone and called the accountant. "It's me. Did you finish?" He took a deep breath and yelled, "I don't want any more excuses! My father is coming to the office this afternoon and everything better be ready! If it's not, you and your family are going to wish you’d chosen a different profession."
Anthony snapped his phone shut, tired of all the delays. He took out his black book and flipped through the pages.
"Mario, when we get back, cancel all my appointments. Poppy is coming."
Mario, concerned asked, "Is he taking over again, boss?"
"Don't worry about it. I'm still the one in charge, and that's all you need to know."
"Sorry, boss. I don't mean no disrespect." The last thing Mario wanted to do was get Anthony angry.
The rest of the ride was spent in complete silence. Anthony still didn’t speak even after arriving at the office. He just marched in, grabbed his messages off Mary's desk, and slammed his office door.
Mary, a very pretty woman in her mid twenties, made a quite efficient secretary, which surprised most people, because her short skirts and high heels fed the assumption that she was just another pretty face.
"I guess it's not a good time to ask for a raise." Mary winked at Mario, and they smiled knowingly at one another.
© Nadine Z. 2007