Monday 9:30 p.m.
Tony’s thumb traced the contours of the crucifix he wore around his neck as he stared at a full-sized cross behind the priest’s ambo. The pews around him sat empty and cold, softened only by the glow from votive candle flames. One flame in particular, weak and tiny compared to the others, drew his gaze. Figures. The one I light looks like it’s about to go out.
He heard the door open and he twisted his head to the side to catch a glimpse of the new visitors. Mr. Fianchetti and Bernardo paused by the stoup at the sanctuary entrance, dipping their fingers and making the sign of the cross before striding down the aisle.
The duo passed him without a glance, heading to the communion area in front of the pews. Both men genuflected before the cross, making its sign once again. Fianchetti groaned slightly as he rose to his feet, and took a seat next to Tony. Bernardo stood behind and slightly to the left of Tony’s position. “Jesus, Quick-Fingers, you made a hell of a mess,” Mr. Fianchetti said.
Tony stared at the dying flame of his candle. “I know that, sir.”
“You’re lucky Bernardo here likes you, kid. Won’t shut up about how we should give you a chance.”
Tony’s brow furrowed and he turned to look at the ogre behind him. Bernardo grunted and flicked his chin forward. Tony turned his attention back to the consigliere. “I appreciate what you did for me, Mr. Fianchetti. I really do.”
Fianchetti waved the comment away. “Eh. Stuff happens, Quick-Fingers. You did all right on the Han job, but try not to be so quick on the trigger when the circumstances don’t call for it, got it?”
Tony nodded his understanding. Fianchetti glanced over, and Tony could feel himself being measured. “Good work telling the cops what we told you to say, by the way, kid. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about how you’d hold up, but you came through like a champ. Detective Maron said you played the dutiful son to the hilt.”
Fianchetti’s hand clapped on Tony’s shoulder, and Tony mustered a smile. “No pig can break me, Mr. Fianchetti.”
Bernardo grunted and Fianchetti laughed. “That’s the Quick-Fingers I’ve come to know! Piss and vinegar, eh, Bernardo?”
Bernardo tapped his watch and Fianchetti grinned. “C’mon, Quick-Fingers, I’ve got an appointment to keep. I’ve arranged it so you can stay at Bernardo’s guest house until you…get back on your feet. Sound good?”
Tony’s shoulders released tension he hadn’t known about. “I appreciate that, Mr. Fianchetti. I was wonderin’ where I was goin’ to stay.”
Tony and Fianchetti stood, the older man grasping the younger’s shoulders. “Think nothing of it, son. You’re Family now. We take of ours, understand?”
“Good.” Fianchetti clapped him once more on the shoulder, then released him and headed back down the aisle. “Let’s get you settled into your new digs, Quick-Fingers. We’ve got work to do.”
Tony followed his boss out of the sanctuary, stopping at the stoup, dipping his fingers in the holy water, and making the sign of the cross along with the two other men. Before they exited, a thought popped into Tony’s head. “My gun!”
Fianchetti paused, hand hovering near the door. “Eh? Oh, that. Bernardo here had to get rid of it. Which reminds me, Bernardo?”
The big man reached inside the top of his red Gucci track-suit and pulled out a box, handing it to Tony. Tony flipped the lid and saw a matte-black Browning Hi-Power, with an ivory grip engraved with a Celtic Cross and knot-work. “Thanks, Mr. Fianchetti!”
“Don’t thank me, kid. Thank the big guy here. He said it was a, what was it, Bernardo? Oh, a ‘housewarming present.'”
Tony looked up at Bernardo, nodding his head in appreciation. The corner of Bernardo’s mouth twitched for a moment as he returned the gesture.
Tony smirked and tucked the pistol back into the box. He opened the door and gestured for Mr. Fianchetti and Bernardo to head out first, following with a lightness inside he had never felt before.
As the door closed, a small gust of wind snuffed out the flame on his candle.