Serial Monday: The Rise and Fall of Quick-Fingers

 Custom Browning Hi-Power FNH made in Belgium + 4 hi cap mags

photo found at: lionseek.com

Saturday 2:00 p.m.

Tony drummed his fingers on the dashboard. “Where we headed, Bernie?”

A grunt filled with disgust answered him.

“Aw, man. Abruzzo? That guy’s a jerk-off. What’s he want now?”

Bernardo tilted his head slightly to the right.

“Right, right. Delivery.” Tony rolled down the window and hocked out a wad of phlegm. “Why Mr. de Rossi promoted that jackass to Capo, I’ll never know.”

He fell silent for the rest of the ride, thoughts on his upcoming date with Cindy. Three months since that day in the deli, and he couldn’t get enough of her. It helped she was a wildcat in the sack. Anything went with her, and he did everything. His hand slipped in his pocket and caressed the velvet-covered box inside. He was going to do it, tonight during their three-month anniversary.

Buildings changed from walk-ups to warehouses and Bernardo navigated the twists with the ease of practice. He pulled up to a gatehouse and nodded at the guard, who buzzed them through. The car rolled to a stop, and the two of them strolled inside.

A voice rang out from the dim interior. “About time you got here!” Footsteps echoed as Vinnie Abruzzo pounded down the metal stairs from the manager’s office on the second floor. “I was expecting you idiots an hour ago!”

Tony growled, but Bernardo calmed him with slight head shake.

“That’s right punk, listen to muscle-head.” Vinnie got in Tony’s face, breath stinking from a mix of cigarettes, whiskey, and hot dogs with too much onion and mustard. “You two mooks need to head out and oversee the exchange with the Devil Riders in an hour.”

He looked at his bare wrist as if checking a watch. “So what are you waiting for? Get outta here!”

Tony stormed out of the warehouse, Bernardo taking a more measured pace behind him. As they drove out of the lot, Tony said, “If I shoot him one day, you be okay with it?”

Bernardo’s lips tugged into a small smile.

***

Saturday 3:45 p.m.

The biker paced back and forth, tattoo sleeve rippling as he wrung his hands. “Where are they?”

Tony patted the air in a calming gesture. “Easy, Rick. They’ll be here any minute.” He glanced at Bernardo, not comforted by the big man’s deep frown. He moved in closer. “They’ll be here, right?” Tony whispered.

Bernardo shrugged and watched the road. Ten more minutes passed before a cloud of dust announced the arrival of the shipment. A panel van pulled up to the dive bar owned by the Devil Riders. A Family associate named Sam Long and an unknown driver hopped out. “Sorry we’re late. Got a little lost,” Sam called.

“About time,” Tony muttered. “Open up the van.”

Van doors swung open, revealing long crates sitting on the bed. Rick stalked over, crowbar in hand. He pried one of the boxes open and reached in to pull out an Uzi. “Yeah, this is what I’m talking about.” He grabbed a clip, loaded, pulled back the bolt, and popped off a few rounds. “Nice. I’ll be right back.”

Rick headed into the tavern for the cash. Tony tapped Bernardo on the arm. “I got a date tonight, B. Kinda important. Sam’s here, let’s bail.”

Bernardo’s gaze never left the new guy leaning against the van. He nodded and headed toward the car.

“Yo, Sammy! We gotta jet, man. Catch you later,” Tony called. He slid in the passenger seat, a bit surprised when Bernardo slammed the gas and took off. “Whoa, Bernie! It ain’t that important.”

Bernardo swerved off the main road, taking a small dirt road.

Tony looked around. “Where we goin’?”

Red lights flashed in front of them, a roadblock set up to catch anyone fleeing the scene. Men with jackets reading ATF pointed rifles at the car. Bernardo slammed on the brakes, pounding on the steering wheel.

Tony stared in dismay, then pulled out his cell. He hit Cindy’s number and it rang through to voice mail. “Hey, babe. It’s me. Somethin’s come up and I’m goin’ to miss our date tonight.”

He looked at Bernardo as agents rushed forward. “Well…shit.”

***

 

Click the button to catch up with the rest of the story.

Serial Monday: The Rise and Fall of Quick-Fingers

*Yes, yes…I know it’s Tuesday, I got caught up with stuff*

Note: These events take place six months after the last episode

Wednesday 3:45 p.m.

Tony’s breaths came in ragged gasps as he barreled down the sidewalk, shoving people out of his way with a panicked “Move!”. Three teens, two black and one latino, closed in on him from behind. His vision swam, spots forming along the edges of his sight. The mouth of an alley yawned just ahead and he dug for one last burst of speed, ducking into it. He ran past rotting garbage and a large dumpster, stopping short when he reached the dead end. “Son of a bitch!”

He turned to see the outlines of his pursuers, features hidden by the shadowed confines, stroll down the stinking path toward him. “Ha! Got you now, ya little dago. Nowhere to run. Now what did you call me?” the largest of the trio said.

The three passed the invisible line Tony drew in his head, and he grinned. “I called you a rubber-lipped, baboon-nosed, stinkin’ moolie, ya moolie.”

The click of a blade springing into place echoed. “You are dead!”

They charged past the dumpster, the switchblade wielder’s ribs meeting with a baseball bat swung by Bernardo springing from hiding. The knife went flying forward while the boy went back, head cracking on the ground. Bernardo didn’t hesitate, using the remaining duo’s astonishment to his advantage. The bat whistled through the shadows, cries and breaking bones answering in return.

“Yeah, Bernardo! Give it to the bastards!” Tony leaped up and down in excitement, hands flashing forward as he boxed at nothing. “Teach ’em a lesson! Whoo! Eye of the tiger, baby!”

Bernardo finished his grisly chore and Tony shadow-boxed his way to his prone and groaning former pursuers. The blade-wielder lay unconscious, and Tony kicked him in the balls. Then he kicked him again. Again. The kicks sped up, more force behind each one. “Stupid, bastard.” Kick. “Think you were gonna cut me?” Kick. “I’m too smart, for ya, boy.” Kick.

Bernardo grabbed Tony by the shoulder, mid-kick, and yanked him away. “Yeah, yeah, Bernie. I got it.” Tony sniffed and smoothed back his hair. “I’m cool now. I’m cool.”

He knelt next to the Puerto Rican member of the group and slapped the boy’s face. “Hablo English, prick?” Hatred rolled off the banger and he spit a glob of blood at Tony’s feet. “I guess that’s a ‘yes’.” He punched the kid across the jaw. “You know Kurtzman’s Deli? The one you and your scumbag pals decided to rob? That’s under the protection of Mr. de Rossi. He doesn’t like wetbacks and moolies hasslin’ the good people of the neighborhood, ya know?”

Tony punched him again, then rifled the guys pockets, pulling out a wallet. He opened it up to read the driver’s license, noticing pictures of an older woman and young girl of about twelve on the opposite fold. He smirked and reached inside his track-suit, pulling his Browning out.

The Latino boy’s eyes widened in fear, and Tony chuckled. He tapped the barrel against the helpless man’s forehead, hard. “I ain’t gonna kill you…right now.” He held up the wallet, the pictures clearly visible. “Nah. This is just a message. Stay away from the deli…actually, you know what? Stay outta that neighborhood.” Tony glanced at the picture of the mother and little sister with mock concern. “I’d hate for anything to happen to lil’ sis here. Seems like she might grow up to a sweet piece.”

He pulled the cash from the wallet, along with the picture and license, tossing the emptied leather on the fallen man’s chest. He glanced at Bernardo, who held up the other two’s wallet contents. “We know where you live. Remember that.”

Bernardo grunted his assent, and the two of them strolled out of the alley.

***

 

Serial Monday: The Rise and Fall of Quick-Fingers

 Custom Browning Hi-Power FNH made in Belgium + 4 hi cap mags

photo found: www.lionseek.com

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?”

“Yes, sir.”

“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.

***

Welcome To The Family

Thursday 2:10 p.m.

Tony’s pencil drummed on his desk as the clock refused to move. He smacked his gum and blew a huge bubble, the snap from the pop drawing eyes from all over the room. His teacher, Mr. Franklin, glared at him, then went back to reading his paper with a slight shake of his head. Tony grinned and chewed louder. One more month and he could drop out of this place.

A soft knock on the door interrupted the wasting of time. Mr. Franklin hauled his carcass out his chair, put-out expression firmly affixed. Tony watched as Mr. Franklin spoke with the school secretary. He stiffened as he saw her mouth form “Abbatiello.”

Mr. Franklin turned back to his now-whispering students, and jerked his thumb at the door. “Abbatiello. Principal. Now.” A soft, “oooohhhh,” came from the bowl full of losers that made up the low-track.

Tony gathered his books and sauntered over to the door. “What’d I do, Mr. F. ?”

“Don’t know, don’t care. I’m sure you’ve done plenty. The question becomes which one did you get caught for?”

Tony frowned as the class laughed. Fat bastard. Better watch your back.

He straightened his shoulders and walked out of the classroom, head high.

Thursday 2:35 p.m.

Tony strolled, whistling, into Mr. Kroeger’s office. “You were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago! Where have you been?” the principal barked.

Tony shrugged. “Eh, I dropped my stuff off at my locker and hit the john. Emergency, ya know?”

Mr. Kroeger’s face turned an unhealthy shade of red. Before he could explode, a cultured voice from behind Tony said, “It is quite all right, Phillip. May we use your office?”

Mr. Kroeger licked his lips as beads of sweat formed on his forehead. “Of course, Mr. Fianchetti. Please give the Family my regards,” he said as he scurried out of the room.

Tony stayed frozen through the whole exchange. He recognized the voice. A tall, thin man with slightly gray temples and wearing a tailor-made Gucci suit stepped into his line of sight, confirming his fears. “Do you know who I am, young man?” Fianchetti said in a low, dangerous tone.

Tony shook his head. The guy couldn’t know he was the one.

Fianchetti grinned, and it reminded Tony of a cobra he’d seen at the Bronx Zoo. “Well, let me refresh your memory. I’m the man you used your little quick fingers on to steal my wallet.”

A beefy hand, attached to an even beefier arm, clapped on his shoulder and squeezed. Tony felt his knees buckle and he allowed the hand to guide him into a chair. Fianchetti studied his manicured nails. “Normally, I would have Bernardo here take you somewhere and ‘teach’ you a few facts of life.”

Tony’s neck craned back as he looked up at the unsmiling face of his captor. Bernardo grunted and flicked his head toward Fianchetti. Tony turned back as Fianchetti spoke again. “I’m sure you plan to protest your innocence, or you ‘not guiltiness’ as the case may be. Do not bother to waste my time doing so, or I may change my mind.”

Tony gulped and stammered out, “Ch-change y-your m-m-mind?”

“Yes. You will meet Bernardo here at Franco’s Bar, you’re familiar with it?” At Tony’s confirmation nod, Fianchetti continued. “You will meet him at precisely 8:00 tonight. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Fianchetti nodded at Bernardo, and Tony felt the pressure release from his shoulder. “Don’t think about missing the appointment, Mr. Abatiello. Something…unfortunate may happen.”

Thursday 8:00 p.m.

Tony hunched his shoulders deeper under his jacket, hands firmly in his jean pockets. He jumped a little every time the door to Franco’s opened behind him. Keep it cool. They aren’t going to beat you down. Keep it cool.

A dark sedan pulled up to the curb, stopping right in front of Tony. The window rolled down and Bernardo’s florid face stared at him. Tony shuffled over and leaned down. Bernardo handed him a package, rolled the window up, and the sedan took off.

Tony’s hand shook as he tore the envelope taped to the plain brown wrapper. The note read:

Take this package to Wong’s Diner on 39th. Go to the alley entrance and ask for Bo Han. Open the package before he comes to the door.

Thursday 8:40 p.m.

Tony kept glancing over his shoulder as he eased down the alleyway. A cat screeched from behind the restaurant dumpster, sending Tony up against the filthy alley wall, heart racing. He gulped and forced himself to keep moving. He reached the doors, hearing sounds of kitchen-work coming through the thin metal.

He pounded on the door. A short Chinese man wearing a stained apron opened the door. “What do you want?”

“I-I h-have a package for a Mr. Bo Han.”

The man eyed Tony suspiciously for a moment before muttering, “Wait here.” The door slammed in his face.

Tony tore open the wrapper to reveal a plain brown box. He flipped the lid open, and a Browning Hi-Power nestled inside with a small note on top that simply said:

Kill him

The door opened back up. “I’m Bo Han. What do you want?”

Tony’s hand grabbed the grip and he fired. Bo Han and the box hit the ground at the same time.

***

This story comes from a request by lexborgia at Nerd On The Bridge. He liked the character of Tony Abbatiello and wanted more of his life. I figured where better to start than the beginning of his career. For the story of Tony’s demise click here. For his character sketch, click here.

Hope you enjoy, and if anyone else happens to like a character and wants to see more, please feel free to let me know.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

The Second Mouse

Brandon followed the black-clad man carrying a canvas bag at a distance. For weeks he had been tracking this particular man, ever since the announcement  the Rishi Diamond would arrive at the National Museum. The article might as well have said “Thieves: Open Season-Get Rich Quick.”

Every thief worth his salt started making plans the second the knowledge became public in an effort to be first. The early bird would get the worm. The worm in this case would be a diamond worth more than the GNP of several small nations.

Rumors had reached Brandon about Dieter Von Hausburg, widely regarded as one of the best thieves in the world, coming to the city and making a play for the goods. Hausburg always, always, worked solo. Brandon wasn’t even sure Dieter needed the money. It seemed more likely he was making the play out of pride.

Either way, Brandon meant to stop him.

Streetlights created a hodge-podge of light and shadow along the sidewalk, the city buildings looming over the two of them. They weren’t the only two on the street; various denizens of the city’s darker pursuits shared the walkway.

It only felt like the two of them existed in their own world.

Hausburg stopped suddenly to talk to a sad-looking prostitute, face lined from the beating life, and her pimp, had inflicted on her. Brandon shuffled past the two, adopting body language that told observers “Don’t mess with me.”

It didn’t really matter if he lost Hausburg. He knew the German’s destination after all.

He fished a cigarette out of his coat pocket and lit it, playing the uncaring pedestrian role to the hilt. It must have convinced Hausburg because the German started moving again. Not wanting to raise anymore suspicion and scare off his quarry, Brandon changed course.

There was more than one route to the museum.

***

Brandon hid in an alley near the museum, careful to keep out of sight. He checked his watch. 12:34 a.m. One minute until showtime.

A cable shooting through the air caught his eye. He smiled and pulled out his cell-phone. He kept watching as Hausburg slid down the zipline to the museum roof. He waited until Hausburg took off the one of the panes on the skylight before dialing 911.

“Hello, police? I’d like to report a suspicious man on the roof of the museum. He’s clad all in black and looks like he’s up to no good,” he told the operator in his best old timer’s voice.

The police were on high alert and their response time would be quicker than normal. It took all of a minute and a half before a black and white screeched to a halt in front of the museum, the officers leaping out of the car and barreling up the stairs.

Alarms blared over the normal sounds of the city at night, screaming out to anyone that would listen.

Brandon shook off his backpack and pulled out the uniform inside of it. He quick-changed and headed toward the chaos. Red and blue lights strobed over faces and guns as more cops showed up to back-up the first responders. Brandon joined the army of blue that stormed the museum.

Hausburg had no place to go and quickly surrendered. The Rishi Diamond was confiscated from his possession and put into an evidence bag, handed off to a uniform for processing. News crews surrounded the perimeter, heralding the capture of one of the most wanted thieves in the world by the fine work of the city police.

Brandon shed his uniform and strolled away, hand caressing the gem in his pocket. The early bird might get the worm, he thought, but the second mouse gets the cheese.