Serial Monday – The Rise and Fall of Quick-Fingers: Home

Friday 3:00 a.m.

Tony eased open the door to the small apartment he shared with his mother. “Damn it, Ma!” he said under his breath when the chain caught, halting his progress. He stuck his arm through the crack in the door, straining to reach the latch. The chain rattled as he found the catch and worked it off the slide.

He glanced down the hallway, making sure nobody stood ready to rush the door, and he scurried inside. He gently pushed the old wood closed until he heard it latch. He re-locked the entrance and leaned against it with a sigh. He winced as his foot kicked a pile of discarded beer cans. A tinny clatter filled the dingy room. “Tony? Iz’zat you?”

“Yeah, Ma.”

She coughed, wet and thick. Tony watched something fly out of her mouth as she reached for her pack of Kools on the burn-scarred coffee table. “Get me a beer outta the fridge.”

Tony blanched, but strode into the tiny kitchen, back stiff. He pulled out a six-pack with three empty rings and set it in front of her fleshy hands. She blew smoke in his face, popped the tab on the can, and guzzled half before slamming it back down. “At least your good for something.” An ugly smile, highlighting discolored teeth and the gaps between them, slashed through the fat on her face. “Still won’t amount to nothin’. Just like your scumbag sperm-donor.”

Tony trembled in rage. “Shut up! You’re always puttin’ me down.” He slapped the beer off the table. “You know, I don’t blame Pops for leavin’. Look at you.” He pointed a finger in her face. “You say I’m not gonna be nothin’, you’re the one that’s nothin’. I’m goin’ to be somebody!”

Her hand flew threw the air, and his head snapped to the side. Used to it, he recovered and pulled the Browning from the back of his pants, pointing it between her beady eyes. “You ain’t never gonna touch me again, bitch!”

Her chins quivered in anger, eyes all but disappeared into the folds of her face. “You ain’t got the balls.”

Tony’s hand shook, the barrel of the gun bobbing up and down. “Shut up! Just shut up!”

His mother cackled. “Big man with a gun. Well, go on. Shoot me, you little sissy! Show me you got a pair!”

Tears rolled down Tony’s face, and his voice took on a begging tone. “Please, just shut up, Ma. Please.”

Mrs. Abbatiello puffed on her cigarette, then flicked the butt at her son. He jerked back in surprise, finger spasming. A thunderous boom echoed in the enclosed area. Maureen Abbatiello’s eyes widened as red blossomed on her stained nightgown. She looked down to her chest and back at Tony before falling over and crushing the coffee table.

“Ma? Ma!” Tony dropped the pistol and leaped over to his fallen victim. “Ma! Oh, God, forgive me. I’m sorry. Ma!”

Tony pulled out a special cell Bernardo gave him and smashed the speed-dial. It rang once before someone answered with a grunt. “Bernardo!” Tony cried. “Oh, Jesus, man. I screwed up bad. I need help! I…I…look, just get back here, okay? I don’t care what I have to do, just…just…help me.”

The phone clicked and a dial tone replaced the silence. Tony dropped the phone and cradled his dead mother’s head in his lap.

***

Cognitive Reflection Picture Writing Challenge #25: Explanations

 photo kiss_zps272de530.png

A thin beam of light pierced through the blind, penetrating Kahtarina’s consciousness. She squirmed and moaned. “Ban!” She sat up, waves of dizziness and nausea causing her to grab the nearest wastebasket. She finished heaving and groaned at the symphony of drummers playing thrash metal in her skull.

She grabbed her head, unfamiliar bandages rough under her fingers. Her eyes widened and she glanced around the room. A monitor with a steady beep…beep sat beside the strange bed she occupied. A tug in her forearm drew her attention, revealing a needle stuck in her vein. She traced the tubing back to an IV-stand behind her. “Where…?”

Further study revealed a well-worn couch along the pea-green wall. Water-stains marred the corner where wall met ceiling, and the baseboard looked to have mold growing right above the dark brown carpet-line. This is no hospital room!

She ripped the IV out of her arm, ignored the vehement protest of her aching body, and stood, shuffling over to the door. She twisted, pulled, and pushed, but the door refused to open. She hurried over to the window, stumbling and barking her shin against the edge of the bed. “Verrek!

She clawed the flimsy plastic blinds off their rods to see iron bars running the length of the pane. She pressed her face as far as she could between two bars to see outside.

The weather seemed much nicer than what she remembered in Amsterdam. People walked along the streets with only light jackets to protect against the breeze, if they wore any protection at all. She watched a couple at a small café hold hands. The man leaned across the table and kissed a girl in a white dress. Where the hell am I?

Memories scratched and scrabbled to find purchase in her mind, to no avail. The pain held them at bay, allowing only small flashes to penetrate its lines. Scruff…running…Anna? What happened to me?

The door handle jostling turned her around, and she pressed her back against the barred windows, eyes frantically searching the room. They settled on the IV-stand, and she dashed over, hefting the cold metal in her hands. The knob turned and the hinges squeaked as it opened. “Kahtarina?”

Kahtarina ran toward the door, swinging the improvised weapon in her hand. She only caught a glimpse of rimless glasses as she felt the impact of metal against arm. “Ow! Merde!” The thin man tumbled to the side and she bolted out the door. “Kahtarina! Wait!”

She ran into a corridor painted the same sickly green as the bedroom, adorned only with a nightstand that held a flowerless vase and large vanity mirror hanging above.  The wall changed into a thick wooden railing that ended in a staircase a few feet away. She started toward her escape route, but a strong hand grabbed her shoulder, pulling her back. “Will you wait a minute?”

Kahtarina thrashed and screamed, throwing her head back and stomping in hopes of breaking her attackers foot. “Let me GO!”

The man wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground. She tried to rake his shins, but met little success without shoes. “Henry Pleasant! HENRY PLEASANT!”

Kahtarina ceased flailing at the name, but still pulled against her assailant’s grasp. He let her go and she stepped away, turning to look at him with suspicious eyes. “What about him?”

Her captor readjusted his glasses her struggles knocked askew. He swept his hand back to indicate the bedroom. Kahtarina’s gaze hardened and she crossed her arms, foot tapping and head shaking. A rueful smile swept his face. “Fine. I’ll tell you here.”

His voice jogged her memory, allowing recent events to flood her mind. “You! You spilled my hot chocolate on me, then chased me down the street! Who are you?”

He held up his hand. “I’m reaching for my badge, okay? Don’t freak out like you did the last time.”

“I didn’t freak out,” she muttered, as he pulled out a black leather wallet.

He flipped it open to show a badge and I.D. card with his picture on it. “My name is Jacoby Rabin, and I’m with INTERPOL.”

Kahtarina’s posture didn’t relax. “Why did you kidnap me?” she spat.

Jacoby cleared his throat and tugged the collar of his shirt. “Uh…about that. Sorry. Although, it was less kidnapping and more placing you into protective custody.”

A questioning eyebrow arched, and he continued. “You know Henry Pleasant.”

She nodded. “He’s a scumbag that cheated on his wife.”

“With you.”

She sighed and threw up her hands. “If you know so much, why are you asking me. Wait…how do you know so much?”

“INTERPOL monitors certain people with…special skill sets that we suspect hire out for…certain jobs.”

Kahtarina frowned at the cryptic response. She closed her eyes as she parsed through Jacoby’s words. Her eyes snapped open as the meaning hit her. “He hired someone to kill me?” Knuckles whitened as her fists clenched. “That klerelijer!”

“The one he hired, Kurt Berlitz, was in the pub that day. He knew your schedule, and I believe he did something to the hot chocolate mix, as he knew the barkeep kept it specifically for you.”

“So you bumped me on purpose?” She sighed, shoulders slumping and hands hanging limply at her sides. “This is just too much.”

Jacoby took a tentative step forward. “I understand this can be…overwhelming. Why don’t we go downstairs and I’ll make you something to eat. We’ll talk.”

She shuffled after him down the stairs, an ache of a different kind coloring her eyes.

***

For Cognitive Reflection’s Picture Writing Challenge #25. The photos posted by Moi at Cognitive Reflection help me move the story of the Pleasant Family along, indeed they got there start there and have nestled in quite comfortably 🙂 Catch up with what’s happened so far by clicking Drama: Pleasant Family.

Hope you enjoy this installment.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn