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

Sunday 1:00 a.m.

A door slammed. Tony snorted and jerked his head up. He wiped a sliver of drool from his chin and looked around the bland room. It took him a moment to remember the arrest and escort to interrogation. They’d left him there six hours to stew and soften him up, so he’d decided to take a nap. He smirked at the female agent across the table from him, and ignored her partner in the corner. “Thanks for the sleep, hon’, but could we get this movin’ now?”

She set down a thin file and started pulling out pictures without saying a word. Tony glanced at them. They showed him and Bernardo hanging around the biker bar and talking with Rick. “Hey, tell whoever your photographer is that I said thanks. They got my good side.”

The agent caught his gaze with hers. “Tony Abbatiello, small-time hood for the de Rossi family. Tsk, tsk, tsk.” She shook her head in mock dismay. “Moving up to gun-running. Not a smart career move.”

“Funny. I don’t see any guns in these pictures.” He chuckled. “Can I have one of these after I go? They got some nice, what’s that word…” He snapped his fingers. “Composition.”

She frowned at his act. “I don’t think you realize the seriousness of the situation you’re in, Tony. Your buddy’s been singing like a bird and pointed the finger at you.”

Tony burst out laughing so hard he had to hold his sides. “You…ha! B.? Ha!” He waved his hand in the air as if warding off an attack. He sucked in a deep breath. “Please…no more. That’s…that’s just too funny!”

“I’m serious, Tony. Bernardo over there gave you up.”

Tony’s laughter died, though the occasional guffaw still escaped. “I’m going to make this easy for you, sweetheart.” He wiped his eyes. “Lawyer.”

The man in the corner stirred for the first time. “You really don’t want to do that. You lawyer up, we can’t help you.”

Tony rolled his eyes and pointed at the camera. “See that? It’s on record I asked for a lawyer. So save it for the sheep. Law-y-er.”

The female agent stood up in disgust. “Take him to a cell.”

Tony leaned back in his chair, hand behind his head. “Hate to see you leave, love to watch you go, babe.” He wolf-whistled and chuckled at the male agent’s glare. Now he just had to sit and wait for the law firm on retainer with the de Rossi Family to come spring him.

Maybe he could make up his date with Cindy later that day.

***

 

Click the knight for the rest of the story so far.

 

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

Friday 1:00 p.m.

Kurtzman’s Deli bustled with activity. Suits glued to phones quick-ordered at the harried hair-net behind the counter, while waitresses scurried back and forth between tables, dishes of food teetering on arms swerving around the lunch rush. Couples laughed and argued between bites.

Tony sat in a corner booth, back to the wall. He picked at his pastrami sandwich, eyeing the pickles on the side with suspicion. A cheerful voice, three tables over, caused him to look up. A half-smile played on his lips as he watched one of the waitresses, Cindy, taking the orders of a some frat-boys.

She’d swept her raven-colored hair back in a ponytail, which highlighted the pink streak running through her tresses. The short, tight uniform skirt revealed toned legs stretching to a tight ass that he just wanted to grab. He knew from long surveillance that her emerald eyes danced with amusement when she talked to customers, and he dreamed about them burning with passion for him. If he could just figure out how to talk to her…

“Hey!” Cindy’s voice rose in protest above the cacophony. Conversation died as the diners turned to watch one of the college punks retract his hand from her rear, shit-eating grin on his face.

Tony burst from his booth, sandwich in hand. He came up behind the jackass and swung, mashing the sandwich in the guy’s face so hard the kid tipped back in his chair and hit the floor. “Keep your bitch hands to yourself!”

Chair legs screeched as the other two stood up ready to go at it. Tony sneered at them. “What?”

The boys paused as they noticed several men in the room stand, eyeing them like tigers stalking prey. The offender didn’t realize why his friends paused. He scrambled up and threw a right-cross that sent Tony sprawling to the floor. “Think you can do that to me, you little guinea grease-ball?”

One of the others grabbed a shoulder decorated with a stray slice of pastrami. “Uh…Chet? We should get out of here, man.”

The nervous tremor in his friend’s voice sunk into Chet’s skull and he looked around to see hard-looking men striding toward him. A frizzy-haired man with a bushy mustache and cook’s apron slapped a rolling-pin in one hand. The pin pointed at Chet and a voice boomed, “You get out of my shop! Nobody touches my waitresses or Mr. Abbatiello!”

Chet sneered and shook off his friend’s grip. “Whatever. This place is a dump anyways.” The three of them backed-up to the door, Chet behind his two buddies. “The little tramp liked it,” Chet yelled. He turned to bolt out the door and stumbled back as he met a hard obstacle.

Chet cocked his arm back to swing, but stopped as he craned his neck up to see unsmiling granite punctuated by glittering cold eyes. The death-stare flicked over to Tony on the floor and back to the condiment-covered Chet so fast Chet wasn’t sure it happened.

“Heh. Chet…” Tony called, “…meet my friend, Bernardo.” He waved at his partner. “Bernardo…Chet’s an asshole.”

Bernardo grunted and his paw shot out to grab Chet by the throat. He dragged Chet out of the shop, ignoring the frat-boy’s struggling. He eyed the two standing in open-mouthed amazement and pointed down the street. They understood and the sound of their feet slapping pavement echoed in the neighborhood.

Cindy knelt by Tony when the behemoth disappeared out of sight. “You okay?”

Tony rubbed his jaw, wincing as he hit a tender spot. “I’ll live.”

Mr. Kurtzman held his impromptu weapon in one hand and reached down to help Tony up with the other. “I apologize, Mr. Abbatiello. Those…punks won’t be allowed back in here again.”

Tony waved off the apology. “Not your fault, Saul.” He brushed off his track-suit and fussed with his hair. “I look okay?”

Cindy smiled at him. “I think you look…cute.”

Bernardo strode back in, his knuckles a conspicuous red. He tapped Tony on the shoulder, following it with a grunt.

Tony grimaced. “I’ve got to go,” he told Cindy. “Would you like to maybe catch a movie or something?”

She wrote something on her order pad, ripped it out, and handed it to Tony. “Call me sometime.”

Tony accepted it with a grin and followed Bernardo out of the shop. “Things are lookin’ up, Bernie.” He raised an eyebrow when Bernardo sighed, but no explanation followed.

***

 

Click the button to catch up with the rest of the story. Sorry I’m late again. I’ll endeavor to try to get back on schedule next week.

 

Fantasy-Drake-Rider: Call-Up

Heart of Telmerath "Ever Loyal and Vigilant"

Drill-Master Varis bent over the map laid out on the table, blunt finger jabbing at lines denoting a hill overlooking a river. “If we can push them back and take this hill it will give us an advantage.”

Horse-Captain Gale frowned and shook his head. “The problem is they hold it, giving them the high ground. If the Drake-Knights were available to soften the Tremalaine defenses, I might consider it. As it stands now…”

Varis grimaced. The war had taken its toll on everyone, but the enemy’s new ballista system, designed to shoot multiple missiles and built in massive numbers, devastated Telmerath’s aerial guardians. Now some of the kingdom’s best warriors were relegated to courier missions and ineffectual high-altitude boulder drops. “Maybe a small group, under cover of darkness-”

Gale looked at him sharply. “Telmerathian soldiers do not skulk about like some back-alley mug-hunter, Drill-Master. Is that clear?”

Varis’ lips tightened at the rebuke, but he refrained from speaking. His Majesty’s Cavaliers, comprised of nobles, wouldn’t know how to sneak in anyway. Unless the sneaking consisted of backroom deals and visiting ladies of questionable virtue. He shook his head to drive out the unproductive musing and turned back to the map, eyes searching for some thrust that could set Tremalaine on the defensive.

The tent-flap furled and one of the guards, Leftenant Wexler, poked his head inside. “Sirs, Drake-Lord Miathes is here to see you.”

Gale straightened up and smoothed out his red tunic bearing the insignia of the Cavaliers, a purple shield bearing a rearing horse. “Show him in, Leftenant.”

A tall man with broad shoulders, clad in the sky-blue tunic and trousers that marked him as a Drake-Knight, but without the purple trim that would proclaim him Drake-Lord, strode past the sentry without fanfare, a grim look on his face. “Gale,” Miathes said without preamble. “I need to call up some of your Cavaliers for my unit.”

The horse-captain opened his mouth, but the larger man slapped down a rolled parchment made of vellum, bearing the Royal seal. “Here’s the King’s writ, in case you were thinking of protesting.”

Gale frowned and turned away from Miathes. The Drake-Lord let it go; he knew no officer worth their salt liked losing men, no matter the circumstance, but especially with a war on.

Varis snatched the parchment, broke the seal, and scanned the contents. “Ten?” He winced at the tone of his question, but plowed on. “Normally, it’s one or two. Ten will put a huge hole in our lines.”

Miathes nodded at the scroll. “That authorizes you to fill your losses by shuffling soldiers in from other Cavalier units.”

Gale turned back around, eyes blazing. “Why us? This will gut our effectiveness for at least two months! Transfers, training, integration…” He tossed his hands in the air. “Why?”

Miathes scowled. “His Majesty heard about the breakthrough led by two of your men. That, plus other successes, swayed the King to the idea his Drake Knights would be wise to draft from this unit.” The drake-lord held up his hands in a placating gesture. “I know this a hardship for you, but it is a great honor for those chosen. Would you deny them that?”

Gale deflated, rubbing the back of his neck in weary defeat. He flicked his head at Varis, who took up the conversation. “Milord, we have several long-time veterans-”

Miathes shook his head. “I’m breaking protocol on this recruitment. His Majesty’s Drake Knights have been stagnant, and we need to adapt. I want…need younger soldiers. Soldiers with fire and ideas. I’ll start with the two that broke through the Tremalaine lines.”

Gale tensed again at the thought of losing his cadre of youthful warriors, but Varis murmured, “Captain, it is well-known that Leftenents Damon Forester and Yallo WindFern dream to one day join the Drake Knights. They are good men, but we shouldn’t fight to deny their goals.”

Gale’s fists clenched. “Fine. Make a list and give it to him.” He gave Miathes a short, curt nod, and said, “If you’ll excuse me,” before storming out of the tent.

Varis watched his commander leave, a pained look on his face. “My apologies Lord-”

Miathes waved away the apology. “Don’t. I imagine I would react much the same way.”

“Still, etiquette and all that.” He managed a weak grin. “You really are getting two of our best. I had my doubts about Forester, but he’s proven to be a voracious learner and one hell of a Cavalier. And Yallo is the standard to which I hold a Cavalier in this unit.”

Miathes smile came more naturally. “Good. That just leaves eight more, eh?”

The two men huddled closer to the table, intent on their task. Neither noticed Wexler, third son of Pelias, Earl of WindFern, narrow his eyes in hatred at the praise heaped upon his elder brother.

***

For the rest of the story so far, click here or go to the sidebar and click Fantasy: Drake-Rider. For Yeah Write’s Moonshine Grid. Head over and check out some great writers!

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.

***

Science Fiction – Horizon Chaser: Tension

Erin slammed into floor, her groan changing to wheeze from a quick blow to her solar plexus. Black and gray spots swam through her vision, but left enough space for her to recognize a set of knuckles rapidly heading for her jaw. She heard a voice, tinny and echoing, yell, “STOP!”

Waves of pain washed over her as the fist ignored the distant command. The gray spots fled as black took over.

***

“What the hell was THAT?” Gillian’s face, twisted and red, snapped forward, leaving less than an inch between her nose and Samantha “Sammy” Gutierrez’s. “When I say STOP, I mean STOP! If you ever pull some shit like that again, will put you in the med-bay. Do you understand me?”

Sammy stared above her superior’s head, eyes never leaving the far bulkhead. “Yes, ma’am!”

“Get the hell out of my sight before I do something you’ll regret!”

The ship’s third shift navigator performed a crisp about-face, strode off the practice mat, and out of the gym, head unbowed and back straight.

***

Captain Megan Hurley poured a finger a bourbon into a metal tumbler, glanced at her Master-at-Arms, then poured a couple more. She handed the whiskey to her shipmate and friend of fifteen years. “What do you think caused it?”

Gillian slammed back the offering in one gulp. “Kendra,” she exhaled.

The captain frowned and swirled her drink around before taking a sip. She leaned against her desk, arms folded. “Explain.”

Gillian shrugged, studying the empty bottom of her cup. “Sammy blames Erin for Kendra’s death. Not much more to tell.”

“Should I put them on separate shifts?”

Lips disappeared as Gillian pondered the question. “No. If you do that then Sammy’ll never get over it, and it’ll look like we’re babying Erin.”

Megan set her glass on the desk. “And if their problems affect the running of the ship?”

Gillian grinned at the petite blonde. “That’s why they pay you the big bucks,” she said as she stole the neglected drink and downed it.

Captain Hurley rubbed her temples, trying to ward off the building ache. “You’re such a help.”

“I aim to please, Captain.”

***

Silence reigned on the bridge, its grip harsh and tyrannical. Erin’s eyes kept stealing glances at Sammy over at the navigator’s station, despite the throbbing her jaw suffered every time they looked. Her assailant sat stiff-backed, view never wavering from her plot readouts.

A course correction popped up on Erin’s pilot-eye view screen, and she sighed.

“Shut up.”

Erin’s fingers punched in the course correction, her face screwed up in frustration. “Careful, Princess. You might break a nail.”

Erin swiveled her seat to the side. “What is your problem?”

Sammy gave her a look normally reserved for something unpleasant found on the bottom of a shoe. “You. The captain never should have hired you.”

Erin arched a chilly brow. “Oh. So I guess you wanted to be a pirate’s toy then? Guess you never know about some people, do you?”

Sammy’s head snapped up for the first time, eyes blazing. “What I want is my wife back, you spoiled bitch!”

Erin recoiled from the venom. “Your…Kendra?”

Sammy laughed, bitter and hard. “You didn’t even know, did you? You just wanted to play hero, consequences be damned, and got her killed!”

Erin turned back to her station. “You know what? Screw you. Kendra was brave and gave her life so the rest of the crew wouldn’t be raped or sold as sex-slaves. If you can’t understand that…then you didn’t deserve her in the first place.”

“How dare you!” Sammy leaped out of her chair, body trembling in rage.

“How dare you?” Erin retorted. “You want to hate me? Fine, but don’t try to stir up pity pretending it’s because of Kendra.”

The door swished open and Captain Hurley strode in. “Return to your station!” she snapped at Sammy.

“But, Captain-”

Hurley raised her hand to cut off whatever the younger woman would have said. “Stow it! I won’t have this on my ship.” She placed her hands on her hips and stared at Erin. “Stahl, can you work with Gutierrez?”

Erin cocked her head as she studied the other woman. “I can if she can.”

“Well, I can’t,” Sammy screeched. “Captain, she got Kendra ki-”

“That is enough!” Hurley barked, fists balled so hard her knuckles turned white. “I gave the order to execute the plan, Master-at-Arms Gillian commanded it.” Her voice lowered to a dangerous whisper. “If you want to blame someone, blame us.”

Sammy deflated at her captain’s anger. “I’m sorry, Captain. I don’t blame either of you, but I can’t work with…with…” She flicked her hand in Erin’s direction. “It’s her or me, Captain.”

Captain Hurley didn’t hesitate as she drew herself up to her full height. “Then it’s her.” Sammy’s eyes widened at the decision, and she opened her mouth. Hurley shook her head and Sammy’s jaw clacked close. “You are relieved of duty and confined to quarters until such time we make planet-fall, where you will be discharged with whatever wages are owed. Get out of here.”

Sammy’s eyes glistened as she looked back and forth between her captain and her enemy. She stomped out of the room, slamming Hurley’s shoulder with her own as she passed by.

Captain Hurley walked over to the nav-station and sat down. “Captain…” Erin began.

“Don’t talk to me right now, Erin. I’m not mad and I don’t blame you. Just…not now.”

“Aye, ma’am.”

The two finished out the shift in silence.

Horizon Chaser