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A Crime Story Part II
The Morgan Estate
“You had two really close encounters earlier today, Kitten ... too close.” Frank begins as he motions Linda to the ottoman sitting next to him.
“Yeah, dad I know. But I am on to something really big and it does go beyond the Paccios.” Linda states and her father agrees.
“I think it would be a good idea if you disappear for a few days.” Frank continues.
“But dad ...” Linda interjects.
“No buts this time, Kitten ...the Paccios are playing with some serious toys and I don’t want to see my favorite daughter hurt.” Frank smiles at his daughter.
“Favorite daughter ... I’m your only daughter!” Linda tries her hand at levity with her father but she can see the seriousness in his eyes. “Ok, what do you have in mind?”
“I have in mind my cabin in the Canadian wilderness. It’s very strategically located with its back facing a steep cliff. There is only one way up there or back and from the master bedroom you can observe anyone heading toward the place. I’m thinking of having Martino take you.” Frank concludes.
“What about Bill Collins?” Linda queries her father thinking about the officer enjoying himself in the kitchen.
“He’s a nice kid but very inexperienced. Besides, Martino’s a good friend of yours. The two of you used to play in the same sandbox. I don’t understand why you never married.” Frank chuckles.
“That’s why ... I’ve known him since childhood. Please, it would be like marrying my brother.” Linda shakes her head unbelievingly at her father. “The idea ...”
“At any length I’ve already talked to him about it and he feels like I do that it is a good idea. You need to let things cool down for a while before I have to call in some favors.” Frank says with sincerity.
“Ok ... ok, we don’t need a clan war around here. But I wish you would confide in me first. I mean I don’t know if I like having Marty and you plan my life for me.” Linda replies stubbornly. “What about my Lexus and my townhouse?”
“Don’t worry about that either. Martino and a couple of men from the 43rd are going there sometimes tonight to pick up a few things for you. The Lexus is pretty banged up. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a while ... not with you at the wheel anyway.” Frank replies on a somber note.
“So what about my sleeping arrangements?” Linda asks seeing that her father has everything planned out.
“Bubba, your favorite Doberman will be spending the night with you in your room. I think I’ll send Snowey in there as well. The least bit of noise and whoever it is won’t know what hit ‘em.” Frank reflects.
“Bubba ... Snowey, how nice! Where are those two anyway?” Linda questions.
“They’re in the kennel getting some exercise before being bedded down for the night. Let’s see how Peggy is doing with Collins. Once he gets his hands on those chocolate chip cookies and Peg’s hot chocolate ... he’ll be purring like a cat!” Laughs Frank as he locks his right arm into Linda's left and takes a slow stride toward the kitchen.
Frank and Linda stroll into the kitchen to observe Collins with a stack of cookies, a mug of hot cocoa and chocolate all over his mouth. All Linda can do is giggle from the sight as she sees her mother handing him a napkin.
“These are good!” Collins mumbles with exceptional delight as he has a mouth full of cookie. “So chewy, chocolaty.”
Linda laughs as does Frank and Peg, but then the conversation turns solemn.
“Look, Bill, I’m going to stay here for the night.” She looks at her parents, “And it might be a good idea if you stay as well. You know, you are going to have to watch your back once we part. The Paccios have eyes on me and are going to go after anyone who has had any contact with me.”
“That’s right, Bill,” Frank says. “Once you leave in the morning, you are going to have to do your best to blend in with the others at the precinct. That’s not going to be easy.”
After clearing his mouth with a huge gulp of cocoa, Collins says, “It’s alright. My partner and I are good at watching each other's backs. Our service is normally pretty routine; nothing exciting you know.”
“Yeah well that was true of the 43rd Precinct until today's rather dramatic incident,” Linda says. “Guess the police never counted on taking a hit similar to something from the Untouchables Era. You had better to be careful, Billy boy!”
Collins smiles at Linda then addresses Frank regarding her caustic comment, “Is she always like this?”
“Since she was old enough to wrap me around her little finger,” Frank chuckles.
“Okay, okay Linda,” Collins says. “I’ll be careful. But instead of staying the night, I think I’ll take my leave from you good people. It’s night— more cover. Thank you for the cookies, Ms. Peg. It was such a pleasure, Sir,” Collins stands and shakes Frank’s hand.
Then he approaches Linda, “Take care of yourself, you hear? And why not leave the policing to us?”
Linda gives him a raised eyebrow look, and then replies, “Thanks. Love you too, Honey.”
Frank quietly chuckles as he escorts Collins to his car. As they leave, Peggy looks thoughtfully at her daughter.
“You really do need to be careful, Linn,” she says. “I almost lost your father! I don’t want to lose you.”
“Calm down, Mom,” Linda says. “Dad’s arranged for me to leave town with a bodyguard. I’ll be alright. I have almost all of the information I need right now to expose these vermin for what they really are. Once I turn this information over to the DA; that mob can hire all the Perry Masons they wish, it won’t matter.”
After feeling thoroughly satisfied with that statement, Linda saunters over to her mother and gives her a hug; then moves toward the back to visit the kennels.
“You just watch Dad and get him to arrange for some more protection here for you two. Because with me gone, they will look for other means of enticing me to return. Momma Paccio knows I would rush back to help you two!” Linda states. “Now, I’m going to go see about my other bodyguards,” she laughs and walks out the back door
The private kennel is a completely fenced compound where the Morgans give their “friends” the run of the place. There is an aluminum bunker equipped with various “puppy treats and favors” as well as the training facilities. Behind the buildings lay a grassy area for running and “eliminating.”
“Hello ... guess who?” Linda says softly.
It is Bubba who comes first racing forward at the sound of Linda’s voice. For a Doberman he is large and very impressive looking. He has teeth that can rip an adversary’s throat before that poor unfortunate soul knew what hit him. Snowey, a striking snow-white Alaskan husky is not far behind. She possesses beautiful blue eyes and among family and friends has a very gentle disposition. However, like Bubba she will devour an approaching menace quickly with her razor sharp teeth.
“Bubba ... Snowey, I’ve missed you guys. I’m sorry that I’ve been busy lately but it looks like we are going to be spending a lot of time together.” Linda speaks pensively.
The dogs act as if they have just discovered their long lost friend. Each is prancing about Linda and brushing her leg. Bubba puts his head near Linda’s hand and gives it a friendly lick while Snowey stands up on two paws as if asking “shall we dance.” For brief moments Linda forgets all about the near death experiences and enjoys the company of her favorite animals.
“Dogs have good instincts. They can smell fear and they know when to charge. They also know when it is prudent to back out.” A mental voice reminds her. “Like Riley said this is not the Middle East. But they don’t play fair there either. Strapping themselves with bombs and walking into a crowded mall is not exactly a walk down Sesame Street.” Linda chuckles.
As Linda heads back toward the house she thinks she sees a glimmer of light in the distance. It is so far away that it could have been like a shooting star but it is ground-level and not in the sky. She gives an involuntary shutter and walks with both dogs close behind.
“I must not let this get to me.” Linda admonishes herself silently. “I am about to blow the lid not only on the Paccio Family but maybe on the entire Sicilian Operation. And if anyone gets wind that Jacques Paccio was feeding me information ... he may just come up missing like his father did. Mama Paccio is the real brains behind the operations but Papa Paccio had the connections. I wonder if dad knows his whereabouts. Once upon a time they were pretty close ... damn those Paccios! Turn on their own kind in a heartbeat.” Once again Linda notices a flicker of light way in the distance.
“Thank goodness for the electrified fencing out there.” Linda says out loud and goes into the house.
Linda returns to the sitting room to see her father again in his favorite recliner nodding off.
“Why don’t you go to bed, dad?” Linda asks.
“It’s this Dom Pérignon. Good stuff ... relaxes the hell out of me. Your mother has already retired for the night. I think the events of the day have put a strain on her.
I fixed her a nightcap and when I last looked she was out like a light.” Frank says smiling.
“You two are such a one-of-a-kind couple.” Linda says fondly putting her arm around her father.
“You know Martino is not such a bad fellow. Good looking, smart, quick on his feet and not a bad right hook from what I've heard.” Frank jokes.
“Dad, do you know the whereabouts of Victor Paccio.” Linda asks with the look she has displayed with many informants when doing her investigative reporting.
“Linda ... I couldn't answer that question even if I did know.” Frank straightens in his chair, sizing up his daughter. “Why do you want to know? How do you know the Sicilians don’t have him?”
“Because I think that’s what he wants everyone to think, that’s why. Because I think that there’s more to what happened to you than you've told. Am I right?” Linda asks and notices the knowing smile on her father’s face as he leans toward his daughter.
“You’re a damn good investigator. 43rd could use somebody like you. Your mother would kill me if she knew that I said that to you.” At that point both Linda and Frank laugh.
“How did Victor Paccio ever get mixed up with that bunch?” Linda inquires.
“Victor and I were in college when he met Louisa. She was such a pretty little ambitious Italian spit fire in those days. Wasn't carrying the extra baggage she has now. Victor was a very popular fellow. Of course so was I.” Frank pauses to reflect.
“You still are dad!” Linda replies once again rising from the ottoman and giving her father a hug. “Please continue.”
“Well ... little did we know just how ambition until after Victor married her. She wanted the good life and Victor was a loving and obliging husband. In the past Victor had shunned the likes of Leone Castelletti and his Sicilian organization. Once Louisa found out they had been approaching him; he knew no peace. Louisa got more and more demanding and Leone kept telling him to “keep your woman in check” until it became obvious that Louisa and not Victor was running the Family Business.” Frank continues.
“Victor finally realized that Louisa only wanted him because of his connections and it hurt him deeply. That led to a series of affairs until Victor found someone who appreciated him for who he was and not who he knew. When Louisa found out about Victor’s clandestine relationship, the woman’s body was found face down in a pool of blood. She had two shots to the back of the head at close range and several in the stomach. Not too long after that Victor was gone.” Frank finishes.
“There is more to this story but you’re not going to tell me are you?” Linda asks.
“Only that if it wasn’t for Victor Paccio I would be at Forest Hill Cemetery instead of just losing both my damn legs.” Frank says bitterly, “Damn Louisa Paccio. Look Kitten, it’s getting late and you've got quite a day ahead of you. Martino and a couple of the 43rd Precinct boys have gotten the few things you’ll need for your journey. You’ll have to leave early and it’s a long drive. Get some sleep and we’ll talk before you go. Good night, Kitten!”
Linda rises to give her father a brief kiss.
“Good night, dad.” Linda says.
The End of Part Two