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A Crime Story Part IV
Linda serves minute steaks and baked potatoes, a simple meal and one of her father's favorites. She smiles as Martino takes the plates from her hands and places them on the counter-top. He is then joined by Linda.
"It's one of my dad’s favorites," she says, "This is one of the first meals he taught me how to fix! Mom was never much of a kitchen person."
"Oh," Martino laughs, "Well, when you look like she does, I’m sure other things come to mind besides cooking. Good thing you take after your father, huh?"
Linda looks at him a moment and then throws the pepper shaker at him.
"I've been known to turn a few heads, thank you very much!" Linda replies indignantly.
"Mine included," Martino mumbles under his breathe then moves the salt shaker in case Linda gets second ideas.
When no further comments are made; Martino adapts a more serious tone. "How about I take the loft? I'll be able to watch the front entrance while you sleep."
"What about your own sleep?" she asks.
"I'm sure when you are awake; I'll be able to catch forty winks. Besides," he says, "I'll feel better if I keep a watch at night. As a member of Special Services, I’m used to pulling a night shift schedule. You, my little journalist, are not."
"I've done my share of third shift," Linda agrees. "But let's not argue the point. We need to finish our meal and get settled. I'd like to put my things away."
"That's a good idea. You do that and I'll take a good look around the outside perimeter. How close is that lake?" Martino asks.
"When you go outside carefully walk around toward the back of the house. It’s pretty treacherous out there so watch your step. The lake is at the end of the 500 ft drop." Linda answers.
"Really? Then that is where I'll begin!" Martino says as he stands and takes his plate to the sink. "Do you want me to put this in the dishwasher?"
"No," Linda replies as she follows him into the kitchen. "I’ll take care of that while you do your surveillance. I can play the domestic help and you can play bodyguard." Linda giggles.
"Sounds reasonable," he says, "I really think I should check the place out before I get too comfy."
"Sure thing, buddy" Linda chuckles as she watches Martino grab his binoculars. "Maybe you’ll discover a new species of bird while you’re out!"
Martino appreciates the fact that there is only one way in and out of the cabin. He studies the fine workmanship of the place as he walks outside. He can't help but imagine what it will be like being alone with Linda for at least two months.
“Keep your mind on business, Mangini. Linda will have none of your wild imaginings. She’s not that kind of writer.” Martino silently admonishes himself regarding his relationship with his best friend. “But I sure wish …”
As Linda watches Martino's departure; she gets a glimmer of mental among the surrounding trees. After closer inspection, she hurriedly carries her plate to the kitchen then searches for her purse.
Martino carefully travels to the back of the house and heads in the direction of that drop ... it's well over a 500 foot down.
"Damn ... I’d hate to be pursuing someone and not know about this drop. That's a panoramic view of the lake but there is no way anyone could survive this drop. I wonder how the construction workers did their job." Martino observes aloud.
A Startling Revelation
"Very carefully," a voice says behind him and Martino turns to face the gun barrel of Victor Paccio.
"Victor Paccio!" Martino shrieks in utter amazement.
"This is Marty Mangini?" Victor retorts in equal shock, "Man you are lucky." Victor says shaking his head.
"What do you mean by that?" Martino inquires relieved to see Victor returning his gun to its resting place in his holster.
"Normally, I’d shoot first and ask questions later. What the hell are you doing here, Marty?" Victor questions.
"I should ask you the same thing Victor. I thought you were supposed to be in hiding. If anyone knew that you were still roaming around ... even in Canada and that I knew about it even though I pretended that I didn't ... both of our lives would be over." Martino utters looking around to make sure that they are alone.
"Nobody knows I'm around here other than Frank. And he'd rather die than tell. You only found out by accident. Who else knows that I'm around?" Victor inquires.
"I do." Both Martino and Victor pivot at the sound of the third voice.
"You didn't seriously thing you could avoid everyone, did you?" The young upstart from the mob croons, his gun held on them both.
“My father told me about this place. You remember my father don’t you Mr. Paccio. He died in that ambush involving Frank Morgan.” Clinton Albright, the son of the double agent continues.
“Your father …” Victor replies but is interrupted by Clinton.
"Shut your face about my father. Now let's see? Do I want the two of you to take a flying leap off that cliff where your cursed remains will never be found? Or do I just blast you both here and drag your slimy corpses back to the Boss?"
Martino looks at Paccio as it is evident that they didn't anticipate anything like this ever occurring. Clinton Albright went into obscurity after his father’s death; at least that was the consensus until now.
"I think I'll kill you now!" As Clinton readies to pull the trigger; a shot rings out. Clinton spins around in utter shock, staggers backwards toward the edge of the cliff and plunges into the water below. He lies motionless face down.
"I caught a glimpse of steel in the trees after you left the cabin" Linda replies. "I decided to do a little surveillance work of my one. Was that Albright's kid?"
"Yes, he was, Linda. When did you learn how to shoot like that?" Marty asks still shaken over the past events.
"Dad taught me a few years ago. He said if I was going to act like an investigator; I may as well learn to shoot like one, too!" she chortles.
"Well why didn't anyone tell me?" Marty asks incredulously.
"The subject never really came up for discussion!" she laughs. Then turning toward the other stunned man she speaks.
"Hello Victor. How are your new quarters? Do you think Clinton told the others my whereabouts?"
"No, he’s too damn cocky for that. The boy loves … loved having his secrets. Felt it gave him a negotiating edge.” Victor replies fully appreciating the jewel of a lady his goddaughter turned out to be.
“What do you think, Victor?” Linda asks trying to assess her options.
"Clinton would have via for the "hit" telling his Boss he had an informant who knew where you were. Knowing that if he had just told them ... they would have sent a more experienced assassin to do the job." Victor concludes.
"Do you know what their next move will be, then?" Linda is intrigued by the information.
“I know when Clinton doesn't show up for roll call, they will come up with another tactic!" Paccio warns. "I think Frank and Peggy are in jeopardy."
"I think you’re right, Victor." Marty interrupts. "You give him a call, now!"
"Right!" Paccio says. "I'm gone. I’ll get word to Frank but Linda, be smart okay? Stay away from the Morgan Estate. I give you my word that nothing will happen to your mom and dad." Victor walks over to Linda and gives her a fatherly embrace.
"You saved my father once, Mr. Victor and I trust you will do it again." Linda smiles weakly. Victor turns to walk away.
"Don’t worry honey; Victor Paccio is a man of his word." Marty says as Linda returns to the cabin.
Marty notices that the body is drifting further toward the inlet. It will be heading out to sea. There will be no retrieving of this hood. “A fitting end to the life of a would-be racketeer.” Marty thinks pensively.
“Victor is right. It’s very unlikely that the arrogant creep would share our whereabouts with anyone.” He summarizes.
Restless on the Home Front
Back in town Julius Capernelle, Sandino Capernelle’s brother, stares at his watch. A frown creases his round face. The rotunda man puts both hands across his chest.
"Where is that young punk? How long does it take to give that Morgan girl her one-way ticket to Hell?" Julius groans.
"I told you not to trust that fella, Julius. Does anyone know who his informant is? That Linda is a smart girl. She could be anywhere. I think that Albright was as untrustworthy as his father." Jacques Paccio complains as he paces the floor. He's more concerned than he'd like to show. "I wish my dad was here."
"Look Junior— forget about your old man. He was a bit too friendly with Frank Morgan. The old man disappeared without a trace. Who knows ... maybe he met up with the little punk and it was a two for one deal." Julius chuckles.
"That's my father you're talking about Julius and I would appreciate it if you knock off the sarcasm. My dad was a good man ... mom just didn't appreciate that. She is such a social climber. Don't get me wrong ... I love my mom but she can be well… a bit overbearing." Jacques complains.
"Yea, I know but your mother just wants a piece of the pie. You could take a few lessons from her, you know. Your dad's a 'good man' and that was his problem. You got to be ruthless in this business, Junior. If your mother was a man she'd be running the territory but the Boss ain't gonna let no woman no matter how good she is run a territory." Julius replies shifting his massive frame to look at his favorite picture of him and his late brother.
"Well ... what good is knocking off that Morgan Dame gonna do. I think it will only open a can of worms. Besides ... her old man isn't going to take kindly to that." Jacques states.
"Maybe not. But your mother will be overjoyed. I'm beginning to think you've got more than a business interest in that broad. Now your mother definitely won't like that Junior. Remember your priorities." Julius admonishes an overly concerned Jacques.
"You sound like my brother Riccardo." Jacques replies.
"Now that's a fella that's going far. Handpicked by Mama Paccio with the Boss's seal of approval. That's who I should have sent out to look for that dame. Riccardo doesn't like her any more than your mother. He wouldn't bat an eye about putting a well-placed bullet between those gorgeous eyes!" Julius chuckles again.
"You don't have to remind me about mama's boy." Jacques says with disdain.
"Hey ... when it comes to looks, I gotta admit Junior you've got it in spades but when it comes to street savvy ... Riccardo's got it all over you. Now where is that damn punk? Damn ... I hope he hasn't gotten himself killed!" Julius is now concerned.
Back at the Cabin
As the excitement is over and dusk settles on the cabin; Linda stretches out in front of the TV to watch a hilarious video of the hit British comedy Art You Being Served? Marty perches himself in the loft and has a great view not only of the screen but of Linda as well.
"What am I going to do with that woman?" He thinks to himself smiling. Had it not been for Linda's astute observation both he and Victor Paccio drifting with the tide toward the ocean. Martino is still wondering exactly where Paccio's roost is but this is something that he will contemplate another day. At the present, his focus is on keeping his favorite girl and himself alive.
"My favorite girl ..." He thinks again as he watches Linda fighting like a two year old to stay awake. However, she fines it impossible and succumbs to sleep. With quiet surety he emerges from his perch long enough to see Linda surrender to a good night's sleep.
"I'll just tuck her in." He says and with arms familiar with shifting weigh he lifts Linda and carries her to the second bedroom. After securing the premises he decides that forty winks isn't be such a bad idea.
The End of Part IV