Danny’s hands were shaking, so he set the gun on the counter before digging in his pocket for the phone. “No sense in both of us bleeding tonight, Terry.”
Terry did not answer.
The phone glowed at the touch of Danny’s index finger, and Mike picked up on the third ring. “Danny?” he said.
Danny’s knees felt weak, and he put one hand on the counter to steady himself. “Terry Antonelli’s dead.”
“Didn’t catch that. Hold on.” The din on Mike’s television faded to a murmur. “Sorry about that, Danny. Celtics are home against the Lakers. You watching?”
“The wop’s dead. Antonelli’s kid. I shot him.”
Wop. Danny mouthed the word again. It had been his father’s word, and he felt strange saying it. Terry the Wop dead on the kitchen floor.
“The fuck you do that for?” Mike said.
“He asked for a meeting about the Heights and wouldn’t deal,” Danny lied. “It was him or us. I chose us. You got a problem with that?”
“No problem, Danny. No problem. Just wish you’d told me you were meeting him. Where are you?”
Danny heard Mike scratching the coarse stubble that always covered his cheeks and touched his own face in response. Thirty-three years old and he still didn’t need to shave every day. Soft features like his mother. Too soft for “the life,” his da always said. “I’m at Antonelli’s house. I need you to get out here and help me with this before somebody misses him.”
“Jesus, Danny, how am I supposed to do that? It’s snowing like hell. The TV’s telling everyone to stay off the roads!”
Danny walked to the window and moved the curtain just enough to see outside. The snow had barely started when he drove to Terry’s big white house for the face-to-face. If the drifts outside were anything to go by, Danny had spent too long watching the corpse cool.
“Are you sure he’s dead?” Mike said.
“I shot him in the face. Twice.” Sick heat moved from his gut to his throat. “He needs to disappear tonight.”
“I’m not sure I can even get out of the parking lot,” Mike said. “Let me check with Seamus or your uncle and see how they want to –.”
“No!” Danny’s voice cracked. He forced his shoulders away from his ears and inhaled for a four count. He held the breath for a second and let it out while he counted again. “You listen to me now. Get some of the boys together, and drag your ass out the door. We’ll take him down to Quincy and dig a hole like Da did with Tommy King.”
“I don’t know, Danny. This is big.” Mike breathed heavily for a few seconds. “We’ll be there as soon as we can.”
Danny stuffed the phone back in his pocket. The snow was thick on the ground, three-quarters up the wheels of the little sports car he had loved so much when he saw it on the showroom floor. Danny swore, wishing he picked something with a nice, deep trunk and four-wheel drive instead of good looks and low emissions.
He let the curtain drop. He was going to get caught. The fucking snow was going to keep him there until spring, and he was going to get caught red-handed with the wop’s rotting corpse. Everything his father built would be knocked down by the judge’s gavel. They’d never had enough on Big Dan Donnelly to make a charge stick, but his boy was going down for his first murder. Danny’s pulse pounded like fists in his ears. He massaged his chest. The doctors said his heart was fine, but Danny didn’t always believe them.
His phone rang.
“It’s going to be a while,” Mike said. “Nothing’s plowed down here. Jimmy says his power’s out, and I can’t get hold of Ryan.”
“How fucking long do you think I have?” Danny’s lungs were full of lead. He cursed again, and the word heaved itself over his teeth like an asthmatic fat man.
“You all right, Danny?”
Danny panted. “I don’t. Fucking. Know.”
“Try to relax, Danny,” Mike said. “Take one of your pills. You’ll be okay.”
Anger loosened Danny’s throat some. “Don’t call me that anymore. You called Da ‘Mr. Donnelly.’ I’m in charge now. You call me ‘Mr. Donnelly.’” He took another four-count breath, “Get here. I’ll have everything ready for you.”
Danny stabbed the button to end the call and put the phone on the counter next to the gun.
He slipped his hand in his pocket and fumbled a tiny white pill out of the mint tin he kept there. He chewed the pill, crushing its slight sweetness between his teeth to make it dissolve faster.
Danny sat at the kitchen table and counted his breaths until he felt the Ativan kicking in. The drug made him sleepy, but, better, it made him feel like he was outside his own body, watching himself like a television show. Who got stressed out over TV?
Danny’s heart slowed, and his breathing returned to normal. He stood up and walked over to the body. “Mind if I use your bathroom, Terry?” Even if he had been alive, the wop would have had a hell of time answering with his face caved in like that.
After he’d flushed the john, Danny rinsed his mouth out with tap water and dried his face on a lavender-scented hand towel. He used the mirror over the sink to check his hair and see if murder had changed him any. Big Dan was creeping into his face, peering out of his eyes and frowning through the creases at the sides of his mouth. Danny tried to imagine his father smiling at him. You shot the hell out of that wop. Shot him dead on his own floor. Big Dan’s brogue came from the old country, not the sing-song lilt of the southern leprechauns but the harder sounds from the north. I was wrong about you, boy. You took care of business like a man. They kill one of us, we kill two of them. Who’s next? Danny thumped the ball of his fist lightly on the mirror glass. “That’s right, Da. I got it under control.”
Danny used the hand towel to wipe down everything he had touched in the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror again. His father was still there. He pressed the hand towel to his face and breathed deeply. Lavender had been his mother’s favorite scent.
Returning to the body, Danny realized he had been lucky, shooting Terry in the kitchen like that. The blood pooled on the tile floor instead of soaking in like it would have done on the living room carpet or the hardwood floor in the hallway. “We need to wrap you up, Terry. Keep all that wop juice from spoiling your nice finishes.”
Danny tried to think like Seamus, his father’s fixer. He needed a tarp. Big house like this, rich guy … Terry had to have a workshop. Some place he went to escape the wife and kids on Sundays. The garage maybe.
He looked out the window. His Porsche was a white lump. Danny hoped Mike would be smart enough to bring a couple of shovels along.
A door off the mudroom led to a short flight of steps and Terry’s garage. Danny pushed the door open into the dark and followed it through. The overhead light flickered. Terry had sprung for motion detectors. The floor was covered in the pebbly tiles advertised in car magazines, the back wall lined with metal cabinets. Terry’s BMW was parked in one bay. Something brawny, classic, and American was parked in another. The third bay, probably home to a minivan or an SUV Terry’s wife used to tote the kids around, was empty.
Danny found the tarp and a box of rags in one of the steel cabinets. He spread the tarp out on the kitchen floor next to Terry’s body and rolled him onto it.
A gun fell out of the back of Terry’s pants and clattered to the tiles.
Danny picked the gun up and grinned at Terry’s shattered face. “You were thinking you’d get me first!” He kicked the bottom of Terry’s shoe. “You didn’t, though, did ya, boyo?”
Danny’s voice sounded so much like his da’s that he was tempted to check the mirror again to see if the transformation was complete. He put Terry’s gun on the counter with his own and used the rags to wipe up the blood. He washed the tiles with bleach and tucked the sodden rags into the tarp with the body.
Danny’s phone rang.
“Ryan got a truck,” Mike said. “We’ll be out there in about twenty minutes. Is that okay, Da … Mr. Donnelly?”
“That’s fine, Mike. Just fine.” Danny put the phone back in his pocket.
Danny climbed the main stairs and used the hand towel to open doors until he found the master bedroom. His father had kept a keychain full of souvenirs won from “the life” … a hood ornament from the first car he had stolen, a St. Christopher’s medal he had taken from the body of the first man he’d killed, wedding rings from men who no longer needed them, a twisted black scrap he claimed was an ear … He had a story for every prize and used to tell them to Danny before sending him up to bed.
Four expensive-looking watches were laid out on a dressing table in front of big mirror. Danny looked at them but did not touch. He opened the door to the walk-in closet and rummaged through Terry’s suits. Black and gray. They reminded him of his father and all the sharply dressed, hard-handed, grim men who had always surrounded him. The kind of man his father had always wanted him to be. The kind of man he had been to Terry.
He wiped the closet door down and held the hand towel up to his face again. The lavender smell was fading. When Danny was fourteen, his father had caught him wearing one of his sister’s bras and rubbing his mother’s scented lotion on his face and neck. Big Dan had beat him nearly senseless, and Danny had been packed away to boarding school soon after that.
Danny turned to the wife’s side of the closet. She was a slender woman, and her dresses, most of them in pale colors, hung gracefully. Danny ran his fingers down one to see if it felt as soft as it looked. Her top drawer was full of panties, sheer and lacy. The lavender smell was stronger here, condensed in the drawer. He picked out a pair of panties in coral pink, nearly see-through.
Danny stepped back into the bedroom and nodded to his father’s face in the mirror. He kicked off his shoes and undid his belt, stepping out of his pants once they hit the ground. He slid out of his boxers and stepped into the panties, pulling them up tight against his cock and balls.
Danny leaned close to the mirror and looked into the eyes he saw there. “Fuck you, Da. Fuck you.”by
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R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire, USA writer with an MFA that he exorcises regularly in dark bars and damp coffee shops. His work has seen daylight in the Jersey Devil Press, New Myths, and Daily Science Fiction, among other places.