Friday, August 09, 2002
prelude - pt. 1
Dark sat on his apartment balcony and enjoyed the evening with a Cuban cigar he'd smuggled back with him from Mexico a month ago. Con Sombrero was the brand name. A fairly new company out of Havana with something of a roguish reputation in the Cuban cigar industry. Their executive CEO and President was Johnny Ricardo. Apparently his grandfather had been a cousin of Ricky Ricardo, the old timer from the "I Love Lucy" reruns.
The stogie tasted magnificent, and Dark settled into his easy chair for the first round of Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. Although he would never mention it in mixed company, it was Rion's ultimate secret fantasy to appear on the game show. He wouldn't even mind if he won or lost, as long as he got the questions to a few answers and held his own.
It had gotten messy today with Bryant. They had sawed off his left foot and his right hand, and were threatening to saw the man's dick off, before he finally caved and spilled some names. Dark had made a phone call, and wheels had gone into motion. A little over an hour later, Dark's cell phone rang. The names had checked out, and the matter had been dealt with.
They had immediately shot Bryant in the head, killing him instantly, much to the relief of all three men involved. Well, Tony maybe could have gone another round.
A nasty business indeed. But Dark was what he was. He had taken a certain path long ago, and he meant to see it through to the end, whatever the outcome.
That night, Dark dreamed. He dreamed of a roomful of men, all dressed to the tees in almost laughable gangster stereotype Armani-style suits. Pinstripes and tommy-guns, the whole schtick. Dark was in the room with these men, but he was not dressed in a zoot suit, but a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. He looked down and saw a pair of flip-flop sandals on his feet, with some sand clinging to his toes. He glanced at the t-shirt and it read:
My Grandma went all the way to Waikiki
And all she brought me was this Stupid T-Shirt
There was a picture of a pineapple under the writing. The pineapple was smiling at him, shifting its eyes and blinking menacingly.
The men in the room, all of whom spoke in heavy Italian accents, seemed not to notice him. They were situated around a large table, eating gobs of spaghetti and fettuccine, while a dancing girl, clad only in green cotton panties, shook her hips in the style of a belly dancer. The girl had a wide smile on her face, a smile that Dark could immediately tell was fabricated for the satisfaction of her audience. Beneath the façade of good cheer was a healthy core of fear. If Dark had learned one thing in his years of torture (and he had learned many things) it was how to detect fear, and this girl was absolutely terrified, despite her appearance. Her eyes were captivating, she was no doubt beautiful, some kind of Asian/Polynesian mix apparently, with wide, childbearing hips, a smooth, slightly rounded belly, and perky, b-cup breasts. Her areolas were quite wide. Dark realized he was salivating.
Suddenly the girl's gaze shifted directly to Rion's eyes. In those eyes he saw a wisdom, an understanding, as well as a horrible secret, one that Dark was not sure he wanted revealed to him. The men around the table had taken no apparent note of the silent communication between Dark and the girl.
He could not have averted his gaze from the girl's eyes, even if he had wanted to. There was a yearning there, she was a prisoner, and Dark realized that he wanted her free. Not necessarily for himself, but for her own liberty. Her eyes were quite dark; if they weren't black they were an intensely dark brown, and a tear had begun to form in the bottom of her left eye. Those eyes burned straight through to the soul that Dark thought he had long ago abandoned. It was wonderful and dreadful all at the same time. He felt the basic fabric of his being unraveling, losing form, and he didn't know what it meant but he felt that nothing would ever be the same, ever again.
Suddenly there was a loud pounding, coming from where, he couldn't tell. The men around the table kept eating their pasta, pouring generous helpings of dark red wine, spilling it all over their faces, and ogling the young girl, who continued her exotic dance, continued pounding Dark with that strange, woeful gaze. The fear in her eyes turned to panic, as the volume and speed of the pounding increased. There was one last, desperate look from her, that seemed to say everything and nothing all at the same time, and she was gone. The table was gone, the men were gone, the spaghetti was gone, and the Waikiki shirt that Grandma had got him was gone as well. He was in a place of blackness, and the pounding became louder, faster.
Suddenly, he awoke to find himself drenched in sweat, his sheets soaking wet. He tried to hold onto the image of the girl's face, but it was fading fast. The only thing that remained was the pounding. The pounding.
Someone was banging away on his front door. He reached underneath his mattress for the glock and crawled on hands and knees to the front room, immediately awake and cognizant, the dream forgotten for now, his mind on the matter at hand.
A voice came from the other end of the door, full of panic. "Malone! It's Cherico! Are you there? It's Cherico!!" Cherico. It was Tony. Cherico was one of his code names, Malone was one of Dark's. Some serious shit was apparently going down. Dark rose to his feet, and opened the door. The chain remained in place and the glock remained cocked. Always assume the worst, everyone is your enemy until they prove otherwise. Especially pricks that break you away from a dream like that. (Those eyes those eyes.)
It was Tony all right. "What in the fuck do you want?" Dark said. "You're probably waking up all my fucking neighbors." As he poked his head out and looked left to right, he saw a light turn on two doors down. Mrs. Bellimont. A snoopy old broad. "Get the fuck in here." He pulled Tony inside.