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By James J. Marry
Friday, January 24, 2003
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Predictably Gritty and a real HOOT! A short ride on a street that most of us have never seen- the other side of NYC. A taste of the seedy side of New York City with murder and organized crime. Victor Kovach breaks his own rules with a memory from his childhood at all cost to his reputation and his freedom.
Somewhere in the darkness, Vic could feel his name being thrown around. And he knew it was his own damn fault. Victor Kovach had broken the rules, and what was worse… the rules were his own.
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It was hard to keep it all in perspective while his powerful frame lie next to this gorgeous blond though. Vic knew that contemporary thought would crucify him for even considering Kathleen in terms of her beauty and her hair color. He couldn’t help it though. That was how he had seen her first- ages ago if he would ever let it be known. He had no intention of letting that cat out of the bag though.
He leaned forward to kiss her soft and truly supple shoulder. Vic paused in the midst of the contact of his lips to her alabaster at rest and inhaled. He could smell the memory of their sex, but stronger his nasal passages reacted to her real scent. Maybe it was a perfume she used regularly, but Kathleen Marinelli smelled like home to Vic Kovach. She smelled that good.
Vic hadn’t known home in a long time. His last trip out of the hood had come at end of a real blasting match with his father. He had purse picked his Mom for twenty dollars back in 1974 and Dad knew. The ass kicking Vic received had shamed him into finding a new way for a sixteen year old boy to become a man. It had brought him to here in an odd way.
He had been a big kid. At sixteen, he walked downtown Manhattan at six foot tall and a hundred and eighty pounds of rippling muscle. His father had bequeathed that to him and he had kept it with an interest in old neighborhood soccer games. Plenty of cardio-vascular exercise was supplied in a game each day at Flushing Meadows Park. After his arrival at the runaway shelter at 43rd and Riverside Dr., he found new and more interesting ways to stay in shape- and better reasons too.
Vic’s sister Karen had been the cause of his first meeting with Kathleen. He had been at her wedding to Frank Marinelli at the Whalen Inn in Queens. Vic didn’t remember a lot of it though. He had earned a taste for numbing his guilty conscience through the taste of good scotch before that. He did remember diddling with Frank’s sister Marie though through most of the event. This was probably the main reason that Kathleen hadn’t tagged him in the same reminiscence. She did remember Karen though and the two of them had shared some conversations about her though since he had been forced to break the ice with Kathleen by his relationship with the Grezaffi brothers.
This was where Vic’s rules had always come into play before- working for the Grezaffis. The Grezaffis made loans to people who couldn’t deal with banks. Vic was one of their favorite collectors. Aldo Grezaffi liked his services because he always came back with the cash and he never lost them a customer. And some of those customers, by all rights, needed to be lost. Kathleen wasn’t really one of those though either. He remembered the meeting with Aldo only six days earlier.
“You know Vic, I usually don’t lose track of people when they owe me money.” Aldo said. “But this Frank dude just dropped out of sight in a New York minute. I gave him a call with his first late fee and then he was “POOF”, just vanished.”
Vic thought a second quietly since he knew that Aldo often took long pauses in the middle of his speeches.
“All I’ve got that I can do about it is to give him a quick search and destroy mission, then lay the bill on his family. Of course, that raises the ante pretty good though.”
Vic got a hundred dollars a day for his efforts plus ten percent of every dollar he brought back. He usually went for the whole load so on the four grand Frankie had sharked; the note would be six thousand plus five hundred vig to Vic. Minimum charge on Vic’s collections plus the percentage would pay Vic eleven hundred dollars and Aldo was very clear on that. Unless Vic had to accept a partial payment anyway and the least Vic would take without causing Frank a physical impairment would be twenty-five hundred or seven hundred to Vic.
Vic made good cash for being a good collector for the Grezaffis. But being good meant a guy had to have rules, and one of those rules was to never get involved personally with the vig. In other words- don’t shit where you eat. He’d blown that one out of the water in short notice when he allowed Kathleen to seduce the night before. Vic had known he was going to let it happen when he first saw her and put the name, face and memory together. He should have gone back to Aldo and dropped the commission then. The naked woman on top of his arm was a sure sign of the truth in that statement.
Aldo gave Vic all of the info in Frankie’s file. Where he lived, where he drank and where he worked. Frank Marinelli worked as a dock foreman for Macy’s in Herald Square. They hadn’t seen him since the day Aldo had called either. After Vic had jimmied the door of his apartment on 84th east of the park, he recognized that the wayward debtor hadn’t been there in at least three months. The mail on the floor under the slot dated that close enough if the rotten smelling refrigerator hadn’t been enough proof. So Vic went to La Veranda on 46th between 6th and 7th to hopefully catch him with a drink in his hand.
The plan would have been a good one except that one, Frankie wasn’t there either, and two, his wife Kathleen was. He hadn’t caught on to her until a scared bartender named Stasha hastily pointed her out at Vic’s request for Marinelli’s ten-twenty. Stasha had been indebted to Aldo Grezaffi before. When Vic looked over at Kathleen he knew that he recognized her, but Vic couldn’t place where from… until he edged along the crowded patronage to get closer. Then he put her together with a white dress and veil from twenty-five years earlier. The whole kind of hit him in a flood since he hadn’t dreamed of the memory of his teenage sister and her cohorts before. Vic remembered Kathleen wearing a white flower printed mini showing some terrific legs from when Vic had only been like thirteen. Kathleen would have been seventeen and with golden yellow hair down to the top of her butt she could have modeled for Vogue. She was certainly thin enough and the pie sized blue eyes and colorful eye makeup, Kathleen was definitely alluring enough. She had been one of the untouchable beauties he had dreamed of as a boy becoming a man and she hadn’t changed much on her way to becoming forty-three years old.
Except for one thing. She wasn’t so starved-looking skinny anymore. But that wasn’t the quality that would have kept her from the pages of Elle. Kathleen Marinelli, who Vic now remembered as Kate Sawicki, had grown in ways he would have never expected. Now she was eligible for the pages of Playboy. Adorable little Kate had breasts and any red blooded American male was bound to notice them because they were righteous breasts- very well shaped.
If Vic was going to analyze his own tastes, Kathleen was quite outside of the type that he usually hooked up with. Firstly, he wasn’t a breast man. Vic had connected with his share of women who were well endowed, but that feature had never been one to get his gumption up to try. He an unlikely candidate to ever point his directional in the stead of any blond. He liked the character that he thought normally accompanied a brunette or better a redhead. Blondes didn’t tend to keep up a decent conversation and they seemed to him to be more full of themselves than they were aware of the rest of the world. Of course, looking at Kathleen here and now, those kinds of prejudices disappeared real quickly.
And look where losing his prejudices and rules had gotten him to now.
He probably could have turned around and walked out of the door to La Veranda without Kathleen ever knowing he was there. But once the memory of her in her youth came upon him, he had to take up a conversation with her. And even if he hadn’t secretly hoped it might grow into here, the curiosity would have killed him if he let it go. So… he didn’t. Dumbass.
Vic was going to try to seem like he didn’t know Kathleen. He had a job to do and Kathleen was just a lead towards his money. Until Aldo got the cash in his greasy little mitts, that was how he always looked at it. It was his money he was collecting. That would keep the old trash bin upstairs on track. And Vic hoped it would keep him on track now in spite of how good the lady of his adolescent dreams looked to him now.
Vic saw she was drinking 151 and coke, so he bought Kathleen one and sent it over. Then after a wave and her silent “Thank you” Vic sidled up to her.
“You know, I don’t normally accept drinks from strangers.”
“Good. Then let’s not be strangers.” Vic said imagining he was pinching himself.
“And how do you propose we go about that?” Kathleen asked with a wry smile in a soft cuddly tone.
Taking a deep breath he answered. “Well, I have a few ideas on that and none of them come from Family Circus, but I do have a confession to make first.”
“Oh?” Kathleen reacted.
“Yeah.” Vic said. “I’m actually here to find your husband, Kathleen… or should I say Kate.”
“Shit.” She answered. “You mean ex-husband. Don’t you?”
“And I haven’t let myself be called ‘Kate’ in centuries. So how’d you come up with that for a handle.” Kathleen asked in a less cuddly tone.
“Maybe I remember you from when you were only known as Kate then.”
She looked at Vic like he had just crapped in a pew.
“You were my sister Karen’s best fiend at Bayside High School.”
Kathleen thought about it a moment and then her eyes widened to serving tray size. Lord, her eyes were blue.
“You’re Victor Kovach? Karen’s little brother? I didn’t even know you were alive.”
“There’s a couple of people in the Apple who probably wish that was true . That includes your ex-husband Frank.” Vic said to keep the train on the tracks.
Kathleen looked down at her drink. “So what’s the asshole done now?”
It was kind of the reaction Vic was looking for. “He owes some people some money.”
Kathleen reappraised him with an up and down look. “So you’re trying to collect from the missing Italian link then.”
“That’s a nice way of putting it, but yeah… I am.”
“Well thanks for the drink, but I haven’t seen the putz in a couple of days and if he stays true to his form, I probably won’t see him in at least another month.” She was beginning to become angry but Vic wasn’t convinced that Kathleen was getting that way because of him.
“And what kind of form is that?”
“I divorced Frank six years ago because he hit me. Since then he shows up about once a year and tries to get in my pants. Then he disappears again.”
“Then I’m guessing he’ll be back. Won’t he?” Vic figured he usually managed to manipulate the tall well figured blond on his occasional visits since it looked like Frank hadn’t been home for a while.
Kathleen just stared at Vic. There wasn’t much point in answering questions that already had been answered and she knew it.
“So Frank visited with you for a few months, took my boss’s cash and vanished into thin air then. I’ve got that about right?”
“Sounds like you’re close there, Victor. I guess that depends on how much cash he got from your boss, then… doesn’t it?” She asked Vic without a hitch to her speech.
Vic took his turn looking back at Kathleen. Vic’s look was just a touch more smug than hers had been though.
“Well? Come on now. I’m sure it couldn’t have been that much.” She said.
“Oh? Why do you say that?”
“Easy, because Frank isn’t that stupid. He isn’t going to borrow money from someone that he can’t pay. Especially if the guy is going to send his leg breaker around to get him squared away.” Kathleen stared the accusation through Victor Kovach. “So how much is it?”
Vic figured he would just tell her the loan amount. The woman didn’t need to know the bottom line. Not yet anyway.
“Four thousand dollars.”
“What?” Kathleen said to Vic showing that she had a clue what the total charge might be in spite of his not fessing it up to her. “That asshole. Where in the world was he planning come up with that from? He could barely make due on what he was getting from Macy’s.”
Vic hardly felt the need to show that he didn’t know and less that he didn’t care.
“Well, like I said, thanks for the drink. But I don’t know where he runs off to, but leave me a number and I’ll call you if he shows his nasty ass around. My first thought is that he probably is gone for good with a debt like that over his head.”
Vic wasn’t sure he could come up with a good way to tell her whom Aldo would expect to pay the debt then. He would have to kick that around in his dust bucket for a while then. This was where he tossed his rules into the cedar closet.
“Then how about if we forget about Frank and maybe you and I could have another drink and talk about happier times?” Vic asked Kathleen.
And they did. They talked about happier times until closing in fact. Then they picked up a bottle of Bacardi from the bartender and hoofed it over to Vic’s apartment- a rebuilt hotel that had been remodeled into small efficiencies on Riverside. Each apartment was about one and a half New York City hotel rooms. Tiny- yes, but they served their purpose. Most of the other residents had weekend homes in Jersey or Connecticut unless they were living thinly like actors or students. The place was respectable and quiet though.
Vic was hoping to change that a bit the first night though and it didn’t take Kathleen long to comply. The woman was ravenous and energetic- a pleasant combination for a guy who hadn’t had much practice in a while. Practice he received greedily that first night together since the two only passed out at six o’clock from severe dehydration. The sex was hot and it was furious. It did cross Vic’s mind that it hadn’t been nearly as long for Kathleen as it had been for him, but he simply figured that Frank wasn’t much of a lover. Of course that wouldn’t explain why Kathleen seemed to always let Frank get back in bed with her, but it made Vic feel better anyway. And better feeling was all Kathleen and Vic were about that first night- a lot of it.
Vic was concerned but not troubled about Aldo Grezaffi the next day. But he knew he was going to have to break the raw facts of life to Kathleen in short notice. He didn’t want to, but there really wasn’t a lot of choice in the matter. If Vic took out the eleven hundred dollars on his end of the deal was Kathleen’s loving worth fifty four hundred dollars to him? Not by a long shot. That evening, after dinner and drinks at La Veranda, Vic broke it down for her.
“Are you trying to tell me that if you can’t find that prick of an ex-husband of mine that I’m going to have to cough up his debt?”
“That’s the way it all pans out sweetness. There’s not a lot I can do about it either.” Vic said hoping the sky wouldn’t fall.
It was probably the bravest thing he’d said to someone in the last few years of his recollection.
“So you bang the crap out of me just to say that I’m paying four thousand dollars for the fuck?” She blurted out for the nearest four tables.
A few patrons turned their heads to look at Vic and then turned back quick from his scornful look.
“It’s worse than all that Kathleen. He borrowed four grand. The least he owes is fifty four hundred.” Vic held his breath.
“The least?” Kathleen exclaimed. “What the hell does that mean?”
“It means I’m chopping eleven hundred off of the top for my end.”
Kathleen stared at Vic with an open mouthed gape for a full minute and then returned to her dessert- another 151 and coke. Vic looked at her waiting for another outburst, but she never seemed to budge.
“Well?” He asked knowing it wasn’t for a good return service.
Kathleen looked up for a sharp, hard and mean volley. “You fucking men are all alike. Now I’m tied to a sheister and all I got for it was the privilege of yanking his Avon lady’s pecker around for the night. Pay the fucking bill and get the fuck out of my sight. I know where to pay Frank’s loan and I’ll figure out a way to take care of it. So piss off Vic. It’s been real.” She lifted her hand and pointed at the door.
Three well meaning members of the regular bar cronies were standing behind Vic as he threw way too much cash at the table. They looked him over with as tough a look as they could muster as he exited the restaurant. There wasn’t much sense in ringing bells when you knew you were in the wrong. Even if in principle anyway, you really were right.
He’d avoided Aldo and he hadn’t seen Kathleen until last night. Four nights past the scene at La Veranda. Vic couldn’t explain her coming to his door last night at 11:30 since Kathleen hadn’t allowed for one. She said “Shut up and get your clothes off.” when she walked in and she meant it. Vic complied. The sex felt like Kathleen was raping him but he liked it… and he liked it repeatedly. Now, as morning awakened the sleeping giant of Metropolis, Vic felt he needed to know the score.
Something just wasn’t right though. Vic looked over Kathleen to see that the clock on the nightstand said 5:30 a.m. Odd, but even in the city traffic seemed to be quiet at this hour of the day- at least on a Saturday. There seemed to be some activity going on three stories down to street level and around the corner to his building’s front foyer.
Vic slid his arm from under Kathleen cautiously enough to leave her asleep. He wanted to make sure the commotion wasn’t something for him to be concerned about. As a breakfront, Vic opened the nightstand on his own side of the bed to verify that his Walther automatic and his planner were readily at hand. The pistol was for defense- one never knows in the line of work Vic had become so adept at. The planner was for egress- phone numbers and a wad of cash would come in handy on the lam. Vic never had considered himself paranoid, but caution was a feature he was seriously endeared to. Vic rose softly and put on his pants from the chair.
As Vic leaned towards the window to look, a ringing arose from the phone on his desk. Vic answered the call quickly with a glance at the beauty on his bed.
“Vic, I’m glad I caught you.” Aldo Grezaffi coughed out at Vic.
“What’s up?” Vic felt sure the call would stir up Frank and Kate’s money problems.
“Big doings, buster.” Aldo sounded extra crispy on the squirrel side of insanity. “The cops just left me and they’re looking for you.”
“They found Frank Marinelli in a barbecued Ford van down by the docks. He got fried inside Bubba, and I think the boys in blue want to pin it on you!”
Vic pulled the curtain aside and looked up to the corner to see a police car half parked past the corner of his building. Hanging up the phone he slipped his feet into his sandals, grabbed his jacket, snagged the planner full of cash and returned to the window.
Moments later, Kathleen was awakened rudely by Detective Rita Thomason and Patrolman Richard Curley banging on the apartment door.
“Open up, Vic. We’ve got a warrant and we’re coming in!” Richard yelled with his .38 pistol pointed skyward.
Kathleen awoke in shock and slipped heavily off of the bed. The sound alarmed the two NYPD finest, causing Curley to kick in the door and find Kathleen half-naked sitting on the floor with a sheet in her hands held to her chin.
Victor Kovach was gone, leaving a cool breeze coming in through the window to the fire escape.
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|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
|With a bit of editing, this is a good story. I like your style.
|Reviewed by Tristan
|read shut up. pretty good. read blond bullets not bad. Is Kathleen a real chick? If so, can I have her number? My kind of girl.|
|Reviewed by Del