Saturday, August 15, 2015

Short Story - Madness Always Lurks Close

Madness Always Lurks Close 
words: 1406

“That’s what I need, you got that.” Ray’s voice crackled over the cell phone.

Donnie’s faced scrunched, processing the request. He checked his blind spot and changed lanes before replying. “You want a thousand pairs of socks in assorted colors?” Donnie wanted to hang up on the old man, but you don’t do that to the man that created a crime syndicate.
 “That’s what I’m saying. You got a hearing problem? I’m going to the mattresses. I’m not coming out until everything is dealt with.” Ray hacked and spit. “You get to my age and you might double up on a pair.” Donnie heard a crash before Ray added. “Do it! Oh, I got to go.”
Donnie clicked the button on his earpiece, ending the call. Donnie sighed and shook his head.

“Was it the old man, again?” Lee asked from the passenger seat.


“He’s about lost it, hadn’t he?” Lee adjusted his sunglasses.

Donnie fished his cell phone out of the inside breast pocket of his suit jacket, tossing it to Lee. “Speed dial Mike, number three.”

Lee fumbled with the phone. “Tell him to reel his dad in, ya know.”

“Mike, your dad’s been calling me all morning.” A car pulled out in front of Donnie, he braked hard to miss it, laying on the horn.

“He’s gone off the rails Don. I can’t even leave him alone anymore.” Mike’s voice trailed off. Donnie strained to hear. “He thinks he’s running the show again. Agree with what he says, but don’t do anything. Let Rock know, he can take care of it. Hey Donnie, the morning good?”

Donnie knew what Mike was asking. Donnie glanced at Lee. “Yeah, so far.”

“You off?” Lee asked. Donnie nodded.”Completely off the rails, isn’t he? It’s crazy, you build an empire only to go crazy.”

Lee opened his mouth to speak, but glanced at Donnie and stopped. Less than two blocks later Lee broke the silence.

“Going to the mattresses could be an opportunity, ya know.” Lee said.

“Meaning what?” Donnie asked.

“I mean, maybe he says something crazy to a rival. Maybe they retaliate, we squash that. It’s an opportunity” Lee shifted in the seat, adjusting the seat belt. “I’m hungry, not stupid. We just push the borders a little bit.”

“Hungry is one thing, greed is another.” Donnie’s phone began to ring.

“You want me to… “ Lee started.

“No need.” Donnie clicked a button on the earpiece. “Hello.” He said coolly.

“Rock? Rock is that you?” It was Ray again. “This is Donnie Damasco.”
“Oh, right. Right. Get Rock to go to the grocers. Take one of the box trucks. We need to stock up. When we go to the mattresses, we hole up and don’t come out. And we need to set up a satellite site.”

“I’ll take care of it. I’ll inform Rock as well” Donnie responded. He pulled into a strip mall parking lot and shifted the car to park.

Lee started again as soon as he was out of the car. “Hey, I don’t want you to think I’m crazy. I’m just thinking out loud about expanding. Big battle make or break men.”

Donnie pulled the wrinkles out of his suit. “I’m not looking to break. You got money, you walk down town and people step aside. You want to be a boss? Boss up a coffee.”

“What?” Lee responded, his face quizzical.

Donnie gestured to the coffee shop. “I’ve got a call to make.” Lee hesitated, wondering whether he should push harder or comply. “Alright, fine. I see how it is.”

Donnie fumbled for his phone again, leaning against the sedan.

“What?” Rock’s gruff voice entered the earpiece.

“Where’d you get this cat you got me rolling with?”

“I dunno. He’s an earner.”

“Runs his mouth a lot.”

“Kids these days. They all got problems” Rock responded.

“Would you miss him?” Donnie asked.

“Him? No. The money he brings. Do what you gotta. That’s why you’re where you are. Anyway”

Rock ended the call. Donnie couldn’t see Lee in the coffee shop. This was the final step in the vetting process. Donnie appreciated Rock didn’t point out, that despite the complaints, Donnie had never offed anybody he was vetting. Just because he didn’t like them didn’t mean they couldn’t perform. The change of routine and having to babysit did the most to irritate his mood.

Donnie saw Lee exit the shop, a coffee in each hand. “Black, right?” Lee called.

He seemed overly ambitious, even greedy, but that could be nervousness talking. Lee had done enough to get to this level. If Lee got hot as easy as it seemed, he wouldn’t be this far along, but taking territory was war.

Donnie knew he thought too hard about it. If he didn’t like the kid, Rock would put him on something sticky. Why off your own when an enemy is more than willing?

“We’re going to see Bennett.” Donnie stated.

Lee got in the car. “Oh yeah? What’s he done?”

“Does it matter?” Donnie pushed the button to start the car.

“I suppose not. Just making conversation.” Lee added, buckling the lap belt.

Bennett, a former cop, ran a furniture store, mostly a furniture store. One of the organization’s pawn shops had been robbed. Bennett probably had information, but wasn’t always forthcoming. It would be a good task for Lee.

Donnie was impressed with Lee’s restraint. He had a real finesse to getting information. He pushed hard enough, but not too hard.Donnie could understand how the kid could work people. He could read them.

Once they were back in the sedan, Donnie looked at Lee. “Carried yourself well in there.”

Before Lee could respond, Donnie got another call. It was Ray… again.
“Where are ya? I tell ya to do and get, and I don’t see you. I got Mikey yapping in my ear. Good for nothing the lot of ya. You hear me? I’ll fight ‘em off myself if i have to. Mark my words!”

Donnie and Lee made a few pickups. Donnie typically stayed in the office, but the kid needed some field work. Donnie still wasn’t sure about him, or what measures should be taken. Was Lee talking big to impress or would he really risk starting a war to make a name for himself? One body to stop a turf war wasn’t even a drop in the bucket.

The phone redirected Donnie’s thoughts.
“Hey D, got an incident, heavy. You and your protege up for it?” Rock’ asked.

“No time like the present.” Donnie replied.

“Friend of ours is having some trouble. His daughter's boyfriend don’t respect her, ya know. It needs to go away. Might be a two for one deal, if you like.”


“Goes without saying, your time will be accommodated. Apartment 318, Dellano Court.”

The white bricked apartment building contrasted with the evening sky. It was older, but well maintained. Donnie had retrieved a pair of silenced double deuces hidden in the trunk of the car.

Donnie put his ear to the door of 318, hearing a television inside. Lee knelt to pick the lock after twisting the handle. The deadbolt wasn’t even engaged.

Lee proceeded in front of Donnie, his pistol leading the way. Lee scanned the living room and nodded to Donnie before proceeding towards a bedroom, the sound of a television emanating. Donnie raised his gun, training the site on the back of Lee’s head. He imagined the bullet escaping the gun, entering the skull and ricocheting inside. He still hadn’t quite made up his mind.

A commotion in the bedroom caused them both to freeze. Lee had pressed himself against the wall just outside the door.

Another sound escaped the bedroom. It sounded like someone turning over in bed. Donnie nodded and Lee gently pushed the door open with his foot. The television’s light flickered on the walls. Donnie and Lee both had their guns raised and ready.

“What the…” The television lit a shirtless figure rising from bed. Donnie’s finger tensed.

“Don’t hurt me,  i won’t never…” Pop. Pop. A man fell face first to the floor, bones crunching when his face hit the floor.

Donnie knelt, collecting the two shells. The shirtless man bleeding out.

“Man, I just… That was crazy.” Lee tucked the gun into his waistband. “As close as we were, I bet he had no idea.”

“They never do.” Donnie replied.
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