2023.05.28 08:23 10throwawayantsy Does he want sex?
2023.05.28 08:19 PinkJellyGirly The man that followed me home twice got what he deserved
2023.05.28 08:18 10throwawayantsy Does he want sex?
2023.05.28 08:05 TheIllusionarySystem I feel like my trauma wasn't enough
2023.05.28 08:04 Quandale_Dingle274 Doppleganger
2023.05.28 07:54 mmillington Actress in the House Group Read, Week 2: Chapters 1-4
2023.05.28 07:48 WarmHugs1206 “Meet Me At Mama’s Place”
2023.05.28 07:44 frog_without_a_cause Why are shower doors so fucking hard to clean!!!
2023.05.28 07:37 TheShadowspawn Chapter Thirty-Six - Alcohol
2023.05.28 07:34 Oggy20 Military Ball, 9th of September, 1944
2023.05.28 07:32 likeeyedid I moved to a neighborhood where the people are too welcoming
2023.05.28 07:26 Original-Loquat3788 A Mechanized Killing
2023.05.28 07:21 Takosannn Me experience from about 12 years ago.
2023.05.28 06:56 Speedster012 How do you write bad things happening to the protagonists (despite being against the idea yourself)?
2023.05.28 06:56 gothskies Am I in the wrong?
2023.05.28 06:55 psyopticnerve Nothing Grows Here [Part 1}
2023.05.28 06:50 Ak_Tasha 1 series pre vs. post facelift
2023.05.28 06:48 Toothlessboiiii My friend got sent to a juvenile prison and I haven't seen him since
2023.05.28 06:34 bimbo_wannabe_ [I Accidentally Joined The Mafia In South Brooklyn] Chapter 5: The Dead Are Especially Nosy Down Here
Previous Part: https://www.reddit.com/redditserials/comments/13sxdo9/i_accidentally_joined_the_mafia_in_south_brooklyn/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=android_app&utm_name=androidcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_buttonsubmitted by bimbo_wannabe_ to redditserials [link] [comments]
These last few parts have taken a lot longer for me to write than I thought. A lot of shit has gone down in the last two months, and a lot of it, frankly, is kind of a blur. But I figure, if you've stuck with me this long, then you deserve to know how it all ended up so I'm going to try my best to remember every detail of what happened.
Me? I've spent every free hour I've had, just lying in bed. I've got a lot of healed wounds that still hurt me pretty damned badly.
Blood loss from multiple gunshot wounds and then drowning in the East River, dying and then being brought back while still human, incidentally, takes a lot out of a guy.
But… I'm getting way ahead of myself.
Where were we, again?
Oh yeah, that's right. The funeral without caskets, inside of a Ukrainian restaurant just off the boardwalk in Brighton Beach. That's where I left off at.
Antoni's corpse and I had spoken together for a while longer, about Beccs and their baby, actually, sitting there in the floor in front of the three empty bathroom stalls. The next moment, as usual, he was… just gone.
It took a while to slow the bleeding, and it took even longer to try and clean myself up with just hand soap and paper towels and the water from the sink. Nobody came into the bathroom again, and as I left, I saw why. There was a sign on the door that read 'Out of Order' with something printed below it in Cyrillic that I imagined probably said the same thing as the English.
My new winter coat had been left on the floor in front of the door and the Emergency Exit at the end of the hall had its alarm disabled and had been left propped open with a brick.
I took that as a clear message that they didn't want me rejoining the party, so I exited into the alley and sat on a milk crate chain-smoking until 2 PM when the funeral ended.
The weather app on my phone said it was 10 degrees outside, but oddly enough the cold air felt soothing on my bruised face. My eyes were nearly swollen shut, and every now and again I had to pull some of the toilet paper out that I'd stuffed in my pocket to wipe another trickle of blood from my nose when I sniffed a little too hard and moved the clots loose.
At 1:57, I started to hear people exiting the restaurant, so I moved onto the sidewalk to wait for Becca. The people leaving the funeral only glanced at me for a second and then looked away with a bored expression, like I wasn't even there. Finally, only Becca and Toni's immediate family were still inside.
Tatiana gave Becca a hug, Igor, a gentle handshake, and Antoni Sr. bent down, cupped his hands around Becca's face and pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead. I could see that his right hand was bandaged and he was holding it straighter than his left. Good. I hoped the fucker had broken it when he'd punched me in the jaw.
As Becca exited, I could tell she was angry even before she stomped over to me and shoved me three times in quick succession. Like Jimmy, Becca was a lot stronger than she looked, but now I knew why. I couldn't do much but ball up and take the hits.
"Where the fuck did you go? You just took off and left me there by myself. 'He wouldn't have left without saying goodbye if he had a choice.' You knew, you cocksucker, you knew, you knew he was dead!"
"Yeah, I knew! Antoni was in the news. But we gotta get the fuck out of here, Beccs, you're making a scene, another one, and I gotta get outta this neighborhood before something worse happens to me."
The high color of anger in her cheeks dropped away immediately into a pallid white. She'd been so pissed she'd never once registered the state of my face.
"Jesus Christ, Tony, what the fuck happened to you?"
"Your little Polish sausage's Daddy Dearest just beat the fuck out of me in the men's bathroom, that's what the fuck happened."
"Why would he do that?" Becca asked, but I didn't answer. She looked back to Skovorodka, following my gaze. Antoni Sr. was still standing there, just inside the front door, watching me with narrowed eyes, his hands folded neatly behind his back like a soldier at ease. It reminded me a lot of how Antoni used to stand while we were waiting for the train together.
"Fuck," she muttered, then "Shit," and grabbed me by the arm. "Come on."
"Why would he do that?" She asked me again as we climbed the stairs to the train platform.
"Antoni was Mob, Becca, Bratva. His whole goddamned family is. Him and his brothers and his father and his fucking Russian uncle, and I'd say your Mama Tatiana probably isn't in the dark about what her brother and her hubby and his sons do to make a living, either. I don't know why the Zabrowskas were on the Avenue, but suffice to say it was probably for nefarious reasons, and Jimmy found out about it and took care of business.
"Only I don't think he realized exactly who he was taking out at the time he did it, or else he never would have put the body in the River for somebody to find. And then the other three showed up to avenge their brother, only two of 'em never made it past Bianchi any farther than Antoni did."
"The fuck are you trying to say?" Her tone says she already understands just fine and doesn't want to.
"I'm saying your dear sweet Mamma killed your boyfriend, Becca. She removed all the identifying marks from his body, ate what she wanted, then pulled all his teeth out and chewed off his hands and his feet. They dumped the body in the East River and they found him about 5 days ago, floating off of Battery Park."
"Oh God. That's why. I asked Tatiana where Antoni was going to be buried and she told me in the public cemetery on Hart Island. They're not claiming the body because they don't wanna go to the cops. For the last week I been cussing him for everything he was worth, and he's been laying in the fucking morgue." She pressed her hand to her mouth, and I saw her bloodshot eyes filling with tears again.
"Please don't cry, Becca, cause I'm gonna start crying again and I've cried enough for today."
She sniffed back her tears and swallowed hard.
"But I don't understand, Tony, what the fuck does that have to do with you?"
"They knew, Beccs, they knew how the Zabrowskas died, who killed them, and they knew I helped Moretti get rid of the bodies afterwards. That's why Antoni's father went after me. The uh… the fucking Pakhan thought Jimmy sent me there to rub it in their faces that they weren't going to be able to bury any of their boys."
"How the fuck would they know that?" She barked at me.
"Somebody's feeding them information and not some asshole on the street, somebody from inside the Camorra."
"Who would do that?"
I saw her eyes darting about wildly as she tried to think of the answer to her own question.
"I don't know, uh, the driver that brought Moretti, he didn't look like he was too fond of Bianchi, maybe he's a fucking option."
"Frankie? I mean, him and Ma have never gotten along. He's never liked her and the feeling's mutual but… that doesn't make any sense, Frankie's always been loyal to the Camorra. Rossi always said he practically muttered the Omerta in his fucking sleep, that he was a soldato down to the bones."
"I have no idea, Becca, but it gets worse," I said quietly. If it didn't hurt so goddamned bad, I would've squeezed my eyes shut.
"How the fuck could it possibly get worse, Tony?"
"First you gotta promise you're not gonna hit me again."
Her hand balled into a fist, and I couldn't help but flinch.
"I'm gonna knock you the fuck out right now if you don't stop wasting my time, Cipriani."
"I sold her out, Becca. Bianchi. I told them where she lives and how to find her tonight."
"I had to! He was gonna cut my fucking fingers off, and I don't know if he was going to take all four or just three but I wasn't about to fucking find out. I kind of need those fingers seeing as I'm a fucking southpaw!"
I held my left hand out to her, curled my fingers inward, but the third finger just… stayed straight. "Ah, fuck, I didn't even notice that."
"Jesus Christ, the tendon's been cut," she whispered, and when she pressed her hand to her mouth again she looked less like she was swallowing back tears and more like she was trying to swallow back vomit. I couldn't really blame her. I felt pretty nauseous myself.
"You know, I'm, I'm not worried about Ma," she said, finally. "It wouldn't be the first time somebody's tried to take her out. She's harder to kill than they think."
"Would, uh, would cutting her head off work? Cause if so I think they're already pretty aware of how to get the job done. They… they know Bianchi's not human, Becca."
Her face got paler, if that was even possible, and her eyes were the size of saucers.
"This is a goddamn nuclear disaster. Jesus fuck."
We stood the last few minutes waiting for the train in silence. As the doors slid shut and we sat down, Becca began laughing wildly.
"So you're in hysterics for real, huh?" I asked.
"You're gonna have to forgive me, I'm a little slow on the uptake today, but I just got it, Polish sausage… only, he wasn't little, you know, he was hung like a fucking horse, and it's a goddamn tragedy for women everywhere that the man isn't on this earth anymore. And he knew how to use it, too. Best sex I ever had in my life… only sex I ever had in my life, but that's not the fucking point." A short, barking sob tore out of her.
I groaned. "You know, that is way, way more information than I ever wanted to know about you and Antoni's sex life. You couldn't, uh, you couldn't let that one pass by, huh?"
"I never pass up the opportunity to make a good dick joke. And he had Good Dick."
I laughed and regretted it as it tightened muscles in my stomach that were still a little angry about being used as Antoni Sr's personal punching bag.
"Touché, Miss Rebecca, touché."
"The two-faced bastard, I gotta give the motherfucker that much, you know, it's a uniquely personal way to say Fuck You to the Underboss, getting his teenaged daughter pregnant. I am so, so goddamned tired of being a pawn in other people's games. He's lucky he's already dead or I'd kill the bitch myself," she whispered.
"It wasn't a game, Becca, what happened between you and Antoni," I whispered back. I knew because Antoni's corpse had told me as much. "Don't ask me how I know, cause I don't wanna talk about it, but it wasn't a game. You didn't know about him and he didn't know about you and it was a big, fucked up coincidence. You loved him, and he really, truly loved you... he worshiped the ground you walked on." Actually, he had said he worshiped the boots she walked in, but I figured it was a translation issue. "It was a regular old Romeo and Juliet: Brooklyn Edition."
She squeezed her eyes shut, snorted and at the same time choked on another sob.
"Yeah, but Romeo and Juliet ended in a double suicide, not a murder and a single mother." Her tiny hand went to her mouth again, and she wasn't able to hold back the tears this time. "I miss him, Tony, I miss him so fucking much."
"You know, Beccs, I miss him, too." I miss him when he was alive, not looking like a walking nightmare, and talking my goddamned ear off half the time, but I wasn't about to tell her that. "He was the first friend I made down here."
"It's fucking stupid. I still remember every single thing he said to me those first few times I met him."
"Odd as it is, I do too, Beccs. He was that kind of guy, I guess, he didn't have to work hard to make an impression on people. It was, uh, three days after I moved in, I think. I was in the basement, getting ready to do my laundry that morning, fighting with the stuck knob on that machine down at the end? And he walks in with his clothes basket balanced on his hip and reaches past me and just… turned the fucking thing, like it wasn't even stuck to begin with. 'It has an attitude, but it likes me,' he says, and I say, 'I can see that.'
"And he, he told me his name. 'Zabrowska,' he says, 'Antoni.' And I laughed and said, 'Nice to meet you, Toni, I'm Tony.' 'Really?' he says, and I say 'Yeah. Really. Antonio Alessio Gioele Cipriani, the third, if you please.'"
"Goddamn, that name is painfully Italian. No wonder you tell everybody 'Just call me Tony,'" Becca snorted.
"Thank you, Miss Rebecca, I can assure you I didn't pick it myself. But, 'Ah,' Toni says and kind of taps his hand in the center of his chest, 'Junior.' And I laughed again and said 'Our parents were goddamned creative when it came to the baby naming, right?' And he laughed, too, and shook my hand.
"And uh, a few days after that he showed up outside of my apartment and asked me if I wanted to go watch a game with him and his brothers at the sports bar down the street. It was Poland vs Korea. I still don't know shit about soccer, I've always been more of an American football kind of guy, but I did learn quite a few Polish swear words that day. Apparently they'd all bet money on the home team winning that game."
"I bet you did. Poland kept catching red cards that whole game. I bet on Korea, of course, and altogether I won 8 grand from four extremely pissed off Polish dudes when we stomped their ass all over the pitch. I had no idea how seriously the four of them took soccer. Antoni wouldn't even talk to me for three days. Probably didn't help I made an ass of myself laughing at all of them. Course, I woulda bet more if I'd known they were good for it. Dry cleaners, my ass," Becca spat.
"Well, in Antoni's defense, he probably did work at a dry cleaners like he told us, just like you work at a bodega, and Jimmy and me work at a restaurant, and Pops works at a hardware store. We all got day jobs. You know, I hate to bust your balls, Becca, but did it… never occur to you to ask Antoni if the tattoos meant something?"
"No," she said weakly. "I mean, I knew they were prison tats but Jesus Christ, half the people I know have been to prison. You've been to prison, half of my cousins have been to prison, hell, Pops has been to prison. You weren't here then, but all of 2016 to 2020 I was wearing a 'Free Rossi' t-shirt everyday, a lot of people in this neighborhood did. Ma got him off on the Murder 1 charges but numbers are numbers, and she couldn't get him out of the Tax Evasion. But I figured, if Antoni didn't wanna talk about it, then it was none of my business what had happened before we met each other."
She'd minded her own business a little too hard this time.
"What did you and Antoni talk about, Becca?"
"Everything! And anything, and nothing, all at the same time. He'd complain about living with his brothers, about Misiu always leaving hair all over the bathroom, and how Ciech always left sugar all over the kitchen counter after he made his coffee. And I'd complain about having to pick up all the empty bottles of makgeolli after my Dad in the morning. I'd help him wash all the dishes his dirty ass brothers would leave piled in the sink, and fold everybody's clothes.
"We got along well, me and Antoni, we were actually very compatible, we were both neat freaks when it came to our housekeeping. We even folded our towels the same way. And he'd bitch about how Igor could never balance the register correctly at the end of the day, and I'd bitch about how my Dad never checked our invoices correctly, and I was always having to cuss out the distribution reps for shorting us on our deliveries myself.
"And we'd watch TV together. He always made fun of me for the lame ass old Chuck Lorre sitcoms I loved to watch, and I'd make fun of him for all the stupid cop dramas he watched, every Law and Order known to man, and Blue Bloods and shit. We just… talked to each other, like we were two regular people, just living our lives. It was simple and it was easy, and it was enough, it was goddamned enough for me. Our relationship was the one normal thing I had going in my fucked up life."
She cracked at the end, sobbing brokenly. She turned her head to the side, pressed her face into my bicep as she wrapped both arms around mine. Tears filled my eyes, as well, and now I was wiping snot out of my nose as well as blood. I felt goddamned sorry for the kid, and I felt like she had a right to cry, but I had to distract her, for my own sake.
"So tell me, when was the first time you talked to Antoni? Was that the same day he asked you out?"
"No, there was some time between the two. He'd been there about a week, I guess, after they moved in. They got there back in like April. I'd fucked with him the first day, you know, asked him where the hell the accent came from, and he said Poland, and I told him welcome to America cause I felt like being a dick. And he said that he'd already been in country five years and I laughed at him and told him, goddamn, I couldn't tell cause he still sounded like he was fresh off the boat. And he got this look on his face, like he was trying to decide if he needed to be offended or not, so I told him I was just fucking with him, that he was doing better than my Mom, God rest her, cause it was seven years after she got here from Seoul before she even learned a word of English and my Dad was the one that had to teach her."
"Makes sense. I moved in in June, Toni mentioned he'd only been in the building about two months hisself."
She nodded, I could feel the movement in the sleeve of my coat where her cheek was pressed to my arm.
"Him and his brothers started coming in every day after that and you know, I kind of had my eye on him from the first time I talked to him. He was goddamn gorgeous, quite literally the walking definition of 'tall, dark, and handsome.' He had those incredibly blue eyes, and that fucking accent, man, shit put me in knots everytime he came in. I learned them all pretty quick, and Antoni was easy. He got the same thing everyday, box of Newport 100s and a pack of Russian Cream Backwoods with a large slushy. You know I gotta keep the cups behind the counter because motherfuckers'll fill it up and walk out when I get busy. I saw him when he came in, and went over to the ATM, so I had his shit sitting on the counter waiting for him."
Becca had a talent for memorizing all of the regular's orders, it wasn't unusual to see a long line of cigarettes, blunts, medicine, sometimes even crack pipes and Chore Boys, and anything else she kept behind the counter, set up neatly next to the register. She also had a talent for running both registers at the same time when the line got overly long and she was there alone. Sometimes I had no idea how she kept up with it all, but that was just Becca.
"And this drunk asshole came in, right after, he didn't even belong in the neighborhood, he stayed in Bed-Stuy, but he was with his cousin, and his cousin I knew and he was shooting me apologetic looks so I was already on guard. I was in a bad goddamn mood that day, anyway. And the drunk bitch, he walked over to the bathroom and tried to open it."
"Key's behind the counter," I said, and she nodded.
"And the key costs five dollars cause people make a fucking mess in the bathroom and I ain't cleaning that shit everyday for free. Well, drunk fuck got pissed and started talking a bunch of shit and threw his five dollars down on the counter, and you know, I can't stand that. You don't throw money at me, I ain't a goddamned stripper, you can put that shit in my hand or you can get the fuck out my store. And, I said 'Naw, son, for you it's gonna cost ten, five dollar Drunk Dick surcharge for being an asshole and cutting my line.' And the motherfucker… he called me a fucking stupid little bitch, and he told me people like me needed to be sent back to my own country."
I made a sound of disapproval, already seeing where this was headed.
"I hate that stupid shit. Where the fuck am I getting sent back to? The fucking hospital in Manhattan where I was born? Everybody in the store just kind of stopped and stood there, and dude's cousin? He just shook his head at me and walked right out the store and left him there."
"He wasn't gonna get involved, huh?" I asked.
"Fuck no. He wasn't stupid. I… uh, I was seeing red by that point so I balled up his money and I threw it across the store and told him to get the fuck out. I don't even remember half the shit I said to him, but I was yelling and he was yelling back and all of a sudden Antoni was… just there. I never even noticed him walking up. He was a big motherfucker, but goddamn he was quick and quiet when he wanted to be."
Becca laced her fingers through the fingers of my right hand and I gave them a squeeze as she readjusted her head against my shoulder. I turned mine to press a kiss to her hair. She was short enough that I didn't have to worry about bumping my nose. As I turned back, I noticed that there was a puddle of water on the seat across from us, and a pit formed in my stomach immediately. My face felt cold as the blood drained from it. The puddle of water made me more than just a little nervous to see it.
I had new enemies stacking up quick, and the last thing I needed was a pissed off, jealous ghost because his grieving fiancée was getting a little handsy with me. But… Antoni never showed himself, so I could only assume he approved of my offering her comfort in her time of need. Either that or he was waiting till I was alone to express his displeasure.
"'Is there a problem here?' was all he asked and the drunk bitch turned around and he got even more pissed. He goes 'Man, fuck you, white boy. Mind your own goddamned business.' And Antoni kind of got in his face, and goes, 'I have made it my business. She told you to leave. Either remove yourself or I will remove you.'
"And the liquor must've given him a bigger set of balls than he actually had, cause he took a swing at him. And Antoni, he just kind of… leaned back a little to avoid the swing and then leaned back in and… he knocked that bitch out cold with one punch. And then he picked him up, literally picked him up, and threw his ass out on the sidewalk, and kind of dusted his hands off afterwards."
"Well, if he's anything like his father then he could throw a hell of a right cross."
Becca laughed weakly.
"Yeah, his Dad boxes, they all did, you know, from when they were young. Antoni told me he got in his Dad's face once when he was about 16, and Old Papa Zabrowska coldcocked him in the kitchen, and when he woke up on the couch, his Dad dragged him out back in the alley and beat him bloody. Told him if his little grown ass thought he was a man, then he was grown enough to get his ass stomped like a man."
That made me feel a little better, to be honest. At least I wasn't the only one I knew who had caught an ass kicking from Antoni Sr.
"I bet he didn't talk shit to his Pops again after that, huh?"
"I asked him that exact question, he said 'Oh no, no, never again. I learned my lesson.' Toni and his brothers, though, were always getting in fights, even when I knew them. He told me it was hard on their Mama, back in Kraków, having four hormonal, teenaged boys with just shy of a year between each of them, you know cause… us fucking Roman Catholics ain't too fond of any method of contraception."
"I didn't know you was Catholic, too, B."
"Of course. Rossi is a devout Catholic, and that's how he raised me, and Nia, she's an Angel, you know, a Fallen One, that's what they call themselves, but she's even got real wings. A little more leathery and less feathery, but… same thing. She goes to Mass daily, turns out demons are actually very religious. Both of my parents were atheists, and that's how they raised me, but after some of the shit I've seen, you know, it ain't too unbelievable that there's a Big Guy upstairs."
She sniffed again, wiped at her nose and I offered her a bit of toilet paper from my pocket.
"That's how it all got started, the War in Heaven. God created Adam, the first living human body, and he told all the spirits in Heaven to kneel to him. And at least half of them weren't too fond of that idea, and the Morning Star stepped up as representative and said they wouldn't kneel to anyone but God. And they, uh, they lost the War, and He banished them all to Earth, to wander without bodies of their own while the other side got to come to Earth one at a time, to live their lives.
"But… then there was the first murder, Abel. Cain beat him to death with a rock, and the blood on the ground, the first human blood ever shed in violence, it called to God, but He wasn't the only one it called to. The blood, it gave him a way inside of a body. Lucifer. He was the First One. He's still here, you know, I've met him. He has a particular fondness for Nia, he calls her Young One, cause according to him 1607 wasn't all that long ago."
"I guess it isn't when you're that old."
"But, back to what I was saying about Toni, all of them were packed into one place together like fucking sardines, the four boys sharing one bedroom in a two bedroom apartment, and all having vastly different personalities. Tatiana is little, like me, and I don't imagine she could do much to break them up when they got to fighting about everything from who ate all the leftovers to who got the top bunks on the beds."
"Probably not," I answered.
"I mean, I could practically smell the testosterone in their fucking apartment whenever I walked in, and it was probably even worse back then. And apparently, that had been their Dad's method of keeping them from tearing up his wife's house all the time. Whenever a problem inevitably developed, he'd just take them down to the gym and throw them in the ring without any gloves and tell them to fucking handle it, and whoever was still standing at the end was the one that won the argument.
"Uh, but, uh, when Toni hit the guy, all, all I could do was stand there with my mouth hanging open like a fucking fish. I mean, I was in love, right that fucking second, standing there. The hormones were running on overdrive, my head was practically spinning with how fast all the blood rushed south, you know? Everybody was still standing there and Antoni tried to get back in line and I said, 'Uh-uh. Take your shit and go on.' And he goes," Beccs began laughing again, laughed so hard there were tears in her eyes once more.
"He goes, 'Am I in trouble?'''
I had to wrap my left arm tight around my stomach because I couldn't stop myself from laughing either. The makeshift bandage on my left hand that I'd wound out of paper towel had soaked through, I was going to have to change it soon.
"He didn't say that, Becca."
"Yes the fuck, he did. And I went, 'No, you dumbass, it's on the house, and in case I gotta translate, that means it's free. Small price to pay for a security detail.' And he just kind of blinked at me for a second, before he nodded his head and grabbed his things off the counter, went and filled his slushy up."
"You probably scared the piss out of him for that second, he probably thought he'd been found out. That's what they call it, what he was, Obshchak, Security Group."
"He stopped before he left, and told me thank you. And I said 'No, dziękuję', thank you. And then I winked at him and said 'Miłej nocy, piękna.'" She straightened up as the train began to slow for our stop.
"And what did that mean?"
"Have a good night, gorgeous." She said with a watery grin.
"Smooth, B, real smooth. Nothing quite like hitting on a man in his native language. "
"I mean, you know us, Tony, we got Southern Hospitality down here. As long as you're not an asshole, I do everything I can to make sure everyone feels welcome when they come inside. That's why there's a sign on the door that says 'DMZ.' They might have beef on the streets but don't nobody take that shit inside my store. And that means asking the Mexicans down the street if they need a bolsa, and making sure I ordered Farid's miswaks so he didn't have to walk all the way down to the Pakistani store, and sometimes it means learning a little bit of Polish so I could flirt with the new guy downstairs the next time he came in."
We exited the train, made the switch, and stood on the platform waiting for the next to take us back to Avenue U. As I glanced to the side, I could see a puddle forming on the platform next to me, drip by drip. It was already freezing around the edges. As it turned out, I wasn't the only nosy fuck around here.
"And apparently the flirting was well received by our dearly departed half-Russian friend."
"Apparently, cause about a week later I was having a busy fucking Friday night and my Dad had already gone home, and I was trying to shut her down but motherfuckers kept coming inside right up until 11. I made DeAndre from downstairs stand at the door and tell people we were closed and that he was the last customer for the night and after I rung him up I told him to flip the sign on the door and I'd lock it when I finished my cigarette count… only, I forgot to ever lock it, and DeDe's traitorous ass, he fucking set me up. He knew I had a thing for Antoni, and when he saw him coming down off the platform and rushing down the sidewalk, he let him in and told him he was the last customer for the night and to flip the sign on the door."
She closed her eyes for a moment.
"It took me… exactly 16 minutes to notice he was there. I know, cause after I was done pissing myself when I figured out I wasn't alone, the Polish smart-ass showed me his watch. He'd set a timer when he realized I wasn't paying any attention to him, and then just stood there, waiting to see how long it would take. I had my earphones in, and it took four songs," she held up her hand and ticked them off with her fingers. "'Savage Like', 'Money, Sex, Drugs', 'Proud' and 'Only.'
"I turned around and screamed like a little bitch when I saw him. And then I got pissed, cause I was embarrassed, I'd been singing along to all the songs cause I thought I was alone in the store. I started screaming at him. 'What the fuck, you can't read? The sign says Closed.' And he goes 'No, it didn't. It still said Open. I turned it myself.' I hadn't counted down my register yet, so I just went ahead and grabbed his shit and rung him up, cussing DeDe the whole time and I asked him how long he'd been standing there, and he showed me his watch. And he says, 'You shouldn't wear those, it's dangerous,' talking about my headphones, and I said, 'What are you, my fucking father?' And he got kind of a funny look on his face."
I released a weak snicker, holding my stomach tight again. I couldn't resist fucking with them both a little bit.
"He kinda had a point, Becca. Although, I can tell you he was probably less concerned about being your father and more concerned about becoming your Daddy."
"Oh, so now you got the dirty jokes," Becca said flatly.
"What can I say, B, you're a bad influence on me."
"Eh," she said after a moment, "You wouldn't be the first. You know, months later he told me that he'd stood there that long because he didn't think he'd have the nerve to ask what he wanted to ask the next time if he left, which, you know, what the fuck? What am I, scary?"
I couldn't help but laugh again.
"Yes, Becca, you are, you're fucking terrifying half the time. You might be a short fuck but dynamite comes in small packages, you know? He was probably afraid you'd tell him to suck your dick and ban him from the store for a month like every other poor motherfucker I've seen ask you out, and he probably didn't want to go through your particular brand of ridicule in front of an audience, on top of that, with all the other customers laughing him out of the store."
"It ain't my fault I'm this size," she said after a moment, shooting me a perturbed look.
"No shit, Sherlock. It's genetics."
"It ain't even that. It's the blood. I mean, my parents were both tall, you know, for Koreans, anyway, my Mom was 5'6. I probably would've been too if I'd had the chance, but, you know, the blood it… stops things. Why do you think Jimmy looks the way he does? I mean, Pops believes in 'aging gracefully,' as he says, but old Giacomino is a vain fuck, and he's got more of a taste for 'the Stuff' than Rocco ever had. He turned 65 this year, he's only two years younger than Pops, he was already 34 years old when he met Nia for the first time. He tells people he's got a good plastic surgeon, when they ask. And the same thing happened to me. My body wanted to stay 8 years old, forever.
"Rossi had to get hormones, fucking estrogen and progesterone and HGH, off the black market to force my body to start puberty and to fucking grow. It's not like we could go to a doctor and explain why I needed the prescription. I mean, these tits aren't even mine. Ma bought 'em for my sixteenth birthday so I wouldn't feel so goddamned self-conscious. Nia's not exactly flat-chested, as you know, neither was my Mom, and it kind of gave me a fucking complex when I was growing up."
"I mean, is she? I haven't really noticed," I replied, evasively.
"Yes, you have, you lying fuck. There isn't a straight or bisexual man, or a lesbian or bisexual woman for that matter, that comes within fifty feet of Appolonia Bianchi that doesn't notice all of her unnatural charms. It made for some interesting 'family' trips during the summer when we'd leave the city, lemme tell you. I asked Pops once, you know, if he ever got jealous when she'd show up with some random dick she'd run across, cause I used to think it was pretty shitty of her.
"I said she could've at least kept things on the downlow and not throw it in Rocco's face every few days. But he told me no, he loved her, he understood her nature very well and he'd accepted what she was years before I was even born, and that she loved him too, and more importantly, respected him. She always introduced the men to him because that was what he'd asked of her. That it was the one aspect of control he had in the situation, giving his 'permission' for her little liaisons. That it made him feel better to let them know they might be getting a piece, but she'd be ending every night lying in his bed, regardless of what they did."
I nodded. "I guess I can kind of see his point."
"But, the blood, that's how I ended up pregnant. I mean, I'm not a dumbass, I know how babies are made, but I wasn't worried about using condoms with Antoni, neither of us wanted to. I told him if he gave me anything I'd cut his dick off, and he knew I was serious, too, and he considered it a proportional response. I didn't even think I could get pregnant.
"I stopped the birth control when I was 16 because it was making me gain weight and my cheer coach bitched me out in front of fucking everybody, and Rossi's guy said I needed to keep taking it to keep my hormone levels even. So I told Antoni I didnt want to get into my medical history, but suffice to say I was probably fucking sterile anyway, so he didn't have to worry about it, and he told me he wasn't worried about it at all. But apparently my fucking parts work better than I thought."
"Or maybe he had some damned determined swimmers, who knows."
"I don't know why I was even concerned about not using condoms anyway. Technically we were all excommunicated as of 2014. Pope said the mafiosi lifestyle isn't compatible with the Catholic one. You know, I wonder how Antoni would feel about all this, I wonder if he'd be pissed, think I lied to him about not being able to get pregnant."
"You're just gonna have to take my word for it, B, but he's not angry in the least, he's pretty fucking proud of hisself." I'd say his chest was stuck out but he didn't have much of a chest left these days, so I just kept that part to myself. "Pretty sure he said he wasn't worried about it because he was hoping you were wrong about being sterile."
Beccs gave me a strange look but the train arrived at just that moment. The people exiting did quite a bit of staring, unlike the people leaving the funeral, but I just tucked my arm around Becca and shouldered my way past them and found us a seat. The drops of water followed us into the train.
"What's with the present tense, Tony? Is that some kind of cliche 'he's lookin' down on you' bullshit?"
I snorted and wiped the bubble of blood from my nose, staring at the puddle of water that was starting to form in the seat next to us. I could feel the cold emanating from Antoni all along my left side. Oddly enough, it was easing the intense ache in my nearly severed ring finger.
"He ain't looking down on us, B, I can tell you that much."
"So it's a Hell joke?"
"No, not really. But then again, I'm pretty sure we're all in Hell right this second, Miss Rebecca, so yes, yes it is."
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