Alexandra Sokoloff had a nice post the other day about how hard it is to get back into the rhythm of writing after the crazy holiday season. This is something I struggle with and could relate to. So, in an attempt to jump start the year proper-like, I’m setting myself a challenge and extending it to the rest of you.
One story. Flash fiction (under 1k). Subject matter is open. You’ve got a week. Post a link in the comment section to where your story will appear next Monday and I’ll spread the word.
Go on. Get to it.
Nicknames can tell you everything…or they can lead you down the wrong path altogether. For example, he’s not the most masculine of the bunch; “Viv” is not a woman at all. “V.I.V.” stands for his initials “Vittorio, Ignacio, Volpe.”
So, Tommy’s nickname is a mystery to the new guys and the old guys that knew it are dead. As a matter of fact, nobody knows where Tommy comes from…or just whom he really works for. Carmelo DiSalvo, no relation to the Boss, says that Tommy worked for the Jewish Mob and that Tommy is not a Gentile, if you get my drift. Carmelo also said that Tommy was employed by Bugsy Siegel, up until that fateful day of June 20, 1947, when Meyer Lansky conveniently had Tommy run an errand up in Vegas.
Naturally, despite Meyer sparing his life, Tommy wasn’t too happy about losing his boss, to whom he was very loyal. This I all believe to be true...as far as I know, because Carmelo rarely lies when he’s sober, and he’s been on the wagon for a whole week. So, here it is, some twelve years after Siegel’s demise, and I called Tommy up, because I’m one of the few that knew him when. DiSalvo (the Boss, not Carmelo) wants something taken care of, but when the accusing finger is finally pointed, it can’t be at him.
Giuseppe Cacciato is a thorn in my Boss’s side, and he must be dealt with before he becomes far too big to take on. The bitch about this is Cacciato never comes out, ever. His compound is called “Fort Knox North” by everybody in Our Thing, because of how secure it is. So as long as he stays in there, he figures that he’s safe…and he’s right. On the other hand, Tommy is a wise man. The fact that he is as old as he is and for him to last in the business that he is in, testifies to his true intelligence. You don’t get that lucky for that long, as you can’t help but step on the wrong toes.
“If Cacciato’s reach is long and it extends past his compound walls, you have to cut off his right hand,” Tommy says to me.
“We’ve tried that before, and just like something out of a Greek myth, a new right hand popped up. Smarter, tougher…hell, it’s like we did him a favor. We took out an inferior lieutenant and gave him a battle-tested general.”
“Then, there’s one thing that will get to him, the same thing that will get to every man.”
“We don’t touch the family…not at that level.”
“No, you misunderstand, my friend. You don’t have to go after a man’s family to flush him out,” muses Tommy.
I shake my head and mumble, “He never leaves Fort Knox North.”
“He won’t have to; I’ll get him to bring me there.”
As it turns out, Joe Cacciato does have a weakness...she’s 5’3” and what one would call “classically beautiful.” A regular Venus De Milo, with arms, of course. It doesn’t take much effort on Tommy’s part to get her attention; he’s a handsome old man, even if I do say so myself. They meet at Abruzzo’s, and if I knew who she was and that she went to that joint, I woulda done all of this myself. But that’s why Tommy is the best.
They talk, and they talk. Tommy strings her along pretty good, just enough to let her know that he’s interested, and in turn, that keeps her interested in him. I watch this from the restaurant section, and it’s better than any dinner theater that I’ve seen.
Two nights later and I’m standing in her closet, watching her lie woozy on her bed. Tommy slipped her something, unawares…not to take advantage of her, but to drag the time out. We discussed the particulars of his plan while she was out, and then she stirs, just as Tommy is pouring glue on his head…that’s right, glue. He puts his hat on, and that’s the signal.
They snatch him in the hallway, because he’s not there when I peek out the door. She’s asking me where the hell I came from, as I exit.
Cacciato is mad; he probably knew about Tommy the very first day. I can see it in my mind as I wait outside the compound. He’ll want to talk to Tommy personally. He’ll want to do this himself, to save face in front of his men, not knowing that Tommy has been in this position more than a few times before. When Joe Cacciato gets too close and tries to hit Tommy, that’s when he’ll hit Cacciato right back.
If they have him handcuffed, he’ll have a key because all handcuffs have the same lock. Tied with a rope or tape? Tommy will also have a knife that they won’t find, unless they give a search that’s prison guard-worthy. That same knife will cut throats and faces, as it has done so many times before. There will be two small .32s that are just a little smaller than Tommy’s palms, with tiny sights that always find their targets.
When the man that you blindly follow is maimed, it momentarily takes the wind out of you. When the man you swore to protect with your life goes down in a heap, you are stunned, and then you are angry. By the time they get mad, Tommy will kill them, too.
There are the indoor fireworks, like the 4th of July in November. Listen to these idiots running around like chickens with a fox in the coop. The first place these idiots should check, is the secret tunnel that my cousin Paulie helped to build for Cacciato.
Here comes Tommy, with a ring around his head where the glue ripped his hair. You see, they never knew that Tommy’s nickname is “The Hat,” because that’s where he keeps his tools of the trade.