Don Giletti stood at the window behind his desk, staring at the darkness outside his mansion. Behind him, the hulking figure of a man stood in one corner of the room, his features obscured. He may have been looking at the third man in the room, the one cowering before Don Giletti’s desk, cradling his right hand. The fingers of this hand were bent at odd angles and the middle finger looked to be pulled from its socket. The man’s breathing was harsh, the only sound in the room.
“You ‘ave made me displeased wit’ you,” Giletti said, his voice regretful. “De only question left is whether or not to let you walk from here, boasting of your incompetence and lack of consequences.”
“Don Giletti,” the man whispered, straining to speak through a throat swollen by two enormous handprints. “I crave…I beg your pardon. Had I but known the territory was yours, I never—”
“It is ALL my territory!” Giletti thundered, turning from the window to fix the man with a cold stare. “De very ground you walk on is under our control for hundreds of miles in all directions. Yet you see fit to set up shop in what amounts to my front yard.”
“Yes, of course,” the man panted, his eyes straying to the silent figure in the corner. “Please, Don Giletti, let me prove to you my loyalty. Allow me the chance to do this, killing me will do no—”
“You are correct, death would hinder your chance at redemption. I only question whether or not your redemption is worth it,” Giletti said. He folded his hands before him, staring the man down.
“Don Giletti, sir, I will be your most loyal, most trustworthy—”
“Tony,” Giletti said, interrupting the stammered protests of devotion. He had heard them all before. “Mr Sanders has pleaded his life, but cannot be allowed to walk free. Please give him a lasting reminder of our feelings for interlopers, that his loyalties never waver again.”
The man’s eyes grew huge and shot to the hulking figure which had come to life. Stepping out of the shadows was a huge man, easily over seven feet tall, in an immaculate black tuxedo. His head was bald as a cue ball, his hands the size of dinner plates. His face was an expressionless blank as he advanced on Sanders, the smaller man squealing with fear, his feet scrabbling for purchase on the slick tile floor.
“Nonono Don Giletti no you don’t have to do that please no—”
His words degenerated into gibberish as the giant man knelt beside the chair, seizing Sanders’ calf in one giant hand, his foot with the other. Tendons stood out on Tony’s massive hands as he twisted.
Sanders screamed, an inarticulate sound of agony and horror as the bones in his ankle cracked in with a sickening wet pop. Tony twisted in the other direction, bringing more popping and screaming sounds from the man as his bones were neatly sheared from each other. Setting his grip, Tony pulled. The muscles under his tuxedo arms bulged and with a sickening sound of tearing meat, the foot of Albert Sanders was torn off in his hand. The wretched man’s screams pleased Don Giletti as he trimmed the end of a large cigar.
“Thank you, Tony. Now please escort Mr Sanders to the door before he bleeds all over my floor.”
The big man lifted one of Sanders’ arms, placing it around his own massive shoulders and hiking Sanders to his foot. Dragging the sobbing man to the door of the study, Tony booted it open and dropped Sanders in a pile over its threshold.
“You’ll see yourself out, Mr Sanders?” Giletti asked, lighting his cigar with a silver lighter. “Do try and make it outside before expiring. Good night.”
Tony shut the door, blotting out the man’s suffering. Going to a cupboard in the corner, he pulled out a mop, bucket, and bleach. Going to the French doors on one side of the room, he slid one open, taking the bucket outside to the expansive grounds, and hose outlet.
Giletti surveyed the blood around the chair Sanders had occupied. A few buckets of bleach water and it would be as though it had never happened. Picking up the phone on his desk, he pressed a button to connect him to the local police station. The other end rang twice before it was picked up.
“Giletti?” The voice was low and gravelly, hesitant and slightly fearful.
“Yes, Chief Murphy, and if anybody else ever calls you from this number, I want to know about it,” said Giletti, blowing a perfect smoke ring at the ceiling. “I wanted to thank you personally for your information regarding the late Albert Sanders, it was most entertaining to speak wid him.”
“Of course, sir, you know anything I can do—”
“I do know, and I appreciate you doing it. Tomorrow there will be two tickets to the opera on your desk, along with your favorite whiskey. Don Giletti always rewards loyalty.” A second smoke ring joined the first. Behind him, Tony re-entered from the grounds, the bucket full of water. He closed the French door silently and set the bucket down beside the puddle of blood. Splashing a healthy portion of bleach into it, the huge man set to with the mop.
“Thank you very much, sir, please don’t hesitate—”
Don Giletti hung up the phone, puffing on his cigar as he watched Tony mopping.
“Once you are done wid de stain, find Mr Sanders and dispatch him cleanly, will you, Tony? His life no longer seems worth living.”
The man nodded once, never looking up from his work.
Two raps came at Giletti’s door, light and reluctant.
“Enter,” said Giletti, sucking on his cigar.
Matteo entered, his eyes on the trail of blood. Behind him, Giletti could see the pile that was Albert Sanders laying in the hallway, having drug himself only a few feet before passing out.
“Tony, dis blood puddle can wait. Please tend to what’s left of Mr Sanders before de stain in de hallway becomes permanent.” Giletti gestured with his cigar.
Obediently, Tony stood, leaving the mop in the bucket. Stepping carefully over the puddles, he walked around Matteo, who flinched noticeably as he neared. The big man turned, shutting the double doors softly behind him.
“Matteo!” Don Giletti said expansively, leaning back in his seat with the cigar in his mouth. “How did my little girl enjoy de carnival?”
“Don Giletti…” Matteo said before trailing off, his mouth dryer than he could ever remember. The whole way back from the Gypsy encampment, he had been rehearsing what to tell his prospective father-in-law and had gotten no further than those two words. “Don Giletti…” he said again, once again coming up short.
Giletti took the cigar from his mouth and frowned. “Where is Bianca, Matteo?”
“G-gone,” Matteo squeaked, his eyes falling again and again on the puddle of blood and bucket before him.
Giletti stared at him wordlessly, the cigar describing lazy curls of smoke up to the ceiling. Matteo felt two inches tall.
“Sir, she went to the fortune teller’s tent. I went…somewhere else, and when I came back to the fortune tent, they told me she had left. I could not find her anywhere and her phone goes to voice mail. I thought I should come back and tell you, sir, before much more time had passed.”
Giletti continued to stare, eyes boring holes into Matteo.
“Sir, I’m sorry,” Matteo gabbled, now talking faster as though to buy himself time. “If you want me to sir I’ll go back and find her I know I can, maybe I just didn’t check closely enough because I thought maybe she could have—”
“Where did you go, Matteo, dat you left my daughter alone wid de Gypsies?”
Giletti’s voice was very quiet but it cut through Matteo’s babble, shutting the young man up with a snap as his heart sank. Very few had successfully lied to Giletti.
“I—uh, that is to say, I went—”
“You have one chance to tell me de truth, young man. I would advise you to take it.”
The stories of Giletti’s responses to deceit came back to Matteo, that coupled with the blood on the floor compelled him to the truth, come what may.
“I went to the Pleasure Tent, sir,” Matteo said in a rush, as though hoping hearing it quickly would be easier for the patriarch.
“De Pleasure Tent,” repeated Giletti, still staring.
“Am I correct in assuming dat is what it sounds like?”
Matteo’s eyes dropped. “Yes, sir,” he mumbled.
“You mean to sit dere and tell me dat while on a date wid my daughter, you ditched her to go to bed wid a Gypsy prostitute and now have no idea where she is?”
Matteo was sure he was sealing his fate as he whispered, “Yes, sir.”
The Don’s face was a mask of cold fury as he stubbed the cigar out in a gold ashtray. “De only ting keeping you alive is de fact dat you did not try to conceal dis from me. I will consider de matter closed if you can produce her, tonight. If you cannot, Tony will have to get involved. You don’t want Tony to get involved.”
“No, sir,” squeaked Matteo, hardly daring to believe his reprieve.
“Get out of my sight, Matteo,” Giletti’s voice was laden with disgust. “If I see you again widout my daughter—”
But he was talking to an empty room; Matteo had already wrenched the door open and fled.