Making the Break, page 7
“No, Mr. Hopeful. Wake up.”
Luke’s rough voice bounced off the walls of Saks’ room. He winced as Luke drew apart the heavy curtains he had over the window.
“Put that thing away,” he groaned.
“What thing?” said Luke.
“The sun. Put it away.”
“Sorry, buddy, but you have to get up. I let you sleep too long. Emily chewed me out about it on the phone.”
“Okay, okay,” mumbled Saks, lying on his back with his arm over his eyes. His head hurt less if he didn’t move. However, Luke wouldn’t let him get away with it.
Luke coughed loudly. “I can’t run a business like this. Oakie is coming over to watch you.”
“Oakie? No man. Not him.”
“He’s the only one available. Emily’s morning sickness is kicking up and Spider has a job.”
“I’ll be fine, really.”
“Nope. Can’t leave you alone.”
“Where are my brothers in my time of need?”
“They have jobs. Just like you.”
“I hope I have a job. My boss can be a real dick sometimes.”
“I’ll be sure to tell him.”
“Well, I’ll tell Emily that you were talking if not walking when I left.”
“What? No breakfast?”
“Sorry, dude, you’re on your own for that.”
“Damn. I thought taking care of me was on you.”
“Me? No, I made sure you didn’t croak during the night. You want food in the morning, you need to work on your skills with women.”
“I’m pretty sure every woman on the planet immediately resents that you see them as the primary cook for breakfast.”
“Hey. I didn’t buy you bacon. That was your lady friend. Who you ran out of here.”
“I did not—”
Luke gave him a disparaging look. “You want someone to make you bacon in the morning, then you’d best learn that no matter who starts the argument, you were wrong and you need to apologize.”
Saks groaned. “That sounds really, really bad. Like no guy ever is in the right. Like they all have our dicks wrapped around their little finger.”
“Look at it this way. They have to deal with us. Have you looked at yourself in the morning? Smelled yourself?”
“I’d rather not.”
“And yet they would. See. Right there, instant grace.”
“Grace? You’re not getting religious on me, are you, Luke?”
“Dammit, Saks, don’t you get it? We speak the same language, walk on the same planet, but they navigate life a lot differently than us. We get up, take a shower, and go to work. Once a month we pay our bills. A few times a week we hang out with our buddies, watch a game, drink some beer, talk shit. And we think we’ve got it all covered.”
It sounded about right to Saks. Except, apparently, Luke wasn’t finished.
“Women? They wake up and immediately their lives are a hundred times more complicated. They take care of people, of things, or making sure everything is in place so people around them are happy. Honestly, when I think of everything Emily does, it blows me away. It makes me want to be a better husband and father. And here I am, babysitting your grown ass while my wife is at home with her head over the toilet.”
Saks sat up as a revelation hit him. “Shit. I get it now.”
“Good. Uh, what did you get?”
“She wasn’t angry with me. Chrissy got pissed because there was no way she could please everyone.”
“Well, that’s an insight.”
“I’m such an idiot.”
“Another brilliant insight.”
“Shut up. I mean, who thinks like that?”
“Well, how am I supposed to know that?”
“You’ve got a mother and a sister and you never noticed?”
“Give me a break. Until Emily came into your life, you were as clueless as I apparently am.”
“True,” said Luke, chuckling. “You’re right. I’m the last person to give advice on someone’s love life. I lucked out with Em and that’s a fact. Until then, I couldn’t make a real connection with a woman, and not from a lack of trying on their part. And I have no idea what you and this chick—”
“Chrissy. Her name’s Chrissy.”
“Yeah, Chrissy. I don’t know what you have going with her, but if you care enough to figure out what she’s feeling you’ve got something special there. And maybe it’s worth trying to keep.”
“Yeah,” groaned Saks.
“Okay, then. I’ve got to make it home then the shop before it opens. Oakie should be here soon.”
The door shut behind Luke and Saks was alone. He hated it. For the first time in his life he felt the emptiness of his apartment and his life. Bikes were cool, the club was great, but what existed for Saks, Anthony Parks, the man? Yeah, he wanted what Luke had, his own family, his own home. But he’d never found the woman he wanted that with until he met Chrissy.
How could he make things right between them?
He thumbed through his phone list until he came up with a certain cousin who owned a flower shop. Saks called the number despite how early it was. Don would be awake and in the shop. “Hey, Don, it’s Anthony.”
“Anthony Parks? Oh, yeah, Anthony.”
“I’m glad I’m nearest and dearest.”
“What do you want, punk?”
“Flowers. Specifically, a dozen roses. Delivered to West Haven.”
“West Haven? It’ll cost you.”
“Just remember who keeps that pile of junk you call a bike running.”
“Pile of junk? It’s a classic.”
“A classic piece of crap. Tell you what, my shop is selling bikes now. Used, but in great shape. You bring in that rice-burner of yours and I’ll set you up with a Harley at a good price. Women like Harleys.”
“Yeah, you hog riders attract women like honey. But what about this delivery?”
“A dozen red roses.”
“In a vase?”
“With baby’s breath, delphinium, or bells of Ireland for accent flowers.”
“Tell you what. I’ll make it nice for you.”
“What do you want the card to say?”
Oh, shit. A card? “Write this. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet. Doff thy name, and for that name, which is no part of thee, take all myself.”
“Who the hell are you trying to impress, Anthony?”
“Be quiet and write the card.”
“Then repeat that. I can’t write that fast.”
Saks did, several times, until Don got it right.
“And who is this goddess you’re sending these to?”
“Chrissy. Chrissy Serafini.”
Don whistled. “Serafini? What the hell, Anthony?”
“Shut up. Just send the flowers.”
“Not until I get your credit card.”
Grumbling, Saks thumbed his card out of his wallet and read off the numbers. “What’s it going to be?”
“I won’t charge you delivery. Seventy-five.”
“You want the flowers or not? I promise you, all those fancy online places are going to charge you double and a delivery fee, too.”
“Sorry. Sure. Yeah. But don’t tell anyone about this.”
“Who’s to tell? I don’t want anyone to find out I’m delivering flowers to a Serafini.”
Saks was about to lay his head back down on the pillow when a knock on the door called him to action. Thinking it was Oakie, he shuffled to the door.
“You’d better,” he said as he yanked it open. He expected to finish with “have brought coffee,” but stopped midsentence.
Instead, the lean figure of his cousin Lui
“Sorry. I was expecting someone else.”
“Shouldn’t you be at work?”
“Why are you here?”
“Can I come in?”
“Is this official business?”
“Yes,” he said too quickly. “No. Hell, I don’t know. I heard some things.”
Saks stepped aside. “Mi casa,” he said, gesturing for Louis to enter. “Take a seat.”
Louis took a seat on the couch. Saks leaned against the counter separating the living room from the kitchenette. He studied Louis. Louis and he hung out as boys, both on the fringes of the Rocco family. The Anglotti family wasn’t mixed up in Rocco business, being one of those Italian families that got upset when idiots said all Italians were part of the Mafia. Louis’ mother was Saks’ aunt, sister to his own mother, and was happy to put aside the Rocco family for the sake of her husband. That didn’t mean she completely got away from attending Rocco functions.
“So, what’s up?” asked Saks.
“Tell me what you know about the Roccos and the Serafinis. Is the rumor of a gang war true?”
“Chrissy, hold up.”
She stopped on the steps of her apartment building and glanced over her shoulder to see Marcus at the bottom. “Hi, Marcus. What’s up?”
“I, um, well...”
“Spit it out, Marcus. What’s going on?” Marcus made his way up the steps and Chrissy continued her journey. When she got to her door, though, a tall box sat there. She stared at it, surprised to see it. “What’s this? Did you leave this?”
“No,” said Marcus. “Here, let me take it.”
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake, I’m sure it’s not a bomb.”
“How do you know?” said Marcus as he hefted the box.
“Because the way you manhandled it, it would have gone off.”
Marcus gave her a disparaging glance. “Open the door and fill the tub with water.”
“Do it,” he said.
“This is a half-assed thing to do,” said Chrissy. But Marcus glowered at her, so she opened the door and walked to the bathroom and ran the water to fill the tub. She called him and he brought the box and dumped it in the water. It sat on top until the cardboard saturated then sank.
“There, satisfied?” said Chrissy with a snort.
Marcus touched the cardboard, which disintegrated under his hands. The box opened to reveal a bouquet of red roses in a glass vase, now lying on its side.
“Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” said Chrissy, exasperated. She pulled the plug and set the vase upright after the water drained. Water dripped from the rose petals and its green leaves and poured off the vase into the tub.
“Who’re they from?” asked Marcus.
“Like it’s any of your business,” Chrissy snapped. She reached for the sodden card and hoped she could read it. At this point they could be from Richard, or Drummond Walker, or James Pearson, and she would hate not knowing where they came from. She pulled the card carefully from the tiny envelope. Her heart sank as the ink ran into the other words. Chrissy thought she could make out the words.
“What’s it say?”
Chrissy squinted, trying to make sense of the running mess of words.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet. _____thy name.” The rest was an illegible mess. She couldn’t even make out the name at the bottom.
“What the hell does that mean?” snarled Marcus.
She whipped around, fury curling in her gut. Marcus kept making things more complicated than they had to be. Now she had soggy roses and no way of knowing who they came from. “What is it you want, Marcus?”
“Your grandfather sent me over to make sure that you’re not seeing that Rocco man anymore.”
Chrissy felt her face flush. She balled her hands at her side. “You can report to my grandfather I’m not seeing Anthony Parks.” She snarled her answer, as if she was a cornered cat ready to shred an attacker with her claws.
“Hey,” he said, “don’t give me attitude. Anyway, it’s good you aren’t seeing him. We can start—” Marcus stopped himself suddenly.
“You can start what?”
“I’ve gotta go,” mumbled Marcus.
Chrissy grabbed his arm as he turned to leave and pressed her fingernails into his arm.
“Ouch. You do that worse than Gloria.”
“You can start what?” she said with more menace than a rattlesnake shaking its tail.
“It ain’t nothing much. Teach the Roccos a lesson. A few beat-downs is all.”
Chrissy’s eyes went wide. “A few beat-downs? Are you nuts?”
“Not me,” denied Marcus.
“So, what, a Rocco pulls a gun and then it’s open season? Without getting permission from the New York bosses?”
Marcus’s eyes darted away. Chrissy had hit the nail on the head.
“I don’t know nothin’,” mumbled Marcus.
“Get out of here! Who’s more of a stunad—you, my father, or my grandfather? I tell you what. If anyone of them touches Saks, I’ll claw your balls off before you can scream. Get the hell out of here!”
The front door opened.
“Hey, baby.” Gloria walked to Marcus with a smile on her face. “I got out of work and was going to call—” She stopped mid-step and took in the charged atmosphere between Chrissy and Marcus. “What’s going on?” she said slowly.
“Get him out of here,” growled Chrissy. “And if you know anything about this hair-brained scheme you can take your clothes and go sleep at Mom’s.”
Gloria ignored her. She stood on her tiptoes and stared past Marcus’ arm to the roses in the bathtub. “What happened to those flowers?”
“Marcus drowned them.”
“Because he’s a fucking idiot.”
“Chrissy,” said Marcus in a warning voice. “Getting upset isn’t going to change anything.”
“You think so? Watch.” She pushed at Marcus to move him out the way, but the big man wouldn’t budge.
“No, Chrissy, you stay here.”
“Why? Who’s gonna stop me?”
“What’s going on?” asked Gloria.
“This goombah won’t get out of my way.” She pushed more frantically at Marcus, who stood as still as a wall.
“Marcus?” asked Gloria.
“She needs to stay out of the way,” said Marcus.
“Of what? Why?” asked Gloria.
“So they can beat the shit out of Saks!” Chrissy yelled. She beat her fists on Marcus’ chest, trying to get him to move.
“Why? What for?”
“To teach the Roccos a lesson, that’s why,” said Chrissy. Frantic, she pushed even harder at Marcus.
“Marcus,” said Gloria in a warning voice. “Let her go.”
“But your grandfather—”
“Is googootz!” snapped Gloria. “Get away from her or I’ll twist your balls around your neck.” Gloria looked at Marcus so fiercely he stepped away, and Chrissy edged past him and her sister. She grabbed her purse and fled out the door.
“Chrissy,” called Gloria, chasing after her. But Chrissy didn’t stop. She flung open the door of her Cadillac. Gloria ripped the passenger side door open and jumped in.
“What’re you doing?”
“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t imagine it would go this far.”
“Not your fault. But I have to go.”
“I’m going with you.”
“Gloria,” protested Chrissy.
“No. You’re my sister and I have your back. I’m going.”
“I’m going, t
“Great, I have the whole goombah parade.”
“Drive,” said Gloria. “And when I see Grandpa I’m going to give him a piece of my mind. He starts this shit just so he can beat down some Roccos. What a stunad!”
“Yeah. That’ll work as well as you pleading Saks’ case did.”
“I didn’t get to see him yet. I had to go to work.”
Chrissy snorted. Gloria’s part-time job at the local student bookstore was so irregular Chrissy couldn’t keep track of the schedule.
“Gloria, why would you plead this Saks’ case?” said Marcus.
“Well, she loves him.”
“I do not,” denied Chrissy. She blew a stray piece of her hair away from her face in frustration as she swung out onto the highway.
“Yes, you do. It’s written all over your face.”
“I just don’t want to see him get any more hurt than he is. We did enough damage to him.”
“Yeah,” chuckled Marcus. “Seeing the egg stream down his face was a beautiful thing.”
Gloria turned in the seat and smacked Marcus in the head.
“Who’s stunad now?”
“I barely know him,” Chrissy said.
“Yeah,” snorted Gloria. “Enough to have scorching sex with him.”
“What?” protested Chrissy again.
“Don’t lie to me, Chrissy. I see how red your face gets when you hear his name. He nails you good and you know it.”
“Chrissy’s sleeping with the Rocco man?” said Marcus. “I thought she didn’t like him.” He sounded confused.
“I don’t!” said Chrissy.
“Liking someone is not a prerequisite to loving them,” said Gloria, “as I’m finding out now.” She turned a scathing gaze to Marcus.
“What? You don’t like me?”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said Chrissy. “She fucking loves you, Marcus, and you should thank your lucky stars. You won’t find another woman as crazy for you as she is. So, you might as well ask her to marry you, or I will personally tell every single woman in Connecticut what an idiot you are.”
“Chrissy!” snapped Gloria.
“Oh, hell, Chrissy. Why did you go and say that? I wanted to do it nice for Gloria.”
“What do you mean?” said Gloria. Her arms crossed her chest tightly, and a scowl sat on her lips.
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