EDWARD DANIEL HUNT - PENANCE
Edward Daniel Hunt has a B.S. from the University of New Haven and a M.S. from Lesley University . Encouraged to write by college professors he attempted to do so throughout his twenties and thirties. Widowed young with children to raise his writing got sidetracked.
He is back to writing with an urgency that wasn't present before. Much of his early work and social life was spent in the bars and restaurants he writes about.
Ten years ago…
Ricky felt like he was crawling out of his skin. He was bouncing off his seat, impatient and ready to make this thing happen. He kept pulling his Smith and Wesson out of his pocket and aiming it out the window at passing cars. He had ingested Meth and Adderall and his head was in fast
forward, ready to explode. The utility van was moving slowly down the street and was almost to the hospital. His brother Larry was driving and seemed to be calm and focused. His brother was ok with simple tasks but couldn’t handle anything too complicated. His brother was calm because he wasn’t capable of thinking about what came next. He needed to concentrate on his driving.
Ricky had a song playing over and over in his head. A speeded up version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the Animals. What do they call that? A head worm? No, no, an ear worm. It was an old sixties song. Something about not being understood and that he wasn’t any different than everybody else. The song spoke to him, tomorrow he would share it with Marcy. She’d get it. He looked over at his cousin Tommy. Tommy was also calm in spite of what was about to happen. Tommy never showed any emotion unless he got angry and lost control, which was often.
“Not this parking lot, the physician’s lot in back near the ER. “ This was the first time Tommy had spoken in fifteen minutes. Ricky resented Tommy telling his brother what to do. It was Ricky’s plan. His idea. He was running things.
Larry had found the parking lot but didn’t know what to do. The parking lot had a gate and you needed an ID card to get it to open.
“Just go around and over the curb. “ Ricky said this loudly wanting to take back control. Larry managed to do this with a scraping of the undercarriage. At three am, there were only a few cars remaining in the parking lot. “Ok, Ok. “ Ricky was pointing. “Park next to that BMW, yeah right there, no, no, on the left side. Good.” The song seemed to be playing louder in Ricky’s head. Like the song said he didn’t mean to do bad things, sometimes things just happened. It wasn’t that unusual, everyone has problems.
Dr. Eric Jameson was running on empty. He had just gotten to sleep when he got the call from the hospital to come in and assist a colleague with surgery related to a multi car accident. He wasn’t on call tonight but he responded without complaint. There were children involved and he was beginning to build a reputation that this was his forte. Surgery had gone long and had been complicated. Tired and distracted, he didn’t even notice the dark colored utility van parked next to him in the nearly empty physician’s parking lot. If he did, he would of thought it looked out of place. It happened fast. He had just unlocked the car door. He heard the sliding door of the van open and he was grabbed from behind by at least two sets of arms and something was shoved over his head. His attaché was yanked from his hand.
Shit! Tommy knew it was a mistake the minute the sliding door closed. His cousin Ricky, still high and hyper, was screaming at the guy after throwing him down on the van’s floor. “Stay down, Stay down, or you’re gonna get hurt!! I’ll blow your fucking head off! Since the guy wasn’t moving, Tommy didn’t see the need to be screaming and adding to the confusion. Larry floored it, with screeching tires, out of the parking lot.
“Hey, Asshole, slow down! You don’t have to effin’ announce we just did something stupid and you can take off your mask!” Larry didn’t say anything but Ricky spoke up. “This isn’t stupid, it’s going down just the way I planned!”
Planned! Tommy was about to respond but Larry had slowed down so he let it go. He took off his own Spiderman mask. Ricky had got the rubber masks at the Party Store and Tommy thought they were pretty dumb. Ricky was wearing a superman mask and Larry and Bozo the Clown. Tommy had a headache and was coming down from a combination of pills and alcohol. Even high, he didn’t think it was much of a plan. Up until now most of their crap was penny ante; break-ins and ripping off drug dealers. Kidnapping a doctor had to be a big deal. When he said as much to Ricky earlier, that this was probably a federal offense, Ricky dismissed it like he didn’t know what he was talking about. We’re not going across state lines, he said, like that made the difference. Larry had nodded in agreement as usual, always taking his brother’s lead. It was no secret that Larry was close to being retarded. He was huge and incredibly strong but he was afraid of Ricky and Tommy. They both had reputations of being crazy and unpredictable. Ricky was a little crazy and was always ready to prove it. Tommy wasn’t really crazy, he just had a bad temper. At twenty two, Ricky was three years older than Tommy and Larry, and thought he was the informal leader of the guys they hung out with. Tommy was the only one whoever challenged him but for the most part they left each other alone. Tommy didn’t have any interest in being in charge but he didn’t want to put up with any bullshit either. Ricky tolerated Tommy but just barely. Tommy was family and pretty much fearless.
Ricky had come up with the idea last night. They were all wasted and Tommy agreed to grab some Doc out of the hospital’s parking lot. The plan was to get him to sign some scripts and go fill them at the all night pharmacy in Dedham. Then they could dump the doc somewhere tied up, where he’d be found the next day. Ricky said they should all be carrying to scare the doc and just in case.
Ricky had his Smith and Wesson he had got off a drug dealer they had robbed a few months ago. Tommy had a Glock he had bought on the street last year with a homemade silencer made out of a flashlight. He had fired the gun a couple of times in the woods near Blue Hill and it seemed to work alright. Not completely silent but pretty quiet. Larry, clueless as usual, showed up with a twelve gauge shot gun he had bought at Walmart’s, declaring, “We may need something a little heavier if we get into trouble.” Ricky had just started laughing while Tommy just said “Fuck” which led Larry to believe he had made the right choice.
Ricky had tied the doc’s arms behind him and was still screaming at him. The doc kept pleading, “Let me go, please let me go, I won’t tell anyone!” Ricky responded by hitting and kicking him.
Tommy was sweating profusely and his head was pounding thinking about all the things that could go wrong. They were almost back to the house off Washington Street where they decided they would take him.
It was an abandoned house behind two burned out three-deckers on Washington Street. The house backed up to the railroad tracks and there were some vacant industrial buildings on the other side. For Jamaica Plain it was about as isolated as it gets.
Lori woke up to her mother’s angry voice screaming at her father. He must have just gotten home. Her mother‘s voice was getting louder. “You spent your whole fragging’ paycheck, didn’t you asshole and I can smell her on you!”
Lori couldn’t make out her father’s response, it wasn’t very loud and his words were slurred. “I’m a bitch? I’ll show you who’s a bitch. If you were even half a man that‘d be something! You never had any balls, just like my father, a worthless drunk!” Her mother was loud and clear.
Lori tried covering her ears but it didn’t make a difference. She knew what was coming next. Her mother would start breaking and throwing things at her father, pushing him until she got a response. He would take so much and then start whacking her mother back. Her mother seemed to get off on it. More than once she had done it in public or picked a fight with some other guy and dragged her father into it. Lori could feel herself tense as something crashed against the wall and her father’s voice got louder and angrier. Lori had learned the hard way to stay out of it. Either or both wouldn’t hesitate to drag her into it when they were like this. It wouldn’t be the first time she had ended up with a black eye or a bloody nose. Her father was always sorry the next day but her mother would never admit to doing anything wrong.
Lori dressed quickly just wanting to get away before it escalated. She headed down the back stairs, quietly closing the door behind her. It was the middle of the night and she hadn’t really given any thought to where she was going. Her aunt lived nearby and would let her stay there but her aunt would be very upset and it could possibly trigger one of her panic attacks. She loved her aunt and didn’t want to put her through it. With no better options she decided to head over to the all night diner near the T Station. She might even run into someone she knew or her boyfriend Tommy or some of their crowd.
She loved Tommy but sometimes was a little scared of him. At first she felt safe with him. People would leave her alone because of her status as his girlfriend. She was well aware of his temper but so far it was never really directed towards her. He could be a little rough at times, grabbing her arm to get her attention or pulling on her when he wanted to get going but that was it. He loved her and could be extremely sweet at times too. That was a side of him that only she got to see.
She had only gone three blocks when a dark colored, windowless van approached slowly from the other direction. She was immediately nervous. She tried to make herself inconspicuous by crouching next to a parked car. As the van went by she a got a look at the driver’s face. It was Larry. Relieved, she waved and started to call out but the van was already past her and headed down the street. She stared after it wondering what Larry was doing driving a van. She wished she had got his attention. He would know where Tommy would be. As she was watching, the van turned into a driveway between two boarded up, burnt out apartment buildings. She remembered Tommy saying something about partying in one of those houses a while back.
They had just gotten into the house and down into the cellar when Ricky shoved the Doc towards an old sofa with ripped cushions and unidentifiable stains. “Sit down, sit the fuck down!” With his hands tied and his head covered the doc sort of stumbled into the sofa and ended up leaning sideways, half on and half off. “Look in his bag.”
Tommy was already rifling through the bag and he really didn’t need to be told what to do. “No pain pills, these look like some sort of antibiotics. Here’s his pad.” Tommy held up the script pad and Ricky grabbed it.
“Good, good, ok, now you are going to do some writing!” Ricky had brought a pen with him which surprised Tommy. They all had their masks on again, which were hot and uncomfortable. Larry kept bitching that it itched.
“I’m going to untie your hands and take the bag off your head, but you get any ideas, your brains will be spread out all over the room.” Ricky shoved the pen and pad in his hands. “We want oxies, any pain killers, but only good stuff. If you look up I’m going to blow your fucking head off!”
The doc started writing but he was shaking so bad it looked like scribbling. The doc kept repeating, “I’m doing it, I’m doing it.” Ricky kept pushing the gun into his head and screaming at him to shut up. Larry was bitching about being itchy. Tommy’s headache was getting worse, he wished they’d all shut up.
“Put that fucking thing back on!!” Ricky started screaming at Larry who had taken off his mask and was scratching his neck. All eyes were on Larry, including the doc’s who looked up at the sound of Ricky’s voice.
“Shit, shit, see what you’ve done, you dumb asshole! Now you know what we gotta do? You shithead, he’s seen you!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Larry was just about crying, he could see that his brother was just about to lose it. The doc started screaming. “I didn’t see anything, I didn’t see anything!!”
“Shut up, shut up!!!” Tommy added to the chaos. Things were spiraling out of control and about to get worse. If it got any louder in here, somebody was going to hear them. Instinctively Tommy reacted. He walked over, put the Glock to the doc’s head and pulled the trigger.
Both Ricky and Larry shut up and looked at him. Tommy was looking down at the damage he just did. Tommy was trying to think, to get it back under control.
“Larry, get that carpet over there, we’ll wrap him in that” Larry could always take direction and began moving towards the carpet. A choking sound from the stairs made them all turn and look. Lori was standing there with an expression of horror and fear, and something else on her face. She was shaking and whimpering, making sounds like some small animal in pain.
Ricky was the first to react. “Jesus, this is just what we fucking need! We’re screwed! Your fucking girlfriend! Did you tell her about this?
Tommy was about to lose it again and it showed on his face.” I didn’t tell anyone nothing so shut the fuck up, I’ll deal with it! She won’t tell anyone. Help Larry get rid of the body, make sure the van is clean when you dump it, don’t screw this up!”
Ricky started to say something but thought better of it looking at Tommy. He started helping Larry. The Animal’s song had started playing in his head again.
Tommy’s anger and panic had been replaced with something else, an overwhelming sadness. He knew that killing the doc was bad but he felt worse about Lori. Looking at Lori he knew it would never be the same. He put his arms around her and awkwardly tried to comfort her. Over and over he kept repeating, “it’ll be alright, Lori, it’ll be alright. We had to do it, we had to do it.”
Mary Marie [Lori Doyle]
“Marie, pick up!” After more than three years of being Mary Marie, she still wasn’t used to it and she wondered what her aunt would think. Mary Marie Bennett had been her cousin whose short, miserable life had ended at the age of four. Lori had been two when she died and she had no real memories of her cousin. She felt she did from her aunt constantly showing her baby pictures and repeating the same sad stories about poor Mary Marie’s suffering. She had been born with some sort of heart defect that required multiple surgeries. Her Aunt Emily had never been the same. Her father had said his sister was always quiet and somewhat of an introvert but after losing her only child she had become a recluse. Some said her aunt was a little crazy. Lori didn’t care. She loved her soft spoken aunt who always was kind to her. Being at her aunt’s quiet, peaceful house was the complete opposite of the turmoil at home.
As she got older Lori went over and tried to help her aunt. She had found her dead cousin’s birth certificate and social security number mixed in with a lot of other papers in some dusty boxes in her aunt’s cobwebbed attic. She decided it was a sign, a chance for a different life. She often thought about her aunt. She liked to think that her aunt would be happy about her taking her cousin’s name, another chance for Mary Marie.
She had been working at the restaurant for a little more than three years and was beginning to think she might also have a chance, a chance for a normal life and a chance for her daughter. Marie liked waitressing. She could make more money waitressing than anything else she could do. She worked hard and was a good waitress. Being bright and attractive with a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. She had thought about going to college right after high school and had taken a few courses at Bunker Hill Community College but that abruptly ended after marrying Tommy at the age of eighteen. Tommy thought school was a waste of time. Back then, she still loved him or thought she did even though he had begun to be abusive, slapping her as a way to end arguments. She was never a doormat and always tried to fight back but at five foot two she was never a match for his six feet four. He was always sorry the next day but she got tired of hearing it, it was her father all over again. After a while, whatever they had going was long gone. She eventually became pregnant and he was busted for the jewelry robbery and began serving time with the rest of his family members.
She wasn’t the same after she had the baby. She couldn’t change the past and she couldn’t forget what happened but the baby was now her number one priority. What she really wanted was for her daughter to be safe and loved and not to grow up the way she did.
Marie was really in a much better place. Her elderly landlord Aggie was more like a grandmother than a landlord. Aggie insisted on babysitting Jessica when Marie was at work and wouldn’t let Marie pay her. Aggie also encouraged her to get out more, to make friends and to start dating. Marie had taken some tentative steps in that direction. She had become friends with one of her coworkers, Susan, who was also a single mother. They would often schedule play dates and hang out at the beach together.
At her friend’s urging she had even joined the group of employees that went across the street after work to the Banana Boat for last call. The Banana Boat had a late night license and music and she was beginning to look forward to this weekly ritual. She was beginning to feel like she almost had a life.
Guys hit on her, both at work and when she went to the Banana Boat. No surprise. Marie was pretty, with curves without being curvy. There were always a few possibilities but she was being cautious. She still had nightmares of some of the senseless acts of violence she had witnessed. It had never been diagnosed as PTSD but she was pretty sure she had some form of it. She felt guilty for not going to the police or doing something. It wouldn’t have changed anything and most likely she’d be in trouble too. Tommy was always talking about taking care of the “loose ends.” If not by Tommy, then by someone in his family. As far as she knew, Tommy, his father, uncle and cousin were all still in prison but they still knew a lot of people and could still get to her. She had Jessica to think about now. She wasn’t about to do anything that put her daughter at risk. Almost four she was Marie’s greatest accomplishment, actually her only accomplishment.
“Marie, pick up.”
She hurried back to the kitchen with a tray full of dirty dishes. It was Saturday night and they were getting slammed. It didn’t help that the kitchen was struggling because of a cook calling out and one of the two remaining cooks being brand new. Danny, the experienced cook was busting his hump trying to keep up.
“Don’t get your panties in a knot. I’m here.” Marie said this smiling and Danny smiled back.
“I’m drowning here, are they still coming in? I don’t have any more room under the heat lamps.”
“Here, I’ll take mine and I can take Susan’s too. Where’s Bill?” the assistant manager usually jumped in to help.
“Stuck in the bar, they’re six deep.”
“”Just think how good that cold beer at the Banana Boat is going to taste.”
“Can we go now?”
Marie laughed at that on her way out of the kitchen. She liked Danny. He was kind of quiet but always friendly and easy to work with. He was single and from somewhere down south.
They finished closing in record time and a large group of them headed across the street. They needed two large tables to accommodate them. Marie was left wondering if it was by chance or by design that Danny ended up sitting beside her.
There wasn’t any live music tonight but there was a pretty good DJ playing a lot of popular music. Some of the waitresses got up to dance. A guy came across the room and asked Marie to dance but she said no. Danny seemed glad she said no and asked her: “Don’t you dance?”
Marie raised her eyebrows and smiled. “Not with strangers.”
Danny laughed and took her hand. “Come on, let’s dance.”
Joining the others on the dance floor, Marie was feeling good. It had been a very long time since she had danced with anyone. The song playing was a fast one, something by Kelly Clarkson called “Stronger” that she could identify with. Danny seemed to be into it too. The song ended and was immediately followed by something slow; the Meghan Trainor/John Legend duet “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” They stood there awkwardly for a moment until Marie smiled and said this is one of her favorite songs. Danny smiled back at her and they came together and began swaying to the music. Marie put her head on his shoulder and couldn’t help thinking that she couldn’t remember the last time she felt this good.
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Ernie’s Bar and Restaurant. Ernie was long dead but Billy, the current owner, was too cheap to change the sign. There wasn’t any restaurant either, the only food being served were pickled eggs from a gallon jar or stale packages of peanuts, chips, and candy from a temperamental vending machine. Just off Washington Street, near the Roxbury line, the place was a dive, with a 12 stool bar on the left, a few mismatched tables and chairs on the right, and a solitary pool table in back. A faded Patriots banner and a calendar with topless women hung behind the bar. Someone had disfigured the women with a black magic marker to add to the ambience. The only concession made in recent years was satellite radio playing in the background, always on the oldie stations or country.
Red Bryant nursed his second beer and contemplated if he was going to be able to get by this month on his social security and what he made at his part-time job on the overnight shift at the gas station in Roxbury. He hated the job but needed it. It was strictly self-serve and the attendant was locked up in a small booth with bulletproof glass. Customers slid their money through a metal drawer.
He stayed locked in the booth all night, pissing in a jar if he had to. He wasn’t supposed to have it, but he brought to work an old Citadel 45 he had bought on the street years ago. The guy he got it from said he got it in the Philippines. Red kept it in good working order. Having it made him feel safer. The neighborhood was always rough but now it was a war zone.
He was just scraping by. Most of the time he sat on the same bar stool, thinking of all the things that should have been different. Friends and jobs lost. Opportunities passed by and all the mistakes made.
In recent years he wasn’t drinking as much. Not really sure why, most likely because he was rid of his toxic ex-wife. He still thought about her constantly and his three grown kids. Mostly he thought about what a mess he had made of it. Dottie, his ex-wife was no big loss, she could give as well as she got. She had taken off for New Jersey with one of her boyfriends after getting jammed up over some missing money she took from another boyfriend.
When she left, she took their 28-year-old special needs son with her, mostly so she could keep collecting his disability check. They had been gone for a long time but Red still missed the boy. His older son was still around but wouldn’t have anything to do with him.
Most of all, he missed his daughter Lori. As the youngest, she was the most damaged by the shit storm he and Dottie created. She ended up with a loser who she eventually married and got pregnant by before he went off to prison. A few years ago, she divorced him. Then she just disappeared without a trace. No one seemed to know anything. He always thought it had to have something to do with her low life ex but he didn’t have any real proof. She had a baby girl that Red had never seen and probably never would. He couldn’t prove it but he had a sickening feeling that she was dead. Not much hurt him anymore, but thinking of her did. If he could ever be forgiven for the damage he did to his children he would willingly take whatever punishment he had coming. His daily life was already his penance.
“Red do you want another beer?” Billy had moved down to his end of the bar and had already started pouring him another draft before he answered. Everyone still called him Red though it had been a long time since his hair had been anything else but white. He still had hair that was something.
“Yeah, and give AJ one,” Red responded tilting his head to the man sitting three stools down. He didn’t expect a response from AJ and was surprised when AJ lifted his glass in a salute. AJ was a guy that most people avoided. He was huge, well over 400 pounds with scars on his face and hands from way too many barroom brawls to ever remember. He had done a stretch at Walpole for manslaughter. He rarely said anything or smiled which added to everyone else’s discomfort. It was rumored that he was connected but Red never believed that. He knew AJ was for hire and did some freelance work, but he was too unstable to be on anybody’s regular payroll. He turned and started watching the two guys playing pool, more as a distraction than from any real interest.
The front door opened bringing in the sounds and smells of the city and also one of the last people Red wanted to see. His chest tightened as he got to his feet, he knew this was trouble.
“Where the fuck is she, old man?” His ex-son-in-law looked older, maybe a little less crazy, but no smarter.
“Even if I had a clue, you’d be the last piece of shit I’d tell.” Red hid his surprise. Maybe she was alive. He started getting his hopes up.
“I’ve got no patience, you know me. You’re going to get hurt if you don’t give me something.”
“You also got no brains, numb nuts, if you think she would be confiding in me where she was going”
Tommy started moving forward, he was never much for discussion. There was a scrape of barstools and AJ was standing by Red’s side and the two pool players moved over still clutching their pool sticks.
Tommy hesitated, he wasn’t afraid but he wasn’t foolish. He knew AJ by reputation and the two clowns with pool sticks looked like they were going to jump in.
Tommy snorted. “Don’t think these assholes are going to save your sorry ass if I find out you know anything”. With that, he turned and walked out.
Red let his breath out slowly and turned to the bartender who still had one hand under the bar clutching his nightstick. ”Billy, give the boys a round.”
Tommy sat in his mother’s beat up Toyota Camry and slowly breathed in and out. Four years of being locked up was a long time and he was now realizing how little he knew about Lori’s life on the outside before she disappeared. He didn’t expect to get much from her old man but he was still angry about how it went down. He was running out of people who might know something. He had been out a week and he had nothing. Lori had rarely come to see him after the baby was born, and when she did, all she talked about was the baby. It got old. It had gotten a little tense the last time she had visited with him telling her things were going to be different when he got out. Well, it was different. She was gone.
Lori, it hurt to think about Lori. He kept thinking about the beginning when she was fifteen and he was eighteen, and how good it was and how good she looked. He loved her. He should never have started hitting her. Whatever they had really fell apart after that.
As he got older and started doing jobs with his father and uncle, it got even more complicated. His father ran things and didn’t trust anybody. Especially girlfriends. He married Lori partially to get his father off his back. Now with Lori’s disappearance his father was worried she was talking to someone. Could be the Feds or even somebody local. His father was becoming really paranoid and kept telling Tommy he needed to take care of it or he would. He didn’t know if it was just speculation or his father knew someone was talking and he had a real reason to suspect Lori.
Tommy didn’t know what to think. He didn’t even know how he felt about her. Was she talking to someone? He didn’t want to hurt her but all bets were off if she wouldn’t listen to him.
Tommy headed north. Someone had told him that his late cousin’s girlfriend was working in a massage parlor in Kittery, Maine. At one time Marcy and Lori had been pretty tight so maybe she knew something.
Crossing the bridge into Maine, he didn’t have any problem finding the place right below the bridge and on the water. The New England Athletic Club and Gentleman’s Retreat was behind an out of business restaurant and down some stairs. He took a couple of deep breaths. He didn’t want trouble, just some information. He wanted to talk to Marcy and get the hell out of there.
Walking in he was greeted by a fat guy with slicked back hair sitting behind a desk.
“How can I help you?”
The prices and services were listed on a sign on the wall. Tommy reached in his pocket and pulled out three twenties. “Just a 45 minute Swedish.”
“Sure, straight down the hall to the lounge. Pick out a girl and she’ll show you where everything is.”
Something buzzed and the door unlocked and Tommy made his way the down the hall. The lighting was minimal when he came into the lounge and mostly provided by a large screen television with the volume turned down low. Eight or nine “girls,” though he thought that was a stretch for a few of them that seemed to be in their forties, were sitting on armless sofas around the room. All were wearing skimpy negligees showing a lot of skin. One older guy was sipping what looked like orange juice and looking around nervously.
Two girls jumped up when he entered the room. “Can we get you a drink? Juice? Soda? Water?”
Jumping up the smaller of the pair’s boobs fell out of her negligee which was way too big for her to begin with. She smiled unfazed, tucking them both back in. Before he could answer, a door opened and another girl came into the room. It was Marcy. Surprise and fear showed on her face.
“You’ll do.” Before she could say anything he had her by the arm leading her back out the door she came in. The other girls immediately lost interest and went back and sat down.
The door closed behind them to the lounge. They were alone in a locker room, complete with showers, a hot tub and a steam room.
“Not bad. Better than I expected.”
“It really used to be a men’s club, went broke. What are you doing here Tommy?” She was afraid of what the answer might be. She hated Tommy but was smart enough to be afraid of him at the same time. She hated him for what he did to her boyfriend Ricky, Tommy’s cousin. Ricky had been dead almost six years from a drug overdose but she still blamed Tommy for Ricky getting so screwed up. When they were young, Ricky had always been the leader of the crowd they hung out with but as they got older it changed. Tommy just kind of took over.
Tommy was looking her over. Marcy was never what you’d call pretty but she had a body that made you forget her face.
‘Relax, Marcy. Just looking for information.”
She handed him a towel. “You need to change.”
Tommy smiled. “Sure, Marcy. You know I want my money’s worth.”
She wasn’t smiling but pointed to the lockers. He found one unlocked and began to get undressed. She stood there watching him.
“Good thing I’m not shy, Marcy.”
“Just hurry up, I don’t want to get in trouble.”
He followed her down another corridor and into the last room on the left. She closed the door behind them. “We need to keep our voices down. The walls are thin.” She was speaking barely above a whisper.
“Sure.” He dropped his towel and lay face down on the massage table. She hesitated and then reluctantly began rubbing him down.
“Where is she, Marcy?”
“Lori? Tommy, if I knew I’d tell you. Shit, I haven’t seen her in years. After you went away, she stayed away. Especially after she had the baby. I’d see her on the street once in a while but that was it. We’d make small talk, you know, the baby’s getting big, we need to get together. It never happened. Really.”
Tommy started to tense when she began talking but the more she talked the more he believed her. She knew better than to lie to him.
“That’s all you got?”
“The only thing I’ve heard since, and I heard it second hand, so take it for what it’s worth. JoJo’s cousin, you know the skinny one? She told JoJo that she ran into Lori in a club in Portland, in the Old Port. She was waiting tables. That was a few months after she left. I don’t know if it’s true or bullshit.”
“No, Oregon. Of course, Maine.”
Tommy’s look was enough to make most people wet their pants.
“Jesus, Tommy. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be joking about this,”
Tommy grabbed her breast and squeezed hard. “Do you think that was funny? Do you think it’ll be funny if I find out you know something else?”
Looking at her, he could see she was about to lose it. She made some sort of choking sound. Tears were streaming down her face. He knew he needed to back off. He let go and took several deep breaths.
“Hey, if you aren’t holding out, you got nothing to worry about!”
She stared at his face for a long moment and finally stopped crying.
“Good.” Tommy smiled at her and she hesitantly smiled back. He pushed her head down into his crotch, “Now you can finish what you started.”
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
It had been more than five weeks since Red’s confrontation with his ex-son in law but it still bothered him. He had heard from several sources that Tommy was still around and still asking about Lori. Tommy was bad news, all the Doyles were bad news. For whatever the reason Tommy was looking for Lori; whether it was to get her back or to pay her back, it could only end badly for Lori.
He couldn’t stop thinking about Lori. It was stuck in his head that he had to do something. After all the times in the past that he had failed her, he wanted to at least warn her.
He had started asking around. Nobody had heard from her at the restaurant where she had used to work. He had called his oldest son but his son had just hung up. He had tracked down a few of her girlfriends but they didn’t have anything. Several more people told him that Tommy had been around asking.
Tommy knew more people that knew Lori and had a better chance of making them talk. Red decided to start following Tommy whenever he could. He borrowed an old black Impala from a friend and began tailing Tommy. Some days he lost him or couldn’t find him to start. Tommy didn’t go home every night. Red did the best he could hoping he’d be there when Lori needed him. Maybe if Tommy found out where she worked or lived, Red could get there first.
Mary Marie [Lori]
Somehow they had become a couple. Nothing had ever been said. Danny without asking began giving her rides home from work on the shifts they worked together. Then he started picking her up on the way to work saying it really wasn’t out of his way. He didn’t have an explanation when he started giving her rides on days when he wasn’t scheduled. The first day he just showed up and Marie grinned at him. He sheepishly smiled back. She started doing things for him too when she could; cooking him dinner and mending a rip in his jacket.
The clincher was how he treated Jessica, always including her when he asked Marie out to eat or to a movie. They had seen a lot of children’s movies and also gone to an amusement park in Saco. He was always patient with Jessica, answering all her questions and admiring her art work.
Marie told Danny more about Tommy than she had told anyone else since moving to Maine. She told him Tommy was in prison. She also told him she had witnessed things she shouldn’t have and left it at that. Danny could see how much it upset her just to talk about it. To his credit he didn’t make light of it or tell her not to worry. He’d hold her close and tried to comfort her the best he could. The first night they slept together had been awkward but still good. It had been a long time for her but it did make her feel safe having Danny lying next to her. The second time was better. He started by kissing her breasts and working his way down. She returned the favor. It wasn’t awkward after that.
Tommy was never one of those guys with a plan and he was losing the little patience he had. He was pretty sure Lori was working at a restaurant near the Maine Mall. A waitress at a club on the waterfront recognized Lori’s picture and told him she had worked with her at the restaurant. The waitress called her Marie and Tommy didn’t correct her. He had found the restaurant without much trouble and without much thought he had gone right in and asked a bartender if she was working. She wasn’t and he was disappointed but after thinking about it he thought it would be better if he followed her to someplace where they could talk or he could just grab her and go if need be.
Tommy didn’t want to hurt Lori. He was really hoping he could get her to come back with him without using force. He could then try to work out something with his father. That was about as much of a plan as he had come up with. After several days of watching the restaurant he had spotted Lori coming out of the restaurant one afternoon but she got into a car with another waitress. He followed at a safe distance but was disappointed when the other waitress followed Lori into a house. He waited around a while but the other waitress didn’t come out and Tommy really wanted to catch Lori alone.
Today he headed directly to the house. He didn’t notice the black Impala following him. Red had been tailing Tommy for eight or nine days and based on Tommy’s repeated visits to Maine, Red felt he must know something.
It was a little after nine when Tommy reached the house and went directly to the back door that he had seen Lori entering. He jimmied the lock in less than a minute and walked in, catching them completely by surprise. Jessica who had been eating cereal at a small table jumped up screaming and ran to her mother standing at the sink.
“Shut her up, Lori, or I will.” Tommy had crossed the room and grabbed Lori by the arm.
“Let me go, Tommy, now! You’re scaring her! What the hell are you doing here? You need to leave!” Lori was scared for her daughter and scared for herself, you could hear it in her voice.
“You’re coming with me, one way or the other, give me a hard time and it will only get worse!”
“It’s not happening, not back to that shit life and you shouldn’t want it for your daughter either!” Lori had pulled away from him and had wrapped her arms around Jessica who was shaking and crying. “Look what you’re doing to her!”
“You’ve got to come back and convince my father you’re not talking to the Feds or anyone else. It’s the only way to work it out.”
“Tommy, it’s been more than three years. If I was talking to someone, you’d know about it by now. Do you really think I’d risk it? Do that to Jessica?”
Listening to her, Tommy believed her but it didn’t matter, he had to take her back. He was getting more frustrated and angry. “Look, if that’s true you can come back and we’ll straighten it out. Now! Let’s go!”
“I’m not going with you, no matter what. Leave us alone!”
Tommy raised his fist to hit her but looking at her face he instead flipped the kitchen table over scattering and breaking dishes and Jessica’s doll that was sitting at the table. The doll’s head came off and Jessica cried out and ran to the doll. Crying she started rocking the headless doll back and forth.
“If you don’t come back, all bets are off. I can’t help you!”
A door opened at the top of the stairs and Aggie, her landlord, was standing there holding an old hunting rifle. She had it pointed at Tommy. “You’d better leave, I know how to use this. I’ve called 911 and the police are coming!”
Tommy looked at the old lady and then looked back at Lori and then let out a long breath. “It’s not over, Lori. You know it’s not.”
Tommy stormed out. He was in his car and taking off, not looking back.
Red watching didn’t know what to do. This could be where Lori lived. He started to get out of the car and stopped when he saw Lori come out of the house with a little girl, followed by an elderly woman holding a rifle. Red was overcome with relief. Lori and his granddaughter were still okay. He could hear sirens. He started the car and headed back to the highway following Tommy.
Back on 95 heading south Tommy was beside himself, angry and upset and sad, all at the same time. He should have just grabbed her and took off but it was complicated by Jessica and the old lady. He should have thought it through better. Now what. It was just a matter of time before his father found out. Then nobody would be able to protect Lori. He hoped she’d take off again.
He was driving way too fast and couldn’t concentrate. He needed to think this through. He pulled into a rest stop and parked away from most of the cars.
Red had trouble keeping Tommy in sight, Tommy was doing eighty or more most of the way. Red was speeding too and worried about getting stopped. He had his unregistered Citadel 45 in his lunchbox on the seat next to him. He was glad when Tommy finally slowed down and took the exit for the rest stop. Red was relieved and grateful that no harm had come to Lori and Jessica but he knew it was also just a matter of time. It had to end.
Tommy was just sitting in his car. Red parked two cars behind him. Red opened the lunch box and took out the Citadel 45. He got out and quickly walked up to Tommy’s car. The driver’s side window was down. Tommy looked up at the last moment but it was too late to stop the first bullet from entering his head. The second bullet was aimed in the general area of where his heart should be if he actually had one. Red walked back to his car and slowly drove off. He was surprised at how calm he felt. No regrets. Penance.
2/16/2017 06:57:03 am
Well done Ed, we have some catching up to do!
3/8/2017 09:09:18 pm
Great story Ed, Dennis Lehane must be jealous!
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