Authors: J. B. Reed
Ryan called Shane and within thirty minutes, he arrived at Ryan’s apartment.
“Jesus, Tommy, what the fuck happened last night?”
had a little run in with our friend, Michael.”
“Where did this go down? Is this because of Vivian?”
“No, stupid, not everything has to do with that whore.
Me and a couple of the bosses' guys hijacked a load of furs intended for the wops. We had to kill the guy making the delivery. Seems he was a close personal associate of the wop boss and he sent our friend to settle the score.”
“Fuck me, you mean that guy, Michael, works for the Italians?”
Shane started to get a little nervous, thinking that Michael was working for one of the most powerful gangs in New York.
“Yes, you dumb fuck, he works for the wops. I knew he was a professional by the job he did on you. I just didn’t know who he was working for before last night. He killed both the guys that helped with the hijacking. I got out, but not before he put that fucking bullet in me. I had to sit here all night, waiting for Ryan to come down before I could trust him to get the bullet out without killing me.”
Shane looked at Ryan, who by now was high and thought it all quite amusing.
“Fucking right I got it out. I saved Tommy’s life, I did.” Ryan was bragging on himself, very proud of what he had done.
“Shut the fuck up, you stupid fuck. You’re just lucky it went as well as it did. If it hadn’t, I would have slit your throat.”
Ryan walked over and looked out of his window, down onto the street, trying to avoid eye contact with Shane and Tommy.
“The good thing is, now that we know who this guy works for, we have a better chance of finding him. I’m going to talk to the boss today and see how he wants to handle this. Two of his best guys are dead because of this mechanic. The boss is going to be fucking pissed. Especially when he hears who the guy works for.”
“Whatever you want us to do, Tommy, just give us the word.”
I don’t think the boss would want the two of you fucking with this. You’ve both proven yourselves to be total fuck ups. Ryan, I want you to drive me to see the boss. I’ll meet up with you later Shane, at Molly’s.”
“Okay Tommy. Whatever, you say.”
Ryan helped Tommy change his clothes and then all three men left Ryan’s apartment.
Uptown, Michael was sitting across the desk from Joseph, telling him how the hit had gone down.
When Joseph heard that Flannery had gotten away, he reacted in a way that Michael had not expected.
“Christ…talk about the luck of the Irish.”
Joseph leaned back in his chair, puffing on his cigar. “This Flannery must have as many lives as a fucking cat. This could go in our favor, Lucky.”
“You got two of the cocksuckers and Flannery was hit, so I would say, wherever he is, he’s not in great shape.
Now, he’ll have to explain to his boss how you were able to take out two of his guys and he didn’t stop you. Won’t go over well with his boss, I guarantee it. If I know these micks, like I think I do, the boss will order Flannery to hunt you down and whack you. From you’ve told me about this idiot, he’s a fuck up. When he comes after you he’s not going to be real inconspicuous. With your skills, Lucky, you should have no trouble finishing the job. I don’t like the idea of them knowing who you’re working for, but that’s something we can’t fix now. The fact remains that they ripped us off and killed our associate. The way I see it, the Westies threw down the gauntlet. If it’s war they want, its war they’re gonna get. There’s plenty to go around for everyone but if the Westies want to be greedy, then so be it. They’ll get what coming to them. Go home Lucky, and wait for my call. Don’t make a move until you hear from me.”
When Michael got home, he walked into his bedroom and opened the closet door.
Vivie’s clothes were still hanging there, right where she had left them. He couldn’t help but feel disappointed in himself.
“Of all the fuckers to get away, why did it have to be Flannery. I’ve never left a job half done. I won’t rest until I see the bastard dead.”
A TIME TO BE BORN AND A TIME TO DIE
In the spring, the mountains of West Virginia start to come to life. At times, it was difficult for Vivie to believe she had actually been living in Matewan for six months. When she would go to church or into town, with Mary, people would call her by name, and ask how the baby was doing. They never failed to remind her, if there was anything they could do, all she need do is ask. To avoid questions, Mary and Vivie told everyone she was a widow. She continued to wear her wedding band, mostly as a reminder of her life with Michael.
Vivie had made several friends in the area. Women, not unlike herself, young married women or young widows. Coal mining was a dangerous profession and many of the young men in Matewan had died in the mines. One of Vivie’s new friends, Lucy Snyder, had an older brother, Luke. He also became one of her closest friends. Luke was charming, in a southern, good ol’ boy, way. In many ways, he reminded Vivie of Michael. He was easy to talk to, a good listener and always considerate. To put it in Lucy’s terms, “Luke was raised right”. From Luke, Vivie learned the dangers of coal mining, the thrill of hunting deer, and how much fun simple things, like a walk on a Sunday afternoon, could be. While showing her his gun collection, Luke was astounded that Vivie not only knew what each gun was, but also what kind of ammo it took and how much of a kick it would give when fired. Vivie explained that her late husband was also a
One thing Luke did for Vivie that Michael had refused to do was teach her how to shoot a gun. Luke would set up targets in his backyard and the two spent hours shooting. Vivie became quite the good shot. Luke told her, in his opinion she was as good with a gun as any man he had ever met. Vivie didn’t tell him that at one time she wanted to learn how to track down and kill men. She thought that information was better left a fact he never know. Luke also taught Vivie how to use a bow. Although she, at first, had little trouble pulling back the bow, she soon became as good with the bow as she was with a gun. Her favorite was the crossbow. It wasn’t nearly as hard to handle and it felt more like a firearm than a bow to Vivie. Luke would take Vivie to turkey shoots, a contest where the participants would shoot at targets, sometimes with guns, sometimes with a bow. Vivie
never failed to bring home her share of blue ribbons and prize money. Vivie never told a soul the secret of her accuracy. She would visualize the target as Tommy, and at other times, Joseph.
Mary was a little apprehensive about Vivie’s blossoming friendship with Luke. She knew that in her heart, Vivie was still very much in love with Michael. Mary was still unsure what Vivie planned to do, once her baby arrived. While Luke was a great distraction for her daughter, Mary didn’t want to see either of them hurt, emotionally. Luke became a friend to the entire Clancy family, and her concern for him was like that of a son.
After dinner one night, when the kids were tucked into bed, Mary decided it was time for a heart to heart talk with her daughter.
“Vivian, I would like to talk to you about Luke.”
“What about him, Mama?”
“I know the two of you have become quite close these past few months.”
“Is there something wrong with that?”
“No, my dear child, nothing at all. I’m glad to see that you have made friends here. You seem to be adjusting so well. But can you tell me, truly, that you no longer love Michael?”
“Mama, a part of me will always love Michael. He was a very important part of my life; he saved my life, more than once. But, Mama, I can never be with Michael, not as a wife. I’m sure he has forgotten about me by now.”
“You ridiculous girl. You know very well that he could never forget you.”
“Maybe not, but Michael lives a life that I cannot be a part of. As for Luke, it’s true; I have become very fond of him. He makes me feel a little less lonely, Mama.”
“Is that all there is to it, he’s just someone who makes you feel less lonely?”
“What are you asking me, Mama? What is it you want to know?”
“It’s obvious, to me, that Luke thinks of you as more than just a friend. I would hate to see you hurt him, Vivian. Have you let him know that he is only a friend to you?”
Vivie sat quietly, not quite sure how to respond to Mary’s question.
“It’s complicated, Mama. I still love Michael, but I know that we will never be together. On the other hand, Luke is here, in Matewan, and I know he has started to care about me. But, Mama, do you think he would continue to care about me if he knew the truth about the baby?”
“Why does he have to know the truth? As far as Luke or anyone else knows, this child belongs to your deceased husband. This wasn’t Michael’s baby either, Vivian, and he was willing to raise the child as his own. Do you think Luke would be any different? He sees you as a widow, expecting your first child. I believe he wants to be there for you and the child.”
“But it’s all a lie. How can I let my friendship become anything more when it would be based on a lie?”
“I can’t answer that question, Vivian, only you can. You know how you feel about Michael, and Luke. I hope you won’t rush into anything, but I do hope you will consider your options, daughter.”
“I will, Mama. I am so glad I’m here with you, to have you to talk to.”
Vivie and Mary said their goodnights and went off to bed. Vivie did think about what Mary had said to her. If she allowed herself, she believed she could develop feelings for Luke. Her life would be so different than what she had thought it would be like. She would be the wife of a coal miner, and would live in the mountains of West Virginia the rest of her life. It was funny, in a way. Both Michael and Luke have very dangerous jobs. Worrying if your husband was going to come home after work seemed to be Vivie’s destiny. Perhaps she was getting ahead of herself. Luke had not said he wanted to marry her, at least not yet. Vivie still wanted so badly to call Michael, just to hear his voice again. Dare she? And what if Michael didn’t want to talk to her? It had been a long time since she and Michael had spoken, and the last time they did, Vivie had said many mean and hurtful things to him.
Sunday, after church, Luke asked Vivie if she would like to go for a drive. There was something he wanted to show her; a surprise. As they drove up the bumpy dirt road, Vivie could tell Luke was excited for her to see whatever it was he wanted to show her.
“Okay now, Vivie, I want you to close your eyes. What I have to show you is right up the road here and I want it to be a surprise. Now close those big beautiful eyes, okay?”
Vivie chuckled; a little excited to know what the big surprise was going to be.
“Okay, Luke, they’re closed.”
Luke pulled his car into the driveway of a big two story house. He got out and went around to open the door for Vivie.
“Alright, keep them closed for one more minute.” Luke led Vivie around the car and up the sidewalk to the house. “You can open them now.”
Vivie opened her eyes and stared at the house. It was lovely. A two story, white house, with flowers running down both sides of the sidewalk.
“Where are we, Luke? Who lives here?”
“We will, if you will do me the honor of marrying this poor country boy, Vivian.” Luke got down on one knee and held open a box for Vivie.
“Ms. Vivian, will you marry me?”
Vivie was overcome with emotion and started to cry.
“Well, heck, Vivian, I didn’t think you would cry. Have I upset you?”
“Of course not, Luke. I have never had such a romantic proposal, it has touched my heart.”
“Does that mean you’ll marry me?”
“You have really taken me by surprise, Luke. We haven’t even talked about this. How can I say yes, when we haven’t even talked about a future together? You really don‘t know anything about me. And Luke, I‘m about to have a baby. Are you sure you‘re ready to take on an instant family?”
“Yes, I am. I know your husband hasn’t been gone long, Vivian, and I’m sure your heart still hurts for him. But I promise you, I will be good to you and that little baby. I’ll be the best daddy that child could ever have, seeing how he can’t have his real daddy. And I’ll be a good husband to you Vivian. I make pretty good money and you wouldn’t want for a darn thing.”
“Luke, this ring is beautiful but I can’t accept it, not yet. I need time to think about all of this. I hope you understand. It’s not that I don’t care for you, it’s just all so sudden.”
“That’s perfectly fine, sweetheart. You take all the time you need. I’m just happy you didn’t say no, right off. I want you to keep the ring. When you decide you are going to marry me, I’ll know when I see that ring on your finger.”
Luke took Vivie in his arms and kissed her. The kiss was warm and inviting, but it wasn’t anything like the kiss she shared with Michael the first time. She knew she didn’t love Luke, but maybe she would learn to love him. He was a decent, honest, hard working man, and he would give her a good life, that she was sure of. The only problem at this point; she was still married, as far as she knew, to Michael.
When she returned home, Vivie took Mary into the bedroom and shut the door, so the kids wouldn’t overhear their conversation. She showed Mary the ring and told her about Luke’s proposal and the house he had found for them.
“What am I going to do, Mama? Luke’s a good man. He would be good to me and the baby. But, Mama, I’m still married to Michael.”
“I haven’t heard you say you love Luke, Vivie. Do you love him?”
“I can’t say that I love him, at least not the way I love Michael, but I do care for him, Mama.”
“As with other things, I can’t make this decision for you, child. As far as your marriage to Michael, we don’t know that you are still married. He may have filed for a divorce after you left.”
“That’s true. He may have.” Vivie’s heart sank, thinking of Michael divorcing her.
“What did you tell Luke?”
“I told him that I need some time to think it over.”
“Then that’s what you need to do. Take some time, pray about this and see how you feel after some time passes.”
“Very well, Mama, that’s what I’ll do.”
A month passed and Vivie continued to keep company with Luke. He never pressured her for an answer to his proposal. He knew that if given enough time, her answer would be yes.
One Monday morning, on his way to work, Luke stopped by the Clancy home to see Vivie. He asked if they could spend the evening together.
“Of course, Luke, I would like that. I’ll ask Mama to feed the kids early so I can prepare you an old fashioned Irish dinner. How does that sound?”
“That sounds wonderful. I can almost smell the taters cooking now.”
After Luke drove away, Vivie went back into the house and opened the dresser drawer where she had been keeping the ring. She took it out and looked at it. Her mind again went to Michael and the day they got married. She then reminded herself that her life with Michael was over and maybe it was time to move on. The baby would be here in two more months. Vivie slipped the ring on her finger. It was a perfect fit.
“Yes, it’s time to move on. I will marry Luke and I’ll tell him tonight.”
Vivie told Mary she had made a decision and was going to marry Luke.
“My sweet child, I know this decision has not been an easy one, but for what it’s worth, I feel it’s the right decision.”
“I believe it is too, Mama.”
At 3:00 p.m., Vive began preparing her dinner for Luke. She was busy pealing potatoes when Lucy called on the telephone.
“Vivie, its Lucy.”
Vivie could hear a sound of desperation in Lucy’s voice.