Authors: J. B. Reed
“Michael, you cannot kill Tommy.”
“Why not? He deserves to die, Vivian.”
“Michael, listen to me. Rose has the same blood type as Tommy. It’s very rare. If anything should happen to Rose, Tommy may be the only person that could save her.”
“Do you really think that Tommy would give a rat’s ass about Rose? And would you be willing to confront him, to ask for his help, after all he’s done to you?”
“If it meant the life of Rose, then yes, I would whatever was necessary.”
“My sweet Vivie. You are still so naive.”
“Maybe I am, but Michael you have to promise me, you won’t harm Tommy. You don’t know how I hate to say those words, but Rose may need him someday.”
“Vivie, I cannot promise that one of Joseph‘s guys will not get to Tommy before I do. There is an out right war raging right now between Joseph’s family and the Westies. I will promise you that I will stay away from Tommy. I’m not sure how to handle this with Joseph, but I will think of something. You have to understand though, if it comes down to Tommy or me, it will have to be Tommy.”
“Michael, why not stay here, in Matewan, with Rose and I? Why do you have to go back to New York? We could start fresh, here, in West Virginia.”
Michael laughed, thinking of himself as a mountain man. “What do you suggest I do to earn a living? Do you think there’s much need for a hired killer in Matewan?”
“I don’t know what you will do for a living; I haven’t thought that far ahead. But, Michael, if we really want to be together, to have a life together, we will think of something.”
Michael pulled the car over and turned the engine off.
“Vivie, you know what I am. I don’t know how to do anything other than what I do. Do you realize what Joseph would do if I failed to return? The first place he would look is here. No, Vivie, I cannot stay in West Virginia, no matter how much I would like to be with you and help you raise Rose. The best I can do, for now, is help you financially, and I will visit as often as I can, but anything more is not possible.”
“I don’t want your money, Michael. I’m sorry I brought this up. I know Matewan is not the place for you. I just hate to think of you back in New York, the possibility of Tommy or one of the Westies killing you.”
“Are you forgetting who you are talking to, Mrs. O’Bannon? You just happened to be married to the best. You need not worry about my safety.”
Michael was trying to lighten Vivie’s mood by joking. Although she laughed, Michael could see that Vivie was near tears. How he wished things were different for them. If only they could be just Mr. and Mrs. Whoever, like they were in Vegas.
The week quickly passed and soon it was time for Michael to leave. Vivie had dreaded this day. How was she supposed to say goodbye to Michael? Would she ever see him again? Would Tommy find him and kill him? How would she ever know? Michael said his goodbyes to Mary and the kids and then Vivie walked him to his car.
“Michael, please take care of yourself. Will you call me when you get home, just to let me know you made it safely?”
“Will do, Mrs. O’Bannon. Vivie, please try not to worry about me. I will call you frequently and I’ll be back for another visit soon. I promise you. Take good care of our little Rose and don‘t forget to tell her that her Daddy loves her.”
As Michael took her in his arms, one last time, Vivie found it impossible to hold back her tears. Michael wiped the tears from her cheeks as he kissed her tenderly.
“I love you Vivie. Remember that. Always.”
“I love you too Michael. Drive safely. I will be waiting for your call.”
Vivie watched as Michael backed out of the driveway and started down the road. When she went back into the house, she walked over to Rose and picked her up, holding her close to her. As she picked up a blanket from the bassinet, she noticed something sticking out from under the little mattress. It was money. Vivie counted it.
Ten thousand dollars
. Michael was true to form. She thought of the many tips he had left her at the pub. Michael was determined that she and Rose were going to be taken care of.
“We will be together again, Michael. Even if it means Joseph must die.”
Vivie walked into the bedroom and opened the closet door. There on floor of the closet was the last present Luke had given her. A crossbow.
It had been three months since Michael’s visit.
Michael would call Vivie twice a week, just to let her know all was well. He also never failed to send her a check every week. Using a portion of the ten thousand, she purchased a car. Vivie was feeling more independent as each day passed. She also was devising a plan to return to New York. Vivie felt she had to go back; she had to face Joseph. How to do that without putting Michael in danger was the question. And then there was the Tommy factor. Ryan was also in her thoughts, or to be precise, how she would make him pay for what he did to Papa. Drawing on her time with Michael, Vivie knew she had to start compiling the tools she would need to accomplish her tasks. She had the crossbow that Luke had given her, but firearms were what she needed. Guns were easy to come by in Matewan. One of Luke’s best friends bought and sold guns; perhaps she should pay him a visit.
“Mama, I need to run to town, would you mind watching Rose for a bit?”
“Not at all. Why are you going into town?”
“I just need to get out of the house for a while. I thought I would go in and do some shopping. Is there anything that I can pick up for you while I’m out?”
“I don’t believe so, Vivie.”
“I shouldn’t be gone long. See you in a little while, Mama.”
Ronnie Miller lived just on the outskirts of town. Ronnie was a former coal miner but had to stop working when he was involved in a roof collapse. These days Ronnie walked with a cane and made his living selling and buying guns. Luke had told Vivie that Ronnie had any kind of gun a person would want. Vivie was counting on that.
“Well hello there, Miss Vivian. How have you and that little girl been doing? I haven’t seen you since our buddy passed.”
“Hello Ronnie. I’m doing well. Rose is growing like a weed. I’m sorry I haven’t been to see you before now, but you know how it is.”
“Sure do. What can I do ya for, Vivian?”
“I’m in the market for a couple guns, Ronnie. Think you can help me?”
“Now what’s a little gal like you wanting with a gun?”
“We have been having coyote problems at the house. I was thinking I should get a couple guns; one for me and for Liam.”
“Damn coyotes. They can be a real nuisance, that’s for sure. Well, let’s go back here and see what we can fix you up with. Luke told me what a good shot you are so I guess I don’t have to warn you about the dangers of firearms.”
“No, Luke taught me well.”
“Well, let’s see here, I have a .38 but that might be a little heavy for you. I have a real nice Smith & Wesson 9mm, semi-automatic. Here, see how this feels.” Ronnie handed the gun to Vivie.
Vivie held the gun out, aiming it at the doorway. “That feels just about right, Ronnie. What do you have in the way of shotguns?”
“Damn, Miss Vivian, you sure are serious about those old coyotes.” Ronnie laughed, but was wondering if Vivie was certain a shotgun was what she really wanted. “Well, lets see here….oh, this may be to your liking. This is a short barrel shotgun. Lot of people call em sawed off shotguns. Have to warn you though, it does pack a kick.”
Vivie took the gun from Ronnie and held it up.
“I’ll take it. This would be better for Liam, I think. And don’t worry, I’ll teach him how to use it.”
Vivie paid Ronnie for both guns and started to leave.
“Nice doing business with you, Vivian. And, you be careful with those coyotes. Nasty creatures they are.”
“I’ll be careful Ronnie. I think it’s the coyotes that need to start worrying now though.”
Vivie placed the guns in the trunk of her car and headed for home. “Coyotes are nasty creatures alright. Ryan Coyote and Joseph Coyote….two of the nastiest creatures I know.” Vive thought to herself. “Now all I have to do is tell Mama I have to make a trip to New York.”
Another month passed before Vivie had the courage to tell Mary she was leaving.
“Mama, I have to go back to New York for a few days.”
“Absolutely not. Why in God’s name would you even consider going back? Have you lost your senses, girl?”
“No, I haven’t lost my senses. I need some time with Michael. Now that I have a car, I can get to Michael’s without anyone ever knowing I’m in town. I’ll be okay, Mama. I’ll call you every day I’m away. Will you take care of Rose while I’m gone?”
“Why don’t you wait for Michael to come here, Vivian. I see no need for you to go there.”
“Mama, please. I’m going, now the question is, will you watch over Rose, or do I take her with me?”
Mary knew that once Vivie set her mind to do something, there would be no talking her out of it.
“You are not taking that child with you. Yes, I’ll watch over Rose while you’re gone. I wish you would reconsider this, daughter. You are not using the brain the good Lord gave you.”
“I’m going to leave tonight, Mama. It’s better that I go at night. Better to slip in quietly.”
“Does Michael know you are coming?”
“Of course he does, Mama.”
Vivie didn’t like lying to her mother but she had no choice. Michael would never permit her to come to New York. After dinner, Vivie packed her suitcase and tucked Rose into bed. Vivie hugged Mary and walked out of the door. As she started down the country road, her thoughts went to Luke. He would never know how much he had helped her. As she started getting closer to New York, she played out scenarios in her mind; how she would kill Ryan first and then Joseph. Hell’s Kitchen was just about an hour away now.
Vivie pulled off at a gasoline station and went into the bathroom. She changed her clothes and tucked her hair up underneath a ball cap. Looking at reflection, in the dirty bathroom mirror, she felt satisfied that no one would recognize her. It was 4:00 a.m. Knowing Tommy and his crew as she did, they would still be out, terrorizing someone. Vivie drove up and down the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, looking for any sign of Ryan. She parked her car a block away from Molly O’Hanlon’s. If Tommy is in there, Ryan and Shane would be as well. Vivie slid down in the seat of the car and watched the door of Molly’s. An hour later, she was not disappointed. Ryan came out of Molly’s with Shane.
“I do not want to hurt Shane. I think he’s paid for his sins. Ryan is the one I want. He’s the bastard that killed Papa."
Vivie watched as Ryan and Shane moved slowly down the street. She started her car and followed them. Keeping the lights of the car turned off she made sure she stayed far enough behind so they would not notice her; but close enough to keep them in sight. Shane and Ryan parted ways when they reached Shane’s apartment building. Ryan continued down the street three more blocks. He entered his apartment building and Vivie pulled the car over to the curb. She watched the building until she saw a light come on up on the third floor. She got out of her car and opened the trunk. Removing the shotgun and placing it under her coat, she crossed the street to enter the building. The apartment building was a flop house for winos and prostitutes. The smell of urine burned Vivie’s nose. As she reached the second floor landing, she noticed an old bum lying in the hallway. Vivie was careful to step over him, so as not to rouse him. Walking down the hallway on the third floor, Vivie counted the doors until she found what she believed to be Ryan’s apartment. She listened carefully for noise coming from inside. It was quiet. Realizing she was not strong enough to break down the door, she decided to simply knock instead. If Ryan was high, he would open the door with no concern who may be on the other side. Vivie heard someone coming. Ryan opened the door, and saw Vivie standing there, pointing the shotgun in his face.
“That’s right Ryan, it’s me, Vivian. Never expected to see me again, did you?”
“What the hell are you doing with that gun, Vivian? You know Tommy’s been looking for you, don’t you?”
“I’m sure he has, but this has nothing to do with Tommy. You and I have business, Ryan. You took something from me, something very dear. I’m here to settle the score.”
“You really think you can kill me Vivian? That’s an awful big gun for such a little girl.”
“Yes, it’s a big gun, big enough to put a hole through you.”
Ryan backed up to the kitchen sink. He was trying to get to the pistol he kept in the drawer.
“Don’t even think about it, Ryan. You’ll be dead before you can open that drawer.”
“Listen Vivian, the hit on your old man, it was ordered by Tommy. I was only doing what I was told to do. He figured if we killed your old man, you would come back and
that guy with you. It’s really him Tommy wants. Do you know what he did to Shane? Poor bastard is in a wheel chair the rest of his life because of your friend.”
“I am aware. I also know that Tommy ordered the hit. Just the same, it was you who pulled the trigger.”
Ryan started to panic. It was evident now that Vivie was quite capable of killing him.
“Do you have any last words, Ryan?”
“Fuck you, bitch.” Ryan lunged toward Vivie.
Vivie fired the shotgun and Ryan’s body flew two feet back, landing up against the wall then sliding to the floor. A hole big enough to put her fist through was in Ryan’s chest. Vivie walked over and stood over top of Ryan’s body. A smile crept across her face as she stared down at his lifeless, bloody, body. Vivie spat on him and then walked out of the apartment.
Placing the shotgun back in her trunk she thought to herself how easy it was to kill Ryan. It actually took her a little by surprise just how easy it was for her to take another person’s life. She wasn’t sure if it was because he had killed her father, or if she was finally realizing what Michael had said to her was true; it’s just a job. One down, one to go
Vivie was not sure where Joseph’s office was located. That was one thing Michael had never revealed to her. She decided she would have to go to Michael’s apartment. He would be surprised to see her, and maybe even a little worried about why she was there.
As she pulled into the garage, she looked for an open parking place. Most of Michael’s neighbors should have left for work by now. Vivie found a spot, pulled her car in and turned the engine off. Standing at Michael’s door, Vivie started to feel slightly nervous. She knocked gently on the door. Opening the door, the look of shock on Michael’s face was exactly what she had expected to see.
“What the hell? Vivian? What are you doing here?”
Michael opened the door to let her in, looking first to the left and then to the right, making sure no one had followed her.
“Surprised to see me, Michael?”
“Surprised is not the word. How did you get here, Vivie? Why are you here?”
“Michael, you’re starting to make me feel unwelcome.”
“Unwelcome? No, not at all, I’m always happy to see you, I’m just in shock. What on earth are you thinking, coming back here? You know how dangerous it is.”
“I’m no longer afraid, Michael. I’m here to settle some things. As a matter of fact, one thing has already been settled. Michael, I had a dear friend in Matewan who was killed in a mine cave in not too long ago. He and I spent a lot of time together. He gave me the training I needed, the training you refused to give me. You would be proud of me, I’m really quite good. I made a stop before coming here, Michael. I went to the Kitchen, where I found Ryan. He’s one problem we won’t have to be concerned with anymore.”
“What in God’s name have you done, Vivie?”
“Ryan is dead, Michael. I killed him.”