Authors: J. B. Reed
Jimmy Two Fingers smiled at Joseph, and then all three men laughed, each knowing well, what the implied statement meant.
“Sounds like a good place. You will probably have a little resistance from the mother. She is not going to want to leave her home. I am going to give you a letter to give her. All she‘s going to know is her daughter, Vivian, has arranged the move for her and the children because of the death of her father. The letter will tell her that Vivian will be meeting her there. Hopefully, that will make the mother more agreeable. Take as little as possible. Once you get them to West Virginia, buy them whatever they need, furniture, clothing, dishes, whatever. Get them set up right.”
“Will do boss. When do you want us to get started?”
“I would like you to go tonight Baby Joe. The quicker we get them out of the Kitchen the better. As we know, the Kitchen has eyes watching 24-7 but with any luck, you can get in and get them out without any trouble. If you do have trouble, I trust you to take care of it, by whatever means necessary. Just make sure nobody hurts anyone in that family.”
The two men left Joseph’s office and Joseph thought about calling Lucky, to let him know the plan to relocate Vivie’s family was in play. After considering it a few moments, he placed the receiver back on the phone. “The call can wait. Michael is probably having the time of his life.” Joseph chuckled at the thought. “Viva Las Vegas.”
Joseph’s guys arrived at the Clancy apartment a little after 1:00 a.m. Mary came to the door, afraid to open it, unsure who was waiting on the other side.
“Who is there?”
“Yes, who is there, please?”
“Mrs. Clancy, we’re friends of your daughter, Vivian. We have a message from her. Would you open the door, please?”
Still wary of opening the door to someone she did not know, Mary opened the door, just enough to see the two gentleman standing there, in her hallway. Baby Joe handed the letter through the crack of the door, to Mary.
“How do you know my daughter?”
“She’s a mutual friend of our boss. She wanted to make sure you got this letter tonight. May we come in, Mrs. Clancy?”
Mary opened the letter and read the first paragraph.
As she continued to read the letter, she opened the door to allow the men entry into the apartment. Mary walked over and sat down in her rocking chair, tears started streaming down her face.
“I don’t understand.
How did Vivian know her papa had been murdered? She lives in another state…..how did she get this letter here so quickly?”
“Like I said, your daughter is friends with our boss. He contacted your daughter to let her know what happened to your husband. He also told her to stay away from the funeral, for her own safety.”
Baby Joe was trying to explain to Mary, in terms that she might believe, why Vivie did not show for the funeral of her father and why there was a need for her and the family to leave.
“Mrs. Clancy, the men that killed your husband; they’re really bad men. It’s not safe for you and your family to stay here in Hell’s Kitchen. Vivian and our boss have sent us here to help you pack up. We’re going to move you to a safe place, a place where you won’t have to worry about your safety or the safety of your children. Vivian will meet you there.”
“Move, from my home?
I cannot just leave my home. All my belongings, I would have to pack…I cannot just pick up and leave. What about all my belongings?”
“Mrs. Clancy, all you need to get together is some clothing for yourself and the children. If you want some personal things, okay, but we do not have time for you to pack up everything in the apartment. You need to understand. The men that killed your husband, they could come here, to your home, at any time. Please, wake the kids, get your things together and we’ll get out of here, the sooner the better. Whatever you need, we’ll buy when we get to where we’re going.”
“Whatever I need? I need my husband, I need my daughter.”
Mary began to sob. Jimmy Two Fingers walked over and knelt down in front of Mary, placing his hand on her hand.
“I understand what you’re going through, Mrs. Clancy.
What you need to understand is we’re here to help you, and your children. Please, I’m begging you, let us help you.”
“Very well then; I’ll wake the children. We will be ready within the hour. Can I ask where you’re taking us?”
“We can’t tell you that just yet, Mrs. Clancy.
You’ve lived in the Kitchen long enough to know that the walls have ears and eyes. For you own safety, we need to get you out of the Kitchen; then we’ll tell you where you’re headed. What I can tell you is it is a beautiful place, nothing like the Kitchen. You’ll be very happy there. And, you’ll be safe.”
Mary was true to her word, an hour later, she and the children, with suitcases packed, were ready to leave the only home they had known, and were traveling out of Hell’s Kitchen for the last time. The only item Mary took with her, other than her clothing, was her wedding picture.
With Jimmy Two Fingers at the wheel of the black sedan, Baby Joe, riding shotgun, literally, the family was heading to the mountains of West Virginia….and to safety.
The wedding chapel was like any other in Las Vegas.
Pay your money, pick a song, and, if you like, you can also buy a bouquet of flowers and a veil. Ten minutes later, you are pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Whoever. It was nothing like Vivie had imagined her wedding day would be like. Then again, she never imagined she would be pregnant with the child of the man who raped her and marrying a hired killer. All things considered, this did not seem like a bad deal. As nervous and hesitant as she was, Michael was the very picture of serenity….on the outside anyway. The chapel was crowded; there were six couples ahead of them. Who would have thought this many people who come to Las Vegas to get married. And this was just one wedding chapel in Vegas. Vivie wondered how many of the couples were sober.
“Are you ready to do this, Miss Clancy?” Michael took Vivie by the hand as they sat and waited their turn.
“I’m as ready as I ever will be. This is a big step, Michael, are you certain you want to marry me?”
“I’m certain, Vivie. I’m ready to be your husband and the father to that sweet child inside you.”
“Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you? How do you know this is going to be such a sweet child? Remember who the father is?”
“I know who the mother is. That’s all that matters to me, Vivie. And besides, for anyone who cares, I‘m the father.”
Vivie clutched Michael’s hand tightly. She felt truly blessed to have someone like Michael in her life. Forty-five minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Michael O’Bannon walked out of the little chapel.
“So, Mrs. O’Bannon, how would you like to spend your wedding night?”
Vivie looked at Michael, not sure what he was meaning, exactly.
“Relax, Vivie, I was talking about how you might want to celebrate. Usually the bride and groom have a reception. Since we are not afforded that luxury, I was thinking we would go stuff ourselves on a huge meal and maybe go to a movie, or we could hit the casinos, if you like. Would you be up for a little gambling, darlin?”
“I feel like my whole life is a gamble. But to answer your question, I think going to the casino would be a grand time. You’ll have to show me how to gamble, I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“It would be my pleasure. Let’s go have our wedding dinner first though, would that meet with your approval, Mrs. O’Bannon?
“I love it when you call me that, Michael. Yes, let’s go have our wedding dinner. I feel like I could eat the backside of a mule.”
“I think they will have something a little more appetizing than that on the menu, darlin. At least I hope so.”
Michael and Vivie had a delicious meal, and then made their way into the hotel casino. Vivie learned quickly how to place bets, and jumped up and down when she won the first time playing roulette. At 3:00 a.m., after cashing in their winnings, Vivie and Michael headed back to the suite. After Michael unlocked the door, he turned to Vivie and swept her up into his arms.
“Michael, what on earth are you doing?”
“I’m carrying my bride across the threshold, what does it look like I’m doing?”
Michael put Vivie down after entering the room, pulled her close, and kissed her.
“I love you Vivian O’Bannon.”
“I love you too, Michael.”
Vivie pulled away from Michael, suddenly becoming a little nervous, knowing that, this being their wedding night, Michael would expect to make love to her. Vivie wanted this, more than she even realized, but part of her, a small part, was uncertain. Uncertain if she could make love, even with Michael. The only experience she had was a violent attack, an attack in which she did not participate, only to lay there, wishing she could die. Michael could almost read her mind. He knew she was scared.
“What’s wrong darlin? You can talk to me, you know that.”
“Michael, I do love you so, it’s just that, I’m not sure I can make love to you tonight. It’s not that I don’t want to, I’m just scared, Michael.”
“Vivie, we don’t have to make love tonight. I do not want you to do anything until you are ready. We have time, darlin, plenty of time. You should not get yourself worked up about this. We’ll go to sleep tonight…or maybe I should say this morning, and we’ll see how things look tomorrow, for both of us.”
Mr. and Mrs. O’Bannon did go to sleep that night. As Michael said, they had plenty of time. This would work itself out. Michael would be as patient as he needed to be. Not only did he take into consideration what Vivie had been through, but also the fact that she is now pregnant. As Michael lay next to Vivie, holding her in his arms, his thoughts once again returned to New York. In a few days they would be heading home, but to what? Joseph would have her family relocated by that time. Would he expect him to relocate Vivie as well? Joseph wanted Vivie out of Michael’s apartment and out of his life. What if Vivie learns the truth about her father’s death, and the reason for it? Michael found himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Just a few short months ago, he had been a carefree bachelor, doing his job, living alone, and liking it that way.
The next morning, Vivie and Michael dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Neither of them mentioned the discussion of the night before, although it was on both their minds.
“What would you like to do today, Vivie?”
“I would love to go down to the swimming pool, Michael. It’s so warm here, so different than it is at home. Can we do that, Michael, can we go swimming?”
“Whatever you want to do, darlin. I think we may have to go purchase some swimming suits first.”
Michael winked at Vivie, causing her to blush.
The next several days the newlyweds acted as any other newlyweds might. Mornings were spent down by the pool, afternoons were spent shopping; Vivie’s new favorite pastime, and evenings were spent in the casinos. By this time, the morning sickness had passed and Vivie had the appetite of three men and a boy. Michael had never seen a woman as petite as Vivie, put away as much food as she had, the last several days. He teased her unmercifully, but Vivie knew it was all in fun. A week to the day after their arrival, while Vivie was downstairs in one of the many shops in the hotel, Michael received a phone call from Joseph.
“Lucky, how you doing out there in Vegas? Is the suite to your liking?”
“Hello Joseph, and yes, the suite is great, thank you again for letting us use it.”
“Are you free to talk, Lucky? Where is the girl?”
“She’s downstairs, doing some shopping. How are things in New York?”
“Good, things are good. We got the family relocated. Moved them to West Virginia.” Joseph laughed a deep hearty laugh.
“How did you come up with that?”
“Doesn’t matter. We got them moved and they are safe. Things have cooled down with the hit too. Has not been in the paper for a few days now. I think it would be okay for you to come home, Lucky.”
“Okay, Joseph, we can be on a plane tomorrow.”
“I need for you to come and see me when you get in, Lucky. We have some business to discuss.”
“Will do. See you tomorrow, Joseph.”
Michael hung the phone up and sat on the side of the bed, thinking of what reason to give Vivie for going home. He also wondered what business Joseph wanted to discuss with him. He was almost positive it would have something to do with Vivie. When Vivie returned to the suite, loaded down with packages, she could tell something was on Michael’s mind.
“Are you upset with me, Michael? Am I spending too much money?”
“Of course not, darlin. However, you know we will have to have some of this stuff shipped home. We’ll never be able to get it all on the plane.”
“Michael, is something bothering you?”
“Not really. I got a phone call from Joseph. He needs me back in New York as soon as possible. He said there is some business he needs to discuss with me. I am afraid we will have to cut our honeymoon short, darlin. We will need to leave for home tomorrow.”
“It’s okay, really, I’ve had a wonderful time here, but it’s always good to get back home. Michael, I have been thinking about something, something that I am sure has been on your mind as well. We haven’t consummated our marriage yet.”
“I told you before, darlin, we have plenty of time.”
“If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to wait until we’re home, Michael. Home in your big bed. The bed that you so lovingly watched over me when I needed it most.”
Michael put his arms around Vivie and held her tight. “That would be perfect, darlin.”
Vivie and Michael packed up and left for the airport at 6:00 a.m. New York seemed so far away. They had been so happy while in Vegas. Just Mr. and Mrs. Whoever on their honeymoon; where no one knew them or their history. Now it was back to reality, a reality that had Michael more than a little uneasy.
Once Michael and Vivie had arrived home, and Vivie was settled in, he left for his meeting with Joseph. Maybe it would not be as bad as Michael was thinking. Maybe Joseph just had another assignment that he needed to discuss with him. Whatever it was, he was about to find out.
“Lucky, come in, have a seat. How was your flight?”
“Not bad at all.
We got home about an hour ago. I wanted to get over here as soon as possible, Joseph. What did you want to discuss with me?”
“Like I told you on the phone, we got the family relocated. Now it’s time for you to relocate the girl, Lucky. It’s time you get her out of your house. The longer she stays there, the more chance the Westies will find out it was you that blew that cocksucker’s legs off. You can reunite her with her mother and the rest of the family. Here’s the address, or if you want, I can have a couple of the boys drive her there.”
Joseph slid a piece of paper to Michael with the address where Vivie’s mother is living on it. Michael placed the paper in his pocket.
“I can’t do that, Joseph.”
“Why the hell not?”
“She’s pregnant. It’s my kid.”
“Jesus Christ! You knocked her up? So what do you plan to do, get married and become a family man? You are a fucking killer, Michael. You can’t change that. You are what you are. You are not going to change. That’s all you know how to do. Give her some money, tell her you’ll send her money on a regular basis, but get the bitch out of your house, now, Michael.”
“There’s more, Joseph.”
“Fuck, I knew there had to be. What are you going to tell me now, that she knows you’re a killer and she loves you anyway?” Joseph voice was full of anger and sarcasm.
She knows. She knows everything about me.”
“Mother fucker! What the fuck is wrong with you? You used be smart, now you’ve turned into a fucking idiot. Tell me you didn’t tell her you work for me.”
“She knows; she knows everything.”
Joseph became silent. His face blood red. Standing behind Michael, Michael was not sure if Joseph was going to whack him right then and there or what was coming next.
“Did you stop to think for one fucking minute what telling this girl everything was going to mean?
She has become a liability Michael. I can’t let her live, you know that. She knows too much. She could be big trouble for the whole family. Now, the question is, are you going to do it or do I send one of the boys?”
Michael stood up to face Joseph.
“I’ll do it. You don’t need to send anyone. It’s better that I do it.”
“Then you better damn well do it, and soon. You have betrayed me, Michael. Of all the people I would expect to betray me, you were the last one I would have guessed would do it. I do not take this kind of betrayal lightly. You have a lot to answer for. You can start by getting rid of the girl. I want you to call me as soon as it’s done. You hear me, Michael?”
“I hear you. I will call as soon as it’s done.
Michael left Joseph’s office and headed for his car. What was he going to do? He could not kill Vivie, he knew that. He knew that Joseph would be watching him, waiting for the phone to ring, letting him know his orders were carried out. There was only one thing he could do. He had to tell Vivie the truth, everything, including that her father was dead and he was the reason why he was dead.