“So let’s slip into some rain gear and go take a look at the place,” Rich said.
Rich and Tommy slipped into rain gear and strapped on yellow Sou’wester fisherman rain hats. Tommy left the cabin first.
“I’ll be right up,” Rich said. “I’m going to turn of the heater.”
Rich was suspicious. For some reason he wants me to feel comfortable with him. He’s not the type to be in business with anyone. Rich opened the cabinet door beneath the sink. He reached to the back and below the bottom shelf and grabbed hold of his pistol. He dropped it in the inside pocket of his raincoat.
They walked to a boulevard. On the corner of one of the cross streets stood an empty building.
“What do ya think of it?” Tommy said gesturing. He walked over to a cinder block on the street corner and stood on it. “This place makes me feel ten feet tall.”
Rich stood next to him.
“I finally hit my growth spurt,” Tommy joked. “I’m taller than you.”
Rich smiled. He tilted his head from one side to the other and squinted his eyes.
“So,” Tommy said, “Waddaya think? You ain’t said nutin.”
“I’m not anywhere near knowledgeable on these types of things,” Rich said, “but if you are looking for an opinion, I’ll give you one; I see this as a really cool hotel. Will it be easy to convert?”
“I found an open door in the back, so I took a look-see,” Tommy said. “A man down the street said it can be bought for next to nutin’. How many two story buildings do ya see in this town? Let me answer; a hand full. This is one of ‘em. Up there, the second floor, a restaurant; in one direction ya see the bay and the other ya see the mountains. Look down at the street, drive-up rooms, more like a hotel, five rooms in each direction. On the one end a little pizza joint and the other a dry cleaner. What I don’t know about the hotel business, I know about dry cleaning and pizza.”
“So you’re saying you won’t be going with me, for sure?” Rich said.
“Yeah, cuz,” Tommy said, “You’ve done enough. You got your own problems without me adding to them.”
“You’re not a problem, Tommy,” Rich said. “You’re ballast.”
“Let’s go inside and look around,” Tommy said.”And by the way, I’m not ballast, I’m dead weight,”
Rich smiled turned away and was about to take a step toward building. Something warm splattered on his ear, there was distant crack, and the sound of something falling to the sidewalk. Rich wiped his ear. “Blood,” he thought looking at his finger. Rich turned. Tommy was gone. Rich looked down to the ground by his feet. It was Tommy laying crumpled and blood flowing from the back of his head.
Rich knelt down and lifted Tommy’s face. There was a gaping hole in his cheek. Rich’s first thought, “He’s dead!”
Rich ducked and ran for cover next to the building. Rich found an open window and climbed inside. He watched the street. There was no one in sight.
“They found us,” Rich thought. “How did they know?”
Rich reached inside his raincoat and gripped his pistol. He unlatched a side door and slowly crept outside. He hugged the wall as he moved slowly toward the street where Tommy’s body laid lifeless.
Two men walked quickly to Tommy’s body. They looked at each other as if puzzled.
Rich pointed the pistol toward them. “Put your hands up. I won’t miss this time.”
The two men held their hands up.
“We didn’t do this,” said the man with a mustache. “We were going to, but somebody beat us to it.”
“We don’t get it,” the thin man.
“Look, that was a rifle shot. Didn’t you hear it? It was from a long way off,” the man with a mustache said. “We got pistols.”
Rich relaxed his aim and held the pistol at his side. “I believe you.”
Rich walked up to them. “He was a good man. You wanted to kill a good man.”
“Look, kid,” the thin man said, “I don’t know what he told you, but what he got he deserved.”
“Tommy was a good man,” Rich said.
“Maybe Tommy was,” the man with a mustache said, “but the guy laying there is Angelo Marzetti.”
“All I got to say is that he and his brother Antonio did a lot of bad things,” the thin man said.
“Look,” the man with a mustache said, “we ain’t no angels ourselves, but Angelo was demonic, crazy. He may have changed, but he’d cut your heart out and feed it to his dog.”
“We wouldn’t risk our lives for a bum,” the thin man said. “There was plenty of legitimate reason.”
“Like revenge?” Rich said.
“Justice,” the thin man said. “I know you don’t understand it, but it was justice.”
“Who are you guys?” Rich said.
“Anglo killed my father and brother,” the thin man said.
“And he killed my sister,” the man with a mustache said. “He had a fascination with her; followed her all around and when she married somebody else, he killed her. He was sick and sadistic.”
“We swear to you, kid,” the thin man said.
Rich’s eyes danced back and forth suspiciously at their faces. Inside, he felt numb and empty. He pressed his lips and walked toward the Beyond. After a few steps he turned to the men. “Follow me.”
They walked behind a stoic Rich until reaching they Beyond.
“Wait here,” Rich said and boarded. He slipped below. He packed Tommys’ belongings in his suitcase. He grabbed a satchel full Tommy’s money. With bags in hand he emerged from the cabin, into the pilothouse, and onto the dock. He placed the suitcase and satchel at the feet of the men.
“In the bag is a lot of money,” Rich said. “I don’t want it. I think there’s some money in the suitcase, but it’s his belongings. If you don’t mind just burn them.”
“There’s something funny about this,” the thin man said.
“Yeah,” Rich said.
“That bullet in Angelo’s head was meant for you,” the thin man said.
“Tommy was shot while standing of a cinder block.” Rich said. “From a distance we looked the same in rain gear. I’m taller than Tommy, but not when standing on the block.”“
“High powered rifle at a distance,” the man with a mustache said. “You must be in it really deep. That’s a sophisticated hit.”
“You guys better get out of here,” Rich said.
“Thanks, kid,” the thin man said.
“For what?” Rich said.
“Besides the sore feet which I’m not thankful for,” the thin man said, “at least you didn’t whack us.”
“I turned my back to you and you were holding a pistol,” Rich said. “You could have used it on me. You’re businessmen, in your own world, and not killers.”
“We got nothing against you,” the thin man said.
“The guy who hit Anglo might figure out he got the wrong guy,” the man with a mustache said.
“He might be looking at me through a scope right now,” Rich said.
“Not really,” the man with a mustache said, “if he was you’d be dead by now.”
“You really better go, kid,” the thin man said.
“We’ll get your ropes,” the man with a mustache said.
“There’s one more thing,” the thin man said. “You got a lot of money or anything aboard your boat?”
“Yeah,” Rich said. “Why, you seem to know.”
“You kept it hid, right?” The man with a mustache said.
“Just a hunch,” the thin man said. “I think Angelo found it.”
“What makes you think that?” Rich said.
The thin man nudged the man with a mustache with his elbow.
The man with a mustache pulled another pistol from his pocket and held it for Rich to see. “We took this from Angelo’s raincoat. You weren’t ever supposed to make it back to your boat.”
“He knew about your money,” the thin man said. “Believe me, he was playing you.”
“He kills for money,” the man with a mustache said, “and when there’s no money involved he kills just to stay in practice.”
Rich climbed on board and started the engine. The lines were tossed on board by the man with a mustache and the thin man. Rich backed the Beyond away from the dock and steered toward the mouth of the bay.
“Zeke,” Rich said, “this is one of those things you just don’t try to figure out. If you do, it will keep you awake at night or you’ll drive into oncoming traffic, because you’re lost in thought. It can drive a man crazy. It has no beginning or end. And if it has none of those things, it has no middle. You can’t make right what doesn’t make sense. Zeke, I just want to settle someplace where things take shape. This seems to be a world without form or purpose.”