Tom sat down and put his head in his hands after Ken left. What had Ken been thinking? How had things gotten so out-of-hand with him? Had it been the French Affair? God help him. He was on a downward spiral.
Tom picked up the phone and dialed. “Yes. Mario. Tell Vito I have a job. Yes. Both of you are needed. Damage control, yes. You’ll know what to do once I give you the assignment. Yes. Thank you.”
Mario and Vito were Mafia enforcers. Some would call them killers. Others, extortionists. Mario was known for meeting his intended target with a baseball bat, preferably one of metal. Still, he also liked his Louisville Sluggers as well. Nice solid oaken bats.
Vito loved crowbars and tire irons. He figured if his intended targets lived through that, they deserved to live. If they died, well, oh well. They didn’t need to go on anyway.
Normally, they were asked to put the fear of God into their victims, and it worked. But Tom wasn’t sure if that option was all that viable. These were targets who’d been beaten to a pulp before and not learned a damn thing. He didn’t think another beating would teach them a thing. He would leave it in the hands of the two experts.
It didn’t take much time for the two men to arrive at his door. Susie was not home, and he hoped she wouldn’t find out about this. He had promised her that he would never go back to that way of life. Yet, here he was, calling upon old connections.
Damn. He just couldn’t get away from it. No matter what he did or what he tried, he just could not get away from his past life. Perhaps he needed to move. But where to?
No matter which city he went to, they knew him. Chicago. L.A. New York. Baton Rouge. Dallas.
And the small towns were just as bad. The only difference was that most of the small town residents avoided him. especially those who knew who he was or what he had been. It made him uncomfortable.
He let Mario and Vito in. “You ready?”
Mario nodded. “What’s it all about?”
He looked at the Italian. “You remember Kendrick Wells and his incident a few years ago?”
The Italian nodded. “Yeah.”
Tom swallowed. “I didn’t tell you the whole story. Ken has gone insane. Violently so. He took it upon himself to protect a certain young lady. One that Toffer French’s son raped.
“Unfortunately, one of Toby’s minions survived his first annihilation of the gang. Well, actually more than one survived. I need you to finish what he started. I need you to go and make sure that those who are on this list,” he handed Mario a list of names, “can never cause Natalia Morrow any more grief.”
Mario smiled sadistically. “Understood, Boss.”
Tom reached into his desk and took out an envelope. “Your payment. And tell Samson hello.”
Mario nodded, then turned to go. “Don’t suppose we’ll be doing much more of this. Least not that anyone will notice. Eh, boss?”
Tom shook his head no. The two gangsters left quietly, and he was left with his thoughts. He hated doing things like this. But he was cleaning up a mess. Again.
He loved Kendrick like a brother. But Ken had somehow lost his mind somewhere along the line. He had become dangerous. Maybe too dangerous.
Susie Goldman arrived home at about five. She’d had a couple piano students that had taken longer than she’d planned, but she was happy to be home. She hated being away from Tom. He was her life, aside from music.
It had saddened her when they were told that they would never have children. She’d wanted to give him children so badly, and the realization that it would never happen had devastated her. Yet, he had remained a rock. In fact, he’d taken it a lot better than she’d believed he would.
His trademark smile and patented sense of humor seemed unshakeable. Even when she demanded that he leave his old lives behind. No more government work. No more shady connections.
She begged him to get a peaceful job. One that wouldn’t put him in harm’s way. Sure, it had all been good money. But money couldn’t buy a life back that had been lost.
She opened the door and entered their humble home. “Baby, I’m home!”
Tom emerged from his den and hugged her tightly. “How is my sexy wife?”
Her heart lept to her throat. It was always a thrill when he asked her that. “Better now that she is home with her handsome husband.”
He grinned. “How about dining out tonight?”
She looked up at him. “What’s the occasion?”
He looked at her. No use in lying or stalling. “Sit. I need your advice.”
She sat down, watching him as he sat across from her. “OK, what is this about?”
He looked down. “Kendrick showed up today and asked me to watch over someone he has been protecting for the past few years.”
She was listening. “Name?”
He looked back up. “Natalia Morrow.”
A shocked expression made its way onto her face. “Michael Morrow’s daughter?”
He nodded. “Yes. She was raped a few years ago by Toffer French’s son and a bunch of other hoodlums and was on her way to healing until one of them appeared in town. The ass delivered a letter written by the late Tobias French that included his dog tags. The bum was also carrying a list of addresses.”
She shook her head. “And the boy?”
Tom looked at her. “He’s dead. Ken killed him. Ken has been losing more and more ground. Psychologically. Anyway, the other possible threats have been dealt with as well. All that is left is seeing to the welfare of Natalia.”
She gazed at him. “What does it entail?”
He looked away. “First we have to go over to the Goodacres home and see what sort of repairing we’ll need to do where she is concerned.”