A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
Desi Grasso’s phone came alive with an electronic version of Ave Maria. After a pause, he answered it. “Speak.” His voice cracked and in his embarrassment, he knew nobody would ever mistake him for his Uncle.
“It’s Nick.” The metallic speaker made the voice more menacing. Desi recalled the expressionless eyes and asked, “Did you stake out Tony’s sister? Do you have him?” His Uncle taught him, always watch the family first.
A pause. “No, Mr. Grasso. Things are quiet except for a couple necking in a car across the street. Delores’ place is dark. You want we should break in? If she’s there we could… Let’s say I can make her want to cooperate.”
Desi felt a chill. The offer to interrogate Tony’s sister smacked of behavior he didn’t want or need. He liked to push the buttons and leave the rough stuff to the help, but he still shrank from violence, especially when it came to women. “Don’t let her know you’re there. Just watch another couple hours. If Tony doesn’t show, then report and get some sleep.”
* * *
Roya pulled her mouth away in time for Frank to breathe, then put a finger to his lips and peered over the seat. What made her run so hot and cold? The back seat of a full-sized SUV left room for almost anything but the plan was to stay alert and watch for Ferragamo, not turn it into a love nest.
Her breath in his ear: “Frank—two men watching from that car—no don’t look around—one’s getting out. Yes here he comes. I know him—” She shrugged the straps off her shoulders. Unzipped her jeans with one tug. Before Frank could register surprise, she pinned his shoulders against the seat, leaned forward against his chest and shoved her jeans low on her hips.
“Roya, stop it.”
“Shuttup.” She whispered it with a fierce edge. Wrapped a knee on either side of him. Let her spike-heeled sandals kick upwards. “It’s that Nick—Uomo’s attack dog. He scares me. Zombie eyes. Either we make this look real or we’re both as dead as his soul. Wrap your arms around me. Don’t let him see our faces.”
She kissed him just as light shown through the window—a lousy flashlight. The beam ran up and down the seat and Frank knew the guy was checking out Roya—watching like some kind of pervert. Frank’s anger at the intruder mixed with Roya’s advances brought on a rush of confused emotions. He still loved his estranged wife, but he found himself in a jam and Roya kept him alive. He never knew what to expect from her but he liked this dangerous woman and decided to follow her lead.
“C’mon Frank, at least try.” Frank went stiff when Roya shifted her weight and ran her fingers along his pants. She kept it up and soon he let go his reserve, drown in her kisses and forgot the intruding flashlight.
It finally switched off.
Roya immediately pushed away and spun around. Crouched over him, her eyes just cleared the window. “He’s checking the house. The other one’s still in the car. Frank, take your hands off me—this isn’t the right time. It’s business.”
“I am busy and business is looking up.” He tested the smoothness of her skin, running a finger down the small of her back to the few inches of exposed cleavage.
“She turned and gave him a smile. So I make you forget her after all, Frank? Maybe just for a moment? A poor Russian girl and only with a kiss.” She let out a light laugh and turned back to the window. “Frank, stop doing that. I’m trying to concentrate.” She reached back and brushed away his hands. “He’s coming.”
Suddenly she dropped on him, kissing him and that perverted light played across them again. Then her fierce whisper: “Make him believe this is real. Peel my pants down. Tug at my blouse. Run your hands over me. Surely you have not forgotten how?”
Frank felt his ears burn and knew she saw his blush. It had been a while since he was intimate with a woman. The light beam panned across them for a long time and she expected him to put on some kind of act while that perv watched and licked his lips.
Then it was gone again.
“Be alert.” She straightened his tie. “Drive away slowly. Wait—they started their motor. I have an idea—stay down.” She straightened her top. Zipped her jeans. Slipped off both shoes and used a heel to crack the dome light and crush the bulb. “Tatiana will forgive me for this.”
Frank squinted against the falling glass.
Roya immediately slipped out the door. Frank brushed glass from his jacket, peeked out the back and saw her exposed in the halogen streetlight, out of place, barefoot as if in a dream, her lithe form gliding to the cover of a huge tree. Frank imagined a leopard stalking its prey as she slipped to the next trunk. The goons in the car never looked her way. One talked on the phone. Then she ducked behind their car and Frank lost sight of her.
* * *
Ave Maria sounded and Desi pulled out his phone. “Yeah.”
“Nobody in the house, Mr. Grasso.” Nick’s voice. “The two lovebirds still in the SUV. We done here?”
“Wait for them to leave.”
“That’ll take hours. Don Grasso wants me early.”
“Don’t get sloppy, Nick.”
“Let me explain the situation to you, Mr. Grasso.” Desi thought he heard a hint of derision at the use of his name. Nick went on: “They’re taking their sweet time. After an hour playing around, the guy’s still in his suit, working her pants off. Could take all night. You want Pete and me should give him some help?”
Desi pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, don’t make noise and spoil our trap. Go get some sleep. I’ll put a wiretap on Delores’ phone. Likely as not Tony will call.”
“Nice tush on that broad. Shame for it to go to waste.”
Desi cut the connection.
* * *
Frank watched the big car pull away. Roya stood and sauntered toward him as if this were an ordinary evening. Her diminutive form moved through the shifting shadows of streetlights. In a moment, she was in the vehicle, and with her, the stink of gasoline, her fingers black with grease, arms streaked with it.
“Follow them, Frank—but not too close.”
He climbed in front and while he drove, rooted around for a rag, finally passing back a handful of fast-food napkins.
“Thank you, Frank. That was nice.”
“You said it was just a kiss.”
A long pause. Then, “I was thanking you for the napkins. Look.” Her hands stretched forward from the back seat, fingers splayed out. “Almost clean. I believe you really care about me.”
He focused his gaze on the street, suddenly angry, not knowing why. “What did you do to their car?”
“Just a small inspection. Seems their left rear brake line leaks bad and by the way, so does their gas tank. Maybe something unfortunate will happen—I really couldn’t say.” She sighed. “A woman knows nothing of these things.”
* * *
Tony sat in a tavern, drinking beer and thinking. The cops took it personal when the victim was one of their own. Chances of finding Frank Smith and that girl? Slim to none. He needed a place to lay low—a base of operations. Once the cops arrested Smith and locked him up, Uomo’s mob had him in their hands. He needed to keep tabs on the situation, but mostly he needed to wait and stay clear of the police.
Delores’ place? That’s the first place Uomo would look. He had a friend named Mario shacked up with some Mexican girl—Elsa something. Uomo couldn’t expect him there. No love lost between the Latin gangs and the Italian mob but Elsa’s brothers accepted Mario. Tony knew he could count on the guy. And Mario was always generous with his weed. His place was out in Aurora—a nice safe striking distance.
To get there, Tony had to steal a car or ride the West Line out of Union Station. After knifing the cop that place swarmed with angry men in blue looking for revenge. The notion of revenge gave him pause. Angry guys acted stupid, but anger meant motivation too. It needed some thought. He ordered another beer.
* * *
Agent Stan Harris ran a hand across the back of his neck and read the report one more time as if he could squeeze more information out of it. Time to accept the facts and stop second-guessing. No fingerprints. No weapon. The surveillance footage showed little enough but what he saw convinced him. Yeah, he was sure. Frank Smith killed that policeman at Union Station. Tony Ferragamo probably never left Joliet. New muscle on the street and an agent gone rogue.
How long did Roya Fetova stay undercover with the Russian mob before she turned? Two years? Three? Harris knew he couldn’t predict her movements without knowing her mission and now the Bureau had no assets left in that area—or did they? He’d check with Mahoney on that. This had to be important to activate a sleeper agent. “Hey Paul, what’s Russian for Frank Smith?”
“Gimme a minute.” In less than that, Paul dropped a printout on Harris’ desk.
Frank Smith, “Фрэнк Смит,” Phonetic: F•eenk Smit
Harris studied it. “See what you can find under that name. By the way, when did you learn Russian?”
“Didn’t. Just typed in into the Internet. Webster.”
Frank looked at him. “I can’t even pronounce it.”
HOW TO PLAY–This is an interactive story based on Nate’s game in my novel. You get to say what comes next:
1.) KEEP IT SHORT – It’s easy to play Nate’s game. Just enter your idea as a comment like, “their jeep drives off a cliff.” Don’t worry about form—just suggest the next step in the story. I’ll pick one, write it, and post it as a scene in serial form.
2.) KEEP IT CLEAN – I hold the veto pen. In general, if it wouldn’t fly in an old 60’s Bond movie, then it’s out. Since this is an experiment, I get to add rules as we go along.
3.) SHARE – Your posts are a precious gift to me. Maybe you’ll help write my next novel. If so, I’ll list your name prominently as a contributor. If not, then we’ll just have a great time. I take you at your word that all ideas are your original thoughts. No criticism. No arguments. No lawsuits allowed. Let’s have some fun.