Read it here – Say what comes next.
Tony Ferragamo watched Nicholi “Nicky” Segovia stoop and inspect him. If this huge Teddy bear of a man was FBI, how did he fit in the picture?
Roya leaned against the kitchen table. “The gray hair isn’t good enough, Nicky. I’ll get the shears.” She left the room and came back with an electric clipper that looked like a leftover from a dog groomer. “Tonsure it.”
“Yeah.” Nicky nodded. “I think that should do the trick.”
Tony looked from one to the other. What’d they want? He should look like some kinda monk? “Hey, nobody cuts my hair unless I say so.”
A blow to the chest and Nicky shoved him back in the chair so hard he almost went over backwards. Tony cursed to himself. Maybe he’d get his chance at the big man later.
Roya’s voice took on an edge. “Sit still, Tony.” Then, in a softer tone, “Nicky specializes in disguise; that’s why I called him. You want invisible? Trust me. You’ll look like a different man.” The clippers already buzzed across the top of Tony’s head.
In a few minutes, the big man switched it off. “How does he look to you milashka?”
“Terrible. Such a shame, Tony—all that beautiful black hair.” Roya sighed. “I suppose it will grow back some day, if you live that long.” She smiled. “Something for you to look forward to?”
The big man’s voice: “Looks good to me—like he’s pushing fifty—gray fringe and that stubby goatee is more like it—salt and pepper, real natural. But those clothes don’t work and those alligator shoes have to go. I’ll see what we got.” The floor creaked when Nicky walked. He disappeared into a bedroom.
Roya licked her finger and ran it across Tony’s bald head, from his brow to the hair remaining in back. “So smooth. So distinguished.” She pressed her lips to his ear and whispered. “I like older men.” Then she stood straight and grinned.
What was so funny about it? There was his hair scattered around him.
Nicky plodded back, carrying a suit in one huge hand, a pair of cargo shorts in the other. “Business owner or weekend slob?”
Roya bit her thumb. “We do suit. It works better downtown.”
“Hey, no way I’m wearin’ that.”
“Not flash enough, Tony? And you who won’t drive even a Mustang?” Roya crossed her arms. “Still the rebel. Maybe the needle again?”
“I’m sayin’ it’s not my style.”
“Hey, tough guy.” The big man’s voice got deep and hard and Nicholi Segovia didn’t look so much the Teddy bear—more like a grizzly. “Your style is what got you found in the first place. Look at this.” He held up the suit. “Hart Shaffner and Marx. Finest thing in menswear. Made in USA. In Chicago, even.” He tossed the suit in Tony’s lap. “You’re gonna like the way you look.” Nicky made a menacing grin. “I guarantee it.”
Roya laughed. “Don’t mind Nicki. Half of what he says is a quote from a movie, an ad, whatever. I enjoy it. It kills the boredom.”
“I’m never bored with you, krasivyĭ. Nicky cocked his head toward the bedroom. “There’s a couple white shirts, hotshot. Button-down collars. Silver cuff links. Try the black wingtips. And one more thing.” He leaned forward and his huge fingers fit horned rimmed glasses on Tony’s face.
Tony carried the suit into the other room. He faintly heard Nicky ask Roya what color she wanted her hair. The shirt felt a bit tight around his neck and he covered the open neck with a rich paisley tie. Jacket fit fine—pants too loose. He found a belt to cinch up the waist. The shoes fit tight but not too bad. A glance in the mirror revealed a non-descript middle-aged businessman. Was this how he’d look in thirty years? Nobody was gonna recognize him this time. He stepped out of the room.
Roya sat facing him, Nicki behind her, lathering some kinda suds in her hair.
Roya drew in a breath. “Oh, Tony! So dignified, like tycoon. I just love it!” She wrapped a towel around her head and walked to him, buttoned his jacket and smoothed his lapels. “He looks like big money, don’t you think, Nicky?”
“What about the shoulder holster?”
“Never use one—too obvious. A pistol fits nicely in back.”
“Okay, try it and let’s see.” Nicky stared a few seconds before responding. Then he nodded. “That’ll do.” He turned to Roya. “You done with me? I been away from HQ too long.”
“So soon? I thought you’d be my driver.”
“Y’know, milashka, I trust you to get to the right place in the end, but how you get there—” He shook his head. “I got a feeling where you’re going next might end my career. This makes us even”
“Not quite, but go, Nicky. And thanks.”
When Nicky left, Roya rinsed her hair at the kitchen sink. “You like redheads, Tony? I picked out three new outfits that will be just right.”
Tony liked blondes, but he felt certain that Roya Fetova looked good in any color. “Whatever you say.”
* * *
They arrived in Oak Park at dusk. Roya drove by Desi Grasso’s electronics shop. “See anything, Tony?”
“Desi’ll be upstairs doin’ what he does with the computers. Go ‘round the block one more time.”
She did as Tony asked, driving slowly.
“There, down that alley. Turn at the corner. There’s another one of ‘em. Those guys aren’t Uomo’s men. Hey—that’s Aldo Gionelli. Since when does the Vegas mob work Chicago?”
“I’ll let you out down the street.”
Tony climbed out of the car and slowly walked down the sidewalk. His disguise was perfect and he knew it. He slipped into the alley, walked past the man, then abruptly turned, shoved the .22 pistol into his gut and without hesitation, squeezed the trigger. The body doubled over and fell to the pavement. Tony pressed the muzzle to the temple and fired again. He tightened his lips in satisfaction over the silencer’s efficiency, the lack of spattering from the small caliber round. Killing brought no thrill, no remorse. Just emptiness.
Out front, he approached the other gangster. “Hello Aldo.”
“I don’t know you. Get lost, old man.”
Tony brought his foot down hard on Aldo’s instep, then shoved the sport coat down over his arms. He lifted the man’s gun and pocketed it. “Let’s go where we can talk.” He pushed the goon toward the alley.
Aldo limped toward the space between buildings and Tony prodded him twice before they reached the dead man. Then Aldo stopped.
“Back to the wall, Aldo. Thought you’d be safe back here with you’re pal, didn’t ya?” Tony pressed his pistol against Aldo’s brow till his head stopped at the brick wall. The man sweated freely and the rotten smell made Tony sneer. “Your friend didn’t cooperate, Aldo. Maybe you’re different than him.”
“How do you know me?”
Tony almost felt bored—this seemed so easy. “Just answer questions. Why do I see Gionelli men on Uomo’s turf?” Might as well find out what he could before he turned out this guy’s lights.
Aldo shrugged. “Guess it’s no secret. Uomo needs protection. I’m protecting.”
Tony saw the fear in the man’s eyes. He’d seen that before. “I don’t know, you gotta believe me, just protection is all.”
“I asked from who. Don’t tell me you’re following orders. You’re close family in Vegas. Give me something I can use.”
“Please Mister. I don’t know.”
“You’re not playing ball, Aldo. You know how this goes.” Tony immediately fired three quick slugs.
The man dropped like a limp rag and Tony checked his pulse. Slipped Aldo’s gun back in his holster. Walked to the street. Down the block. Found Roya’s car. Climbed in.
“What’s next?” Strange. Why did it always get so cold after a hit?
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.