A Crowdsourced Novel
Read it here – Say what comes next.
At the sound of the door, Desi Grasso glanced from his computer and then looked again in earnest. A well-tailored businessman stood in the open doorway. Bald. Glasses. Old, yet he looked fit. How did this guy get past the guards? How did he get inside and reach the second floor of the shop without tripping the alarm? The thought of how that might happen sent an instant chill up Desi’s spine but he determined not to show fear. “Who the hell are you?”
The man strode into the office and placed a business card on the desk. He took a seat. Leaned back. Crossed his legs. Didn’t say a word.
Desi grabbed the card. Anthony Dmitri, Investment Counselor. Aon Building. Desi always wanted to move his operation there but Uncle Uomo was too cheap. The man in the suit exuded a nonchalant attitude except that he watched with an intensity that made the younger man squirm. Desi picked up the phone, glanced at the number written on his blotter and dialed Aldo’s cell phone. It rang six times. Then came the recording. Where were Aldo and the other guard? He cleared his throat. “How’d you get in here?”
The man’s eyes didn’t break contact when he answered in a mild voice. “Aldo Gionelli used to be a friend of mine.”
“He had orders to guard the place.“
“I didn’t meet much resistance.”
At that flat tone, Desi felt beads of sweat on his upper lip. He fought to keep control of his thoughts, of his voice. “What’re you tellin’ me here?”
“You’ll find Gionelli and his nephew outside. I’m an investment counselor, Mr. Grasso. My partners and I want to offer you a business proposition—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My team believes you’re ready to be your own boss.”
Desi turned the card over and over until he noticed the nervous tell and placed it flat on the desk like a playing card.
Dmitri went on: “Uomo Grasso is a powerful man but we think he’s old-school. We feel you have the intelligence and business acumen to step into his role.” He smiled. “Certainly you’ve thought about that from time to time, Mr. Grasso?” Dmitri got to his feet. He seemed to do it effortlessly for an old man.
“What connections you got, Grandpa?”
“It’s a rather large office. 9 a.m. Mr. Grasso. Don’t be late.” He walked out and closed the door behind him.
Desi stared at the door for a full minute before he regained control of his thought processes. First thing was to find out why those goons didn’t alert him. He lifted a snub-nosed revolver from his desk drawer and moved slowly down the metal spiral stairs, scanning the shop for this Dmitri guy.
Outside, all was quiet. No traffic, no guards. He paced around the building.
The night air chilled him and he zipped his leather jacket, then pulled out a flashlight and moved more slowly through the alley, scanning corners, windows, doorways. When he reached the dumpster, he lifted the lid.
Aldo’s eyes stared upward, a look of surprise frozen on his blue lips. The other body lay folded beside him. Desi almost lost his greasy pizza supper. He went back into his office. Locked the door. Sat at his keyboard. Googled Anthony Dimitri, Investment Counselor. The search lit the screen with the name.
He selected the first website. Professional. Complicated. It looked legit.
Ten minutes later, Desi’s hands shook. He poured whiskey in the bottom of a paper cup. Moved to the water cooler. Topped it off to the brim, then downed it in three gulps and poured another. He needed to think this out.
* * *
When he made three blocks from Desi Grasso’s electronics shop, Tony Ferragamo, alias Anthony Dmitri pulled out his phone and called Roya. In a minute, her car glided to the curb and he climbed in.
Tony just smiled. Easy—so easy. This businessman cover worked fine. Watching his words proved the only challenge. He’d done some acting before he got kicked out of high school and it finally paid off. Just like the teacher told him—nothing learned ever got wasted.
HOW TO PLAY–This is an interactive novel. Tell me what comes next. I’ll try to write it in.
1.) IT’S EASY – Just enter an idea, such as: “their jeep drives off a cliff.”
2.) KEEP IT CLEAN – In general, if it wouldn’t fly in a 60’s Bond flick, then it’s out.
3.) SHARE – If I publish, I’ll list contributors prominently. I take you at your word that all ideas are your original thoughts.