An Unlikely Errand
“If you look over there, you see?” A woman bounces from her seat, pointing toward a water feature. “You can see the new Swann fountain.”
The bus heaves forward, sending a slab of marble slamming into the seat ahead.
“Aye! Watch it, Gio! That breaks, and the boss will fuckin' chop ya nuts off." Marco shakes his thickly built skull at me. He leans back with a sigh. My nerves struggle to calm against his sudden outburst.
Vinny Milli reaches over and gives my shoulder a few pats. "Just keep it in place," he nods at the gravestone.
It was pure coincidence that Vinny Milli took me under. He needed someone else to help lift the gravestone into the car. That was it. That's what got me here. He sized me up in seconds and told me to get in. If Marco hadn't been late or someone else was ahead of me, I wouldn't be here.
I quickly tug at the massive piece, using my weight to keep it angled back. I look over to Marco as he watches the streets change.
"You let Freddie know where we left the car?" Marco asks.
"Ya. He weren't too happy hearing about it breakin' down," Vinny Milli replies.
"He scored it just a month ago. Lucky for us, this bus came by."
Suddenly, the bus jerks and slams on its brakes, throwing everyone forward. I plant my feet, fighting the momentum. Somehow the marble slab stays in place.
"Minchia!" Marco sits up as three men come barreling out of a car.
"Don't fuckin' move!" Marco and Vinny Milli run down the aisle of the tour bus. I stay put, looking around frantically. We were passing through another family's territory; of course, it happened to be one with beef.
I watch as Marco slams through the bus doors, gunshots firing rapidly. Screams permeate the air. My foot slackens, and I lose my grip. My face meets the rubbery seat with a sickening slap. I twist, trying to escape, the weight of the marble biting into my shoulders.
Just as I fall back, I watch as an unfamiliar face comes rushing down the aisle-gat in hand. I quickly hunker down, slipping my hand into my pocket. As the bull-necked guy comes across my vision, I shoot. The bus erupts in more screams amidst a cloud of pink mist.
Someone gets slammed against the bus, rattling the thin frame.
Shots spray across the back end, barely missing me. I jut forward as the guy twitches on the floor.
I shoot him again.
I look up to see Marco and Vinny Milli walking through the bus doors. Blood splatters cover their olive skin in patches.
"You eva' popped anybody before, Gio?" Marco glances down. For the first time, I understood the rumors about him. For the first time, I really believed them. I watch his square jaw relax as he heaves the dead body up. The grooves around his eyes drew in the shadows as a sly smile played across his cracked lips.
He was evil incarnate.
Vinny Milli leaned down, helping Marco drag the body off the bus. Nobody moved an inch. They understood. Somehow these people knew that this was a matter of war. They knew to keep their heads down.
I was just connected, but Marco and Vinny Milli? They are made guys.
"Only once," I answer Marco as he gets back. He slumps back down, eyeing the front.
"What are ya waitin' for?! Fuckin' go!"
An older man turns abruptly. He slams the pedal, sending us soaring down the road. We lurch forward with the suddenness. I once again position myself to protect the gravestone.
"Can't believe they tried somethin'. Must've seen us get on the bus. Hell, they probably fucked with the car." Marco grumbles low. His eyelids slacken as he stretches out his legs.
"I dunno, Marco. There weren't that many of 'em," Vinny Milli adjusts his cream suit- a look of frustration growing as his lips thin. He lets out a noise of disapproval.
"This is fucked. The funeral is tomorrow. They got no fuckin' respect."
Marco waves a hand, "Fuhgetaboudit."
The bus lunges. I keep the marble perfectly still, despite my body growing sore. A hand comes up to pat my knee.
"You did good, Gio. Clipped him real quick-like."
I nod at the compliment, and eagerness sears across my lungs, making my breaths quicken. I've been trying to prove myself for years. The bus eases to a stop as everyone turns to look at us. I glance out the window, seeing the massive gate I've known as the Don's estate.
"Grazie." Marco leads the way as Vinny Milli, and I carry the gravestone off the bus. We exit as the ornate metal gate opens for us to pass. I glance around seeing several men. One of them eyes me, holding a lupara with determination on his face. I swallow down sour bile rising through my aching throat.
The open front door of the enormous home awaits us. Vinny Milli leans in, slowing his pace.
"Keep your nose down."
A tall man with all the features of a serpent walks forward.
"Who's this?" His smooth voice echoes my concern.
"Gio. He's a friend of mine," Vinny Milli cocks his head in my direction. I feel my palms grow slick as my vision blurs. I find the fleshiest part of my cheek and bite down. Blood loosens my tongue.
"How ya doin'?" I ask. My words come out firm and confident.
"We'll see. No knicks on the marble, ya?" He questions, turning to Marco. The two of them disappear through the doorway.
Vinny Milli catches my gaze.
"I'll have someone take you back."
I nod, my stomach dropping.
We heave the marble to a designated table.
"I'll let Freddie know it's here." Marco makes for the stairs. He stops abruptly.
"Aye. Gio. See ya soon."