Just over a month since my last chapter. This one has been quite a labour to write. I expect a more rapid-fire posting rhythm to emerge, however. Enjoy!
Also, note that the Act number has changed from I to III... I'm signalling continuation.Episode ListAct III - Chapter 3 - 'Round About Midnight
The Pavano Family
They walked past the crowded tables to polite applause, finishing in the centre of the Linen Lounge's wooden dance floor. He wore a white suit and a shirt with a large and tight collar spread slightly to fit the matching white tie. She wore pearls, hanging exquisitely across her young and flawless neckline; and a pure white evening gown that looked like it had been stolen through time from a fifties film star. Staff fussed to attend them. Chairs were manoeuvred to seat them as a table came, held aloft over a courteous waiter's head, and was placed and laid for them in a fleeting moment. The Maître d' was at their side with a bottle of the finest blanc de blancs, aptly chilled on ice.
As Tommy Filippone was seated, the drummer started to tap a quiet mid-tempo beat on a single symbol. The faint jingle, drowned out by the settling applause, counted the keyboard and bass in. As the trio rambled through a twisting introduction of hybrid jazz melodies, a short black man in a cherry red suit strolled on carrying a trumpet. Before his lips could meet the mouthpiece, a slight ripple of applause signalled tribute to the little known legend in the crowd's presence.
A few knowing Wisemen were doing the clapping, perhaps none more though than Emilio Costa. He was seated to the right of the stage, one of many front row tables surrounding Tom Fil's, but aside from the main gathering around the centre of the room. With him sat Phil Bell of the Pegorino Family.
On the three tables to left of Emilio sat the cream of the crop of the Familia Pavano, the combined Caporegimes of the Family's Algonquin operations. Each of them wore black suits and the same continental collared shirt and white tie as Tom Fil'.
"Sally" was an unbecoming name for as mean a son-of-a-bitch as Salvatore Cassini. He was a beastly man; his hairy fingers pawed the cigar that he chomped around his blackened teeth. Next to him Riccardo Rossi, "Richy Rich", ran his gold ringed fingers through his fine grey hair as he laughed at Marco Zoff's loud-mouthed gags; the same jokes that made the twin on either side of him giggle with pink cheeks. The Hoff was reputed for his larger than life character, regardless that his wiry frame could not do justice to his moniker.
The next table seated Armando De Napoli. The shrewd and astute businessman had the unenviable task of hosting the dissimilar personalities of Roy Zito and Rocco Pelosi, invited guests from the Gambetti and Ancelotti crime Families' respectively. A task he performed with panache and a constant flow of champagne.
The band dropped a key as the red-suited trumpet player launched into a snaking series of solos spanning genres with deft ability and limitless talent. With the shift in the music, Harry Hall stood from his table with Alberto "Bleeder" Zambrotta; a name he got, not for being violent, but for his favourite burger. The Messina Family Underboss excused himself, indicating to the final front row table. "Gonna go pay my respects."
The last table was most detached from the rest and, in the corner, at a distance from Tom Fil's centre spot. To the side of the stage it offered perhaps the worst view of the performance in the room. However, from here, Maria Valvona was allowed the full panorama of the Pavano Family's gathering to mark Tommy Filippone's induction to the ranks of made men. She sat with Arthur Zapulla, Consigliere to the Family and her ex-lover.
"Your taste, as ever Maria, is exceptional," he said, placing the glass of burgundy red wine back on the table.
"Stop it, Arthur. You saw me ask for the most expensive. Taste has nothing to do with it." She waved a hand his way, part dismissive and part flirtatious.
"The exceptionality of your methods may be under scrutiny; but the results cannot be so." Arthur's smarmy tone drew a condescending look which gave way to a coy giggle as he charmed the older woman.
"Hey," snapped Arthur. "I'm just trying to get you to stop lookin' at him."
Maria glanced back to Arthur with a shocked expression. "I wasn't!" she protested, realising she had been caught gazing in Tom Fil's direction.
"You bin' doin' it since he walked in. Gonna' creep the poor kid out, he's already nervous enough tonight." Arthur spoke firmly to Maria. He was perhaps the only person fit to do so, and could see when her mind had drifted to her surreptitious young lover.
"What's she got that I don't, Arthur?" Maria questioned the beauty that sat opposite Tommy.
"What, other than youth?" Arthur's jest drew another waft of Maria's hand, this one less flirtatious and more attacking. "Innocence," he added.
Maria smiled at her old friend with a gracious knowing. "A toast," she said. "To two things you can't buy back." As the two sipped their wine, Harry Hall approached with a genial grin and a hand out-stretched to receive Maria's.
"I don't f*ckin' get it," said Tony T. Their table near the back of the room quantified their significance in the Family. "It don't really got a tune that I can tell. Is he gonna sing or somethin'?"
Jimmy Borgetto pushed his head into his hand, pained at his company for the evening. "It's jazz, you f*ck-head. This is what they do."
"I still don't get it," protested Tony T. "Jus' sounds like he's f*ckin' around on that trombone."
"Maybe it's from when your Ma dropped you," mocked Tony B, seeking a response from his dimmer companion.
"She did not," Tony T responded, defensively.
"Did so," continued Tony B. "She was tellin' me about it other night. Bit of pillow talk between rounds."
"F*ck you!" shouted Tony T.
"Ladies," interrupted Vincenzo Luca. "You gonna keep ruinin' this wonderful evenin' for me, or do you wanna shut the f*ck up?"
"Sorry, Vince," said Tony B, quick to seek an understanding with the garage's muscle.
"Em's up," observed Jimmy. "Goin' over to Maria's table." The four of them watched as Emilio approached the Family's Don. And Harry Hall, having paid his respects, head over to Tom Fil', kiss him on the cheek, and then pass him a thick white envelope.
"Maria," Emilio said in greeting. "Hey, Arthur, it's good to see you."
"Always a pleasure, Emilio," responded Arthur. "You like the band?"
"Yeah, seen 'em here a couple 'a times before. The guy sure knows his Miles." Emilio lived a second life as an aficionado of jazz.
"What's with the shirt and the tie?" enquired Arthur.
Emilio placed an awkward hand on his blue tie. "Yeah," he began, "my shirt's at Sophia's. An' this tie is all I got at the garage."
"Don't take this badly, Em," Maria interjected. "I was talking to your Jimmy earlier and he said you've slept at the garage all this week."
Emilio halted, caught off-guard by the observation made by his right-hand man. "It's nothing. It'll blow over."
"You wanna sit?" asked Arthur.
Emilio raised both hands in protest. "I don't wanna keep you. Jus' wanted to let you know how things been."
"Sure thing," responded Maria, accommodatingly. "You were down in Las Venturas last week, yeah?"
"Pretty big win, Maz," Emilio answered. "Think I might need to take the boys some time." He indicated to where his crew were sat.
Maria nodded, recognising the assiduous efforts of Emilio. Arthur raised a single hand in polite caution. "Watch you don't get in too deep with the gamblin', you get me?"
"Its fine, Arthur," responded Emilio.
"Jus' know your limits, okay." Arthurs tone was chilling and sobering. Emilio nodded in appreciation before making back to his table.
"That wasn't called for, Arthur," Maria rebuked.
"Alchy running that side o' the business," Arthur whispered in response. "Then he goes and brings f*cking Phil Bell to tonight? If he can't manage sh*t at home whats..."
They were interrupted by the appearance of Rocco Pelosi; his unruly and animated form greeting the two of them in a vulgar manner.
"Nah, it's a trumpet you 'tard. Trombone's got the slidin' thing." Vinny cupped his head in his hands again as Tony B attempted to convince Tony T of his fallacy.
Emilio walked passed them and to the bar, holding two fingers up to the barmaid. He knocked a single back before carrying the second brandy away. Approaching his crew's table, he spotted a bottle in front of Tony B.
"The hell do you think you're doing?" Emilio shouted. With one hand he smacked the bottle wildly and aggressively, its contents spilling over the table, dousing the candle in the centre, and splashing over Jimmy Borgetto's shirt. "Drinking? You forget that you're working tonight?" Emilio's shouting drew attention from across the room. "Or did you just think that you'd get drunk before?"
"But," Tony B attempted to defend himself. "It was only water."
Emilio stormed away from the table, disregarding the protests behind him. Tony B rose to follow Emilio. But, as he did, Jimmy Borgetto stopped him with a heavy palm on his chest. "Don't," he cautioned.
A steady breeze blew from the direction of Bohan, cooling Emilio's breath to a fine mist as he exited the fire escape of the Linen Lounge. He placed a hand on the steel rail to support himself as he rocked uneasily with a drunken sway. Drawing deep breaths, Emilio focussed intently on the passing cars: their headlights stinging his bleary eyes. He shifted his weight to his forearms, leaning forwards and resting them on the rail. He stared through the gap between his arms and searched visually for his feet as the concrete steps twisted and rotated beneath him. He leaned further forwards as the blurry vortex enveloped his shoes; almost squatting as he tried to get closer to them, reducing the distance between him and his focus point.
Was his lace undone? Emilio couldn't quite tell. He squinted to try and shift the fuzz, but it became no clearer. With one hand he reached to swing for his shoe. Frustratingly, his arm wasn't long enough. Gawping at his blurry shoes, and with one arm propping his nauseated body up, Emilio felt himself lurch. He swallowed something disgusting, before lurching again. Closing his eyes as he did, Emilio felt the liquor-laced torrent gush from his mouth. He groaned as he rocked his forehead on his arms, his eyes still closed, and felt a gooey dribble ooze across his lips. His feet were wet. It didn't matter about his shoelace now, he told himself.
Jimmy Borgetto emerged into the cool air to see Emilio lurch and vomit again. "Aw, sh*t," he muttered under his breath.
"Hey, boss," Jimmy said. "You alright?" He tenderly approached Emilio carrying his own leather jacket, outstretched to place over his shoulders. "It's raining, you wanna come back in here?"
Emilio looked up, not at quite Jimmy, but away from the floor. Noticing, for the first time, that it was raining, he stood upright and stumbled back towards the club. A bouncer had followed them out to see what the problem was.
"He can't come in here," the black-suited muscle said, directly and definitely.
"Who the f*ck," shouted Emilio, "do you think you are?"
"I'm Luis. Who the f*ck are you?" the bouncer responded. "Are you Jesus?"
Emilio looked confused at the bouncer. Jimmy Borgetto did his best to stay unconnected to Emilio, regardless that he was holding him to his feet.
"'Cos if you are," continued Luis, "that's fine. But otherwise nobody who's shoes are covered in their own puke's gettin' in this club."
"Lemme just go get his coat," Jimmy asked the bouncer.
Just as the situation was becoming tense, a large paw opened the door from the club. "Jimmy," said Salvatore Cassini in an affable growl. "I think you got sh*t to do. I'll sort Mr Costa out."
Salvatore didn't have Emilio's coat, but Jimmy wasn't going to make an issue of it now. He slipped passed the bouncer who eyed Salvatore with concern. "F*ck. Off." Sally spoke methodically with a deep and gravelly voice, leaving no question that the bouncer should find something else to do. Shaking his head, Luis disappeared back into the club.
"Hey, Sally," said Emilio as a large grin spread across his face.
Sally put a firm and beastly hand on Emilio's back, guiding him towards the steps. "Sit down," he insisted, forcing Emilio downwards onto the wet concrete. "You're a f*cking state." Salvatore Cassini didn't mince words. "So, it's pretty simple. Maria's asked me to run some things from your place for a while. You're gonna get back with Sophia, or you can shoot the bitch in the face. I don't give a sh*t. Just sort your crap out before I end up stuck in f*cking Alderney full time." He rubbed his chin roughly, a scraping noise resulting as his tough palms rasped his evening stubble, and chomped his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other.
Emilio had heard half of what Sally had said, and not understood half of that. He grinned back at Sally: a confused response to a drunken haze. "Twotone," he murmered. "They're doin' somin' tonight."
"Already left," replied Sally. "Don't you worry your f*cked little head." Sally smiled at the humorous state of his drunken friend. "Now let's get you home."
Edited by Maverick24, 27 July 2010 - 12:18 AM.