There was no way Pavel wanted Phillip Mancini in jail. He had plans for Mancini that didn’t include his son’s arrest. If he was going to see the old man feel the pain he’s endured all these years, he needed to get his son out. There were more important uses for Phillip.
He didn’t want to involve anyone else in his revenge. He felt guilty making the telephone call to the detective’s wife, but it needed to be done. He knew the police were now forewarned that someone wanted Phillip Mancini out of jail. He realized that they would immediately think it was the family. It was…in a way. It just wasn’t a blood part of the family.
His hope was the detective would back off and maybe go even as far as to tell the district attorney that Phillip was falsely accused. He wasn’t sure if it would work, actually he highly doubted it would, but it was worth a try. He had to find a way to show Mancini he was doing his job. He didn’t need any suspicions surrounding him as far as the family went, especially the old man.
His action was from a call he received from Carlo, requesting him to do something to get Phillip out of jail. The family thought he was performing on their behalf. Little did they know he was reaping his own reward. He was allowing them to think he was aiding the family. When he acted, it would be for his gain and his gain alone. He couldn’t seek his revenge if Phillip was in jail for murder. It was now or never.
As Pavel put on his jacket and reached to open the door, his telephone rang.
“Boss wants to see you,” was the response he got after saying hello.
“I’ll be right over.”
“No, not at the house. It’s being watched.”
“Watched?” Pavel asked.
“Yes, are you that surprised? Happens all the time. You should know that. Be outside your house in five minutes.”
Pavel knew he couldn’t say he had plans and wasn’t available. That was just not something you told the boss. When he told you he needed you in five minutes, it better not be six minutes later that you show up.
“Fine,” he responded and hung up.
As he sat on his front steps, a long black limousine slid to the curb. The windows were tinted, but Pavel knew who it was. Ever since he could remember, the boss never drove himself around and he always had a black Cadillac. This time was no different. Carlo lived his life just like the crime lord depicted on television. It actually made Pavel laugh in derision.
The passenger window rolled down and a deep, gruff voice barked, “Get in.”
He did as he was told and sat down facing Carlo Mancini. To Carlo’s right sat Roberto, his personal bodyguard. Pavel didn’t know his last name and didn’t care to. He didn’t need to know because Roberto was unimportant in the scheme of things. All Pavel needed to know about Roberto was how accurate a shot he was and how much weight he could lift. All other personal details were not necessary.
For the first few miles no one spoke. Finally, Carlo broke the silence.
“I’m getting old, Pavel.”
“No, not yet, Boss,” Roberto answered.
“Was I talking to you?”
“Now, as you know my figlio is to take over after I’m gone. We all know I’m not long for this world. My upcoming surgery will be fine, that much I know. After all, it’s just a hip replacement and we all know I don’t need to walk to rule this organization with an iron fist.”
He started coughing and grabbed his handkerchief out of his breast pocket. Carlo was the sort of man who was always in a full three-piece suit, complete with a monogrammed handkerchief neatly placed in the pocket of the coat.
“My doctor told me the other day that I have liver cancer. They call it hepatocellular cancer, a name I can barely even say. Fortunately, mine is just a single tumor, or so they tell me. What does it matter? Single, multiple…whatever. It’s still going to kill me. How’s that for kickers, huh?”
Pavel tried to find something positive to say. Truth be told, he was glad the old man was suffering from liver cancer. It couldn’t have come at a better time. He was finally at the point to make the old man pay for the murder of his parents. It was reassuring to him that Carlo would still be around to feel the same heartache Pavel has lived with for many years. The only thing that bothered Pavel was that Carlo wouldn’t live enough years to really experience the destruction of his family and empire.
“I’m sorry to hear about the cancer, Sir. You still have many years left. It won’t kill you tomorrow,” Pavel told him.
“Ah, this is true,” he agreed, pointing his index finger in the air.
Carlo pressed a button on the side of the doorframe making the middle window between them and the driver quietly slide shut.
“I am not just droning on endlessly about my health, Pavel. There is something we need to discuss. We’ve already spoken about you aiding Phillip as you have helped me all these years. I want you to be his right hand man as you have been mine.”
“I know, Sir.”
“There’s more. I trust you, so I want you to become part of this family.”
“I already feel as if I am.”
“No. I mean, yes, it has been as if you are part of my family. What I mean is you will become my genero.”
“What? Your son-in-law? What in God’s name…?”
“Exactly as it suggests,” Carlo cut him off. “Are you completely stupid? You will marry Teresa.”
At this statement, Roberto whipped his head up and gave Pavel a look that could kill. It was widely known among the family that Roberto was in love with Teresa and her him, but her father forbade a relationship to transpire between the two and no one, not even a blood relation, dared to defy him.
“You want me to marry your daughter?”
“Finally you catch on! Sometimes I wonder about you, Pavel.”
“Why do you want me to marry her?”
“I don’t need to answer to anything or anyone. However, since you’re going to be my son-in-law, I’ll answer that…I trust you.”
“What about Roberto?”
Roberto now glared at Carlo.
“Posh,” Carlo waved his hand in the air and then looked at Roberto. “Roberto knows he is not good enough for my figlia.”
“Come on, Boss, at least I am Italiano, no? He…he is Russian.”
“Shut the fuck up, idiot!” he yelled at Roberto. “You are worthless and spineless. My Teresa needs a man who can take care of her. You cannot even properly care for your shoes. Look at them.”
Carlo pointed down at Roberto’s scuffed black shoes and with disdain written all over his face, told him, “I would be ashamed to have you as a son-in-law.”
Roberto sat there mortified, not daring to respond.
“Ah, yes, Pavel, you are the one to marry my precious, innocent Teresa. I know she will be safe with you.”
“With all due respect Sir, I don’t want to get married.”
“It will all be arranged. Teresa has already been told.”
“What does your daughter have to say about all this?” Roberto inserted.
Carlo gave him a look that would have frozen boiling water and said, “She does as I tell her to do. She doesn’t need to say anything. Why are you questioning me at all, you little vermin?”
Carlo pressed the button and the window between them and the driver rolled silently down.
“Stop here,” he demanded.
“You’re dismissed.” He waved his hand in the air, signaling Roberto to leave his presence.
“Here? How will I get back?”
“That is your problem. Now, get out.”
With a hateful backward glance at Pavel, Roberto uttered under his breath, “Stupid asshole.”
He opened the car door as it came to a halt and stepped out onto the sidewalk.
Carlo slid the dividing window shut again.
Pavel had a feeling Roberto would be trouble. It was apparent that Roberto loved Teresa and Pavel doubted he would accept this wedding without a fight. Knowing this, he needed to be on constant alert.
“Sir, with all due respect, I really don’t know your daughter. I’ve had little contact with her over the years.”
“That will all change. You will start courting her immediately. Get to know her. I’m sure you will come to love her soon enough. I have ordered her to take cooking lessons so she’ll be fit as an Italian wife should be; do not worry.”
“I don’t know…”
Carlo cut him off, “You will not question this, Pavel. It is a done thing. I should have had you marry her years ago.”
“I still don’t understand why.”
“What do I have to do draw you a picture? She needs someone to look after her. She’s a bit wild yet, but she will calm down soon enough. Her brother will be too busy filling my shoes to be there as much as she needs someone to be. She must be protected, and who better than Phillip’s soon to be right hand man?”
“Are you trying to piss me off? Do not argue with me. You should know better! Now, I’m an old man and God knows what will happen to me. Maybe it will be the liver cancer which will kill me first, maybe it will be one of my many enemies. I don’t know. What I do know is you’re going to marry my Teresa and it will be before I leave this God-forsaken world.”
“Sir, I do believe Roberto loves Teresa and may cause problems where this arranged marriage is concerned.”
“Pavel, you bring me shame. I thought you were brave. Are you going to let a mindless, good-for-nothing, piece of meat like Roberto scare you? I thought you had bigger gonads. I hired you because I believed you did. Besides, Roberto knows better than to interfere with my plans. This isn’t a wish, Pavel. It’s an order.”
He knew what Carlo was referring to about Roberto knowing better. Should he dare to defy Carlo, Roberto would be lying at the bottom of the river with cement shoes on, or shot between the eyes and left for dead in a back alley somewhere. Even though Pavel was sure Roberto knew what the consequences of his actions would be should he try anything, he still didn’t trust Roberto. Not at all.
Pavel bit his tongue. It was useless to argue with Carlo any further. When he made up his mind about something, it would take Hell’s terror to change it.
There was no way he was going to marry Teresa. He loved Felice, and soon, she would be his. He didn’t need Teresa standing in the way. Pavel figured it was time to hurry his plan along.
“When are you wishing this wedding to take place?”
“Soon. However, this wedding cannot happen with Phillip in jail. How are you progressing with getting him out?”
Pavel was in a quandary. He wanted Phillip out of jail to proceed with his plan on getting revenge on Carlo, but now the situation was more entangled. He didn’t want Phillip out of jail because Carlo would insist the wedding take place as soon as Phillip was free.
“I’m getting there. I disguised my voice, called the detective’s wife and threatened her.”
“So? Exactly what do you think you will accomplish by that?”
“I am trying to get to the detective who arrested him.”
“So?” he angrily asked again.
“I’m sure he realizes we want Phillip out of jail. By threatening his family, I believe he will become afraid of the Mancini family and back down.”
“Oh, you think so? You tried to put the fear of the Mancini’s in him, huh? I happen to know that this detective is a hot head and has it out for the Mancini family, as do a lot of people. It won’t work.”
“I’m hoping he’ll be afraid enough for his wife that he relents.”
“Listen to me, Pavel, because I will only say this once. You better do more than that or you can kiss your own ass good-bye. Capici? Don’t fuck with me!”
He knew Carlo wasn’t kidding. If Pavel didn’t do what was requested of him, and soon, Carlo would not be a happy man. It was time he upped his ante and called in some favors, but that meant marriage.
Pavel silently grunted at his dilemma.
“I will. I’ll make it happen. Don’t worry.”
“See that you do,” Carlo gruffly replied. “This discussion is over.”
Once he arrived back home, Pavel immediately went to his safe, securely stashed under the floorboards of a hidden closet beneath the stairway. He took out a notebook and began to jot down his daily notes, adding to the ones he penned in the night before. He went to his copier that was set up in his study and copied a fresh set. He sealed them in an envelope marked ‘Felice’ on the outside and put them back in his concealed spot. He then put the original documents in an envelope, sealed it and immediately called his contact.
“We need to meet, now,” Pavel said as soon as the telephone was answered.
“Yes, be there in fifteen minutes.”
* * * * *
“We need to talk.”
Pavel met his contact at the usual dinghy bar on the upper east side of the city. The only people who drank at Finnigans were local alcoholics who were usually drunk before they even arrived.
Pavel steered Nick towards the back, passing the bar on the left and an area to the right that held small round tables and chairs. At the moment, the tables were empty. The floor was littered with last night’s remnants of stale peanuts and old popcorn. The owner apparently didn’t pride himself with the cleanliness of his establishment.
The bar was almost the full length of the room. The few customers who were actually there at this time of the day—which was not quite four o’clock in the afternoon—smelled of body odor with a stench of alcohol permeating their clothing, adding to the air of disgust. They walked past the bartender who was sitting on a stool watching a program on a small television set that was stuck in the corner of the bar. He nodded at the bartender as they passed. The owner knew who they were and the bartenders and waitresses knew never to question their appearances.
Pavel positively hated this hell-hole they called a bar, but knew it was a place he wouldn’t be found. Turning left at the end of the bar, Pavel opened the door to the back room. He found it empty and plopped himself down in the old, worn, leather chair that creaked when he sat. Nick stood and looked at him.
“Well? Are you going to tell me why the hell you needed to meet on such short notice? You know it’s not protocol.”
“You and your protocol can kiss my ass,” he muttered.
He was getting tired of playing the game. It has been many years of the same façade and he wanted it to end. He was so close, and now too much was at risk. It was more than his revenge, it was Felice and the baby, too.
“Spit it out, man. I’ve got things to do.”
He took out the envelope that contained his latest notes and slid it across the desk to Nick. Pavel told him of his latest meeting with Mancini and what was now expected of him.
“So, marry the girl. What’s it going to hurt?”
“Are you crazy? I’m not marrying Teresa. You better find a way out of this for me!”
“Look, you can always get a divorce if you later feel you don’t want to be married to her. Frankly, I’ve seen the girl, she’s hot. Nice body. I wouldn’t mind bedding her,” he chuckled.
“Then you marry her. Hot or not, it’s not happening.”
“Well, what do you suggest?”
“That’s your job. I’m doing mine, start doing yours.”
“What’s the big deal? What’s really going on here, Pavel?”
“You know damn well what’s going on. I am not getting married. How many times do I need to say it?”
“I’ll talk to the others and try to figure something out. In the meantime, I suggest you do what Mancini wants you to do. How’s it going with Phillip?”
“Same. He’s in jail. Can you get him out? Don’t you know anyone who can help?”
“I’m trying. It’s not that easy. Let’s just say my friends are not cooperating. We are after all, talking about the Mancini family and no one wants to get involved.”
“Get them involved. As much as I don’t want it to happen, we need Phillip out of jail.”
“What’s your hurry?”
“My hurry? I have Mancini breathing down my neck. If I don’t get Phillip out and soon, you’ll find me and some heavy ankle weights some sixty feet under those murky waters we call our lake.”
“I’m doing what I can. In the meantime, hang loose. I’ll get back to you.”
Nick picked up the envelope from the desk and turned to leave.
“You do that. I’ll expect to hear from you soon,” Pavel said.