1.15 Business Arrangement with the Devil.
This chapter is Rated R (Language, Adult themes)
The past has a way of catching up with you… Just when you manage to let your guard down and finally allow yourself to feel a shred of happiness, the past decides to show its face and remind you that you will never truly escape your past. No matter how hard you try…
A bead of sweat made its way out of my beanie cap and began its journey down my face. I felt it pool at the end of my nose, then drop onto the steering wheel that was slick with sweat from my hands that clenched it so tightly my hands were white. I tried to relax my fingers, bending them slightly at the knuckle joints. To say I was tense was the very definition of an understatement.
I shifted in my seat ever so slightly, distinctly aware of the Glock in the small of my back, tucked into the waistband of my jeans, it was for this reason I was driving the exact speed limit, not a mile over or under to arise the suspicion of any cops I may pass. The last thing I needed right now was to get pulled over by the police…
I found myself in the bad part of town, only a block away from Madeline’s apartment. Madeline. Just thinking her name filled me with hope that everything could turn out ok. Madeline and the baby gave me a reason to live, and more than anything I wanted to take them away from this shitty city, and start somewhere new. To give them a life that they deserved.
I wasn’t a religious man. I was always under the distinct impression that if I was to walk into a church I would burst into flame for all that I’ve done wrong in my life, but now I couldn’t help feeling that it wouldn’t hurt to have god on my side. I sent up a silent prayer, and prayed that god hadn’t deserted me.
The smell of over flowing trash made my nose burn as I parked behind a rusty gate behind a heaping dumpster full of what smelled like rotting onions baking in the hot summer sun. I gagged, trying to breathe through my mouth instead, but nothing would help, the stench was overpowering.
I stared up at an old abandoned brick building, that seemed to blot out the midday sun like an eclipse. This building used to be a prosperous baby food canning company. Back when the economy was good this building used to boast a work force in the thousands, and the city prospered. Then the economy took a turn for the worst, and this plant was eventually shut down. The city never recovered.
My scalp prickled under my beanie cap as I stared up at the abandoned factory the memories flying at me hard and fast. My dad used to work here, back when I was little and had my whole life ahead of me. Things were good back then. My parents were happy, we were the very definition of the perfect Italian-American family, living the American dream, until the plant shut down. Everything changed after that. Life was never the same.
My footsteps echoed across the empty parking lot. The silence around me was so thick you could have sliced it with a sharp knife. Sweat trickled down my back as I pushed open the heavy iron doors, and stepped into the dark musty smelling plant.
“Hello?” My voice seemed to echo and bounce off the walls. “I’m here, just like you asked me to be.” I tried to sound confident, but instead I was shivering with dread.
“I am surprised you showed. Maybe you aren’t a coward after all.” A deep voice echoed all around me, making it hard to pin point the exact location it was coming from. He could have been anywhere. Once again he had me at a disadvantage.
“You made it hard not too.” I said neutrally, trying to keep my voice from wavering.
Slowly, my eyes began to adjust to the darkness, making out a silhouette leaning against the second story balcony. My blood froze. My grandfather looked the same. He hadn’t aged a year. Even from a distance I could see the cold glint in his eyes as he looked down at me from his position on the balcony.
He said nothing as he slowly made his way down the stairs, as if he had all the time in the world. I felt like a little kid again, fearful, yet eager for his approval. It was an awful feeling, and I felt disgusted with myself for my weakness.
“Mika, it’s good to see you. It’s been a long time yes?” My grandfather said in his booming voice, his dark eyes staring into mine. They were hypnotizing, and I couldn’t look away.
“Not long enough.” I managed to mutter, instantly regretting my poor choice of words, as I watched his eyes narrow just a fraction. I felt my body stiffen with fear. I hated feeling like this.
“You look good.” Grandfather smiled down at me. His voice was kind, but his eyes were cold, like a snake, and they glittered in the dim light that shone through the grimy factory windows.
I accepted the compliment with a slight nod, my shoulders tense.
“Your grandmother misses you. You never call, never write. She wants to see grandchildren before she dies.” Grandfather said smiling jovially. He may have had the outside appearance of a kindly grandfather, but his eyes told a different more sinister story.
“I’ll get right on that.” I said, my mouth set in a hard-line. I would never tell him I had a baby on the way. It would be putting Madeline and the baby’s life in danger.
“How is that pretty blond doing? Madeline, her name is, yes?” Grandfather smiled, his eyes were hard. He knew exactly what to say to get my blood to run cold.
“You leave her alone.” I growled, feeling my hands tighten into fists.
“I would never dream of hurting such a beautiful woman. That all depends on you Mika, my boy. I want you to come work for me, and I wont accept no for an answer.”
“I will never work for you. I want nothing to do with this family. You ruined my life. Ruined my dad’s life. Made his life hell. You’re the reason he started beating my mother. You’re the reason he and my mother are dead. Can’t you just stay the hell out of our lives? Haven’t you done enough?” I spat, hate flashing in my eyes like sparks.
“You ungrateful little shit.” My grandfather shouted. “Your father was weak, he had no balls. I offered him a chance of a life time to work for me, to follow in my footsteps, he didn’t have what it takes.” His face turned red, and he began to cough.
For a minute I felt hope, as I watched him hack up a lung. Maybe the old bastard would drop dead and end my worries. My family would be safe, but that hope went out like a candle in the wind as his color returned and the hacking stopped.
“All those cigars catching up with you?” I asked hatefully, my hands clenched into fists.
“I have lung cancer. End stage, doctors say I have a year, maybe more maybe less.” He didn’t sound sad, his tone of voice was no different then as if he was discussing the weather or his favorite sports team on television.
“There is a god after all…” I grinned, resisting the urge to cheer. “Go fuck yourself grandfather, leave me the hell alone. I would rather die than work for you.” I started to turn, when he grabbed my arm with a surprisingly strong grip spinning me back around to face him.
“How is Matthew these days?” Grandfather grinned down at me. “It would be a shame to have to pay him a visit.”
“You leave Matthew alone.” I stepped forward, going toe to toe with the man I hated most in the world. My little brother was all the family I had in the world, and I didn’t take a threat against him lightly. It was for that reason I could see no way out of this. For a minute I debated on pulling out the gun and shooting my grandfather dead where he stood. I reached behind my back and felt the cold metal against my fingertips, and knew I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t a murderer. I was better than this. “I’ll work for you.” I said finally, seeing no other way out of this. I felt my heart sink to my boots.
My grandfather patted my cheek like I was a little child who brought home a report card full of A’s. My cheek burned where he touched it, like I had been branded. “Good choice son. You’ll be hearing from me soon.” I closed my eyes with defeat as I heard him exit out the doors. A minute later I heard his car start-up, the tires crunching over the gravel as he left.
The sky was clad in grey as I stepped outside. The clouds were doubling up on each other menacingly, as I gazed upward. The smell of rain was heavy in the air as was the smell of ozone from the lightning, the expectation of the coming storm. A crash of thunder sent my heart racing.
I shivered, the rain sinking through my sweatshirt, the smell of wet cotton invading my nostrils. Finally, I forced my legs to move toward my car. I sat in my car for several minutes, listening to the rain drum on the metal roof of the car, the sound was thundering, but I was deaf to the noise.
My mind went way back to when I was only a little boy of nine or ten years old. Matthew would have been only seven, a thin little boy all knees and elbows. I remembered the day that everything changed perfectly. How could I ever forget it? It was the worst day of my entire life.
I remembered Dad coming home from work and dropping his jacket on the floor and just standing there dazed. My brother and I watched from the tops of the stairs knowing something was wrong, but didn’t know what. We were only kids.
“Honey?” My mom had asked coming from the kitchen a dish rag in her hands. “Your home early.” She went to hug my father, but he stood there limp, just like the dish rag my mother was holding in her hand.
“The plant shut down.” I remember my dad saying, his eyes were vacant, and his mouth trembled. I had never seen my dad cry before, and my brother and I hugged each other from the top of the steps, knowing that something was seriously wrong, but not knowing what.
“We’re broke.” My dad said sitting on the couch, his legs splayed in front of him. Then he began to cry.
Everything changed quickly after that. Our entire lives had been uprooted, and we were replanted in my grandfathers mansion. I remembered how small I felt standing alone in the foyer of my grandfather’s huge mansion who I had never met clutching my little brothers hand. Even then, I knew all we had were each other.
My dad went to work for my grandfather and I remember feeling excited. Dad had a job again. Maybe we could move back home and everything would be happy again. Instead everything got worse. Much worse….and life was never the same again…
I drove like a bat out of hell, this time not caring if I got pulled over with a gun in my back pocket. Since I had accepted my grandfathers business proposal, jail would be the most likely outcome anyways, and I was beyond caring.
To my relief, or disappointment, I couldn’t be sure which at this point, I reached my house safely. I ran inside slamming the front door, my chest heaving as I stood in the entry way my head in my hands, feeling my eyes well up with tears. My legs shaking like they were made of toothpicks too weak to support my body.
I threw myself on the couch not caring that I was dripping wet and that I had tracked in wet footprints all over the carpet. How could I care about anything again? I saw what working for my grandfather did to my own father, how it turned a loving family man into a vacant eyed miserable shell of a man that he once was. I would end up the same way. There was no happy ending for Madeline and I, but I knew that if I refused to work for him, he would go after Madeline, and then target my brother. Matthew. He was a good kid, only nineteen years old, who had put himself through Med school on a scholarship. I was so proud of him that it made my chest swell with pride just thinking about him. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but it was better this way.
What the hell am I going to do? I thought feeling my eyes fill up with unexpected tears. I had entered into a business arrangement with the devil himself. I could see no way out of it. Madeline’s life and my brother’s life depended on it.
I saw no other way but to pick up the phone and break up with Madeline, to tell her it was over between us. That I never loved her, that I only had used her. It would hurt, but what would hurt a million times worse would be to see the lights go out in her beautiful green eyes when I ended up in prison or worse. No, breaking up with Madeline would be the kindest thing I could do for her and the baby, as much as it killed me to admit.
I had no other option but to embrace the future of becoming the next drug kingpin of North Port City, the grandson of Victor Dimarzo, the mob boss of the North.
When I had created Mika in CAS, I thought he looked distinctly Italian when I was finished with him, and built up a little back story in my head about his past. Mika turned out to be more popular than I intended him to be. And instead of turning him into the bad guy, I decided to switch up the story a little bit. I ended up liking Mika so much it kills me to have his life turn out so shitty, but since I already had built up the entire story in my mind, I don’t want to stray from it, and decided to just plunge ahead. I can’t promise that you guys will end up liking what’s in store, but I guess that’s life yes? It doesn’t always end up perfectly wrapped with a pretty bow on top. Besides, I’ve learned to write for myself instead of just trying to write what I feel others want to read. I hope you enjoy the story anyways and will enjoy the drama that is still to come. 🙂