Friday, July 7, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 39 & 40

& Carlos Makes His Move

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 39. Germany

Tom drove the lonely mountain road into the small German town that Hans and Gert Duman had called home for so many years. Not that Tom was expecting to find anything in the town – like a monument to the passing of Mary. No, nothing so grandiose. He carried the monument in his heart, his deep feeling of loss and of guilt. He was hoping the trip would help him get past Mary’s death, or at least past the guilt he felt for not being with her.
    The letter from Edna Wienhus laid open the memories he had tried so hard to bury, but each night his memories of Mary came visiting. He had trained himself not to think about Mary during the day – only at night did she haunt him. Edna’s letter had changed all of that, and now the pain felt fresh again.
    Tom had wanted to go to Mississippi and visit Mary’s grave, but had put off going to Pine Hill Cemetery, where they had buried what was left of Mary after the fire. He was in rehab the day they brought her remains back from Germany. Now he wanted to walk in the steps she had taken while alive. He wanted to see what she had seen. He wanted to feel what she felt. The truth was that he wanted Mary back! They had wanted to have all this time together.
    Tom stopped at the address that was on the letter. He parked the car and walked to the door. A short German lady answered his knock.
    “Hello, my name is Tom Warring. I’m sorry, but I don’t speak German. Do you speak English?”
    “Yes, I do. Mr. Warring?”
    “The people who lived here, was their name Duman?”
    “Yes, they were, Mr. Warring. Please come in, I am Edna, I wrote you the letter.”
    “Thank you. By the way, you never said if the police had arrested anyone for the deaths of your aunt and uncle.”
    “The murderers of my aunt and uncle are still unknown.”
    “I’m very sorry for your lost. The three of them dying so close together couldn’t be coincidental. Did you know Mary?”
    “No, I never met her, but my aunt spoke of her often.”
    “You would have liked her.”
    “I am sure I would. Please, come and sit inside.”
    Edna led him into a sitting room and motioned him toward a chair. “That was a terrible time for everybody. Did you know they have stopped looking for the killers? They say they have no leads and can do no more.”
    Edna started toward the kitchen. “Please sit and let me get us some tea. I have just heated the water. Would you care for some?”
    “Yes, thank you.”
    She quickly returned and started pouring the hot water over the tea bags in the cups. “As my letter said, I moved here after the death of my aunt and uncle. I was the only family they had, everybody else has gone on ahead.”
    She handed Tom a cup of tea. “There was talk that Mary was forced over that embankment. Have you been up there yet? There is no reason for someone to drive off the road at that spot.”
    “No,” said Tom, “I haven’t. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, maybe you could show me the place?”
    “I’ll be more than happy to show you. It’s not very far out of town. You finish your tea and we’ll go have a look.”
    Edna stood up. “I have something for you, I’ll be right back.” She came down the stairs in about five minutes. “I found this behind the cabinet in the bathroom. She had written your name on the front page. The people who killed my aunt and uncle tore the house apart. I don’t know how they missed finding this.”
    Tom couldn’t believe his eyes. He was holding John Cahill’s journal.
    “Does it belong to Mary?” Edna asked.
    “Yes, yes it does. I assumed it was burned in the car.”
    “If you are through with your tea, then we should go?”
    “Okay, yes, I do want to see the place where Mary may have been forced off the road. The journal will wait.”

Tom parked the car and the two of them walked to the guardrail. Even after all that time, it was easy to tell the new section of the rail from the old.
    Edna pointed down the embankment. “The car hit that big rock and caught fire. I can only hope she had passed here before that happened.” Edna spoke in a low voice as if to not disturb the dead.
    Tom was looking back toward the highway. “There is no way a car would drive over the side from here. There’s too much room to turn or stop. It makes no sense to think this was an accident.”
    “That was what the police said also, but there were no witnesses. There was no way to prove it was not an accident. So that was how the police report was written.”
    The fog was starting to come up from the valley below. Tom looked out over the rolling hills and tall mountains, at the wineries in the valleys and the snow on top of the mountains. My God, what a beautiful place to die! Then, off in the distance, bells began to ring. Tom’s eyes filled with tears. Edna put her arms around Tom and they stood there for some time, listening to the bells, each lost in the memory of dead loved ones. Then Tom wiped his eyes and said, “Maybe we better go back now.”
    As they turned to leave, Tom asked, “What are those bells all about anyway?”
    “There is an old monastery in the valley. A cloistered order of nuns took it over a few hundred years ago. Some stories say they killed or ran off all the male priests.”
    “That doesn’t sound very godly to me. Why would they kill the men.”
    “I don’t know that they did, it is just a story. But the bells only ring when a new member is welcomed into the sisterhood. Today is the first time I have ever heard them. They are quite beautiful.”

Chapter 40. Carlos Makes His Move

The telephone rang in the office of Carlos Veneto. “Abdul Zmarak sends his regards.”
    “Thank you. Get back to New York as soon as you can. I have another job for you.”
    Carlos replaced the telephone. One more fire put out before it turned into a blaze. On a normal day Carlos would be celebrating, but right now he had fires of his own to worry about. There were two members on the board who would never abandon their vendetta toward him. Nothing Carlos could do would remove the hatred they held so dear to their hearts. They wouldn’t be happy until Carlos was dead. So, his having taken care of this business with Zmarak would mean nothing to them.
    The people Carlos worked for had rules just like any corporation. In the old days they had wars to settle disputes, now the dons were gods. If someone was under the protection of one of them, he couldn’t be whacked without that don’s permission. Carlos was, or had been, under the protection of Don Sergio Azeglio. The don had taught him to know what enemy wanted you dead and use them as long as you could, but make sure you had a plan to kill them before they could kill you.
    Carlos knew time was running out and if he didn’t strike now, they would. The problem was Sergio. If Carlos took Sergio out, the whole board would turn on him. If he took out those two assholes on the board without Sergio’s permission – and that he would never give – Sergio would have him killed. Life was like playing cards: if you had the money to stay in the game long enough you would get the best hand, but then you must have the guts to play the cards. Carlos now had a plan that would take him from having one foot in the grave, all the way to the head of the table.
    Carlos called Sergio to tell him of the demise of their Afghan friend. Dino answered the telephone and said Sergio was out on the town. Carlos didn’t buy what Dino was selling. He suspected Sergio was in the same room with Dino but no longer taking calls from Carlos. This was the game they played. They never came right out and said they were going to whack you, they wanted you to worry and hold out hope that you could do something to save yourself. Then they waited for you to do something stupid that justified their action against you.
    Carlos continued with his calling, each board member would expect him to tell them about Zmarak’s untimely death. They would all give him a sincere congratulation, and tell him what a wonderful job he was doing for the company. Not one of them would stand up for him. Once your don abandoned you, you were a walking dead man to them.
    Carlos was waiting in the limousine as Rick Steinberg came out of the airport. “Did you have a good flight?”
    “It was pleasant, and I caught up on some lost sleep. Things went better than planned. A lot of people are happy to see our friend taken off the chessboard.”
    “Let us hope the next one goes as well.” Handing Steinberg a folder, Carlos said, “Everything you need to know is in here. Money has been transferred to your account and you have been booked for the next flight back. Don’t let that folder out of your sight and make sure you don’t get off the plane with it. Commit everything to memory and flush it before you disembark. If anyone finds out what’s in there, we’re both dead.”
    Rick stepped out of the limo and leaned toward Carlos. “Do you want me to call you when the job is done?”
    “No need. I’ll know.”
    The telephone rang just as Carlos walked back into his office. Sergio had told Dino to call him back and tell him what a good job he had done, and how Sergio hoped they could spend more time together the next time he came home.

One week later the five o’clock news was reporting the death of two mobsters. The news said it looked like a gangland murder. The men were found in a trash dump in New Jersey. They had one bullet each in the back of their head.
In a possibly related story, Sergio Azeglio, known as the Don of Dons, was killed this morning. A gunman lay in wait at his villa on the outskirts of Rome. As the Don stepped from his doorway, he was gunned down. His bodyguards returned fire and killed the assassin, whose identification has just been released. Mohammed Fahim is his name. The man had been posing as a gardener. Fahim’s brother-in-law was a warlord in Afghanistan who was murdered only two weeks ago. Our sources report that Sergio Azeglio had Fahim’s brother-in-law killed and this was a revenge murder. There will be more at eleven.
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which these excerpts are taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]

Copyright © 2017 by Ed Rogers

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