I awoke to the familiar sounds of a hospital. The constant "beep beep" of a heart monitor, the smells of disinfectant, the soft noises. I tried to open my eyes but nothing happened. I tried to move and found I couldn't. I tried to open my mouth to call out and found I couldn't move. It was as if I was paralyzed.
I lay there and just listened. Soon I was able to discern the small sounds of someone else in the room near me. There was no way possible I could do anything to attract her attention. All I could do was lay there. Yes, it was a her; I could smell the faint scent of hair spray and perfume. I began to be able to pick out the sounds of her sobbing. I hope it wasn't for me.
Hell I was 93 years old and it was probably my time to go.
I heard another person enter the room, "How's he doing? Any sign of recovery from the stroke?" asked a female voice. It sounded like a professional so I assumed it was a nurse.
"Nothing, he just lays there," another female voice offered.
"Well I need to do some work on him. I'll un-tape his eyes and put some more drops in them. He can't blink so we must keep his eyes moist," said the professional voice.
My heart leaped. Maybe I could look around if my eyes were free. I felt the tape carefully removed and my eye lids opened by a pair of fingers in latex gloves. When my eyes adjusted to the bright light I found I was staring at a white ceiling. I couldn't look around.
A pleasant face appeared in my line of sight. "Ok dearie, I'm going to shine a light in your eyes and see if we can get a reaction. So if you want to show us anything, now is the time."
The second female voice asked, "Any reactions?"
"At first I thought I might have seen something, but I can't get him to repeat anything. I guess it was just hopeful feeling on my part."
Another face appeared in my field of view. This one I recognized. It was my daughter. "I don't know but I feel there is still something behind those eyes. When I look in them I feel that he's looking back at me."
"Listen honey, I'll leave the tape off his eyes for a while if you promise to put some drops in his eyes about every 15 minutes."
I lay there wishing with all my heart and soul that my daughter would move back into my field of view.
My mind drifted back over the intervening years to when I was reunited with my daughter.
There I was standing in a pew at the back of a church with two of my guys. We were waiting for my estranged daughter to walk down the aisle as the star attraction of this wedding. It had been 10 years since I saw her. I had never stopped missing her.
Let me step back into time to explain how I got here.
My wife (at the time) disappeared with my kid. At first I thought one of my enemies had snatched them. While this type of behavior was not accepted by my compatriots of organized crime, there were elements from South America who did not share our noble beliefs.
Every time they appeared in our territory, we dealt with them, permanently. They kept trying and we kept returning their emissaries to them, in pieces. It was time to teach them a lesson now that my wife and child were missing.
I assumed that they wanted a war. And I was prepared to give them one. I assembled an "expeditionary force". Well that's what they called it in the 1800's. I got my guys, a few other family friends, and some mercenaries to join me. Our targets lived in a remote village in Columbia. Everyone in that village was a member of the drug cartel that ruled the area. Even the local Catholic Priest was dirty.
I'm not going to go into details here. All I'll say is that a little over 200 men, women and children died there. They were punished for my wife and daughter. The message was sent. I was on the war path.
Almost one year later that I got a phone call.
"Mr. Hammer?" the female voice asked.
"I'm Tommy 'The Hammer' Migdol, not Mr. Hammer. What the hell do you want?"
"I'm sorry sir, but I was asked to give you a message." She replied with a soft Spanish accent.
Before she was able to continue I yelled, "I'm a very busy man. What makes you think I'm interested in your stupid message anyway?"
"It's about your wife and daughter."
That slowed me down a little. But I was right back on the offensive with the next breath. "My family is dead. They were killed by a Columbian drug lord."
"No sir, they weren't killed by anyone. Your wife ran away with her boyfriend and took your daughter with them. They were afraid of your temper if she asked for a divorce."
I lost it. I threw the phone across the room and started screaming at the top of my lungs for my #2. A whole village in Columbia died because of that stupid bitch. By the time my #2 got me settled down, I realized that I had not stayed on the phone long enough to get any information.
My #2 started calling around to find someone to "peek" into the phone companies records to determine where the mysterious call came from. As they tried, I was pacing about the room just being a royal pain when my cell phone rang.
"Yeah!" I answered. I guess I wasn't very polite.
The same soft voice with the Spanish accent was on the other end. "Mr. Migdol? We were cut off?"
"Yeah I'm him and we were sort of cut off."
"May we continue our conversation?"
My #2 started recording the call somehow.
"Please do. I would like to find my wife and daughter."
"Call me Tommy. All my friends do."
"Tommy. My boss would like to be your friend after what you did to the Cruz Cartel. He worked very hard to find your wife. At first, it was just to supply you with their location so you could arrange for a decent burial. But as his inquiries progressed, he could find no one responsible or any indication of their fate until they were found still alive in California."
"Why would he want to do this for me?" I asked.
"You sent a message with your treatment of the Cruz Cartel. My employer wishes to avoid the same treatment. He would like to have your permission to call you 'Tommy'"
She and I talked for the next twenty minutes as she brought me up to date. When the conversation ended, I had a name, address and phone number for my wife. She and her boyfriend were still living in California.
"My employer would like to meet with you. California is a state that he has many friends living in. Would it be possible for you to meet with him?" She asked.
We agreed upon a date and a spot in Las Vegas. Vegas was considered neutral ground for all the crime families. Two weeks later my #2 and I were on a flight bound for Nevada. We had an advance contingent there already. They were sent to "just look around".
I didn't really trust anybody.
My #2 and I got off the commercial flight and were met by a very attractive woman. She was about 5'4" tall. She was wearing a dress that showed off all her assets tastefully. The dress wasn't too tight, too short, or overly colorful. Looking at her I could almost forget why I was here in Vegas.
"Mr. Migdol? I'm here to be your guide. May I help you get settled in your rooms and escort you to dinner? There we will discuss what plans my father has for the meeting." That same soft Spanish accented voice stated.
'My father' I picked out of her greeting. "If she really was his daughter, he was showing his trust in me for her safety." I thought.
Her driver retrieved our luggage and loaded it in the limo. It was Vegas and the weather was around 100 degrees. The three of us waited in the air conditioned limo as the driver stored the luggage. My #2 examined the crowds milling around. He spotted four of our advance troops in the throng. He also spotted twelve South Americans of suspicious purpose.
He asked, "Hi my name is Gino and I'm Tommy's #2. May I ask your name?"
"I'm Maria, Gino. It's a very common name from the area I grew up in."
"Maria," I began, "It is very trusting that your father sent you, his daughter, to meet us. It would have been even a greater gesture if it wasn't for all his men in the area protecting you."
She looked at me and softly began laughing. "Tommy, this will be fun for you and me. You spot my father's men and my driver spotted about four of yours. I propose a truce. Let's just get acquainted."
That night over dinner, she and I became friends. Gino and her driver/bodyguard ate at another table. They looked as if they were actually getting along. Maria and I were impressed. I learned about the village she called home with her father and two younger brothers. We talked until almost midnight. I was still on east coast time, so I was the one that petered out first.
As she escorted me to the elevators she whispered, "If you like, I will spend the night in your room. That way I will be your hostage. I will be a very co-operative hostage." And then she smiled that smile all women can produce. I could really get to like this woman.
"Maria, I love your offer, but I fear that your father might object. I know if you were my daughter I wouldn't like you spending the night with a strange man."
She faked a pouty look on her face and gave me a goodnight kiss on the cheek.
The suite was very comfortable but I still had trouble falling asleep that night. Part of the problem was the paranoia caused by meeting a stranger outside of my comfort zone. Part was the anger I felt for my wife and her desertion of me, and finally I was confused by my feelings for Maria. Maria appeared to be the perfect daughter and companion, but my survival instincts warned me that she might not be what she appeared.
Gino and I slept in and tried to avoid time lag. We were having breakfast in the hotels buffet room when Maria's driver approached.
"Good morning gentlemen. I have been asked to invite you to dinner tonight at 8:00 pm in the hotels large dining room. Maria and her father would like you to dine with the two of you in a neutral setting. In such a public place, there will be no "business" discussed. Please accept this invitation. We would like to be better acquainted with you."
"You may expect us at 8:00, thank you." I replied.
After Gino and I finished breakfast, we returned to our suite. We had some phone calls to make. Etiquette demanded that we place some courtesy calls to the local bosses because I was in their territory. Gino and I were invited to a large home in a better section of Vegas. We were asked to come for lunch and an explanation of our purpose in the area.
The locals were the Italian guard. They were here to watch out for the interests of the visiting eastern families. We had a very excellent lunch and some interesting conversation. I explained about my wife and the South American cartel that was providing me with information. I got the feeling that these gentlemen did not know the South Americans were in town. Someone would pay for this error.
I assured them that the South Americans were my friends and I would vouch for them. I got a strange look from them as well as Gino. So I figured I'd better explain.
"He offered me his only daughter as a hostage to assure my safety. A man that would do this has my trust."
My explanation was accepted.
They wished Gino and me good fortune. They also hinted that we should not extend our stay unless they approved.
Around 6:00 pm the phone in our room rang. It was a hard voice.
"I have been informed that you will be visiting us in California. Please supply me the address you will be visiting while here. I will have someone check on the residents for you." While it was worded as a request, I knew better.
"Also I would like to meet your South American friends. They interest me." said the voice on the other end of the line.
Before I could reply the line went dead. As Gino and I were leaving for dinner, I asked him to write the name and address we received from Maria last night on the pad near the phone. Later that night when he and I returned to the room, the pad was missing.
Dinner that night was a pleasant surprise. Maria's father was a perfect gentleman, but as the evening progressed, I realized that something was wrong with him. He smiled a lot and carried on simple conversations, but when I tried to expand on anything, Maria, who was seated next to me, squeezed my leg. It was her way of saying "No".
It was getting late when Maria's father was escorted to his hotel. He was tired and his age was showing.
Maria and I decided to return to my suite for a nightcap. As we waited for the elevator she said, "Thank you."
"For what?" I asked.
"He is failing. He has Alzheimer's and his mind is rapidly deteriorating. I actually run the family businesses, but because of our macho culture, it must appear that he is in control until one of my brother's takes over." She sadly replied.
"You are a good daughter. I suspected that you were not as simple as you pretended to be. Thank you for trusting me with this information. Will you be coming with us to California?"
"Yes I would like to. I find myself drawn to you and I'm not willing to give up that bond yet."
"There are some people in California who would like to meet with your father. How would you like to make it happen?" I asked.
"I will send him home. You and I will pretend to be lovers and that is my reason for traveling to California. I will act as nothing more than a messenger to him. OK?"
"Do we have to pretend" I asked.
The elevator doors opened and revealed a very happy woman. Maria was smiling from ear to ear.
The next morning I was the one with the very happy expression on my face.
That afternoon my cell phone rang. The display indicated "Caller ID Blocked". I guessed it was my friends in California.
"Good afternoon. Did our South American friend accept my invitation?" He asked.
"Sort of", I replied. "He was required to return to his home, but his lovely daughter will accompany me as his representative. She understands his businesses."
"You will be staying with me. Do I need to furnish her a separate suite?"
I replied, "That won't be necessary."
I could hear the smile in his voice as he asked, "Separate beds?"
"Ass hole." was my reply.
I could hear him still laughing as I hung up the phone.
The next morning, actually late the next morning because Maria tried to kill me with her body, we left the hotel. If she could have gotten me hard one more time, I'm sure she would have succeeded. Her driver took the two of us to a private plane at McCarran. After dropping us off, he and Gino boarded a commercial airline bound for LA.
Maria insisted that I rest on the plane trip because I needed my strength for later. I guess she was right, I was sound asleep before the wheels left the ground.
We were met at the airport by a limo and taken to a house high in the hills overlooking LA. There we were greeted by the lady of the house. She was a very elegant lady California style.
"My husband is in meetings and regrets he is unable to be here to welcome you. Please let me show you to your room so that you may make yourselves comfortable. Dinner will be at 7:00 and dress is casual."
Maria replied, "I do not have a selection of clothes with me. Please help me pick out something appropriate to wear."
"I would be honored to help. If you are uncomfortable with your selection, we can go into the city and shop," was her gracious reply.
"Hey! What about me?" I asked.
Maria replied. "OK, we'll check your outfits too."
And check they did. I was sent into LA with the chauffer to a specific men's shop. $1000.00 later I had some new outfits to wear for my stay in L.A. We then stopped at a few women's apparel boutiques to pick up some packages. It seemed that the women were out shopping also, but their car wouldn't hold their "loot". My Amex card took a real beating that afternoon.
The driver and I became close friends since I was forced to sit in front with him. The entire back seat was filled with purchases from the women's shops. Back at the house he and I made quite a few trips up to the bedroom before the limo was empty. The ladies were waiting impatiently for us to finish so that they could begin modeling their new purchases for each other. I was ordered out of the room.
I was wandering around the downstairs where I found myself surrounded by a couple of very large men.
"Yes." I said recognizing these types of men from my own house. They were bodyguards. Their job was to protect their boss. The boss must be home. I slowly raised my arms from my body as if inviting them to frisk me.
"That will not be necessary. There are full body scanners in this house. Mr. Russo has asked us to escort you to his study," said the larger of the two.
I accepted the invitation, gratefully. I wondered what would happen if I had refused to go. Somehow I had the feeling that I would accompany them one way or the other. They did not appear to be men who took "no" for an answer.
I was escorted to a closed door that one of the body guards knocked twice on.
"Come in." was the reply from inside.
Upon entering I was greeted in the center of the room by an impeccably dressed man of about 50 years of age.
"Frank Russo" he said as he extended his hand.
"Tommy Migdol. Please call me Tommy."
"Deal, Tommy. I understand we have a chance to have a drink and become acquainted before the ladies arrive."
Once we were comfortably seated in soft leather arm chairs, a drink in hand, he began, "Tommy, I ask that you do not discuss our various businesses if front of my wife. She thinks I am in the movie business. She would not appreciate what I actually do."
"How do you explain your bodyguards?"
"Simple, I am a very rich man and I need them to protect me from kidnappers."
I speculated "Well judging by the house and location I guess, you're telling the truth except for the kidnapper part."
Smiling he walked to his desk and picked up a manila envelope, which he handed to me. "This is all the information I could gather on your wife and her lover on short notice. Please read it tonight so that you can make an informed decision on their fates."
After a delightful dinner, I was more or less sent to my room to read the report. Maria was invited into the study.
The report was very through. I learned that my "faithful" wife wasn't. She started stepping out on me after we had been married about 10 years right after she got a job with a national insurance company. She worked her way through the local salesmen before starting her way up management. No I don't mean she was promoted, but that she set her sights on bedding her bosses.
She set her sights on the division manager, a married man who was 15 years her senior. He left his wife and children at my wife's insistence when the company promoted him to Vice-President of the West Coast Division. My wife took my daughter because she hoped the kid would fill the void left in her lover's heart by the abandonment of his own kids.
Mr. Vice President was in the process of divorcing his wife. He was making her life miserable in hopes that she would just give up and sign the papers. He sounded like a real bastard.
It took me about an hour to read the report. I was weighing my choices for revenge. I would not let anyone do this to me. I admit it was an ego thing. But you have to remember, I have a really big ego and revenge was a normal action for me. I didn't earn the nickname "The Hammer" for nothing. A big two pound ball peen hammer does a lot of damage. I used one to send a message anytime I felt the need.
And I had felt the need a lot in my younger years.
I was sitting in an easy chair planning the pleasure I would receive from using a hammer on him. Should I start with his hands, or maybe feet, then move up to his knees? Or maybe I should just make mush out of his head. After I decided on his punishment, I would plan my wife's. There was a knock on the bedroom door. I opened it and found one of the bodyguards waiting.
"Mr. Migdol, Mr. Russo would like your presence in the sitting room for coffee and after dinner drinks with Mrs. Russo and your guest," he politely requested. As I looked at this mountain of flesh, I wondered if anyone was dumb enough to refuse him. I sure wasn't.
We walked to the sitting room like old friends. He opened the door and announced my presence. If he wasn't a hard guy, you would have sworn that he had attended English butler school.
"Tommy, I hope we haven't interrupted your reading but the ladies felt your presence was required," Frank stated.
"No problem. I finished the report you had prepared for me. I was just contemplating my follow-up actions. Believe me, I would much rather be in the company of these two beautiful women than reading a report," I replied.
I was rewarded by two smiling faces.
Frank looked over at his wife and Maria, "I think you have just made two friends for life."
Maria made room for me to sit next to her. Her hand intertwined with mine and I never realized it had happened. She just felt "right" next to me.
"Tommy, tomorrow you and I will make plans to resolve your problem. I would like to resolve it for you. After all, isn't that what friends are for?" he replied.
He continued, "There are personal reasons too. The man is a bigot. He does not like Italians or Jew ... ish people."
"I know people like that also. They don't like kikes or wops either," I answered with a smile.
Frank smiled back at me as I continued, "Frank, my life style is far from what my childhood religion teaches, but I still don't like name callers. He should be taught a lesson in respect."
As much as I wanted to be the bearer of revenge, I felt that Frank's offer should be honored. The four of us had a very enjoyable evening just talking and comparing our lives. Later that night Maria and I made love. It was not raw sex, but something greater. It was almost a joining of souls.
As we cuddled in post coital bliss, I tried to devise a plan for us to be together. I couldn't. We were just too far apart. She was in South America and I was in North America and that's just location. There were also our various business interests to consider in the equation.
I could not see a way. We were doomed to spend our lives apart. The next evening as I boarded on a red eye back to the east, I saw a very sad lady being supported by Frank and his wife. My heart broke, but I was a tough guy and could show no emotion. My #2 understood my true feelings. He just put an arm around me and said, "Someday, my friend. She'll be yours."
About a month later I got an envelope in the mail. There was no return address on it. In it was a newspaper article about an insurance ex who was badly beaten in a robbery attempt. He was expected to live, but would never walk without special support again. There was also a typed note with the article. It stated that the man was also a eunuch. That was left out of the newspaper.
I sent Frank a thank you note. It was just a simple card with only "Tommy" as a signature. As I sent it, I realized that nothing had been done to my wife. I hoped she would suffer and have a hard life.
Time and distance got between Maria and I. We started calling each other weekly, then it dropped to monthly, then to a couple, three times a year. Then nothing but a Christmas card (for her) along with a birthday card, the cards were sent by my secretary. I didn't even sign them. From her I got nothing. I guess she moved on.
I only received one more tidbit of information on my wife. Her lover was medically retired from his insurance company. I suspected that he was given the choice to retire or be terminated, maybe because I had divorced my wife using adultery as a reason. Then my attorneys sued both her and her lover's employer for allowing the affair when the company's own employee prohibited employee/supervisor relations. My legal team sued for a couple of million expecting to settle for less.
Their legal team did not know the extent of my connections. A week after the insurance company refused my claim; they were hit with major claims. It seems that all of their large customers experienced major losses on the same night. These claims ran into the tens of millions.
A week later my legal team contacted them again. Again they refused to negotiate. They were stupid. Two weeks later they were hit again by major claims again. Only this time they were also met by their largest customers jumping ship.
It took four months before they were forced into bankruptcy. I never got any money from the company, but my ex-wife's boy friend lost his pension in the process. My ex was forced back to work to support her lover and my daughter in a low position.
I walked around with a huge smile on my face. My guys assumed I had a little chickadee on the side, but Gino knew better.
I heard the nurse walk back into the room. "How's he doing?"
"No change," was the answer.
"I have to give him a massage to prevent bed sores. Want to learn how?"
My daughter's voice filled with hope, "I'd love to. Will this help him?"
The nurse tapped me on the forehead, "If he's still in there, he'll know."
As the two of them rolled me from side to side, I got to see my room. It was a pleasant single room, well appointed and cheerful. I drifted off into darkness again, remembering earlier times.
My life in organized crime improved. I went from just a wise guy to a big boss. OK, I wasn't Italian, but I was respected and allowed a seat on the council. My fortune increased, but I was still lonely. I got all the pussy I wanted. But getting laid just didn't fill that empty spot in my heart.
I missed my daughter. She was 12 years old when her mother snatched her from me. I tried to continue my relationship with her, but my letters to her were returned, birthday and Christmas presents returned unopened. My attempts at telephoning her resulted in changed numbers and unanswered calls when caller ID revealed an east coast call.
One day it all came to a head, my ex called me.
"Sheila does not want anything to do with you. I told her that you were responsible for Jonathan's injuries. Leave us alone!"
Before I could vent, she broke the connection. It was all my bodyguards could do to keep me from getting on the next plane west and killing my ex.
When I finally calmed down, I vowed to have no contact with any of them again. I closed my heart to them. I kept that promise for another ten years.
I would probably still be keeping that promise if in my regular mail a wedding invitation had not arrived. My daughter was getting married in June to a Mr. Michael Worthington. The invitation was not signed and there was no response card included. I suspected my friend Frank was responsible. So I called him.
"Hello my friend," he answered after I identified myself.
"Thank you for inviting me to my daughter's wedding."
"You deserve to attend. She is your only child. A father should be there. I'll make all the arrangements for your accommodations and transportation. I could not arrange for you to be a part of the ceremony," a sympathetic voice concluded.
"You are a true friend. I accept your invitation. I bet my ex will be very upset at my appearance."
"Don't worry, my people will keep her from acting up."
We finished our call.
Well at least I would have something new to dream about. These days I would wake up cuddled up to a pillow about once or twice a week. I would awake dreaming of Maria. I'd snuggle up to that pillow believing she was in my arms, wrapped up after a night of love making. But alas, I would wake from my dream alone.
My other dreams were of inflecting pain on my ex and her lover. I must admit that I enjoyed these fantasies. When I awoke from one of those dreams I was also disappointed, but this time because the dream wasn't true. I hated both of them and someday I would extract my personal revenge. I would make them suffer for all the pain they subjected me to.
The months until the June wedding moved slower than usual for me. I couldn't wait to see my little girl again. I also wanted to see the love of her life. I wanted to make sure he was worthy of my little girl. I called my friend Frank and asked him to check out the young Mr. Worthington.
It took about a month, but I finally received a call from Frank Russo.
"Hello Tommy my old friend. I have good news for you. Your future son-in-law is someone to be proud of."
He continued, "Mike, met Sheila when they were both in college. She was a freshman and he was a junior. It appears that it was love at first sight. They met in an elective course that was one of three choices required for their majors."
"Tommy, he is a great kid and completely enamored with your daughter as she is with him. When he graduated, he got a job and an apartment near the college. She moved into the apartment a few months later and they became engaged.
They have been completely faithful to each other ever since they met."
They moved to LA after she graduated and both got very good jobs. I admit that I did what I could to assure their future."
"Thank you," I interrupted.
"You're welcome. Now her degree is in Social Work so I arranged for her to interview with a hospital where I have a few friends. She was accepted. Michael was more of a problem. Tommy, your future son-in-law is a cop. A very well respected cop assigned to the "Organized Crime" division. So I think you can understand my reluctance to help him progress in his chosen profession."
"She's marrying a fucking cop?" I exclaimed.
"Yes Tommy, she is. I'm sorry. But look at this from the bright side. If you continue to live on the East coast, you'll be out of his jurisdiction, unless he becomes a fed."
"God Damn it. I'll bet her mother did that on purpose."
"Calm down my friend. My people tell me that your ex had nothing to do with Sheila meeting Mike. AND Sheila has no idea what you do for a living. Your ex convinced Sheila that you are nothing more than a construction worker, thus 'The Hammer' nickname."
"Frank, that's good news. What does my ex think happened to her husband?"
"This is the good part. She believes that he was mugged and crippled by the muggers. She believes his castration was a part of the mugging. Remember I told you that he was a bigot? Well your ex believes that Jonathan said something to his muggers and they retaliated. We're off the hook on that one." Tommy could hear the smile in his voice.
"So get out here and spend a few days visiting with us. Leave Gino in charge. I'll provide you one of my guys. They like you. And my wife is looking forward to your visit. So be prepared."
"Frank, I can't wait to see you again. I have good memories of the last time we met when I had Maria with me. I know a relationship with her was impossible, but I still have fond memories of the three days we spent with you."
"Tommy, I'll bring you up to speed on her. I do some business with her father occasionally." Was all he said. And from his tone it wasn't encouraging.
I became aware of my surroundings again. By the sounds I was hearing it must be night. The usual hustle and bustle of a busy hospital was quiet. My eyes must have been taped closed because I could see no light.
I tuned my senses up and was able to discern that there was someone in the room with me. This time I was sure it wasn't a woman. At first I feared that one of my enemies had discovered me. But I quickly dismissed that fear. I had been out of crime for about 30 years. There was no one out there who still wanted me dead. And besides, all they had to do was wait. I was really close.
The familiar noise of those shoes that all nurses wear entered the room. "Hi, Judge Worthington. How's he doing?"
"I don't know. My wife says she sees all sorts of signs that he's still in there. But I don't. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on her part."
"Where is she tonight?"
"Our daughter went into labor about four hours ago. They are up on the Maternity floor."
"Well I've got to get him ready for night. If you want to visit your daughter, I'll be with your father-in-law about an hour. I don't have a lot to do tonight, so you can take your time," answered the nurse.
Judge Worthington, I'd forgotten how well he succeeded over the years. He had started out as a detective and now look at him, a federal judge. I admit that I did help his career out a little. You know a political contribution here, a bribe there. Sometimes it was just tipping the right people on his taskforces to the location of the bad guys, and of course making sure that his name was always on TV or in the newspapers didn't hurt either.
"OK, I'll accept your offer and check in maternity. Dad, I'll be back a little later."
He never called me "Dad" to my face before. I was always the "Black Sheep" in the family. I never visited them or called. I was proud that he now accepted me.
My mind drifted again back in time. I guess when a person's time gets near they live a lot in past memories.
I remembered standing in that church with my two bodyguards when a detective pushed his way into our row. He completely ignored me and concentrated on my two bodyguards.
"OK you clowns, where's Frank Russo?" He demanded in that normal cop tone.
I interrupted him and said, "They're with me. They are escorting me to my daughter's wedding. She's marring one of you and I hope he has a lot better manors."
The detective zeroed in on me, "And just who are you?"
"I'm the real father of the bride, not the asshole who is walking her down the aisle. My daughter was kidnapped from me by my ex wife. I came to see her get married. Now are you going to make waves?"
"Who invited you?" he demanded.
"OK, I guess you can't take a hint." I said as I took out my cell phone. "I'm calling the State Attorney General's Office and filing a complaint against you for harassment. That will stop the wedding and effectively end your career, asshole."
"Listen maybe we can discuss this," he began back peddling.
"Listen, I'm sorry. The groom is in my section and I thought these two were here to break up his wedding."
"So who's the guy in the wheel chair?" he asked.
"He's her step father. A real jerk. But she didn't choose him. Her mother did. She thought she was upgrading when she left me."
"Well I've met the guy and believe me he's a real looser. I felt sorry for him being mugged until I met him. He's a real bigoted asshole," the cop replied.
"Well believe me when I say, I don't want anything to spoil my little girls wedding. Now either sit with us or go away." I demanded.
"I'm here with my wife."
"OK. Go, and remember cops don't scare me." I growled.
As he walked back to his pew, I felt the bodyguard behind me pat my back and whisper, "You've got real balls my friend."
The crowd in the church started to shift around as the music changed. I saw a woman in her early 50's being escorted down the aisle by one of the young ushers followed by a man of about the same age. I suspected these were the parents of the groom. The woman looked as proud as punch.
Next came my ex-wife. She no longer was the pretty young thing I once loved. The years had not been kind to her. So much for her upgrade to a richer man. Her smile was set and her eyes were hard. It was almost as if she was ranking the people in the church. I wonder what she was appraising them against.
I looked at her and thought, "What a phony."
Then lying in that hospital bed, I had a flash back to how it all began so many years ago.
I had just graduated from college and was beginning my career in industry. Well not really, it is a bullshit persona I invented to use when I picked up women. I actually grew up in a lower class working neighborhood. I was expelled from school in my junior year for selling drugs to my classmates. I was arrested and put in a juvie detention center for two years. It was in that center I met my current friends and turned the corner. Not into becoming a model citizen, but a soulless killer.
My first victim was another inmate. He raped me in the shower one day. Two weeks later I cracked his skull open with a hammer I took from the shop. I began my carrier in crime.
I met my ex-wife Sharon in a club. She was a dark haired, blue eyed beauty with a body to die for. I gave her my college grad and factory exec persona. Hell I was in my early 20's and a fine looking guy. My career in crime required that I keep myself trim and fit.
We hit it off and were married about a year later, Sheila was born a year after that. We were a happily married couple for many years. I pretended to go to work. I told her that I worked all three shifts when necessary running back and forth between our three plants. Two of them some 60 miles away. I even set up a phony phone number for her to call if she needed me for an emergency. If you over look me lying my ass off about my work, I thought we had an honest relationship.
When Sheila turned 12, Sharon went out and joined the work force. She started working at a large insurance company. I never suspected a thing until I came home one night and they were gone.
It was the last time I saw them until now.
I remembered my eyes meeting Sharon's and she stumbled in her walk down the aisle. I could see the realization in them when she recognized me. I smiled my cruelest smile. There I stood in my early 50's looking fit and very wealthy. My clothes and grooming were impeccable. I looked every bit the successful business man, a very wealthy, successful business man.
Sharon recovered her poise and continued down the aisle. People around the church tried to figure out exactly what was going on. I put on my nicest smile. I looked perfectly innocent of any wrong doing. And I loved the feeling that I had hurt Sharon. That I affected her perfect little life.
I was still smiling as the bridal party started their walk down the center aisle. First came two adorable flower girls that were three or four years old and just as cute as could be. They were followed by a ring bearer in his little tux. You could hear all the parents and grandparents shuffling around for a better look.