The Boss man was celebrating the big one. He and Mona had met in grade school. I guess when you had grown up together you are either good friends or good enemies. They had been married 15 years now, so I guess things had worked out.
I had been with Frank almost a year now. He had put me through the wringer, literally. That first day, he had handed me a bag, told me to watch it, then called me later to say he was 'in trouble' and to keep the money safe. 'Mona would need it' he said.
Now, no way 'in Hell' was I losing the 'Boss' on my first day. I had no idea where he had gone, but I sure was not to just watch a bag of money. I took the bag to Mona, told her Frank had asked me to give it to her but never told me where to meet him, did she have any idea where he might be, I was new after all.
She hemmed and hawed then looked at a note on the hall table. "He left this note" she said, then gave it to me.
"I'm not sure he is at these places, but it's the best I can give you!" she said. "Is everything OK, this doesn't seem like my Frankie?"
"Yeah, I feel real dumb, I never asked where to meet up with him, I guess he was used to people knowing where to go. I'm sorry Mrs. Faenza, I never asked him I'll have him call later and we will all laugh what a 'Stupido' I've been. Thank you for this note."
There were several names on the list. Time and distance were the enemy. I might end up looking like a fool but that was nothing new. I used my cell and called, Guido, the guy I was replacing tonight who was sick in bed, I thought. He answered on the second ring.
"Guido! It's me, Vince!"
"What he booted you already?"
"No! Yeah! Maybe! Guido he's in trouble! I don't know where he is at. He gave me something to hold, then called me. Mrs. Faenza did not know where he was either but she gave me a list he had left for her! I have no idea who or where these are at! I need your help, the Boss is in trouble!"
We went over the list. He would send our people over to check on some, he would get the car and could I go with him to one, he was not in a condition for trouble. I said something to the effect that if he was not in condition then just 'shoot me'. I hope he was just kidding when he said that he just might have to if I 'screwed' up on my first night.
I saw the car, jumped in and stuck the list into his face almost. He told me later that I was shaking like a leaf in a storm. The last name on the list was a Club. A private members only club, owned by the 'Brotherhood Association'. When we saw Frank's car in the parking spot, all reason left me. It wasn't that I saw any particular colour, it was just the opposite, I saw nothing.
I leaped out of the car and went on auto pilot. If Frank was inside, either we; both of us; would walk out or we would both be carried out. I pulled out 2 guns, one revolver was a .44 Magnum cal Colt Python with armour piercing bullets(6);(The Old Super Vel)the other a 9 mm 'Kutz' Walther PP, loaded with alternating hollow point and Full Metal Jacketed, both sub-sonic rounds(7).
Looking back on that entrance of mine, it could have been more staid, but at that moment I just didn't think about anything but getting Frank out, 'alive'. I guess I should have at least just opened that door. I broke it in(I was almost Guido's size and weight, he just had 50 or so pounds on me and a few inches, minor I thought). I rolled up started to target anything that moved, when I heard the little voice for the first time.
"Oh goodie, you made it! I win the bet!. Daddy thought it would take you a lot longer, but I told Daddy that you would be here to 'rescue' me, before it was time for me to go to sleep"
As I quickly put the guns away and started to pick glass and wood splinters from me, I saw Mrs. Faenza, hands to her face, obviously holding back a laugh. Guido came in through the smashed in doors and was roaring like a bull.
I started to say, "I'm so sorry Boss, I just thought... !"
The little Pixie ran up to me, threw both arms around me and informed me that after these next three dance I could take her home, she was getting tired. That next time I should, if I could, just pull the door open towards me.
Frank shook his head, "I guess you'll take it a little easy with Angela going home, remember the car doors open towards you too. I assume you will watch over her the same way you seemed to watch over me. I'll only say this one time. Anything that you have to do to protect my little girl is fine by Mona and me. You can break a dozen doors a day and it will be OK with us. You and Guido will protect all three of us, call it a gut feel, instinct, that magic feeling, whatever, Mona, Guido and myself think that you will do everything and anything you need to protect us. In that same way, we will do anything and everything for you. I already see that some little girl has already accepted you into the 'Family'."
Pixie' was 11 years old then. From that first time, I knew that I would give my life for her, for this family. I thought back to the last dozen years, fights, fights and more fights. Now I had a reason to fight. I was 19 years old, a judge had let me serve for two years or ... I was being given another chance now; a chance that could mean the very life of the family I would learn to love and cherish for the rest of my life.
I had to rest my hands on Pixie's shoulder tops. She never lasted those three dances. After two she wanted to go home. Frank threw me a set of keys, "Your car is next to mine. Keep her safe. Your room is next to hers now, and no stopping on the way!"
From that first night I don't think she was ever out of my sight until that 'fateful' time 5 years later. But a lot happened in between.
I got the little Princess her wrap and took her to say goodnight to Frank and Mona. Mona asked me if I knew how much money was in the bag I just 'threw' at her. I told her the truth, that I hardly even remembered there was a bag, that I was very sorry.
She laughed, saying that I had my priorities right. Money could be replaced, family could not. Just as Frank had given me a $ Million to hold, she was giving me her most precious possession to watch, her daughter. She hoped I had the same priority with her.(I did)
The SUV was brand new. It seemed bigger, taller and with tyres that had to be 19 or 20 inches high, with wheels that made it seem to be moving while standing still. Pixie commented that she thought it 'was neat' to quote her. It was my first ride in an armoured car. I don't think we got over 35 MPH. Maybe that was the purpose. The note on the front seat said, 'Happy Birthday' Vince, inside was a Crystal Amex Card with the reminder to 'never leave home without it'.
Pixie was asleep, curled up in the back seat. I dropped the speed to 30 MPH. 'Sorry' was never going to be something I would ever want to say to Frank, Mona or Guido.
Frank knocked on my door that night, I told him to come in. He handed me a brandy and said "Welcome to the family, Vince? If you ever let anything happen to them you are a dead man, better yet, you will 'wish' that you were a dead man." Then he clicked our glasses. "You did good tonight kid!" he said before he turned and left.
It was about a year later the gate alarm and a subsequent intercom call broke the silence in the house. Mona and Angela were outside in the pool, I was getting some needed food, Milk and cookies, lots of cookies, that Angela had baked earlier. I answered. "Yes, what is it?"
"We have a delivery, 123 Morningstar Drive. May we bring it in?
Being the trusting soul I am I replied. "Just leave it by the gate, people will bring it in later."
"We can't just leave it, you have to..."
"Easy Mac, just leave it or take it back, you ain't got any other option."
I did check with Mona, she was not expecting anything. I went back and asked Pixie. Nope she said.
When Frank returned I told him about the delivery. "Great Vince, where did they put the new doors, it is almost a year since your grand entrance at the Club, I thought you might try it here too, so I ordered new doors."
If looks could kill, he was a dead man.
Mona and the Pixie came in then, dripping water and kissed Frank. "Vince those weren't the new doors Frank ordered, were they?"
With a fake scowl on my face I walked away to the sound of laughter. God, it sounded so good to hear that.
When Angela started 9th grade, I was to drive her to school and pick her up. It was a new school and I would need to identify Guido and myself as the only 'authorized agents' besides her parents to take Angela anywhere. Unless one of us was with her, no field trips, outings or class visits anywhere.
Now I realize that a school principal and parents need to have a close, working relationship. When I handed in the prepared document package, photos, copy of Ids and a list of phone numbers, I had the suspicion that this school principal was going to do far more than just sit around. She informed me of a few things, all with a straight face.
"Mrs. Faenza has already called and informed us of the situation Mr. Costa. You can rest assured that we are prepared. You just do your job, and we will do ours."
"What do you mean?" I asked. She had me follow her. She opened to a small room and pointed inside. Like a dummy I looked. Inside, neatly lined up were a bunch of doors. "You may tell Mona that we are prepared for you Mr. Costa!" Then she started laughing. It was not that funny.
.... There is more of this story ...