I realised I was dead!
Something of an inconvenience, as I'm sure you will agree. It was also something by way of inconsiderate and ill timed. I had a hot date planned for that evening, something I had been looking forward to all week. Dinner and perhaps a little more with Juliette, a twenty six year old bombshell with Auburn hair, all the way down her back and legs that only seemed to stop at her arm pits.
I am ... was twenty seven years, ten days and 50 minutes old, or 856,516,000 seconds give or take a few, when I suddenly expired in the most tragic of circumstances. Numbers are ... were, my thing. I am ... was, an accountant.
Being dead is something I still have to get used to. It's playing havoc with my tenses. You try talking about yourself in the past tense or even the passed over, as in, no longer in the present or of this world.
Anyway, I was an accountant with only the one client. Don Pellotti was head of a small family who all seemed to have nicknames with the exception of Juliette, who didn't seem to warrant one. Mine was "Numbers", or "Numbnuts", depending on who was talking about me. Not very imaginative I suppose. The former fit to a tee, mathematics is my game and numbers are like poetry to me, or were, revealing a symmetry and form, second only to Juliette's figure. I have no idea what Numbnuts was meant to be, or how it described my personality.
Don, or Don Pellotti or, Don Giuseppe Pellotti, or, that Bastard, depending on who and in what context was referring to him, was, as I said, head of a small family that had its own independent business, the depth of which I never quite got to grips with. No one quite knows how he got his name. I knew for certain that his given name is Seamus O'Brien, that he had never been to Sicily or even Italy, that he had been born n the bowels of Chicago to Irish immigrant dock workers and that he spoke with a false Italian accent. He was a large man in a round sort of way and looked like he had wads of cotton wool stuffed between his lower mandible and his cheek and talked as if that were the case. His small eyes never seemed to miss a thing and glittered dangerously from his pudgy face.
"Fingers" was his main assistant, rarely ever leaving The Don's side. Fingers was actually missing two digits off of his left hand and several of his front teeth, but we never mentioned that. The story goes that he lost the fingers to an alligator and the teeth when he bit it in return. The story goes on further that the alligator was torn to bits by Fingers. Family members respected him very much, or knew that crossing him was not a good idea. I never found out what his real name was.
"Sharp" was a true Italian. He was a weasel like man, who was thin and wiry and very quick in his movements. He was a gambler who preferred Texas hold 'em poker as his game of choice. He liked being the dealer and rarely lost. It was said that he could castrate a fly at fifty paces with a thrown stiletto. Personally, I don't think that was entirely true, but I have seen him hit an eye belonging to a poker player who was winning at the time. Unfortunate for the player, especially as he had four aces and had just bet the pot. The stiletto flashed, travelled the several feet from hand to eye, in less time than it took to blink, something the unknown player would not be doing again.
"Felix", his proper name and one he apparently lived up to, was a quiet man who hardly ever spoke. Sinuous and lithe were good descriptions of his cat like agility. Apparently, he was good at breaking into places. I found him to be the person in the family I had the least trust in and believed that it was useless to lock my door when he was around. Fortunately, he wasn't very good at safe cracking, so the inevitable stock of bank notes held in The Don's safe were secure from his actions.
The safe cracker, "Click", was said to be able to open any vault as long as it had a combination lock. "Click" had a cauliflower ear from his days of pugilistic pursuits, something he gave up when he found a rather more lucrative profession.
Then there were the twins. "Trigger and "Uzi" were the enforcers. Usually, their form of enforcement usually left someone with a hole in their head from their choice of weapon, an Uzi automatic which allowed for warnings to leak out, along with brain matter. Associates of the recently enforced person, coughed up quite quickly and without further quibble. A hole speaks volumes, it was said.
That is the family. We all lived behind a high wall in a huge manse that was tended to by unknown amounts of nameless people who all had the looks of Hispanic and never seemed to get paid for their labours.
This, in a roundabout way, leads me onto the circumstances of my demise.
A hole, or rather an excavation for the foundation of a bridge for the new ring road, had to be inspected. I couldn't work out why an accountant, who had just found an anomalous amount of untaxed money in the accounts, had to go and check that the bottom of the foundation was absolutely flat and level. I thought it absolutely incredible that the foreman should have ordered six and a half tons of quick drying cement to be poured while I was checking the dimensions and depth of the excavation. And, I wondered, momentarily, what effect the body shaped lump at the foot of the foundation would have to its ability to hold up the bridge. I tried to calculate the loss of friction, but ran out of air and the will to work it out.
Later, between arriving at a place of no description, except to say it's like marshmallow or particularly thick cumulous cloud, and suddenly supporting the ramparts of the bridge, I realised that, perhaps I had upset "The Don" in some way. I would have thought that my finding a few million that seemed to have just appeared under a heading of, "for the washing", would have pleased him. After all, no one should have a laundry bill higher than the President's Salary should they? I also thought that getting it on with this niece, Juliette, would have made him happy. Wasn't it he who often said that she needed to get hitched to someone in the "Family"? I thought I was in the family. Seems he meant the Coreleone family.
We make life choices and can only hope they are based on sound reasoning and have happy outcomes.
Juliette, as I said, has long legs. I can use the present tense here, because she is still very much alive and currently being comforted by "Scorpio" who is a family member from the Coreleone family ... bastard!
She first attracted me while she bathed in the sun, smothered in coconut smelling tanning lotion and very little else. Up till that moment, my experience with members of the opposite sex was through my 19 inch screen and some web-sites with strange names.
My shadow fell across her golden coloured torso and face. I will never forget the first words she spoke to me...
"You're blocking my sun you idiot". It was music to my ears. "Move you dipshit!" She sat up as she shouted at me and I admit, I found it fascinating when her breasts suddenly fell forward and slapped together, wetly. They were huge and looked as if they had been over inflated. I was hooked and in love from that moment onwards.
Over a period of a few months, I saw rather a lot of Juliette in more ways than one. She loved the sun it seemed, had no sense of decency where her body was concerned and perhaps a deficit of intelligence. But, Oh my God! She did have some form. Hourglass does not quite do justice to her shape.
Strangely, I found I suddenly had a speech impediment when ever faced with her sun kissed body. My tongue did it's very best to wiggle into a knot and copious amounts of saliva would dribble onto my chin. To her credit, she never made fun of me or point out my deficiencies. She would just sit there, mostly naked, mostly sun tanned all over and cock her head to one side, as if she had sand in an ear.
We eventually had a conversation that led onto my telling her that I was good with numbers and her glazed stare as I explained how to calculate compound interest. Juliette gradually caved in and somehow, through the stuttering and hand wringing, I managed to ask her out on a date. We agreed dinner and a hotel in downtown Chicago for the next Saturday. Although I walked away from her that day, looking serene and a picture of calmness, in my head, I was doing cartwheels and back flips in excitement. I should add, I am ... was a virgin.
Saturday arrived and "The Don" asked me to go check out the foundations on my way to town. I suppose he must have known I was going to take his niece, as she was referred to, out to dinner. He certainly knew I had a hotel room booked because he had recommended one to me.
He advised that I take a boiler suit to go down the hole and leave my suit and everything else with "Fingers" while I checked the levels. He was always considerate like that. His last words were, "Knock yourself out kid." Fingers and I travelled in one of the huge Limousines that The Don had many of, sleek, shiny black and impossibly long. Fingers didn't say a word or even look at me. He just stared out of the blacked out window as we were driven to the site.
So, here I am, quite dead from an overload of cementacious product and the lack of physical strength to withstand the weight of such a surfeit. I found myself waiting in marshmallow, for the next instalment of what passes for my life or death or existence or existential being or whatever. I suddenly find that calculus has lost its edge and allure and suddenly, the female form has awoken a latent interest in me, but with no outlet in prospect.
Time has ceased to be of any importance and passed, quite without notice. I might have been here for days, weeks, months or for only a few seconds. It does not matter now, only anticipation. Will it be the pearly gates? Or will I be shovelling coal into the furnaces of Hades?
At this point in the narrative, the tense will change. Remember, time has little relevance in this tale.
After some more time of nothingness, a shadowy figure emerges through the mist that swirls around his cloven feet and seems to drip off of a pair of horns that sprout from his red coloured head. A malicious looking grin splits his face. I noticed, with falling confidence in my immediate future, that he has a pointed tail.
"Welcome to hell." He says as he sticks out a hand and shakes my limp fingers. "You will have a fabulous time here and will get on famously". He sounded suave and slick and just how you might imagine a snake would sound, if it could talk.
"Come with me." Although it wasn't a command as such, you just knew that disobeying the implication might have disastrous results.
He took my hand and gently pulled me up, I hadn't realised I was sitting until that point, and lead my faltering steps.
Suddenly, a vista formed in front of me. Vast swathes of manicured, impossibly green grass, with men and ladies driving around in golf carts with clubs in bags strapped to the back. The ladies all seemed to be novices and under the close instruction of the men who guided and assisted with swing planes and grips. The ladies were all in a state of complete undress, apart from a glove on their left hand and all looked like buxom models, the kind you find in Playboy magazines. They all seemed to have the men in thrall and everything looked idyllic. Golf didn't attract me. I was of the "Good walk spoilt" mind set.
"Not to your taste I see." My companion whispered into me ear. "How about this then?"