March 9th 2015
I’m driving in the dark without my glasses, trying to figure out exactly where I am, which is a challenge considering I can hardly see the road, let alone the signs.
‘Where am I?’ This is ridiculous and under the circumstances, I don’t need to be adding anymore stress. I need to look and feel truly calm, not flustered and panicked. My stomach is churning.
It isn’t everyday you arrange to meet a hitman, and my grasp of the unfolding situation is a few feet distanced from reality. I’m terrified that my knowledge of exactly what is happening, may be a few months behind where I should be. I’m petrified that I have done the wrong thing, and that I’m probably walking straight into a trap.
Tonight I need to be in the moment.
‘God I wish I had gone to the loo.’
I’m not lost, just navigating towards another meeting with more strangers in the middle of nowhere, but at least the road is 3 lanes wide and relatively straight. I glance down at my phone’s GPS and scroll the map forward. The blue line goes forever. Another 20 minutes before I need to turn. I put it back between my legs, safely nestled in the voluptuous folds of the tulle skirt that I chose for this auspicious occasion, and lightly laugh at myself. Only I would have stressed over what to wear.
Before leaving home, I had texted George, a trusted friend.
’I’m going to 1 Stantham Court. East Morang. If I have called this wrong, all my money is under the bed. Give it to Oliver.’
The response was valid.
’Are you kidding? I don’t want you going there. Katherine, that’s crazy. It’s just too dangerous. It’s a trap. I know they say they need your help, but who cares. They are nobody to you. Don’t be stupid.’
‘George, it needs to be sorted and if it helps bring that asshole to justice then I have always said I am prepared to be the sacrificial lamb. You want your money don’t you? I want answers. I need information. I want proof. I need it finished and I’m just so over everything. I’ll message you when I leave, but if you don’t hear from me, then call the police, you know what has happened.’
‘Katherine, just keep this call on. I’m not happy. I think it’s a trap. I’ll be around the corner. Did you tell the police yet?’
‘No, I don’t have enough evidence yet, and you don’t have to be involved.’
“Katherine I am so invested in this. Any trouble, I will be there before it happens. Don’t hang up on me. I feel sick.”
He feels sick. Know the feeling. My chest is pounding in my ears. Adrenalin is coursing. My head feels empty. Numb. Overloaded to the point of nothing. The veins on my hands are thick welts running towards my fingers. It’s sort of fascinating watching my body react, and objectively, it’s distracting.
The evening shadows of trees and houses blur and my chest is forcing long calm breaths. Chestfuls.
How did this happen? I’m not even meant to be in Australia still. I’m meant to be married and happily living in New York. That was our plan, right?
Man of my dreams, Paul. Paul Carter.
6 ft 2, eyes of blue. All the romance and fantasy, that I didn’t think I had been looking for. There it was on a platter. Paul. Perfection on a plate. Yes, that is exactly what it is.
I was happy because I had it all. We were both so passionately in love with everything about each other. It had been perfect. I want it to stay this way. So much of me wants to sort this all out and have him come and sweep me off my feet.
He always said. “You make me a better man, Katherine. I hope I am worthy of you.”
I used to struggle comprehending that sentiment. I felt that I brought nothing to the table. I was not in his league. He was everything.
He was the life of the party, could handle every situation, always made people feel at ease, while I stumble over my words and freak at meeting strangers. He is fiercely loyal, protective, strong, funny, loving and super intelligent. As if that wasn’t enough, he is good looking, charismatic, charming and clearly generously wealthy.
A large man, in size and stature. Dark hair, light olive skin, with pale blue eyes framed by thick black lashes and a smile that would light up an entire room. He’s a head turner and boy, do those girls turn. For that matter, so do the men.
Seriously what did he see in me?
Something. Obviously. He adored me. I knew it. Everyone knew it.
What the hell? How can everything have changed so much? Why has he been taken away? What has happened to the perfect man I love? I feel like I’m being punished. Why was I allowed to be with him in the first place? Are the stories true? I cannot reconcile how my world went from paradise to this nightmare of thugs, lies, thieves, cons and betrayals, let alone living under the shadow of a ‘hit.’ I just don’t understand why I got thrown into it. When am I going to reach the bottom, so I can climb over and out? When will any of this make sense?
Hopefully tonight will provide the answers and I can put it all behind me, but I know my Paul will never be found, no matter how many people try.
I glance down and realize the turn is ahead and start to concentrate on the road. The side streets of East Morang are narrow and windy. I feel uncomfortable by the mere fact that I can see gumtrees on the nature strips. Suburbia. This one, in particular, was the back of beyond breeding ground for sleeve tattoos, mediocrity and thugs, specifically known for it’s bogun population. I do not belong out here.
My heart is pounding in my throat.
The polite voice of my GPS announces. “In 20 meters, turn right. You have arrived at your destination.”
I pass by the house and turn back around at the end of the court, parking on the exit side of the street. If it gets bad and there’s a chance to get to the car, I’d like a clear escape route. This being said, I’m in stilettos, so I’m doomed already. Whatever happens tonight, I’m doing it in style.
I leave the car unlocked and walk across the road, taking a breath of bravery that is so large it moves my shoulder blades, and steel myself for all the possibilities of the evening. I stop, look down at the tips of my shoes and let my eyelids deliberately close. It’s not even half a second, but long enough to become a more centered and courageous version of myself. My congenial facade is flashed on and a shiver goes down my spine. I raise my head, opening my eyes and stare forward. What have I got to lose? It’s this way or the slow way. The rational part of my brain doesn’t believe any of this is real anyway. My life is too average for this drama level.
I feel nothing. I’m on autopilot. I am ready.
Another deep breath, then I delicately navigate my heels up the cobbled driveway towards a tall, young man standing at the top of the stairs near the front door.
Dark haired. He is coming down to greet me. “I heard you pull up. Thanks for coming.” He sounds sincere.
“Hi Tony.” I lean in and kiss him on the cheek. Let the bizarreness begin. This face, I have at least seen before, but as he leads me through the foyer, I wonder whose side he’s really on.
Keep your friends close. Your enemies closer. Never a truer word spoken.
Until recently, he used to work for Paul. Yes, the hitman’s son worked for Paul, and I had met him briefly, once at a BBQ 10 months ago. He knew the truth then, and never felt the need to tell me. He has certainly betrayed me before, allowing me to be surrounded by all the lies. At the same time, I also think he may have inadvertently protected me. What were his motives then? Where are his loyalties now?
He smiles and guides me inside. It’s awkward and tense. I’m trying to get my bearings, and feel the vibe of the house.
His mother, Filomina, is standing in the entrance. I have never met her, but she has been a Facebook “friend” for a couple of months. Same height as me. Only 5’4.” Bleached, blonde hair in a sharp cut, and a warm smile. I lean in and give her a gentle hug and a kiss.
Then there is Kara, Tony’s sister, and apparently a client of my beauty salon at some point in time. I only know this fact as her name is in our data base and comes up on my phone. Her mother’s daughter in looks. Striking red lipstick across perfectly shaped, pouting lips. Dark hair. Maltese. They bred well.
I walk towards her. “You must be Kara. It’s lovely to finally meet you.” She and I give each other a genuine tight hug and I whisper in her ear. “Thank you for telling me.”
I feel the threat of an emotional tear try to glaze my right eye.
She gently pulls back and looks me straight in the eyes. “You needed to know. As a woman, I would want to know.”
Behind her, in the kitchen, I see a grey headed man approaching. He is balding and the hair he has left is pulled back into a thin plait. Tall, big and strong. He is older than me, maybe late 50’s. Eyes of a poker player, giving nothing away. I can’t decide if he looks more like a Vietnam vet, or a biker. Either way, I’m dead if this goes bad.
“You must be Vito.” We walk towards each other, our hands mutually rising for a handshake. His politely. He expected this greeting. It was respect. Personally, I can’t stretch far enough away from my own hand. I want distance. There will be no hug here. I’m terrified, and at the same time, proud of my stupidity, or is this courage? Add it to the list of things I don’t know.
I can’t read faces very well but I look him in the eyes as we shake. They are impenetrable. I am scared. I am polite. I call the bluff.
“Thank you for not killing me yet.”
“That’s OK love.”
The lack of denial hits the pit of my stomach. The casual acceptance of what I just said was mind fucking. This is actually happening. He has really been hired to kill me. I am in his house and he may still carry the deed out. This is so ridiculous. Epitome of surreal. I know that these are the facts but I can’t compute them. Clearly, none of this is normal.
I cannot believe the reality of the situation.
Hopefully, I am now worth more to him alive than dead but I suppose it depends on a fair few things. Firstly, does he really need my help? Or is this just a setup? What about all the stuff I don’t know, and what is it that they hope I do know? Am I going to be able to be of help to them and what if I can’t? The incessant chatter in my head questions whether I’ll be leaving this house tonight. Walking or body bag? Another reason to dislike the ’burbs.
I’m ushered into the kitchen and we sit down at the grey, marble counter. Filomina offering me a coffee, which I accept, joking that under the circumstances, maybe something stiffer would be more appropriate.
Before I had left home, I had debated about whether to bring Scotch as a peace offering, but wasn’t sure whether you brought gifts to your potential killer’s home. Someone should write an etiquette book on the subject. They’d make a killing. I smirk inwardly at my silent repartee. Nothing feels real.
Vito is sitting on a stool at the far end of the bench, leaning against the wall. There’s a mounted phone beside his head. I realize I have to ask.
“So he really hired you to kill me then?”
His voice is heavily accented, European, and his demeanor genuine.
WHAM. It was like being hit in the face, chest and stomach simultaneously. Body blow of destruction. An eyebrow raise and a non comprehending slight shake of my head, as I try to accept the finality of my reality.
Emotional heartbreak stabs through my chest crushing my very being. The desire to be dead, crumples my brow and my eyes drop shut, taking me into the safety of blackness.
I immediately force them open to face these facts. That’s what I’m here for. Knowledge. Knowledge I leave with and use, or I die trying. Literally.
Nearly too exhausted to care. ‘Be brave.’ The self talk is incessant. I have become a Nike ad. ‘Just do it.’
Filomina leans across the counter and hands me the freshly made coffee as she asks. “So how did you find out?”
Fair enough question, I suppose. We all have our concerns. This is all so blasé, it’s as if we are discussing grocery prices. “I first knew about the threat, the day after I found out about Paul. It was a lot to take on board in a short time.”
She looked at me.
“You know, the 10th, Filomina. The 10th of September.” Even as I said it, I felt my heart hankering for the simplicity of the nightmare as it was, back then. As horrendous as it was at the time, it was plain and simple. This was now just the universe’s arse’s act.
These people needed to know I was being honest. Or at least think I was. I suck at poker. I glanced towards Vito, aware that tonight required a lot of direct eye contact. Then I stared at him. I was hurt and angry.
“Vito, that man cold heartedly told me that you had called and asked if I was a problem. He informed me, that if I was, then you were going to sort me out. That you were concerned as to whether I was now a threat to your mutual business projects and that you were happy to solve the issue by putting me through a tree shredder at a pig farm.”
“You understand this right? The night before I had just lost my partner and I wake to this. The beginning of the end.
All I had was that shattering phone call the night before and everything changed. As you know, Kara, that changed my life.”
She looked at me and gave everyone, (there were now two more teenagers in the kitchen), a surprised innocent, confused look. I took it on board. Oh my God, she just publicly denied that she had made that first anonymous call to me. Yet, didn’t she just admit it in my ear when I arrived. Tread carefully Katherine, these people are not your friends. They aren’t even loyal to each other.
“Obviously that was a pretty ghastly night all round and this is what I deal with the next day. That now I’m viewed as the problem. I still can’t get my head around this. ME!. …. I’m now the problem?”
Vito didn’t flinch.
But then my focus moved abruptly. I was suddenly aware of the presence of yet another person.
Casual side glance and a toss of my hair so I can subtly look over my shoulder. A solid, big, cumbersome man, coming up from behind. I took half a breath.
“Gerry.” Vito’s smile was warm and inviting, as they shook hands like mates catching up at a summer’s day BBQ. Honestly what have I walked into?
“Gerry, this is Katherine. Katherine, this is Gerry, works with Paul.”
Another face to another name.
I take a large lungful of air, accompanied by an electric shiver down my spine. The hairs on my arms lift and then immediately subside.
“Nice to meet you, Gerry. I believe you’re not necessarily a fan either?” Over the last few months, I had acquired a bit of background knowledge on a few random people. Every new face implicating and incriminating another person. Tattling on each other. Divulging separate secrets that when put together were slowly making a simple story into an unimaginable suspense filled drama. I was aware my life had become a film. A John le Carre epic. It had begun as a romance.
This didn’t mean that anything I thought I knew was true. The layers continued to unfold.
“No, love. No. That bastard has cost me millions. Sorry ’bout what’s happened to you though. Better now than later. You’ll be alright in the end and we will find Paul, OK?”
That was a matter of opinion. What would be better, was that none of this had happened. What would be best, was that I had been allowed to happily marry Paul, and be living with the man that loved me. Happily ever after, in New York. That would be the better and best scenarios. Not any of this. This is what is referred to as the beyond worst scenario for one’s life. I just wanted Paul back.
Vito obviously was going to control the conversation and drive the message home. “Yeah, Gerry, we were just talking about how Katherine has become a bit of a problem.”
“I can see that.” Gerry smiled, settling himself in behind my chair, with his hand resting across the back.
I’m back to shitting myself again.
Filomina laid her hands open, palms down on the bench in front of me. “Well, the man IS an ass. He is cold hearted and will do anything to get the job done. You should have seen him, storming around here, when he didn’t get the money.
The kitchen erupted into laughter from everyone. Tony interjected. “Yeah. He was marching up and down the family room right there.” He pointed to the TV area behind me.
Filomina laughed. “He was swearing and cursing. Saying it wasn’t fair. He only needed another week and he would have got it all. All that effort organizing everybody. Bribing. Threatening. It had all gone to plan. A total waste of his time now she knows. Oh my God, he was furious that you had got in the way.”
What money?? What bribing? What plan? Are they talking about things I already know? I’m here to negotiate my life. What are they now talking about? Are they in on something more than I know? Oh god, probably. Clearly. I know nothing. Shit!
They were still all laughing, oblivious to my confusion.
Kara and Filomina looked at each other. There was something between them. A secret. Do I need to know? Is it, that Filomina really knows that Kara is the one that caused this? Is she covering for Kara?
She continued. “He really wanted you dead then, that’s for sure. He’d put all that effort into getting your money and now you had accidentally prevented him. He was crazy angry and switched from his initial plan of conning you, to having you killed, right there. Stood in front of the TV and swung around facing Vito.
‘Kill her Vito. Just kill her. Her and her bloody ungrateful son.’”
They were all talking at the same time. One over the top of the other, repeating what he had been yelling.
“It was suddenly so much easier. Less effort.”
“Wished he’d done it earlier. Less fucking around.”
“It made no difference to him.”
“He said that he knew you were both there just waiting for the Carter inheritance.”
A cacophony of wounding words.
“He had a contract with you.” She distracted herself. “Why would you sign anything with that man? Did Paul think that was a good idea? I mean no one in their right mind would go up against him. They are all formidable business men. What? What was the contract? Were you selling him your business? Did you become partners? Did you sign something without reading it?... He never went into that detail but he said ‘it’ would hold for a little longer. So you must have agreed to something. Suddenly, he didn’t care how it was done. Just wanted Vito to fix it.”
My mind flicked to the amount of legal documents I had signed in the last year. ’Was I paying attention to every single one? There had been so many meetings with so many solicitors and business men. Regardless, and more to the point, I hadn’t accidentally prevented anything. It was Kara who contacted me. I still have the texts. Kara, Ash, Tony and the rest of that millennial group. They caused this landslide, not me. Not me at all!’
She interrupted my thoughts. “But, after everything you had been through, with the rape, and your son and the burns.” She slowed for a second as she saw the look on my face, “Yes, Paul told us about your past. Sorry love. You’ve had a really horrid time, so I told Vito not to do anything. You realize Vito didn’t make that call. It’s the other way around. He was asked to kill you, but I didn’t think it was fair. Enough is enough for one life time don’t you think?”
“I couldn’t agree more.” I replied.
Inwardly, my mind just caved in on itself. I could hear an external buzz weirdly inside my head. Out of body. Of the few things I expected tonight, this hadn’t been one of them. That was my past. My personal, revolting past. Casually thrown in to conversation. Rape! Burns! Skin grafts! My son! Casual, as if we are best friends with the right of knowledge, full disclosure, trust and shared secrets, but this isn’t the case. I haven’t told them my story and I feel it has been used against me, and yet she is saying it’s what kept me alive.
I feel my brain whirring through all this. Blurring. Refocussing. Fogging.
Yay, that she felt I had had enough shit for one life time, but what the fuck? Yay, she deemed me worthy of living. WOW. There is no holding back here. No editing for my benefit. Well, no, let’s rethink. There is no editing for the benefit of my feelings. I am very clearly still viewed as expendable and they are only telling me things they want me to know. The only editing here will be for their benefit.
My mind drowning in it’s own thoughts. The way I just took hit after emotional hit.
The words were circling, uncaught in my head.
‘Was conning me for my money.’
‘Happy to just kill me if it was easier.’
‘I’m so dispensable?’
‘I’m alive because I was raped?’
’Who drops this into conversation?
A hitman and his family, that’s who. This is their life. They don’t care that I’m reeling. They want that.
But this isn’t all true. I’m not alive because she took pity on me. It may have been months ago, but not now. Even I know that. I’m alive because they think I can help them recover $500,000 that the asshole who wants me dead, conned them out of.
Ah the irony.
The hitman betrayed by the very person who hires him, and so now the tables have turned.’
Regardless I’m still not safe.
Filomina looks me in the eyes and I try to refocus as she says. “How did Paul allow this to happen? He is normally so in control. This is, um, what does he say?”
“A cluster fuck” Tony helped fill the gap.
“Yeah,” Gerry drawled. “Pretty sure Paul has just done a runner. Safer away from all of this. He hates drama. His life has always been too easy. He’ll return when it’s calmed down. Not that he should have left you with this mess. We can’t make sense of it. Let alone with the threat of danger.”
Filomina interjected. With a caring, sisterly look on her face.
“True though, if you’re viewed as a threat, imagine how some people may now see Paul. Although he has just angered them more by disappearing, leaving us to all pick up the pieces. I bet he surfaces when he thinks it’s safe.”
Is she trying to reassure me everything was going to be ok? I’m not convinced.
Vito gives me another encouraging look and asks me to explain how I knew about him.
“Well, I was coming in from the garage. I had been getting ready to leave and he was suddenly just sitting at the dining table, looking vaguely familiar, but obviously not anyone I knew, and as it turned out, you two were talking on the phone. Clearly I had no idea it was you. I was still shocked and scared that he was sitting there. When he realized I was near, he hung up and said.
“That was the ‘Toe Cutter’ on the phone. You know…, Vito. Vito Falcone. He has that name for a reason Katherine. He solves problems. I’m pretty sure, you have always known that.”
At the time, my scared and panicked brain had tried to filter the news. Deep down, yes, I had known something. I’d heard conversations that were never muted, they were out in public domain between business men. Various things. That ‘the Toe Cutter had been used to sort a problem’ or that someone may have to ‘get the toe cutter to go fix an issue.’ It had never been exactly spoken as to how, but I had got the gist, that the Toe Cutter solved problems by force or coercion. To be honest, I thought it was just a tough nickname, not a lifestyle. I had never asked. I had pretended not to hear. I hadn’t known that this was Vito’s moniker. At the time it was new news.
I looked at Vito. He raised his eye brows in acknowledgement and nodded his chin forward, as a sign to keep talking.
“I asked him if he was threatening me? And he said, ‘No Katherine, just thought you should know. I’m just the messenger.’ I told him that I wasn’t too scared of dying as I had had a fairly shitty life, and he assured me that, ‘I’d end up begging for mercy. They all do.’”
“Go on.” Vito wanted to hear more.
“Well, He told me, ‘that you said I was already an issue that needed to be solved, and would definitely be a bigger problem if I kept asking questions and that I needed to remove all evidence of being in a relationship with Paul and the photos. Best if I no longer existed really.’ He told me that, ‘you and he obviously just felt the need to make sure I understood’ and he reminded me that ‘I was a mother and you weren’t to be trusted as you go off the handle.’ He made sure I understood that ‘you wanted to remove me by using a tree shredder and that I shouldn’t put my son in danger.’”
The kids were all quiet but smiling. A collection of knowing smirks spread around the kitchen. I was completely outnumbered here. Gerry was silent, breathing behind me.
Vito and Filomina both looked a bit flushed; A bit put out.
I was sick of this shit. This game that I had no idea how to play. “What? Isn’t that what you two discussed?” I blurted it, clearly annoyed.
Everyone in the kitchen knew this was true, except, maybe, Gerry. Again Filomina answered. “Firstly, no one would ever touch your son, Katherine. He has nothing to do with this. It’s not what’s done. I wouldn’t allow that. God if he had said that to me. OMG. I would have killed him on the spot with my bare hands. No one threatens my family.”
In my head, I thought. ‘Yes, you’re right Filomina. No one threatens my boy either. But, I’ve done, and am doing, everything I can to sort it.’ Why did they think I was there, if not to try and ensure my son’s safety. I certainly wasn’t there altruistically. I looked at Vito questioningly.
“No, love, that’s right. If there’s a problem it would get sorted but not your kid. No, I’m just surprised he was stupid enough to use my name. He shouldn’t have told you my name. That’s just wrong. Disloyal, you know. That’s his problem. No loyalty. I told you on the phone the other day. Wild angry rogues are more of a danger than professionals.”
“Yes, but that wasn’t about him. You were talking about someone else who also wants to kill me.” Who knew I was so important?
“Same blood type, Katherine. Desperate, conniving. Ruthless. That man has done some terrible, terrible things in his time.”
I was trying to stay with the conversation as my mind pieced things together. ‘You aren’t so loyal, or predictable either, are you? Any of you. I’m here at your invitation. You were going to kill me only weeks ago, until you realized I may be of use to you, because now you have been conned like everyone else, and I may have information to help rescue the situation. I have literally been in hiding for months, enduring a campaign of belligerent intimidation, but now you say you have turned on the very man you were working for. You want to use me for what I may know, to help get your own justice and revenge.’ From our previous phone calls, I think the tree shredder is going to get used one way or the other.
Time to clear the air. “So that’s how you would have done it then? In a shredder at a pig farm?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty clean.”
WOW! This reality just doesn’t have any soft landings.
“So you were really going to do it then?” He just looked through me. I felt his lack of conscience spear my body. He would have done it without a care in the world. This is so real, it’s bordering on ignorant that I ever doubted it. I have been in legitimate danger for 6 months probably more, and yet I’ve only told a few close friends, because I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.
“So, um, exactly how much would that cost, you know, to remove me as a problem.” I suppose I want to know how much I was worth dead. Also how much it might cost to counter offer the deal. What has my world become???
“Well, I took the first $5,000 and the other ten went to The Hells Angels. He had to come with me to hand it over.”
Total shock. A million thoughts machine gun across my brain.
‘So cheap. Who knew?’
OMG. Really? He is being so brutally honest. Is this how murderers and hit men talk? Even in the Soprano’s they kept the women out of it. It was hidden.’ My knowledge of the underbelly of society is limited to TV. This is just so casual. The kids are here.
In films they only ever tell their victims the truth before they kill them.
Why? Why would he admit this?
Of course. I’m either not making it out of here, or he doesn’t care as I have no witnesses. Fuck, I hope George can hear this. It’s not as though I can check.
And now The Hells Angels are involved?
What the hell? Literally!
I still had my sense of humor. Sort of. Twisted. Ironic. Disbelieving. Naive.
So payment has already been exchanged!
This isn’t a hypothetical. I’m really wanted dead. I’m hated that much. I’m such a danger. To what???? It was a whine. A pathetic, confused whine. Why on earth am I needed dead?
I’m sitting with a hired killer who has been paid to carry out the job. My stomach is turning. I can hear it. I want it to stay silent. I’m still trying to feign being nonchalant. I have spent six months trying to gain information, dig up evidence and stay alive at the same time. I’m obviously outnumbered, outmaneuvered and out played. I have only a few things protecting me. Long term, I’m relying on my ability to research and write. The other is my friends. And mostly on fellow victims. Not much protection under the circumstances.
“Alright then, if we are going to be this open, I need to be honest and say, I’d be stupid to pretend I don’t still think I’m at risk. Huge risk. Apparently there’s more than just one person after me. I’m shocked to think that I’m so important, so hated and I suppose, that I’m considered such a threat, and that you have accepted responsibility to do the task. That you have recently also warned me that I’m better off with you than the ‘angry rogue’ also after me, doesn’t make me feel any better. A bullet is a bullet.”
I remember just feeling sick in my stomach. Exhausted. Part of me egged on the bullet. Bring it on. Finish this pain.
“Because you are on my Facebook, you know I’ve written a book and although it needs to be edited, right now, my solicitor has a copy, and there are several on USB sticks stored with people. I just need to be clear, that if anything happens to me or my son, that your names have not been changed. So it reads like an enormous police statement. Dates, times and your identities. Just so we are clear. I may still be killed but they will come straight to your door. If we are here tonight to strike a better arrangement for me and you to work together, then that book has a better use for all of us and I’d change your details as you wish. I will do what it takes to finish all of this, once and for all. This all needs to stop. Paul needs to be found. I want to have him come back home to Melbourne, and I personally wouldn’t mind being allowed to live my life quietly and safely.”
Bluff or fact? Even I didn’t know anymore.
Writing? - Yes. 175,000 words worth.
Did my solicitor have it? - Yes.
Were there USB sticks and emailed copies? - Yes
Anywhere near finished? - No. Because more stuff kept surfacing.
Useful? - Perhaps.
Weapon? - Maybe if I were to throw it.
Threatening enough to keep me alive? - I’m about to find out.
Tony was sitting on the counter top beside the sink. He laughed.
“No, Keep our names. I want to be famous and I want him to know, that I helped bring him down., but to do any of this, we probably need to figure out where Paul is. Sorry Katherine, but what a coward. Leaving you like this. With all the questions. He obviously has all the answers.”
In the corner of a quiet part of my mind. ‘Am I going to get through this? If so, when? Am I going to get the answers, that I need to walk out unharmed, satisfied, sane and exonerated? Or have I just walked into the easiest setup?’
I hate that I am having to deal with this. This can’t be how the nightmare ends, with me voluntarily meeting the hitman, hired to kill me and him actually doing it.
That would be anti climactic and I feel in my core, that it’s not how I want this game to be played out. I’m not quite sure of the rules yet, but I am risking my life that this isn’t how it ends. Not tonight at least. Perhaps.
Vito got off his chair and walked towards me. The hackles on the back of my neck again stood up and I saw the hairs on my arm raise on top of goose bumps. Fight or flight in action. I had no physical fight in me. I looked defeat in the eye. Let it be. So this is how it ends. I felt beaten but strangely calm. I’d been on the run for four months: and scared for a lot longer.
“It’s all good love. Let’s see what can be done to sort this, one way or the other. Come on, we should all go outside and have a glass of wine.
I followed him out to the courtyard. Into the dark, aware of the instability of my ankles, and the twitching of my knees. I am not safe here. The backyard flashed with lights, revealing a gazebo and BBQ table.
Filomina followed out with glasses and a bottle of red wine, as Vito sat across from me. He gave me a compassionate look and suggested I take a seat opposite him. “What a mess. So much money. So many victims. Katherine, you’ll need to tell us what you know about the missing inheritance. That’s where we will find our compensation. No one messes with my family. But, first, tell me, what do you think has happened to Paul? Has anyone found his car yet?”
Vito has to appear like he cares, he wants information from me. I highly doubt it’s genuine concern for my broken heart: My grief: Obviously not for my fear. I had a feeling that Vito actually really knew the answer to his own question, but then again maybe he didn’t. I knew nothing.
“Don’t worry, Katherine, we’ll find him. There’s so many people out there looking. You know, I’m sure he’s doing just fine.”
‘Is Paul fine?’ I wondered to myself. ‘Is he ok? I don’t think so.’ I miss him so much it hurts to be alive. Am I ok? Personally I believe my beautiful Paul is gone forever. My best hope is that they at least find Paul’s body and allow me to mourn all I have lost. As for the new asshole who wants me dead, well that’s a whole different story. Two different people. Two very different feelings.
I am so heart broken.