Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
Was she insinuating that Alex Benderby killed Jacob Stravinsky?
“Alex is a bully but he’s not a murderer,” I said, and wondering, at the same time, if he had finally graduated to a full-blown bad guy.
“He wouldn’t do it. Like his old man, they get others to do their dirty work. I’m sure the significance of Alex being out on his father’s boat was not lost on you. You asked the questions, and now that I’ve thought about it, it’s possible those divers could have planted the body on Rico’s boat.”
It’s one thing to come up with theories, but it was entirely another to suddenly realize they might be true. Until this point, I was happy to let Boggs have his dream that one day we might uncover a treasure trove, thinking that it was more fiction than the truth. It made a good story, one of hope for a person who had had very little of it in the past.
Now, it was becoming horribly true. What might amount to proof there might be treasure buried somewhere along this coast, an expert being interrogated and then killed, and a pair of what could only be described as gangsters about to start fighting over the spoils and not afraid of killing anyone who got in their way, these were omens, omens not to be ignored.
“Then don’t you think this is far too dangerous to get involved in? Look what happened to Boggs and I. We got off lightly if what you say is true. I’m surprised if this Stravinsky is dead, then why isn’t Boggs? He had the map, there’s no doubt Vice would assume he had made a copy. What to stop him from doing the same to Boggs and Benderby did for Stravinsky?”
“Vince is not a clever as Alex. Vince will never take over the Cossatino clan. Alex, on the other hand, is the next generation of Benderby thugs. But I suspect the older Benderby doesn’t know what’s going on. Not yet anyway.”
My bottle of beer was empty. Now I think I needed something stronger. A lot stronger.
There was a knock on the door, which caught us both by surprise.
Are you expecting anyone?” I asked, and in the next second suspected it might be Vince, and I’d been led down the garden path to a place where I really didn’t want to be.
“No.” She went over to the door and peered through the peephole.
“Damn,” she muttered.
Another, more demanding, knock.
She turned to look at me, “It’s Vince and my father. I didn’t ask them to come here, and no, I didn’t tell them anything, whatever you might be thinking.”
All I was thinking right then was the coincidence of their arrival and being very afraid.
She opened the door.
Vince barged in almost pushing the door into his sister and stopped when he saw me. At a more sedate speed, Giuliano Cossatino, Nadia’s father came into the room, and also stopped when he saw me.
There was no mistaking the malice on Vince’s face. Nadia was right. He was all muscle and no brain.
The older Cossatino spoke first. “I see you have a new friend, though I would have thought you’d have better taste in men.”
“Your days of telling me what I can do and not do were over the moment you sent me away.”
“And yet you come back, slinking about like a thief in the night. Your mother was most upset when you didn’t tell her.”
“The fact I have to, as you call it, slink back, should tell you a lot.”
“That you’re still the idiotic child you were before you went away.”
OK, now I was in the middle of a domestic family standoff. I was waiting for the order for Vince to throw me out, quite possibly over the balcony for good measure.
“I should leave,” I said standing, “and let you two work it out.”
Vince took another step forward and was now only two paces away. I’d have to go through him to leave.
“Stay,” Cossatino said. “I have nothing against you. Yet.”
“If you’re thinking this is anything but reminiscing about the old days, Mr Cossatino, then you’d be wrong. There’s nothing between your daughter and I but air. And,” mustering more bravado than I felt, “call your attack dog off.”
“You don’t want to find out.” Where was this coming from? I was saying the words, but they were not my words.
“I hardly think…”
“That’s probably your biggest fault,” Nadia said, in a tone that suggested she was rapidly losing patience with her father.
It was clear to me now, she had a hard time of it as a child, not unlike the rest of us, but for different reasons. The bullying didn’t have to happen at school, but I could see why she had been like she was back then.
“You never gave me any attention except to treat e like garbage, no, worse than garbage. I can see nothing has changed.” Then she switched her attention to Vince. “And look at you, daddy’s little attack dog, as Sam says. I’d start worrying Vince, because one day someone’s going to beat the crap out of you, and then you’ll be nothing, just like me.”
Vince only had one expression, so it was difficult to tell if he was worried or not.
Back to her father, “Why are you here?”
I doubt anyone had spoken to him like Nadia just did, and he looked angry. If I hadn’t been there, I was not sure what would have happened to her.
“Your mother would like to see you.”
“You tell her to grow a backbone first, then when she does, I’ll think about it. Now get out of my room, or I’ll call the sheriff. At least he’s not in your back pocket.”
She picked up her phone and made ready to call.
A flick of his head got Vince to back up to the door and open it.
“You will regret this, young lady.”
“And don’t you forget I know where the skeletons are buried, so I’d leave now before some of them start rattling.”
A look of suffused anger flashed across his face, and he took a step forward. I was not sure what to expect, but Nadia did take a step back. She knew what he was capable of.
“We need to talk. Don’t make me wait too long or there’ll be consequences.”
A glare at me, another for his daughter along with a shake of his head, then he left closing the door quietly after him.
I sat down before I fell down. Nadia visibly wilted.
“I’m sorry about that. You might have thought twice about threatening Vince. You know he’ll come after you now.”
“Let him. I always thought you were close to your father.”
“Daddy’s girl I was not. Daddy’s biggest disappointment, maybe.”
“You didn’t ask him to come?”
“But he didn’t come here to ask you to visit your mother. It sounded like a last-minute invention.”
“It was. My real mother is dead, and my stepmother was the reason why I was sent away. Among other things. No. He was here to tell me to get closer to Alex. It means only one thing. This treasure hunt is about to get very, very ugly.”
© Charles Heath 2019