It all started in Venice – Episode 21

An Invitation to Dinner

I did not go back to the hotel, but instead went home from the airport, half expecting to find Cecilia still there.

She wasn’t, but the lingering scent of her perfume hung in the air as a reminder.  I entered if it might stir up Violetta’s ghost because more than once I thought I heard her moving about the house.

It was, of course, my imagination, but just the same it was a slim possibility.  I guess talking to her even though she was not there didn’t help.

I had no intention of seeing or talking to Juliet lest she alerted Larry to my visit.  It needed to stay anonymous for it to be effective.

A shower, a change of clothes and into the anonymous car that looked like a million others on the road.

Oh, and a little deft driving to lose the car that followed me away from the garage.  The Frenchman was persistent, I’ll give him that.

Larry’s mother lived in a mansion overlooking the Mediterranean, and I’d spent a few afternoons on the patio sampling the energy and cheese of a country that knew how to excel in both.

When Violetta first got sick, we had been invited to stay for a few months and she had loved it.  It had made her feel better, but in the end, there was no beating cancer that was very aggressively attacking her.

Perhaps it was fitting she took her last breath in the place she loved so much.

I hadn’t been back since, and passing through the gates brought back a flood of sad memories and a tear or two.

Not enough to blur my sight, and take down the two guards Larry had lurking near the gate, supposedly in hiding, with a tranquilizer gun.

I dragged the bodies deeper into the hedgerow.  They wouldn’t be waking up for at least 12 hours, time enough to do what I had to.

It was a pleasant but invigoration walk up the hill keeping to the cover the garden provided until I stepped out just in front of the patio, and beyond the open doors the dining room where five people were seated.

“What, not waiting for the guest of honor?” I said, stepping out into full view of the diners.

Two men on the door turned swiftly and both were tranquilized before they could take a step.  I turned and looked over my shoulder at the site I thought Cecilia would take, then turned back to see both Larry and his mother out of their seats.

First observation, I didn’t know Larry had three children only two.  The son was a replica of him, the girls, both more than ten, were identical twins and like their mother.  Once again, I had to wonder why a woman like Brenda would be interested in a man like him.

“What are you doing here?” Larry growled, stopping short of approaching me, eyes on the tranquilizing gun.

The thought crossed my mind that I should just put him to sleep, taken away, to have a less civilized conversation, something he would understand.

“I invited him to dinner.  He is an old friend, and you know him as well as I do.”

Her eyes were on the bodyguards on the ground, and Larry, waiting for his reaction.  She came over and hugged me.  “So nice to see you again.”

“You were in London,” he said tonelessly.  It was a statement, not a question.

“Marvels of modern transport.  You should stop using leaking rowboats to come and go and embrace the jet age.  Sit down Larry, you’re making a scene in front of your family.”

“Who is he dear,” his wife asked as he threw himself back in the chair next to her.  The three children looked me over like they would a new toy, the son in particular, with a trademark scowl on his face.

“A policeman of sorts.”

“I didn’t know you were working with the police.”

It was an interesting statement, and if I didn’t know better, it seemed to me she was pushing a button.  The look she gave him was priceless.

“Perhaps you and the children should leave the table and let me sort this small problem out.”

“No dear.  I want to hear what he has to say.”

He turned to glare at her, a particularly dark expression, whether it was the result of my unexpected arrival or her defiance which I thought was brave under the circumstances, whatever the reason, it showed her to be vastly different from the description of her in the department’s files.

“I told you…”

“You do not raise your voice at me, or anyone, at the dinner table.  You also apparently have some explaining to do because when I asked you what happened to your brother, Trevor, you told me the police killed him.  I’m assuming that by police you mean in the form of our dining companion who just arrived.”

He looked surprised, no I would say that he was shocked.  “You seem remarkably well-informed about something you really know nothing about.”  He was showing remarkable restraint because I knew if it was anyone else, they’d be all but dead.

“I know that Trevor told you several times he wanted nothing to do with the business.  We used to spend time talking about what he wanted to do with his life and lament the fact you wouldn’t let him.  I know you coerced him into running that errand for you because he rang and told me, no asked me, to intervene on his behalf.  It seems he knew that there was a traitor in your organization, that he told you his suspicions, but you said it couldn’t possibly be that person.  Then when it all went, as he said, to hell in a handbasket, he called me to tell me what happened, and then called your mother, at the behest of your so-called police assassin, and she was talking to her when you arrived.  So, Larry, the key question here is, what did you do that took a brother who was alive when you arrived, to dead on arrival at the hospital?  You were there, so only you know what happened.”

“I did nothing.  He was alive when I put him in the ambulance.”

“Who went with him to the hospital?”


“The person he told you was the traitor.  The person you said couldn’t possibly be one.  He didn’t go with Trevor to the drop-off, so how did he get there?”

I’ll be honest, I was fascinated, if not hanging on every word.  One nuance I did pick up on, was the way she spoke about Trevor told me they had more than just conversations.  Had Larry known that also?

“He was not a traitor.”

“And yet you have no explanation as to why he disappeared shortly after Trevor died.  Convenient, don’t you think?”

She sat there, face to face, with the man she had married twenty years before, then a relatively naive young woman who knew who he was, but not what he was to become.  She didn’t rate highly in the files simply because she purposely stayed out of the limelight, and distanced herself from the business, and Larry’s business associates.  I suspected it was to shield her children from the uglier side of the criminal world.  Now, I got the impression Larry was trying to induct his son into the business, although only 16, and she was not happy with it or with him.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”  Less bluster, it was odd to see Larry in a situation where he wasn’t in charge.

“You mean, for once in your life, you don’t have the lies at your fingertips.  Let’s leave that for the moment and move on to Jaime Meyers.”

Now he was truly shocked, like a man who just received an umpteen-volt jolt.

“How do you know…”  He turned and glared at me.

“Don’t look at me, Larry.  I haven’t told anyone about our conversation in London, as per the agreement I made with her.  I think you might want to consider the possibility that your wife is not the dumb blonde you tell your friends she is.”

A cat among the pigeons’ statement drew a very dark look from her.  “Trevor told me you called me a dumb blonde and I didn’t want to think that was true, but when Elaine told me she overheard Lorenzo talking to his friends using those exact words, I was disappointed.”

That was when Cecilia crashed the party.

© Charles Heath 2022

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