Zeke pulled into Bola Auto Repair and parked his car next to a used Ford SUV and a used Buick Regal. Zeke looked at his cell, “We got five minutes until we meet Sal. I think being early will look good. Let’s go.”
“What are you going to ask Sal?” asked Mickey.
“I’ve been thinking of that. I don’t have an answer. I’m gonna play it by ear, Mickey. You got any ideas?”
Mickey made an effort, although painful, to think, “I think I got one. How much do you think Sal wants for the Ford SUV?”
“This is your idea?”
“It was the best I could do,” said Mickey.
A six-foot two-inch guy, with dirty fingernails, oil stained jeans, wavy black hair, with his name Sonny stitched into his shirt, rapped on the driver’s window. “You can’t park this piece of crap here. I’m running a business. Anybody sees this, they’ll think I sell crap. I don’t repair anything not worth fixing. So, what do you want?”
Zeke lowered the window, “We got an appointment with Sal. Is he in the house?”
“Pop don’t have anything to do with the business, I run it. You can find him at the Sons of Italy Club. If you got an appointment, he’ll be in the last booth. Now get this piece of crap out of here.”
Ten minutes later the boys pulled into the Sons of Italy parking lot. Zeke looked at his cell, “We’re late. I hope we didn’t blow it.”
“It’s Gus’s fault. He didn’t tell us to come here,” said Mickey.
“Mickey, do me a favor, don’t talk. Don’t speak. Let me do all the talking. Understand?”
“I gotcha, Zeke. My mouth is shut tighter than my uncle Freddie. He’s so tight he won’t give you the right time of day.”
The boys walked into the Sons of Italy club. Four old guys were playing poker. Two guys were at the bar drinking beer watching the replay of last night’s Sox game. Zeke walked over to the bar.
Alphonso Donati, the bartender, who was standing opposite the two guys watching the replay of the Sox game, turned his head toward Zeke, “What da you want? I don’t got all day. The Sox are up. They scored three runs this inning.”
“I don’t want a beer. I want to talk to Sal? You seen him?”
“You talking Sal Peci? Sal Lozano? Or Sal Balovini?”
Mickey whispered in Zeke’s ear, “Do you know which one, I’m terrible with names?”
Zeke took a deep breath and said, “Sal Balovini.”
Alphonso turned around and looked at Zeke and Mickey. “He expecting you guys?”
“We have a two o’clock appointment,” said Zeke.
Alphonso turned to the wall and pointed to the clock, “It’s five after two, you’re late. And, I see you didn’t bring any offering to Mr. Sal.”
Zeke slapped the side of his head, “I knew I forgot something important. I got too many balls running around in my brain. You got anything I can buy that will work?”
Zeke put his right hand to his chin and made believe he was thinking. After a moment, he said, “It costs you a ten spot for me helping you and 20 for the imported bottle of chilled beer straight from Sicily.”
Zeke reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He pulled out two fives, and two tens, he looked at the remaining two singles and wondered what he was going to eat tonight. He handed the money to Alphonso.
Alphonso took the money, put it in his pocket and reached under the counter and pulled out a bottle of Rizzo’s Finest Sicilian Beer. “Here you go boys, Mr. Sal is in the back booth.”
Zeke looked toward the back booth, “I can’t see anybody.”
“He’s there. I don’t know for how long. Once you buy, it’s yours. I don’t give money back.”
Zeke carried the bottle of beer in his left hand. The boys made their way to the last booth. They stopped at the booth and looked at Sal, his head was resting on his arms on the table.
Mickey whispered, “Is he dead?”
“I dunno,” said Zeke.
“Ask him if he’s dead,” said Mickey.
Zeke looked around. Alphonso and the two guys at the bar were watching the Sox. The poker game was going on. No one was paying attention to Mickey and him. He bent toward Sal’s head, “Mr. Sal? Mr. Sal? You okay?”
“What do you think, Zeke? He didn’t answer. How we going to know if he’s okay if he don’t tell us he’s okay,” said Mickey.
Zeke patted Sal on the shoulder, “Mr. Sal? Mr. Sal, you okay?”
Mr. Sal didn’t move. He didn’t twitch. He didn’t open an eye.
“Check his pulse like they do on TV,” said Mickey.
“Where do they check it? I usually get a beer when there’s no action,” said Zeke.
“I think it’s the wrist,” said Mickey.
“His head’s on his wrists,” said Zeke.
“Let me do it, Zeke. I like the doctor shows. I think I know what to do,” said Mickey.
“Okay, but be careful,” said Zeke.
Mickey put his left hand under Sal’s cheek and lifted his head. He slipped his right hand in and took out Sal’s left arm. Mickey let Sal’s head drop to the table. It landed with a thunk. Alphonso turned from the TV toward the booth. Zeke smiled and waved.
“I think he’s deader than road kill, Zeke. That’s pretty dead. We gotta get out of here. People will think we killed Sal.”
“You’re right, Mickey. Let’s get out of here.”
The boys walked toward the entrance. Alphonso turned and watched them. “Hey where you going with the beer?”
“Sal didn’t want it. He wasn’t thirsty,” said Zeke.
Alphonso looked back toward the booth. When he turned back to the boys, they were gone.
What are the boys going to do? Will they be accused of killing Sal? What about Tony Gallino and his package?