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Chicago Down: An Excerpt

*Greetings, All. Here is an excerpt from Chicago Down. It’s a draft, but I’d like to know what you think.  Thanks!

Chicago Down

When Salbatora Guerrera left Al Capone’s bedroom, she felt as if she’d done some horrible deed. A deed so terrible that her own mother would disown her. Maybe she wouldn’t though, if she knew the true circumstances behind Sal’s actions.

Sal felt as if she murdered someone. Her friend; a legend. But that someone was truly already dead. Dead long before his physical death. And now, she’d carry this with her into eternity. Forever, and ever. The confusion this day has wrought.

Sal walked passed the doctor and a body guard or two. She thought she saw the driver of the car that brought her to Florida from Chicago. A long drive, it was. Despite that, she barely remembered the miles as they went by. A train might have been much nicer. And gotten her here a heck of a lot faster. But it’s not what Al wanted. Despite his showy personality, he wanted her arrival to be incognito. For her to be safe from the media and busy bodies. It was his endgame. This whole thing. One that he chose before he lost his mind and his senses. Ironic, for a larger-than-life character such as Al Capone, wouldn’t you say?

He wanted Sal to take care of business in the end. He trusted her and only her to do it. After all, she owed him, and she believed in payment of debts. Yet, he was her friend. And she, his. Despite the world’s perception of Al Capone, he was honestly kind to her and never asked anything in return for all he had done for her over the years. Nothing at all. He never put the moves on her, or asked for any sort of sexual favors, or payment in some other shady way. When she had nothing, he had it all, and he offered some to her, Sal, a lost Texan looking for her family. Sal, who found it, and then lost it all over again for the good of humankind.

Al, he admired her. No doubt that her tenaciousness, crassness, bravery and the way she accepted both success and defeat with grace was just a few of the several reasons why he thought she was worth helping.

Sal wandered passed everyone, barely aware of them. She imagined the blood of her friend being upon her hands and she broke down out there on the veranda. All alone. It took only an instant though, for the brave and strong Salbatora to regain her warrior stature. Not as young as she used to be, and having so many responsibilities these days, she just pushed that grief aside. Now was not the time.

“Salbatora,” Mae Capone was behind her, holding a small box. Only middle aged, Mae was still as pretty as ever, even after all she had been through. “Al left this for you. He boxed up these things a long time ago. I don’t really know what’s in here. And I never tried to look.”

She approached Sal and gestured for her to take the box. Sal started to reach for the box, but hesitated.

“Really, Sal, take it.”

Sal took the box with unease. “I don’t know why Al would leave me anything. I’ve taken way too much already.”

“He left it for you because he knew that you’d come,” Mae took a deep breath and turned away from Sal, almost as if she was ashamed. “He knew you’d come here and do what the rest of us couldn’t. What his family, friends, or employees could not do.” She shook her head and turned around to face Sal.

“I…I don’t know…I…” Sal just stuttered. She was at a loss for words and actions.

“He knew you’d end it for him. Put a stop to it. Do what even his doctor wouldn’t. What I wouldn’t…couldn’t. He never wanted to become like that.” Mae wrung her hands, choosing her words carefully. “Once, he became lucid for a few seconds, Salbatora. It was only a few days ago. He opened his eyes wide, looked at me. Raised his head up off the pillow, and…spoke like he did when he was…oh,” she smiled, “like back when he was twenty-five or so. He said, ‘Mae, get Sal. The time is coming. Like I said. Don’t let me become one of them. It’s in me. I was touched by the darkness. Don’t let it…I can’t.’ Then he put his head back down on the pillow. Breathing hard, staring at the ceiling. I wondered what he was thinking. After about a minute, he closed his eyes.”

Salbatora stayed at a hotel, paid for by Al Capone, for the duration of her stay. Mae offered her a room at the house, but with so many years gone by, Sal felt odd about it. She didn’t want to impose upon a grieving family. Sal left the next day. Driven all the way back to Chicago by the same chauffer that brought her to Florida.

 

Copyright 2018 Wanda Paryla

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