Carol Kilgore has published several short mysteries, including "Just a Man on the Sidewalk," the Derringer Award winner for Best Short-Short Mystery of 1999. She has recently completed a novel titled THIS HEAT IS MURDER, featuring Houston homicide investigator Toni Adams, and is currently at work on the second novel in this series titled A HOT AFFAIR WITH MURDER. She is a member of Sisters in Crime. Visit her website http://www.zianet.com/carolkilgore for more. Here is one of Carol's stories, The Angel and the Ice Goddess, a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Angel and the Ice Goddess
Nicky Angel needed a place to hide.
A sweet piece of ass made him run late getting to Little Italy to meet Frank
Montessaro. Frankie, his Capo--his boss in the Family--said to meet him
at 6:00 oíclock at La Roma. Nicky wasnít that late, but when Frankie said
6:00, he didnít mean 5:59 or 6:01.
Nicky reached Mulberry Street with a smile on his face and threaded his
way through the crowd to La Roma, only to find a sign in the window: "Closed
Ė Private Party." He shook his head. La Roma was a Family restaurant, run
by Frankieís brother, and always open. He went around to the alley, and
by the back door found Don Vito Ciccone, or what was left of him. Dead eyes
stared at nothing and blood still seeped from several of the bullet holes.
Frankie. And Nicky was to have been here, too. He knew that sweet piece
saved his life.
Frankie and Don Ciccone disagreed about many things, argued on occasion,
mainly about the profitable drug traffic. Frankie wanted to go after the
Jamaicans and Chinese like the Lambretta Family was doing. But Don Ciccone
believed in letting them have their share. Frankie talked big about how
he would run things, what he would do, but Nicky never thought it would
come to this. One thing Nicky knew, Frankie tolerated him only because of
Uncle Vito. He knelt beside his motherís brother, kissed both his cheeks,
and closed his eyelids. As he made the sign of the cross, the hair on Nickyís
neck stood straight up.
He moved to get up, but instead dived behind a trash bin. He heard the ping
of a bullet as it ricocheted off the metal. His ears rang in the ensuing
silence. Then he heard the growing wail of sirens, followed by a nearby
car engine roaring to life, and the squeal of tires on the pavement.
He left his hiding place, ran to Canal Street, and hailed the first taxi
he saw, thankful it stopped. "LaGuardia, step on it. Iím late."
"Yeah, you bastards are always late," the cabby muttered before slamming
the window shut.
Halfway to LaGuardia, Nicky realized airports and trains were out. Frankieís
boys were everywhere, from sweepers to ticket agents. He pulled out his
cell phone and called his friend, Sal, who lived on Staten Island . . .
and got the machine.
"Weíre at the boysí Little League games. If we donít call you back after
three tries, youíre out, Baby." Salís voice. He fancied himself a comedian.
Nicky didnít leave a message.
Nicky and Sal grew up together in Little Italy, bailing each other out of
one jam or another since they were kids. But Sal went his own way, wanting
nothing to do with the Families. He got a degree in architecture and worked
for some hot-shot firm in midtown. Nicky kept their friendship private.
The taxi dropped him at LaGuardia, but instead of going inside, Nicky walked
to the arrivals area and got another taxi to take him to Staten Island.
He was waiting on Sal and Ginaís doorstep when they returned home.
"Nicky, whatís up?" Sal grabbed him in a bear hug and ushered him inside.
"I gotta get outta town, Sal." He felt sweat pop out on his forehead and
knew his eyes were wide with fear. His heart pounded in his ears as he told
Sal what happened.
"Canada. You know how to get there?" was the only question Sal asked.
"You got a map? Never mind, Iíll find it. I canít go to Montreal--Frankieís
tight with Aldo Bianco. Gotta be west . . . Toronto . . . Ottawa. And Iím
goiní through Jersey. I ainít putting my balls back in the City as long
as Frankieís there."
"Call when you get there. Tell me where to pick up the Caddie," Sal said,
patting the front fender of his bright red almost-new Cadillac.
Gina packed a Macyís bag with a couple of meatball sandwiches and some sodas,
so he wouldnít need to stop for food. As if he could eat. He tossed the
bag in a trashcan at the first toll booth on the Parkway.
Nicky drove through New Jersey and into New York state without incident,
but he missed the turn onto Route 17 and was in Newburgh before realizing
his mistake. In the dark, he made more than one wrong turn over unfamiliar
roads. After daybreak, all he saw were hills, valleys, trees, and one dead
Nicky slammed on the brakes when he went over the next hill. The car rocked
in the middle of the road as he stared at the first sign of human life he
had seen since dawn: a mailbox shaped like a house, painted white with yellow
trim, and some kind of bright yellow flowers growing out of its roof. What
sort of man would have something so foolish announcing where he lived?
While he stared at his strange discovery, a chime sounded within the car,
and Nicky jumped. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," he muttered when he saw the
low fuel light was lit. "Of all the fuckiní times to run out of gas." He
hadnít seen a station since Newburgh.
Nicky made up his mind. He turned into the asphalt driveway and followed
it behind the house that belonged to the silly mailbox. He killed the engine,
leaned his head back against the warm leather seat, and closed his eyes.
Seconds after the last shimmer of light slipped beneath Nickyís closing
eyelids, he heard a loud bang. His eyes sprang open, and he flung himself
across the front seat. When he heard nothing but the pounding of his own
heart, he craned his neck to see over the dash. His eyes fixed on a pair
of long, shapely tanned legs skipping down the steps. Traveling up those
lovely legs, he discovered an even better body. And the face . . . Nicky
said a silent Hail Mary in gratitude. By this time, Nickyís fuzzy brain
deduced the noise had been the slamming of the long-legged broadís screen
door. He watched her stow a small duffel bag in the back of a black Land
Rover before he sat up and smoothed his hair. Then he put a smile on his
face and got out of the car.
"Hello," he said, walking over to the latest piece to cross his path. "Nicholas
Angeletti." He thrust out his hand, but she made no move to shake it. "I
seem to have gotten myself into somewhat of a predicament, Miss . . . "
He let the unfinished sentence hang.
"Go on," she said, inclining her head and not filling in the information
Nicky hoped for.
Nicky pulled back his outstretched hand. He pinched his nose and chewed
the inside of his cheek. She seemed to be taking in everything about him.
What was behind those big gray eyes of hers, anyway?
"Well," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "I took a shortcut in the middle
of the night and must have made an incorrect turn, because youíre the first
sign of civilization Iíve seen since the sunís been up." He chuckled. "I
hoped you could direct me to a highway, preferably one with a number. My
carís low on gasoline."
The broad stared at him like he was a goddamn freak. Great piece or not,
Nicky thought he would be better off thanking her for her time, getting
back in Salís Caddie, and speeding away. Then the Ice Goddess began to thaw.
"Mr. Angeletti," she said and smiled, "Iím Lily Roberts. Sorry if I seemed
rude, but you startled me. I donít normally see strangers lurking around
my door, especially at six in the morning. I was just about to go running,
before it gets too hot. But Iíll be happy to give you directions."
Nicky jumped back in the Caddie, hiding where the piece couldnít keep eyeballing
him. She began giving directions, but all he could do was watch her marvelous
set of hooters.
The longer he looked at her, the more aware Nicky became of the differences
in their appearance. She wore a black halter top--filled to perfection--bright
purple boxers over black bicycle shorts, and running shoes. With her silvery
blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail, her face free of makeup, and her
sparkling eyes, she looked clean, fresh, and well rested.
He looked like he just came off a week-long drunk, and he could smell his
own sweat. He took off his jacket and tie during the drive, opened his cotton
shirt at the neck, and rolled the sleeves halfway to the elbow. It looked
slept in. His silk trousers were not much better. And the Italian loafers
on his feet wouldnít last for ten minutes if he tried to jog, much less
run. Was the piece laughing at him? He ran his hand over his face and knew
he needed a shave.
" . . . but someone like yourself not accustomed to the countryside could
get turned around pretty easily, especially at night."
Nicky jerked his eyes back to her face and gave her a smile. He shifted
in his seat as he prepared to leave. He watched her tongue wet her full
lips before she smiled at him.
"Thank you, Lily. I appreciate your help. Iím sure I can find it, especially
now that the sun is up."
"Iím going as far as Shelby, myself, but then I go on up toward the top
of the mountain on my run. Itís easier going uphill at the beginning," Lily
said with a small laugh. "If you want, you can follow me to Shelby. Itís
only a quarter mile or so."
"Great! At least Iíll know Iím starting out in the right direction."
"Lily jogged to the road and halfway to Shelby Lane before Nicky headed
in her direction. For the short distance he followed her, his eyes feasted.
What a body! Nicky forced himself to shift the direction of his thoughts
as he again shifted in the seat.
When they reached Shelby, Lily smiled and waved at him before turning left
and continuing uphill. After one last long look, Nicky sighed and turned
He followed Lilyís directions down the hill and onto Pine Lake Road. When
he saw the sign for the R.V. park, he began to whistle a tuneless little
song. No more back roads; after he gassed up, straight to Canada, just as
he and Sal planned. He would leave the car in a parking lot, call Sal to
tell him where it was, and disappear. Then heíd find a Canadian broad and
get married. Frankie would never think to look for a married man.
Without warning the road ended. Nicky stood on his brakes, praying he would
stop before running into a small mountain stream he saw up ahead. The road
that was supposed to go to the highway came to an end in a deserted R.V.
park. The place looked like a rejected set from a 50ís science fiction movie.
A movement in front of the car caught Nickyís eye before the Caddieís windshield
exploded. A beautiful blonde Ice Goddess was Nickyís last vision before
a bullet splintered his brain.
As Lily retraced her path up the mountain stream, she considered her unexpected
windfall. The Counselor called with the assignment just minutes after David
left for work. She dressed quickly and flew out the door, ready to leave
in search of the target, when fate intervened.
The target appeared at her back door, drooling over her like a dog over
a bitch in heat. She hadnít even had to look for the poor bastard. She wished
all her assignments were as easy. Although when the Counselor told her to
look for a red Cadillac headed toward Ontario, she knew this assignment
would be simple. Sheíd sent the target on a roundabout exercise to give
herself ample time to return home, retrieve her Glock Model 20, and reach
her chosen execution site.
When the stream reached the back of her property, a little over a mile from
where the target would spend eternity in his gaudy vehicle, she climbed
the log steps leading to the top of the bank. She crossed her back yard
and retrieved the duffel bag before going inside. She went to the basement,
cleaned her pistol, and returned it to the duffel bag. Then she placed the
bag back in its hiding place in the basement wall. She knew the rules: always
dispose of the weapon. But she enjoyed flaunting her signature. She replaced
the last block, then went upstairs and took a shower.
After dressing, she drove into town. At the Courthouse Cafť, she sipped
coffee, munched a bagel, and chatted with friends. She left and drove to
Albany, where she located an out-of-the-way pay phone and placed a call.
"Hello," said a slightly accented male voice.
"The contract has been fulfilled."
"Well done. The money will be wired directly."
"Thank you." She replaced the receiver.
When Lily returned home, she found a message on her answering machine. She
poured a glass of Chardonnay, made herself comfortable in the wing chair
next to the phone, and pressed the play button.
"Mrs. Roberts, this is Kevin Madison in your husbandís office. He asked
me to call and tell you that he wonít be able to make it home this evening
because of all the mob killings in the City. The mayor requested his presence,
and as the stateís attorney general, he feels he needs to be there. Heíll
be at the Plaza and will call you after he checks in. If you need him, his
cell phone will be on. Bye, now."
Lily experienced the first strong stirrings of desire, always powerful after
an assignment. A smile played around the corners of her mouth as she took
her wine into the bedroom, finishing it as she packed a small bag. Sheíd
go to the City and surprise David. If she hurried, she could be there in
time for a late supper . . . and dessert.
Bonnie Mercure, your Fiction Guide at the dowse Fiction Hub, is a dark fantasy author.
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