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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.

The Angel and the Ice Goddess
Carol Kilgore

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 skunk.

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 downhill.

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.

"Counselor?"

"Yes."

"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.


The Angel and the Ice Goddess was Originally published in issue #11 of
Blue Murder December 1999.

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