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Vincent entered the reception area. An older woman at the desk scowled at him.
“Yes?” she said caustically.
“I need to see one of the Zanini brothers.”
“They’re not here now. The executives are attending a board meeting downtown. You’d better call back later and make an appointment.”
“I’ll do that,” Vincent agreed, trying to get a look around. “Is it possible to use the restroom?”
“Down the hall, first door on the right,” the receptionist said automatically.
In the washroom, Vincent looked at his face in the mirror. He felt he had aged ten years. He tried Angie’s number one last time and was surprised when he heard a phone ring simultaneously somewhere, like somewhere in the building. He dialed again and, sure enough, a phone started ringing, faintly, beyond the wall. Angie had to be here. Or at least her phone. Vincent made sure the way was clear then he slipped through a set of doors leading to the warehouse.
A burly man in a hard hat and coveralls stopped him. “Hey buddy, you can’t come in here. Staff only. Unless you’re cleared by Doris out front. There are rules, man.”
“I was looking for Mr. Zanini, took a wrong turn I guess.”
“He ain’t here buddy,” the worker growled. “Hey, where’s your visitor badge?” He lunged at Vincent.
Vincent had never, ever, been in a physical confrontation in his life. Probably because of his father’s perceived tough character, Vincent had always distanced himself from any form of altercation. But now he thought of Angie and he swung hard. The man went down like a rock. Vincent was amazed. Wow, I knocked him out. He grabbed some packing tape and taped the guy up like a parcel. Then he went searching.
Angie heard footsteps coming her way and gulped. It would be Cashmere Man coming to interrogate her or worse. She trembled. Tears filled her eyes.
She blinked. It was Vincent armed with a tape gun.
He cut her ties and as carefully as possible tore the tape from her mouth and hair. She yelped. He picked her up and carried her through a side door which led to the parking lot and his car.
“So I thought, if you weren’t busy, maybe we could have lunch,” he said.
She glared at him. “Oh, you’re taking me to lunch alright but maybe first you need to take me home so I can shower and change and oh yeah, file a police report ’cause I was kidnapped and almost killed. I’ll be needing some new clothes to replace what I’m wearing. I’m covered in dirt and tape and sweat, and possibly dinner later, did I mention I was starving and kidnapped?”
Vincent smiled. “I know a detective we can talk to.” He started the car.
A few months later, Detective Pollard dialed an untraceable number. “It’s me,” he said into the phone. “Just wanted to bring you up to speed. It’s all over. We have them all in custody and pending trial. Yes, he’s fine and…oh, so you already know…”
He ended the call shortly afterwards.
It was late afternoon in the city of Cosenza tucked up against the Calabrian hills. Two elderly men sat on plastic chairs under a spreading olive tree, a chess board between them. They spoke in their native dialect and drank red wine.
“Can we please just finish this game without any more interruptions? I have to get home for supper,” said the one whose name was Alfonso.
The other one, whose name was Vito, smiled as he put his cell phone away.
“What’s the hurry, compagno?” he asked Alfonso. “You know you’re going to win like usual. But someday, I’ll get revenge.”
He thought, I always do.