Had he thought about it, Tony might have wondered why Marcia, frosty and distant at the best of times, was fussing over him. She squeezed past him in the bathroom closer than necessary, or usual, and went to get him a clean, dry bath towel.
“I’ll close the bedroom curtains for you so you can take a nap later. Is there anything I can get you? A cuppa maybe? Hot water bottle? Aspirins, paracetamol?” she offered. ’Arsenic?’ she thought.
She quickly tidied up the mess in the spare bedroom. ‘Phew! That was close!’ she thought... ‘where the hell is Franco?’
Franco was a big bloke... a big bloke on the point of ejaculation... but he too was quick thinking, his mind quicker than his penis to react to new circumstances. He leapt up, grabbed his jeans and attempted, in a clumsy way, to get them on. He managed, but his penis wouldn’t play ball, so he took a chance and, using quick, long, quiet, stealthy strides, he entered the kitchen and quietly opened the back door.
He had to hide in the garden a while though as his penis hadn’t caught up with events. So he gave it a hand.
Tony burst into the bathroom. “What’s going on? Who’s in here?”
Marcia, naked, poked out of the now steaming hot shower.
“A clever bloke like you Tony... thought you’d realise I’m having a shower!”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. Why ain’t you using your own shower?”
Marcia was quick. “The water comes through hot quicker here because it’s downstairs.” That seemed to satisfied Tony. “Why are you home so early?
“Feeling a bit sick. Gonna lie down in the spare room.”
It was Marcia’s turn to feel sick as Tony turned to go.
“I’m finished here. Why don’t you freshen up first?”
Tony was lost in his thoughts, oblivious to anything going on under his nose. His nose had caused enough trouble already. He headed towards the downstairs bathroom where Marcia had fled. She got a shock as she hopped into the shower and turned the water on fully. It started very cold and she couldn’t stifle an involuntary shriek at the thermal shock.
As it happened, that shriek saved Franco’s bacon. On hearing Marcia’s shriek, Tony went straight past the spare bedroom, door ajar, without glancing sideways at Franco’s rocket.
“What’s the fuck’s going on?” shouted Tony, which was unwittingly apposite.
Being on foot Tony didn’t use the main gates, so he went in through a side gate. The sound of the gate-opening mechanism was Marcia’s usual early warning system of Tony’s return. Tony always travelled by car.
This time she was caught unawares. Franco was on top of her grinding away in the spare bedroom on the ground floor when she heard keys in the front door. Quickly, with difficulty, she pushed Franco up off her and raced out into the adjacent shower room.
Franco remained, on his back, enormous erection pointing aloft, like an inter-continental ballistic missile.
Paolo drove Tony home at a modest pace, thinking that if he had a chance he would open up the sporty SUV on his return and give it a blast.
Stopping outside Tony’s house, Paolo couldn’t help but smile to himself as he spotted Franco’s van parked about thirty yards along the road. He thought the prospect of Tony finding Franco up to his nuts in Marcia hugely amusing.
“Come in,” invited Tony, more from gratefulness than politeness. Tony didn’t do polite.
“I’d best not. I’ll be back at three Tony.”
Tony headed for his gate. Paolo grinned.
“Got the accountant coming later, four o’clock,” Tony managed to get out, “gotta be here. Important.” He retched again, splattering the floor.”
“I’ll get you home and make sure you’re back here before four. Best place for you is home right now. I’ll come back, clean this lot up and get rid of that finger.” Paolo taking charge was the best thing for Tony right then.
“OK,” Tony agreed, “take my car.”
“Will do,” replied Paolo, quickly getting a towel. “Here, use this to wipe off any mess on yourself Tony.” Things were panning out nicely.
And off they went.
Tony moved his head to get a closer look. The awful smell of putrefaction hit his nose and he instantly threw up all over the finger itself, ironically replacing the smell of rotting flesh with one of bile. Paolo was quick to help, getting a chair for Tony to sit on.
“Are you OK boss?” he asked with a false note of concern. “Can I get you anything?”
“Get me outa here will you?”
“Sure Tony, sure. Tell you what, I’ll drive you home for a while, come back here and clear all this up and pick you up later.”
“Are you taking the fucking piss, Paolo? Cos if you are I’ll cut your fucking nuts off!” Clearly Paolo had gone too far.
“No Tony, absolutely not. I don’t know what I’m saying. This whole business has been so shitty for you and for me, as well as for Terry of course. Sorry Tony. I only want to help you... honestly I do.”
Somehow, Paolo’s apparent penitence did the trick and Tony’s attention turned to the rotting finger. Paolo became his ally and support again. His anger turned towards the perpetrators.
“Bastards! Fucking vicious bastards!”
‘Et tu, Antonio.’ thought Paolo.
It wasn’t Terry’s cock of course, but Paolo couldn’t resist winding up Tony. He heard Tony’s exclamation of shock through the office walls and smiled. If he’d been a betting man he’d have wagered on Tony’s legs being firmly crossed. Paolo continued..
“Whatever it is, it smells fucking awful. It’s rotting!”
Tony came racing out of his office. He couldn’t curb his horror, disgust... and curiosity.
Having laid the bait, Paolo had expected Tony to come through to see for himself. So he got in first..
“Looks like another finger,” he continued, “more bone than boner!”
Tony wasn’t laughing though.
“Bloody hurry up Paolo!” Considering Tony had insisted he didn’t want to know the contents of the package, he was mighty impatient to find out.
Paolo trod a fine line, taking his time over the layers. He wanted to wind Tony to the maximum without getting extreme anger focused on himself. Paolo was masterly. He debated whether to remind Tony that he’d not wanted to find out what was inside, but thought the better of it.
Instead, unwrapping the final layer he called. “Tony, you don’t want to see this!”
“Why? What is it? Is it Terry’s cock?”
Paolo did as told. Tony was in such a state that he shouldn’t cross him. But Paolo unwrapped it very carefully, meticulously, layer by layer, almost as if he was waiting for the music to stop each time. It was part of his strategy of winding Tony up so tight his spring might snap. A dangerous game, but if challenged on his snail-like progress, Paolo would argue that he didn’t want to miss anything that might be in the intermediate layers, or risk damaging whatever was inside.
“What’s inside?” shouted Tony.
“Still unwrapping.” Paolo replied, his strategy working well.
“I binned it Tony. Like you told me to. You didn’t want to know what was inside.” Paolo acted surprised and hurt at Tony’s reaction... but he’d expected it. “Sorry, I must have misunderstood.”
Tony said nothing, but pushed past Paolo, going out of the building to rummage in the waste bin and retrieve the package, which he brought back into the office. Meanwhile, Paolo had left Tony’s room and gone back to the outer office.
Tony roughly handed the package to Paolo.
“Open it! Open it now!” ordered Tony, stomping off into his office, slamming the door behind him.
Tony was having some kind of trauma. The tough guy was riven with a combination of anger, guilt and overwhelming sense of loss, but irrationality was taking over too. Tony couldn’t believe Terry was dead. He felt that somehow ‘he knew’ his twin was alive, but he wouldn’t go to see the body to resolve it once and for all. He thought if he did, then all hope might disappear.
Paolo put the package, unopened, in the office rubbish bin outside.
“What was in it?” Tony demanded later.
“No idea, Tony, I binned it like you said.”
“You fucking WHAT?”
“Take it away Paolo; take it away and get rid of it.” Tony had decided and was mighty relieved to have done so. “And don’t tell me what’s inside... unless it’s my fucking money back!” he added.
“Don’t you want to know what’s in it?” Paolo was surprised that having stared at the unopened parcel for days, Tony wouldn’t want to discover its contents. He certainly seemed to be ‘losing it’. Tony reverted to anger.
“Course I do, but I fucking don’t!” he shouted. Then he instantly mellowed. “Paolo mate, do me a favour and get fucking rid of it.”
“Even?... even for what?” asked Paolo. “I didn’t think you had many enemies out there, Tony.”
“You know this business, Paolo, all about reputation and cock stands... and jealousy. Who’s the biggest cock on the block? Anyone seeing someone tough... thinking they’ve got the biggest bollocks... will want to cut them down!”
“So, Terry had the biggest bollocks and they’ve cut them off... and sent them to you?” Paolo was pushing his luck.
“Don’t be a prat Paolo! I’ve got the biggest bollocks and.... fuck me, I don’t know!” Tony was getting confused while Paolo laughed inwardly at his expense.
“The only way to find out is by opening the package, or getting me to do it.” Paolo was slightly emboldened by Tony’s softening attitude towards him. “I don’t know how to say this Tony, but do you believe Terry’s still alive somewhere... being slowly tortured, and whatever’s in that package might be a small part of him, like another finger... or worse?”
“I don’t know what to think! Daft as it might seem, he’s my twin and I feel he’s still alive!”
“But you paid them off Tony!”
“Maybe they’ve got their money and now they’re getting their revenge!”
“Take a look Paolo.” Tony pointed to the package. “What do you make of it?”
Paolo knew exactly what to make of it but went through the motions of examining it and reading the note on the top.
“It’s very light” he said, weighing it in his hand, “for its size. Do you think it’s some kind of joke?” he added. “And I’ve no idea what the message means!”
“It’s pass the fucking parcel,” supplied Tony. “Layers and layers of fucking wrapping paper. When the music stops... etfuckingcetera... I’m guessing what’s inside is another part of Terry! But which part?”
“Sad?” Tony inquired calmly and in direct contrast to his earlier testiness.
“You’ve seemed concerned and quite distant, Tony.” replied Paolo. “I guess the Terry thing must be terrible and, if you don’t mind me saying, that package seems to have spooked you!” Paolo pointed. He was taking a chance on Tony’s wrath.
What he got was an unexpected sigh from Tony, for whom Paolo’s hitherto unwelcome intervention prompted some welcome relief. Tony realised he’d shunned the very person who’d helped him most throughout the negotiations over Terry’s abduction, despite the unhappy outcome.
“Sorry Paolo... you’ve been a great help.”
Paolo decided to keep his head down and be as helpful to Tony as possible. On the odd occasion he was allowed in Tony’s office, he saw the package containing the finger unopened and unmoved and saw Tony gazing at it with a mixture of intrigue and discomfort. Tony said little, but spoke gruffly. About the fifth time Paolo went into the office, he asked if there was anything he could do to help Tony.
“Help me? Do you think I’m in need of help. Do you think I’m mad?” Tony barked angrily.
“Not mad but sad”, Paolo dared reply.