“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.
Paolo would have expected Tony to have shown him the package when it arrived and was rather nonplussed when he didn’t. He couldn’t ask about it as that might have aroused suspicion, particularly as Tony had been very withdrawn and uncommunicative recently. However, Paolo did find reason to go in to see Tony in his office. He immediately saw the package, unopened, on Tony’s desk. He felt he couldn’t ask “What’s that?” as Tony wasn’t exactly welcoming of the intrusion into his space.
‘Oh well,” thought Paolo, ‘he’ll have to open it eventually or it will stink the place out!’
Paolo decided it would be best if he could restore the relative closeness he and Tony had enjoyed during the extortion process. If he could combine this with messing further with his boss’s mind, that would be perfect.
Paolo defrosted the finger, wrapped it first in cling film and then many layers of wrapping paper as would be appropriate for a children’s party game of ‘pass the parcel’. The legend ‘When the music stops brother...’ was on top of the parcel, which arrived in a box.
When it arrived, Tony said nothing and did nothing. He left the package unopened.
Having gone to so much risk to get back from Sofia the last of Terry’s fingers, Paolo should have disposed of it immediately. But on the evening of the exchange for the diamond, Paolo was more interested in servicing Sofia’s carnal needs... and his own, so the finger went temporarily into his small freezer compartment as it had remained frozen inside the Jiffy bag it arrived in. He hadn’t thought through what he would do with it... once more he had been seduced by Sofia’s fabulous body.
The finger remained in the freezer until Paolo came up with an idea.
Paolo was getting the brunt of Tony’s oddness. He’d tried to keep close up tight, but the boss was putting up a barrier, despite Paolo’s efforts. Tony was taciturn and ‘locked in’, often literally. It seemed like he was carrying a huge burden of guilt about his brother’s death which Paolo couldn’t understand. Paolo obviously knew full well that Tony was entirely innocent of Terry’s death so he wondered what other recriminations Tony was meting out on himself and why.
Maybe Paolo could push Tony over the edge. And maybe he had a little something to help him do it.
Tony wasn’t sure if he should grieve or whether Terry was alive somewhere and he, Tony, should be putting all his resources into finding him. He’d already been responsible for executing two men, wrongly if his current instinct about Terry was correct. But then those two men were killed on Tony’s instincts... so maybe his instincts weren’t so good.
His current instinct could easily have been checked had he been prepared to go and identify Terry’s body. He didn’t trust Livia to tell him the truth... and somehow, if he didn’t see Terry’s body, he still had hope.
While Livia and Mary were finishing lunch, Tony was brooding. Livia had been right; Tony was behaving quite oddly. He’d lost his twin... and his edge. Good!... all part of the plan to make him suffer that the two wives and Sofia had agreed. He was suffering.
Not a particularly social animal, Tony occasionally met people for lunch, if only to oil the wheels. But now he kept himself locked in his office. He felt guilty about his twin Terry’s death. What more could he have done?
Was Terry actually dead? Tony felt he might not be! He wasn’t sure.
This was incredible, thought Livia, a fantastical plot developed and given credence before her eyes. She realised that the less she said, the more convincing a fabrication this woman Mary was building for her. Why, Livia could almost have believed it herself. The remaining question for her was how best to use it... and maybe use Mary Flaherty too! For the first time since her convent school, Livia was starting to appreciate the potential of the Bible.
“Has he ever tried it on with you Livia?”
With saying less making more, Livia simply nodded.
“I knew it... the morderin’ fecker!”
This suggestion of Mary’s was a revelation. Manna from heaven no less for Livia. Tony murdered his twin brother. But why?
Mary provided the answer again with a reminder from the Bible.
“It all about feckin’ jealousy y’see. What would Tony possibly be jealous of Terry for? What had Terry got that Tony hadn’t?”
Livia was genuinely racking her brain for a credible answer. The pause in her response resulted in a drama that was completely unintended, but serendipitous.
“Me!” she offered.
“Aha!” exclaimed Mary. “ That’s it, that’s feckin’ it! And you looking so gorgeous. Now there’s your motive!”
“Donal’s based in Brentwood. Near enough, but far enough if ya know what I mean! But why are you organising it? Being twins, I thought his brother Tony would be sorting that out?”
“Oh Tony....” Livia paused. “I probably shouldn’t say this on account of the rivalry between your Ronan and Tony, but he’s not handling this well at all. Gone a bit odd. Maybe he feels guilty. I can’t imagine why. He didn’t kill his brother after all!”
“Maybe he did!” suggested Mary, “Maybe he feckin’ did!” she repeated. “You’ve read the Bible... Cain and Abel and all that...”
This latest revelation prompted creative thinking from Livia. She would need an undertaker as soon as the police released Terry’s body.
“Where’s he based, this undertaker brother?”
“Thinking of bumping some fecker off then?” asked Mary with a smile on her face.
“No, it’s just that Terry’s still in the morgue. He hasn't been released for burial yet. I’d rather use someone ‘sensitive’” Livia emphasised the word ‘sensitive’ to see if Mary reacted. She did.
“Got some evidence to go to Hell with him?” Mary’s smile was strangely conspiratorial.
“Oh, he’s already there! Probably getting kicked shitless by your Ronan!”
“I see what you mean,” said Livia thinking through how useful each and every one of Mary’s brothers could be if they’d a mind to. “Guess your younger brother will be burying Ronan soon?”
“Sure... keeping it in the family! Although Donal never liked the fecker, despite having quite a few ‘interesting’, well-paid jobs from him. Thought he was scary and worried Ronan might knock about his older sis.’
“When you say ‘interesting’ jobs, what might that mean?” Livia was very interested heself.
“Heard the expression ‘a body of evidence’, Livia? Sometimes the evidence might go with the body!”
“Well y’see Livia, I’m rather lucky with me family. I’ve five brothers. The surgeon, as was, is the oldest, although his surgery days are long gone after an unfortunate incident with a scalpel... best not to ask what! The other brothers are a butcher, an accountant, a solicitor, all older than me and me little brother Donal is an undertaker - you wouldn’t think it to look at him, but he’s a bit of a tinker! A pretty good contact list to support me in our kind of work and it does mean I literally know where the bodies are buried!
Livia did like this amazing woman who had been such a surprising breath of fresh air. Unsurprisingly, with the business done, lunch devoured and champagne empty, Mary jumped up to wash up the plates. Livia protested only to prompt a response of “Oh, go on wid ya!”
As Mary busied herself doing the modest amount of washing up, Livia dried up. Her turn to quiz her guest.
“I gather from what you said earlier, you’re taking over from Ronan now. I don’t want to be sexist, but how prepared are you? There will be lots of challenges for a woman.”
“So how can I help?” The tonal change had been quite marked. Livia had little option but to pose the question to Mary, who by rights should have been under the table by now from the amount of alcohol she’d consumed.... but was bright as a button and quite businesslike.
Well... you could start by keeping your eyes and ears open for anyone showing off a big new diamond, or bragging about something a bit special ‘downstairs’ if y’know what I mean. Maybe asking discreetly about my Ronan’s death.”
“And why should I?”
“Because you like me!”
“Yes I do!”