Tony feared for his brother Terry. He was increasingly of the opinion that Terry was still alive and that the funeral had been a setup. Nobody had told him that the forensic team had found no trace of anything organic in the coffin, and certainly not a human body. Nonetheless, Tony was a man of instincts and the bonds between identical twins can be so strong that something in the ether binds them together and inter-twin communication is often spookily telepathic.
Tony felt his twin brother was still alive and that Terry was very afraid.
But where, and why?
Speed of reply to texts would be important for Tony. Paolo’s text came back fast.
'Glad ur ok boss. Marcia, fredo, tipo, priest dead (real sorry boss). Franco, cattaneo, sofia might not make it. Thought terry dead too, ain't he? Other injured probably ok. Tell me what to do. Paolo'
Never the chattiest, Paolo had nonetheless communicated plenty. His news should have been devastating. Marcia was Tony's wife of 18 years, Sofia her sister and the others were part of the twins's extended family.
Tony was barely ruffled.
'If you ain't dead Terry, you might wish you was.' he thought.
Tony got busy. At this stage he decided to use message texts rather than calls. It had more authority. It suggested he was fit, well and needing urgent answers. The one and only call was to his twin's number. As he expected, there was no reply except the voicemail message with Terry's cheery voice. But Tony wasn't feeling remotely cheerful.
He texted one of his most trustworthy goons, on account of the fact that Tony 'had lots on him' if he opened his big mouth.
'Who's dead, who's dying, where's Terry?'
Tony had an instinct that Terry was still alive.
With his phone in hand and a nurse on hand to charge it up as necessary, Tony's main problem was getting the coppers away from him so that he could help himself with his own investigations.
He got proactive.
"Are you charging me with something?" he asked DI Thompson when he 'popped in for a little chat'. When the detective answered in the negative, Tony said quietly "Then why don't you fuck off and take your monkeys with you?"
"We're here for your protection!"
"I need fixing, not protection!"
Thompson promptly left, but left a uniformed man outside Tony's room.
Top of Tony's mind, aside from dealing with the pain of his injuries, was that he was unconnected except for the drip feeding him painkillers and saline. But it was telephone connection he needed. He figured that his mobile phone had been blown to bits in the blast. But he needed connection badly.
The remnants of Tony's mobile were being examined by forensics, searching for details of recent calls and his contacts. But his contacts were encoded.
His anxiety slightly reduced when a nurse surreptitiously slid him a package. His red phone, another 'twin'.
Back in contact; back in charge!
Nobody tried to visit Tony Monelli except the police and, of course, the medical staff.
"This is what these characters do," said DI Thompson, "they say nothing and none of their cronies come near. They think they can sort out their shitty underworld issues themselves. But this is a murder enquiry and I'm not going to let the bastards off the hook that easily. I'm surprised though that he's not inquisitive about who the bomb killed. It's like he doesn't care!"
Tony Monelli cared alright, but he wasn't about to show it. If only the cops could read his mind...
If DI Thompson thought Tony Monelli was about to 'spill his guts', metaphorically speaking, on account of almost having literally done so yesterday, he was very wrong.
"I don't remember nothing about no funeral." was his response to everything Thompson threw at him. The detective thought to offer Tony the presence of a lawyer.
"I ain't done nothing, so why do I need a lawyer?" Tony insisted.
"Very well," said Thompson, but it didn't go very well at all, as his every question was stonewalled. The detective wasn't giving anything away... and neither was Monelli, who wasn't asking anything either.
Tony managed to mutter “Whadya want?”
“I’d have thought it was more a case of what do you want, Mr Monelli?” replied the uniformed policeman, adding, “And I’d have thought you’d want to thank your lucky stars you’re here and not in the mortuary like four or more of your ‘associates’.” He then used his communication device to contact a detective waiting somewhere nearby who was trying to interview some of the other injured funeral guests.
The detective inspector didn’t bother with sympathy.
“You should be dead! That had your name written on it. Time to talk... while you can!”
The lead lining at the base of the coffin was what really saved Tony from the blast, as he'd been the closest to the bomb at the point of detonation. Others perished, but his instant reaction to hit the deck put him out of the field of maximum explosive force.
He awoke in a hospital bed mid-morning next day. He heard a loud ringing in his ears, felt a lot of pain all over, was completely disoriented, in a state of shock. But the worst shock was seeing a copper eyeballing him.
He smelt trouble. It smelt like shit.
Tony would not realise that the forensic team had found no trace of Terry - not even the tiniest body part in or around the remains of his coffin or elsewhere in the church. It may well have been his funeral, but he surely wasn't at it. The police didn't intend Tony to know this before he'd had a chance to 'help them with their enquiries'. Assuming he survived.
The forensics team were able to establish the former contents of the coffin - a large explosive device and mobile network triggering device. Realism was ensured by a bodyweight of lead lining beneath.
Tony Monelli was taken to the nearest hospital, unconscious, but still in one piece and a 24-hour police guard was installed. Tony was, of course, known to the police and the investigating team were immediately sure it had been gangland vendetta or power play stuff. They didn't need this to escalate.
Those mourners who could or would speak were very circumspect in their answers. The brothers Monelli had run the firm with the expectation of 100% loyalty - fedeltà - or else... They were aware Tony had been taken off alive, so far, and nobody was taking any chances - not yet.
Those able to fled the church immediately, either for fear of further violent explosions, or to avoid the imminent arrival of the police. Even if they had no personal hand in the turmoil, it wasn't smart to be found there.
The dead and many wounded had no choice. All three emergency services arrived at the church remarkably quickly, and from then on, nobody was going anywhere except to hospital, police station or morgue.
Assorted limbs recovered were matched to owners. Tony was attended to efficiently by paramedics.
However, later on the forensics people could find no trace of Terry Monelli...
Tony Monelli had an instinct for things… like survival. In the instant his finger accepted Terry’s call, he sensed imminent danger. He dropped straight to the floor, face down, covering head with hands. That instinct saved his life and his hearing.
Above him was a loud explosion as the coffin seemed to disintegrate, although Tony couldn’t see it. The block on which the coffin was laid was strong and the blast went upwards and outwards, killing instantly the priest and four mourners in the first rows, throwing many others backwards.
Tony’s injuries were severe, but not fatal.
Unluckily for someone.
As the fedora touched the coffin, there was the sound of a mobile phone ringing. There was a sharp intake of breath, in unison, from the congregation. The priest, instantly angered, scanned the church for the miscreant. But the sound seemed to be coming from the front, from around the coffin itself.
Tony, right there next to the coffin, heard it and immediately figured it was his own phone that was ringing. His right hand flew to his pocket and pulled out the phone. It was ringing. The screen said ‘Terry’. Astonished, he automatically stabbed the green button.
At the end of the long service, the mourners were invited to come forward, one by one to touch the coffin to say their goodbyes to Terry. Row after row, the entire congregation trooped forward to show their respect, leaving Tony the last to approach the coffin.
Dressed immaculately in a black pinstripe suit, he slowly approached his brother’s coffin carrying a black fedora hat in his right hand. He touched the coffin with his left hand and talked quietly. Then he placed the hat, his brother’s, on the coffin.
For someone in the church, this was obviously a signal.
The service was dark and mournful. There was more weeping than might be expected at a normal funeral, and Tony turned around to see who was showing proper respect for his beloved brother… and more importantly, who wasn’t. But he didn’t spot a dry eye in the packed church. Nobody was that stupid. Even enormous brutes of men were dabbing their eyes. That’s how total power works.
The eulogy was given by one such brute of a man, an emotional outpouring, interspersed with sobs, of what a great man Terry, the deceased, had been. Tony, himself overcome, nodded his affirmation.
The priest asked politely that all mobiles be turned off during the funeral service. A reasonable request and one everyone in the church was happy to do.... except one mourner. Tony was never unconnected, not even for half an hour. He was seated in the front row as the deceased was his twin brother, and he had absolutely no intention to disable his phone, even as a sign of respect. He was the Boss. Nobody told him what to do. He stayed connected.
Tony’s twin, lying dead in his coffin, was connected too. And someone was keeping that connection alive...