Redwood Nine: Season 03 Ch. 11byRoyceConnors©
Lenny grabbed the phone, as the guys worked on the compound, taking down all the extra enforcement measures they put up.
"Can I speak with Mr. Teller?"
"Sorry, Ma'am, he's out right now, can I take a message?"
"Yes, when he comes in, could you have him call Dubrowski's Funeral Home. My name is Anna Dubrowski and he can ask for me when he calls."
"Hey, uh, Anna, he's on his way there now to talk to you folks."
"Oh, okay, I'll see him shortly then. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Goodbye."
Lenny hung up and looked at the phone, the coincidence of them calling, as JT was on his way to see them. He went back out and the guys asked who it was.
"That good looking chick from Dubrowski's, the owners daughter."
"Oh yeah? She's pretty hot looking, for a chick that messes around with dead people, I mean."
"Hey, she can mess with me anytime, Wally, dead or not."
The mention of the word dead had the thoughts of their loved ones come back and kill any thoughts of a sexual nature. The memories were still vivid and graphic in depiction in their minds, the open body bags leaving a horrifying impression in them. Anyone who had seen the results of the attack, were finding it hard to deal with the reality of the violence that occurred.
JT pulled into Dubrowski's and went inside and announced to the staff behind the desk who he was.
"Yes, Mr. Teller, Miss Dubrowski is expecting you. Let me page her and let her know you're here."
JT was surprised by that, not having called ahead to let them know he was coming in. He imagined that the news had forewarned them of what was coming and that was the reason. Anna came out looking very prim and proper, as well as sedate, in her navy blazer, white shirt and grey skirt. Despite her attire, it was hard pressed to disguise her figure and how good looking she was that way. Her blonde hair was wrapped tightly to her head and the lack of make up did nothing to take away from her beauty.
She ushered JT into her office and closed the door with a barely audible click. The common silence held in the place was an eerie feeling at the best of times, but it seemed to add to the atmosphere about her. She sat at her desk and smiled at JT and took out a file folder, containing many pages inside.
"Before we get started, I wish to express my deepest sympathies at the recent loss of so many of your friends. All of us here have felt the loss."
"Thank you Miss Dubrowski, that's very nice of you to say."
"Please, you may call me Anna."
"And you may call me JT. Mr Teller seems weird to me."
They shook hands and the softness of her skin impressed JT.
"Before we get started, Anna, I have to ask, how did you know I was coming?"
"Actually, I didn't know you were coming in. I just called you about five minutes ago and a gentleman said you were coming in."
"Why were you calling me?"
"If you'll give me a moment to explain, I think I can answer any questions you may have."
"Please, go ahead then."
"I had several calls recently and they were all about taking care of the arrangements for your friends. One was from the mayor himself, telling us that city council was taking care of the cost, another from a Mr. Cacuzza, who also said he was paying for the cost and yet another, a Mr. Johannsen I believe, who said he represented a group of people who were willing to take care of the costs."
JT was stunned by the announcements.
"I know the first two, but I've never heard of the last one, Mr. ...."
"Yeah. Never heard his name before."
"He stated that he represented a group of citizens who were collecting money for this."
"Really? Wow, this really blows my mind, oh, sorry, it takes me by surprise."
"That's okay, JT. It seems many here in Charming are reaching out to assist in your time of need."
"All these people want to pay for everything?"
"Yes, it seems that way. This is why I called you and needed to talk to you about it."
"So, what should I do, Anna?"
"Frankly, I wouldn't worry about the cost of the arrangements and we can get down to the next part and decide how you would like to do it."
"You mean like caskets and services, like when I took care of my mom and Jake last year?"
"Yes. I know it's going to be quite the ordeal for you, to arrange for so many at the same time, so let's go through each one separately and I'll do my best to assist you in any way I can."
JT sat back in the chair and shook his head in disbelief. Yesterday seemed so daunting a task, thinking of the money needed to properly say goodbye and now he was told all he needed to do was come up with whatever his choice was for service.
"Anna, could I ask a big favour right now?"
"Of course, what is it?"
"Could we just hold off on choosing, until I've had a chance to talk to some people. They need to be in on this too. I don't think it should be up to me only, to say what should be done."
"That's quite understandable, JT, of course. Please, talk to whoever you need to and call me when you're ready. Oh, your friends were released to us and we have made arrangements to bring them here and do what we can to present them for you. I understand from the reports, that some will have to have a closed service, I'm so sorry about that."
"I understand, Anna. I know there's only so much you can do, to make them look okay."
"Yes, I'm afraid make up and embalming techniques can only do so much. I wish we could do more, but some of the damage was quite extensive and we're unable to do much to correct it."
"I saw what happened and I understand that. Thanks for doing what you can, I'm sure it'll make a difference to some of them, the others, well, not much you can do about that."
"No, like I said, there's only so much we can do. So please, take some time and talk this over with whoever you need to and give me a call. Here's my card and my direct line to contact me."
Anna held a card out for JT and saw how beautiful her hand was, the finely manicured nails shining from the clear coating on them. She placed it in his palm and held her hand in his for a moment, their eyes meeting and the compassion was sincere in them.
"You have my deepest sympathies, JT."
"Thanks, Anna. I...we all truly appreciate what you folks do."
"Thank you for the compliment, JT. My father believed in doing his best for loved ones and making their final moments here the best they can be,"
Her bright smile and the twinkle in her blue eyes, gave JT a sense of calm and serenity in an otherwise turbulent time. They rose and Anna walked him to the door and out to his bike.
"Give me a call when you're ready, JT and we'll do our best to follow your wishes."
JT found a smile hidden deep inside him and smiled back and nodded to her. He started up and headed back to the clubhouse, anxious to tell the guys the news. The gate was open wide, the feeling of 'normal' seeming to come back to things. The guys were inside, discussing how they thought their loved ones should be taken care of. When JT walked in, they stopped talking and wanted to know what went on at Dubrowski's.
"You guys are not, and I mean not, going to believe this."
JT's smile was disarming, letting them know something good had happened.
"So what's got you all worked up?"
"Well, let me tell you, Tom. I was just at Dubrowski's, right?"
"I was talking with Anna Dubrowski and she was telling me that everything is paid for, more than once."
"What do you mean more than once?"
"I know, Lenny, sounds crazy doesn't it, but get this. Gianni called them and said he'd cover the costs, we knew he was going to do something, so no big surprise, but then she tells me the mayor called and city council wants to pay for everything. If that isn't enough, some guy I don't even know called and said they were paying for things."
"You're shitting us."
"No fucking way I'm shitting you guys, it's true."
"What guy called?"
"Never heard of him, some Johannsen guy. Anna said he represented a group of concerned citizens."
The news had them shaking their heads in disbelief, that so many were reaching out to them and sharing in it all.
"So what does this mean, that we don't have to pay anything for this ourselves?"
"I think it does, Otto. I think it means that whatever we want to do for them is going to get done and we won't have to worry how much it costs. Well, maybe, I don't know how much they're willing to pay, but I know Gianni is willing to cover a huge chunk of it and if the others are kicking in a few thousand here and there, we might not have anything to pay."
"Shit, this is great news, man. Fucking awesome."
"Yeah, it is, isn't it, Chico."
The guys sat back and began talking again about what kind of service they wanted for each of their loved ones, this time sparing no expense in their minds as to costs. JT listened to them and all that could be expressed, were the most loving of thoughts. The contradiction to everything was fracturing to him. Days before, they were fighting for their lives, killing with pure revenge and the greatest of malice towards the Disciples. Now, just in a short span of time, they were the greatest guys ever, so much thought to the respect of a life, their commitment to honouring their love of them.
Art pulled into the lot in his Studebaker and parked across from the clubhouse. He got out and looked around, noticing the bullet holes in the shop and the bus. He shook his head, the possibility any one of those holes could have been in a club member. He walked over to the door and knocked, catching a whiff of what was being smoked inside. He heard the door unlock and open, then smoke billowed out and engulfed him. He waved it away and JT had to laugh at the face he made because of it.
"Sorry Art, we were just discussing the arrangements and didn't realize we smoked so much."
"Smells different than the stuff we tried when we were younger."
"Oh yeah, Jake mentioned you guys tried it down in someplace, I don't remember."
"Santa Fe. Smelled like burning rope and didn't do much, but give me a headache."
"Yeah, Jake said something like that too. I guess they're growing better shit these days."
"Good name for it."
JT laughed at that, then Art decided it wasn't as smoky inside and went in. He received a warm welcome from everyone and they brought him a coffee, as they sat at the tables and at the bar.
"I heard you boys were talking about the arrangements and that's what I came about actually."
"Art, you're not going to believe this, but everything is paid for."
"Yes, I know. I told you to let me take care of it and I did. I called a friend of mine, Koleg Johannsen. We got the businessmen together and we raised twenty eight thousand dollars for you. That should help pay for a decent funeral for all of them."
"Oh, that's who Mr. Johannsen is, I was wondering."
"You know him?"
"No, but Anna Dubrowski does. She called here to have me come in and I was almost there when she did. She said he donated a lot of money. But get this Art, I heard the mayor called city council and they agreed to cover the cost as well."
"Oh JT, that's great, between what we raised and they cover, you can do up something special for them all."
"I'm not finished yet Art."
"What do you mean?"
"Guess who's in town?"
"I have no idea, JT, just tell me."
"Gianni and Jimmy Cacuzza."
"You're kidding? Both of them are here? Where?"
"At the Holiday Inn."
"Could have guessed. Hotel of choice."
JT could see how stunned Art was by the news.
"Art, he's agreed to pay for everything, too."
"Yeah, I can see him doing that."
"You're in bed with him, JT. You do business together and that means you guys are a part of his family. He's taking care of you like that."
"Wow, never thought of it like that."
"Well start thinking of it like that. I told you boys what was happening if you joined up and Mar did too. You guys are in for life with them, you know that?"
"What, we can't stop doing business with them?"
"Correct. They're the mob, you guys. They exist to do business and they only way they can exist is to have those businesses make them money. Do you really think they'll just let you quit and walk away?"
The guys let that sink in and make them ponder their situation more. Doing what they were doing was their thing to begin with, but he realized how much profit was coming from Nevada. The runs were bringing in great cash flow, but stopping it looked like a bad thing to do and that didn't leave a good impression. Hardly a mind couldn't help but think of the four visitors that paid a visit and how efficient they were at handling problems for the Cacuzza's. They knew it was a bad thing to become a problem for them.
"Okay, Art, but nothing's wrong between us. Nothing's going to happen to start any trouble between us."
"Not now. You don't know what's going to happen down the road."
"No, but let's not talk about that right now. The fact is, we got a chance to really do something for everybody and we're thinking of things to do. Between all three, we can do something special, something to really show they meant something to us."
Art backed away from the mob talk and realized his visit was about helping with arrangements.
"Well, you want something lasting, like their headstones. Caskets cost a fortune and just end up getting buried in the ground. Jeff Hilbourn makes monuments and headstones, go see him and he can help you design something for them. That's the one thing that will help everybody to remember them. That's my thoughts for it."
"Makes sense, Art. Maybe one big one to commemorate the commune, have all their names and something about them engraved on it."
"That is a great idea. Not sure where you can put it, but something can be worked out. I can call around and get the where's and why's of doing it."
"What have you boys thought up so far? Let's hear it."
They explained all their thoughts on what to do and Art made a list for each one. He made another list for the commemorative piece and some other things as well. He finished his coffee and thanked them, then he said he was going to start making calls to get things in motion. They all walked him outside to see him off and thank him for everything. Art hit the fresh air and breathed deeply.
"Damn, fresh air again."
"Didn't like that, I take it?"
Art made another face at them and that brought laughter out and the lightness of the moment made hearts that little less heavy feeling. As Art pulled away, the speaker blared out the phone ringing. JT jogged over and answered it and found Jimmy on the other end.
"Hey Jimmy, how are you?"
"Good, I am well thank you. My father sends you his regards."
"Tell him thanks, so I heard what he did already, tell him thanks for that too."
"You can tell him, yourself. He would like for you guys to come and sit down and share your wishes with him. Whatever you would like to do, he will take care of it. How does lunch sound? He said the guys told him Giovanni's is okay to eat at."
"Giovanni's for lunch sounds great. I recommend the angel hair pasta and marinara sauce and their cannolis are superb they said. They have a great Chianti too."
"Whoa, look at you, fucking paisan talking food here with me. I will personally select the meal and give you my opinion on how they cook. You tasted mama's cooking that day and you should that's how it should be done."
"You know what, it's pretty close. Not as good as hers, but pretty close."
"Okay, I'll see. So, see you about one o'clock then."
"Sure, one is good. See you then, Jimmy."
"See you soon, JT."
JT was smiling again, as he went back out to the guys.
"We have another lunch at Giovanni's to go to. That was Jimmy and we're invited to join him and his dad for lunch there and they want to know what we are planning to do. You guys ready to feel stuffed to the gills again? I sure am."
No one complained about feasting on the rich foods awaiting them and they cleaned up and made a better showing of themselves.
The bodies began arriving at Dubrowski's and removed from the body bags, then placed in coolers to hold them until they were ready. Golden was first to be prepared and the senior attendant, an elderly lady of sixty three, began using the rinse hose and cleaned away the blood on her. Her hair was washed and rinsed, then she scraped any traces of dirt from under Golden's nails and manicured them. She stopped to look at how beautiful the girl was on the table, then ran her hand over her head and caressed the golden blonde hair.
"You had so much going for you and a wonderful life ahead, didn't you. Such a pity to see it taken from you, dear. Okay, let's take care of things and make you beautiful again, shall we?"
The attendant began drying and combing out the long, golden hair, taking care how she ran the comb through it. Softly, she began humming a tune to herself, as she went about removing the signs of the killing and bringing Golden closer to who she was. There would be no need to hide the diagonal line of bullet holes running across her body, no one would ever see them again.
Piney sat with Mary and his parents, instead of staying with the club. The news had taken the life out of them all and he needed to be there for them. They themselves were talking about the arrangements and what could be done, when Mary gave her thoughts on how the girls should be presented to everyone. She began telling everyone how the best moments in all their lives together, was when they were in their circle of love. At first, the thought of them all naked sounded disgusting to Lorelei, until Mary began explaining why they were like that. The understanding of it was far from understood clearly, but the reasoning sounded like something acceptable to her. One thing she really liked, was the wreath of daisies on their heads.
Gianni and Jimmy were already seated and had appetizers on the table, as well as wine.
"JT, Sons, welcome, please be seated my friends. I took the liberty of having a few things to eat, while we talk and decide on the menu."
Gianni and Jimmy shook everyone's hand and then sat down. He raised his glass of wine and the others took theirs and raised them as well.
"To friends, the ones here and the ones we miss. May God hold us in his hand and take us gently when we go. Salut."
"To friends, Salut."
Everyone drank to the moment and memory and Gianni continued by asking how they were coming with things. Gianni heard about the commemorative memorial and was impressed by it. He said that would be his personal contribution to everything, over and above whatever else was needed to pay for.
"Luigi was correct, this isn't too bad a place here. So you recommend the cannolis, do you? You know they must be done just right, or it's just some contraffaro."
"Contraffaro, a fake, phony, you know?"
"Okay, I got it. I tasted your wife's cannolis and these ones are pretty good too. Like I said, not as good, but good."
"You're a good paisan. You boys agree? Good cannolis?"
"Oh yeah. They were awesome."
The same as Lenny's sentiment, was voiced by many.
"You're all good paisans."
"Say, Gianni, what is a paisan anyway?"
"A countryman, a friend, one of us."
"Cool. Hear that guys, were Italian now, Salut."
Everyone toasted and acted like Jimmy and Gianni, making the mood merry and upbeat. Death was permanent and brought a grinding halt to everything, but life had to be lived and enjoyed. The meal was well enjoyed and Gianni asked for the chef to come out so he could thank him. They spoke in fluent Italian and shared a few minutes about where they grew up in Italy. With the meal over, there was still more to discuss about details, so they headed back to the Holiday Inn and Gianni had the manager open a conference room for them and refreshments to be served.