The Desert Stars


I crack an eye open but the darkness is complete like I’m looking at the back of my eyelids. I can feel vibrations through my back, and my limbs feel tight and stiff.

Where the hell am I?

The rope is burning my wrists, and I definitely feel like I’m moving. A low hum of a car engine rattles through my head.

It must be a car?

I can feel the pain there too like I’ve taken a blow to the head.

God, it hurts.

Putting my head on the floor does nothing but increases the pain. The grogginess threatens to take me again so I roll over to less the discomfort but something hard slaps…

…Me on the head. My face stings from the hit, but I don’t let it show. Pop’s slams his hand down on the table hard enough for the salt shaker to roll off the side and smash on the diner floor.

“Are you crazy? I worked my ass off so you wouldn’t have to go down that road.”

I shrugged, and it makes him angrier. I know I won’t win this argument. Pop is old school Sicilian; I was better off trying to teach a pig how to fly. A waitress in a ruby skirt ambles over with a dustpan and Pop’s looks at her apologetically then turns to glare at me.

“I’m going to talk to Mr. Costello, tell him that you’re a stupid boy trying to play a man’s game, he will understand. Has he got a son?”

I blanch at being called a boy. I had just turned 19, and in Sicily, you were classed as a man when you turned 18. If this was anyone else being disrespectful they’d get turned over, you know what I mean.

“Pop, you can’t go and talk to these kinda people.”

He cuts me off angrily. “Has he got a son?”

The diners are looking at us, but Pop doesn’t seem to care.

“Yeah, Two. Frankie junior and Fat Tony.”

“Fat Tony? What sort of father calls his son fat Tony? Blah, I will go and talk to him, father to father.”

I roll my eyes and wipe my mouth with a napkin.

“Now who’s being stupid.”

I see the hand coming from a mile away and prepare for the…

…Impact as the car crunches to a stop. I feel the car bounce as weight is removed. The grogginess is still there but I know I’ve got to stay awake. I know I’m in trouble.

“Talking. Two people?”

The pounding in my head stirs again, I hear voices tying can closer, and moments later, the trunk opens, I squint as torchlight flares in my face.

“Get him outta there.”

I groan as my body protested to being moved, the sharp pain in my head recedes as the light moves off. I can see dots where the light was, and then a pair of big meaty hands pull me over the edge of the trunk, and I fall to the….

“…floor, Yeah, that’s her right there.”

A young brown hair girl glances up at me shyly as she dances in a crowd of sweaty bodies. Her yellow dress is a stark contrast to the leather pants and dark tops of the other people. Fat Tony speaks in my ears as the music pumps around us.

“Frankie likes her; he said that if anyone gets too close, you gotta deal with em.”

I frown. “What I’m Frankie’s minder now, get outta here, If she’s his girl let him watch her.

I look down at the pretty little thing before she’s hidden by a sea of men trying to gain her affection. Tony laughs as a bottle blonde pulls at his arm.

“It’s your funeral, hey, see that Hispanic dude there?”

I follow his finger to a short little Spanish guy covered in tattoos wearing a silver shirt and leather pants.

“What about him?”

“He’s dealing on our turf.”

I sigh as Tony disappears into the gyrating bodies, I walk up to the guy as his eyes flow over me, working out if I’m a potential customer or a threat.

“Hey, How you doing?”

“You looking for something my man?”

I grab the guy by the arm and wheel him to a back door. He protests, but he’s not strong enough to shake my grip, and I reckon he knew he fucked up. Outside the crisp, fresh air hits me as I toss him into the trash bins, his silver top sparkles with the neon exit sign. I pull aside my jacket exposing the gun in my waistband.

“What are you stupid or something? You know who’s club this is?”

The guy goes down on his knees and raises his hands in prayer.

“Please, I have kids to feed, I’m sorry, I fucked up, I won’t do it again, I promise.”

He pathetic pleading annoys me and close my jacket and button it up.

“Get the hell out of here and don’t come back, You’re lucky it was me you’re dealing with and not Fat Tony.”

The Hispanic guy can’t stop thanking me as I turned back and go through the door. The sea of people are still there swaying to the music, and the girl is still there too. She smiles up at me again, and I smile back. A waiter walks past with a tray of drinks. I snatched one and lifted it into the air.


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