I am retired teacher. (English/Business). I did many other things in life. I lived and worked in London and New York as a young adult. I’ve been in the clothing trade, insurance and the airline industry. I’ve written about five plays since 2007. I write constantly. I was shortlisted for the PJ )’Connor Awards by RTE. (Radio Play). My current project, my novel , is ready to go. “Havana Sunset”. Am preparing another play for PJO’C awards. Also engaged in my second novel. Busy, busy, busy. 73 years old.
My current project is a novel about a young Jewish man preparing to enter the diamond industry. His intention is to become a business magnate and eventually dominate this industry. He is already ruthless by nature and is graduating from Yale. His name is Harvey Weins. He has a poor relationship with his older sister and is set to collide with her more gentle persona. Plot still being developed.
CHAPTER 99 Pablo
THE RICH HAVE RADIOS
After only two months I got pretty cheesed off being in AC. OK so they had explained it a hundred times but I couldn’t help feeling like the fall guy here. I’m the one who was asked to go to Manzini and talk to him. Shit, I would have used Duffy all along, right from the get-go. He was reliable and he asked no questions. He knew what he was getting into but he wanted the business. Instead I’m the one stuck here in AC, Duffy is building a trucking empire courtesy of Trafficante and he’s screwing Manzini’s wife as far as I hear. Manzini is dead courtesy of me and my whole life is in deep-freeze. Now I can’t even see Maria when I want to.
“Stay out of the jurisdiction until all this is a dead letter.”
Best legal advice they can hire. He who must be obeyed. Legal eagles. Don’t rock any legal boats. Forgetting the fact that every cent the Family earn is only semi-legal or washed through the legit companies they take over for their own purposes.
I didn’t bother looking for another place like Sal suggested. I know he meant well. Maybe he felt it would give me a sense of belonging. Hell, I don’t want to belong to this pack of cards stuck in a seaside town. This town hardly existed before the Casinos were planted here into the Marram sand dunes. The only place I felt at home in was NYC. Now that’s a no-no.
“Martha, can I speak to Maria?”
I rang Maria a few times. Martha understood me. She’d know why I did that. Nobody else would. I rang to cheer Maria up. Even though she doesn’t talk to me, can’t talk to me, has never spoken to me- I know the sound of my voice can only do her good.
“You OK Maria?”
Just the sound of gentle breathing on the other end.
I kept talking to her. Sometimes I could hear the sound of other voices in the background. The sound of clattering kitchen preparations. She did no work in the kitchen, well, maybe helped get sets of knives together. Get a few cups and mugs and plates down from the closets. That’s about it. Sort out the dry washing. She sorted them by colour – Martha would prefer her to sort them according to whose clothes they were or at least into male and female bundles. Maria never did that.
“You been doing any gardening, Maria?”
No answer. Just gentle breathing.
“What you been up to?”
“I’m thinking maybe we need to go somewhere else.”
Gentle breathing. Nothing else.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, Maria. It’s no good here.”
People who knew nothing about this would assume I was crazy – talking to someone who never spoke back. I’d done it all my life, since Cuba. I’m not going to change now. I knew she needed this. She must need my voice. I had to do it. I’m her brother. Sometimes it did me good too. It’s like praying. God doesn’t answer back but people still pray.
“Put me back to Martha, Maria. I love you. I’ll talk to you again. Put me back to Martha.”
Martha came on the line.
“Is she OK?” I asked.
“She’s fine. She’s missing you.” Martha said.
“How are you, Martha – are you good?”
“Me? Same old same old.”
I could never understand the patience of Martha. All her sisters had long since flown the coop since Santo moved the whole caboodle to NYC. Now only her brother Sal and his wife used the vast mansion in Staten Island. Their kids – all five of them – were at different stages in life. Some still lived in the house; the older ones had residences all over the large compound but congregated together for all the holidays and special festivities. Martha took care of all that and ruled like a queen regent. She was a full member of the family and I knew she could have lived in luxury anywhere she wanted. She was content to run all the domestic end of the big house. I think she enjoyed it though she had a tough exterior at times.
All the business meetings took place there too. That’s why there was an overlay of security that never slept.
“Don’t you ever get tired?” I asked.
“Who’s going to listen?” She replied.
“You’ll always tell me if there’s a problem with Maria?”
“Maria is a great girl. There’s no problem.”
I was nervous about broaching certain subjects about Maria.
“You know, there’s stuff – feminine stuff – hospital – medical issues. Different times in a life – when you get older.”
I think Martha understood what I was trying to get at.
“Women are experts about those things – we talk about them.” She said. “Men don’t talk. Not many things in that department get ahead of us.”
“But she doesn’t talk.” I said.
“Everything’s fine in that department. Maria’s strong.”
“You would tell me?”
“Maybe, maybe not. What good are you going to be in AC?”
She had hit the nail on the head. Being in Atlantic City left me stranded. I felt helpless.
“I can’t get back for a while – maybe a long time. It’s complicated. Maybe I’ll have to make new plans.”
Martha wasn’t making a problem for me. That’s not what she had intended.
“Lots of guys have to cool it for a while. I know that. I understand. “ She said.
“Don’t think I did anything wrong – I didn’t.”
Martha was now getting impatient with me.
“I think nothing – I do what’s expected of me. If it’s the wash, that’s done. If it’s Maria – that’s done. Leave it at that.”
“I wish I could make new plans, Martha – I don’t know what to do.”
“Some things change without us doing anything.” She said.