Mark drove around the block, but the kids were already gone. He’d have to go into school. The secretary would look over the top of her glasses at him with her eyebrows raised because he’d be coming in right behind his kids who were late. Sorry Miss Mathews. Don’t you realize how important it is for a fourteen-year-old girl to have her hair and make up perfect before going to school? Well geez Ms. Mathews, I thought everyone knew that. Mark pulled around to the corner toward the front of the school.
Once he made it around the corner, he saw that the kids weren’t in the building yet. In fact, a couple of jokers in black suits were trying to drag them into a black Caddy. Mark was no fighter. He had spent his childhood watching his mother get her ass kicked by his dad and then getting his own ass kicked once he thought he was big enough to stick up for her. He abhorred violence. Watching those punks grab all over his kids snapped something inside of him though. He felt like he was five years old, hiding behind his dad’s easy chair and watching the bum beat up on his mom. The muscles in his jaw tightened behind his scowl.
Mark’s little Saturn squealed up right behind the big Caddy. He yanked on the parking brake and flew out of the car before it even stopped moving. It killed instantly as he forgot to take it out of first gear. The two suits turned to look at him. This was all the time Alyssa needed. The grease ball that had her by the throat got a nice hard pounding on his foot from her heel. The guy took two steps toward her before he walked into an overhand right that smashed his nose against his face. Mark was just as surprised as Danny to see the blood pouring out of his face. Danny Pappalardo, that’s the guy who had just got his nose popped like a cherry tomato. He’d never been hit like that before. His hands immediately shot up to his nose and they were instantly covered in blood.
It didn’t take long for Mark to shake the surprise off of himself and throw another punch. This time it was a right hook that pounded into Danny’s temple. The big man’s knees buckled as he stumbled backward. Mark couldn’t believe it. The last person he had thrown a punch at was his father. The old man had just laughed and then beat him from one side of the house to the other. Mark didn’t have too much time to think about it though. He chalked it up to years of pent up aggression. He would need every bit of it. Another suit had his boy in a headlock.
Vincent Valentino turned to face Mark, careful to keep Matt in between them. “Look man, I ain’t got no trouble wit’ you. I just gotta’ get these kids, that’s it. Why don’t you move along?” It was a weak attempt at a Brooklyn accent.
“Are you kidding me?” Mark’s eyes flashed his anger. Any fear that he had fled to make room for shock and anger. “You really think I’m going to let you take my kids?”
Mark stopped thinking completely. Rage took over. His left arm shot up to Vinny’s throat and squeezed as his right hand balled itself up and flew at the big man’s eye. Vinny’s hands immediately grabbed onto Mark’s wrist. Matt bolted as soon as he was free. He charged for Mark’s Saturn as his dad was dropping rights all over Vinny’s face like a trip hammer. The assault lasted only seconds. Mark hadn’t noticed the guy that had been sitting behind the wheel of the Caddy.
Jimmy Pappalardo was Vinny’s wheelman and Danny’s older brother by eight minutes. He also happened to be built like a Mack truck. On top of that, he hit like mule kick. Mark never saw it coming. It felt like a sledge hammer hit him in the side of the face. Little white dots were instantly dancing before his face. Boom…Boom…Boom, he took three more shots to the side of the head from Jimmy before Vinny collected himself and cracked him in the nose. Mark fell to the ground in a heap. He threw a couple more wild punches on his way to the ground, hitting nothing but air. He kept trying to fight his way back to his feet, but those bastards just kept knocking him down. ‘Where the hell are my kids?’
* * *
Alyssa only made it about ten feet before two huge arms wrapped around her and the ground flew up to smack her in the face. The guy that tackled her weighed a ton. All the air in her lungs flew out way too fast, burning her throat as it went. The guy had hit her so hard that he rolled right over her when they hit the ground. She struggled back to her feet trying to take off again, but the guy grabbed her arm. Instincts took over as she screamed and slapped the side of his face. That turned out to be a horrible idea that only served to anger the big fellow further. As he stood up, he planted a palm in the middle of her chest and pushed her back to the ground. Damn he was strong. He loomed over her with his fist cocked like he was going to punch her. Her foot shot up to his groin before he could swing that giant fist. He doubled over, groaning.
Alyssa tried to get to her feet again. This time he punched her, a right hook against the side of her face. His hand was huge. Nobody had ever hit her like that before. Everything went black. Lenny Weston was a young kid, barely twenty. His blonde hair and fair skin didn’t fit with the rest of his group. They called him the albino sometimes. He hated that. It wasn’t as bad as tomato face though. They called him that too on account of the acne that he hadn’t been able to shake since puberty. Just then, he was dragging Alyssa’s unconscious body over to the Caddy.
By this time, Danny had collected himself enough to chase Matt down. He almost felt bad for the kid, trying to get back into his dad’s car. You ain’t going anywhere kid. He was all set to walk him over to the Caddy and gently set him in the trunk with his sister when he got a shot to the groin. ‘The little bastard kicked me!’ he thought. His lower abdomen burned. Instinctively he slammed Matt’s head into the hood of Mark’s car. Then he dragged him over to the Caddy.
* * *
Mark was slipping out of consciousness. His whole body was so numb that he could barely feel Vinny and Jimmy kicking him anymore. Everything started going black when he felt his hair being yanked. He was dragged to his knees. When his eyes came back into focus, he was staring down the barrel of a gun. It looked like a .45. The way his head was spinning, it looked more like two barrels in his face. His gaze continued passed those two blurry barrels to Vinny's sneer.
Mark managed a grin through the pain, “That nose looks broken,” his chest burned. He could barely get the words out. “Good. Fuck you punk.” The last thing he heard was the hammer click.
“Vinny, what the fuck are you doing?” Jimmy screamed.
“Shut the fuck up and get in the car,” Vinny was cold as ice as he wiped blood from his chin. “A couple of fuckin’ kids and a wannabe hero and you Nancy boys are running all up and down the street. I told all a yous not to lay a finger on those kids. The boss is gonna’ be pissed. Not only did you knock the kids around, but you let the hero get to me while I had my hands full and made me shoot him. The boss is gonna’ be pissed.”
Danny wasn’t moving. He just sat trembling, looking down at the bloody mess that used to be Mark Ramsey’s head. “Vinny, you shot him. You killed him.”
Vinny didn’t flinch, “Get in the car.”
As the Caddy pulled away, Vinny silently assessed the situation. Only two good things came out of the grab. First, they got the kids. The boss would be happy about that. The other was that his car was registered to his old address downtown. He hadn’t been there in a month. His girlfriend moved to England with her parents and the place got a little too lonely for him. He had let the lease run out and moved back to his parent’s house in New Berlin. They’d be in Florida for another month, which would mean that when the cops went to see them they wouldn’t be around. By the time the cops figured out that Neil and Anna Valentino had a small cottage just outside of Coleman, Wisconsin that would make a perfect place to hide a couple of hostages, Vinny would have been paid for snagging the kids. Then he’d have enough money to get the hell out of town. Somebody had obviously seen his plates so he would have to see about getting his identity scrubbed. It would be a good couple of weeks before he would have to worry about the cops knowing where to look for him though. By then he would have a new name and a new life. He’d be long gone. He grinned with just the left side of his mouth as he looked over at Jimmy and said, "Step on it."