“Oh my god dad, it’s ten to eight!” Alyssa stomped through the house while getting her things together for school. “We are so late! I bet you we’re the last ones there.” She was always freaking out about being late for school. Unfortunately, she was usually the one they were waiting for.
“Relax, we’ve got plenty of time,” Mark was big on relaxing. Bombs could be going off all around him and he’d be calmly assessing the situation. ‘Panic sunk the titanic’ or ‘Just say the serenity prayer a few times. Everything will be all right.’ Those were his favorite sayings, sometimes. “Did you brush your teeth yet?”
“No! God dad!” Way more drama than being a few minutes late to school warranted.
“Hey Matt,” the youngest Ramsey was still in his room playing with his action figures. He still didn’t have the concept of time nailed down. “Get your shoes and jacket. Let’s go.”
Shelia watched everybody play their normal morning roles and get ready to go about their normal daily routine. She desperately wanted to stop them from leaving, but she couldn’t. If “VNY HRT” were watching them, she’d want him to think that everything was business as usual. Besides, she had work to do. The house had to be empty. On top of that, whoever hired the hit would want to know what was up with Shelia before he did anything to her family. She could be in a coma or something and miss all of the suffering he’d want her to go through. They’d be safer with the regular routine, for now.
Mark and the kids finally left. Shelia went down to the basement. Buried underneath all of the boxes in the storage closet was a box full of keepsakes, mostly. Among those keepsakes was a two-way radio, something like a walkie-talkie, but a bit more involved. Shelia wasn’t sure exactly what made it special. That was Rufus’s department. It scrambled the signal some how so it couldn’t be traced or intercepted. Rufus was big into electronics, Shelia wasn’t. She plugged the unit in. ‘Hope it stills holds a charge.’ She didn’t think she’d ever have cause to use it.
She depressed the talk lever, “Thunder, come in Thunder. Do you copy?”
She tried again. “Thunder, this is Stiletto Rose. Do you copy? Over.” She felt like a trucker. Ten four good buddy. We’re east bound and down, loaded up and truckin’. What movie was that from? She couldn’t remember.
The reply was nothing but more static. Then just as she was set to depress the lever again, she heard a voice on the other end. “Baby girl! Is that you?”
It sure is. I need your help. “Hey big daddy. It sure is good to hear your voice.”
“Stiletto? Damn baby, I didn’t think I’d ever hear that sweet voice again.” A short pause. “What’s up baby? You was only s’posed to call if you found some heat. You got trouble?”
“Yeah, I got trouble. I need you to check a plate for me. You ready?”
“Hold on baby, let me get a pen.” She could hear fumbling around on the other end. “Okay shoot.”
“Alright, Wisconsin plate Victor, November, Yankee, Hotel, Romeo, Tango. You got that?”
“Yeah I got it. Give me a second. I just got this new, super fast computer, state of the art. I’m still figuring it out though. Okay, ready?” That was fast. “The plates belong to a fella’ named Vincent Valentino. Heh, heh, Vinny Heart, cute, sounds like an amateur. What about him?”
“He ran me off the road yesterday. I figured he was small time. I need to know who hired him though. I figure they’re just messing with me right now. Otherwise they’d have hired a pro and I would not have seen it coming. I don’t know how they found me. Anyway, I need everything you can get me on this guy. I’m worried about Mark and the kids.”
“That’s the bad thing about baggage baby.” He paused. “You gotta’ carry it around wit’ ya’. Listen baby, anything you need, we’ll get it done.”
Rufus did some more searching and found all the info they could possibly want about Vincent Valentino. Vinny Heart, what a dick. There was a ton out there. Just as Shelia had hoped, he was small time trying to prove he was big time. His scent was all over the place. Pigs, that’s what they called his type. They never cleaned up their messes. They were the ones that took the fall in place of the pros. Shelia would have to put the squeeze on Vinny. He wouldn’t know what hit him.
He had a near east side address. The sucker couldn’t even pop for a pad where the real players lived. Talk about small time, he was living on the fringes. He actually had a pretty big rep in Milwaukee. The whole city was small time though. All the heavy hitters in the area worked out of Chicago. Shelia always got a kick out of how competitive Milwaukeeans tried to be with Chicagoans. They didn’t realize that the rest of the world saw their city as a northern suburb of Chicago. They were a small town trying to be a big city. Everybody there had something to prove. Sometimes that made them more dangerous, but usually it just made them sloppy. Vincent Valentino, or Vinny Heart as he was known on the street, was sloppy.
Shelia was getting her things – the little bit of equipment she had brought with her – together when her cell phone rang. It was Mark’s phone calling. Something must have happened at work. He’d been having a rough time lately. She answered, “Hey baby, what’s up?”
“Mom?” Alyssa’s voice was shaky and scared.
“Al? Why aren’t you at school yet?” This wasn’t good.