The Blitzkrieg, that’s what they called that creepy, German freak. Vinny didn’t have any idea what the guy’s real name was, but he knew his reputation. They called him The Blitzkrieg because of the way he handled his art. He was a cold-blooded killer. There wasn’t anything cute, no signatures, no toying with his prey, just murder. He handled his kills quick. If your name made his to do list, you’d have as long as it took him to get to you before you were dead, and no more time than that. He was fast, deadly, and completely overwhelming. That’s why they called him The Blitzkrieg.
Vinny’s stare continued to pierce the thick coat of blackness that sat on the other side of the window. He shivered slightly, imperceptible to all but himself. That damn German really did freak him out. The Blitzkrieg definitely wasn’t the mind behind this job. He was the middleman. Whoever was the boss on this hit was big time. Vinny tried his best to make sure everyone knew that he was big time, but he was smart enough to realize that he hadn’t quite made it yet. The Blitzkrieg would never have hired a bunch of nobody’s to pull off a job for him. In fact, he wouldn’t be hiring anybody period. On top of that, he wouldn’t be wasting time with any kids. Whoever was putting the squeeze on Stiletto Rose had enough pull and power to have an ice-cold assassin playing baby sitter for him. Vinny shook his head, trying not to think about what kind of players were in this game with him.
“What’s up?” Jimmy snapped Vinny from his trance. “What’d the boss have to say?”
Vinny’s tone didn’t carry the note of condescension that it normally did. He sounded more distracted than anything. “He said we should sit tight. He’s on his way with our money. He’ll be here in a few hours.”
“So that’s it, we’re done?” Jimmy shrugged.
Vinny sighed, “I guess.”
Vinny walked to the kitchen to grab a beer. Butterflies danced around his stomach like it was an old ‘50s sock hop. He needed to relax. His guts were as twisted up as his mind was. He couldn’t tell if he was eager for the German’s arrival, or if he hoped the guy would be late. This job couldn’t be done soon enough. He was getting used to the idea that he had killed somebody. Actually, he was starting to think it was kind of cool, something he might do again. There was big money in doing hits. That Blitzkrieg had to be loaded. What a life that would be. Roll up in a Benz, whack some mob boss or congressman or something like that, and then roll away to a big, fat payday. Instead, he was stuck like a rat in a cage, guarding a hunk of cheese and waiting for the cat to show up and take the cheese farther away from the mouse. Vinny wanted to be the cat. He was tired of being the rat. He took a pull off of his beer, pouring it down his throat into a stomach that was still tied in knots.
Vinny looked back at Jimmy, “Go wake the albino up. I gotta’ get those kids ready to roll for the German.”
Jimmy shook his head as he chuckled, “You know he hates when you call him that.”
“Fuck do I care what he hates?” Vinny fired back. “I’ll knock him in the fuckin’ head right after I knock you in the fuckin’ head. He’s the only one sleeping. Wake his ass up.”
Jimmy recoiled slightly at Vinny’s tone. He had been a bit tense through this whole job, so Jimmy had been cutting him some slack. Being treated like a dog was getting tiring though. “Hey man, relax. Don’t get so wound up. I’ll go wake him up. But you ain’t gotta’ yell at me like that all the time.”
Vinny started to respond and instead shook his head, waved Jimmy off, and started for the basement stairs. Jimmy just watched him go. He knew that if he wanted to he could pound the shit out of Vinny. The only thing saving him was that he had all the connections, he had put the job together, and Jimmy wanted to get paid. Once this job was finished though, Jimmy Pappalardo would be done with Vincent Valentino. He went to the back bedroom to wake Lenny.
When Vinny got downstairs, both kids were sleeping and Danny was dozing off in front of the TV, partially watching cartoons. Vinny shook his head. Where did that idiot find cartoons on at two in the morning? He flipped on the light. Nobody moved. He walked over to Alyssa and gave her a little slap to wake her up. She came around quickly, but she was obviously groggy.
“What?” She mumbled.
“Let’s go bitch. Get up. We gotta’ get you brats ready to move. Somebody else gets to baby sit your little asses now. Thank the lord I don’t have to look at your ugly face much longer.” He jammed his big mug into face, egging her on.
She ignored his attempts to give him another reason to smack her. She didn’t want to get hit anymore. Instead of responding, she mumbled, “I have to pee. Can I use the bathroom?”
Vinny laughed, took another pull off his beer, and said, “Piss your pants bitch. You don’t have time for a bathroom break.”
Alyssa sighed, “I can’t. I couldn’t even force myself to.” Then she started whining, “Come on, please. I really have to go. Come on, there are four of you. Where am I gonna’ go?”
Vinny just kept laughing at her, “Piss your pants bitch. Come on baby, just let it out.”
She sighed again, “Why do you have to be such an asshole? What did I do?”
Vinny’s hand shot out like a cobra and caught her on the cheek again. He didn’t know why he wanted to rough her up. The German had made a point that he and his boys were not to lay a finger on the kids. He couldn’t help himself though. Maybe it was the excitement of keeping prisoners or something, but he really wanted to knock her around. It got him excited. The urge to rough her up was even stronger than his fear of the German. He smacked her again.
“Stop it!” She screamed as tears rolled down her swollen cheeks. “Why are you hitting me?”
It was too late to stop. The moment had him. He grabbed the back of her hair and yanked her head back. “You want me stop smackin’ ya’ bitch. Well try this on for size then.” He dropped his beer and began fumbling with his zipper. The bottle shattered, earning an ear-piercing scream from Alyssa.
By this time, all of the hollering and breaking glass had woken both Matt and Danny up. Matt looked over and saw Vinny yanking his sister’s hair and messing with his pants and hollered, “Hey! What are you doing to my sister?”
Instantly Matt saw a flash as pain rushed through his head. “Mind your own fuckin’ business kid. Me and your sis just want to get to know each other a little better.”
Matt could barely see a thing through the purple haze that had filled his eyes when Vinny slapped him. That didn’t matter though. He had to protect his sister. That’s what his dad had always told him his job was when he wasn’t around. If Vinny were smacking him around, he wouldn’t be doing anything to his sister. “Leave her alone, jerk!” Matt yelled again. He had a little more power in his voice now.
Vinny let go of Alyssa’s hair and stood in front of Matt. He chuckled, shook his head and undid his belt. “You ever been whipped kid?” His voice was a growl of a whisper.
Matt took all of the courage he had, leaned his head back, and said, “Fuck you, you greasy, piece of shit, wop motherfucker.” He had heard that line in a movie once, right before his dad turned it off.
Vinny whipped Matt across the face with his belt. “Got anything else to say you little fucker?”
Matt straightened his head back up losing the fight against the tears filling up behind his eyelids. They flooded down his cheeks. Still, he continued. As long as Vinny was beating on him, he’d leave Alyssa alone. “My mother hits harder than you.” Smack. He was blasted again.
Then Danny finally stood up. “Hey Vinny! Knock that shit off! You said we wasn’t supposed to touch those kids! You lost your fuckin’ mind?”
Vinny spun around and faced Danny. His eyes were wild as a sneer barely contained his clenched teeth. “Mind your own fuckin’ business!” His voice remained a growl, “This is my job, my ride. I’m callin’ the shots on this motherfucker. You work for me. Get your ass upstairs and start packin’.”
Danny fidgeted a little as his expression betrayed his fear, but he stood his ground. “No man. You quit hittin’ those kids. That shit ain’t cool.” Even though Jimmy and Danny Pappalardo were the same age, Jimmy had always been bigger than Danny. He was older too. To him that meant that he had a right to knock Danny around any time he wanted when they were growing up. Years of abuse at the hands of his older twin had left Danny in a place where he couldn’t stand to see anybody getting bullied, not even when his boss was the bully.
Vinny looked insane. The veins in his forehead started bulging as his lips moved around words without any sound. He looked like his head might pop at any moment. Then he finally managed to make some sound, “What the fuck did you just say to me? You wanna’ step to me now? What if I don’t stop? Huh? What the fuck are you gonna’ do about it bitch?” As soon as he stopped talking, he spun around and cracked Matt with his belt again. Both sides of the kid’s face were purple and bruised. His skin had even broken in spots.
Danny started moving toward Vinny, “Stop hittin’ them kids I said! I swear to god Vinny. I don’t wanna’ do it, but I’ll beat your fuckin’ ass!”
Vinny just smiled, spun, and whipped Matt again. It was all Danny could take. The sight of that poor, little boy crying with his face all bloody and messed up was more than he could stand. And for what? All because he was trying to defend his sister from some freak that was going to make her do things that no young girl should have to do. Danny snapped. He lunged at Vinny who swung his belt as the big man came. Danny felt the leather connect with his cheek. It just pissed him off more. He stopped and fired a right hook that rocked the side of Vinny’s head. He followed it with a left hook and then an overhand right. Blood instantly gushed out of Vinny’s nose. It had more than likely already been broken that morning by Ramsey. It bled easy. Vinny stumbled into the wall and slumped to his knees. Danny kept coming.
Vinny launched himself up off of the floor, driving his shoulder into Danny’s gut. It was enough to back the big man up a few steps. Vinny fired a right hook of his own. He caught Danny on the chin good enough to send stars dancing in front of the big man’s eyes. Danny had always been a brawler though. He could take a punch. Vinny got hit three more times before he could follow up his right. He went down again. This time Danny picked him up and tossed him over the sofa and into the TV. Danny Pappalardo was a tank.
Danny leapt over the sofa to stay on top of Vinny, but this time when Vinny stood back up, he wasn’t alone. Danny stopped right at the end of the barrel of Vinny’s .45. He took a step back as his hands slowly went up to the sides of his head. Rage instantly fled. Vinny was acting crazy. ‘He might just be whacked enough to pull the trigger right now,’ Danny thought. Before he could stop himself, instincts took over and he reached for the gun. He tried to push Vinny’s hand up toward the ceiling. Boom. The report from the gun filled the basement as hot lead tore through Danny’s shoulder like fire. Danny slumped to his knees as pain like nothing he had ever felt before ripped through him. His hand shot up to the wound. Blood was pumping out of him like water out of a fire hydrant. The room started spinning as his stomach turned cartwheels. He tried to look up at Vinny, but all he could see was the smoking barrel of his gun.
“Stupid son of a bitch.” Vinny growled.
The doorbell rang.
“Shit!” Vinny hissed as he looked at the ceiling. “The fuckin’ German’s here. I’ll kill ya’ later, hero. Sit tight.”
Danny fell the rest of the way to the ground. His mind was racing but confused. He had never been shot before. The kids were screaming. This whole job was bad. If he didn’t die now, Vinny would surely kill him later. He had to move. He was too dizzy to get up, so he crawled over to a storage closet to his right. The kids were on their own. There wasn’t anything more he could do for them. He definitely wasn’t messing with the German, and Vinny had proven that he was willing to shoot his partner. You can’t trust anybody in this business.
Just as Danny got the door closed, he heard more gunshots; first one, then screaming, and then four more shots. Moments later, there were footsteps on the stair. There was more than one guy. The kids suddenly stopped screaming. More footsteps, this time they were going up the stairs. Danny felt sleepy. Everything was silent. He blacked out.