Cylus stopped the truck outside the farmhouse. Light spilled out from around the flour sack curtains. He was hoping everyone would be asleep when he returned and he could crawl away to the bunkhouse. Instead raucous laughter floated from inside. He shifted out of his seat and made his way to the door. He stepped into the middle of story that Micky was telling. A few of the other farmhands sat around drinking. The cards from a poker game forgotten in their hands.
“Connolly, sit the fuck down,” Micky O. ordered. Then he laughed like a madman, elbowed the man next to him and a bottle was passed to Cylus. He wanted more than anything to lay down, but Cylus knew the drill by now. Micky was always bored and needed entertaining or else he’d be in a foul mood and tight with the cash and booze.
“So I’m working on this fucking stiff, right. I’m talking gray, bald, so old he’s probably one of the founders of America. My assistant pops in and says there’s a lady upstairs that wants to change the suit the geezer is supposed to wear. Now I already got the motherfucker half dressed. It was hard enough to get his balls to stay in his pants the first time. So I’m pissed. I march upstairs. I’m gonna tell this old hag that I ain’t changin’ nothing! I walk into the office and was struck dumb. This gorgeous girl turns around, young with big eyes and curves like this.” Micky made a hand gesture and the other men nodded in agreement. Cylus took a drink and sighed. Micky continued.
“I’m like, shit, this must be his daughter or somethin’. She starts boo hooing about how the maid picked out the wrong suit, blah, blah, blah. I sit her down in the chair and I’m trying to explain, you know, I understand it’s hard, but we were given the other suit already. It was all arranged by the lady of the house, et cetera, you know. I ain’t changing the suit. Then she sniffs, dabs her eye with her little handkerchief and looks at me deep with those warm, gooey puppy eyes.
‘But I am the lady of the house,’ she says, ‘And I want him in the navy suit instead.’ Without hesitation her hand is on my crotch. I kid you not, I’m rendered speechless! This was the widow! The old geezer’s wife! How he bagged a girl like that, I’d like to know! She must have had some shit pent up, because…damn! She was like a cat in heat. I couldn’t get her off me, not that I really tried.” Micky’s eyes glazed over as he reminisced. Vern finally elbowed him.
“So did you change the suit?” he asked.
“Yeah, I changed the fucking suit,” Micky grumbled and the room burst into laughter. He tossed the playing cards down on the table. “Who’s fucking dealin’ here! Connolly, roll up your sleeves.”
Cylus pulled his chair up and gathered the cards. “Who’s playing?” he asked. A few of the guys threw their hands up in defeat.
“All right, all right,” Micky looked around. “If you’re broke, then you can fuck off. It’s too crowded in here anyway.” There was a scraping of the chairs as they were pushed back. The cool breeze blew in through the door as the hired hands left. Cylus dealt the cards to Vern, Micky and himself. He felt Micky’s eyes on him, but he kept his gaze down. He picked up the cards and arranged them in his hand. Micky lit a cigarette and picked up his cards.
“Did you have a nice drive, Connolly?” he asked. “It took you awhile.”
“Yeah, I had to pull over and sleep for a bit.”
“Oh, I thought maybe you had run into difficulties,” Micky anted. Vern added to the pot.
“No, no difficulties,” Cylus tossed in his bet.
“Huh…” Micky’s hand slumped and his cards drooped. “Did you learn anything?”
“Maybe? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“So you worked in a funeral home?” Cylus asked. He folded his cards slowly. Vern slapped his hand down and poured Micky another drink, then one from himself.
“Yeah, you know you’re pretty bright for a big ape, Connolly.” Micky picked up his glass and took a drink.
“I know, but it’s been bothering me on my whole ride home. That guy Dayton was pretty sure you’d hurt someone and I’ve been wondering…Have you ever prepared a funeral for someone you offed yourself?” Cylus grabbed the bottle and poured a few fingers for himself. Micky tilted his head as he stared at Cylus. Then he laughed. Vern’s eyes shot from one man to the other under the brim of his hat.
“Fuck you, Cylus! I said I’d pay you for the information. I don’t need this mysterious shit.”
“It’s an honest question,” Cylus shrugged.
“Then the answer is yes, I have. Now tell me where she is!” Micky was getting impatient. He pulled cash out of his pocket and pulled off a hundred-dollar bill.
“It’s going to take more than that…” Cylus whispered. Micky pulled out another hundred-dollar bill. Cylus stared at the cash. “Stop.”
“What you don’t want it?” Micky asked. He was going to take the cash off the table, but Cylus set his meaty hand on top of the bills.
“I’ll take this and I need a favor.”
“A favor? What now we’re best buds? You hear this, Vern? Connolly wants to be pals.” Micky laughed. Cylus held himself in check, but he wanted to ring the man’s neck.
“Yes, a favor. Similar to the errand you sent me on, but I don’t want it to go beyond this room.” He looked at Vern, and Vern looked at Micky and Micky kept staring at Cylus.
“Okay…what is it?” Micky said.
“I want to know where my own Lena is. So if you ever hear anything about her whereabouts, I want to know.”
Micky released the cash. “She got a name?”
Cylus’ hand pulled back and pocketed the bills, “Caroline.”
Micky’s eyes narrowed, “You don’t mean Frank’s Caroline, do you?”
Cylus’ fist slammed on the table, “MY CAROLINE! Not Frank’s! Mine!”
Micky held his hands up, “Alright, alright, calm down. I’ll keep my ears open, but only if you have what I asked you for.” Cylus’ hand went into his pocket and he paused.
“Have you seen her?”
“What? Caroline? Over a year ago. I’m not sure if you really want to find her. She almost cut my little finger off.” Micky held up his pinky and showed off the now deformed nail. “No, I stayed away from her after that.” Cylus finished pulling the notepad out and tossed it at Micky. The bootlegger took it in his hand, studied it and nodded.
“Now both of you fuck off. I’m hittin’ the hay.” Micky shoved his chair away from the table and disappeared up the stairs. Vern stared at Cylus.
“You’re playing a dangerous game, Connolly,” Vern warned.
“I might be, but it’s my last game. I’m gonna make it count.” Cylus rose from his seat and headed out into the dark.