Picking up the pieces

‘Picking up the pieces’ follows closely on the heels of ‘Unexpected Visitors’ and ‘Aftermath’. I suggest taking the time to read those posts first in order the appreciate, ‘Picking up the pieces’.

Micky awoke feeling like a broken man. His body ached from escaping across the countryside. His hands scratched from scrambling in and out of the ditches. Sun was seeping through the window shade. He rolled over to find Delphia already gone. The springs creaked as he sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his face. He picked up the alarm clock and looked at its face through bleary eyes. It was ten to eight. Delphia knocked lightly and peered around the bedroom door.

“Has anybody…” he began before he had to stifle a yawn. She shook her head.

“No, nobody has called yet this morning,” she replied timidly. It still felt strange to her when he stayed overnight. It was so infrequent; how could she get used to it?

“Why don’t you clean up? I’ll set out your other suit and start breakfast, unless you want coffee first. Do you want coffee first?” she said nervously.

“No, I’ll hit the shower,” he said as he got up and stretched. Delphia lingered until he began to cross the room. She headed back down the hall, but didn’t escape his sudden reach as he wrapped his arms around her. Micky pulled her warm body into him and held her for a few moments. He let her go just as suddenly. Before she could turn around he had shut himself in the bathroom. She retraced her steps to the bedroom.

The first thing she did was remake the bed and fluff the pillows. Then she started opening drawers. She set out clothes that had laid in the dresser for weeks since Micky’s last visit. An ironed shirt and crisp starched cuffs and collar. She pulled Micky’s other suit out of the armoire and draped it on the chair. Breakfast was next on her to do list.

Micky let the hot water roll over him and soothe the aches away for several minutes before he even grabbed the soap. He shut his eyes and didn’t hear the telephone ring. Delphia walked out of the kitchen and answered it.

“Miss Fitzgerald?” Her heart leapt to her throat. This was not who she was expecting to call. She imagined Agent Spiegel on the other end of the line. He exhaled loudly, he was smoking she thought.

“How did you get this number?” she whispered.

“I’m the fucking law, Miss Fitzgerald, I don’t have to answer that,” Spiegel snapped, “I got one question for you.”

“Fine,” Delphia gritted her teeth, “One question, then I’m hanging up.” She glanced towards the bathroom as the shower stopped.

“Are you alone?” Spiegel asked.

“Yes, I always alone,” she said hurriedly as she tried to keep the panic out of her voice. She cut the call before Spiegel could reply. She took a few strides back to the kitchen and turned the ham in the skillet as it started to burn. The telephone rang again. She hesitated, but she couldn’t risk Micky answering it. If Spiegel couldn’t tell she was lying, then he would know for sure. She rushed to answer it.

“Hello?” she asked cautiously.

“Miss…Is Micky O. there?” she recognized the voice of Spots. He must not know where Micky was staying.

“Yes, but he’s not available at the moment,” she replied.

“Mr. Sicero didn’t give me the address. I’m supposed to pick Micky up.” Delphia gave him the address to her apartment and asked when to expect him. As soon as she hung up the telephone rang again.

“Hello?” she asked more forcefully this time.

“Delphia, I heard what happened!” Moira blurted excitedly.

“Moira, I can’t talk, breakfast is going to burn!”

“Fine, come by my place as soon as you can.” Moira hung up and Delphia ran back to the kitchen. She pulled the slightly blackened ham out of the skillet and swore.

Micky paused in his shaving when there was a light tapping on the door. He opened it wide to Delphia’s surprise. She tried to divert her eyes from the clinginess of the towel around his waist, but she could feel herself blushing. I’m being ridiculous, she told herself.

“Spots will be here in half and hour,” she reported. Micky turned his attention back to shaving as she lingered in the door.  She stole a good look at him, before she realized he had paused and was watching her in the mirror.

“You know, Dollface, I’ll be back tonight. I have nowhere else to go now,” he chuckled. Delphia’s cheeks burned.

“I’ll go start your eggs,” she said quickly and disappeared.

By the time Micky was dressed and fed he looked like his usual dapper self. The story about the night spent running through the scrub and brush of the fields would sound like a joke to anyone he told. It was Spots and Bjorn that picked him up from the apartment. He was delivered to the backdoor of Tino’s and led into the kitchen. He handed the satchel of cash over to Sal.

“I’ll tell Frank you’re here,” Sal said. He disappeared into the office. It was several minutes until Frank walked out. The boss was solemn and reserved.

“Looks like you did good on getting the cash out of there and you don’t look the worse for wear.” Frank clapped him on the shoulder and jerked a thumb at the office. “Come on, we’ll let Sal deal with that. I want to talk to you about something. It’s not too early for a drink, is it?”

“After a night like last night, no, it’s not too early.” Micky followed Frank into the vacant dining room. The shades were still drawn and it would be hours yet before they entertained hungry patrons. Frank went behind the bar and dug into a cubby hole for Tino’s hidden alcohol. He poured a good measure for each of them.

“Cheers,” he said unceremoniously and took a drink. Micky watched Frank, trying to read him. He was definitely rattled and he wasn’t even the one who ran from the Prohees. Frank poured himself another drink.

“What is this about?” Micky finally asked. Frank stared at him.

“Do you know how they found out about the Farm?” he asked. Micky shook his head. Frank turned away and nodded to himself.

“That’s what I thought…Did you talk to all your guys after the dock incident?”

“Yeah, you know I did. We lost quite a few guys then.” Micky fiddled with his glass.

“Even Cylus? Vern?” Frank started to drift back and forth behind the bar.

“Yeah, they both spent time in the hot seat. Why?”

Frank stopped and leaned on the bar.

“First, tell me what happened last night.”

Micky shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“I was shut up in the house getting the money ready. Cylus knocked on the door and asked if I needed anything from town. Then he left. After dark I heard some strange cars, killed the lights and took a peek out the window. Four cars, no headlights were coming over the hill. I grabbed the cash and squeezed out the window. Just in time too, they shot up the house minutes after.”

“Do you know anything about Vern’s activities outside of the Farm?” Frank asked.

“He liked the cat houses at the end of the runs, but other than that he lived and breathed liquor,” Micky replied.

“You trust him then?” Frank stared hard at Micky.

“Yes…since you dumped me in that dust heap, he’s been invaluable.”

Frank leaned close, “But do you trust him?”

“Y-yes.” Micky was starting to second guess himself. “Do you have proof otherwise?”

“Cylus…He said Vern was making telephone calls. Do you know who he could be calling?”

Micky thought about it for awhile before answering, but nothing in the past several years made him think that Vern even liked the telephone and he said so.

“Is it only Cylus’s word on that?”

“I’ve known Cylus a long time. I could always tell when he was lying back in the day,” Frank growled.

“Maybe that old dog learned new tricks.” Micky took a sip as Frank scowled and shook his head.

“No, he’s too punchy for learning new tricks.”

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