Crime Fiction Contemporary

I feel a knot in my stomach as I approach the door to Mr. Russo’s office. This can’t be good, but I cannot back down at this point. He already knows I’m here.

For the past ten years since I took command of the weapons’ dealings department in Calabria, that knot has saved me many times. Say it’s a warning signal from universe, say it intuition, this thing has served me well and I have no good reason not to trust it. And its presence now starts to worry me.

I met Valentino Russo about a month ago at a gala held in a manor house in the outskirts of Tuscany. Every year our ‘family’, organizes such an event in order to know what changes have been made to the hierarchy and the new people holding key positions, as well as strengthen our relationships with our external parties. Sometimes, when you see blood more often than a doctor does, you need a festivity like that to cheer you up.

Mr. Russo was invited as a business associate. From a brief talk I had with Matteo, that holds the same position as me in Naples, he said that Mr. Russo has excellent credentials a couple of times that he had deals with him. After the first contact with him at the gala, we seemed to understand each other, although he is a bit of a strange character.

I take a deep breath as my feet stop outside his office door. No fear, I remind myself and knock the door.

The rosewood door opens and the sight in front of me is breathtaking. I walk in passing the door frame and the puffed guy that was standing next to the door watching me carefully, and head towards the glass wall in front. His office is located in a building near a cliff and the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea is mesmerizing.

“Signora Fabbri”, a voice cuts me off my thoughts. I turn on my left to find Mr. Valentino Russo, dressed in a black suit, extending his hand to me, a wide smile on his face.

“Thank you for your invitation.” I greet him back, reaching out for his hand. I was expecting a handshake, but he got me by surprise by taking my hand close to his face and kiss my knuckles.

“The pleasure is all mine.” He replied letting my hand gently down. “Please take a seat” he motioned me while taking a chair back for me. Once I seat, he goes around and takes his place behind his massive desk.

“I have examined your offer thoroughly and I find it very attractive I must say. However,” his voice trailed off.

“Is there anything that concerns you?” The knot in my stomach becoming heavier. There’s something fishy about him.

“There is a slight implication.” He continued. “You see, my people at the Customs Gioia Tauro port need more money to turn a blind eye upon the arrival of your container coming in two days’ time. In fact, they informed me that the whole department has to be bribed.”

That pathetic excuse of a businessman wants more. I straighten my back on the chair, turning my cold business attitude on.

“Mr. Russo, the reason we contacted you was to do this without getting much attention since you deal with imports of containers and claiming it as yours will reduce the risk to pass the Customs control. And as I’m aware of, your reward is quite satisfactory, I have personally made the terms of this offer. If all the Customs department needs to be bribed, then there is no reason to go through you. We can go directly to them, and I believe the name of my boss has more gravity than yours.”

His face has frozen. Damn, I’m so intimidating?

“But we decided to be more discreet.” I add giving him a smile.

I could swear he was feeling uneasy behind his desk. He remained silent for a few moments, weighing the facts possibly. Small drops of sweat make their appearance on his forehead.

This is strange, Matteo told me that his dealings with him were good and never showed any fear on dealing with us. Why is he sweating now? Something’s up.

“I will have to contact them again to bargain a better price.” He finally said reluctantly, breaking the silence.

“It is best you do so. And I expect a final answer by midnight. Otherwise, the deal is off.”

I get up and he’s immediately next to me. Taking my hand, he walks me to the door. His hands are sweaty.

“Goodbye, signora Fabbri. We’ll speak again soon.” He takes my hand close to his face and puts a kiss on my knuckles. I give him a strict nod and leave his office.

As I pass his secretary’s office, heading towards the main entrance of the building, I spot two men dressed in tracksuits whispering with the bodyguards standing outside the building’s entrance. I exit the building and turn right to the car park about two buildings further down.

The knot on my stomach has now become an unbearable weight and I feel like I been watched. I stop at the nearest shop and look at the window, pretending to be interested on what’s inside. It is then when I see the two men from Russo’s building, standing on the opposite side of the road, looking at me.

I curse under my breath and open the door of the shop. It is an antique shop, overloaded with different things. I see the old lady on the cash desk, and I head to her, taking my best smile at my face.

“Mi scusi, mio ​​marito ha fatto uscire questi due uomini per guardarmi e ho un incontro molto importante con qualcuno. Posso usare la tua porta sul retro, per favore? (Excuse me, my husband has gotten these two men outside to watch me, and I have a very important meeting with someone. Can I use your back door please?)”

The old lady gives me a smile and from her looks I can see that she got my point. Turning to the back of the room she points me where the back door is, hidden behind piles of different antiques. At least this will gain me some time.

I step out and I find myself in a small yard around the tall buildings. There is another entry for the car park too so, I get from there.

Once I’m in the car, I take my phone out of my back and dial the number, my hands shaking. After a few rings, the voice of my ‘capo’ responds on the other end of the line.

“Did you get the contract?”

“No.” There was silence for a couple of seconds, but I kept talking before he says anything. “Vittorio, we have a problem. Contact Gibraltar port and stop the ship. We need to change destination.”

“What problem?” he sounds serious. “The ship is on its way, I cannot recall it now.”

“It’s a trap. Valentino Russo works with the police. I have a couple of them following me, but I managed to get away from them. Call a meeting.” Is all I manage to say with trembling voice. I end the call before he has time to respond, turn the engine on and head out to the road full speed.

January 02, 2022 18:21

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Graham Kinross
10:32 Apr 11, 2022

Do you speak Italian or did you have to look the phrases up specifically for this? This was really cool. The Italian mob is very interesting.


E. Roux
16:09 Apr 11, 2022

Thank you very much for your feedback! Unfortunately, I don't speak Italian. I used google translate to convert from English to Italian and then I found a site where you put the Italian text and tells you if there's any corrections that need to be made (if any). I you're interested on this, I can tell you the site.


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Tricia Shulist
15:25 Jan 08, 2022

That was fun — a little bit of a Godfather vibe. And I like that the protagonist is a woman. Great story. Thanks for this.


E. Roux
15:35 Jan 14, 2022

Thank you for the feedback, it helps a lot. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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