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|The Mark (standard:other, 906 words)|
|Author: Goudwon||Added: Jan 25 2001||Views/Reads: 2300/1280||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
A solitary man stands, his trenchcoat draped from his shoulders, mirroring the sloped stance he takes just outside the mouth of an abandoned alley. The setting sun illuminates him, throwing his shadow up against the wall of the ancient, crumbling, and from the looks of the sign he observes in the corner, recently condemned building beside him. Normally, the low windows would make him wary. The Valari’s control this part of town now, and they are not friendly to outsiders found in their territory. Showing no awareness of the danger, he looks up into the sun, and watches it fade behind a passing cloud. The man, Vincent Knight by name, throws a rose into the shadows and starts silently home, ignoring the sunset, and all else before him. A taller man, Nunzio, eases out of the shadowed alley and unobtrusively follows him down the brick paved street, stepping around the broken pieces of centuries old masonry without conscious thought. People quickly duck out of Vincent’s path, knowing who he is, but still uttering disbelief at the sight of him. No one had seen “Vinnie” since that fateful day, so many years ago. Nunzio frowns slightly as he loses Vincent around a corner. Nunzio is his family’s top “collection specialist,” and because of that this job went to him. Although it is a great honor, the punishment for failure is more than enough to offset any potential gains. Despite the heavy burden of grief he carried, or perhaps because of it, Vincent found himself paying close attention to the local landmarks as he passed. Over there on the left was Tony Marinara’s Pizza Palace. As Vincent remembers it, the place was more of a dive than anything else, but they used to serve up the best pies in the city. Now the place stands abandoned, rotting timbers cracked, showing the ravages of years of neglect and isolation to any who passed, whether or not they chose to look through the shards of glass decorating the busted out windows. Spying a menu in the wreckage, Vincent ducked into the building to see what was left in the shambles of this once familiar place, most brilliantly remembered from his dim and elusive childhood. The bar stools were still there. Covered in cobwebs and chewed by whatever rodents now call the place home, but still bolted to the floor. They were bolted down the day a former friend of his Nunzio Valari, nailed Vito the Mouth in the head for talking about Mrs. Valari. Although he was only back in Italy a few days to mourn his uncle Cid, the visit top the “Pizza Pit,” as they used to call it, was an obligation he had to f ulfill. Almost unbidden, memories came rushing back, crowding out the loss of Uncle Cid, bar stools, Nunzio, or obligations, and he began to look back into the past. Over in the center of the room, slightly away from the bar and all the booths, and just to the right of the dance floor, was where the pool table once stood. Now there was nothing there. The former owner probably took the table when he closed the place down. Vincent stood by, idly wondering if the man knew, or cared, how many youths broke into the place at night to fulfill their first real sexual fantasies on that very gaming table. Quickly flitting to other thoughts, Vincent saw the old jukebox that played nothing but the theme from “The Godfather.” he looked away from that and past the dance floor, into the and saw a corner booth. Vincent sat down gingerly, nervous hands gently fondling the menu he had found as stared off into the south-eastern corner of the room. There used to be a TV there, and it had been instrumental in his fall from grace. On that very television he saw the results of a horse race he didn’t bet on. Strangely enough, he had been told that his luck had run out. He owed the Valari’s over thirty-thousand dollars, and if he didn’t pay, he was going to die. Vincent begged for his life, claiming ignorance about the bets placed in his name. Then he fled Italy, never to return.... until now. Click here to read the rest of this story (25 more lines)
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