Short Story: “In My Time Of Dying”

Frank is retired. In his hey day, Frank was a soldier for the Genovese family; a man feared by many. He was a pretty big deal.

Very few people fear Frank nowadays. It’s tough to inspire fear when your knees creek and your fingers swell. Arthritis can get in the way of pulling a trigger. Not that it matters, because again, Frank is retired. He put down his gun years ago and picked up a newspaper.

Every day, unless it’s raining of course, Frank takes his newspaper down to the local park and reads it cover to cover. Sometimes more than once. When those walks began to get a bit tougher, when Frank’s knees began to creek more and more, his mind went to the worst place.

He became convinced it was the beginning of the end. Frank was sure he was dying. Some way, somehow, he was nearing the end of his life.

His fears were soon confirmed. First it was a simple check up. Then there was a problem. Further testing was required. Now here we are. Frank is dying.

Sitting there in his tan, microfiber recliner, one thing haunts the man. He hasn’t kept his promise. He hasn’t killed Doyle Fitzgerald. Not yet, at least.

The same night he learned he was terminal, Frank decided he would not be put six feet under before Doyle. So he made a phone call to an old friend: Leopold Bloom. Formerly, FBI Agent Leopold Bloom. A man who has never come across a bribe he wouldn’t take. He was a valuable asset to Frank and his Family back in the day. In fact, Leopold is the only reason Frank isn’t behind bars. Others weren’t as lucky.

Frank told Leo to meet him at the park he used to take his walks to.

He hasn’t been to the park in some time.

Fitness tends to fall by the wayside in your time of dying.

ONE

People keep telling me how sorry they are. If they knew me, they wouldn’t be. One of the defining principles I’ve lived by as a man goes as such: accept the consequences of your actions.

I earned this.

My life will be measured by the amount of blood I’ve spilt. That’s fine. What concerns me now is the blood I intend to spill.

Where is Leo? I don’t like being kept waiting. He knows this.

“Frank,” calls that all too familiar, grating voice.

After all these years, it annoys me just as much, maybe more. That’s astounding.

“Leopold,” I respond as he sits next to me.

God, even his smell is the same. Stale Old Spice aftershave. It’s like he leaves the bottle open for days on end, just so he can smell that way.

“What can I do for you today, Frankie?”

“I need a favor.”

“I thought I told you I was done doing you favors. If I remember correctly, it was twenty-five years ago. Right after I made the move that kept you out of prison.”

“Kept us out of prison. Let’s not pretend you did it to save me. Both our asses were hanging over the fire. If I fell in, I would’ve dragged you with me.”

“Yeah, yeah…”

“Hey, I still can. I got nothing to lose.”

“Alright, alright, Jesus. You’re in a mood today. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you cranky old fuck?”

“Something like that. Doyle Fitzgerald. Where is he?”

“This again? I thought you were past it.”

“There is no getting past it. Not until that Irish bug is dead and buried.”

“Careful. I’m a former FBI Agent. You can’t inform me of your intentions to murder a man.”

“Leo, I’m not in the mood. Doyle Fitzgerald. Tell me where they placed him.”

“What makes you think I know?”

“You were in charge of the investigation. Don’t tell me you don’t know.”

“Oh, I know. I just like to make your face go red like that. It’s like an old, withered up tomato.”

“Leo, I am two seconds away from ripping your spine out.”

“You really are a drag. He’s in Memphis.”

“Where in Memphis?”

“Fuck if I know. Nobody gets to know the particulars except the wit-sec agents in charge. If you want Fitzgerald, you’ll have to go to Memphis and find him.”

TWO

My Last Will And Testament.

There is very little for me to leave anyone and nobody to leave it to. Any and all possessions of mine should be left to my closest living relative. I believe I have a nephew somewhere in California, but I can’t be sure. My brother died ten years ago. It’s been twenty-five since I’ve spoken to him.

That’s not why I’m writing this. In the grand scheme of things, possessions are meaningless. I’m writing this so people know. I don’t intend on returning from Memphis.

Doyle Fitzgerald took someone from me. Someone very important. In a life full of absolute shit, she was the one bright light. When she was buried, I promised her that he would be too.

At my hands.

     Signed,

     Frank Gaito

THREE

I hate flying.

Hate it with every fiber of my being.

It makes me uncomfortable. I have to sit there while some jerk off who decided that, of all things, he would devote his life to becoming an airline pilot, holds mine in his hands.

Wish I had another option, but I can’t make that trip by car anymore. Jersey to Memphis is one hell of a drive.

Turbulence. Again. I can’t die on this plane.

Not yet.

“Nervous flyer,” asks the portly Southerner in the seat next to me.

“Fuck off.”

FOUR

Memphis Airport. Located securely in the middle of nowhere, miles from a town or civilization of any kind.

Guess I have to rent a car.

Great.

FIVE

Memphis, Tennessee. Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I’ve always wanted to come here. Sun Studio and Graceland are here. Elvis is all over this place. This is also where Martin Luther King Jr’s life ended, shot down before he could see any of that change he fought so hard to bring forth.

It’s too bad I waited until now to come here. Maybe I’ll take some time for myself when I’m done.

For now, I’m hungry. I should take my pills too.

SIX

The King’s Diner. Place is exactly what it sounds like: packed to the brim with pictures upon pictures of The King. His Sun Studio recordings have been playing since I walked in here.

Blue Moon Of Kentucky.

How long has it been since I ordered? My hand is shaking. I haven’t eaten since last night. I can’t do this anymore. I’m too old for this shit.

Here comes my waitress.

“Here you go, sir,” she says as she places my plate down, “Would you like anything else?”

“No, this should be enough,” I respond, “Thank you.

My waitress doesn’t move, as if she’s waiting for me to finish a sentence.

“You’re not gonna take that set up,” she asks.

“I’m sorry?”

“Thank you,” she says, doing her best Elvis impression, “Thank you very much.”

She’s cute. A bubbly little Southern belle. Don’t be miserable. Engage her. What’s the harm?

“Sorry,” I say, “I wasn’t even thinking. You a big Elvis fan?”

“Mister, you’re in Memphis. Everyone’s a big Elvis fan here.”

“Right,” I say with a smile, “Duh.”

“I did it.”

“What’d you do?”

“I made you smile.”

If only I was twenty years younger.

“You did. Thank you for that.”

“Come on. You’ve gotta give me one. You’re in the King’s diner.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you one at the end of my meal. I promise.”

“Deal,” she responds happily, “I’m gonna take you up on that.”

“I assumed so.”

“Alright then. Enjoy your meal, sir.”

“I will. Thank you.”

“Not a problem,” she responds as she walks off.

SEVEN

This is a nice bathroom. I could live without Elvis staring at me while I piss, but whatever.

EIGHT

“Would you like anything else, sir,” my waitress asks.

“No, I’m good sweetheart, I’ll take the check.”

“Sure thing.”

“I do have a question for you, though.”

“Shoot.”

“An old friend of mine lives here in Memphis. I’m trying to surprise him, but I just realized I don’t have his address. I feel like it’ll ruin the surprise if I call him and ask for it. Would you know how I could find him by any chance?”

“Well, if you tell me his name, I could look him up on my phone. If he’s listed, that is.”

“I’m sure he is. You don’t mind though, right?”

“Of course not. Haven’t you ever heard of Southern hospitality?”

“I thought it was a myth.”

She laughs. I bet it’s easy to fall for this girl with a laugh like that. I’m sure she’s broken some hearts.

“It’s not a myth, I promise.”

“I can tell.”

“So what’s his name,” she asks as she removes a smart phone from her pocket.

“Leonard Conway.”

Doyle always was a De Niro fan.

“Ok. Should only be a second.”

If this doesn’t work, how else can I-

“Easy as pie. Leonard Conway. He lives at twelve, twenty-six Spellacy Lane, Memphis Tennessee.”

“You’re a sweetheart. Thank you so much.”

“Not a problem. Have fun while you’re here. If you two get a chance, take the tour at Sun Studio. They take you through the history and everything. It’s great. The people there love the music, too, and it shows.”

“I will. Thank you.”

You owe the girl one.

“Thank you very much.”

“It’s like he’s back from the dead. That was a great king, sir.”

“You’re just being nice to an old man.”

Bill is fifteen bucks.

Leave her a hundred.

NINE

There he is.

Don’t move yet. Let him sleep. Then go in and find your place. Make a dramatic reappearance.

Scare the shit out of him.

TEN

Might as well pour yourself a drink while you wait. Scotch on the rocks sounds pretty good right about now. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good glass of scotch.

A record player. Live at Folsom Prison is just sitting there. Drop the needle and then take a seat. He’ll be in, in a minute.

I hear the train a-coming, it’s rolling round the bend, and I aint seen the sunshine since I don’t know when…

Footsteps. Pull the hammer back.

“Frank,” he says when he sees me, “It’s been a long time.”

“Doyle. You know why I’m here.”

“I do. I’m just surprised it took so long. I never stopped looking over my shoulder, Frankie. This whole time. I knew you’d find me one day.”

“Good,” I say before standing up, finally ready to fulfill my promise, “All these years and you still hide your guns in the same place.”

“Like I said, I knew you’d be here one day. Always accept the consequences of your actions, isn’t that right, Frankie?”

“That’s right.”

Kill him.

One squeeze and the wall behind him has a new coat of paint. I used to hear that all the time.

I heard you paint houses. Well, it’s time for my final coat. I finally did it. I kept your promise. There’s nothing left for me. All there is, is one more shot.

A bullet to the dome.

Should be easy.

THE END

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Elvis Presley stamp courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Joseph Finnegan
finnegan.joseph@yahoo.com