Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 4

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

 

Chapter 4

 

He farted. All the pungent gases that had accumulated deep within his bowels were released in one loud bellow. He waited for a brief moment and then did what he loved to do: he inhaled the aroma. He savored the carbonated garlic and refried beans and let his senses wander merrily among the toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide. Even though he knew she hated him farting in bed, he didn’t care. It made him feel exhilarated and alive; like a ‘man’s’ man. He rubbed his large, blotchy red belly then patted it in appreciation for a job well done. He smiled to himself at the thought of her lying next to him and covering her nose or, better still, holding her breath until the rich aroma dissipated. ‘This is indeed a man’s world’, he thought to himself as he held back the laughter that bubbled deep within him. He waited for her complaints and moaning but none came. She didn’t even move. All the years he had treated her mean to keep her keen had paid off with interest. She was now like a little mouse – so anxious for a morsel of cheese that she would do anything. He slept around just like his daddy had done and came home reeking of the evidence and she had given in and stopped fighting and complaining. He took her money and spent it on whatever and whomever he chose and she kept quiet. He had trained her well. He sighed contently. Today she was going to get a loan for him in her name because his credit was bad. He told her that he needed the loan to start a business with a friend in San Diego but in actual fact he was planning to take nineteen year old Tatiana, a girl he had just met, to Disneyland in Anaheim. She had not long arrived from Czechoslovakia and had not yet been to Disneyland. She had said on the night he had met her at the ‘Singles’ bar he often visited that ever since she was little she had dreamed of going to Disneyland and seeing the real Mickey Mouse. So far nothing had happened between them but he figured that if he obliged her and fulfilled her dream, she would have to oblige him and fulfill one of his dreams. He had no qualms about using his wife’s hard earned cash or the money she often borrowed for him and had to pay back in monthly installments, to pay for his extra-marital affairs. As far as he was concerned he and Dorothy had taken wedding vows and the words ‘For richer or poorer’ were read on the day – he literally took the vows, well, those four words, seriously. His wife was currently richer than him (because she worked two jobs whilst he only did one part-time job) and on account of him being poorer she had to take care of him and everything this encompassed. He closed his eyes and thought about Tatiana’s young, firm and nubile body. His breathing became shallow as images of her talking dirty to him in her vibrant Czechoslovakian accented voice and pressing herself seductively against him filled his mind and made his senses twirl. ‘First things first’ he thought to himself as he pushed the images out of his mind and concentrated on what lay ahead. He needed to get his wife up, dressed and off to the bank to get the loan or he could kiss Tatiana goodbye. He braced himself, the smell of the fart had faded, she had no evidence to hold on to and he would do what he always did – deny everything she accused him of.

Why do you have to break wind in bed, Nigel?

“I did no such thing, woman. You’re dreaming. It must have been you that farted while you were asleep.” He would say. It often made him laugh, the way she referred to farting as breaking wind – like it was a gust of fresh air.

You’re snoring again, Nigel.

“Woman, I do not snore, it must be you snoring in your dream. As a matter of fact, you woke me up with your damn snoring just the other day. You know you snore like a farm animal, I’ve told you so many times. Next time I’m gonna use my tape recorder to record your snoring ass.”

Treat her mean to keep her keen was his motto, his way of life. It had paid off over the years and he had no intention of changing. He inhaled deeply, turned over and faced his wife. Slowly he opened his eyes. He knew that he would see her lying next to him with her thick, polyester, flower-printed, old-fashioned nightdress on (which he had purchased from a dollar store as a birthday gift), her headscarf adorned like a hill-billy farmer’s wife and a frown apparent; she was as predictable as the rising sun. He needed her money so he had to be nice today; he smiled and opened his eyes fully. The shock hit him hard as he stared at the sight in front of him, his heart fluttered and his tongue struggled to formulate words. He could barely breathe as he started to shake uncontrollably. “Aliens! . . . Aliens!” He whispered before his mind went blank, darkness descended and he passed out.

***

Julius followed Nurse McKenna down a poorly lit corridor. His hand rested on the butt of his gun, which was tucked into the back of his pants. He had still not made up his mind as to whether or not he could trust her. She had now stopped muttering to herself and walked briskly as one did when they had a sure destination. For some reason he couldn’t imagine that she was on his grandfather’s payroll, but he had seen so many things in his life that nothing surprised him now – nothing shocked him anymore. With each step he took he became more and more anxious at the thought of his wife, Cara, and their baby being held somewhere and used as a bargaining tool. He was sure that no one in his Mafia family knew they were married let alone how important Cara was to his very existence. He knew his grandfather wouldn’t harm Cara or the baby, but he had given up on trying to predict Johnatus and the things he did or the reasons behind the things he did.

“They are in here,” Nurse McKenna said as she stopped in front of a large door. She pressed some numbers on a keypad by the side of the door. “This is our old Intensive Care Unit. It became redundant when the new one was built a couple of years ago. Since then we have put private patients in here or patients who we think need an extra bit of attention. Right now, except for your wife and son, it is empty.”

“Why did you move them here?”

“When I came in this morning your wife said that she felt like she had the flu, really hot and then cold. I could have taken her to another ward but they don’t take babies there and she didn’t want to be separated from your son. I figured that right here would be the best place, plus it’s quiet, warm and safe. I hope you don’t mind? Something kept telling me it was the right thing to do. Anyway, I got her started on some antibiotics and I’ve been monitoring her temperature. She is fine now. Did I tell you that your wife is a lovely lady? She is beautiful and kind and she was so concerned that you would go to room 14, not find her there and panic. She made me promise that I would let you know where they were as soon as you came in. She said you might not believe me but I was to get you alone and call you Maxwell, then you would know that I was telling you the truth because she is the only one you allow to call you Maxwell.” She frowned as if the thought suddenly hit her, “I guess I probably should have mentioned that part earlier, shouldn’t I? Then you wouldn’t have been walking behind me with your hand behind you like you have a gun tucked away back there.”

Shocked at her perception, Julius removed his hand from the butt of his gun. “Is she okay?”

“She is fine, they both are,” she told him as she pushed the door open.

He followed Nurse McKenna through the door and into a spacious, colorful corridor. There were several doors situated along one side of the corridor. Nurse McKenna stopped in front of a door mid-way along the corridor and gently pushed it open. She looked inside and smiled. She held a finger against her lips as she turned and beckoned Julius. He walked quickly towards her and looked inside the room. His heart fluttered at the sight of his wife and son, both wrapped up warm, both asleep, on the hospital bed. Tears stung his eyes and his throat constricted.

“Thank you,” he said as he discreetly brushed a tear away and walked into the room.

“You are welcome. I’ll go and put these flowers in water and bring them in later,” she said as she closed the door.

 

Jealousy can wear many hats and display itself in many forms. Anger, hate, fear and resentment are a few of the common ones. As Johnatus walked along the corridor of the Maternity ward of St. Matthew’s Hospital with a big bunch of flowers and some balloons, he felt anger and fear deep within him. He had told himself over the years that he was not jealous of his older brother. He was not jealous of the affection his grandfather openly displayed towards Julius. He could live with being second best as long as he was in the running, as long as there was a chance that he might one day do something to earn his grandfather’s love and respect. He knew that getting rid of Julius was not an option. The thought had crossed his mind many times but he never acted on it. Why? Because Julius wasn’t the problem – Julius had no interest in his grandfather or his grandfather’s business. And, Julius was the only reason his grandfather tolerated him. He had figured out years ago that getting rid of Julius would ultimately mean getting rid of himself. He stopped outside room 14 and pushed the door open. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the darkness the room held. He noted that the room was empty and the bed devoid of covers. There wasn’t a crib in the room either. He stepped back and rechecked the number on the door. He had had his men search every single hospital in Los Angeles for the last 24 hours in order to find this mystery woman that was going to have his brother’s baby, then, thirty minutes ago, someone who knew someone he knew had said that they had seen something strange in this hospital. They had heard a baby crying in room 14 but when they had checked on the computer system to see who the mother was the room was logged on the system as being empty. Johnatus quietly walked over to the nurses’ station. He stood for a few moments and studied the nurse as she typed something onto the computer. He cleared his throat and she immediately looked up.

“I’m sorry, Sir, I didn’t see you there,” she told him.

“The lady in room 14, where is she?” Johnatus asked her.

She looked at the naturally tanned, handsome face of the man in front of her, his dark curly hair and his slim athletic frame. Her gaze wandered back to his dark, cold eyes. “Room 14, let me check the computer,” she told him and pressed a few buttons. “I just came on duty a couple of hours ago and when I got here there wasn’t anyone in that room. I think the heating on that side of the building isn’t working properly so they had to move some of the patients.” She stopped typing and read the information on the screen. “It says here that several mothers and their babies were transferred to St. Andrew’s Maternity. The note here also says that all their families were contacted,” she added.

“Are you sure that the woman and baby in room 14 got moved to St. Andrew’s?”

“They must have been because they’re not in there now are they? Who exactly are you looking for Sir?”

“Ummm . . . the girlfriend of my . . . of a friend . . . of a relative.”

“Well which is it? The girlfriend of your friend or the girlfriend of your relative?”

“Excuse me?” Irritation set in, “who the hell do you think you’re talking to?”

“You’re the only other person that I see here,” the nurse replied as she mockingly looked around. She had no idea who Johnatus was or who his grandfather was.

“Was there a lady in room 14 and is she still in the hospital?”

“No and no, so I suggest that you try St. Andrew’s, I can get you their address,” she turned and pretended to look for the address among the papers and medication cards on her table.

“I know where St. Andrew’s is,” he turned and quickly walked away.

“Sir, you forgot your flowers and balloons, excuse me, Sir,” she called out after him.

“Toss them in the trash,” he said over his shoulder.

 

The nurse waited for a several minutes then picked up the receiver and dialed a number. “A man came in asking for the lady in room 14 and I did exactly what you told me to do. He left a few minutes ago,” she whispered.

“Thank you,” Nurse McKenna told her, “and remember Susie, if anyone asks, you don’t know anything.”

“Don’t worry, Sister McKenna, I really don’t know anything.”

 

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 3

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

 

 

Chapter 3

 

“Julius, wait up! Julius!”

Julius ignored his brother and continued to walk quickly towards his car.

“Julius, Bro, please wait!”

Julius stopped suddenly, turned and angrily grabbed hold of his brother, pushed him up against the side of a car and held him there. “The one thing I told you not to tell Don Kempalos, the one thing, Johnatus!”

“You know how he gets, he’s always asking questions about you, always trying to figure out what you’re doing. I just thought that if I told him, he would stop asking questions and cut me some slack.”

“So you tell him the one thing I asked you not to tell him so that he would cut you some slack? You sell me, to buy yourself some brownie points?”

“It wasn’t like that! Come on, Julius, no matter what I do it’s never good enough for him. It’s always about you, ‘Where’s Julius? What’s Julius doing? Why isn’t Julius here?’ Julius this and Julius that-”

“That’s why I don’t tell him anything, so that it will stop being about me. Do you think I want to live like this forever?”

“I messed up. I’m sorry, Julius. It’s not like I had that much to tell him anyway. You only mentioned that someone was going to have your baby; who she is, what she does is still a mystery to me. Come on, let me go, Bro, I didn’t mean any harm. I just need to keep myself in grandfather’s good books. I’m too accustomed to the lifestyle he provides.”

Julius released him, “Why do you want this lifestyle so badly? Can’t you see the damage it does to people?”

“I don’t look at that aspect – I look at the power and control it gives. The money and the power are like a drug. I can go anywhere and people respect me. From cops to judges, from politicians to your everyday Joe – I get respect because of who I am and because of who my grandfather is-”

“People don’t respect him or you; what they feel is an emotion called fear. Respect is to hold someone in high esteem. Do you think that if Don Kempalos didn’t have enough evidence to shut the entire police force down this side of America, anyone would give him the time of day? He has half of the men in blue on his payroll and the other half begging for a spot. He knows all their corrupt, dirty little secrets and he uses what he knows to get what he wants.”

“Everyone knows that dirty cops are worse than us, they are a bunch of crooked vultures.”

“That may be but dirty cops as bad as some of them are have limits to what they can do. They don’t have the same reach and they don’t destroy innocent lives.”

Johnatus studied his brother for a few moments, “You have never gotten over Elaina, have you?”

Julius recoiled slightly at the mention of her name, “I don’t have time to go down that road right now.”

“Look, I felt bad about what happened to Elaina but that had nothing to do with us. We are not responsible for how Vitto and his guys run their operation-”

“So who is responsible, Johnatus? You just said that you like the money and power this lifestyle gives you. Where do you think the money comes from? It’s from people like Vitto and the others out there who run brothels and give a cut to the Old Man. Where do you think the girls who work in the brothels come from? Do you think they actually volunteer their services, free of charge? Maybe we didn’t know it then because we were young but we know now, we know that girls like Elaina are trafficked from their countries in Eastern Europe. They are told that they will have a better life here. They don’t get told that they will be forced to work as a prostitute. They don’t get told that they will have to be on call for twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week. They don’t get told that when they catch a disease like gonorrhea or syphilis or when they become too haggard for the customers they get sold like a piece of meat to the Asians. We were young when we met Elaina and we didn’t know how she came into this country or how she was forced to work for Vitto; we didn’t understand what he did for a living. Elaina was a beautiful person and she became our friend and then one day she disappeared. It was much later that we found out she had gotten sick and because Vitto couldn’t sell her he killed her. He said that she was of no use to him anymore because she had too many diseases. He said she was contaminated and had to be disposed of like trash.” He shook his head, “Sometimes I wonder if you even remember-”

“I remember,” Johnatus said, “I remember how she used to make us laugh when she cussed in her language? How she would play cards with us and the other kids to keep us occupied when a commission meeting was taking place?”

“She was a human being with a family back in Europe. She was only seventeen . . .”

Johnatus nodded; he looked embarrassed. This was the first time they had spoken openly about Elaina since her murder. He never talked about what happened to her because he believed it was a topic that if he never mentioned or revisited, he could make believe it never really happened and he could hide behind the make belief. “What happened to Elaina was wrong; that sort of thing is forbidden in the organization now and doesn’t happen anymore-”

“Look around you, Johnatus, there’s an ‘Elaina’ in this organization everywhere you turn!”

“Julius, you make it sound like everything we do is bad. We help people, we take care of people.”

“For a price! We both know what happens when they can’t pay the price. Do you think I would be here or have anything to do with any of this if my hands weren’t tied?”

“Is that why you’ve never taken a penny from grandfather or the organization?”

“When I found out what the organization did and what it stood for, I vowed never to take anything from it or from him. It would be like benefiting from Elaina and all the other innocent people. I think of the lives lost and destroyed while you think of the lives owned and controlled. I guess we’re just different people, Johnatus.”

“Why are we even having this conversation, Julius? It’s too morbid. I need to get back inside, are you coming back in?”

“No, I’ve done my bit for today. I’m going.”

They both heard footsteps and turned, “Excuse me, Mr. Cabonelli, I was told to come and get you, Don Kempalos is looking for you, Sir,” the man informed Johnatus.

“Tell him I’m on my way in,” Johnatus told him.

“Yes, Sir,” he said then ran back towards the house.

“The Old Man has changed your name from Johnatus Kempalos to Johnny Kempton to Edward Cabonelli – is this new name official?”

“Yeah, I got the paperwork last week. Grandfather said I needed to change my name again; he doesn’t want people coming after me to get to him. You know how he gets he said that as I’m married with a kid I need to be more elusive. Times are changing and word is some of the smaller families may try to muscle into some of our areas.”

“You think that’s the real reason?”

“Of course it is. What other reason could there be?”

Julius studied him for a few moments; he wasn’t sure if his brother was telling him the truth or not. “You’re right, what other reason could there be?” He said, despite the fact that he knew the real reason for the change of Johnatus’ name had nothing to do with protecting him or his family but everything to do with a secret that he had accidentally overheard years ago, on the night before they left Sicily for America. A secret he had never shared with Johnatus.

***

After taking a hot shower, which removed his fake tan and the thick gel from his hair, Julius dressed in completely different clothes and combed his hair differently. He removed his colored contact lenses and blinked a couple of times as his eyes readjusted. He scrutinized his appearance in the mirror; after a few moments he was satisfied that no one in the organization would recognize him. He left his secret apartment and headed to the basement where he kept several cars hidden in a locked garage. The apartment, the cars, his work and his relationships, were things that Johnatus and his grandfather knew nothing about and he aimed to keep it that way. He knew that they had him followed in their attempts to find out what he did outside of the organization and he always outsmarted the men they sent to follow him. He was cautious and elusive – he had to be, he had learned how to be from the best – his grandfather. Although he knew no one from the organization would recognize him, he drove around until he was satisfied that no one was following him then he headed to the hospital.

***

“We followed him when he left here like you told us. We got as far as Santa Monica then he just disappeared, Mr. Cabonelli,” the man nervously reported.

“What do you mean by “he just disappeared”? Where did he go? Which direction did he head towards?”

“We don’t know. I thought east but Tony thought west. One minute we were right behind him at some traffic lights then this truck comes along and he cuts right in front of it and when it passes we don’t see him.”

“You get nothing from the hospitals. He out smarts you again on the road and you both have the front to stand in my presence and tell me ‘he just disappeared’. Get out of here, go on, get out of here before I do something you’ll both regret and I enjoy.”

The men quickly left the room.

***

Armed with a large bouquet of beautiful flowers, Julius walked into the room. He stopped suddenly and looked around. The room was empty. His wife and son had gone. Before the panic could surface, he rushed out of the room to the nurses’ station. A young nurse sat at the station filling in medication cards.

“My wife was in room 14 – where is she and my son?”

“Room 14?” The nurse queried as she frowned and looked in the direction of the room, “I’m sorry, Sir, but I don’t recall there being anyone in room 14 today. Let me check on our new computer system; I only started my shift a couple of hours ago.” She typed some information onto the computer as Julius tried to push the panic he felt rising inside of him down. “No, according to the computer there has been no one in room 14 for three days. Are you sure it was room 14, Sir? Could it have been another room?”

“Of course I’m sure – I was here a few hours ago!”

“This computer is new but we do get the odd glitch now and then, ummm . . . room 14, let me see.”

He took a deep breath then exhaled, “Listen to me very carefully, check your computer system again and tell me exactly where my wife and son are or get someone out here who knows where they are. Either way, do something right now!” His eyes were cold and his expression deadly.

“Let me get the sister in charge. Hold on, Sir.” She picked up the receiver and pressed some numbers. “I need you to come and talk to this gentleman out here. He’s looking for his wife and son who were in room 14 but according to our records that room has been vacant for three days.” She paused as she listened and nodded. “Please come right now, Sister, he’s standing right in front of me and he wants an answer.” She listened some more then replaced the receiver.

“Well?” Julius asked, his patience dwindling fast.

“Hold on, Sir, the sister in charge will be out shortly. As I said I only started my shift a couple of hours ago and-”

They both turned as a door flew open and a woman in a blue nurse’s uniform rushed towards them, “Hi, I’m the sister in charge, please come with me. We had some problems earlier on, two men were caught wandering around the rooms and we had to get security up here and the police. Come with me.” She took the flowers from him, led him to the stairwell then rushed up the stairs ahead of him.

 

Julius felt as if his world was hanging on a fine balance, ready to tip over at any moment. Anxious thoughts, coupled with panic, attached to fear, ran through his mind in no sensible order. He hadn’t told Johnatus the name of the hospital. He hadn’t told Johnatus that his baby had been born. And, he specifically recalled his grandfather telling him that Johnatus had said he didn’t know which hospital it was. But if two men had been spotted loitering around, this meant that Johnatus had somehow found out which hospital it was, lied to his grandfather and sent men here without his grandfather knowing. His heart pounded as he ran up the stairs after the nurse. “Are they okay? Can you slow down and tell me if they’re okay?”

She didn’t answer his question. She continued up the stairs; her face had a somewhat determined look on it. Julius stopped suddenly and looked at her; she could be anyone; she could be leading him into a trap.

She paused and looked back, “Why have you stopped? Come on, we have two more flights to go. I’m sorry I wasn’t listening to what you said just then and I just realized that I haven’t introduced myself to you properly. I have a lot on my mind and I haven’t slept properly for nearly two days now. My name is Dorothy McKenna and I was just thinking to myself how strange life can be sometimes. At 3 o’clock this morning I stood with a knife in my hand ready to kill my husband. I planned that after I killed him I would come into work, so I did. When I got here I saw that your wife wasn’t feeling too well so I had her and your son moved upstairs to be monitored properly. When I got back down to Maternity, Mrs. Clarke in room 7 had a ruptured placenta. Then I saw two men loitering around. They looked like they were trying to steal a baby so I called security who called the police. Then the heating in parts of the Maternity ward broke down. It’s been all systems go since I got here. I know I’m rambling on but just think if I hadn’t been going to kill my husband and then come in early, I wouldn’t have seen those men! I wouldn’t have been here when your wife needed help! I wouldn’t have helped to save Mrs. Clarke’s life! I wouldn’t have organized getting some of the mothers and babies moved to St Andrew’s. So you see it, don’t you? You see it? I was meant to kill my husband and come in early!” Flowers held under her arm, she gesticulated frantically with her hands as she tried to get him to see what she was saying. “You wouldn’t believe how much blood there was. I have never seen so much blood. Come on, let’s go, we have two more flights, we’re nearly there.” She turned and continued up the stairs, expecting him to follow her. Julius was about to follow her when a sign caught his eye. He froze as he stared at the words ‘Psychiatric Ward’ and the arrow pointing upwards.

 

 

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 2

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

 

 

Chapter 2  

 

Julius Maxwell Kempton (formally Kempalos) sat at the back of the room and watched the ongoing initiation ceremony behind his dark sunglasses. He didn’t want to be here but in order to live a large portion of his life the way he wanted, ‘in private’, his grandfather, Don Kempalos, had insisted that Julius maintain a certain level of visibility within the organization. His grandfather controlled a number of shipping ports, families and companies in America and Sicily. He was a ‘man of honor’, a descendant of ‘men of honor’ and he was adamant that his grandson would succeed him, despite his grandson’s objections. From where he sat, Julius could see various family heads seated around his grandfather. These elegantly dressed men seemed to conceal Don Kempalos with their bodies. An outsider looking in would never have guessed that the slight, quietly dressed man was in fact the boss of bosses. Julius knew that these men would give their lives for his grandfather without a second thought. Loyalty and respect were things that kept the organization strong. The secret vow of silence, Omertà, which all the members had to take, kept the organization hidden.

 

Julius watched as the four new members were questioned one by one. He knew that their commitment to the organization had already been checked and tested out before this ceremony and this questioning, though just a formality, was also an open declaration to all the other men in the room that they would not betray the organization also known as the Mafia or Cosa Nostra. To betray it would mean death.

Salvador ‘bulldog’ Bertolino, a family head from Nevada, stood up and walked to the center of the room. He had an ornamental knife in his right hand, which he held up so that everyone in the room could see. The four men stood up and walked towards him, they stood respectfully in a line in front of him, each with their right hand held up, and their eyes cast on the ground. Salvador studied the men, pride shone in his eyes as he turned to the spectators. “Gentlemen, it is 3 o’clock in the morning and we have forsaken our beds, our wives and our businesses because of the importance of this ceremony. So I call upon everyone in this room to witness this today,” Salvador paused for effect as he looked around the room at the men who sat watching him. Some he eyeballed; others he glanced at. “These men have chosen to become one of us, ‘men of honor’, men who will uphold a custom and a duty as our forefathers upheld. We all know the story of Don Kempalos’ grandfather and his father who returned to Sicily from Spain with much wealth. Don Kempalos’ father was a governor in Sicily, a true ‘man of honor’, who helped the people and protected them from the corruption that surrounded them and polluted their land. Today we are here in America as citizens, offering protection to our people here just like our forefathers offered to their people. Not only do we offer protection, we now control a number of politicians, judges and police officers; we control the drugs and the guns, we give loans to people who the banks ignore; we are the peoples’ people!” A number of men cheered in agreement. “We are strong and we have survived for many years because of our blood borne connections. Today these four men will become a part of us, connected by blood.” He cut a line on the palm of each man’s right hand with the knife and told each man to hold his hand above his head so that the blood would flow freely from the cut. One of Don Kempalos’ men pulled a life-size statue of a saint to the middle of the room. The statue was smeared with the dried blood of hundreds of men. The four men were instructed to place their bleeding hand on the saint and repeat an oath after Salvador. As they repeated the words Julius felt as though he was transported back in time to when he was sixteen and his brother, Johnatus, was only thirteen . . .

Their grandfather was the one who cut the palm of their right hands that night. The ceremony was witnessed by a few trusted men. As he placed his hand on the statue of the saint and repeated the words his grandfather spoke, Julius knew in his heart that he would never be committed to the organization. He only did it to protect his father and mother from his grandfather.

 

Don Kempalos was a man who got what he wanted and he had told Julius that if he didn’t take part in the initiation ceremony and declare his loyalty to the organization, his parents would pay the price. Julius knew that his grandfather was a ruthless man and would carry out the threat. For years now, he suspected that to his grandfather, love was not a feeling – in fact it was a word devoid of any feeling. He knew that his grandfather loved his son, Julius’ father, Antonio, very much and that was a fact, but he also knew that he would use Antonio to get what he wanted from his grandson and this fact did not interfere with his feelings.

The truth of the matter was that Don Kempalos did not have much use for Antonio, who suffered from several mental ailments after his return from the Second World War. Back then, in Sicily, they didn’t really have a name for what Antonio suffered from and men like him were hidden behind family wealth or a family name. If they didn’t have either of these, they were simply forgotten, rejected and labelled as ‘lunatics’ or ‘mad men’.

 

When Julius was younger his grandfather would systematically threaten him – he would take him out onto the streets of California and show him men who had fought in the Second World War, like Antonio, and who also had mental problems. He made a great show of telling him how these men who society had forgotten now resided in cardboard boxes with supermarket carts containing their worldly possessions, parked on the curb of their residence. He told Julius that Antonio would join these men if Julius didn’t obey him. Then he would take Julius to Mama Luigi’s for ice cream.

 

You see Don Kempalos needed a strong-minded person to succeed him and the only person in his sights was loyal, strong-willed Julius. From an early age, Don Kempalos had discovered just how loyal and quick minded his grandson was. When Julius was very young and they all still lived in Sicily, one of Antonio’s ailments was chronic mental fatigue, which exhibited itself in forgetfulness, fear of loud noises and the sudden onset of severe panic attacks. At one point, Antonio didn’t remember what year it was and often thought that he was still fighting on the battlefield. During his many ‘flashbacks’ he was often prone to violence and the only thing that would calm him down was a window. For some strange reason, no matter how violent he got, once he was placed next to a window he would calm down. He especially loved the large bay windows on the first floor of their Sicilian home that afforded a view of the succulent Sicilian valley, spread below it like a carpet, and would sit by them for hours on end just staring out, as if caught up in a trance. Don Kempalos could not tolerate this from his only child and commissioned a doctor to treat him. As part of Antonio’s treatment by this somewhat questionable psychiatrist he was put on a ‘new’ mind-regression therapy. This meant that he had to mentally go back in time and face his demons on and off the battlefield. This also meant that outside of his sessions with the psychiatrist he had to believe that he was still living in the 1940s.

 

Young, loyal, strong-willed Julius, took it upon himself to read articles from old newspapers to maintain the charade although he could barely read. Julius persuaded his mother, Maria, to help and managed to convince her that it would make Antonio better faster. What he didn’t tell his mother was that his grandfather had told him that, if he didn’t lie to his father, he would put his father in a room with no windows and his father would have an episode of violent madness and die in this room. After his father had died, his grandfather had said he would throw his widowed mother out onto the streets, somewhere where her own family would never find her and she would die. So from a very young age, Julius had lived a lie to keep his father alive and his mother safe – a thing that over twenty years later, he was still doing.

 

. . . Men cheered and clapped as they welcomed the newest members into their fold. Their voices brought Julius back to the present. The ceremony was over and the four men were now ‘made men’. They were now officially members of the organization. Two large doors were opened into the adjourning room, revealing tables laden with food and drinks. All the men moved towards the adjoining room. Julius greeted a number of men as he walked past them. He felt someone grab his arm and turned.

“Julius, you look good, son,” Salvador Bertolino said as he embraced Julius.

“Thank you, you look good too. Have you lost some weight? You look like you have.”

“You noticed, huh? You’re the only one who noticed. I started going to this new place that opened in Nevada, ‘Gym-Fit’ they call it. I call it ‘hell in a hole’. I even got myself someone to show me how to use the fancy equipment and work out with me. Can you believe that the dumb schmuck wanted me to pay him for his services each time? He looked at me like I was some dinosaur and said that this was the 1980s and people were paying personal fitness trainers all over the country. Well you know me, I couldn’t resist, I showed him my Smith & Wesson and said to him, ‘how’s about I pay you by letting you keep your life, schmuck’.”

“I bet he’s paying you now, Uncle Sal,” Julius laughed.

“With the money those people make per session! You bet he is, Julius, you bet he is,” Salvador roared and laughed with Julius as they walked into the room.

“Salute! Salute!” Men said all around the room as they raised their glasses.

 

After about thirty minutes of talking and being visible, Julius walked over to his grandfather and told him privately that he was going to leave.

“I need a word with you before you go,” Don Kempalos told him and walked to a quiet corner of the room. Julius followed him. “What is this I hear about you having a pregnant girlfriend who will soon give birth? Why have I not been informed about this before now and by you?”

Julius froze, his heart pounded, “I, umm . . . I-”

“You are going to have a child and you didn’t tell me?”

“Who told you?”

“Does it matter who told me?”

“Yes, it matters.”

“Your brother told me. He thinks that he can score points with me by telling me other people’s secrets. Usually I patronize him: I listen, I comment then forget Johnatus and his stories. But this one, this one, Julius, is one that I needed to find out the truth about for myself. I told him to send some guys to the hospital to see if it’s true. He said he didn’t know which hospital it was.”

“What?”

“This child will be my great grandchild, my future and your heir. So tell me, is it true?”

“My private life is off limits, remember. I have done everything you have asked me to do over the years because of my parents. If and when I have children I will not let you have any contact with them, Don Kempalos.”

“Why do you insist on calling me ‘Don Kempalos’ or refer to me as ‘The Old Man’? Why do you never call me grandfather like your brother? What’s the matter with you, Julius?” He reached out and touched his grandson’s arm then quickly withdrew his hand when he felt the familiar flinch and saw his grandson take a step back from him.

“What’s the matter with me? You’re asking me, what’s the matter with me?”

“It’s a simple question, what’s the matter with you? I have given you everything, Julius-”

“No, you have taken everything! You want to know why I don’t call you grandfather to your face? You stopped being my grandfather when you threatened the life of my father, when you told me that you would harm my mother. If and when I have children, they will not be a part of your life, Don Kempalos, because they were never a part of the deal,” Julius told him then turned and walked away.

One of Don Kempalos’ bodyguards sensed something was wrong and walked towards Julius as if to stop him, but Don Kempalos quickly raised a hand and his bodyguard hung back. As Don Kempalos watched Julius leave the room, he hated the stab of pain he felt at his grandson’s rejection. Love was a word to him that was devoid of any feelings, except for the feelings he had for Julius.

 

Special offer: Get a free copy of ‘Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1’ when you buy any book from the GLL Publishing collection. Contact me at gladyslawson@hotmail.com for your free copy.

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7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message from Tatiana taken from the Prologue of Blood Borne Connections

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

 

Before getting into Chapter 2 of Blood Borne Connections I thought I would share some words from Tatiana, a 15 year old girl that was sex trafficked from an orphanage in Czechoslovakia. She was taken to LA in California where she was promised a better life but within a month she was forced into prostitution.

 

Prologue

 

There is a memory that I used to cling to but sadly it is beginning to fade – I am running in the field next to my house in Czechoslovakia as fast as my little legs can carry me. I am three or maybe four years old and to me the field seems to go on forever and ever. It is as though I am running to the end of the world. I am happy! I am free! I am free! I am not in this vile place where married men with wedding bands on, single men, old men and young men used my body every day. Seven days a week the door would open and a man would walk in at any time of the day and have sex with me. At first I refused, I tried to reason with them, I told them I was only fifteen. I tried to fight them . . .

Once I scratched an old man across his face, punched and kicked him as he undressed. Dazed he stumbled around the room, his fat belly flapping about and his trousers at his knees. He went crazy, called out for help and the next thing I knew, I was beaten, held down and raped by four men. The old man laughed and goaded the men on as he watched; afterwards he slashed my arm with a knife, called me ‘Tatiana the tiger’ and said now that I had been tamed he would come back for his turn the next day. As he walked towards the door he laughed as one of the men urinated on me and another kicked me several times in my stomach so badly that for days I passed blood in my urine and I thought I was going to die from the pain. After this happened I realized it was easier to just obey the men and do whatever they asked me to do. I would look at some of the older men and think, ‘Don’t you have a sister, a cousin or a daughter? Is this something that you would want them to go through? Is this something that I look like I enjoy doing? Can’t you see that I am a prisoner in this house being forced to have sex with you? How can you not see this? My blood is on your hands! You are paying a man who has threatened to kill my sister if I don’t lie on this bed and let you do as you please with me!’ I didn’t voice my thoughts because I knew what would happen if I did. I often wondered what would happen if I had a knife . . .

 

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 1

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

GLL Publishing the publishers of the kindle version of Blood Borne Connections is giving a portion of the money raised from the sale of  the kindle copies to the Dream Centre in LA California where trafficked victims are looked after and given a chance to get their lives back together.

We are sharing some chapters of Blood Borne Connections with you starting with chapter 1 below.

CHAPTER 1

Knife gripped tightly in her hand, Dorothy McKenna stood next to her matrimonial bed and looked down at her sleeping, soon-to-be-dead husband, Nigel. So many thoughts and memories ran through her mind; some of them collided into each other leaving her consumed with sickening emotions. Wave after wave of these emotions, these hurts that she had kept at bay for so long, swept torrentially to the surface and demanded to be acknowledged. Loneliness . . . hate . . . betrayal . . . anger . . . pain . . . insignificance – it was as though her mind was a labyrinth that had captured her sanity within its walls. Each turn her sanity took was met by one identical path after another and no sign of the way out. Her face was flushed, her hair damp from anxious perspiration and her hazel-green eyes – crazed. The knife in her hand felt heavy, but not as heavy as her broken heart; she had seen years of physical, emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of Nigel.“You’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not sexy enough. You’re so stupid, Dorothy, you make the dodos sad they’re extinct! A baby dodo would look at you and think –‘Why us and not her?’ and ‘Man is she dumb!’ Of all the women in the world, I had to go and marry a dumb-ass.” A kick, a punch or the occasional slap would often accompany his cruel words. As Nigel’s wife, the years had not been kind to Dorothy; indeed they had brought her to this very day and this very moment.

It was nearly 3 o’clock in the morning and the room, though mostly dark, was slightly illuminated by shafts of moonlight that peered between the partially opened louvers of the plastic blind in front of the window. Feeling suddenly exposed, Dorothy moved to the other side of the bed that was hidden in darkness and stood there with her hand raised and knife poised, ready to plunge into her husband’s chest. She had been a nurse for over fifteen years and risen to the position of sister in charge at California’s prestigious St. Matthew’s Hospital. She knew exactly where the human heart was located in the chest and that it comprised of the left and right atria and left and right ventricles. Using the knife, she pointed at the vena cava, aorta and pulmonary artery then the right atrium, right ventricle, left atrium and left ventricle. As she pointed she named, and as she named she visualized. She knew just how many inches she needed to push the knife down to cause irreparable damage and maximum pain. She had even added a few more inches because she was sure that his heart was now so hard and cold that it would require a little more force to destroy it. The extra pounds he had gained over the years also played a factor.

Dorothy looked at her husband’s face and wondered, as she had done over the last few months, how things had come to this. After so many years of marriage was this how things would end? She would kill him and feel no remorse. Her lawyer would defend her in court by saying that Nigel had abused her and beaten her and debased her for years, and that she had had a moment of madness where she simply snapped. There was more than enough evidence locked up in a filing cabinet at the local police station to substantiate that this was all true, but deep within her heart, she knew the real truth: Nigel had killed her. She had made him her life and he had taken her life and thrown it in the gutter. She gave him love and he abused it. She gave him money and he misused it – mostly on other women. She paid all the utility bills and even bought the gas in his expensive car, the car she was still paying for – a direct debit of $199 each month.

She did everything she thought a good wife was supposed to do to make her husband love her, but in Nigel’s eyes, it was never enough. Had there been children, she might have been able to continue with the charade of their marriage, but they didn’t have any children because Nigel had said that he didn’t want to share her with children. He even said he loved her too much to share his affection and his time with anyone else. He lied to get what he wanted and when he got it he abused her until he needed something else – then he lied again.

“Are you going to stand there all night, woman, or are you going to kill me?” Nigel asked.

Shocked by his words, Dorothy froze momentarily; her heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds.

“Well, are you going to kill me or are you going to get into bed? Why does everything with you have to be over-emphasized and damn melodramatic? Either you’re going to kill me, woman, or put that damn knife away, get into this damn bed and get some damn sleep. I need you to be alert when you go to the bank tomorrow to get the loan for me. You hear me, woman, alert! This is California, not that hill-billy town in Arizona that you come from.”

Dorothy looked at Nigel; he appeared to be sleeping. She looked around the room. If he was sleeping, who had just spoken to her? Had he finally succeeded in driving her mad? Was this the moment of madness her lawyer would use in court to defend her?

“Nigel,” she whispered as she lowered the knife and leaned towards him. She could hear him snoring and saw the even rise and fall of his chest, which indicated he was still fast asleep. “Nigel,” she whispered again. He didn’t move.

“You see, this is what happens when a man like me marries a woman like you. I could have had any woman I wanted but I had to go and marry a stupid dumb-ass woman like you. Stop wasting my time, woman, kill me or go to sleep.”

She heard the words; they were his mean words spoken in his mean voice, but she could see that he had not spoken them. His lips had not moved and he was still asleep. She panicked. She put the knife down on the bedside table, ran her hands through her hair, banged her hands against her head intermittently and rocked backwards and forwards. She was scared. She wasn’t sure if she was dreaming or if she had already killed him and his spirit was talking. Suddenly a sickening feeling washed over her as she thought that maybe she was dead, maybe he had seen the knife in her hand and they had fought viciously – smashing and breaking things, he had overpowered her, grabbed the knife and stabbed her. Frantically, she checked herself for stab wounds – nothing. She looked around the room: nothing had been disturbed and nothing was broken; confused, she started to cry. Tears coursed down her face as her whole body trembled and she sobbed. After a few moments, her nursing instincts kicked in as she realized she was going into shock. She sat on the floor, put her head in-between her legs and breathed deeply. As she breathed, she reasoned with herself, “I can’t be dead; dead people don’t go into shock. Come on, Dorothy, take control of this . . . take control of this,” she whispered to herself.

“Take control Dorothy, take control Dorothy, take control Dorothy,” Nigel mimicked. “You don’t have control – I will always control you,” he said and laughed evilly.

Scared, she looked up, “What did I do wrong? Why do you hate me so much, Nigel?”

“Who said I hate you? I may not love you, woman, but like any good pet, you have your uses.”

“You hit me, you abuse me, and you cheat on me-”

“Why do you always have to be so moralistic? Look, my dad’s dad probably cheated on his wife. I sure know my dad cheated on my mom and I cheat on you, Dorothy, why can’t you just accept it? All men cheat-”

“That’s not true!”

“Yes it is – all men cheat,” he insisted.

“No, all men don’t cheat! Decent men don’t cheat! Only weak pathetic men like you cheat. Men who have no morals, no family values, no backbone or standards; men who do not see beyond their selfish needs to the damage they inflict on other-” she stopped and looked at Nigel. He was still sleeping.

“Why can’t you just accept the truth – you were too frigid for me and there was no chemistry between us? You couldn’t satisfy me. The truth is it takes a real woman to satisfy me, Dorothy.”

Like the pain of a fresh paper cut, his words stung for a moment then she shrugged their familiar discomfort off and braced herself. “You came to bed with bad breath expecting me to kiss you. You came to bed smelling of sex and cheap perfume expecting me to sleep with you. The truth is, Nigel, you repulsed me.”

Liberated, she stood up. She had never told him this before because, ironically, she had not wanted to hurt his feelings. She would make the odd comment now and then to him about brushing his teeth before he went to bed to keep them healthy or about having a shower when he got back in the evening. He never listened to her, and for years she had to endure his disgusting smells. “Sex with you, Nigel, was pathetic. There was no intimacy, no affection from you, and no lovemaking. It was less than two minutes of ‘stop-start-stop-start’ torture and you know what I did during those less than two-minute sessions? I would pray that you didn’t infect me with a sexually transmitted disease again! You talk about truth; can you handle the truth? You have called me frigid so many times; well most normal women would be frigid if their husbands smelled of old sex, broke wind like a pig in bed, snored like a dog and dribbled like a baby when they slept. You think that those drunks, those drugged-up, desperate women you’ve been sleeping with are normal?”

He didn’t respond

“Oh you have nothing to say now, do you?”

“Dorothy, listen-”

“No, no you listen; you have cheated on me with five women that I know about. You think I didn’t know that two of those women have had children for you? ‘I don’t want to share you with children, Dorothy’, you said to me time and time again. You didn’t allow me to have children! You lied to me! You took my money and spent it on other women. You made me work two jobs while you did one part-time job. You took everything from me, Nigel, including my self-respect! No more, you hear me? I will not live like this anymore – I have had enough!” She screamed.

At the onset of an act of madness, some scientists say that there is a moment of lucidity, almost like a way out of committing the act. This bizarre moment, however, can be lost in a blink of an eye. Is science really exact? Did this moment really exist? Dorothy McKenna was sweating, shaking and had just had a conversation with a man who was asleep. Her symptoms depicted that she was having a mental breakdown and was on the verge of committing an act of madness. She picked up the knife from the bedside table and looked at it for a few seconds, and then she took a deep, exhilarating breath and plunged the knife down with all her might. She let go of the knife, exhaled and smiled her first ‘happy’ smile in years.

Calmingly, Dorothy arranged some things around the room, collected a few personal belongings then walked out of her bedroom for the very last time.

Special offer: Get a free copy of ‘Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1’ when you buy any book from the GLL Publishing collection. Contact me at gladyslawson@hotmail.com for your free copy.

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