Walter shifted in his seat and leaned in closer, so Rusty could hear when he spoke under his breath.
“We have a situation.”
“I’ll say, “his brother smiled, his dazzling whites shining as he looked around the room, “you were supposed to break her.”
Walter shook his head, “I couldn’t, I just – I had to be three sheets to the wind to even think about going down there.”
Rusty shook his head in disgust. “It’s the only way, brother.”
“No…it’s not the only way…. Look, I gotta tell you something,” Walter looked down at his knuckles before placing them on the counter that separated them. “I had to refer you.”
Rusty crinkled his tanned brow, “Refer? What do you mean, “refer?”
“Look, I had to give them something….someone.”
Rusty abruptly pushed away from the partition, sinking his head between his arms.
“Don’t. Panic. Not here,” Walter leaned in a bit more, “there IS a way out of this.”
“How? How, Walter, how the fuck are we going to get out of this one? We owe them.”
“I’ve thought about it, thought long and hard, and it will require some sacrifice – but we will be in the clear afterward-- promise.”
Rusty kept shaking his head as he looked deep into his brother’s eyes.
“How much time will I have to do?”
“Five years, tops. That way, the Feds get what they want, and our International Associates remain convinced that we’re loyal. The job is next week, all you have to do is get caught.”
Rusty nodded, closing his eyes, wiping his hand across his freshly trimmed beard.
Walter leaned back, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, one more thing. That fucking twat. I need you to find someone to Ghost her.”
Rusty’s eyes widened as he looked up.
“No, idiot. That’s not what I mean. I mean find someone that can put her on a fucking island for the rest of her life. Get into her life, her finances, her career – no, fuck that – don’t put her on an island, put her on a fucking boat, so she never reaches any fucking destination. It’s going to be the only way she’ll keep her fucking mouth shut.”
Margie opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling before looking around. Rolling over, she studied the empty pillow lying next to hers, it looked alone and pathetic, like it stayed empty all night. As she moved to sit, her belly twinged, and then began throbbing with a dull pain. Obviously, something had happened to her the day before, but in her morning head fog, couldn't yet recall what it was. Looking down at her lap, she peeled away the covers, and then… Blood. The previous days events began rushing back into her mind, dark and bloody, achingly surreal. Phillip Truhart. A wave of fear and anxiety washed over Margie as she got out of bed to make her way to the bathroom.
"How can he accuse me of cheating on him when I never leave this apartment?" Margie mumbled as she began a hot bath.
Yesterday's events were still surreal in her mind. Phillip bringing her to the abortion clinic, then leaving her there after picking a fight. "Two abortions within a year, and that man still won't spring for contraception." She remembered sitting there, at the clinic, for hours until her mother came to pick her up. She didn't speak to her the whole ride home, and then as she pulled up to the apartment, a terse "get a job, Margie." Margie stared at her mother before getting out of the car, then smiled abruptly. There was no way to describe to her the gut wrenching anxiety of being with Phillip, of even hinting to him that she needed her own life. Especially when he'd be "on tour" with the band for days on end, leaving her 20 year-old self to her own devices. Oh sure, she had plenty of food, clothes, and alcohol to get by - and gas money whenever she needed it. But the whole idea of being "taken care of" or "protected" had turned, well, almost absurd.
As she sat soaking in the hot, bubbled bath, she began reflecting on the first time she met Phillip. She had asked him for his order, he looked at her with lust in his eyes when he spoke, "California. Medium. French." She didn't miss a beat when she nodded, half smiling and left the table to put the order in. Later, he had sauntered up to her to ask her out. She didn't care if he and his buddies had just made a wager about it. He was an older man, by almost fourteen years, "of Choctaw decent" he claimed, and touring with a local band. His long hair gave him a defiant, almost criminal, look to him. Margie thought it was love at first sight. Which was probably typical for an 18 year old. No one had ever asked her out like that before, it was thrilling, and risky, and far removed from her high school, good girl, Cheerleader persona.
Over the next two years, Phillip became her everything. Her provider, her mentor, her lover. She even quit after a year of college to devote herself to making him happy. All the partying had made her grades less than scholarship-worthy anyhow, and her reputation for dating an older man didn't exactly make her a sought after study partner at the all-girls Catholic college she went to. But, it was her first serious relationship, and she intended to make it work. The "garden level" apartment they rented together was a dream in her eyes - it was their escape. "Us against the world," he always said. He taught her how to drive, and even gave her the car that he had bought off some lady after plowing into it one night. She knew he was proud of her. Proud of the way she made the threadbare carpet and shitty furniture look beautiful even before 'shabby chic' was a thing. And when he gave her an engagement ring, she told herself that she didn't care that the diamond was merely a speck of cheap glass, it meant something. It was a promise.
Phillip was the one who convinced Margie to get an abortion. Both times. She truly wanted to start a family right away. Indeed, after reconnecting with her biological father, Jack, a few years earlier and spending time with his family - both of she and Phillip even living with them for a short while during that year after college - she wanted to get back what she had lost growing up.
Things started changing after they moved in together, of course. Phillip was away touring more often, and he became increasingly jealous after "that night."
They were out celebrating their engagement with Phillip's best friend, Yuri, a Ukrainian-born business man who frequently took them out on the town after Phillip's gigs. That night was no exception. Margie's first taste of Escargot at a famous French restaurant downtown, and champagne…really good champagne, that didn't burn when it went down. It was like a dream being with the two of them, being young and sought after, the center of attention, having every whim answered. Being introduced to everyone that stopped by to greet Yuri and Phillip. She thought she might have even recognized a few faces as local celebrities or sports players.
That night happened to be a quiet one. Phillip and Margie were getting cozy across the table from Yuri when Phillip casually whispered in her ear "Yuri looks so lonely over there, doesn't he? Maybe we should find him a girlfriend. He is very handsome, isn't he?" Margie was looking up smiling at him, deciding if she should agree, when she felt a very persistent stocking foot making its way up from her ankle. Her eyes must've widened, because at that moment Phillip whispered in her ear again "It's okay, Princess, just let go - you have my permission."
Yuri moved to sit closer so Margie was immediately between he and Phillip. Phillip began kissing her neck and Margie pulled away slightly, becoming conscious of their surroundings. They were still in a public place, even if their table was in a faraway corner. She sat up and looked around before relaxing back into the deep armchair. Yuri picked up her right hand and began caressing and kissing it. Margie's breath was heavy, and her voice deep as she looked into Yuri's eyes and asserted "Take us home, Yuri." They all rose after a moment, and Margie broke off to use the ladies room.
As she walked past the bar, she looked up and saw a familiar eyes staring at her. She pretended not to remember her high school crush as she ignored him and picked up the pace. His eyes followed her all the way to the restroom. Once inside, Margie gasped, "What was he doing here?" A rush of embarrassment washed over her as she recalled the last time she saw him. It was at a house party the Summer after graduation. She had still been working at the café that summer. The party was one she'd like to forget. Getting drunk, and hooking up with one of the hockey players in a room just above the party room. Everyone heard. She was devastated. But this situation was far worse. She was keenly aware of how it looked, how she looked to him - and what he must think.
"Fuck it," she told herself, "we're not in high school anymore."
She smiled and winked at Dustin, who was still staring from the bar, as they all walked past him, arm in arm out the door.
"Do you know that guy?" Phillip asked.
"Nope," she denied. It was the first time she would lie to him.
Dustin shook his head in disbelief as he watched Margie walk out the door. He waved the bartender over.
“Hey, can I use your phone?”
Dustin dialed and listened for the beep.
“Rusty, you are one motherfucker you know that? Don’t call me again.”
Of course, he did end up calling him again, for some reason or another. It would, however, be another 10 years before his little cousin would marry Rusty’s step-daughter. After she was properly “broken" by her biological father, of course.
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