I'd suggest you check out the link to Part 1, over to the left, if you haven't already. -m
When I heard the bathroom door click, adrenaline rushed into my veins so fast I thought I was going to pass out. My heart was beating like a drum line. Of course my first instinct wasn't to call 911 or to scream for help or something; it was to stare, silent and open-mouthed, at the closed door.
Someone was in there. And they were making noises.
I mean, like, they were dropping things and moving things around. Like they were looking for something as quietly as possible. I took a step toward the door. I took another. I was within reach of the knob when I heard a crash and a muffled curse or three. My hand had been about to turn the handle and I jerked it away, expecting at any moment that it would open itself and a zombified Mr. Cassidy would lurch out into the hall, eat my gooey innards, and take a nap in his leather chair.
And then I heard a sound that really confused me: the shower. Then, a symphony of metallic ringing as the shower curtain was pulled aside. That same sound, again. I realized that I was standing like a puppy with my head to one side. Zombified Mr. Cassidy was taking a shower? What? I felt like busting open the door and confronting him, but a naked, sopping wet zombie was not exactly on the top of my list of Must-Sees. Maybe if he was... nevermind.
The shower stopped and I couldn't help it, I gasped and jumped back from the door, slamming into the corner of the wall. THUMP. The sounds of movement stopped in the bathroom and I could practically see the guy, frozen, staring back at me through the opaque door. I stepped backwards, back around the corner, and then suddenly the door was open and I was staring into the face of a guy with black eyes and thick black eyebrows.
He was naked. Well, he had the towel wrapped around his waist, but that didn't really connect in my brain for a few seconds. All I could really process at that moment was, "He's in my bathroom. He's naked. He's staring at me. Am I naked?" I looked down, quickly, just to make sure that I was still wearing my shorts and t-shirt. Oh, good. They were still there.
"Um," I said. He glared at me and slammed the door shut. "Oh, OK. Bye." I didn't have a chance to decide to do anything besides stand there like a stupid lawn ornament because in ten seconds the door slammed open again and the guy was glaring at me, this time in a black suit and a silk cravat. A white silk cravat.
"You live here," he said. He had a classic Italian accent that I'm not even going to try to replicate here. Believe me it was lovely, in that Oh God I'm Gonna Get Shot sort of way.
"Yes?" I asked, even though I had meant for it to be a statement.
"Where's the stuff?" And then I was staring at his tattoo, which I was shocked to have missed in the past seconds of pseudo-nakedness, and trying to figure out how the heck I had missed it before. The claw of a jungle cat was permanently attached to the space just below his Adam's apple, and I was sure the body of the cat was either on his shoulder or around the back of his neck.
I shook my head as I remembered that he was questioning me. Stuff?
"The stuff," he said again. He shook his head at my stupidity and heaves a sigh. Reaching slowly into his suit pocket, the man pulled out a long, black... whistle? I felt my body relax just before he lifted the whistle to his lips and blew a low, sharp blast.
He put it back, nodded and smiled at me, and leaned back into the closed bathroom door with his huge forearms crossed over his bulging pec muscles. I began to open my mouth to say something, but he lifted his finger, waved it side to side, and then pressed it up against his lips. Two seconds later someone knocked on the door, which opened to reveal a guy who could easily have been this guy's twin, except for the red silk cravat.
"Sit down," the first guy said. It occurred to me at this moment that neither of these men were Mr. Cassidy. They weren't exactly acting like the undead, and as far as I knew, Cassidy wasn't an Italian surname. I know now that I wasn't wrong.
Red Cravat Guy pushed towards me, sticking his arm out across my shoulders and throwing me backwards into the leather chair on his way into the back of the apartment.
"Hey!" I said. Finally, I seemed to be getting my thoughts and reactions in order.
"Shut up," White Cravat Guy said, waving a gun topped with a silencer in my face. Remember all that progress I had made with my thoughts and reactions? Yeah, totally gone. Totally and completely.
What followed was a very thorough, though messy, search of everything in the apartment. White Cravat Guy had already been through the bathroom, obviously, so the two of them moved on to the living room and the kitchen. In a matter of minutes everything -- and I do mean everything -- was out of every cabinet, closet, box, and whatever else could contain stuff. But they weren't finding the "stuff" that they were hoping for. I know this because every few seconds they would suddenly appear at my shoulder, stick the gun into the tender space under my jaw, and demand to know where the "stuff" was.
Each time I could do nothing but stammer that I had no idea what they were talking about, but you know Italian mobsters, they never believe you when you say things like that. So they'd throw some more stuff across the room, stomp on some fragile things, and otherwise make a terrible mess.
They were in my bedroom when I suddenly remembered that my phone was in my pocket.