Firstly, allow me to apologize for being remiss in my blogging duties. I take pride in having posted at least once in twenty of the twenty-six months ifoundthewub has been in existence but, due to those forces so often beyond our control, I have been stymied once again. But never fear, for I am here.
I’ll bring you up to speed.
“Matchsticks” has been fully complete for two-and-a-half months now. And when I say fully complete I mean I’m not fiddling with it constantly anymore. The final part I’m posting here is the epilogue. I still think it’s missing something, but I’m content to let it lie for now.
Five days later.
The little funeral parlor in Bensonhurst was full of people, of the scent of flowers and too much perfume, and of the sound of quiet sobbing and feet shuffling past Dennis’ oversized casket. Linwwood stood near the entrance and checked his watch, the frogman watch. He watched the door as he waited for Jamieson to arrive.
“How you holdin’ up, tesorino?” Linwood turned to find a small elderly woman standing behind him, her blonde-dyed hair styled in an impressively large bouffant. She stood holding her arms open.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Colminetti,” Linwood said. When he bent down to hug her she kissed his cheek and left a large lipstick print behind. “Thank you, thank you,” she said. She wrinkled her brow as she studied his face, rubbing her lip prints from his skin. “My God,” she breathed. “Look at you. What monster could do such a thing’ta such a nice boy?” She stroked the bruises that had yet to fully heal.
“You know, Dennis really liked you, Linwood. He talked about you all the time. I—I’m glad you were with him when it happened.” She began tearing up again, and Linwood placed a hand on her shoulder. When she had collected herself she patted his cheek again, and turned to greet the queue of people still trickling in.
After a time the priest called the room to order. Jamieson slipped in just as the ushers began closing the doors.
After the service Linwood and Jamieson stood on the sidewalk, watching close friends and family get into the train of cars lined up behind Dennis’ hearse. They hailed the cabbies as they came out. Reggie came over to them when they spotted him.
“How ya holdin’ up, fellas?” They both grunted in response.
“Can’t believe the big boss is gone. No trace’a Ricky, neither. Either that little motherfucker got what he had comin’, or he’s smarter than we thought he was an’ he got gone.”
Linwood and Jamieson exchanged a glance.
“You find another gig yet?” Linwood asked.
“Yeah,” Reggie said. “A little garage in Queens picked me up day before yesterday. Oh, right. Before I forget.” Reggie reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded square of paper. “Thanks,” Linwood said as he opened it. It was a crayon of two figures, one large and one small, holding hands underneath a tree with far too few leaves.
“Veronica made it the day after we took her home. The big one’s you,” he added.
“Yeah, I figured that,” Linwood said with a chuckle. “Tell her thanks for me.” Reggie nodded. “What about you, man? How you feelin’?” Reggie asked Jamieson. He inadvertently slapped his chest where his wounds were and Jamieson flinched in pain. “Guess that’s my answer,” Reggie apologized. “Man, somebody worked y’all over good.”
“You should see the other guy,” Jamieson said. Only Reggie laughed.
“Glad to see you boys’re doin’ okay, though,” Reggie said. “I’ll be prayin’ for ya.” The three said their goodbyes, and Reggie left.
“Ready?” Linwood asked Jamieson, who nodded. The pair started off toward 20th Street and the D train. Jamieson pulled out a cigarette, then lit it with a match.
“Really?” Linwood said, surprised. “Didn’t think I was rubbin’ off on ya so much, man.”
“Please,” Jamieson said, exhaling. “Jus’ thought it was time for a change, that’s all. Almos’ gettn’ done in by a psychopath tends to do that to a person.” They both laughed.
“Glad to see Dennis’ people holdin’ up okay,” Jamieson said. “His mom’s a soldier.”
“Yeah,” Linwood said. “She’s a sweetheart. But the whole time all could think was how somebody so big came out of somewhere so… not.” They laughed again. Linwood pulled a cigarette but couldn’t find a match. Jamieson gave him one. A block passed before he spoke again.
“‘Pay attention to the oddities’.”
“What you said to me at the restaurant that night. I told you about how strange the shift was goin’ and that’s what you told me.”
“Oh, yeah,” Jamieson said, remembering. “But what we just went through? That shit’s on a whole other level than odd.”
“But what level?”
It was Jamieson’s turn to think. “Don’t know. Maybe it’s one of those things you shouldn’t forget about.”
“How the hell would I ever forget about that?”
“Exactly.” Linwood rolled his eyes and took another drag from the cigarette.
They spent the rest of the walk in silence. When they came to the station entrance they stopped to finish the smokes.
“So, this guy in the Heights. You sure he’ll pick me up?”
Jamieson took a drag. “Yeah, yeah. I worked wit’ him before I started at Colminetti’s. He knows what happened’ta Dennis an’ he said he’d talk to you. So chill out.” He crushed the cigarette out.
“Yeah, alright.” Linwood did the same, and as he turned to go into the station a man walked into him and knocked him down.
“Oh jeez, I’m sorry,” the guy said. He held out a hand to help Linwood up.
“The hell, man? Watch where the—” His sentence was cut off as he got a good look at his assailant. A big man who had squeezed himself into an ill-fitting suit, he carried a valise in one hand and a newspaper underneath an armpit.
Linwood sat on the ground and shrieked with laughter. Embarrassed, and recognizing Linwood, the fat guy scurried into the station as fast as he could.
“You good, Linwood?” Jamieson asked, confused. He helped him to his feet.
“Y—yeah,” Linwood answered, catching his breath. “Yeah. I’m fine, but… let’s catch the next one, okay?”