Momma Finola made a V with her index finger and thumb then aimed it at Tony Sola, who strutted out of the Lancaster courthouse, celebrating his third hung jury. “Malocchio,” she said, then gazed into his eyes, cursing the man who whacked her son. The evil eye smacked Sola in the head harder than a bat, and his bones weighed heavy. A moment later, she dropped to the sidewalk, and he got the fuck out of there: heartache.
Sola crossed the street, heading to his car, and a crow dropped some white shit into his perfect hair. He yanked out a handkerchief and used his phone as a mirror. She shouldn’t have done that, he thought. Richie Finola knew the rules of this thing. Sola had no beef with the kid, but word from their source was he flipped after getting pinched for dealing out in Gettysburg. It wasn’t personal.
When Tony got to the club on Duke Street, he excused himself from the party, stepped into the kitchen and poured some olive oil into a bowl of warm water, just like his grandmother had taught him to do. The oil coalesced into an eye, and he made the sign of the cross. The next morning, he picked up a silver horn painted red from a street vendor and wore it from a bracelet. Once he was properly secured with countermeasures, Sola walked to the club, and a Red Rose bus lost control and slammed into a brick wall, nearly crushing him. He staggered into the club and nearly collapsed.
“You having a coronary?” the boss said, then dealt a hand of poker. “Za, drive him over to the ER.”
“I just gotta sit down.”
“You need a Perrier?”
“I need a priest,” Sola said. He’d faced deranged hitmen, Feds with wiretaps and holy vigilantes, but he’d never been up against an Italian mother before, and for the first time in his life, terror burrowed so deep into his guts Sola struggled not to vomit.
“Just pull yourself together for tonight.”
“Curse or not,” he said, pouring himself a cup of coffee, “I’ll do my duty.” He sipped the cup, and the lid popped off, pouring scalding brew down his neck and chest. He yelped and dropped the cup. After he cleaned up and applied some balm to his seared skin, he took the boss aside. “Hey listen, skip. I can’t do it. She gave me the evil eye.”
“She cursed you good, eh? Well, fuck it. Get someone to buy it.”
“You can do that?” Sola said. “Fuck.”
“It’s gotta be their choice.”
Just after midnight, they parked out front of the Sheetz and watched the driver carry a coffee back to the Best Buy truck parked at the diesel pump—just like their tip said. Sola sat in the back seat and fingered a rosary in his trench coat pocket, hoping he could cure the curse with enough beads. He watched the driver flip his hat around then climb up into the cabin, where Joey Za perched in the passenger seat. They followed the truck as it pulled out onto Route 30, drove about three miles to an abandoned sunglasses factory, then pulled into a derelict warehouse.
“4K flatscreens,” the boss said. “Nothing beats an old-fashioned heist.” The truck pulled into a makeshift tunnel designed to shield GPS and alarm systems. “Balaclavas on. Fuck, I love saying that.” Bobby waited for them with a lit blowtorch. He went to work on the trailer lock.
Sola got out of the backseat, stepped in an oil streak and flipped onto his back. “Mother Mary’s c—”
“You need a full body cast, Ton’?”
“Just give me a minute.”
“Yeah, sure. Why don’t you have a nice lie down while we steal for a living?” The boss offered Sola a hand. Tony reached for it, and the boss yanked it away. The rest of the guys nearly shit themselves. “Okay. Go babysit.”
Sola pulled himself up, took out his piece then escorted the trembling driver over to a crate. He eased his sore body down next to the other man, and a splinter ripped a second hole in his ass. He yelped, jumped up and nearly pulled the trigger. The driver whimpered.
“Didn’t mean to scare you,” Sola said. “The evil eye’s a bitch.”
“I have two kids,” the driver said. “I’ll tell ‘em you knocked me out. I’ve got a poodle with eye cancer. Sammy Davis needs me! I’ll do anything.”
“Will you?” Sola said. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take care of you if you take my evil eye.”
“You want to give me your eye?” he said.
“Why the fuck would I give you my eye?”
“For the poodle or some shit. Maybe you like dogs.”
“No, you fucking moron. I got cursed, and I want to trade it.”
The driver hesitated then finally agreed. “What shit do I have to do?”
Sola imitated the hand gesture and tried gazing into the driver’s eyes, but the fuzz from the balaclava obscured his line of sight. He knew better than to take it off—guys who did that got pinched—but he figured he’d be dead by morning anyway. Finally, he yanked it from his head, looked deeply into the driver’s eyes and imitated the gestures until he felt the weight lift from his bones.
“Vaffanculo, Momma Finola,” Sola said.
“Is that it?”
“Yeah, but you’ve seen my face,” he said, aiming his piece.
“But you said you’d take care of me.”
“This curse is a bitch,” Sola said and put one through his eye. The driver fell over face-first onto the cold concrete.
“You’re dragging that down to the well!” the boss admonished.
Sola grabbed the driver under the shoulders, feeling like a new man, and dragged him towards the basement stairs. He thought about grabbing his wallet to find out where the guy lived so he could go put that damn mutt out of its misery, too.
About the author:
T. Fox Dunham lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with his wife, Allison. He’s a cancer survivor, modern bard, herbalist, baker and historian. His first book, The Street Martyr, was published by Gutter Books, and is in production by Throughline Films. He’s contributed to official Stargate canon with a story published in the Stargate Anthology Points of Origin from Fandemonium Books. More information at tfoxdunham.com & Twitter: @TFoxDunham
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