The Enemy Within [Part 6]

By M. Greene - mgreene70@yahoo.com
published May 18, 2017
Summary

Finale

They say that bad things often come in threes.

Around two weeks after Nana’s funeral, I overhear Deke telling Cesare that my mom is dead too. Apparently they found her lying in the bathroom. She was cold. They think she’d been there all night. There’s going to be an autopsy, but Deke says that the word in the neighbourhood is that she died of liver failure. “They say she was drinking two bottles of strong liquor a day,” he adds.

My poor mom. She never had much of a chance in life; pregnant at fifteen, so thrown out of school, and then having another baby every two or three years or so until she was well into her thirties. A hard life of child care on welfare and chasing lazy bad-ass baby-daddies for every dollar she could screw out of them. Most of her kids were disappointments to her; me especially. I can still see the look of disappointment in her eyes when she was forced to come and pick me up from a police station for the first time. I remember that we both cried on the way home.

Dan and me are both crying now; him over Nana and me over Mom. Cesare’s been very good, helping us to deal with the all the legal and financial issues that you have to go through when somebody dies. He organised and paid for Nana’s funeral, making sure that she had a good send-off. Almost all of the people packed into the little remembrance chapel that day were folks that Nana had never met who were there because Cesare had ordered them to be. Oh well; at least it meant that the hymns sounded halfway decent. Afterwards, the old lady’s casket was carried to her grave by eight strong men from Cesare’s crew. I know Dan appreciated it all, but I can’t help wondering what Nana would have thought…

Nana owned the lease on her apartment with no mortgage, so Dan is going to inherit a fair bit of money when it’s finally sold. For the time being, although we’re staying most nights at Cesare’s place, we’re keeping Nana’s apartment on. Dan has made a start on boxing up all of his grandmother’s possessions to keep, sell or give away to charity. Most of the tatty old furniture will eventually be got rid of too, but right now, doing this would probably be too much of a wrench for Dan to bear. He’s still grieving…

Dan opened another drawer and drew out a sheaf of Nana’s papers; mostly old bills, letters and photographs. There were also some pictures that he had drawn when he was at elementary school. He looked at one. It was a childish drawing of a house, which looked like a slanting box with a square in each corner. It had a front door, a roof and a chimney with smoke coming out of it. Dan smiled and shook his head. Why did kids still draw houses like this? People hadn’t had open fires for decades. The words, ‘Happy Birthday Nana from Danny’ were written at the top, in a random mixture of upper and lower case letters. He wondered how old he had been when he drew this. Four? Five? And Nana had treasured it and kept it safe all these years. He began to weep again.

Cesare came and stood behind him massaging his shoulders with his strong hands. “C’mon, baby… Your grandma wouldn’t want you to be sad. She loved you, as much as I do. Come on, now. Please don’t cry…” He lifted Dan to his feet and kissed him tenderly on the lips. “Don’t do any more of this today. Let’s quit now and go back to my place. I’ll cook your favourite meal…” Dan smiled through his tears. “Meatloaf with mashed potato?” Cesare smiled back. “You got it, boo…”

We open our eyes. Birds are tweeting outside and it’s starting to get light. We’re lying between silk sheets with the weight and warmth of Cesare’s body pressing against our back. We fell asleep with his dick still inside us and, although it softened and slipped out during the night, our hole is still tingling from the fabulous fucking it received. His head is on the pillow just behind ours and we’re content to lie here feeling his breath on the back of our neck and listening to its soft rhythm. It’s so comfortable and safe lying here with our man’s arms around us. All’s right with the world…

BANG!

Someone’s busting into the apartment! We jump naked out of bed. Cesare whips his piece out from under his pillow and aims it at the bedroom door, but there are already four armed cops in the room training automatic weapons at us.

“Freeze!”

We stick our hands in the air and Cesare quickly drops his gun onto the floor and kicks it towards the officers. It’s totally the right decision. He knows as well as we do that there’s no way we can shoot out way out of this situation.

We’re ordered to get down on the floor, which we immediately do, but as soon as they’ve searched around for any other weapons and found none, they allow us to get dressed. They cuff Cesare’s wrists behind his back, read him his rights and lead him out of the apartment.

It’s really ironic. To my certain knowledge, Cesare has unlawfully killed at least six people and seriously injured over a dozen more with bullets fired from his weapon. I doubt that you could even count the number of guys he’s fucked up over the years with his fists. Add to that his other crimes: possession of and dealing in illegal drugs, fraud, money laundering, larceny, grand larceny, demanding money with menaces, domestic violence… The list goes on and on.

So, from this heinous catalogue of illegal acts, guess what the cops are charging Cesare with? Yeah, you got it… Tax evasion! Apparently he’s been a tad slow in paying his returns to the I. R. S. for the previous financial year. Oh, what a fucking relief to the community it must be that they got him behind bars for that!

Dan called a locksmith and had the entrance to Cesare’s apartment properly secured. He then went to his university and attended two lectures, but found he could not listen or understand much. He kept running the events of that morning over and over in his mind. Cesare was arrested! It had all happened so quickly; he just could not take it in…

He tried calling and texting Cesare all day, but without success. Then, just as he was leaving the campus, a long text came through saying that, although Cesare had applied for bail, due to his previous criminal record, he was being remanded in custody until the lawyers could argue his case in court. Any hearing would be three weeks or even a month away…

Dan returned home feeling totally exhausted and depressed. He was not sure he could live apart from Cesare for so long. What made it even worse was that Nana was not here, anymore, either. The apartment seemed so empty. He felt so alone… Tears began to run down his cheeks.

You know you’re not alone. I’m always here…

Dan froze. Dante?

Yeah…

Yeah. Dan nodded. You’ve been with me for a while now. I kinda knew…

We’ve gotten so similar… I am you and you are me, now…

Yeah…

Something was happening. His mind was suddenly flooded with memories; not his, but Dante Miller’s. Early childhood, elementary school, puberty, adolescence, middle school, teenage years, high school, gangs and then the hood and games and crime and fights and mom and sis and bro and homies and love and passion and girls and sex and babies and drugs and dollars and…

Bang! A head exploding like a watermelon…

Dan shook his head. Sad… Tragic…

Yeah… There should have been another and…

Another and?

Yeah… A future…

Dan smiled. Yeah… A future… Yeah… Good… But…

Cesare?

Yeah…

I love him too… You know that I do…

Yeah… Dan came to a decision. Then… Okay… A future… Yeah… You got it…

We are Dante now. Not the old Dante Miller, but Dante Miller and Danny Bradshaw.

Danny-Dan-Dante.

We are not separate people living together in the same head, anymore. We’re the same now. We’re one person.

We are Dante.

…I am Dante.

I’m unique. I realise this. I’ve had two childhoods, two families, two educations and two young adulthoods. The separate memories and experiences ran on completely separate tracks in my head, until today. Now, they’ve merged together to become one. It’s good. It makes me stronger and more resourceful. My brains and education are now joined together with my wit, strength and life skills.

Better together…

It’s the summer. Although I don’t want to get up, I have an examination today, so I fucking well must. Cesare stirs slightly as I pull away from his embrace, but he does not wake. I shower, dry, moisturise and clean my teeth. Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I decide I need to pay a visit to the barbershop tomorrow. I have a cool hairstyle now; little dreads on top with shaved sides, but my goatee beard and moustache could do with a good trim.

Picking up the diamond studs Cesare bought me for my birthday, I slip them through the holes in my earlobes and fix them in place with butterfly clips. I notice that the new tattoo on my neck is almost healed. It’s my name, ‘Dante’, in fancy script and, while it can be easily seen when I wear vests or tee-shirts, it is just low enough to be covered up by a formal collar and tie. I’ve got four tatts now; this one of my name, the Cesare one on my chest and tributes to Mon and Nana, with their birth and death dates, on my right arm. I’m going to stop at that, I think. Part of me was once very heavily tattooed, but I don’t wish to repeat those mistakes. Less is more when it comes to body ink.

I live in Cesare’s penthouse, these days, of course. We sold Nana’s apartment last month. My new home is a couple of miles further away from the campus, but since I got my new car, that’s not really a major problem. The university authorities have been very kind to me since Nana passed, giving me extensions on all my projects and assignments. The end of year exams are proving to be pretty tough, but I attended a lot of extra revision tutorials and worked fucking hard to catch up, so I think I’m doing okay.

I’m officially Dante Browne now. I didn’t particularly like either of my old surnames so I decided to take my husband’s, instead. Cesare has made all the arrangements to change my identity on more or less every legal document there is. It cost a lot of time and money, but at least everything is simplified and correct now.

Cesare and I got married during the Easter break. It was a very private ceremony, with only a few of the crew present and no relatives. With Mom and Nana both dead, I don’t have any real close family now, and Cesare’s folks haven’t spoken to him since he told them he was gay. Our honeymoon was pretty modest too; just a week in San Francisco, but all the ongoing tax hearings mean that Cesare can’t spend too much time away from the city right now. Cesare says his lawyers thinks he will have to pay at least a quarter of what we own to the I. R. S. That’s okay; we will still be pretty rich after they take their cut. He has a lot of cash hidden away in overseas accounts and I have what we made from selling Nana’s place. I’m happy to say that Cesare’s through with his old life. He’s giving up crime and moving into real estate. Truthfully, this time.

As for me? Well; I’m going to finish my final year at uni, get my degree and then? It don’t really matter. The important thing is; I’ve got a future…

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