Part Five. Charlene.
Some readers of of the final episode might find the details a bit squeamish, but no laws have been violated in the telling. Enjoy, if you dare.
Our story so far: Geno and Charlene have reignited their torrid affair, but Charlene has proven to be a hard bargainer and has coerced Geno into partnership with her to share ownership Geno’s Place and they’ve shaken hands on the rest of the deal, for him to leave his wife, sell the restaurant, and settle with her in Apalachicola. She has also quit her job at the phone company and installed herself as head waitress and is counting the days. Geno, however, is having second thoughts and has a plan to cut Charlene out of the action. But Charlene, wise to his treachery, has a plan of her own. One night she phones him at home with an urgent demand to get his ass over to Geno’s Place.
Killing him was easy.
The pistol bucked but I’d learned in my shooting sessions at the range to take that bucking when the pistol goes off. Still, even with all my practice, the jolt shocked me for a second. The sound was worse. Inside the walls of Geno’s Place, the concussion shocked my ears. I expected to have a little ringing undertone there for a few days. I think they call it tintin something. Anyway, my fingers went numb, so I didn’t much feel the second, third, fourth, and fifth shots. Billy out at the target range had taught me to keep my eyes open when firing, which was super, since that meant that I didn’t miss a thing. All the noise and bucking didn’t keep me from watching Geno take every hit. I loved every second of it. What I hated was that he didn’t hurt more than he did.
The first shot appeared to have done the job, but I didn’t really care. After all, when I had confronted him in the dining room at Geno’s Place, didn’t he say Face it honeybabes, I could care less what you think? You think you and me got us a deal? Freddie Croaker can annul that partnership quicker than you can say Geno. When he had said that, that’s when I quit caring how he felt.
“Helen’s expecting you back?” I had asked.
“Forget her. She’s taken her Sunday dose of yellow jackets and will be out for a day or so. Sides, she quit caring what Geno does with his time long ago.”
“Groovy,” said I and whipped out the .38.
Killing him may have been easy, but I knew that getting rid of his carcass and the mess it would make was going to be the true test. Geno wasn’t a huge man, but big enough. I mean, consider what it takes to move a two hundred pound sack of dead meat. Not only was the hauling going to be a challenge, I had to deal with him in the meantime just lumped there on the floor discharging fluids and soft solids. The pistol blasts had naturally thrown lots of blood, gore, and Geno muck onto his new Venetian wallpaper and everywhere, but that sack of guts on the floor just kept on leaking.
Back in the utility room I found the two-wheel hand truck Geno used when he had to move cases and kegs of beer around. I laid it on the floor beside him and covered it with a number of those big, heavy plastic garbage bags. I rolled his body over onto it. Then I used some old packing twine to wrap him up and secure him to the hand truck so he wouldn’t roll off. My foot slid on the puddle of blood and my hands were soon sticky with blood and gore, but I managed to force the body to the low loading ramp at the back door. I backed Geno’s station wagon up to the ramp. I was lucky. I discovered that Geno had built the loading ramp so that it was even with his station wagon’s rear door. I scooted the body into the station wagon neat as you please.
Then all I had to do was clean up the dining room. You have no idea how easy it turned out to be. First I scrubbed the new brown tile floor that Geno had been so proud of and smiled to myself when the dried blood matched the cordovan tones better than I had expected. The flecks of brain and gore on the fresh wallpaper even blended right in with the Venetian gondolas and the canals. I even treated myself to a touch of Charlene artistry and with a couple of wipes of my bloody towel, a few of the clouds floating over Venice now appeared to be thunderheads. This was an unexpected bonus. By three a.m. it was done.
I drove Geno’s station wagon down to the PrettyPet factory on Point Youx where they make cat food out of scraps from DeLima’s seafood plant. I backed up to the pit where they lime down the offal and bones they can’t use. The inclined concrete ramp tilted the back of the station wagon down so that when I opened the rear door, the carcass trussed to the hand truck rolled right out and skidded on down into the dark hole.
Tickled with myself, I raced around to the front of the station wagon and jumped in. I was ready to roll. Charlene, I whispered to myself, wait a second. This is just too damned easy. Be careful, gal.
And sure enough it was a good thing I didn’t hurry to get away. I waited a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dark and went back to look as hard as I could into the pit’s recesses. There was Geno’s head. What was left of Geno’s head, that is. The hand truck had apparently caught on something under the surface and refused to sink further.
Tingles of fear made my fingers go numb for a second, but I knew what I had to do. As it turned out, forcing Geno on down into the lime pit wasn’t so hard after all. I just held onto the reinforcing bars overhead—I reminded myself that this was no more difficult than swinging on a jungle gym in the park—and, with my body suspended over Geno’s head, I kicked down and gave him a good, two-footed shove. Geno sank into the brown, limey gumbo with a soft burp.
The way I figured it, by the time anybody got around to draining that pit and found what was left of Geno’s bones and that hand truck, Geno wouldn’t be missed anymore. By anybody.
Now you see, the thing is, Geno wasn’t the only one in our partnership who had legal advice. Before taking Geno out, I got assurances from this bail bondsman I knew, Mike Sparkman at AAA Coastal Bonding and Investigations. Mike has handled some tough cases over the years, so he should know. Once Geno’s disappearance had gone on long enough, I would be entitled to full ownership of Geno’s Place. This would take a few years, so in the meantime, I might have to put up with his whiney wife Helen. But I knew how to handle women like her. She loved food and barbiturates and I had a restaurant full of both kinds of drug.
Yeah, that Geno, he sure did take to the brown, all right. My brown freckles and everything. Whenever he said, From now on it’s brown, honeybabes, if it’s brown, it’s for me, I had a tough time keeping a sober face. But if I’ve learned one thing in this life, you do what you have to do.
As I drove away from the cat food plant, the thought occurred to me that for one night, possibly for the first time in his life, Geno was right. It was brown for Geno, all the way down.
Text by R Young
Photo from the files of AAA Coastal Bonding and Private Investigations, Bay St. John, Chandeleur County.