The Missing Hours
Part 5 – Aftermath (Vinny)
Silence falls over the room.
He can hear her irregular gasps as she tries to maintain airflow. The faucet in the kitchen is loose as he hears a steady drip of water hit the porcelain of the sink basin. The silence is beguiling, making him lethargic. He wants to curl up beside the sleeping beauty and take a nap. The clock on the mantel chimes the hour and seems to break the spell.
“Got everything you need?” The brother asks as he rises from where he is seated, moving as if to leave by the front door.
Vinny nods but doesn’t say a word.
“You’ve got to make it look natural. No one must suspect.”
“I understand, boss, I’ll take care of it,” he finally speaks up to assure the man in charge that all will go as planned.
“When you’re done, clean up and then leave the house unlocked. Walk up to the main road. Wait to call for a ride until you’re a mile or so away. Call me when you are home, not before. I’ve got a fundraiser that will keep me tied up until close to midnight.” The man rises and, after taking a slow look around the room, walks to the front door. He shuts it behind him without looking back or saying another word.
Vinny sits in the living room a moment longer, watching her as she lies in a drug and alcohol induced stupor. He holds no animosity towards this woman. In fact, she has treated him kindly when they had occasion to run into each other at an event or political party. She always made him feel like she really cared how his day was going. She is a cute kid in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong kind of people. He grimaces and shakes his head.
About a year ago, Vinny had been in a knife fight that had left him with a gash on his left cheekbone. The doctor had done a fine job with his face, patching up the cut and repairing the injury with excellent skills that left little or no scar. However, the injury had damaged some of the muscles in his cheek and he was reduced to smirking most of the time. It helped with his enforcer duties because it gave him a dangerous look with which no one wanted to mess.
Slowly he rises and moves toward her; he bends down and gently gathers her in his arms, carrying her to her bedroom. He returns to the living room for his duffle bag, his shoulders slumping as he lifts the bag as if the burden is back.
In the bedroom, he slips her caftan up and over her head, balls it up and throws it onto the closet floor. He gently removes her undergarments and rolls her onto her stomach. Then reaching into the black duffle he brings out an enema kit. Filling the bag with approximately 60 Nembutal pills from the prescription medicine bottle on her night stand, as well as 20 tablets of Chloral Hydrate that they had brought with them, he adds more champagne to the bag and swirls it around to mix the contents. He inserts the nozzle into her rectum before applying slight pressure to the bag to deliver the poisonous concoction to her system through the tubing.
She won’t survive this dose, he watches the tubing to make sure the ingredients of the bag flow easily, it’s a shame, and she is so young. Vinny keeps a steady grasp on the kit while applying the overdose, going about the job of eliminating the threat this young actress has become to some very powerful men. Vinny was a peon in the organization with a lot of dirty laundry of his own not to mention having some loyalty due to past favors the guy who was ordering this job had done to keep him out of jail and employed. So, like it or not, he just did his job.
As he empties the rubber bag, she moans slightly, but doesn’t awaken. He hopes she is having pleasant dreams. If her smile is any indication, she is in a better place, he thought as he watched her slightly turned face.
When he is done he puts the enema kit back in the duffle, empties the rest of the champagne into the bathroom sink and returns the bottle to the duffle, positions her on the bed to look natural, and gathers up the few things he brought into the room. He looks around to see if there is anything else he needs to pick up. Satisfied he leaves the room with the black duffle bag. Near the front door he places the bag on the floor and continues on into the living room to remove incriminating evidence.
All that was in there were the three champagne glasses and two empty bottles. He picks up the bottles and returns them to his bag and walks back to the bedroom to watch over her. He cannot leave until he knows she is dead.
He thinks about the younger brother; such a cocky bastard. He doesn’t feel as much of a compulsion to protect him or show loyalty to him. It is unfortunate that his older brother is the one she was threatening and not the younger one. If it was the younger one, he’d let him rot in hell before he lifted a finger to clean up his romantic indiscretions.
He is interrupted by sudden movement on the bed as her body convulses. The shuddering begins in her toes and moves up her shapely frame until it reaches her head. Her eyes pop open and he watches, curious to see what will happen. Slowly her eyes close again, but not before he sees the irises roll back and the whites show.
He waits until it looks like she has stopped breathing. Putting two fingers on the side of her carotid artery to feel for a pulse, he feels nothing. Then he tries on her wrist bone; still nothing. He straightens out her arms and legs, leaving her face-down.
Then he walks back to the living room to finish cleaning up. As he is reaching for the glasses on the coffee table intending to take them into the kitchen to clean and dry them before leaving the house, he hesitates. Staring at both of the glasses that had been used he could see the smudges of fingerprints from both her touching the glass as well as the brother.
Slowly he resumes his movement toward the glasses, hesitates, then he picks up the clean glass, the one that had been brought in from the kitchen intended for his use, although he never had a drink – was never even offered one. He carries it back to the kitchen where he washes and dries it and places it back in the cupboard. Then he wipes the kitchen counters, puts away the dishtowel, and comes back out to the living room.
He sits on the sofa staring at the incriminating evidence as if it might bite him. He knows that very powerful people will try to keep a lid on any scandal and that the fingerprints might go down as coincidence and nothing more. He might actually get in a lot of trouble leaving the evidence. He could claim it was an oversight, but that might not get him out of hot water with the brother. Would I care? He thought about it and decides that he is willing to see what will happen if the fingerprints put the younger brother at the scene of her death. It will certainly cause a scandal, if not for the country, for the brother’s wife.
This would be a small act of defiance on his part and may cost him his job, or his life if they really wanted to be pissy about it, but her death might not now be in vain and it eased his mind just thinking about implicating him.
He looks back down at the glasses, then making a final decision; he stands and turns to leave the room. Walking toward the door, he grabs the duffle bag and heads out, leaving the two glasses on the coffee table.
It was 9:30 p.m. and the night provided some cover of darkness as he walked the shaded streets to get at least a mile or two away before calling for a cab.
He was sure the housekeeper would find her body and the morning papers would carry the story. Speculating whether or not the story would end there took his mind off his hike. He was pretty sure the police would ask some questions and there would be some cover-up and political wrangling before this was over. It may take years.
Newspaper headlines the next morning announced that the famed movie star was found in the nude, dying of an apparent overdose. The coroner said it was difficult to determine time of death, which led to a discrepancy of several missing hours. Confusing was the story by the housekeeper who said that at around 10:00 p.m. she had walked past her bedroom door where she saw a light on under the door but decided not to disturb her. She later stated that she returned at around midnight and knocked, but when she didn’t get an answer she telephoned a doctor. Police are not called until four hours later.
Part 4 – The Toast
“Can I get you anything to drink … eat?” She calls over her shoulder as she allows both men into her home and escorts them through the entryway and toward her living room.
“All alone tonight?”
He’s teasing, but his tone makes her uneasy. She mentally wipes away the odd feeling.
“Just me; I’ve even told the housekeeper she needn’t check up on me. I’m enjoying some television,” she leans over and turns off the television set as if to prove that point.
“Well, I’m here to celebrate,” he brings from behind his back a bottle of Dom Perignon, her favorite drink of choice.
“Celebrate?” Unsure, she waits to see the reason for his celebration.
“Just got a bill passed that will bring quite a bit of money back to my state and specifically my hometown. That should get me a few votes.” He chuckles and carries the bottle into the kitchen in search of drinking glasses.
She relaxes as she realizes the celebration is work related and has nothing to do with the conversation she just had with his older brother. She raises her voice to tell him not to bring her a glass, but she is too late as he returns with three in one hand and the opened bottle of champagne in the other.
“Oh, none for me sweetie; not really feeling up for it.” She smiles to soften the rejection.
“Nonsense, what’s one drink?” He ignores her, filling two of the three glasses
Handing one to her, he raises his, “To the most successful senator;” he pauses and deadpans, “At least for today.”
They touch glasses. She raises hers to her lips and takes a sip. He smiles and encourages her to have some more, so she takes another sip as he sits next to her on the sofa.
Vinny, who has been quietly watching, moves around to stand by his right shoulder. She asks Vinny if he would rather sit down. He smirks and says he’s done enough sitting and feels like standing. Her eyes travel from his smirk to the black duffle bag he is holding in his right hand.
“You can put your bag down at least, that must be uncomfortable.”
Vinny waits a couple beats, then bends to lower the bag to the floor. When he straightens up, he rolls his shoulders as if a burden has been lifted.
The boisterous brother grabs her attention again, talking about the weather and politics, interchangeably as if one effects the other. He refills her glass, leans closer, and quietly reminds her of the little fling they once had.
The amber liquid in her refilled glass bubbles to the brim. The first bottle is finished and Vinny brings out another, she assumes from the bag on the floor, but she doesn’t see him getting it out. Ignoring his comment she speaks up again, “No, I insist now. I can’t have anymore.” She puts her glass down on the coffee table.
She shakes her head, no.
“No? Then you can join me in another drink. I don’t have to be back for a few hours. You’re not going to deprive me of a little company now are you?”
The brother uses a look she has seen him use before to get women into bed. She shudders as if invisible fingers have danced across her spine.
“Well, if you insist, but only a short one.”
He ignores her and fills her glass to the brim. “How is the movie business?”
Contrary to the response she has given him, she is starting to feel the effects, as if she is floating above the two men in the room. The second bottle is empty before she thinks about her unborn child. She has seen women who were further along than her at cocktail parties sipping highballs throughout the night, however, she feels guilty and sets the glass down again and closes her eyes.
“Well I guess Vinny and I aren’t much company, huh? Vinny, maybe we should go.”
She opens her eyes and attempts a smile, “Leaving so soon?” Stop it; stop being nice like this is a lovely visit.
He smiles at her, “I’m not leaving until I have one more drink. You can join me.” Taking a third bottle from Vinny he pours a fresh one for her and hands her the glass.
“I understand congratulations are in order.”
Confused, her mind tries to make sense of his words. Compelling herself to focus, she cautiously glances first at quiet, smirking Vinny, then back at him.
“Did you pass another bill?” She asks sweetly.
“No my dear, but it sounds like someone in this living room killed the rabbit.”
Ice flows through her veins as she realizes he knows about the baby. Her mouth feels as if it is stuffed with cotton and she finds she can’t speak. Staring at the guileless expression on his face, she takes a sip, hoping to wet her mouth and get her tongue moving again.
“Don’t look so surprised,” he chuckles, “We’re brothers; we tell each other everything.”
“What’s so funny; he told me not to tell a soul.” Hurt, she sits the half-filled glass on the table in front of the sofa and rises. “I think you both better leave.”
“Now, don’t be a bitch. Sit down.” he smiles, but the hand that grabs her are feels like an iron vise. Alarmed, she tries to read his face, wondering what is behind this visit and if his older sibling is aware he is here.
As if to answer her question, he leans toward her speaking softly, “He wants you rested, for your health. He wants me to make sure of it.”
“I’m fine, really.” She is weary of the confrontation and closes her eyes, taking deep breaths to calm down.
Startled by a rattling sound, her eyes fly open. He is shaking a bottle of pills in front of her face.
“We are leaving, but I would be remiss if I didn’t see to your delicate condition. These will help you rest. Same as your prescription. You can get back to the sitcoms as soon as we are out the door. You take some of these, and then Vinny and I will leave.”
She latches on to his promise of leaving and accepts the dosage he gives her, washing the pills down with the rest of the champagne in the glass.
“If you two gentlemen will leave now, I’ll be off to bed; and I sleep in the nude, you might be embarrassed to wait around until I’m ready.” She intentionally goes for cocky and sexy, hoping to get rid of them.
He refills her glass and she sees the third bottle is almost gone.
“One more toast. Let’s drink to the future.”
They toast, raising their glass. She watches him as she sips, mirroring his movements. In that moment she realizes he is not drinking. Her vision blurs. She thinks it is an effect of the champagne, but realizes the wetness comes from her tears. Blinking back the moist veil she sits her glass down on the coffee table and puts both hands in her lap.
“Please leave now.”
“Okay doll, I’ll leave. Vinny will stay here and make sure you are tucked in for the night.”
“I don’t need Vinny to take care of me.” Her words are slurred. Fear flutters in her heart and she is afraid if she doesn’t get them both out of here now, she may not have the ability to do it later on her own terms.
The buzzing in her head is constant now. The effects of the pills blend with the champagne making the room spin. She attempts to rise from the chair using her arms to push upward, but falls back onto the cushion after only getting halfway. Despite her attempts to stay awake, her heavy eyelids slide shut.
Silence falls over the room.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue with a scattering of white, fluffy clouds. A little girl is giggling and running around in circles. The girl spins around and runs straight into her arms crying, “Mommy.”