Pull The Hole - Chapter Three
The last thing she thought she would be doing on her cross country vanishing act would be this: pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles of a Target store in Indiana.
The waitress at the truck stop had scared her enough to listen.
“If you want to survive you need to blend in with your surroundings, not just hide in a hole. That means getting rid of your New York wardrobe – NOW.”
Beverly left her $100 tip.
She pushed her cart through the ladies casual-wear, selecting items that the waitress had suggested. She picked out three turtlenecks in white, black and beige, nothing flashy.
She hadn't noticed the bruises on her throat. Dominic really had tried to kill her. At least he hadn't punched her in the face. She didn't want to have to use concealer makeup.
The cart was filling with slacks, jeans, several comfortable shirts, Sketchers and a basic pair of black flats. A denim jacket, some “Jackie O” sunglasses and a baseball cap finished the new look.
A quick run through the rest of the cavernous store netted her new cosmetics, scissors and Clairol “Brunette Express” hair color. The Hardware Department supplied duct tape, and an 8” Phillips head screw driver. On an impulse, as she came up to the checkout , she grabbed six cans of Diet Coke and a package of cinnamon rolls.
“That'll be $243.20 cents. If you sign up for a Target charge card today you can get a 10% discount. Cash or charge, Honey.”
Beverly looked at the checkout clerk. Another Indiana mother holding down a second job so the family could make ends meet. As she pulled three $100 bills from her wallet she asked the clerk a question.
“Does everybody in Indiana call everybody, 'Honey'?
“No, Hon. Sometimes we call 'em, 'Sweetie',” the clerk answered with a laugh as she ran the verification pen over the bills. “You get used to it. We're just a friendly sort of people here. Where you from?”
Beverly froze. She didn't have an answer to that. Not one she could give honestly.
“I'm just passing through...from Canada,” which was somewhat truthful. She did have some family in Montreal.
“Canada?,” answered the cashier. “You musta stopped over in New York City for the weekend. Well, here's your change and thanks for shopping at Target.”
Once she was back in the parking lot, safely inside the Hyundai, Beverly began to shake uncontrollably. Her too obvious looks and accent made her feel completely vulnerable and that equaled dead.
“Pull yourself together, girl, or you'll never make it.”
She peeled out of the parking lot and got back onto the Interstate, disappearing into the safety of the approaching dusk.
Beverly crossed Illinois, avoiding Chicago. She kept driving until she was in Iowa, found a small motel, and slept for the next 14 hours.
When she woke up the sun was shining bright and there was someone knocking on the door. Beverly sat bolt upright in the bed.
“Housekeeping. Do you need Housekeeping, Miss?”
“I'm fine. Go away. Leave me alone,” she yelled, her heart pounding.
“OK, OK. Sorry if I disturbed you, lady.”
Once her pulse was back below 150 beats a minute she sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the red and white bulls-eye bags from her visit to Target.
“I know how you feel,” she said to the bags in the corner.
When she left the motel two hours later, tossing the room key on the bed, avoiding the office, Beverly Deltino, runaway mob wife was gone. Someone new had metamorphosed from that desperate cocoon.
Shorter, darker hair peeked out from under the blue Chicago Cubs baseball cap. Someday soon a professional would have to fix the “do-it-yourself” haircut. She looked at herself in the rearview mirror.
“God, I look like hell.”
For the first time in years she was going out without perfect makeup.
Her “New York” wardrobe was stuffed into two plastic laundry bag from the motel, waiting for a rest stop to be tossed into the trash. The expensive outfits were replaced with Levi's, sneakers and turtleneck. Hopefully, at the next truck stop she would just be one of the crowd. Invisible.
Five days after leaving the house on Patascat Circle Beverly turned the Hyundai south out of Wyoming and into Utah to pick up Interstate 80 near Salt Lake. From here it was a straight shot to the west coast and... and what? She didn't know a soul in California or the Northwest. She would truly be on her own, alone, for the first time in her life. Growing up there had always been someone nearby to guide her, protect her, smooth the way for her. Her father had seen to it that she was guarded at all times. Families were always considered off limits in mob disputes, but he took no chances. There were always loose cannons.
In her motel room just outside of Battle Mountain, Nevada, she studied the road atlas she had purchased at the last truck stop. She had to decide where to go, where to hide. If she hid in a small town she would stick out among the locals. Small town people asked questions. Small town people snooped. She was a city girl, comfortable with the city pace and anonymity. In the big city everybody minded their own business. Anonymity meant safety.
But which big city? Los Angeles was the obvious choice. It is the biggest city on the West Coast. People get lost there every day. LA was obvious, too obvious. If Dominic ever figured out that she had headed west, LA would be where he would start looking, and the Family had plenty of resources there. Being big was both a liability and an asset. No, Los Angeles was out. Portland and Seattle were eliminated for going the other way: too small and too isolated. If things went badly there were limited options for escape. San Diego looked good, but was too “small townish,” despite it's size. It was too easy to be noticed as a newcomer. It is also the jumping off point for Mexico, a runner's destination since the days of the cowboys. That left San Francisco. It was small, but known for it's ability to swallow up people who wanted to hide. It was a transportation hub offering a variety of escape options. It was a city with mob connections to be sure, but with a sense of independence, even defiance, of the East Coast Dons. San Francisco was a place she could hide. A place she could find a hole, jump in, and pull the hole in after her. Hopefully the hole wouldn't become her grave.
As she drove across the Oakland – San Francisco Bay Bridge and the end of the Interstate highway, Beverly realized that she was holding her breath. “You have to breathe sometime,” she said out loud. “Welcome home, girl. This is it, for better or worse, till death us do part.”
She was coming to San Francisco with two bags – one filled with a week's worth of dirty clothes and the other with $400,000 in 20s, 50s, and 100 dollar bills. Her trip across the country, paid for in cash, hadn't made a dent in Dominic's stash.
She had stolen Dominic’s working capital. It was money that he had skimmed from the Family, from her father. She took every penny that Dominic had in the world. When he got home from Philadelphia he must have gone crazy.