Beverly knew that Dominic would try to find her. He couldn't let his wife just walk out on him. It just wasn't done and when he discovered the empty safe in the closet he would go berserk.
He would get help. He wasn’t smart enough to do it on his own. But she also knew to whom he would go for that help.
She had grown up seeing these men make decisions every day about people’s lives. As a precocious child growing up inside a mob family she paid attention and learned about things other kids would never know existed. She listened when the adults talked and learned how the real world worked. She learned what you could get away with and what you couldn't. Stealing from each other and/or trying to run out on the Family was not tolerated. She was doing both. She heard what happened to those who tried. It was never pretty.
Sometimes people did try to run away. They were never successful. The runners became prey and they were trailed by the hunters who never gave up until they found their quarry and dealt with them. She had heard the stories of what was done to the runners when they were eventually, inevitably, caught. It was rarely quick and never painless. The runner's fate was meant to serve as an object lesson to others who were thinking that they might be the one to get away. She knew they were fools.
She also knew that, if they found her, at least it would be quick. Dominic wouldn't want everyone to know that he had been cleaned out by a woman, his wife even. One shot to the head from a .22. He'd try to get the money back but, he didn't want any talk about that since it was skimmed money. Don Giani would be upset enough at losing his daughter. There was no sense pissing him off too.
She knew what the hunters knew: that distance and money were a runner's best friends. Get as far away as you can, as fast as you can, and keep your head as low as you can. Just disappear, forever. Change everything about yourself, and pray. Pray harder than you have since your first confession.
Habit was the runner's worst enemy. If you liked horse racing, going to the track would be your downfall. If you liked warm weather, deciding to hide out in Miami would get you killed.
Beverly knew that leaving Dominic was dangerous, but taking his cash was suicidal.
She drove her Lexus up I-95 to Boston and found a travel agent in the phone book. She paid him in cash for two flights, one to Miami, another to Montreal. He issued her a pair of boarding passes in her own name.
She then drove the car to a side street near Symphony Hall, left it unlocked, with the keys in the ignition. She knew that it would be stolen within an hour and chopped up for parts before the weekend was over. A short cab ride to the bus terminal and a half hour ride on a Boston commuter coach brought her to the quaint village of Plymouth.
She walked into Pilgrim Motors, a small used car lot a block from the bus station, and paid cash for a five year old Hyundai Sonata. An extra hundred dollar bill and the paperwork went into the shredder.
The airline boarding passes fell, torn to pieces, into a trash receptacle at a westbound rest plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Within 7 hours of walking out of her home on Patascat Circle, Beverly Deltino had started to erase herself and was on her way west, looking for a hole to hide in. She would have a three-day head start on her husband. She hoped it would be enough.
She stayed on the Interstates heading west and that night paid cash at the smallest “Mom and Pop” motel she could find. She would register with a fake name each night, and never leave her room. She knew that she had to avoid crowds and places with CCTV.
Some exposure was unavoidable.
On her second day out from Boston, in northern Indiana, just east of Chicago, she had to stop for gas and for something to eat. Her only option was a huge truck stop, the parking lot filled with Semis hauling cargo coast to coast and dozens of cars heading who knows where?
Traveling across the country she had Dominic's cash, a suitcase filled with top label clothing and a six shot .38 caliber Charter Arms pistol that was used to rest in the nightstand by the bed. It was a small piece often carried by police officers as a backup or off-duty weapon. It would be useless if they found her. In her case a shot would find her skull before she heard the report. Neat. Clean. No witnesses. But old habits are hard to break. She tucked the gun into her coat pocket.
After filling the tank she pulled the Hyundai into a space and walked across the lot trying to stay in the shadows.
The Truck Stop food was hot, plentiful and inexpensive. Meat and potatoes in a variety of formats seemed to be the mainstay and the truckers and families were feeding vigorously.
As she walked into the cafe, looking for an open table, thirty sets of eyes appraised and cast her in various sordid fantasies. The Long-haul truckers spent too much time alone and a good looking blonde, well dressed, obviously alone, walking across the room made some of them forget their basic manners. Several low whistles and other rude noises followed her. Heads turned and watched her slide into a booth by the far wall.
In a matter of seconds a waitress came over carrying a steaming coffee pot and a six page menu.
One driver seated at the counter let out a bark and panted in Beverly's direction. The waitress shook her head.
“Don't mind them, Honey. They been sucking in too many diesel fumes.”
As the waitress poured a cup of strong coffee she let her practiced eyes give Beverly the once-over as Beverly scanned the menu for something that wasn't based on carbohydrates and red meat.
“What can I get you, Hon, or do you need a couple of minutes?”
“Oh, can I just get a small Chef's Salad with lo-fat ranch dressing on the side?”
“Sure. I'll get that for you real quick.”
Looking around the room Beverly could tell that she wasn't in New York anymore. The faces on the people didn't look strained and suspicious. In the booths with families there were two parents and the children weren't acting out for attention. No one was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle.
The waitress returned carrying a large bowl teeming with lettuce, cheese, eggs, and chunks of ham and turkey.
“Small Chef's Salad, lo-fat ranch on the side. I'll get you a refill on the coffee and I've got the boys at the counter quieted down, so I don't think they'll give you any more trouble.”
“Thank you, very much.”
As she set down the bowl and a rolled paper napkin holding a knife, fork and spoon the waitress slid into the booth across from Beverly, leaned forward and spoke in a whisper.
“Look, Hon, I know it ain't none of my business but, I can tell you're not from around here and that you're in trouble. I ain't prying but you seem to be a decent sort and if I was you I'd try to not stick out so much.”
“I beg your pardon? What are you talking about? I'm not in any trouble.”
“Then why do you keep looking around like you're expecting somebody to come through that door with a baseball bat? Look, Honey, I been there. I've left two husbands...in two different time zones.”
Beverly looked the waitress in the eyes, lowered her head, staring at her salad.
“Is it that obvious?”
“Dressed like you are? It sure is, Honey. Look around. Do you see anybody else in here in three inch heels and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag that I'll bet ain't a knockoff. You stick out like a nun in a whorehouse. That's why those goofs at the counter were acting like idiots. You look like a million bucks and you're sitting here in the middle of the dollar store. You need to blend in so nobody remembers you've been here.”
“I thought I was blending in up until now. You're right, I do want to become invisible. How can I do that?”
“Hang on for a minute. I'll be right back. We're short handed and I'm covering six extra stations. Don't run away on me. Eat your salad.”
She slid out of the booth and quickly moved to three other tables, taking orders and clearing away the leftover scraps of hot roast beef sandwiches and stacks of pancakes.
The ease with which the waitress had homed in on her and what Beverly was doing frightened her. Was she that obvious? If a waitress in Indiana could spot her how long would it take Dominic's bird dogs to flush her out?
Beverly looked around the room again wondering if they were already here, just waiting for the right moment to kill her. She could feel the panic rising in her throat – a burning, bile-like sensation. She wanted to run. Get up from the booth and bolt for the door, take her chances in the parking lot. She felt in her bag for the Charter Arms pistol and flipped off the safety.
Before she was halfway out of the booth the waitress was back carrying a steaming glass pot of hot coffee.
“Where you going? Relax, Honey, you're safe here. I know everybody in here. They're all regulars,” she quickly scanned the room, “after a fashion.”
Beverly stopped and moved back into the corner of the booth, not satisfied with the waitress’s appraisal.
“Now, look, Honey, I can tell you're scared, but don't get panicky on me.”
She filled Beverly's half empty coffee cup.
“You're in the Midwest, halfway between here and there. I don't know if you're heading East or West. My guess would be West. You just reek of New York, Honey. But my point is, you gotta start looking Indiana, or at least like someplace West of DKNY.”
“How can I do that? You don't know how much trouble I'm in,” said Beverly. Her whisper growing loud enough that the nearest table with a family of four turned their heads toward the booth.
“You're in enough, that's all I need to know. Do you have any cash? Enough to not have to use your credit cards?,” asked the waitress.
“Yes, I have cash. I haven't used my cards at all.”
“You've thought this out, smart move. OK, here's what you need to do.
If you are heading West, at the next exit is a Target. If you're going East, there is a Wal-Mart two exits going that way.”
“I'm going West,” said Beverly. She felt like a student in a class for remedial runaways.
“Then listen to me. The first thing you need to buy is either a few turtlenecks or some 'Almay Concealer' makeup.”
“What on earth for? Turtlenecks? Concealer?, Why?” asked Beverly.
“'Cause, Hon, I can see the marks on your throat where he tried to strangle you.”
Pull The Hole - Chapter Two - draft