Read Merlot Online

Authors: Mike Faricy

Tags: #thriller, #suspense, #adventure, #mystery, #humor



Mike Faricy


Published by Mike Faricy, Smashwords

Copyright 2010 Mike Faricy



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and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely



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To Teresa
She never realized how truly patient she was
until she married him.



It was exactly one week before Merlot’s bank robbery
went down the tubes. One week before he was taken hostage, shot in
the ass, had his face splashed across the evening news and called a
hero by everyone in town. One week before all of that when the body
of Thor Lunquist was found.

Bank president and Mayor of Henderson, Minnesota,
Thor Lunquist was found seventeen miles from Henderson, out on
Minnesota Highway 19 in the kitchen of an abandoned farmhouse. The
late Mr. Lunquist had been held overnight with the idea of coercing
him bright and early the following morning into opening the vault
of the Henderson State Bank. There was only one thing wrong with
the plan. It didn’t work. An untimely breakfast coronary left Thor
face down on the kitchen floor, an oddly ironic demise since he’d
foreclosed on the place back in 2008.

His three abductors, brothers Mendel, Elvis, and
Lucerne Ditschler did the only sensible thing. They stole the Abba
CD from his PT Cruiser, rifled his pockets for cash, credit cards,
and cell phone. Then fled sixty-one miles east to St. Paul in their
spray painted, rust encrusted, Fleetwood Brougham Cadillac.

* * *

Merlot’s real name was Anthony, Anthony DiMento. In
his early years he had been Tony to all his friends, up until the
infamous wine incident some years back. From that point forward
he’d been Merlot. Like the wine, pronounced ‘mur-low’. With the
exception of his mother, Rita, he would always be Anthony. Her


Merlot was just leaving his mother’s having
dropped off his laundry and picked up six ironed shirts. Six shirts
along with the jeans, socks, T-shirts, and boxers she had waiting
for him neatly folded and stacked in a laundry basket next to a pan
of lasagna and cookies.

“Ma, look, I wanted to cut the grass,” he
groaned, then clicked the remote and rose off the couch.

“I’m out of time. I’ve got a meeting to go to
tonight, so I better get moving. Maybe Michael next door?” the
suggestion seemed as good as doing the task himself.

“Oh, Anthony, you work so hard, just like
your poor father. Don’t over do. You work all this time, how will
you ever find a nice girl to settle down with, raise a family?

“Mom,” he said, throwing the ziploc bag of
cookies on top of the laundry basket. “I’m really busy running the
place, you know,” neglecting to add that a
girl was the
last thing he needed.

He gave her a hasty kiss on the cheek,
gathered his clean laundry, cookies and lasagna, then spun out the
door before she had the chance to remind him a mother looked
forward to becoming a grandmother.

The important meeting was actually poker with
pals. He barely had enough time to unload his laundry, check in at
the bar, grab a hundred from the till before dashing over to be
dealt in for the first hand.

* * *

Across town, at Rudi’s Bakery on St. Paul’s
East Side, a well-dressed gentleman held the door for an elderly
woman. He gave a subtle nod to his gargantuan companion who
promptly locked the door and turned on the red neon Closed

“Hey, hey, what the hell do you think you’re
doing there? You, you can’t be doing that.” Rudi yelled from behind
his refrigerated counter of cream filled pastry.

He was a rotund little man with a shaved
head, a naturally whiny voice and beady dark little eyes that
darted back and forth from the Giant to the Gentleman, horrified he
hadn’t recognized them sooner.

“Oh, Mr. Osborne, sorry, didn’t recognize you
there,” he stammered backing away from the cream puffs.

“Gee, long time no see, is it that time
already? I guess you might have caught me just a little short, you
know.” He quickly waddled away, but in his haste knocked a tray of
cream puffs to the floor making traction difficult.

“I’m good for it,” he shouted barely a second
before slipping and falling, splitting his white baker trousers. As
he clawed and grabbed for balance he pulled a tray of chocolate
éclairs, then a tray of raspberry compotes down on top of him.

The well-dressed gentleman seemed bored by
the whole affair, turned to his large companion. “Milton.” Nodding
toward the kitchen area as a whipped cream and raspberry covered
Rudi attempted to squeeze through the doorway on all fours. Split
trousers revealed the unfortunate hint of possibly the largest pair
of pink thong underwear in the western hemisphere.

“No, no, no, no, Mr. Osborne. Please, I
promise, I’ll have the money for you. I just got a little behind.
You understand, come on! You know I’m good for it, please,

Milton grabbed Rudi roughly by the ankles,
dragged him back through his whipped-cream, raspberry, and
chocolate trail. Rudi’s fat fingers clawed at the worn wooden floor
in a desperate effort to avoid the fate he knew was waiting. In one
seemingly effortless motion Milton hoisted Rudi up and slammed him
onto the oiled wooden worktable, scattering metal bowls and
eliciting a loud “oof,” as the wind was knocked out of the
cream-slathered baker.

“Rudolf,” intoned Osborne, brushing a dusting
of powdered sugar from the sleeve of his otherwise spotless navy
blue coat.

“I think I’ve been more than generous in the
time I’ve given you. I’m beginning to sense a lack of resolve on
your part. I fear some instruction is necessary at this juncture.
Milton, if you would please,” Osborne nodded at a heavy steel

“No, no, oh God, please!” Rudi screamed.

In one swift motion Milton grabbed the
cleaver and with a practiced, downward stroke sliced off the
fingertips on Rudi’s pudgy left hand. They tumbled into a vat of
rising dough.

“God, you maniac, not the cinnamon rolls!
Ahh, my God!” Rudi screamed.

“That might be a health code violation,”
Osborne offered.

“I’ll see you in two weeks. Come Milton. Not
to worry, Rudolf, we’ll help ourselves to some pastry on the way

* * *

“Hey Merlot,” Patti the bartender called out
as he escaped from the stifling heat into the dim light of his
air-conditioned bar. She was filling a half dozen beer glasses from
behind the bar and wiggled her finger in his direction.

He winced inwardly at the memory of a
gloriously wild weekend three or four months back that raced from
torrid to horrid over the course of forty-eight hours. He’d done
his level best to dodge her ever since.

“Merlot,” she called again, adding a hint of
maternal disgust to her tone.

He just nodded, continued talking to a couple
of regulars at the far end of the bar, neighborhood guys grabbing a
beer and clearing out before the younger crowd began to ooze in the
door around 9:00.

“Merlot!” this time louder and with a
definite edge.

“Excuse me guys,” he said laughing as he
walked away. “Yeah, Patti, look, I don’t…”

“Relax and save it. Couple of creeps waiting
for you up in your office. Just thought you should know.”

“Creeps? What? City inspectors?”

“Got me,” she shrugged her shoulders.
“Figured it would be okay with you if they waited up there,” then
gave him the faintest brush as she squeezed past him.

He silently cursed their lust-induced fling.
Her kids had been with her ex Friday night, all day Saturday,
returning from their father’s about 5:30 Sunday evening. Merlot
barely lasted until 6:00.

“Look, Patti, I’m a business guy, this ain’t
gonna work for me.”


“Well, I mean all this,” he had pointed to
her son and daughter doing math problems quietly at the kitchen
table. “Don’t you want to go out or something?”

As she spoke she absently cinched her robe
tighter around the pleasure filled region where he’d resided for
the last two days.

“Merlot, that’s not the point. I can’t go
out. Tomorrow’s a school day for us.”

“But Patti, I’m not in school.”

“This isn’t about you, this is…”

“Yeah, that’s what I mean, see that’s the

In retrospect he might have handled it a
little better.

* * *

All water under the bridge he thought as he
entered his office not sure what or who he was going to find.

“Gentlemen!” he sounded full of bravado
striding into his occupied office, and thinking shit!

“Shoulda let me know you were going to be in
today, I would have arranged dinner, we’ve got the best prime…”

“We’re not here for any free dinner!” the
larger of the two men sneered. Large was an understatement. Hands
the size of ten-pound hams, abnormally heavy eyebrows, and a low
forehead that gave him an overall Neanderthal look. His gigantic
frame spilled out of the green Naugahyde chair across from Merlot’s
desk. Merlot couldn’t help but notice, was it foam or possibly even
whipped cream on his shoes and around the cuffs of the giant’s

“Mr. DiMento, Milton means no real offense.”
The second man smiled, revealing yellowed teeth. He absently
brushed dust or powder from an otherwise spotless navy blue

“But there is the matter of a rather sizable
payment coming due in just a little over a week, in the amount

“Sorry to interrupt,” Merlot interrupted,
holding up his hand, all smiles and not at all sorry.

“But according to my figures the payment, in
full, is $250,000. Not to worry, I just thought I’d let the money
work for me another week before paying off your loan. ‘Course I’m
looking forward to paying it off, so, sorry you had to make the
trip all the way over here for nothing but…”

“Bullshit,” growled Milton uncoiling from his
chair and towering over Merlot.

“Please excuse my associate for responding to
your rudeness in like fashion, Mr. DiMento. If you think there
might be a problem we would be willing to work with you at this
juncture to facilitate an equitable and painless transaction for
all parties. I’m sure you can understand our concern in this
matter.” Osborne absently brushed flecks of white powder from the
sleeve of his coat.

“Yeah sure you would. Sorry you made the trip
for nothing. I’ve got your money, just letting it work for me
another week, that’s all.”

There was just the hint of something in the
air, not aftershave, more like disinfectant, but mixed with
something sweet, too. Was it what, a hint of raspberries?

“Very well, Mr. DiMento, we shan’t keep you
from your appointed rounds, as it were. We’ll look forward to
seeing you next week. In the mean time, should anything not go as
you plan, you know how to reach us.”

“Yeah, right, that nine-hundred number you
gave me. Thanks. What, I get charged four dollars a minute talking
to you?”

“I am a business man, Mr. DiMento. That is
why I’m successful and that is why you came to me for financial
help, if you’ll recall.”

“How can I ever forget,” wishing to God he

On closer examination the almost too-lean
Osborne appeared transparent, skin like pale parchment. Red-rimmed,
ice blue eyes that looked eternally sore. Spotless hands, manicured
nails and close cropped blond hair. He wore a heavily starched
shirt, trousers pressed to a razor crease, not exactly what one
expected from a mobster.

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