When I saw that Anne Riley was hosting a Murder Scene Blogfest, I became intrigued. This is my first blogfest, but since my finished manuscript is about the Philly mob, I had more than one scene to choose from. My MC, Natalie, doesn't know that her brother, Grant, is a soldier for the mafia or that her boyfriend, Dominic, is either. In fact, Dominic's uncle is the mob boss. This is Chapter 13 (fitting number) where the truth is revealed in a rather graphic manner. The setting is what appears to be a condemned building form the outside, but is really an exclusive after hours club for the mob.
The ride was quiet. Dom’s dark eyebrows creased together forming a pensive expression. There was something on his mind that much I could tell. My repeated attempts to find out didn’t yield anything, sending my imagination into overdrive. Dominic navigated his Mustang down the dimly lit street. By the time he parked in front of the now familiar condemned building I was convinced he was going to break up with me. Once inside he placed his hand on the small of my back and guided me to the same small table where we always sat. Dominic went up to the bar and ordered drinks. He came back with a bottle of Dom Perignon and two champagne flutes. His face was brighter and the smile he flashed, reached his eyes.
“What the hell?”
“We’re celebrating.” He said as he popped the cork and poured the bubbly. He held up his flute to toast. “To us!” He clinked his glass against mine and we sipped. After a couple of glasses I was feeling the buzz. We were both laughing uncontrollably at anything. I rested my head on his shoulder to catch my breath.
Suddenly a commotion broke out in the back room. A bunch of men were yelling and the doorman, Sam, took off down the hall. Gunshots exploded and I hit the floor. Dominic hunched over me protectively. Our champagne bottle was on the floor having been knocked over when I bumped against the table. Several other patrons were crouched down in similar positions. Dominic made sure I was okay and then stood up.
“Where are you going?” I hissed, alarmed.
“To see what happened.”
“Are you crazy? You’re going to get shot!”
“Relax Nat. Everything’s fine.” He spun around and left the room.
I stood up slowly, on shaky legs to follow him. Acrid gun smoke clouded the air, tickling my throat. I peeked around the doorway and down the hall. My eyes saw the blood first. A pool crept outwards from a man lying on his back, motionless on the floor. The force of the bullet had knocked him backwards in his chair when it entered his head. What was left of his skull was the source of the pool of blood. I couldn’t look away. The slow creep hypnotized me. I could identify bits of bone; stark white islands in a red sea. Chunks of brain matter settled in the pool like gelatinous mounds. The dead man’s right arm was flung up over his head, damming the flow, which had already started to coagulate and collect in the grooves of the wooden floorboards. A gun lay a few inches from his open hand.
I wasn’t aware of the sets of eyes staring at me. The sound of my brother speaking broke my fixation, “What is she doing here?” There was an accusatory tone to his voice.
I looked up from the body and into the back room. Grant was standing on the other side of the table flanked by Dominic and Sam. All three were looking at me. Sam’s expression was of wariness, Dominic’s concern and Grant’s anger. I quickly broke eye contact and wished that I hadn’t. Two other men were lying face down on the table in smaller pools of blood. My eyes moved to Grant again, he was the only one holding a gun.
The vodka tonics and champagne I had earlier burned up the back of my throat forcing me to bend over and vomit onto the floor of the hallway. Dizzy, I reached one hand out against the wall for support. I wiped my mouth with the back of my other hand and stared at a spot on the floor that wasn’t covered in vomit or blood or brains. My heart thundered in my ears and I tried to slow my breathing. I needed to sit but was unable to move at first. Slowly, I slid down the wall and hugged my knees to my chest. I didn’t care that my skirt hiked up to reveal my thong. That really seemed inconsequential at the moment. I closed my eyes and willed myself to get a grip. The smell of the death and my barf wasn’t helping to clear my head, but I was eventually able to calm down and became vaguely aware of people talking in the bar area behind me. No one else had gotten up to investigate.
“Hey Uncle Al,” Dominic called down the hall, “Can you help Natalie for me?”
Dominic was trapped on the other side of the body and the lake of blood and couldn’t get to me. A tall, wiry man with salt and pepper hair and a goatee appeared at my side and helped me up. He wrapped his arm around my back in a fatherly gesture and helped me across to the bar. My legs were still shaking and I welcomed the bar stool. The bartender set a glass of ice water in front of me and I gingerly took a sip, grateful to wash down some of the bile residue. Uncle Al sat down next to me.
“How you doin’?” He asked.
“I…I don’t know how to answer that.” I honestly didn’t. I was scared sick, horrified at the gruesome scene I had just witnessed and in shock that my brother was responsible for the carnage. I was even more unnerved that everyone else was so calm. It was like nothing had ever happened. “I need something stronger than water.”
The bartender set a glass of cognac in front of me. I took a healthy swig and braced myself for it to come back up. Fortunately, it soothed my stomach instead and the warmth spread out through my muscles; acting as an anesthetic for my nerves.
“There. Feel better?” Uncle Al patted my hand. He must have seen me relax. I turned to look at him and saw the same green eyes as Dominic and Miranda, only lined with crow’s feet. His skin had an olive complexion, like Dominic.
“I do. Thank you.”
“You just sit here. That mess will be cleaned up in no time.” My hands started shaking again and I quickly took another sip. “I’m Dominic’s Uncle, Al Grabano.” He shook my trembling hand.
“I’m Natalie Ross.” It seemed to be an odd time for introductions. He was looking at my profile and I could feel him evaluating my behavior. Now that the initial shock had worn off and the booze had started to kick in I thought I was ready to process the situation, a little bit at a time. “What happened?” I asked, hesitantly.
“I think we better wait for Grant and Dominic to answer your questions.” We sat in silence. The smell of bleach wafted into the room and soon filled it up completely. Scrubbing sounds drifted down the hall and a door slammed a couple of times. The other men in the room carried on their conversations over drinks, oblivious to the activities around them. After the second glass of cognac my stomach burned a little and my eyelids grew heavy. I rested my head against my hand and dozed off.