Friday, April 15, 2011


Note: This week's Red Writing Hood prompt requires fiction: "One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, 'I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.'"

My mind wandered as I sat in the back booth at Guido's, with a slice of triple pepperoni on the plate in front of me. The rest of the pizza was untouched. I should have ordered Cindy's favorite, I thought. The Meatsarella. Ten pounds of meat, but My oldest and bestest friend Cindy and I could pack it all away. We were hardcore about our pizza.

I looked at the postcard in my hands. It was well worn and wrinkled by my hands now, although it had appeared brand new when I opened the mailbox this morning.

The picture on the front of the postcard was of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, a place that my friend Cindy had visited at least once a month, carrying the local union payments to the area Mob Boss, Carmine Funicello. Insurance money, he called it. Cindy was the daughter of the union president, and good looking enough to make Carmine interested, so he had 'requested' that Cindy be the one who delivered the money. I got the impression that Cindy had to deliver more than money when she went to Atlantic City.

Except that now Cindy was dead. I was at the viewing last week. I went to her funeral. I was there when they lowered the casket into the earth. I held her mother while she wailed piteously throughout the whole thing.

I held up the postcard so that it was in the light. On the back of the card were the words, "I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's. Tell no one." My curiosity got the better of my grief. If she weren't dead, why go through this elaborate ruse? Cindy was always about the drama, but this was rather extreme.

Guido's was packed tonight with the usual Friday night crowd; families coming at the end of the week, freed from work and school responsibilities. The children were rambunctious, the parents frazzled, but all were united by their love of Guido's pizza. As my eyes wandered, I noticed two guys in dark suits sitting quietly, not talking, in a booth across the room. One of them seemed to be staring at me. What were Feds doing here? I wondered why Cindy chose this busy place to appear if she were trying to conceal that she was still alive.

I turned to find the waiter next to my table, eyeballing me pointedly. He was hinting that I needed to vacate my table; Guido's had a line and my table was prime real estate. But I wasn't ready to leave. I was going to sit there in that booth until I got some answers. I was...going to have to go to the ladies room.

"I would like another soda, and bring me a large Meatsarella with extra cheese," I told the waiter as I stood up and walked toward the sign pointing the way to the restrooms. "I'll be right back."

I walked into the ladies room. It was a two-seater, as my grandmother used to say, although one of the stalls appeared to be occupied at the moment. I went into the other one, closed the stall door, and sighed heavily as I sat down.

"Ginny? I've been waiting in this stall for hours!" A familiar whisper came from the other stall. I froze in midstream.

"Cindy?" I whispered back. "Cindy! Oh my God!" I wanted to hug her, but for obvious reasons, was forced to refrain. "What on earth is going on? I am happy you are not dead, but what the hell are you doing? Your mother is a complete wreck!"

"I know, but you can't tell her that I am alive, Ginny," Cindy whispered a little more loudly this time. "She's the effin' reason I am in this mess in the first place!"

In a teary, urgent whisper, Cindy told me that her mother had fallen afoul of the law due to her habit of badly shoplifting expensive items at the local mall. Cindy's eighty-seven year old mother was going to be sent to prison. I gasped. That would have been a death sentence; Cindy's mom would never survive a week of food that wasn't Italian. Or the lack of her "stories" on the daytime TV. Or her shoplifting.

Cindy had offered the feds a deal--let her mother go, and she would give them Carmine. Carmine was a talker after sex, it seems, and Cindy had a digital recorder on her cell phone. Enough evidence had been provided, based on her monthly "visits", to topple the Funicello family for good. She had to disappear, though, to keep the Mob from gunning her down for her 'betrayal'. So the Feds had 'killed' her in a car accident. Cindy would be entering the Witness Protection Program tonight.

"But I had to talk to you one last time, Ginny," she finished, sniffling a little. "You are my bestest, and I couldn't leave without saying goodbye."

What could I say to that? I wanted to hug Cindy one last time, and said as much. So we both flushed and exited our respective stalls, and then we hugged each other as tightly as we could. There was a discreet knock on the door of the ladies room.

"I gotta go now, Ginny," Cindy dabbed at her eyes, but her mascara was hopelessly streaked and smeared.

"Drop me a postcard sometime," I smiled at her, a little jealous. Cindy opened the door and walked out of her old life and into a brand new one. How many people get to do that?

I waited a second, until I had calmed down, then went back to my booth. The Meatsarella was piping hot, and I was suddenly hungry.


  1. I like how you build up the anticipation for the visit. Is the girl dead or is she alive. Then you find out at the end. I enjoyed reading this.

  2. I don' tknow how you do this but you do. I'm enchanted.

  3. Love the details about the mother! So hilarious. A shoplifting problem turned mafia. The pizza sounded delicious and the Feds awkward. Perfect descriptions of both. :)

  4. I am a total Mafioso. I love that you made a mob story of this, used my favorite adult vacation place on the postcard, and it ends somewhat on the happy side. You even made me tear up a little. I love that she spied the Feds, then Cindy is revealed in the bathroom of all places. I love that she sacrificed for her mom, an old Italian shoplifter. What a character!


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