SUPRISE“Shhhh! It’s ringin’ Tone, it’s ringin’!” Vinnie said, covering the phone.

“Oh—yeah, yeah.” Tony mimed a lock and key gesture over his mouth.

Frankie ran downstairs and picked up on the third ring. “Yeah-low?” He said, out of breath.

“Yo—Frankie. Geez, I’m glad I caught cha. We got a situation Frankie and it ain’t good I tell ya.”

“What’s goin’ on Vin? Talk to me.” He said, concerned.

“It ain’t for the airways if you knows what I mean.” Vinnie winked at Tony who was wearing a shit—eating grin.

“Gimme twenty. I’ll meet ya down at Sally’s Go-Go.” Frankie said before he realized the mistake.

“Airways Frankie—airways. Plus this ain’t no hooter—talk. Remember where we made the pack back in school? Remember Frankie? Where we fixed the last, ah—situation?”

What was Vinnie up to? Sally’s was a paid off joint. The place was clean—bug free. “Okay Vin—I know the place. In twenty?”

“Nah—aah, errands ya know? I was thinkin’ six-thirty. That okay?”

Bingo! Why wait? He was no fool. Those mooks must have ratted him out. He wasn’t going out like that, not Frankie Romano.

He pulled open the desk drawer and put his hand over the Glock. Then mumbled to himself, “Too noisy.”

“What’s that Frankie?” Vinnie asked.

“Huh? Oh—nothing Vin. I’ll be there. Six-thirty.” He said grabbing his keys and the garrote next to the gun.

Vinnie slammed the phone on the cradle. “We got em! He don’t suspect a thing!”

“Okay Vin, let’s do this thing. Whew! I’ll pull the car around—”

“No—no Tone. Go on ahead. If we both show up, he’ll suspect what’s up.”

“Smart—thinkin’ Lincoln.   I got this.” Tony said, leaving.

Frankie glanced at his Rolex as he stood in front of the secluded storage facility that the ‘family’ owned. It was six twenty-nine on the oyster perpetual. Punctual as usual he thought to himself as Vinnie’s Caddy pulled up.

“Hey Frankie. Sorry to bother you with—aah this situation. Sorry—it had to be handled. Let’s get inside so we can talk.”

Vinnie fished out the key and turned the lock. Before he could open the door, Frankie wrapped the garrote around his throat and pulled him off his feet. Vinnie struggled—but Frankie was stronger. After a few minutes, a rush of wet air escaped Vinnie’s neck as he went limp.

“That’ll teach you—you mook! Nobody offs Frankie Romano!” Pushing the door open with his back, he dragged the dead body inside.

“Surprise!” Roared the crowd.

The lights snapped on and Frankie let the body flop over, spilling its severed vocal cords on to the floor.

He turned to face about fifty friends and family. Tony was at the front wearing a yellow party hat, holding a cake. The matching noisemaker dangling from the corner of his mouth fell into the cake candles and caught fire. The huge banner hanging from the ceiling read: Happy 40th Birthday!


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