Chapter 2: Chapter One- In Which Flo Joins Both The Dead And The Mafia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 129
Comments: 2

Chapter One
“Guy! I’m leaving now! Do you want me to bring you anything back from the library?” I bit my lip, hoping that my brother would throw the x-Box remote down and ask me to bring him back Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. He didn’t. Instead, he broke out into the Gamer’s Scream: that angry yelp you let out when you are met with difficulty in your quest to beat the game. ‘Game Over’ spread across the screen in red letters, and Guy
turned to glare at me.
“Damn it, Flo! You made me die!” He crossed his arms and flopped onto the couch. I rolled my eyes.
“I love you, too, little bro,” I retorted. “I’ll be back in a couple hours. Goodbye!” I waited for him to reply, but he was ignoring me, so I tried again. “Bye!” Still no answer. I felt my eyebrows furrow downwards-the way they always do when I get irritated. “You know, you’ll be awful sorry if I die out there and don’t come back.” Jinks. With a sigh, I stepped out the door into a lazy summer evening and grabbed my bike from its position leaning against the front porch. I turned back once more to look inside the window and saw Guy reattempting the level he’d just lost. I smiled, then mounted my bike and pedaled off towards the Southworth Library,3.68 miles away in Dryden. The last I saw of my little town was a big brown sign that read, “You are now leaving the Village of Freeville, population 523”. That small number that represented the people I had known since I was born was just about to shrink by one. By me.
Two hours later, I was speeding towards home with The Complete Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald tucked into my bag; the book had eluded me for years, always being checked out or lost, but now I had it. I had always been dying to read The Great Gatsby.
Traffic finally slowed at the intersection I was standing at, and no cars were coming in either direction, so I got off of my bike and began to walk it across the street. I could see a blue pickup truck was speeding in the distance, but I judged he had time to stop, so I continued. Imagine my surprise when I face-planted into the engine grate of said blue pickup truck. The last thing I remembered before blacking out was a man’s voice telling me ‘It’s all going to be okay’ and thinking, My God, what a Drama Queen. Before I could mock the man any further, however, my body decided I had lost far too much blood and I slipped into the sweet salvation of insentience.
“Which way do you think she took?”
“She looks so strange!”
“And how!”
When my consciousness finally returned to me, the first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t alone. It sounded like there were people all around me, and I didn’t understand why. I was about to sit up when I remembered the accident and froze, afraid to even think about moving.
I probably broke my back, I thought to myself. I better not even budge! Taking my own advice to heart, I sat still and listened to the rustling and whispering in the background.
“Goodness, she’s young,” I overheard a woman say. “She can’t be more than seventeen. Such a shame, to go so young.” Go where? I wanted to reply. The hospital? Lots of people go to the hospital. I was starting to get confused, and I felt a migraine coming on, when someone suddenly touched my thigh. I shrieked and bolted up, my eyes flinging open out of instinct. “What do you think you’re doing?!” A ragamuffin of a little girl wearing roller skates, her eyes wide as saucers, stared back at me.
“I’m sorry, M’am! I didn’t mean to upset you; I just wanted to know what those funny trousers felt like!” Funny trousers?! I looked down, only to find myself wearing a plain pair of jeans. Then I took a good look around. All of the women were wearing dresses and feathered hats. Two little boys-they must have been brothers- were running around in sailor suits. Every single man in the crowd was wearing a suit, a fedora hat, and had a smoldering cigar between his lips. My mouth went dry.
“Where am I?” All at once the chattering stopped, and the people looked at one another, as if trying to figure out what to say. The little girl frowned at me.
“Don’t you know?” she asked, as if the answer was obvious. “You’re in Purgatory City!”
“Purgatory?” I laughed nervously. The girl looked to be about six or seven, and for someone so young to know what Purgatory was-and reference to it so nonchalantly- made me feel queasy.
“Seriously, where am I?” The people looked at me sympathetically, but didn’t answer. “This isn’t funny anymore!” My voice was becoming squeaky, and I felt some rebellious tears bunching up in the corners of my eyes. Whoever came up with this joke is a sick bastard, I thought to myself. When I get my hands on him…!
The crowd parted momentarily, and a blonde in a white dress and a black jacket strided over to me and stuck out her hand. I took it, and she pulled me to my feet. I didn’t bother to wonder how I could stand.
“Hello,” she said in a quiet, sing-song voice. “My name is Blanche. How do you do?” I let out a long sigh of relief. Finally, someone who isn’t insane!
“Hi. My name is Florence Jones. Can you tell me where I am and what’s going on?” Blanche’s face instantaneously fell, and she swallowed hard.
“Well, Florence-may I call you that?”
“You can just call me Flo.”
“Flo, then; I’m really very sorry to have to say this, but seeing as no one else is willing,” she began to finger the green scarf around her neck.
“Say what?” I tried to sound as calm as possible, but it failed miserably. Blanche took a deep breath.
“You’re dead, Miss Flo.” She looked at me with big doe eyes. “I’m very sorry, but it’s the truth. If it makes you feel any better, I’m dead, too. We all are, here.”
I could feel my eyes widen. Dead? Dead!? As in like a doorknob? It was impossible! There was no way!
You did get hit by a car, Flo. My brain took the cold, hard logic and shoved it down my throat. You couldn’t move and you were lying in a puddle of your own blood. Now you’re standing in the middle of a crowd of people who look like they belong in a documentary on the History Channel. What other explanations are there?
Blanche snapped me out of my inner soliloquy with a gentle touch to the shoulder.
“Are you alright, Flo?” I nodded.
“I think I am. As alright as a dead person can be, anyway.” She smiled softly.
“Let’s go check you in, then.” Blanche led me out of the crowd into the open, where I could finally take in my surroundings. I was in a huge, apricot-colored lobby of sorts. There were old-fashioned chairs and sofas everywhere, as if the room had been designed for large numbers of people to be in it at once. The largest, most prominent thing in the room was a huge desk with at least a dozen girls sitting behind it. Blanche steered me right up to one of those girls, a pudgy redhead. She looked at me with a smile.
“New arrival? We weren’t expecting anymore of you.” I shrugged my shoulders, unsure of what to do. The secretary sighed. “Just find an empty slot and sign the book in front of you.” I looked down, and sure enough, a thick book sat open on the desk. A pen was strewn across one page. I filled out the chart in the bottom margin, seeing as the rest of the forms were already full.
Name: Florence Tuesday Jones
Date Of Birth: December 7, 1992
Age At Time Of Death: Sixteen
Method Of Death: Was hit by a car
Date Of Death: July 12, 2008
I pushed the finished form book towards the secretary, and she read it over.
“Ouch,” she said with pity in her Irish-flavored voice. “Bad way to go, huh?” I snorted.
“You have no idea.”
“So, will you be staying with that blond girl or do you need a place of your own?” I knitted my eyebrows together, and Blanche smiled.
“Where you’re going to be staying at, since I can’t really say living.” Blanche turned to the secretary and answered for me. “She’ll make up her mind later.” The pudgy redhead yawned and stretched.
“All right,” she agreed. “You’re free to go then, new arrival! Have a good time in Purgatory!” I let out a quick burst of laughter while Blanche and I walked out of the pink lobby, and into the city. Blanche turned to me.
“Where to?” I looked from left to right, taking in the old time feel of the place. There are cobblestone roads! What could be more antique than that?! The air smelled slightly smoggy, yet I took in deep breath, only to realize the sick humor of breathing while dead.
“Your house?”
“Sure,” Blanche replied. “The trolley will be coming any moment now.” I took another breath.
“Why do I still breathe if I’m dead?” Blanche laughed quietly.
“Out of habit,” she replied. “Now get ready to jump.”
“Jump?” A dull red and yellow trolley car steadily approached. Blanche grabbed my hand.
“On the count of three!” She said, louder than she’d ever talked before. “One, two, three!”We both jumped and somehow managed to grab onto the trolley bars. Blanche was grinning.
“That’s always the fun part of being late,” she explained to me as we sat down in the back. “Jumping on trolleys is fun!” I laughed, then leaned back into the seat of the trolley and watched the scenery go by. It looked just like the Historic District in New York City. All of the buildings were shoved close together and most were made out of brick. Shop names were written on the window or were on signs that hung above the door. So far, I had already seen a ribbon shop, a bakery, and a shoe cobbler. As nice as the scenery was, I was beginning to grow unsettled with the silence, so I turned to Blanche.
“What’s your house like, Blanche?”
“To tell you the whole truth, it’s not my house.” She offered me a sheepish smile and brushed her bangs out of her face. “The people who actually own the house invited me in to stay a long time ago. I didn’t really know them then, but I decided I’d rather take my chances and live with strangers than be alone in the Afterlife. After all, what did I have to lose but loneliness?” She had a point there. Before I could reply, the trolley came to a stop, and Blanche stood up.
“Here’s where we get off. Come on!” I followed my blond companion back onto the sidewalk; soon enough, Blanche was pointing to the second house from the corner.
“Is that it?” I asked, already sure what the answer would be. It was a tidy little home, made out of brick- like everything else in the city. The lawn was, to my surprise, green and teeming with dandelions and buttercups, and there were a myriad of pedigreed flowers lining flower-boxes in the lower windows. We walked to the door, and Blanche let me in. I had just begun to take in the placid, homey atmosphere, when all at once a huge bang rang out and ricocheted from wall to wall, and I could hear a distinctly male voice shout out:
“Damn!” Blanche flung her jacket off of her shoulders and ran up the stairs. Naturally, I followed. We ended up in a quaint parlor of sorts, with a table and a grand chandelier, but I wasn’t paying attention to the room. I was paying attention to the two men in the room. One of them looked older than the other; his hair was the color of butterscotch, and-of course- he was wearing a dark, pinstripe suit. He held a fedora hat in his hands. The younger one was dark haired, wearing a white shirt and trousers with a pair of suspenders, a smoking cigar hanging out of his mouth, a smoking gun in his arms, and the most idiotic grin imaginable plastered onto his face. Blanche shook her head.
“Zeke! Did you shoot that inside?!” Zeke- the black haired boy- grinned even wider.
“Ab-so-lute-ly! I had to shoot! This one’s a beauty!” he replied in one of the thickest Brooklyn accents I’d ever heard. Then, he noticed me, and raised an eyebrow. “I could say the same about that tomato over there. Who is that doll?” Blanche put her hand on my shoulder and frowned at Zeke.
“This is Florence, but she likes to be called Flo. She’s a new arrival, and she’s sixteen.” Both Zeke and the other man’s eyebrows went up. Zeke laid the gun down on the table and strutted over to me, before he put his arm around my shoulder suggestively.
“Sixteen, eh?” he said in a playful tone, cigar smoke swirling around. “You wanna go pet someplace? I’m real good at that, you know.” With that, he winked one clear blue eye.
Is he flirting with me?! I could barely understand some of his slang, but I did know what ‘pet’ meant.
“No thanks.” His smile faded, but only slightly, before regaining all of its former luster.
“Why not?! Don’t you think I’m good-looking?” He winked, and I gazed at him closer. He wasn’t bad looking with those eyes of his, I’d give him that. I honestly didn’t know what to say. The blond man, who had been sitting in the background, suddenly walked up behind Zeke, and smacked him lightly in the back of the head with the fedora hat.
“The bank’s closed with Flo, Zeke. Not every girl is going to fall into your arms.” Zeke removed his arm from my shoulder, shrugged, and stepped back as if nothing had happened. The blond smiled at me.
“Please don’t mind my brother; he really isn’t so bad once he stops flirting.” He stuck out his hand, and I shook it. “My name is Ira. A pleasure to meet you, Miss Flo.”
“Pleasure’s all mine,” I replied, eyeing both Ira and Zeke. Are these two really brothers? I thought to myself. They’re so different!Zeke shifted uncomfortably and broke the silence.
“Anyway, now that introductions are done and we’re all peachy,” he started, picking up the gun. “We’ve got business to take care of. Is Flo in or out?” I made eye-contact with Blanche. I was sure that my body language displayed my message clearly, but just to make sure, I stated it aloud.
“What business?” Both Blanche and Zeke looked straight to Ira, who sighed.
“We run a very, well, intricate family business, Zeke and I,” he started, turning his fedora hat over in his hands. “We’re a typical business, with strong moral values as well as strong objectives.” At this point in time, I was very interested.
“What kind of things do you do? What are your objectives?” Zeke snorted, and Ira gave him a look before he continued.
“We aim to, let’s say, pacify violence in the Underworld and keep everything in order.” I grinned.
“You mean like a police force?!” With that, Zeke burst out into hysteric laughter. Even Blanche and Ira started to chuckle.
“Did you hear that, Ira? Did you hear that?!” Zeke was gasping for air. “She thinks we’re a police force!” Ira bit his lip to stop from laughing again.
“What the hell is so funny?” Ira and Blanche immediately straightened up. Zeke, on the other hand, laughed even harder.
“You couldn’t be more wrong than that!” Zeke exclaimed, wiping a tear from his eye. “Ira was just sugar-coating things for you because you’re a baby to him. Since you’re only three years younger than me, I can be honest.” He walked up to me and put his arm around my shoulder, this time in a more friendly way than he had before. “Let’s play a guessing game- what wears pin-stripe suits, fedora hats, smokes cigars, smuggles guns, alcohol, and anything else under the sun that makes money, suppresses people they don’t like, and is usually Italian?”
A sudden burst of memories from my childhood came flooding back- the memories of my favorite movie, starring-of course- Al Pacino. I had discovered the old VHS while cleaning the garage and watched it that very moment; I would quote it every day, much to the annoyance of my parents. I’m sure that my face had gone perfectly white, and that I most likely looked like a fish the way my mouth was gaping wide open, but nonetheless I turned to Zeke.
“The Mafia?” I looked from Zeke to Ira to Blanche, and then to Zeke again. “You’re an undead Mafia gang?! You aren’t even Italian!”
“I had an Italian friend, once!” Zeke protested, snickering. “And besides, you don’t have to be from Sicily to be a Mafia gang. New York is close enough.” I turned to Blanche.
“He’s joking, right?” Blanche shook her head.
“No, Zeke isn’t lying. This is a Mafia gang. Ira is the Boss; Zeke is the Underboss, but also serves as the Consigliere, since we’re such a small group. I was a soldier, but now I’m a Caporegime- I look over soldiers and associates and the like.” She fingered her scarf. “If it makes you feel any better, Ira wasn’t lying, either, when he said we’ve got morals and a very important objective. We’re not the only gang around.”
“Believe you me,” Zeke interrupted, “There’s only one other gang in the Underworld, and that other gang is the only reason we’re here. They’re disgusting, Flo- they’re pigs. You can’t murder in the Underworld, because everyone’s dead, but there are plenty of other things you can do to torture the deceased, and they do it. All of it.” Ira nodded grimly.
“Lately they’ve been kidnapping the most recently deceased. That’s why Blanche rescued you so quickly- you could’ve gotten kidnapped easily, and though we don’t know exactly what the enemy gang does, we have an idea, and it really isn’t pleasant at all.” Zeke took the cigar out of his mouth and spun it around in his fingers.
“So what do you say, go-with-the-Flo?” he asked, pleased at coming up with such a cheeky nickname. “Are you in or out?” They all looked at me, waiting for me to make a decision that I had no idea how to make. I tried to toss the Pros and Cons over in my head. On one hand, you’ll be going against most-if not all-of your personal values and engaging in criminal activity, I realized. On the other hand, Blanche and Ira seem like good people, and Zeke just seems like a hopeless but harmless idiot playboy. If they’re telling the truth, you’ll be helping a lot of people by going against the enemy Mafia gang. And you’ll get to quote The Godfather and no one will know. Joining the Mafia gang became increasingly appealing, and before I could address that sentiment, Zeke threw in another tidbit.
“If you join, you can stay.” He sighed and leaned against the table. “Of course, you could always go get one of those old, run down tenements that the Limbo Lobby tries to sucker New Arrivals into living in, if that’s what you want, but-”
“I’m in.” Ira looked pleased.
“Wonderful! Welcome to the gang, Flo.” He shook my hand, and then turned to Blanche. “Why don’t you show Flo to the extra room so she can get settled in?” She nodded.
“I’m so glad you’re deciding to join! It’ll be much more fun to have another girl in the house. Now let’s get you to your new room.” I followed Blanche into the hallway, only to be stopped by Zeke. Blanche waited a little way down, so as to give Zeke and me privacy.
“You’re really joining?”
“Yeah, that’s what I said.” He ran a hand through his hair.
“Right, well then I guess I should apologize for flirting with you earlier. Sorry about that.”
“It’s no big deal,” I replied lamely. “I didn’t really expect an apology.” He laughed and shrugged.
“I’m unpredictable. Anyway, sleep well. And I’m sorry about you dying so young and all. I know how you feel. Goodnight!” He waved and walked back into the parlor with Ira, and I caught up with Blanche, who led me down the hall to the last room. She didn’t mention anything about my conversation with Zeke.
“Here it is,” she declared, opening the door and flicking on the light to reveal a simple, jonquil room with white accents. One of those old-fashioned beds with an iron frame sat in the corner; it had a yellow, probably homemade quilt on top of it. A white dresser on the other side of the room was the only other piece of furniture besides a white bookcase. There was one, large window on the back wall, and a built-in window-seat occupied the rest of the space in the nook under it.
“It’s cute,” I told Blanche. “A little empty, but I like it. Tell Ira and Zeke I said thanks.” She beamed at me.
“I’m glad you like it. We can go shopping tomorrow for some furnishings, if you’d like,” Blanche replied, a hint of excitement in her voice. I had realized almost as soon as I met Blanche that she was the kind of person who didn’t ever speak loudly. Ira was like that, too. “But you probably want to go to bed now, don’t you. You’ve had a long day. Do you want me to bring you a nightgown to borrow?” A nightgown sounded lovely, but my eyelids were already beginning to droop, and my limbs were stiff. I didn’t have the energy to change.
“No, I’ll just sleep in my clothes. Thanks, though.” Blanche seemed to understand.
“I’ll see you in the morning, then. Goodnight!” She turned, walked out of the room, and shut the door behind her. As soon as the sound of her footsteps ceased, I sunk down onto the floor.
“Dead,” I whispered as I pulled my beaten-up tennis shoes off. “I’m dead. I’ll never see Mom or Dad or Guy again. Because I’m dead.”It had taken all day, but the shock and denial had finally worn off and was rapidly being replaced with pure anguish and heartbreak. I was going to be sleeping in this little yellow room for the rest of eternity.
My mood thoroughly dampened to the point I was going to have to worry about mildew growing on it, I dragged my sorry self over to the edge of the room and shut off the light, before collapsing down on the bed. I didn’t even bother to cover myself up with the quilt; instead I lied down, and began to cry. Big, fat tears-the ones I had refused to cry earlier- rolled down my cheeks and nose in never ending streams. I bunched up my hands in the sheets and shoved my face into the pillow and sobbed harder than I ever had before as images of my family and my house and my small town and my library all flashed before my eyes. I cried for the High School Diploma I was never going to have, for the books I was never going to read, the places I was never going to go, the kids I was never going to have- for the life and the future that was ripped out of my unsuspecting hands. And it was all because someone was probably texting, or eating, or maybe even drunk, and didn’t stop. Because of that stupid, brainless, inconsiderate waste of biological material, I was going to be a sixteen year old forever, and- I chuckled to myself bitterly as the thought swept through my brain- I wasn’t going to be able to read The Great Gatsby, even though I had just been dying to. The irony.
And so, I fell asleep that night weeping my un-beating heart out, realizing that Flo Jones, regular teen non-extraordinaire, no longer existed, and that Flo, cadaverous, breathless Mafia soldier, had been born.

Submitted: June 20, 2011

© Copyright 2020 Anne Shepard. All rights reserved.


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Add Your Comments:


Haley Renee

I love your characters :) the overall story is great so far, KMU!! :)

Tue, June 21st, 2011 1:12am


Thanks so much! :) I really appreciate it!

Mon, June 20th, 2011 6:16pm


OMG that was amazing!!! KMU!!!!! I loved it! =^.^=

Sun, July 3rd, 2011 4:41am


Thanks!!! Were there any specific parts that made it so amazing?! I'll keep you updated! :)

Sun, July 3rd, 2011 7:27am

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