One thing was for sure, Rafael needed to get the bodies out of his house. Three bodies in one’s home never looked good. It especially did not look good if most precincts and more than likely the FBI had a dossier on you as well, and then three bodies are found in your home.
Though technically these shits had broken into his place, calling the police was definitely out of the question. If they got involved it would be forever until Rontego could operate on a subsistence level just for fear of getting pinched. More than likely the local squad cars had all been bought off at any rate.
At first, the assassin was tempted to go over to Don Ciancetta and warn him of the dangers heading his way, and then ask for some help disposing of the bodies. But Rafael wasn’t quite sure how he was going to play his cards regarding the issue of this mob war.
Despite all the implications, one thing was for sure; the bodies had to go and had to go soon. Three bodies couldn’t very well be tossed in one trunk. Especially with the fat fuck that fell asleep during the botched assassination attempt on Rontego.
If he did them one at a time, it would take hours. As much as he hated it, Rafael was going to need to bring in help on this one.
He had worked before with this guy from out of one of the local villages outside of Buffalo, Hamburg or Angola. They called him the Cleaner. The guy ran his business under the guise of a carpet cleaning operation he liked to call Busy Bumble Bees.
Apparently he was hard to book; he hated anyone calling him in unless it was a planned operation. He thought spur of the moment killings were best left to the gangland hits of the unorganized “coloreds.” The prick was a racist, but he did his job well.
His one worry was getting caught and if he thought you were going to bring him down he would just hang up the phone on you. He even had a code for ordering hits, and you only got the code if you were referred by a big boss or if he told it to you himself.
Lucky for Rontego, after he worked with him on the hit for Ciancetta, years back during Old Leo’s rise to power, the Cleaner had told him to call whenever he needed and had given him the code.
Rafael looked at the mess in his apartment. With a sigh he checked himself over, no blood on his clothes. That was one good thing. Rafael put his coat back on and exited his apartment. On his way out, he dead bolted the lock. It wouldn’t do to have any late night and unexpected visits from the landlady this evening.
Rontego walked down the stairs and into the late night air of Buffalo. The blast of cold wind hit him like an anvil as he exited the heat of his building. To call the cleaner he needed to get to the pay phone at the end of the block.
Rontego wouldn’t let a phone line into his home. He had seen too many wiser gangsters take twenty years in the pen for a careless word or two on the phone.
When Rafael got to the booth where the pay phone was located, he entered it and pulled the door shut behind him, happily shutting out the snow which continued to fall outside. He didn’t know the Cleaner’s number, but the great part was that he was listed in the yellow pages. Nothing like great service.
He flipped through the pages and found the ad he was looking for, “Busy Bumble Bees ‘Our Prices Don’t Sting’.”
Bullshit, Rontego thought.
This was going to cost him a pretty penny. Maybe he would go to Don Ciancetta, make him reimburse him.
Rontego inserted two quarters and dialed the number placed in the ad. After one ring a voice answered,
“Busy Bumble Bees. We’re closed for the evening. Is this an emergency?”
The voice was that of the Cleaner. He had a sort of nasally voice that you don’t often forget.
Rafael quickly replied, “Yeah, I spilt three gallons of grape juice all over my carpet. I need it cleaned as soon as possible.”
There was a long silence and Rontego wondered if the man still provided that type of service.
Just before Rontego thought he must have forgotten part of the code the voice replied, “Ok, payment on arrival, who is this?”
This might work out after all.
“Rontego. Need an address?”
“No, I know where you live. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
With that the voice hung up. A few minutes later and Rontego was back in his apartment looking at the guys he had privately named the Three Stooges.
The assassin sat on his lazy boy and though there were bodies littered across the breadth of his home, he found that he was tired. Killing always took a lot of him.
He dozed off for what seemed like a second when he heard a soft tapping on his door. With a start, he took a glance out the window. There along the street was the Busy Bumble Bee carpet cleaning van.
Rontego checked his watch; twenty five minutes had gone by. This guy was pretty damn punctual. Rontego went to the door and cautiously looked out of the peephole. Damn, he forgot that he had stuck a dime in the way. All he saw was blackness. He pulled his pistol out and held it in his right hand behind his back.
Just in case, he thought.
With his left hand, he gently eased the door open a crack. In the hallway was a slight man. He was in his early forties and had brown hair with just a touch of gray. He was about five foot five and was in decent shape; he couldn’t weigh more than a hundred and forty pounds. He had on a pair of faded blue jeans and a black polo shirt that had a yellow logo of a bumble bee holding a broom. He carried three large navy blue duffle bags, one that was quite full and the other two seemed to be empty. It was the Cleaner, but something was different. He used to have glasses.
Before Rontego could really dwell on it, the man pushed himself into Rontego’s apartment and surveyed the scene.
“Quite a massacre, unlucky for them,” he stated it flatly, the way someone does when death really doesn’t faze them anymore.
Rafael Rontego fancied that he probably sounded like that to other people when talking about killing.
From the second he got there it was all business. He had a way of doing things and he expected Rontego to follow him exactly. Rontego didn’t mind though, it was better than the alternatives, none of which seemed very pleasant.
“Five thousand a head, total of fifteen grand. Here is what you do, take guy one over there and bring him to your bathtub, but first lay this plastic covering along the path you’re going to take. We don’t need any more blood getting on the carpet.”
While he was talking he was handing Rafael a rolled up section of plastic and emptying the contents of the first duffle bag onto the living room floor. It was filled with saws, knives, clamps, things that looked like walnut crunchers, and picks. For the next three hours they were busy dismembering the bodies of the would-be assassins in the bath tub, one at a time.
At first, Rontego was told to “separate the limbs from the torso” by himself.
When Rontego looked at the Cleaner, he was told, “Ok, I’ll do it if you think you can re-carpet the sections of your floor that got blood all over ‘em. And must I remind you that you decided to let the blood out of those two in the living room like freshly hunted deer? Honestly, who slits a neck in their own home! The blood in here is ridiculous.”
A little taken aback, Rontego went in to the bathroom and began the gruesome task of sawing through chewy tendons, tough muscle, and bone; and sifting through layers of fat in order to pull the limbs off of their rightful owners.
The assassin looked over his shoulder and saw the Cleaner busy ripping up the carpet and stacking the contaminated sections in a pile in the kitchen. Every so often he would take a measurement and then cut out another section of carpet.
After a while of both of them cutting—Rafael bodies, and the Cleaner carpet—the Cleaner went down to his truck. He was gone only a moment when he came up toting a bundle of new carpet which he then cut into the measurements he had jotted down before.
After the first body was completely dismembered, head from torso, hands from forearm, forearm from elbow, feet from legs, and so on, Rafael needed to take a break and sat down on the closed lid of his toilet.
He smoked a quick cigarette and enjoyed each drag all the more, knowing it was an extra second away from the tub of blood to his left. He was looking down at his feet when he noticed a rustling sound coming from the living room. Apparently, the Cleaner had finished with the carpets and was now dragging the second body in from the living room along the plastic lining.
A few moments later and they were side by side on their knees, hacking and tearing, and sawing along in relative silence.
At one point Rontego asked, “Didn’t you used to have glasses?”
The Cleaner replied in between breaths, “Laser eye surgery.”
Rontego glanced over; the guy was really sawing away. “No shit? That stuff work very well?”
The Cleaner stopped sawing for a moment to wipe some sweat off of his forehead with his forearm.
“Yeah, worked real good, a lot of people get that done now.”
Apparently the Cleaner was happy to have a distraction as well, but he continued on methodically cutting into the flesh.
“No thanks,” Rafael muttered. “No one is getting near my eyes with some damned laser. Want a smoke?”
“Nope. Don’t smoke”
Rontego shrugged. He lit one for himself, glad to have something besides the stench of iron filling up his nostrils. With a cigarette hanging from his mouth, he lifted up a hammer and he shattered apart a knee cap. It helped to separate the ligaments so that he could finish tearing the leg off of Sonne Pieri.
Rontego looked up at the Cleaner and noticed that he was not really paying attention to the work, just methodically sawing and ripping. Rafael had let the cleaner have most of the gold paraphernalia found on the bodies, but noticed that the family crest ring on Sonne’s right hand was still there. He supposed that no one, not even the Cleaner, wanted to try and peddle that ring and be attached to the murder of Sonne.
A thought came over Rontego and he stole a careful glance at the Cleaner, making sure he was not paying attention. When he was satisfied that the coast was clear, Rafael tore the finger, ring and all, from the hand and wrapped it in a white handkerchief he had been using to dab the sweat from his forehead. With a subtle shift in his weight, the finger softly fell into his pocket. A glass of water later, and it was chilling casually on ice in his freezer, until such time as Rontego decided it might be useful.
For now though, the hacking and sawing of bodies commenced.
After that, there was very little conversation between them as they focused on finishing the task at hand. By the time they had all three bodies dismembered and stuffed in two of the plastic lined duffle bags, the floors, bathroom and tools bleached clean, alternately changed and taken showers, it was close to midnight.
Rontego stood in his living room wearing an all light blue jump suit, unzipped at the neck revealing a little gold chain that hung there.
“What are you gonna do with our friends there?” Wherever the Cleaner took the bodies, Rontego wanted to be sure that they wouldn’t be found, ever.
“Don’t worry. I’m gonna burn the bodies in my furnace, then after the fire dies down I’m gonna smash the bones with hammers until it becomes a fine dust. Then it’s just a matter of sprinkling the powder over Lake Erie.”
“And our clothes,” he asked.
“Burn them, too.”
The Cleaner‘s face had a gaunt look. Apparently, even he had a threshold for this type of work. He gathered up the bags and supplies.
As he headed to the door, he turned to look at Rafael and said, “Hey, tomorrow meet me for dinner. We’ll discuss the disposal I’m doing. I have some things I want to go over with you, but I’m too beat right now. Good?”
Rafael nodded his approval and opened the door for the man carrying all three bags. He was stronger then he looked. Then again, maybe a bloodless body was a lot lighter than a normal one.
“Alright then. I know a great place to get some spaghetti and meatballs. Chef’s Pasta Place. Be there at eight?”
Again Rafael nodded his approval.
With that the Cleaner left. Fatigue began to assault Rafael and he stumbled towards his mattress. He lay down on his bed, thinking that he could get some food in a bit. He lit a Sobranie, took a drag and then left the cigarette burning on the edge of his glass ashtray, lying next to the mattress.
Seconds later though, sleep began to overtake him and he slipped into a dream. As he dreamt, the lit Sobranie cast an eerie gloom about his living room for a while, before it burned down to a low ember. Then it too was asleep as the last spark was distinguished by a brief gust of air. The smoke-induced gloom lingered for a while, then it dissipated and the room waited in stillness and quiet.
The rhythmic breathing of the assassin echoed slightly in the otherwise silent room. Fast asleep; he swirled amongst dreams of slaughter houses and the ghosts of acquaintances past.