The Tale of Two Nights
by Team Granzow: Desiree Granzow and Brandon Granzow
“Everyone get down in the water.” Ariana’s friends squirmed their bodies low into the hot tub and kept their eyes open, squinting to avoid chlorine. The camera flashed. “Now it looks like you were all flushed,” Ariana said chuckling. The night was young and they were already engaging in her shenanigans.
Earlier that week she had persuaded everyone to go out at the Chain-Link Fence, a popular night club in town rumored to be owned by the head of the family. The head of thee family, the one that can make a person disappear overnight. Her friends had been nervous, they had heard stories from other girlfriends that it wasn’t safe. Ariana had a way of getting what she wanted and persuaded them to join her. They had dressed up, done some lines together and jumped in the taxi. When they arrived at the club the line had already wrapped around the block. The music was pulsating through the street. Ariana had walked up to the front of the line leading her pack. She had flashed a seductive smile toward the bouncer while leaning toward him to ensure he could take a peak at her perky, sumptuous breasts. He leaned in as she put her arm to the back of his neck whispering in his ear, a smirk appeared on his face as he lowered the ropes and let them enter the club.
The club was dimly lit and crowded that night. There were private booths lined around the upstairs with a view down to the large dance floor filling the center of the club. She had scouted the swarms of men looking for their female conquests. She spotted a group of younger guys with drinks in hand, no bottle service, and decided they couldn’t afford her girls. She saw an older group, dressed to the nines but sipping too slowly on their drinks. There were a handful of groups similar to hers and some dangerously eager prowlers.
Then she had spotted her target: in the back corner sat a gorgeous man who looked unsure of his evening, and behind him sat a group of handsome men performing the same search as herself. She waved to the girls to follow her and streamlined toward the corner. She had coyly walked past the first man and went to the group behind him. She began giggling and addressing one of the men as Aaron. She started rambling to him about missing his sister and how wonderful it was to see him when he interrupted to tell her she must be mistaken. Ariana feigned confusion and after a moment simply stated, “That’s too bad… I was hoping we could have some fun together tonight.” The Aaron character had then said his name was Trevor and asked the girls to join them. This plan worked every time. The liquor started flowing and the girls had settled in with their new men. Ariana kept eyeing the man sitting in front of their table. She remembered she could not stop staring at his bold features and the undeniable muscles under his suit. He was the type of guy that could fill her desires and she found herself getting lost in one of her adult daydreams. She would take his shirt off while he lifted her on the bathroom counter all while she would squirm in excitement and revel at his strength. She had snapped out of the daydream and turned back to her friends.
Ariana had not stopped thinking about that night for the past three days. She checked her phone to see if her work had contacted her today as she was on call, no messages. She got back in the hot tub with her Pomtini and yelled her usual mantra, “Cheers to Today.”
Three Days Earlier:
It was like any other Saturday night, prime for drinking followed by his normal debauchery. Michael’s Saturday customs always began with dinner at Tutto’s – the top Italian restaurant in town. However, this particular evening had him wrapped in fear and anxiety.
It all started at 6:00 A.M when his cell phone irritatingly vibrated the loose change he had scattered on the bed table the night before. Being in a deep slumber, the noise triggered an awful dream where his third grade teacher scratched her fingernails across an infinite chalkboard. His REM sleep surrendered; he found his phone, it was Marco. Thankfully it was only a text; Michael’s vocals may not be functional after last night’s two packs of cigarettes. His mother always told him that his lungs don’t deserve a sauna of smoke 24 hours a day. Michael knew she was probably right and would consistently inform her, as most smokers do, that he would be quitting soon.
Marco’s text was brief – “After Tutto’s we have plans.” This did not seem odd to Michael except the earliness of the text. He didn’t respond and rolled over to return to sleep, forgetting a woman lay next to him. His silk sheets barely covering her backside, her hourglass shape still outlined perfectly. Suddenly, flashes of last night’s sultry finale put a smile on his face. Of course Michael had no clue what her name was, and judging by his productive one hour flirting session last night she likely didn’t know his either.
Michael’s phone vibrated again. This woke the nameless female near his side. She turned to him with a curious face.
“What time is?”
“Six,” he said rubbing his eyes aggressively.
“Do you normally get calls this early on a Saturday?”
“Sorry, it’s work. You can go back to bed if you like.”
She sat up holding the sheets to cover her naked body. “No, I should leave.” She got out of bed with no choice but to search hastily for her clothes completely exposed.
“Well, should I call you sometime…um?”
“Kara. No, we both know what this was,” she said very casually.
“Okay, well my name is Michael if you see me around sometime.”
“Sure… where’s your bathroom?”
“Upstairs to your left.”
Kara made her way upstairs with her pile of clothes in hand. Michael laid back down grabbing his companion’s pillow to cover his eyes from the rising sun beaming through his window. Remembering his second text, he blindly reached over to his bed table feeling for this phone.
It was Marco again. “Bring a long extension cord.”
Michael, puzzled by this replied, “For what?” He finally got the motivation to get out of bed, but instantly became nauseated. He quickly sat down trying to prevent the next step of his hang over. Michael’s cure for this was lighting up another cigarette.
Kara made her way back down. She looked surprisingly good. More awake, Michael could appreciate her impressive looks. He liked Slavic women, the tall, slender type with piercing blue eyes. Kara was the epitome of this.
“You smoke in bed?” she asked. Michael took a long drag.
“Yeah, so?” he retorted.
“See, this is already strike two for you,” she said comically. “I’m going to leave.” Michael put his cigarette out.
“Wait, what was strike one?”
Kara was already halfway out the door, “Who has a bathroom only upstairs?” She closed the door behind her.
Michael smirked and finally got out of bed to make some breakfast. While frying up his eggs he received a response from Marco – “You’ll find out tonight, just bring it.”
One hour before his dinner plans at Tutto’s he was still searching for an extension cord. His apartment did not have a shed or garage, so he figured it must be in a closet somewhere. He finally found an orange extension cord coiled up on a hook in his utility closet. His thoughts wandered into dark territory; it reminded him of a hang-man’s noose. Why bring an extension cord he thought? Marco was not one to be so succinct in his messages. He usually tired everyone with his bloated instructions and stories.
Michael’s line of work gave him good reason to be suspicious. He wasn’t a made-man yet, so his protection was not guaranteed. His mind raced thinking of anything to warrant his early departure from this world. He concluded he was overreacting; he grabbed his keys and money clip and headed out the door. The orange extension cord hung around his shoulder contrasting his onyx suit.
Tutto’s was busier than normal, but he and his crew always had a table ready for them at any time. Marco, Russi and Donny were already seated with their glasses full of Chianti.
“Hey, he finally arrives,” Marco bellowed.
“Sorry gentleman, had a few stops on my way,” Michael explained. He immediately reached for the bottle of Chianti sitting on their table, but Marco grabbed his hand swiftly.
“Not yet,” Marco said quietly. “Get a cocktail or something, but no wine.” Marco took his hand away and waved the server over. Michael ordered a Manhattan with very specific instructions and reminded the server not to screw it up.
Dinner went on as usual. The typical shop talk with consistent rounds of drinks at the snap of a finger. The guys shared a large platter of baked ziti, Tutto’s most popular entrée. Without their request the server brought out calamari, meat balls, eggplant and tiramisu to finish. Then espresso was served to complete their eating marathon. The table was now silent as they all tried to manage their fullness. Donny’s eyes closed for a moment, but Marco broke their food coma.
“So, change of plans tonight,” he whispered. “We’re going to the Chain-Link Fence.”
This surprised Michael. He had only been their once to perform a task for the boss. Michael, technically savvy, was asked to install cameras throughout the whole club. The boss suspected some of his staff were ripping him off. Michael doubted the boss’s paranoia; no one would dare steal from him. Michael, of course, did as he was ordered.
“All of you’s go to the restroom, comb your hair and clean up,” Marco continued. “Michael, leave your car here, you ride with me.”
Michael’s anxiety built; this did not add up. Why did they need to go to the Chain-Link Fence where the boss was certainly awaiting their arrival? He had heard stories of guys in other crews just disappearing with no explanation, usually after an unplanned visit with the boss. Michael knew he dare not ask for details.
“Should I bring my extension cord too?” he said with a slightly annoyed tone.
Marco looked at Donny and Russi, “Sure, I think we’re going to need it.”
Michael kept thinking about the noose image he had earlier. He tried to fight his anxiety, convincing himself how ridiculous he was being. Though, the boss could be very barbarous when needed. He had a bust Caligula in his office, which represented his ferocious nature. One of his tactics was to make his future victims feel relaxed and unsuspecting followed by a shot to the head or knife to the throat.
Michael and Marco arrived at the club. The valet handed Marco his ticket and they entered through a side door while a line of eager patrons waited to enter in the front. They made their way down a stale green hallway; the lights above blinding them until their eyes adjusted. Marco stopped at an adjacent hallway; he pointed to the right.
“Go through that door at the end of the hallway. It will take you right into the club. Grab a table and I’ll meet you out there,” Marco instructed. “Oh, give me the extension cord.”
Michael handed him the cord and made his way into the club. He opened the hallway doors to an explosion of music and people. The dance floor was a crowded orgy of dancers, many with their hands busy on each other. The club lights beamed every color available coupled with a disco ball above. Michael found an empty table and ordered a drink. Several minutes later a group of attractive women walked past him and joined the table behind him. Michael knew that any other night he would have tried to stop one of them for a drink, but tonight his anxiety had taken him hostage. He sat impatiently sipping his Manhattan. Where the hell is Marco he thought?
Ariana excused herself for the restroom. She stood and walked toward Michael teetering herself and then stumbled in a controlled fashion into the side of his body, chest forward of course. “I am so sorry, I am such a clumsy girl sometimes,” she said staring at his dark and intense eyes. He seemed more startled than she expected but then smiled back at her. “Again, I am sorry, thank you for catching me,” she said as she braced her arms against his legs and steadied herself back onto her heels. She reached down to adjust her shirt, pulling it back to the appropriate cleavage area and then letting her hands slide down the length of her body to hang to her sides. He seemed distracted but Ariana persisted, “My name is Heather,” she said.
“Peter,” he replied. His face decompressing. “Actually, it’s Michael,” he said. He wasn’t sure why he had given a fake name. She seemed harmless and besides she was insanely hot. She laughed.
“Fake name, huh? Are you a spy or something?” she asked while she touched his arm again.
“No, definitely not. I am not sure why I said that. Heather, can I be frank with you?”
“Sure,” she replied.
“You are beautiful. I am sure you hear that all the time, but you really are,” he told her while diligently maintaining eye contact. He wanted to stare at her body, seduce her immediately, but this was the worst timing. “I would really like to talk with you, but I am here with some friends and not to sound too direct, but could I have your number. I think you are beautiful and would like to call you sometime, however, tonight is not good,” he stated. Ariana looked at him for a minute. This was not what she expected from him. She never gave her number out, that would mean seeing a guy beyond that night. She was not a relationship person, too much emotional drama. She could not ignore the extreme desire she had to touch him again nor the turmoil in her head associated with giving him her number.
“Mr. Michael, how about you meet me back here in three days and we will talk then,” she proposed.
“I think I can handle that,” he said. Ariana excused herself to the restroom sweeping her long black hair up for Michael to see the curve of her waistline expose itself above her skirt.
Michael saw Marco and the boss winding through the crowd toward him, his heart raced. Michael froze to this seat. They arrived and Marco signaled Michael to stand up. The boss reached out his hand and Michael shook it trying to appear confident.
“Hello, sir, good to see you again.” The boss examined him with a small smile.
“Nice suit, where did you steal that from,” said the boss. Michael adjusted his jacket and smiled back.
“I don’t remember, probably some schmuck.” The boss laughed and waved Michael to follow him to the back. They made their way to the back hallways again. Michael remembered this section of the club since he installed several cameras in this area. Their short walk ended at the back door of the club. Donny opened it from the outside revealing a black Lincoln Town Car idling.
“Let’s go for a drive,” said the boss. Michael and Marco got into the back seats and the boss sat in the front. He tapped the driver’s shoulder, they were off.
No one spoke with each other except for a few directions to the driver on where to turn. They continued for almost an hour until the area was mostly forest. Sweat dripped down Michael’s forehead. This was the end and he was trapped. If he jumped out of the car and ran they would shoot him down within seconds. His mind became cloudy. Then he felt like he was out of his body; his own specter looking in the car from above.
He finally regained his awareness and pictured Ariana. This brought him back to sanity. He really liked her and would do anything to see her one last time. Then he remembered his phone. He found it in his jacket pocket and pulled up the only photo he took of Ariana just moments ago. It was only the back of her, but it was better than nothing. Moments that now feel like a century ago.
They finally reach their destination – a lone cabin surrounded by forest. Michael noticed faint light coming from the inside. A second car pulled up behind them, it’s Donny and Russi. They all made their way to the cabin porch. Marco maneuvered Michael to the front door.
“Open it,” said Marco. Michael knew his fate; better to die with dignity than with fear. He opened the cabin door without hesitation, which slowly revealed all the walls lined with candles. Down the center was a statue of Mary on a pedestal. In front of Mary lied a small, ornate carpet with a single kneeler. Michael was speechless. Tears ran down his cheek, which he quickly concealed. He was being made! This was his ceremony.
Michael walked to the kneeler and bent to his knees. The rest of them stood before him. Donny unraveled the extension cord and connected one end to a CD player in the corner. Donny took the other end outside and connected it to his car. Donny returned and hit play. Italian opera played quietly though the tiny speakers.
“There’s no power out here,” Donny shrugged. They all laughed. Michael realized the extension cord was just a way to mess with him. It worked.
Marco handed Michael a pocket knife. “Cut your right hand,” he said using a slicing motion. Michael acquiesced and sliced his palm from end to end.
Marco continued, “Do you swear on the blood that runs through these veins that you will uphold the honor and the sacrifice of your new Family?”
“I will,” answered Michael.
“Do you understand that as a made-man you must follow the rules of war set by our Sicilian founders?”
“Let this day be a reminder of your dedication to your Family. You will have protection, but also will be a protector. You will honor others, but also will be honored. You will fight with your brothers, because they will always fight for you. Do you accept all that I have stated to you tonight?”
“Then stand up and greet us as your Family.” Michael stood and shook hands with everyone leaving traces of his blood on each of them. Marco pulled five wine glasses out of a bag with a bottle of a Chianti. The all said salute together and downed their wine.
Ariana could not believe it had already been three days. She could not stop thinking about Michael and their planned meeting. She knew nothing about this man and yet he already had a hold on her thoughts. She suspected it was the mystery that had kept her interest. She was sure after tonight she would get this out of her system.
“Girls, let’s get out of the hot tub. We have to go back to the Chain-Link Fence tonight, remember?” she said.
“So you can meet up with that weird guy you fell on a few days ago and hook up with him,” her friend teased.
“Basically,” she replied. “To be honest, I am kind of nervous though and I need you guys there for moral support.”
“Ariana, or should I say Heather, since when have you needed moral support…what morals would you be referring to?” her other friend joked.
Ariana glared at her friend. “I work hard to play hard, besides relationships are overrated when I can’t even tell a guy what my job is, right?”
“Why can’t you just tell a guy you work for the FBI?” her friend asked.
“It is too risky. It is bad enough that you girls know. Besides, it is not like I am an agent, they only hired me because of my looks. They don’t even give me the good details about the stings. What would I call myself, a hot FBI extra?” she said. She laughed, took a shot and did a line. She still had a hard time believing that she worked for the FBI. She knew that she technically did not qualify for all of their rigorous employment standards, but for her position that did not seem to matter. She only knew that the job was easy and she was paid well for her time. She was not scared of the Chain-Link Fence because she was sure that undercover agents were frequent patrons. She had even wondered if Michael may be one? That would have explained his behavior the other night.
“This party train leaves in 20 minutes,” she said.
Ariana wore her hair loose and tousled with its natural waves. She donned a red silk dress, just long enough to synch over the natural curves of her body and show the outline of her figure. They arrived at the club early enough to get their own booth upstairs. She would let Michael find her tonight.
The girls were excited about the upcoming wedding of one of their friends and were having an intense discussion of the Bachelorette party plans, when a bottle of the most expensive champagne was brought to their booth.
“Compliments of the house,” the server said. “I am also to inform you that the presence of the striking lady in red is requested by the gentleman over there,” he said as he pointed to Michael. Michael smiled and nodded his head at Ariana. She was impressed and found herself getting nervous. He appeared more confident tonight and was sitting with a group of people. She smiled at him and turned to her friends.
“Do you guys see him down there, don’t all look at once. I am going home with him tonight, just wanted you ladies to see his face in case I wind up in a ditch,” she joked. “Wish me luck,” she said as she practically jumped from the booth.
“Thanks for the Champagne you slut,” they yelled after her.
Ariana approached Michael. She could feel her palms getting sweaty and her heart racing. This was not normal. She was irritated with herself for feeling this way. Then Michael greeted her and all of her thoughts melted away to intense desire. She sat next to him on the couch, already acutely aware that this would be more than a one night stand. She turned to him and suddenly felt his warm lips gently glide across hers in the most sensuous kiss she had ever experienced.
“Michael, that is a bit forward, don’t you think,” she said backing away. Ariana suddenly thought she had misjudged him. This was not the image of him that she had created for the past three days.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “The past three days have been very eventful for me; however, I have been plagued by the thought that I did not kiss the extremely beautiful girl that I met the other night. I just decided to risk the consequences,” he said with a charming smile.
Ariana was overwhelmed. This was clearly going to be more than a one night stand. She picked up her drink, held it up to his and said, “cheers to today and to consequences.” As they were drinking her cell phone chimed indicating that she needed to call headquarters. She would make them wait. “Oh, and one last thing, my name is not Heather. It is Ariana. I work as a consultant. What do you do?” she asked him.
“I am a contractor,” he replied. Michael and Ariana both smiled at each other. They knew this was going to be the beginning of something special.
© 2014 Desiree Granzow and Brandon Granzow