Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 21B

Author’s Note: This chapter took on a life of its on and ended up being long so I decided to post it in two parts. Part A and Part B. Read and enjoy!

Mob’s Cardinal  by Phyllis – Chapter 21B

Removing his vestments from the early morning mass, Ray pressed the answering machine button to retrieve the messages. Fortunately only two messages left, the first message was from a parishioner asking for a baby christening ceremony. The last message was from his cousin Danny. Making a sign of the cross, Ray returned Danny’s call.

Danny answered the telephone after the usual three rings. “Danny, you answered my prayer. I was going to come by today to fill the feeders. How is Michelle?”

“Considering the aftershock of the news and my annoying behavior, she is tough as steel. We have reached a place where two mountains are still standing and we need someone to build a bridge to connect us. Ray, you have lived and survived in both worlds. Michelle needs someone to talk with that I can trust. Ray, can you come this morning?”

“Danny, I don’t have anything anymore pressing than you and Michelle. Cousin, I am proud of you. Danny, I am coming as a cousin and friend but most important I’m coming as a representative of God.”

“Father Ray bring all the divine wisdom which you can muster. Michelle and I are running short of patience.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes.”

Seeing Michelle outside at the hen house, Danny watched from the porch while Michelle coaxed the rooster out the door of the wire enclosure. She dropped the corn creating a path to the open door. Danny couldn’t help but see the similar fate of the rooster and Michelle. Today both had possible freedom looming outside a gate. Joining Michelle outside the fenced off area, Danny hugged Michelle from behind and snuggled against her neck for some of his own attention.

“I see Mr. Rooster is receiving his share of attention this morning.”

“Danny, I can’t decide if he needs one or two hens. He is lonely out here by himself.”

“Why not start with one hen and see what develops?”

“What color hen do you think I should get?”

“You are asking a guy about color and I have a preference for a nude color. From the crayola color names, it has to be Michelle Nude Body.”

“Danny, do you ever think about anything else in your mind?”

“After last night, I have to say no at this moment. Talk with Olga, she is the lady with the eye on Mr. Rooster’s future. Michelle, what color do chickens come in these days?”

“We have a black rooster with a red crown. Brown- red-white. I remember when my mother Maureen read a story to me and the book was illustrated with a white and black speckled chicken. When Jimmy comes today, I want him to find me a hen. I don’t trust Olga. She will think the hen belongs to her.”

“Honey, you haven’t figured this out but Jimmy is Olga’s son-in- law. I’m telling you this so that you don’t get Jimmy in trouble with Olga. We have our own troubles without adding another household. I want Jimmy to stay out of this. Ray called and he will be here in thirty minutes. Ray is coming as a Catholic priest and I want you to feel comfortable and relaxed when you talk with Ray.”

“Danny, I trust Ray.”

“Hey, I finally found you two!” Kissing Michelle on the cheek, Ray hugged his cousin. “How about a cup of the Blue Mountain coffee from your stash? I brought some fresh sweet rolls from the mission bakery to share before we start.”

The aroma from the soft bread permeated the kitchen bringing a feeling of cozy and safe place to be this morning. Danny placed the Blue Mountain coffee beans in the grinder. “Ray before you leave, please remind me to give you a couple pounds of the beans.  During my last visit to the rectory, Sister Rocky dropped one of her settle hints to me that the rectory pantry is low; which means in Rocky’s language, I have ten pounds stashed away.”

“Cousin, Rocky wants to keep a well stocked pantry. It comes from her earlier days of working in the Catholic Hospital operating room; she counts every thing in tens. This is one of her concepts of obeying God. Her obedience to God keeps everything at the rectory in order.”

“Michelle someday and very soon, I’d like for you to visit the rectory and the church mission.”

“Danny tells me the mission is a family thing.”

“Ah, your words are music in my ears to hear you speak of the mission as a family thing. I’m here today because a family member needs to find peace. I pray God will guide us all as we seek this together. Danny, are you joining Michelle and I in this discussion?”

“Actually, I have an errand to run. I’m driving over to Casa Santos. Olga and I have a project which needs to be completed. You have my cell phone number. The errand shouldn’t take more than two hours. Walk with me outside Michelle.”

Danny and Michelle walked from the house hand in hand to Danny’s car.  “Honey, how do I find the words to express my feelings for you? Our lives to this point have been different but from this time on it can be the same.” Pushing loose strands of Michelle’s hair back from her face to see all of the details of her face, “You are so beautiful and the most independent person that I have met.” Michelle saw Danny’s watery eyes and understood the struggle which must be going on inside of him at the moment.”

“Danny, I promise you….Look into my eyes!…I will be here when you return.”

“Michelle, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.” Gasping for air to finish the sentence, “To leave you here with Ray.”

“What is so hard to allow Ray and I to talk without you present? Control is the issue isn’t it?”

“Maybe.”

“Danny, we will never have a chance to survive in a relationship if you are constantly trying to control every aspect of my life. I can’t live this way and I don’t think you can either. Ray is waiting for me and Olga is waiting for you.”

Danny hugged Michelle and held her as close to his body as possible without being in her skin. Kissing her forehead, he left Michelle and watched her join Ray from his car mirror.

“Michelle where do you want to sit to talk inside or outside? I have this favorite sitting area out next to the lake. In the morning the birds are active feeding their babies. The serene setting adds to the evidence of God in our lives when all around us is a storm.”

“Father Ray, when I first saw Danny’s property I had this vision of being in paradise. It is a deceptive place and yet I can feel serenity here with you.”

“Michelle, I am not the person living here. I suspect Danny and I use the place for similar reasons. We are a lot a like in many ways.”

“I see two men with distinct lifestyles. How do you rationalize your family?”

“I don’t and I choose to see the finished product as God does.”

Underneath the cool shade of the large trees, Ray asked Michelle about the last three days. The days had been a mixture of pure hell and happiness. In between the torment of finding herself in this predicament was the fate of her own destiny.

“Ray, how can two personalities exist in one body? I have seen the most evil, cunning and fixated man at times. Later, a man as spontaneous, caring and loving.”

“Michelle is that all you want to see? My cousin is a multiple layered person. Which man do you see as Danny or want to be with romantically?”

“The mob boss is the evil and cruel man but the man which I care for is the kind, loving and spontaneous man.”

“Interesting that you use the term spontaneous to describe Danny. When you came into Danny’s life the term didn’t exist. Danny was calculating and he didn’t allow this behavior to be exposed for anyone to see. Michelle, when Danny was young, he was fun to be with. I don’t know how to explain this but the excitement which you bring into his life loosens the internal shackles inside of him.”

“Last night Danny talked about the business and the world where it exists as if it is as normal as going to the store and buying a gallon of milk. This is a major stumbling block or crevice from my point of view. I operate my life by living by the laws of the land. Danny operates in a life where the rules are created for and by a family.”

“Michelle, how do we find the bridge to connect the two of you? You are right in the assessment of the families but the question is how are you going to survive in both worlds?”

“I don’t want to survive in both worlds!”

“True, but you must realize that you are in both worlds and it isn’t easy. If anything the choice wasn’t made by you. Your fate was decided by Danny from the moment you met at the nightclub. He made decisions which I warned him would create the situation we are now living through. For you the battle and war is over as cruel as it may sound. What can you walk out of this with to justify your future? I’m sure Danny has warned of veiled threats.”

Nodding her head yes to acknowledge the threats, she told Ray of Aussie and the threat of the use of medication to ensure her quiet trip to Puerto Rico.

“This demonstrates the length in which Danny will go and be warned he has a plan mapped out to live in some other country to keep you and the babies for himself. You are the golden treasure which he desires more than anything. Take this opportunity and scheme if you will and turn the situation to your advantage. It may be the only chance you have to save the babies from the mob life. Danny is vulnerable at this stage because you and I wouldn’t be having this meeting alone.”

”Ray, are you suggesting that I negotiate for the lives of the babies as in terms of the spoils of war?”

“Yes and get a verbal commitment from Danny by agreeing to marry him in exchange for the freedom of your children to be free from any future involvement in the mob. It may appear to you that Danny wins but you win in the end. You have the chance to influence Danny’s life. God has always used a family as an example of what can be perfect and bad from the very beginning with Adam and Eve. The Santos family has had enough darkness and it is time for light to come and dwell. God has elected you to bring light into the Santos family.  Darkness creates more darkness. Michelle, you are the beginning of the light needed in the family. You identified the dark side of Danny but you also saw the evidence of some good. Danny’s father died trying to get the family to the right side of the law. Miguel gave his blood for the cause but Carmen seized the right to pursue the illegal business for her gain and power. Michelle, when I chose to become a priest; I saw the relationship with God as freedom and life from my own family which offered crime and death. Jesus’ blood gave the darkness in all of us a way to escape the pit of hell and live in the light of God’s guidance. The devil’s fear is removed when goodness comes into our lives. I can promise you there will be tragedies and unexpected deaths but the way you cope and deal with the adversities will demonstrate God’s presence in your life. The journey to God is a lifetime journey. There will be days when you will doubt your decision. God will send you signs and messages to confirm His word each day. Are you willing to finish the journey with Danny?”

”Father Ray, you seem to be so sure of my fate.”

“Maybe God sent you to help me too, Michelle. When Danny and I were young teenagers, I saw the evil and wanted out of the mob. The only choice I had then was to disappear and change my name or become a priest. I chose to use the collar to protect myself and my family ties. Danny was an introverted type of guy. He went to the best schools on the east coast and from his connections there he could have chosen a different life. Instead, he saw the ripe opportunity to recruit outside minds for the business. Even with all the prosperity, he has never found peace. Danny is searching for internal peace and happiness. I believe you can give this to him with a different type of family. Michelle, you will be on this journey with the creator of the world and me. I promise to give you spiritual guidance and words of encouragement.”

“If you get the commitment from Danny, do not assume because you are his wife that everything is going to change over night. Here are some warnings. 1. You will always be watched. Jimmy is one of many eyes that will follow your routines. 2. Be respectful of Carmen and Abuelá, Danny is extremely close to both. Learn to hold your tongue in public. In private use your connections to Danny to slowly bring about changes. Plant the seeds and water the seeds slowly to see the plants bear fruit of your work. Cultivate the relationship of the husband and wife so that Danny will start to turn to you instead of Carmen. 3. Do not be afraid to use the power and position of being the mob boss’s wife to gain funds to help the poor. Mob money can be used to finance medical research.”

“Well Ray, I have to say you know how to balance the scales of justice.”

Removing a folded piece of paper from his shirt pocket, Ray gave Michelle a poem. “Read and keep this poem in a nearby place when you are searching for hidden answers.”

Learn to Fly, Like a butterfly
The air is full of butterflies
Flying so effortlessly in the sky.
No weight they carry, to hold them down.
Never a worry or a frown

And yet not long ago, they were…
A crawling little…caterpillar.
I wonder if they knew they’d be…
A beautiful butterfly, flying so free.

They do not question how long they’ll live…
But are happy with each day God gives.
They trust that he will always provide,
Whatever they need…to survive.

So learn to trust… and fly away,
From cares and worries of today.
See how beautiful life can be…
Rely on Jesus, to supply your needs.

By: Valerie Bauer Rousseau

“Ray, God sent you at the right time into my life. Danny and I will talk immediately when he returns. Why don’t I help you fill all these  bird feeders?”

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