Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 31

Republisher’s Note: Manny’s life if they stayed in a life of crime.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 31

Danny ran to Michelle’s fallen body. Lifting and turning her limp body over to face him, Danny screamed for someone to call an ambulance. Crying and repeating Michelle’s name until the high shrilling noise he recognized in the background as Carmen’s sorrow being expressed in the only manner a grieving mother had to shout back at God.

    Father Ray had entered the Casa Santos house after the police officer had welcomed him in the house. “Father, hurry people need you inside.” Going over the history of the accident with Ray, Ray closed his eyes in a silent prayer and used his finger to form the sign of the cross on his body.
    In a distance, the sound of sirens approaching the 10 High Ridge address alerted Danny that help was near for his wife. “Ray, go to my mother and Abuellá. Send Jimmy to where ever Pilar is at a hospital. I have to get Michelle to the Emergency Room. She fell on her abdomen.” Wiping his tears from his face, Danny pleaded with Michelle’s pale face to speak to him.
    The stretcher was placed near Michelle’s body. Checking her BP and pulse, “Is there any pertinent history which may affect the care of the patient?”
“My wife is pregnant with twins. My family received tragic news and Michelle fainted.”
Looking at the other rescue technician, “Let’s get out of here.” Turning to Danny, “Sir, you can ride with your wife in the back of the ambulance.”
    Ray pushed Danny’s elbow, “Go Danny, I’ll stay here; Michelle is your first priority.”
“Ray, please pray for the three of them.”
“I already have.”
    In the ambulance, the radio transmission alerted the ER staff of the unconscious twenty-two year old woman – second trimester pregnancy with twins. The ambulance expected arrival was six minutes. Danny waited for the stretcher with Michelle to be lifted out the back door of the ambulance. During the ride to the hospital, Michelle had opened her eyes once when he spoke her name. After closing her eyes, Michelle slipped back to the place, which Danny couldn’t reach. The response indicated Michelle was beginning to come out of her mild comma. But her high BP indicated symptoms of pain or internal bleeding to the technician.
    The triage nurse listed Michelle as high priority on her chart, directing the stretcher to the open room. Danny followed the stretcher to the room where he asked the nurse to notify Dr. Rick Bauer that his sister was in the ER. The attending ER physician spoke to Danny, “Mr. Santos, you will have to leave the room. Who is Michelle’s GYN doc?”
“Dr. Sedgwick.”
Checking Michelle’s pupil reaction to light and listing the orders,”Page Dr. Sedgwick, scat scan, type and cross match for two units of blood. Add a uterine sonogram, we need to see if the fetus are in distress….Mr. Santos, why are you still standing here? You will get in our way in here.”
    The security guard approached Danny, “Sir, we have a nice waiting room out front. The staff will keep you informed besides we all know your wife. She will get the best care and treatment.”
Watching Michelle’s still body but speaking to the guard, “You will have to kill me to keep me away from my wife. My brother and a friend of his were killed tonight and I’m no mood to deal with anyone.”
    Rick’s showing up settled the tense moment down between the guard and Danny. “Danny, why don’t you come outside and tell me what happened? Let the staff do their job, I will follow Michelle to X-Ray.”
    In his office in the emergency room, Rick listened to the story of the accident. Danny saw Michelle reaching out to him before she fell hard to the floor. Danny described the fall and thought Michelle’s head had bounced but he thought it might have been her hands trying to cushion her fall. “Danny, I want you to stay here until I get back. I can talk with the doctor out there to see what he thinks.”
    Danny paced, cursed and prayed for the time to pass. Ray’s arrival lessened his anxiety of news from his mother’s home. “Ray, I have never been so glad to see you.” Hugging each other and crying in the presence of the other, “How are Carmen and Abuellá?”
“Devastated to say the least. Jimmy and I went to pick up Pilar. She didn’t see the accident fortunately. Pilar was attempting to call Carmen to tell your mother about the flat tire. The state police said the car was well off the pavement in the grass. It was a situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bill Lewis is with Pilar at the house.”
“I’m glad to hear Pilar has Bill. Ray, I can never thank you enough for taking care of the family tonight.”
“Danny, we are family. Carmen is ranting over Michelle and the twins. This seems to be keeping her in touch with reality. Carmen is anxious for good news.” Rubbing his hands through his hair, “Join the crowd. Rick is trying to find out the news but hell, he has disappeared too. They wanted to throw me out but he saved me to rot in this office.”
    “Danny, I will use this collar to see what I can find out for you.”
Rick’s knock on the door alerted the two cousins to follow him. “Good news, Danny. Michelle is awake and alert. Dr. Sedgwick is waiting to talk with you and Michelle.”
    Michelle’s stretcher was lifted in the semi upright position. Indeed Michelle was awake with IV tubing connected to her right hand. The light reappeared in Danny’s eyes when Michelle and his eyes met. Locking there hands together, “Missy, you scared the crap out of me.”
“Danny, I was in disbelief when you mentioned the causalities. I heard Mick’s name but I imagined Pilar was the other person killed.”
Michelle started crying while Dr. Sedgwick monitored her vital signs and BP. “I have given Michelle a mild sedative to keep her BP down.”
    “Some times a normal pregnancy can turn sour with stress. At Michelle’s last visit, Michelle and I discussed her BP. Having twins can be exciting and fun but two babies can put stress on the physical body. I suspect Michelle is in early stages of toxemia, which means a more closely monitored pregnancy. Less activity and less mental stress. We have two choices which isn’t going to suit Michelle. Bed rest now and resumption of a limited schedule or bed rest until delivery. The longer the twins are inside Michelle the better their chance of survival. Mr. Santos, Michelle can be admitted here while your family grieves for your brother but if you choose to take her home; Michelle shouldn’t attend the funeral.”
Rick offered Danny a solution. “My sister can stay with us while you bury your brother or Meta, Abbey and my dad can stay at your lake home. Why don’t you two discuss in private how you want to handle the bed rest?”
    After everyone left the room, Danny sat in the chair. “Michelle, the next days are going to be difficult with two funerals to attend. I want to be near you. But the health of you and the twins is more important than anything. Where do you want to stay?”
“Danny, my home is with you. This is part of our wedding vows, the good and bad times. This will allow my family to help you during the difficult days ahead.”
    “Missy, why didn’t you tell me yesterday about the high BP?”
“I didn’t want to distract from Mick’s return and the gift of the crib. I was hoping the BP was from my anxiety of gaining weight.”
“Michelle, you are focusing on the weight gain too much. You will loose it all the way you run around like a chicken with its head cut off.” Caressing her hands in his hands, “Forgive me, I didn’t mean to bring up the chicken and rooster thing. I’ll tell Rick that we will take him up on Abbey, Meta and your father staying with us for several days.
    Outside the room, Danny informed the staff Michelle’s decision to return home with her family babysitting her at the lake home. “Rick, I came in the ambulance with Michelle; if you could give us a ride home, it would help.”
“Definitely, get your final instructions from Margaret and I’ll call Meta.”
    “I want to see Michelle in three days to monitor the BP. I hope this want be a hardship but the emotion of loosing your brother hasn’t hit the crescendo yet. I want Michelle away from viewings, wakes and making an obligatory funeral appearance.”
“How limited is Michelle’s ambulatory activity?”
“She can be up for meals and showers but I want her down in bed most of the time. This means no sexual activity.” At the words no sexual activity their eyes caught the words sharing the thought “no sex.” Checking their response to her last instructions, “It will be three days. I can imagine your BP is high now, Danny. I was serious when I meant no activity. As you already know there is plenty of energy released during the sexual activity.” Shaking Dr. Sedgwick’s hand, “We will see you in three days.”
    Meta laid her bag on the bed in the guest bedroom before picking up her knitting needles and yarn bag. Michelle was propped up in the bed with pillows behind her back and underneath her knees. “Michelle, you look like a picture of health.”
“I’m fine but Carmen and Abuellá arrived for breakfast with Danny before they left to go to Chicago to make the funeral arrangements. I expected the attention to be directed to Mick but I was the focus. Abuellá was here with her spiritual water sprinkling the bed where I am lying. Next, Olga has the feet of a dead chicken tied with dry herbs over the window sills and door frame. I am now the center of two voodoo medicine women.”
    Meta rolled her eyes, “They are practicing Catholics?”
Nodding her head to indicate yes, “With a touch of African witchcraft.”
“Oh my goodness, you must get Father Ray over here to counter act the other act.”
“Aunt Meta, I trust the Bauer power to do that.”
“Well honey, you have a sense of humor about their foolishness. I brought my knitting to work on so you can rest. Can I get you anything before I leave your room?”
“No, I’ll be fine.”
    Eventually, Michelle drifted off to sleep with Mick appearing in her dream with Mick changing from the priest clothes to a dark suit. Intermingle in her dream was Mick opening a box and whispering, “I have a secret.”
Meta shook Michelle from the nightmare. “Sweetie, Mick isn’t here. You are dreaming.”
“Aunt Meta, it was so real. It was like when I use to dream about Maureen. It seemed as if Mick was trying to tell or warn me of something that was dark and evil.”
    “Michelle, why don’t I stay in here? You can read or work on this cross stitch baby sampler to keep your mind away from Mick and his untimely death. I find needle work can force me to concentrate on more pleasant subjects.”
“Aunt Meta, you have always known what is the best for me.”
“Michelle, it has been a joy to watch you grow up and become an attractive, smart young woman. But I’m worried or concerned you are in over your head with this family. Danny’s family is different from the Bauers and Reardons. I know he must love you with all his heart but the marriage in Puerto Rico was cold hearted with his manipulations. His family spends quite a bit of time focusing on the future of the Santos family.”
“Aunt Meta, I was part of the manipulations but for a different reason. I was pregnant and infatuated with Danny. My emotions ran the gambit. I shouldn’t tell you this but I have my own plan.”
“Oh honey, do you know what you are going up against?”
“Yes and I’m not alone. Father Ray is my friend and adviser. The battle involves the two different directions, which the family can go in the future. Today, Carmen and Abuellá still have influence but the day is coming when it will be reversed.”
Placing the threaded needle in Michelle’s hand, “This is purely theoretical but suppose along the way, you are the one that makes the changes to adjust to their thinking.”
Pushing the needle through the hole in the fabric, “I will never become like those two women.”
“Michelle never say never. They are both Mothers, which have lost sons to violence.”
“No Aunt Meta, Mick and Theresa were killed in an auto accident.”
“Michelle, the Chicago paper has an article in which Mick’s accident may have retribution from another family.”
Seeing the angelic trust in Michelle’s face, “This is what I am talking about with the Santos women. They grieve the loss of a loved one but accept the part of the power and the struggle of staying on top. The children you are carrying can’t escape their future.”
“Aunt Meta, Danny and I have an agreement, the twins will never be involved with the mob life.”
“Yes, the agreement is with Danny but I bet the two women don’t know of the agreement! Be careful of how you deal with Carmen and Abuellá.”
“I will be careful.”
Michelle was sitting on the chaise lounge when Danny returned late that night. The viewing had gone well with both Mick and Theresa being at the same funeral home. It had made the visiting easier with the families coming to pay their respect for the loss of the two young people. The funeral service for Mick was to follow Theresa’s in the morning. Mick was going to be buried next to his father and grandfather’s grave in the Catholic cemetery in Chicago.
Danny sat with Michelle on the porch eating breakfast. “Danny, I would like to go with you to Mick’s funeral.”
“Honey, you have to stay in bed and follow Dr. Sedgwick’s orders. You tossed and turned all night. I thought that I heard you calling out Mick’s name. A funeral is the last place I want you to be with the press being everywhere. I don’t want to see you dressed in the black drab clothes. The hungry press will focus on you since you are pregnant to sell papers.”
 “Abbey is coming soon to baby-sit you for the day.”
“I know. Abbey called me yesterday. She is finally pregnant.”
“Baby, that is good news to hear.”
“She and I will be mothers in the same year. Abbey said My Dad, Aunt Meta and Rick are going to the funeral to give Bauer support.”
“Hum, that is a surprise. I expected them to stay far away from the event. Missy, it is time for you to head back to bed.”
Danny placed the black dress coat on the chair before knelling next to Michelle. “I will be home after 1pm, we can have lunch for our families here on the porch. Carmen called early; she is anxious to see her daughter-in-law.”
“Danny, I want to see Carmen as well but today may be very emotional for her. I have to see Sedgwick tomorrow and I want to be released from this bed rest regime. Tell Carmen to come after the office visit.”
Kissing Michelle goodbye on the lips and kissing her abdomen twice for each twin, Danny left their bedroom to join Jimmy.
“You are armed Jimmy? We will show more than enough power today to the other families and the FBI. Carmen said that the blue and yellow jackets were waiting for her when she got home from the viewing. They are suspicious of the accident that killed two young people with Mob connections. Did Pilar ever say how Theresa hooked up with Mick?”
“Pilar and Mick had lunch at Rico’s. Theresa was there and later came by the boutique to shop. Theresa’s car was towed from an illegal parking place which left her without wheels. Mick offered her a ride to Carmen’s house. It seems too simple to be true, Danny. Danny, their deaths were an accident but the Feds are close to connecting Mick to another Sandoval. The FBI smells blood but for the wrong reason.”
“Mick almost made it this time. The plan was working until the accident. I think it would have worked. Carmen, Dietz, you and I are the only ones that know Mick was down in Puerto Rico. The Sandovals are ignorant of Mick. God willed his own vengeance. It ended with the accident for both families for my part. It is over.”
The long line of black cars turned into the final resting place for Mick Santos. The long black veils blew in the wind when Danny escorted Carmen and Abuellá to the chairs sitting underneath the green tent. In front of their feet was the wooden casket with the green floral wreath with a white cross-formed by the miniature white roses. They all sat with the dark sunglasses hiding the wet teary eyes. Starring straight ahead and listening to Father Ray recite the Mass and Interment of the dead. With the final Amen repeated, Danny led the grieving family from the grave so the gravediggers could conclude their task. In the distance, Danny saw the FBI agents taking their pictures and making mental notes of those present and absent from the burial.
“Mamá, Michelle prefers you visit her tomorrow after her doctor’s appointment.”
“I understand Daniel, our family future lies with one of the twins. It is right for Michelle to put the twins first.”
“With the last sonogram, we are sure one of the twins has male organs. One out of two isn’t bad but the other twin hid its sex.”
“Daniel, what do you want the sex of the other twin to be?”
“Mamá, twin boys has a nice sound but a girl with Michelle’s disposition would be acceptable.”
 “Bring Michelle by for dinner tomorrow night. I want to convert Mick’s room into a nursery. Your wife has definite ideas of decorating. Olga told me she finds my taste a little ornate. I have an idea with Mick in mind, which incorporates the theme of the bed that Mick made.”
“Thank you Mamá.”
At his house, Danny hugged and held Michelle in his arms never wanting to release the best part of his life. Handing Michelle, the printed program from the burial service, “I don’t know why the church sees the service as a celebration of life. Mick’s life was anything but living the past eighteen years except the last two months.”
Patting the bed coverlet, Michelle asked Danny to sit down near her for the place, which had become their life discussion arena. “Mick’s last days had to be some of his best days spent on this earth. The accident happened when he was doing a kind deed. It seems unfair but when God decides its time for lift off from the force of gravity, which keeps us here on earth; you can’t argue.”
“Mick wasn’t free here; his past life was always going to haunt him. We do not know what demons laid ahead for him to battle. Mick’s spirit and soul is free from the disappointments here.”
Wrapping his arm around the small shoulders that understood his brother more than she realized, “If Mick had met a girl like you instead of Theresa; the drug scene may have been experimental instead of all encompassing. Carmen has invited us to dinner tomorrow after your appointment. I want you to know how happy I am to see you and Carmen adjusting to each other.”
“What did you expect, Danny?”
“Michelle, you can be stubborn and feisty.”
The office was busy with many women in different stages of pregnancy. Danny quickly assessed the expected wait in the office until a young mother arrived with a tiny infant in a carrier. The plastic molded baby carrier with its contents became the center of attention. The position of the baby’s head resting against the rolled blankets with the small cap sitting on the head forced a silly grin on Danny’s face. “How old is the baby?”
The proud mother answered, “Six weeks.He was two weeks late and just slept the first night, well he slept from 11:30pm till 5am.”
“Is this your first child?”
“No, I have two other sons at home, one with cerebral palsy and one that is a like a clown. My second son is so good with his older brother. Matter of fact when I remarried, I wanted another child even with the age difference. I can see closeness of this child with my second child already because the baby responds readily to his antics. Is this your first child?”
“Yes, my wife and I are expecting twins in February.”
Smiling back to the man’s response, “It is a dead give away when a man comes to an OB-GYN office.”
 “My husband is here in Springfield working with a local lawyer, Ross Marler for several months.”
“Where is your husband in practice?”
“Philadelphia.”
“I went to college at Princeton.” Pulling a business card from his jacket, “Give my card to your husband, I have a business, which is always looking for lawyers to add to our legal team back east.”
The nurse called Michelle Bauer-Santos’s name over the office intercom and directed Michelle to exam room five. “That’s our call, honey.” Saying goodbye to the woman, “You have a nice son.”
After removing the cuff from Michelle’s arm, “I’ll take this BP but I want you to walk down the hall for ten minutes. The bed rest did the trick. But I want to see with a little exertion what happens to BP.” The small frown on Dr. Sedgwick’s face and the comparison of the two readings, “You can resume your schedule with one major change. I want you home and in bed by 2pm. I’ll notify the medical school of your new schedule.” And looking at the couple, “You may resume your intimacy.”
The doctor instructions were better than Danny had hoped. Michelle’s schedule was more to his liking. “Do you know how old I will be before I finish medical school at this rate?…Did you have anything to do with this, Danny?”
“Michelle, do you think Dr. Sedgwick would ever listen to me? She is a mentally tough lady. I admit the schedule suits me but the time can be spent wisely. You can memorize all of the books by heart between swimming and making love in bed.”
“I have an idea since we got out early from the visit. I want to stop by to see the clinic at Father Ray’s church.”
Looking into her big brown eyes, “I can’t refuse you anything.”
The hallway was filled with low-income sick patients. Inside the space, the volunteers kept track of the urgent patients to be seen. Others distributed medication from the medicine closet and made follow up medical appointments. Father Ray’s voice welcomed the couple to the clinic. “How does our clinic compare to the hospital?”
“Ray, this is impressive. The clinic is like a small version of the hospital ER but more efficient. The patients leave with medication and follow-up visits. Insurance companies would die for this efficiency.”
Smiling with her assessment, “I agree. Danny’s company gives us samples and rejected medication which didn’t pass inspection but is still good medicine. Are you still interested in volunteering here?”
“You bet, Ray. I’m going to have some time available-maybe.”
“Ray, Michelle isn’t to be here under any circumstances! She is to be in bed by 2pm everyday. Dr’s orders and straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“Why don’t you two join me for a cup of tea and cookies from Sister Rocky’s kitchen? I was on my way over to the Parish house to check the answering machine.”
The teakettle whistled from the steam rising from the hot water indicating the water was right for the ritual of making tea. The nook inside of the bay window held the small table and chairs. “Ray, I had never imagined your living quarters to be so pleasant.”
“The house is exceptionally comfortable since the nuns share the house. More of a resemblance of a home life but I am fortunate to have been assigned to this parish.”
“Did you live in Springfield before Danny’s family?”
“This was my first assignment from the Cardinal in Chicago. Carmen and Abuellá visited me here and their involvement in the church increased their liking the city. One day, Carmen was driving on High Ridge Road and discovered a very large house for sale. The rest is history.”
“Ray, can you make the tea ice tea instead of hot? The warm days in September and my pregnancy seem to have increased my body heat.”
“Speaking of the pregnancy, Danny tells me you know one is a boy.”
Holding up one finger on her hand, “One is a boy and I think the other is a boy also.” Removing the lid from the plastic container with the Death by Chocolates cookies, Danny sampled the cookie breaking off a piece for Michelle to taste. “Yummy, but I will pass on the cookies today. Danny and I are having dinner at Carmen’s house tonight. I haven’t seen her since the funeral.”
“How do you think she is doing, Ray?”
“Carmen was at the 7am mass this morning. She is angry with God for taking Mick. But Carmen is a strong determined woman and she will survive this loss. Carmen will find a new interest to direct her energy. Michelle, I am looking at the subject of her new interest. You and the twins.”
“Ray, Pilar has to be more important to Carmen than me.”
“You don’t understand the Santos women! Carmen expects Pilar to bare her grief and go on with life. Within your abdomen lies the family future. It is the whole picture of the family that is important to her.”
Contemplating Ray’s words of wisdom, Michelle realized the true impact of Mick’s death on her and the twins’ lives. Carmen, her adversary, was intending to increase her influence over the twins.
“You know Ray, I never converted to the Catholic faith when Danny and I married. I am considering taking the classes before the twins are born with the christening coming soon after the birth. Can you come by tomorrow to enlighten me?”
“Sure, I will put together a packet from the church office.”
The next day, Michelle sent Olga out to the grocery store before Ray’s arrival. The setting was perfect to approach the subject of Mick with Father Ray without listening ears. Ray unloaded his birdseed first to the storage bin where Michelle joined him. “Why don’t you refill the feeders while we talk? I can counsel you and do another chore at the same time.” Smiling her approval at how quick Ray had understood what she wanted from him. “You have no intentions of converting to the Catholic faith?”
“Maybe someday, if I ever see it will benefit me but it sure provides a safe reason for us to meet. You can’t believe what Carmen is going to do for the twins at her house. She is having Mick’s room redecorated and painted a light blue with murals of pirate ships.”
“Michelle, you had to know Carmen was going to be a doting grandmother.”
“Carmen is the least of my worries! I want to show you our wedding album.”
“What is wrong with the wedding album?”
“It is what I discovered in one of the pictures. Come inside Ray. This is a duplicate set of pictures which are in our album. Who do you see dressed as a priest in this picture?”
“Mick!”
“Ray, did you know Mick was at our wedding?”
“NO! Michelle, how did you discover the picture?”
“Mick asked me for a picture before his going away party. This is the one that he chose. Mick wanted me to know that he was there.”
“Michelle, why would he reveal this to you?”
“This isn’t the half of it. I met Mick a total of three times. Each time, he seemed creepy. At the reception in Springfield, Mick told me that he had a secret sin. I brushed it off and told him to visit you. Ray, I am having nightmares of Mick. In the dream, Mick wants to tell me his secret.”
Bowing his head, Ray took Michelle in his arms to comfort her shaking body. “Does my cousin have any idea of what Mick has done to you?”
“Danny knows that I wasn’t comfortable with Mick but he doesn’t know that I have evidence, which shows Mick attended our wedding in Moca.”
“Michele hide the picture. Mick being in Puerto Rico has larger ramifications.”
“What am I going to do and what does this mean?”
“Michelle, I wish I knew at this moment. It may mean little more than Carmen sneaking Mick into Puerto Rico. But then again, Mick had his demons.”
Author’s Note: First, I want to thank all that send me e-mails and call to check on the progress of TMC. The character of Mick has taken on a life of his own. I have to tell you that the original outline Mick was in love with Michelle but the big build-up was to set you up for the surprise of Mick and Theresa being killed in the car. The creative spirit in me wants to bring Mick back later perhaps but for now his spirit will cause angst in Manny’s marriage. As once before, I may run a simple poll to decide if Mick rises from the grave!
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