Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 58

Republisher’s Note: Danny is fighting for his life.

Mistaken Identity by Lisa Chapter 58

Albert’s surprise at the voice that met his ear was written over the features of his face. Quickly he did his best to hide his astonishment knowing full well that the rules of this game had been changed forever by Michelle’s admission of her part in Mick’s death. The once skewed image now had the clarity he needed. His only concern at the moment was how much did this person know and how was he to stop the domino effect of events that was certain to unfold.

“Hey, are you still there?” the voice on the other end of the line questioned.

“Yes, yes I am here. What is it you want?”

“A clear conscience.” Albert had a difficult time believing those words. They were such the opposite of all the things he knew to be true.

“Some how I doubt that,” he countered, “What’s this really all about?” Albert asked again.

“I hear you have had some trouble in your neck of the woods,” the voice said stating the obvious.

“Depends on how you define trouble,” Albert returned not letting himself be baited into this apparent trap.

“It’s all over the news that Danny’s been shot,” he answered putting the first layer of his blueprint in motion.

Albert felt his mouth go dry at that admission. Right now he needed to bring his plan of action into focus. If news of Danny’s shooting had reached him then Albert was certain the others wouldn’t be far behind.

He looked at Michelle as she stood quietly looking out the window. His thoughts were drawn as to how to protect her and his wife from the mass destruction that was soon to follow. Fifteen years to be out of the business was a long time, and at the moment the things that had been instilled in him long ago were not readily returning at the pace he had hoped.

“Did you hear me?” the voice prodded.

“Of course I heard you! So what if it has?” Albert barked.

“Just thought you might need some help.”

“Not from the likes of you,” he shot back not caring what his brother had said about this man. Albert hadn’t trusted him all those years ago and he had no intention of starting now.

“Don’t be so quick to cut me loose,” the voice offered sensing Albert’s hesitancy.

“What is it you think that you can do for me?” Albert scoffed.

“As well as you can do for me,” he countered.

“I should have known.”

“In exchange for the information that I have. Information I might add that you would find very useful in your upcoming battle,” the voice said in an all-knowing tone, “All I want is for you to make me disappear.”

“OH I CAN MAKE YOU DISAPPEAR ALL RIGHT!!!!” Albert remarked in a foreboding manner.

“That’s not exactly how I meant it,” the man countered reading the signals in Albert’s voice.

“Then what did you mean?”

“I was thinking a nice little island in the tropics and enough money to live out my golden years in the style to which I have grown accustomed to……………..”

“Excuse me?!?!?”

“That’s right, I will fade into the hoards of tourists and become nothing more then a face among the crowd.”

Albert looked over again at Michelle knowing that she thought she had been doing the very same thing, yet he was more certain than ever that you can’t escape no matter how hard the attempt may be.

“And exactly how do you plan on doing this vanishing? You of all people know that you can’t just walk away!”

“Oh but I can,” the voice countered confidently.

“How so?” Albert asked.

“The information that I have to offer will ensure that I walk away unscathed.”

“Over confident aren’t we?” Albert joked thinking to himself that this man had truly lost what little marbles he had to begin with. When you were dealing with Carmen no one walked away unharmed; not her family and certainly not some hired hand.

“I would have to disagree. If you understood the weight of the information I have then you would not doubt me so.”

“Then for god sakes let’s have it!!!” Albert growled tired of this conversation. If it hadn’t been for this nagging voice in the back of his mind he would have ended this some time ago.

“Not so fast my friend………..”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Albert forced, “I’m NOT your friend!”

“Fine but there is still the matter of my terms for my knowledge.”

“And what makes you think that I even trust you? How do I know this isn’t some elaborate ruse to destroy Danny’s life further?” Albert wasn’t about to put anything past this vile group.

“I have been a loyal employee for years………….”

Albert cut him off, “Loyal to no one but yourself! I was the only one that you couldn’t fool. So forgive me if I am having a hard time believing you are now thinking about someone other then yourself! Besides you don’t give a damn about Danny!”

“That’s not true!” the voice countered.

“ENOUGH!!!!” Albert’s voice rose in caliber catching Michelle’s attention. She turned to watch him as he continued speaking into the phone, “I don’t give a damn what it is you think you have that could be of some help to me. I don’t want help from the likes of you………..”

“Not even if it concerns your son and brother’s murders?”

Albert was stunned into silence. The words son and brother’s murders bounced about his mind.

“What?”

“I thought that might get your attention. So you ready to deal or not?” he asked realizing he finally had him right where he wanted, needed him to be.

“What is it you want?” Albert whispered still uncertain of the believability of it all.

“Some fake ID papers and enough money so I never so much as have to think about the Santos family again.”

“And if I don’t agree?”

“Then seems to me that the murders of your brother and son will forever remain a mystery,” the voice cackled.

Albert lowered himself onto the stiff vinyl sofa and thought about the pact he was just about to make with the devil’s advocate. Once more that nagging voice at the back of his mind came forward. It was a feeling that he couldn’t shake; a sensation that he needed to find out what this man had to tell him. That somehow, someway it would be the key to some of the many gates that imprisoned all of them.

“Tell me what you know.”

“Not until we negotiate a deal,” the man said not ready to divulge anything without a guarantee for himself that he would get the things that he wanted, hell needed, to stay alive..

“THE ONLY DEAL YOU ARE GOING TO GET IS THIS!!” Albert roared, “You will get nothing until I am assured that this so called ‘information’ that you claim to have is real.”

“Oh it’s real all right!”

“Not a cent until then. Now start talking or the deal’s off!”

Albert listened intently to the tale that was laid out before him. He felt the bile rise in his throat as the horrific information was told to him. He reached for the arm of the sofa to steady himself as tremors of anger over took his body. He heard of how he had been robbed of first his son and then his brother. The finely woven web was mystifying but in an odd way so believable. All his life he had been taught to believe in a system, a code and in one sentence all that had been shattered. Absently he wondered if his father had been rolling over in his grave all this time at the mockery that had been made of an institution that he had held sacred in his day.

The story that had just been laid before him would have never been in the days of old, when men like his father and the father’ of the other men that now sat in their seats at the table ruled supreme. This debauchery would have been cut at the knees before it had ever gotten so far.

“Well?!?!” the anxious voice on the other end of the phone prodded.

“I need more then just your word of this. I need proof.”

“I am your proof. I was there. I was witness to it all.”

“And now you expect to be rewarded for your efforts?!?!” Albert raged thinking that the blood of his son and brother were on this man’s hands as well.

“I just want what is coming to me.”

“And so you shall have it.” Albert said making a mental note that he was still a Santos and all those years of dispensing Santos justice were quickly returning.

“So then we have a deal?”

“I want proof first.”

“I don’t have proof per say. Just my word.”

“A smart man like you must have some proof or you wouldn’t have put yourself out there like this. I WANT IT!!!!!” Albert seethed.

“Well there might be some,” the voice relented knowing that he wasn’t going to get what he was after without making this concession.

“I WANT IT!!!”

“And what…..you want me to walk it on over to you?” the angry voice countered.

“Use the wonders of modern technology man.”

“Huh?”

“Fax them to me.”

“You are kidding right?” the voice laughed, “You want me to just walk in and say here’s these papers with information regarding two mob murders could you please send them out?”

“EXACTLY!!!”

“You are nuts you know that?”

“JUST DO IT OR THE DEAL’S OFF!!!!”

“What about my money and papers?”

“You will have that but not until after I make sure that you aren’t trying to pull a fast one.”

“But……..”

“And if you aren’t then you have nothing to worry about, right?”

“Where should I send the papers too?”

“981-555-1498, that’s the fax in my club office. You call me on this same number the minute that you have sent it and we will then discuss your monetary arrangements. Understood?!?!”

“Fine,” the voice said reluctantly.

Albert ended the conversation before the man could say anymore. He leaned back in the sofa running his hands over his stubbled face. If what he had been told was in fact true then all those around him were in danger.

“Albert?” Michelle questioned as she came to sit beside him, “Is everything all right?”

“It will be. I need you to stay with me or Joe at all times. Do you understand?”

“What’s the matter? I thought you said I would be safe with you?” Michelle picked up on his fear instantly.

“You are, but for the time being I need to be sure that it stays that way.”

“Albert, you are scaring me.”

“I don’t mean to, but right now we can’t take any chances.”

“What’s going on?”

“ARMAGEDDON!!!!”

Michelle starred intently at his eyes blazing with fury. The security that she had felt just a half-hour earlier was now evaporating like the morning haze in the heat of the rising sun.

Albert motioned to Joe as he and Michelle entered the room. Danny had said all along he had felt a kinship to this man and Albert was about to test that.

“Yes,” Joe said as he came to stand before him.

“Can I trust you?”

“Of course.”

“No, I mean really trust you?”

“Yes,” Joe said again perplexed at Albert’s change in demeanor.

“Michelle and my wife could be in danger.”

“Michelle?” Joe questioned unsure of who he was speaking of.

“Her,” Albert pointed to where the girl Joe knew only as Melanie Branson stood.

“Melanie?” he quizzed utterly confused.

“Yes, but her name is really Michelle Bauer.”

“Huh?”

Albert shook his head understanding Joe’s confusion but not really needing it, “Michelle,” he called to her.

“Michelle?” the group said almost in unison.

“Seems like I have some explaining to do,” she said walking towards Albert.

“I think we both do,” Albert added, “Please everyone,” he motioned to the seats around the table in the corner of the room. Albert looked down at the half-completed puzzle and mused at how apropos the image was.

“Albert?” Jenny asked sensing the hardness that filled her husband’s frame, “What is it?”

“Michelle would you like me to try to explain all of this?”

“No…. I think that I better,” she offered wanting all those around her to understand that she hadn’t deceived them intentionally. She needed them to realize how much they had all come to mean to her. How they were suddenly more like family to her then those she left behind.

“Well then let me at least lay the groundwork,” he said.

“Albert?” Jenny questioned as every hair on the back of her neck stood at attention.

“It’s going to be all right,” he assured, “I can promise you that.”

He touched his wife’s hand gently doing his best to allay her apparent fears. If the information he had just been fed was truly real then this was all about to be over.

“Could someone please tell us what the hell’s going on here?” Matt asked. He had long grown tired of all of the confusion going on around them.

“We are just about to do that, son,” Albert said, “First let me say that this young woman sitting before you, no matter whether you think of her as Melanie or Michelle, there is no denying the wonders that she has brought to each of our lives since her arrival in Texas. And like she, Jenny and I aren’t who you believe us to be. If you only think of a person by name alone.”

“Come again,” Matt countered feeling as though this was getting more convoluted rather then clear.

“My true name is Albert Santos. I was once part of a great crime family in the Midwest……………………..”

“What,” he heard Sarah gasped as she backed away from the table.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said, “It’s been a long time since I have had any contact with that way of life. After the tragedy of losing my son,” Albert did his best not to choke on the words. Knowing now that his son’s death was even more senseless then he had once thought, “Jenny and I left that way of life and came here to start over.”

“The Santos family is from Springfield,” Michelle added, “That’s where I am from………………”

“Then you knew each other?” Joe questioned.

“Not really. I didn’t know any of them….well except for Mick.”

“Mick?” Jenny found her voice squeak as she spoke.

“Yes,” she said turning to look at Danny’s aunt, “I was the one responsible for his death……….”

“What?!?!” Sarah gasped again.

Michelle turned to look at her friend silently praying to be given the chance to make this all clear finally.

Between she and Albert they intertwined the threads that made up this elaborate blanket of lies, while the group sat quietly their own thoughts running rampant.

“So you didn’t know who Danny was?” Sarah asked as she tried to get a handle of the bizarre nature of this as a whole.

“No.”

“That’s unbelievable.”

“I know,” was all Michelle was able to offer. It was that, unbelievable. She hadn’t believed in fate until now, but suddenly that was the only plausible explanation she could come up with.

“But who shot Danny?” Joe piped in.

“A federal agent assigned to protect Michelle. Apparently he believed she was in danger.”

“In danger?” Joe echoed, “From who? Danny?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t get it. He loves her.”

Albert shook his head at the little most people understood about the mob. Love played little or no role in the natural order of things. Danny’s mother had been a true testament to that concept.

Albert had been witness to one event that would forever stand out in his memory, at times even more so then the death of his own son.

He watched as childhood friend Dominique Russo put a gun to his wife’s head and took her out without a moments thought on his part. She had been disloyal to his family; had inadvertently said an innocent remark to the wife of a rival family in passing and Dominique’s family had lost a vital territory. The young girl hadn’t any idea that she was doing. To her it had been nothing more than bragging about the man she loved more then life itself.

Albert watched as the tears rolled down Dom’s face as he pulled the trigger. In his heart Albert knew that he loved this beautiful creature; he had watched him pursue her relentlessly until she finally agreed to go on a date with him. He had been the best man at their wedding. He saw the love in their eyes as they exchanged vows that day. But none of that mattered. In the grand scheme of things loyalty was far more important them love, but how was he to explain that to this man.

“Some times that doesn’t matter.”

“So what you are trying to tell me that Danny would have killed her?” he said not believing the words as they fell from his lips.

“NO!!!!!!!” Michelle, Albert and Jenny said together.

“What then?”

“I don’t know how to make you understand,” Albert said honestly, “If circumstances were different, if Danny was a different man then I would say yes, he would have avenged his brother’s death by killing Michelle……………….”

“That’s barbaric!!” Sarah shouted.

“Yes it is,” Albert offered, “But it’s a way of life that has been instilled for generations now.”

“Then what makes you think that Danny is any different?” Matt asked.

“He is,” Jenny spoke up, “He came here looking to make a life outside of the violence that took his cousin, his father and his brother. I can’t explain why we know, we just know.”

“So I have been working for the Mob all these years?” Joe asked.

“No!” Albert stated. “My brother, Danny’s father, let me walk away fifteen years ago when my son was killed. I came here looking for the very things that Danny did. I was lucky enough to find them. I just want Danny to have that same opportunity.”

“He has,” Matt said, “He’s running the club, he has a beautiful girlfriend who loves him. He did it, didn’t he?”

“Not quite. Certain things are expected of Danny back in Springfield. I don’t need to go into all the details but let’s just say that his unexpected departure has angered the powers that be.”

“Are we in danger?” Sarah whispered.

The ringing of Albert’s cell phone interrupted the conversation, “Excuse me. Hello…….yes………I need a number where I can reach you…….not to worry……if what you have to show me is true…….I promise to handle this personally.” Albert looked up to see all eyes resting on him. “I have to go to the club for a while.”

“What?” Jenny said sensing immediately that Albert had been talking to one of them.

“I have something that needs to be taken care of. It won’t take long.”

“Albert?!?!” Suddenly Jenny’s long standing order of burying her head in the sand was no longer an option. She sensed that their lives were about to change forever.

“Jenny,” he took her hand in his, “I have to do this. Please understand.”

“I want to………….”

“Are we in danger???” Matt forced, “I think we have a right to know!!!”

“NO.”

“Albert?” Jenny looked at him not believing him.

“If what I am about to uncover is the truth we won’t be the ones in danger.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Matt questioned again not feeling that he was getting any answers though.

“Joe,” Albert said addressing him again.

“Yes?”

“I asked you before if I could trust you. After all that you have heard, can I?”

“Definitely.”

“Then I need you to be on the look out for Danny’s mother. Jenny knows who she is. I want you to be sure that you keep Michelle out of sight. I don’t have all the answers yet but my gut is telling me that Carmen knows who she is and unlike Danny, she wouldn’t hesitate to avenge her son’s death.”

“You can count on me.”

“Danny told me that as well. The rest of you,” he said turning to Matt and Sarah, “I know how much you want to wait for the outcome of Danny’s surgery but I need for the least people here the better. I have to be honest with you all, I have no idea what’s going to happen and I don’t want either of you to be caught in the middle of a war that you have no part of.”

“But?” Sarah said her eyes moving towards Michelle. The story as unbelievable as it was didn’t make much difference to her. The facts as she had heard them didn’t negate what she felt in her heart about this person who had become her friend without much thought to it. And she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her alone to pace around this room waiting for word on Danny’s condition.

“No buts. And I know you were staying at Michelle’s apartment but given the circumstances I don’t think it’s such a good idea to go back there either,” Albert said.

“Not to worry, that’s the last place I want to be,” Sarah offered as her mind brought back visions of Danny’s blood pooling on the beige carpet.

“Okay I really have to get to the club.”

“Albert,” Jenny’s breath caught in her throat. Her eyes told him the words she couldn’t bear to say.

“Jenny, I promise you that we will grow old together just as I know that Danny and Michelle will as well.” He kissed his wife passionately on the lips and reached for Michelle’s shaking hands.

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