The fat bastard pulled his finger away from the safe's digital lock pad and he was grinning in triumph and Anthony grinned back, broken jawed and bloody, his eyes focused on Dominic's Number Two. There was no outrunning death, Anthony thought, as the air around him charged with energy. He knew because he had tried.
This open field of snow-capped grave markers did nothing to block the whipping winter wind so Anthony tucked his chin and buried his hands deeper into his pockets as he crunched through the fresh snow to plant his body between the storm and the boss. They should have waited until tomorrow, after the storm moved out of the city and up the seacoast. The 3rd or the 4th, he doubted it would make much difference to Miss Marlene, but the boss had a thing for decorum so Anthony kept his opinions to himself and he drove the boss to Calvary in the January cold and they trudged across the cemetery towards the tombstones and the skyscrapers beyond that rose up to break the gray horizon. Anthony kept watch as the boss laid the red birthday roses on his mother's grave.
"No matter how hard death tries, Anthony, it can't separate people from love," the boss said.
He was a small boy again with his father's razor in hand, pricking the stropped sharp blade at his father's throat. Hesitant. A bead of blood at first before he angled and pressed and severed his father's carotid. He hadn't expected his father to wake up gurgling and struggling to push him off so Anthony pulled the razor all the way across, clean through the jugular and spit the sprayed blood out of his mouth and watched his father's eyes go dead.
Carl– with his hand extended and the skinny Irish kid standing just behind him.
Anthony– he'd answered.
The Wayland Home For Boys was no home and Anthony's boyhood had ended months on the edge of a gristle-dulled razor blade but he shook Carl's hand anyway.
Heat rippled out from the recessed safe cabinet. His orbital socket was broken and he had time to wonder if the slowly widening wave of distorted air was real or a trick of his blurred vision but then he felt the hairs on the back of his hand rise and the acrid smell of igniting gas burnt through the coppery plugs of his nostrils. This was working, even if it wasn't the original plan. They should have primed the safe first. They should have escaped down the back stairwell together. They would have met up with Bruce and initiated the contingency. They would have made a list and Anthony would have personally seen to Gino and Sal and Vincent and Frank and Ricardo getting everything those traitorous bastards had coming to them. Dominic and his crew were just a bump in the road. The boss had united the streets before and he would do it again. Carl and Bruce would do it again.
His chest was on fire now, worse than the punctured lung had felt. Worse than being locked in the Corrections Room with Wazowski and Novak that first time, his state-issued shorts pooled around his ankles and his palms flat against the wall. Carl and Bruce were sitting on his lower bunk waiting when the guards finally let him go back to his room. They cleaned him up. They kept him alive.
There was nothing to negotiate. No way to bridge the distance in time or navigate the winding back stairs. Anthony's shoulder was shattered, he knew, as he charged into the gunfire. They brought him down hard onto the green print carpet. Wood chips dug into his face as they kicked and stomped and cracked his ribs and mangled his kidneys. John would have to keep the boss alive. Get him out of the building and get him back to Bruce because even though they were winging it now, changing the plan mid-flight and following it out to its inevitable conclusions, the boss had to live.
And so Carl shouldn't be on the cell phone now. Which meant John was already dead. Which meant the plan had made one last sharp turn.
The fat bastard punched Marlene's birth date into the lock pad and the bomb Anthony had installed was armed and he slipped his arm through Carl's and guided him through the tombstones and falling snow back to the car.
"In the end, Anthony, love is always stronger."