This is pretty much an expanded, enhanced version of last chapter, with some changes to Mona and Lisa's backstory. Other chapters will be up soon.

THIS ONE TIME, I got shot in the head and it didn't keep me off my feet for more than two minutes.

"I was so looking forward to you two killing each other."

I suppose hoping to survive a bullet isn't pushing it. Who knows? I might just live to fight another day.

"You can't have everything."

But then again, I might not. Vlad is the one with the gun, Max is unarmed, thanks to yours truly. And Woden? Woden is in a a wheelchair, and probably haven't touched a gun since Vietnam. The deck is staked the wrong way.

" …… You are making me look incompetent by refusing to die."

So could this be it? Mother of mercy, is this be the end of Mona Sax?

It's the damnest thing, bleeding out, dying. With every word, Vlad's smug voice grows more and more faint. I can barely even feel Max's hands stroking my hair.

"Stop! I am sorry. Enough! The killing has gone too far. …… I have only begun. It's better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. You flatter yourself."

All my senses are about to go dark when I make out the most subtle noise, sounds like a scuffle, and then an all too familiar sound; a Desert Eagle going off.

"Demented fool!"

What happens next is too fast to make out, but I don't think Max is by me anymore, then I hear the explosions so clearly, and I feel the ground rock beneath me, and the heat rise around me. After that I don't hear Max or Vlad anymore, just flames crackling. Might be that I'm in hell, and I'll realize it as soon as manage the strength to open my eyes.

My thoughts begin to wander, or maybe my life is flashing before my eyes. Woden and the inner circle, Vlad and the rest of the Bratva, Vinnie that poor loser, even Max, that angel, that bastard. They all fade to insignificance. So does my mortality.

For some reason, I find myself thinking about a restaurant.



I lifted my head up and let go of my hair, then turned on the faucet and wash the sick away. It was the third time that night, pretty much all of that afternoon's Thai. I looked into the mirror and stared for half a minute at the bags under my eyes, thinking of what I had to do, thinking of why I was in that bathroom in that joint in Jersey.

I leaned down, reaching behind the sink to where Annie Finn said the thing would be. But then I heard the stall behind me open, so I pulled back and tried my best to act normal, washed my hands and fixed my hair while this tall blonde steps out of the stall, stand in front of the mirror for a second or two, fixing her bra and puling a couple of locks of hair back before she walked out. She didn't wash her hands or anything; I was so disgusted with her that for a moment or two I completely forgot about everything.

But then I remembered. And I was disgusted for a whole other reason. I reached again behind the sink, felt around till I found the metal taped to the porcelain, I pried it away and lifted it up.

I didn't know a thing about guns back then, just what they do. It was a revolver, 38 snub-nosed Smith and Wesson, nickel plated, the serial number was filed off and the handle was wrapped in band-aids. I remember delicately peeling the tape off, afraid I was going to shoot myself.

I held it in my hand, and let my hand hang by my side. Just like they told me to, I walked out the door, remembering that I didn't turn on the faucet and wondering if I should go back. I kept walking, crossing the spaces between tables, heading to the one by the far wall. Each step felt like I was taking it through an ocean of cement, I realized it was going to happen.

The first man was short and heavy, around fifty, with a bald head and a scar that ran down his cheek. The other was younger, around mid-thirties, his hair was long and sleeked back.

"Jesus, you believe they're passin' this crap off as involtini?" the bald guy said.

"Eh. Beats the hell out of prison food." Said his friend.

"You'd feel different if you was Italian."

They were too busy eating for them to notice me there at first, but then the bald guy looked up at me.

"Anything I can do for you, lady?"

I froze up. I could say a word or move a muscle. I realized that that was it; I was one foot across the Rubicon. The bald guy was loosing patience, though the other guy didn't pay me much mind, and just took a quick glance before returning his attention to his eggplant.

"What the hell do you want, Bitch?"

"Angelo…" I muttered, "Angelo says goodbye."


I raised the gun, pointed it inches away from side of his head. His grim frown dropped, replaced by clueless desperation.

They say that time infinitely slows down when you die, and in that second that feels like an eternity, you may even see your life flashing by; from birth up until the point you had your last breath.

What they don't say, however, is that when you take a life, the same thing happens, and though your life doesn't necessarily flash before your eyes, your future usually does. A blur of guilt and cold isolation, a sneaking suspicion that I am forever damned. It was right then that I knew nothing was going to be the same again, I was killing myself right then, to be replaced by something that looks and sounds like me, who even thinks its me, but isn't.

I pulled the trigger. As time slowed down, I could hear the hammer fell on the back of the bullet, the gunpowder ignite, sending the bullet scraping through the barrel and emerge out muzzle with a flash and a cloud of filed gun-metal invisible to the naked eye. I saw the bullet travel the few inches, before the tip pierced its way through the skin, penetrated the flesh and the bones of his skull, before tunneling through the gray matter of his brain, turning it into mush.

Baldy's head whipped to the side from the impact. A stream of blood gushed out of the brand new hole in his head, and sprayed shards of bone, brains and blood onto the wallpaper.

A busboy dropped the dishes he carried, the joint erupted in panic. Time returned to its normal speed. I turned the gun on the other guy, shot him three times in the chest. His eyes went dead before he could even chew.

It happened. I killed them. I wanted to run out to the car that was waiting. I wanted to get away from Brooklyn, get away from New York, but I wasn't done. With trembling fingers I stuck the gun between Baldy's legs and pulled the trigger.

By the time I staggered to the door, everybody had run for their lives. I walked around the corner where a Chevy was parked.

"About damn time." Jack Lupino said out the passenger's window, grinning with a tooth pick between his maulers.

Lisa got out, and grabbed onto me and pulled me in, she held onto me tight, afraid I was going to leave her.

"On, Mona, thank god you're alright!"

"Lisa, are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"She's fine, you're fine. We're all fine." Said Lupino, looking back at us, "Get yer ass in the car."

We did as Lupino told us.

"How did it go?" Lupino said and slapped his driver's shoulder, "Come on, Cognitti. Let's role."

"It's Gognitti! Gognitti, with a G!"

"I did it. Just like you said."

"Did you shoot Gallo like we told you to?"

"Yeah, I did it."


"The head."

"Heh, damn. And the other guy?"

"Him too."

"And did you do the other thing?"

"Yes, damn it! Yes! I killed them both and shot the bald guy in the balls!"

"That's good." Said Lupino, turning away to look forward, "That's real good."

"Are we done? Are we square?"

" It ain't my call."

"Punchinelo said-"

"Hey! It ain't my call! "You're not through with the don until he says so.

If the don says you guys are through, you're through; if he doesn't then you're not. Now shut up until we drop you two broads off."

I took it in stride. There wasn't anything I could do. I sat there, holding onto Lisa as Vinnie drove us home.

You would wonder why I killed two men for the mob. To answer you I'd have to go back more than twenty years; to the mid-seventies, when Tommy Abbandando, mid-level lieutenant for the Punchinelo mob was arrested on a murder charge, facing he certainty of life in prison, he made a deal with the feds, turned snitch and testified against mafia under-boss Angelo Punchinelo, sending him to Riker's for fifteen years. The feds got Abbandando into the witness protection program, started a new life for him in Portland, Oregon as appliance salesman David Sax. It wasn't ideal, but Tommy was a man who believed in making lemonade out of lemons. He took his new life in good grace, and a couple of years later, he met and married a local girl called Rose, and together they had daughters, twins.

Tommy Abbandando. Dave Sax. Dear old dad.

Lisa and I moved here a few years ago, we'd just graduated from college and had big city dreams. Our parents had died in a car accident a sure while before, dad had never told us about the life he once had, I learned about it less than a week ago, when Lisa went missing and Lupino got in touch. While Abbandando was spending his days behind a white picket fence, Angelo Punchinelo did his full stretch, got back into the fold, and eventually became boss of the most powerful crime family in New York. I can't even begin to imagine how he found out about us, but a week ago Lisa didn't come home from work, and I got a phone call around midnight, saying that we owed big to someone big. It didn't matter to the don that our dad was six feet under, he needed to send out a message; there's no statute of limitation for screwing with the family.

They knew I didn't have the money to pay them off. I thought for sure they were gonna kill her, maybe the don had a change of heart, maybe he was honoring some kind of obligation, or maybe he wanted to mess with our heads. He made me an offer, kill two men for her, and we're free to go. No vendetta, no more grudge. This offer was made through two uniformed policemen, sending a message as clear as crystal; New York's finest won't help you, you have no other way out.

I was all alone against people who messed up lives as a profession, deep down, I realized all the ways this would go wrong, but I was short of options. I agreed, asking that Lisa be kept in the dark.

I thought that I'd do it; save Lisa, and it world be over, all that would be left was to for me to learn to live with what I did.

Casual observers will notice that I was dead wrong.