Tony, Carmela, and A.J. were sitting in the booth near the center of the restaurant. The bell above the main entrance of the door ran as the door opened. Tony looked up from the menu that he was reading and saw Meadow walk in. He then went back to reading the menu as Meadow came over and sat down next to him.
Meadow reached across Tony and grabbed a menu for herself, opening it up and starting to read it. Carmela looked over at her daughter and asked, "So what'd the doctor say?"
Meadow shrugged. "He said to stay what I'm already on," she said. She didn't look up from her menu as she talked to Carmela, who shot a glance at Tony, who in turn said nothing. He had a few choice words to say about Meadow's growing relationship with Patsy Parisi's son, but he was too concerned about other things than to be worrying about that.
Silvio was still in the hospital in a coma, and Tony feared for his friend's life. Although he didn't show it, for the first time in a long time, Tony was afraid. He was losing friends left and right, but having Silvio end up in the hospital in a coma with two bullets in his back really took a toll on Tony.
Tony looked around the restaurant, watching the people eat their dinner and converse back and forth with each other. He watched three men in one of the corners of the room talking quietly with one another, one gesturing with his hand, seemingly telling the two others a story. Tony looked behind Carmela and saw a family of three; a mother, father, and a young boy, all sitting together and quietly eating their dinner.
A.J. spoke for the first time since Meadow had come in. "I'm saving up for another car, and when I have enough money, I'm-"
Tony interrupted him. "You wouldn't need another fucking car if you hadn't burned down the last one you had!"
A.J. stopped talking and looked at Tony, who glared back at him. A.J. looked down at his empty bread plate and remained quiet. Tony looked back down at his glass of water and said, "Look, A.J., I know you didn't know that that would happen. But next time, just be more careful. Alright?"
A.J. nodded. Tony looked back at Carmela who half-smiled at him, then went back to reading her menu. Tony looked up and saw a waitress coming towards them, pulling out a notepad and a pen as she came towards their table. All four of them lowered their menus and waited to be served.
The bell above the door rang out again as the waitress reached their table and Tony looked over at it. He stared into the faces of the two other men who just walked into the restaurant, but what he saw were two men's faces covered by ski masks. One of them had an assault rifle clenched in his hands, and Tony watched as the man raised the aim of the gun towards him. The other man next to him pulled out a small automatic handgun, and also raised it up at Tony.
Tony shouted at the top of his lungs, "Get down!"
He shoved Meadow out of her seat next to him and lunged himself towards the center of the aisle, away from the gunmens' aim. He heard the first spray of bullets fly over his head, and was relieved to see that Carmela and AJ were crawling underneath the table next to the booth where they had just been sitting. The entire restaurant was in a panic now, and Tony was grateful for all of the chaos errupting around him, knowing that it would give them a better chance to escape out the back door.
Tony tore his snubnose pistol out of his belt and held it in his right hand, feeling the bullets of the assault rifle tear past him. He knew that he only had a few seconds before both of the gunment found him and killed him. He looked over at the terrified faces of Carmela and Meadow, then at his son. A.J. was crouching underneath the booth table, holding his head in his knees. He didn't seem to be crying, but was obviously scared and shocked by what had just happened.
Getting up on his knees, Tony fired a blind shot at the gunman with the assault rifle, but missed him by inches. The man returned fire, the bullets coming from the rifle missing Tony as well. He bent down and grabbed Meadow's arm, pulling her out of the way. "Get out of here!" he yelled to her.
Tony was about to stand up again to return more fire, but as he got back up on his knees, he felt a sudden pang of immense force and pain smack into his chest. He was blown onto the floor, his chest riddled with three bullets from the assault rifle. Meadow looked back and saw her father laying on the floor and started to bawl and scream, "Dad!! Dad!!"
Carmela was sobbing, bent down over Tony, trying to check for any signs of life in him. A.J. saw this and was about to go over to her, when all of a sudden, one of the gunmen walked around the corner of the aisle and fired into her back, firing nearly twenty bullets into her back.
She died as soon as the fifteenth bullet penetrated her back, and was then sent down onto the floor. A.J. clamped a hand over his mouth to keep from screaming or vomitting, and watched as Tony's pistol slid across the floor and ended up in front of him. He stared down at it, the butt of it bloodstained with his father's own blood. He heard his sister screaming, and nearly cried out in agony after hearing her screams die down following a chain of gunshots.
All was silent now. A.J. stared down at his father, who wasn't moving. His mother was laying down by his side, her own pool of blood spreading over Tony's. He knew that Carmela, Tony, and Meadow were now all dead. He was sure of it. How could they not be?
Suddenly, he saw a pair of black, dirty boots appear from behind the table. One of the gunmen were standing in front of the table, talking quietly to his counterpart. A.J.'s mind was racing and his heart was beating too loudly to hear what the two men were saying. Luckily, A.J. was hidden from their view, and he held his father's gun in his hand. He stared down at it, and looked up again when the two men walked away from the table.
A few moments passed before A.J. started to feel angry. His anger was suddenly building up in him, and it seemed like it would never die down. A.J. wiped away the tears from his face, and lunged out from under the table, still holding his father's weapon. He jerked his head around the room, and saw the two men in front of the cash register, taking the money out of it and stuffing it into their pockets. A.J. yanked the gun up and took aim at the man who gunned down his father. Before the man knew what hit him, A.J. had fired the gun. The bullet sunk into the man's head, killing him instantly.
A.J. felt the thirll of having killed the man who had taken his father's life. Suddenly, the gun felt much lighter in his hand, and he took easy aim at the man who held the assault rifle. Before he could even lift the rifle to aim at A.J., he crumped, for A.J. had shot him square in the forehead.
Outside the restaurant, A.J. heard the loud wail of sirens. He stuffed the gun into his pants. Without looking back, he then ran out the back door of diner, disappearing into the night.
A streak of lightning flashed across the cloudy afternoon sky, illuminating every single gravestone in the cemetary in light for a split second. Every single headstone brought a sense of dread to this place, but at the same time, a sense of peace.
A.J. knew that this day would draw a large crowd to the cemetary, and he was right. It had been nearly a month since the shooting, and he had been taken in by Janice with open arms. Now, as he looked around the cemetary, He saw his own family, including Janice and her kids, Carmela's mother and father, Barbara and her kids, and Junior, who seemed to be talking nonstop. A.J. had been told that Junior had Alzheimers, but he still felt uncomfortable being around his great uncle.
Many other people also showed up, but A.J. had no idea who any of them were. There were over two hundred people at the cemetary that day, all of them gathering around the three newly placed gravestones.
Paulie walked over to A.J., who was staring down at his father's grave. He put his hand on his shoulder and said, "He was a fuckin' amazing guy, you're father.." he reached into his pocket and pulled out a hankerchief, dabbing at his eyes. "Alot of people respected him. He was even idolized by a few people, too.." he blew his nose into his hankerchief, but continued to stand by A.J., who still could say nothing.
He looked up and saw a black Lincoln pull up to the cemetary, and watched as it parked near the entrance gates. The back door of it opened and Silvio's wife got out of it. A.J. watched as she went around to the other side of the car and opened it up. A short-framed man got out of the car slowly, pulling a cane along with him as he climbed out of the backseat. He had black slicked-back hair, and his face was twisted into that of a grimace.
Silvio was out of the hospital.
A.J. watched as Silvio hobbled over to him, his wife's hand on his shoulder as they walked towards A.J. Silvio nodded at Paulie, then looked at A.J.
"He was a good man, you're father. A.J., he loved you more than you can imagine." He looked down at the grave sadly, and also took out a hankerchief from his breast pocket and dabbed at his eyes. Paulie looked back over at A.J. after gathering himself together, and spoke again.
"We know what happened, Anthony. At the restaurant, I mean. That was.." He broke off, wiping his hankerchief across his glistening forehead.
Silvio, along with Paulie, put his hand on A.J.'s shoulder. "We'll watch out for you, A.J. Sure, you got Janice there, but you're welcome at the Bing whenever you feel like you need to get away from things. And hey, mabye we could also line you up with some work, doing deliveries and shit for us? We'll give you the money that you're father wanted you to have, including his money, too. You won't ever have a lapse in income, either. We'll be right behind you, supporting you through all this."
Paulie nodded. "Fuckin' New York-" He broke off as Silvio threw him a dirty look. Paulie shrugged his shoulders. He lowered his head and looked back at the three graves placed in line in front of them.
A.J. looked up after a few moments over at Silvio. "I know what my dad was involved in, Silvio."
Silvio, without looking over at A.J., replied, "He knew that you knew."
A.J. nodded his head. He continued looking down at his father's grave, then at his mother's, then, lastly, his sister's.
She was too young and innocent to be caught up in something like this.. she shouldn't have been there at the restaurant. She should have been somewhere with Patsy's son. She should have been anywhere besides the diner.
A.J. curled his hands into fists. He should have been able to do something. He should have protected Carmela and Meadow from the gunmen.
But it was too late.
His family was dead. Despite what Paulie and Silvio said, he felt alone; he had never felt this alone before in his life. What would happen to his house? Where would he go? A thousand thoughts rushed into his head at that very moment, but he knew what he wanted to do.
He looked over at Silvio again. "I want to be apart of you guys," he said in a shaky voice.
Paulie and Silvio both turned to look at him, their expressions that of shock and surprise. Paulie stuffed his hankerchief back into his pocket and looked A.J. straight in the eye. "No. You're father was against it at the time, and-"
A.J. interrupted him. "I want to do what you guys do," he continued. "I want to do what my dad did for all those years."
Silvio dabbed at his eyes with his hankerchief. "It's not as easy as that, A.J. Even if your father would have allowed it, there's still alot-"
A.J. continued talking. "I don't care how long it would take for me to be ready. I've got nowhere else to turn, no one else to go to." he looked from Silvio to Paulie, who each exchanged looks with each other.
After several moments, Silvio nodded his head. "Alright... Alright."
The three of them continued to look down at the three grave markers. A.J. then looked up at the sky, which was beginning to brighten up a bit. The thunder could be heard in the far distance, but already the weather was clearing up. Paulie and Silvio walked towards a different part of the cemetary to visit with some other people, leaving A.J. by himself.
He then looked back down at Tony's grave one last time before turning away, walking towards the other people who had all gathered in a circle around their priest, who was giving a prayer.
As he walked, A.J. was lost in his own thoughts.
Sure, he didn't know what the future had in store for him, but one thing was for certain.
He would make his father proud.