Paula flinched as the bat made contact with sweaty flesh. She’d seen it a million times before; another asshat that thought he could outsmart her father and his goons.
Paul LaVine was quite an intelligent man, he worked his brain like most people went to the gym. He stuck to a rigid diet, only ever straying from it on holidays and when they went back to Italy; his mother was quite the cook, and denying her food offerings would cost him a finger. Any man that so much as tried to get smart with Pauly paid a hefty price.
Paula had seen her father’s men beat down a million men; from teenage boys, trying to get too handsy with her at dances, all the way to old men whose bones would probably never heal from the world of hurting the muscled men put on them. Despite seeing it so often, she never grew used to it. In the beginning, she’d leave the moment she knew the beatings were coming, but soon, her father began to catch on. He insisted that she stay; claiming that walking away made her weak, and he couldn’t have a weak link running the family business once he was gone.
The bat made contact with the flesh again causing blood and sweat to leap from the man’s body. With every hit, the man begged and pleaded for mercy. Pauly’s men couldn’t spell mercy even if they sounded it out. After a couple more hits, Paula began to pray along with the man, not being able to stomach such torture any longer. Luckily for Paula, her prayer was answered.
“Let’s go.” Pauly said, rising up from the chair in the middle of the room.
Unfortunately for the man, his prayers had not made it up so high.
Paula did her best not to look back as she, her father, and a few bodyguards exited the room. The small group made their way out of the back room and back into the store. As they made their way down the aisle, Johnny, Pauly’s longest-standing bodyguard, grabbed a handful of Now and Laters and shoved them into his pocket; purposely staring at the cashier as he did so. Knowing better, the cashier simply forced a smile and bid the group a farewell as they made their way out the door.
“Johnny, stop stealing shit! You’re ruining the neighborhood!” Pauly said, slapping the six-foot-five man on the chest.
The foursome hopped into the waiting escalade and took off down the street. They made it about a block before the sound of an ice cream truck sounded and children rushed to the middle of the street.
“Mother fuckers! Fucking kids!” James, their driver, yelled, slamming on his brakes.
“Sorry boss.” He said, looking at Pauly and the others in the rearview mirror.
“Everyone’s fine. Hey, pull over for a second.” Pauly instructed as he patted the back of the headrest.
Doing as he was told, James pulled off to the side and stopped. With his hand already in his pocket, Pauly reached for his wallet as James hopped out and rushed to the back door.
“Thank you James.” Pauly said, patting the man’s arm as he stepped out of the car.
Upon seeing Pauly, the kids instantly began screaming. In the lower-income neighborhoods of New York City, the LaVine family was well known. Paula’s uncles and grandfathers on both sides of the family spent hours volunteering in the inner city. They helped start outreach programs, provided the local junkies with clean needles, and even helped some of them get into rehab; nevermind the fact that nearly half of the junkies just ended up back on the streets anyways, buying their same drug of choice from Pauly’s men, but on paper, Pauly LaVine was a Godsend to the lower-income areas of New York City.
After making sure every child had gotten a cone, Pauly made his way back to the car.
“Here, vanilla. I know you prefer plain and simple.” He said, handing the cone over to his daughter.
Paula was lactose intolerant, and if her father would at least pretend to give a damn, he’d know that. But atlas, bringing it up would start a whole ordeal with him and Paula was in no mood for an argument. So she took the cone. Luckily for her, they were done for the day; so she could spend the rest of the day on the toilet if need be.
The black Escalade pulled up to Paula’s high rise apartment as she popped the last of the cone into her mouth.
“Thanks pop.” She said around the cone full.
Hopping out of the car, she bid the men farewell and headed into the building.
After greeting the doorman, she hopped into the elevator and rode it all the way to the top. Making her way through the front door, she kicked off her shoes as she swung the door closed.
Looking around at her place, Paula felt that same painful pang of dread and loneliness that she always felt when she came ‘home’. She longed for a wife, or a girlfriend, someone to come home to after a long day of dealing with her father, his ‘customers’, and slimy business partners. But alas, being a member of the LaVine family meant living a life of secrecy; And that shit got old real fast in relationships.
So like she normally did, Paula headed to her bedroom, showered, changed, and headed to the kitchen for something to eat. Rummaging through the fridge, she grabbed the plate of leftover rips from Johnny’s barbecue the other day and a beer. Popping the plate into the microwave, she chugged her first beer before going back for a second. The microwave went off as she popped the top off the beer and tossed it into the trash. Grabbing her food, she made her way to the couch and turned on the TV. The sun was beginning to set as she sat back on the couch and kicked her feet up on the coffee table. After channel surfing for a moment, Paula settled on watching some shitty straight-to-television movie as she ate.
The ribs lasted halfway through the movie and once they were gone, Paula could feel her eyelids beginning to grow heavy. So, quickly, before she grew too tired to do so, she made her way to the bathroom where she brushed her teeth before heading off to bed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this longer story. If you did, don’t forget to hit that star. Also, you can help support The Royal Blue Network by buying a cup of coffee. It would be so greatly appreciated.
Thank you, C