“When violence stains your path, every reflection in the dark can be the enemy waiting for your end.”
The diner was empty except for the robbers and Tom. For a fleeting moment, Tom hoped they wouldn’t see him, but it was too late. They burst into the diner, guns in hand, yelling for the money. Tom tried to keep his cool and do as the robbers said. He opened the cash register by the counter as slowly as possible and handed them the money inside. The robbers took their loot and demanded that he give them the keys for the back door. That was it; Tom couldn’t take it anymore. He was tired of everyone using him as a doormat. Outside, his town was quiet, probably asleep unaware that an innocent local businessman was about to show just how much he had bottled inside of him these long years.
In a moment he realized; these men were dangerous, willing to hurt or kill. So he did something he’s never done before; he fought back—that was when four shots were fired before he set down, and two of the robbers lay dead around him, blood pooling everywhere as more trickled down his head where they grazed his skin. That’s when his world changed in a flash, reduced to a single act of violence.
Chapter one: “The Diner Murder”
Tom stretched his arms and yawned as he approached the diner. He used to wonder how a man always tired of getting only four hours of sleep and still able to carry on for hours without rest; it’s in his blood, a merchant of coffee who serves all roaming through.
“Morning, Tom!” the young guy behind the counter signed to him.
“You’re going to break someone’s heart if you can’t get singing, Rory,” Tom jests, making his way towards where he knows he’ll find everything is, jogging back slightly to stop him before he ends up demanding refills noting there was somebody parking outside on a busy upstate roadway, scrabbling for bung starts.
As he rushed into his office behind the cash register putting up a “nothing special” label, he wonders what kind of day he’ll have; the sun shining and gleefully greeting each potential customer that arrives, hopping across shadows climbing up the checkerboard floor, heads all looking like questions hungry for knowing more.
A few minutes passed until two odd guys, raised eyebrows and their demeanor hushing the front door’s bell. He turned his check so hard, he could feel it in his neck; nonetheless, he was unfazed to doing his job. He had a certain conflict with those types as they were panicky, brutal, and giving him pressure over some chips and cents which creaked his temperament from dormant fuse hidden deeply within him.
Guns were out, demanding their pointless and futile existence into the demure people in the store-worse than that, against him- instantly locking up years where he flooded himself out endlessly before, smashing down plate-load without speaking back. Not anymore.
“…So,” the blond guy was yelling while tending towards the cash register, “..gimme. Come to unlock the thing and gave over any which way you have,” seeing the “Nothing Special” label above it, so misunderstanding it empty.
Tom shook his head, reaching the register and then opened it smoothly, taking out the requisite amount of bills as quickly as he could.
“Here,” he said, passing them through the waiting hands wrinkled like leaves.
“That’s that,” the not-blonde perpetrator nodded chrisply. “The keys. Out of your pocket. Now!!!”
Time seemed slow, shallow and crippled fractures running movements that manage a different flow. The flickering tube above marked Tom as a target, no way out evident physically for an entry he clandestinely tries now unclamping himself apart to help himself stay grounded enough to combat them by pressing right footsteps before second making the backward push against much in demeanor that bargains.
“Sorry man…something’s telling me I can’t do that,” Tom stated before they could make it out.
The situation piles up in Tom…minutes of discomfort turns him scarier. He had solid belief their immediate plan was self-centred and devoid of conscious oversight from expected purpose guidelines in enforced power production that threatens all inclusive. But the downside now…instincts everywhere doubt dreams to reach fruition, not to speak of the dark room simplying secrets ones should never see or confront with obvious bullet shots crystalized and too real thereafter.
Without hesitation, they point the equipment of instruments heading straight for any position Tom held. Both men turned almost at once, one gasping twice while two lay dead in a pooling blood drop’s pattern around him as he straddled after closely containing still added lead escaping death by one that grazed his head, grazing him on the forehead in sheer disbelief.
Chapter 2 – “The Media Frenzy”
The morning after the diner incident, the Stall family’s house had become a media camp as reporters and journalists camped outside, waiting for a comment from Tom or his family. Kate had already called in sick at work for the day,, and Jack’s high school principal called to ask if he could skip school for a while until the situation sorted itself out. Tom almost wished he could do the same with his diner.
His first real call of the day was from Maria, a longtime customer who begged, “Please, Tom, I need coffee.” Tom deciphered the magazine details clearly when he pointed the church cross out of his suite’s window.
Jason Barnes, a small-town reporter for the local paper, Creole Canon, was already outside Tom’s door when he opened it; and before Tom could even get a good glance at him, he had stuck his opened pad and pen as if it were a microphone through the door crack. Tom decided he had reason enough to demand an explanation since Kate had instructed everyone to show their press credentials first, but Jason didn’t too cordial the same.
“Can we get an authorized account of the two villains who met justice at your hotel?” said Jason, attaching his camera bag without hesitation to himself as he switched to speak into an imposing voice to Tom, who bit down the surprise the production of Jason’s recognition for motioned confirmation.
“I already told the sheriff’s office everything I saw,” Tom calmly stated.
“We want to hear it from you, the man who stopped them,” Jason continued.
Tom noticed that a second person caught wind of the creole news boy shouting at him by Kate and came around to make his appreciation about it. Tom unmistakably stated, “I share your interest and concern, but I simply have the diner to open.”
Unfazed, Jason shadowed him as he walked back toward the diner, trying several other surrealist-like questions relevant to inquiry rather than real solicitations exploring possibilities. But Tom proceeded to follow along and ultimately gave just enough pedestrian detail-fresher opinions making the report in his competence preserve articles’ reason or die at its lens’ expense.
Inside the establishment, Edie Williams, Tom’s little worker regularly took Jim Pink, who was already ringing over Tom’s receptacle, he asked directly or secretly for child exploitation certification when yesterday’s criminal showdown broke into the police unit’s noise level in the average dining halls, “Christ, Tom. What the hell’s going on here?”
“They shot my assistant…” Tom started.
As much as the already scared customers who refused to come before the fray wanted coffee or tea no questions asked, the media’s insincerity demanded that Tracy Milligan, Ellery Merritt, Duriel Perkins, Wesley Lefaucheux, and Tim Dougherty would have no business speaking up about Jamie Lipton’s abuse sobbing grief in there anyways.
Chapter 3: “Recognizable Faces”
Tom opened his eyes, it was still dark outside, he reached out for his wife’s warmth but she wasn’t there, maybe downstairs in the kitchen, he thought.
He got up, put on his slippers, and walked down the stairs, the moonlight coming through the window made the shadows dance lazily on the wall.
As he stepped into the kitchen, he rubbed his eyes to adjust to the dim light and felt a headache coming on.
“Hey, hun, what are you doing?” Tom asked.
Lorna looked up from the envelope with furrowed brows, “Just going through some old pictures I found in the attic,” she replied motioning Tom to the chair next to her.
Tom sat down and took a sip of his coffee while they both gazed at the black and white pictures, mostly taken of a young Tom, a boy with a contagious smile on his face.
“This one’s from your baseball team, right? You’re the pitcher?”
“Yes, I remember this one. We lost the game, but it was fun being part of the team.”
“And this one, you look so handsome. When and where was this taken?”
“At a family reunion in Philly. You know, long before we moved here, it feels like another lifetime,” he trailed off.
The pictures reminded him of a time, long gone, a time when he was another person or so he’d convinced himself.
But now the past seemed to be catching up. Twice now someone from his past appeared out of nowhere in his life. The first time, when Carl came to his motel and now Richie following it up with their skirmish.
Tom hadn’t been able to pinpoint the events that lead to this, so he chose to ignore them. But it seemed to become more difficult to keep checking his feelings with Lorna’s curiosity getting heightened lately.
“I think I’m gonna call Jack over this weekend,” she said, handing the album over.
“Yeah, that sounds like a great idea,” Tom replied, putting the album away.
At Jack’s, Sunday morning, fresh coffee brewing filled his senses as Jack made their cups, bringing them over perched on the armrest of the fluffy couch placed adjacent to the panoramic window.
“So how’s dad feeling this week?” Jack asked, settling down.
Tom shrugged, “Normal routine, work-rest-work… all over again. He knows something’s off his routine.”
“Well,” Jack lowered his voice after checking on the door without a plan leading it, “I’m not sure if you noticed back then, but when the reporter confronted the old man at work with a gun holding him to kill himself and that stranger stopped him and knocked him out, it looked like he recognized dad.”
Tom rubbed his chin while he listened to Jack tell him what he’d figured out.
“And then that night, less than 24 hours later, a couple of stalkers caught him at home coming out of the shower and the neighbours distracted them by holding onto him, as Greg Olson had stated.”
“These are not coincidences, dad. They’re coming after you.”
“Going so far out for too long time as though nothing ever happened was only useful as past few murder incidents keep gnawing at him.” Tom realized it.
“I assure you, I will deal with that.”
Tom wanted to refuse whatever challenge meant harm on him or his own children if they still been threatened.
Jack realized he wasn’t making any further headway into the parts of his father’s past he refused to see when he comforted him on today’s incident as a no problem.
Their conversation ended like most things between them after realizing how much beats could divide age barriers. Maybe one day it’d be different but the promise had yet to fulfill.
Chapter 4 – “Gone Too Far Back”
The crisp sound of autumn leaves under Joan’s ankles echoes around the rugged gravel driveway as she makes her escape from her brother’s otherwise still house. Her brother Tom is on to better sand mites compared with their hometown. His whole house seemed bare on the inside, apart from a framed family photograph which she had stumbled into.
Joan continues to stroll down to the neighboring field, observing it until she notices something new sticks out.
A trailer park had fully yet quietly been plopped adjacent.
Curious like a cat, she enters through the shreds where she earns humming to herself followed by silence moments later.
Joan’s eyebrows rise. Somehow the silence was more telling than any sounds. It hits that the owners of the trailer’s new assembly were a boy about her age and the aged couple hanging about it a mile both before straying about.
The sound then finishes with the whisp of a pickup engine coming closer. Whoever was coming knew exactly where they were headed!
A few moments after, a jeep approaches. Joan instinctively starts running without looking back.
It wasn’t until Joan witnessed the lone hunter use an outdoor tap of what their well earned usages including the one using RV and someone who was likely another out for alcohol sales.
She strategically hid in the mold of pine and stone dirt only a whisk moment agile.
Watching them all stumble within, after agreeing on the beers were frozen solid, Joan would just laugh to herself occasionally.
Suddenly conscious of what kind of rowdy crowd the community sheltered, she hightailed it back, deciding to steer gently close to the trailers to hide if we ever ran into them.
We launched from those deeper principles, I’m certain.
It was how my childhood went forward in Millbrook.
Chapter 5: “Back in Philadelphia”
A looming sense of trepidation gripped Tom like a vice as the train he was riding slowed to a stop in Philadelphia. The bell from the station rattled up the aisle as he gathered his belongings and forced his feet into motion. The platform seemed dingier than he remembered with walls, peeling white tiles that had plainly survived years of dirt and grime. The saunter down Germantown Avenue was something Toms muscle memory had not yet forgotten. Born and bred in Philadelphia, he had roamed these streets a lifetime early on, and forced himself into frame from going into the same haunts in order to avoid any trouble.
Germantown was quiet for once that day, giving only the distant hum of passing cars to disturb the peace. Tom was amazed for the appearances of pretense of the trendy pubs that accepted all across Philadelphia now. Their bricks seemed entirely tame in contrast to the rough ice of Johnny’s Oysters where Tom had occasionally kept a low profile originally. Florentino’s classic on the TV gave him an intense longing for a bona fide city steak; considering his goal, then he couldn’t afford any lesser of that.
He finally found Max’s storied steak shop at 10 PM, having spent a few hours wandering with newfound gusto throughout some of the polished neighbourhoods. It was then still a quiet hour for the store – way earlier than Max himself emerged with enough brio towards demolish several seasoned hot bread connoisseurs. While Max sauntered toward the cooler of ravioli and had an amiable discourse about local sports happenings, he acted as if everything with Tom was all just regular procedure of his life.
Max said, “I hear you got a little boy now?”
Tom was taken aback that Max would have any interest in his life, but the encounter felt warm to him. “That’s right, Max.”
Max shrugged back, “My girls are out of college.” His nondescript shades hid a twinkle in his eyes as he then continued on, “Now I gotta let ’em work here for a year.”
Laughing heartily, they then rifled through examples of subterranean associations in their field that came and gone.
Not long after that close encounter, Tom’s senses were forcibly recalibrated with the arrival of Richie, looking disgusted at any sort of banal bull session, wearing his platinum-rimmed spectacles and violet necktie. He then launched into a bellowing interrogation like only he can. His unshaved face was a portrait of scorn as he accused: “Tom Stall… now that’s an interesting name,” as if reading it from Tom’s driver’s license to show off while enjoying the smirk from his two men who flanked him like support columns.
“What’s your business in Philadelphia Tom? … From Michigan of all places.”
Tom continued the ruse that he hadn’t left fullheartedly as one generally might if targeted by and subsequently develops a vendetta against Philly’s Irish gang, but Richie wasn’t buying it. Which was no surprise to Tom when he explained low-key that he’d been asked to settle concerns over a knot of small merchants on the far flung end of Shoemaker Street that had apparently got a little too mouthy–He hadn’t had the chance otherwise due to those ongoing issues since most of his attention would be focused splitting between the merchants and protecting himself.
“Mouthy?” Voice spiking, Richie leaned into Tom and his dirty wolf pack followed the upward sweep of elevators to Angelo, Zeke and Julian dragging their meat along through the front door. “Behind those shiny little eyes–whose are quite impressive, by the way–what are you thinking?”
Fortunately the butch team more or less blocked line-of-sight from Philly’s prescient hitman. Or maybe Richie genuinely like Tom and wanted to show restraint, who knows? After some extra chatting and an exaggerated show of taking a little tug of his jacket for a humorous jibe, Richie left Tom to his steak completely ruffled.
Chapter 6: “The Return”
Tom had barely slept the night before. The sound of the gunshots outside his house had left him on edge for hours, replaying the events over and over in his mind. He had thought he’s put all of it behind him. But somehow, the past had caught up to him yet again.
As he sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, his mind drifted back to those early days in Philadelphia. Back then, he went by a different name – Joey. He was a hitman for a powerful crime family, and he was good at it. Too good. But after a job went wrong and an innocent bystander was killed in the crossfire, Joey decided he had had enough. He packed up his bags, changed his name, and moved to a small town in Indiana to start a new life.
And for many years, that’s exactly what he did. He met Lila, got married, and had two children – Jack and Sarah. Together, they ran a diner, where Tom lived a simple and peaceful life. But it seems like that life was all just an illusion, and the past had reared its ugly head once again.
Tom’s brother, Richie, had shown up at his doorstep with the news that the Philly mob had found him. They had sent a couple of hitmen after him to make sure he hadn’t forgotten his old life. But how did they find him? Tom had been living under an assumed name, and he hadn’t spoken to anyone from Philly since he left. Richie had no answers either, but he suggested they pay a visit to an old friend for some info.
They got into Richie’s car and drove to the outskirts of town, where they stopped in front of a rundown motel. Richie got out of the car and walked over to Room 17. There was a flicker of recognition on his face as he knocked twice, paused and and then another knock. At hearing the bolts move behind the door, he locks arms with his brother.
The door creaks open, revealing an older man with a balding head standing before them. His skin was wrinkled and weathered, with a set of beady brown eyes that shifted back and forth between the two brothers.
“Carl,” Richie said, by way of greeting.
“Richie Barnes. I haven’t seen you in a long time,” Carl Fogarty replied, eyeing Richie warily.
Richie stepped forward and embraced the older man. “I hope you’re doing good. And we’re sorry for disturbing you.”
Fogarty shrugged. “It’s just another day. But why are you here ?”
Richie turned to face Tom. “Tom here needs your help. He’s got a bit of a situation going down.”
Fogarty looked Tom over and chuckled. “So you’re Joey,” he said, more to himself than Tom.
Tom gritted his teeth. He hated that name. “It’s been a long time, Fogarty,” he said, trying to keep his cool.
Fogarty leaned against the doorframe and took a drag on his cigarette. “Long time indeed. Last I heard of you, you were working for the Scarfo family. But that was a long time ago. And now, you’re in Indiana running a diner.”
Tom’s jaw clenched. How did he know all this?
Fogarty took another drag and blew it out in a cloud of smoke. “Let me guess. The Philly mob is looking for you.”
Tom felt a chill run down his spine. How did he know?
“You don’t get away that easy,” Fogarty continued. “They have a long memory. And they don’t like loose ends.”
Richie spoke up. “So, we want to know how they found him after so many years?”
Fogarty looked at them for a long moment. “I might have some idea.”
Tom’s eyes widened in surprise. “What do you mean?”
Fogarty took another drag and flicked the ashes onto the ground. “I still got some connections in the old neighborhood. And word on the street is that someone’s been asking questions about you. About Joey. So I did some digging, and I found out that your old boss, Scarfo, is out of prison. He’s been making the rounds, checking up on his old associates. And from what I hear, he’s not happy about losing a valuable asset like you.”
Tom felt his hands start to shake. Scarfo was one of the most ruthless bosses in Philly. If he was back, things were about to get a lot more complicated.
“We need to warn my family,” Tom said, already reaching for his phone.
Fogarty shook his head. “Don’t bother. Once Scarfo has his sights set, there’s nowhere to hide. The best thing you can do right now is lay low, let things cool off a bit. And hope for the best.”
Tom sighed. It was all too much. “What do I do now?”
Fogarty took another drag and looked at him over the rim of his glasses. “You rely on your instincts, Tom. You’ve survived this long without being caught. Just remember who you are: Tom Stall, diner owner. Forget about Joey. He’s gone.”
Richie patted his brother’s back in agreement. “He’s right, Tommy. It’s just a storm that’s gonna blow over.”
Tom nodded, but inside he knew it was much more than that. Scarfo and his men couldn’t just let it go. They wouldn’t rest until they found him. And this time, Tom wasn’t sure he would be able to outrun them.
Chapter 7: “Fight for Your Life”
Tom felt a wave of guilt and relief when he heard Kyle’s voice behind him. He swivelled around and came face to face with his assailant, who pointed a gun at him.
“Okay, don’t hurt my family – I get it, I really do,” Tom said, half-panting, struggling not to give in to the man’s demand. Kyle moved in to try to tackle the assailant, but the man was too quick and got his gun alive.
Tom didn’t have time to mourn his son’s bravery because he was struggling with his captor, who was only getting stronger as the seconds ticked away. Tom fought like his life depended on it, because it did. His unknown adversary was toying with him.
For a brief moment, Tom thought about drawing on his lengthy experience as a small town hero, but in his heart, he knew he didn’t have the best fallibility. It became clear to him at once that his opponent had extraordinary experience with firearms and close-quarters fighting as he broke away from Tom’s undisciplined grip on his armed hand.
Kyle, whose zeal to safeguard the only parent he had left betrayed him to emerge from his admirably hidden path behind the exhibition cuisines, split into intense changes in attention now between his concern for his family outside and anxiety in remaining cautious.
Round and around they went grappling, Tom thinking about Cindy. Then thundering chaos erupted when both were knocked down absurdly mimicking a meteor landed in the western part of the diner. They seized the attack back instantaneously from what most thought to be the apocalypse zombie two shaking unstable replica Maitre D parades from back where their hysterical Jimmy Hoffa appears.
Not for a nanosecond did fame retreat from his understanding even while escaping. He calls for Kyle and realizes he was separated too far way slipping up whatever plan he slightly allotted on that locker nearby to put it in reach as a subterfuge.
The fight continued unabated, each one gaining the upper hand and losing it just as easily. Tom was getting tired when he recognized the sound of a sheriff’s cruiser’s sirens coming closer. It spurred him on, galvanized him for one last try.
“Do myself a favour,” Tom breathed, already panting for breath again. “You’re making mistakes …”
The assailant grinned, the barrel of the gun dipping under Tom’s chin. “Really? ‘Cos it looks to me like you’re the one who made a mistake.”
-If only he could blow sirens, he did comment.
-“Wha-, now what the hell was that?”
The gun abruptly sagged, and Tom saw a trickle of blood surface on the man’s grim edge turning a grotesque but noticeable level of shock before falling backwards to unproductive end.
Tom spun to glance at his saviour, shaking it off a sudden misconception that it might be another night studded manifestation of professional killers or god knows what his own inherent primal response simmers on the surface off his real frustrations part reason because of its effect, he no longer trusts anything he sees out of the most limited sized and infirm perception, but rather from direct memory.
What he saw across the panicking street paraphernalia deposit checked the one alarming conclusion which soon hovers o’er his mind. Secrets behind bars aren’t the assumed garden, hearkening to at least a discreet or manageable sort of order he’s been leading lately whilst hoping all his criminal past would stay in hiding.
For an instance in green contemplation brought about plowing his open face, he glanced into a couple of the murdered adjusters’ eyes and recognised them instantly, those of paid militants in a Philly drug property firm designated Z/Zero Control that Jack had fed answers on to regarding dissolving Jake’s reputation as an underworld survivor whilst supposedly getting information for genuine Philly mobile federal judges (Prestat & Vogel) that denied contemplating Jack handled any kind of sensitive work when a cold notice of disapproval on performance projected from wrong calculations after Jack got Jack.
They resembled doiks looking the hole they may bury Jack in to receive perks for managing the situation and Sam saw’t, interjecting his forces tinker within the matter placing the nail into the coffin of Philly’s annoyingly inactive raw dump; telling them it was dope about time alliances open full Thicket.
Turning away from the delopes after determining they had accomplices unlikely to act nice or proper besides some bocks he couldn’t just catch like ribbons from under the rain, thoughts started darting back to realizing that Philly gothic style, from executing an execution in disguise to recruiting a successful businessman to securing their bosses like he did for Richie Barnes: one day anonymity, the next headline-grabbing catastrophic massacre.
He couldn’t risk going back to their residence, he couldn’t risk looking his wife in the eye, glancing longingly at mysterious shadow people for every single adult in his vivid blue-green field of vision offers less than zero sanctuary most of the times and is covered/in debt to enemies from practically two other continents; he couldn’t think of a future approaching anxiety that didn’t have him devouring himself alive involuntarily even though ordinarily drained from moving domestic skucks.
All he could do now was take unnecessary damage from worthless evil sharks or at least that’s what, he couldn’t wish or trade the dreams slipping into his isolated, dislodged logic signalling about over on himself.
The comfort he hadn’t divine lay on hushing Kyle’s gibberish spur that distorted his impartial instincts and approach of gauging dangerous acts from a balanced distance at maximum well then start a new pick-up line struggling once more to beat political boundaries by serving better in disguise.
Time to restart coursing his way using holes witnessed to black seals and should they emerge with more effective and efficient demonstration of these kill shots. Now he can reason to throw them mentally checkmate moments before undertaking dual moralistic policies he earned most of his living positioning out of large organizations’ violence detection sights primarily in Philly; he’s written his autobiography and didn’t have any false claims altogether insuring the next defenceless prey for shark terror to attain its macabre joy in this world.
Chapter 8: “Visiting Carl Fogarthy”
Tom sat quietly next to Sheriff Sam in the car heading north to East Louden where Joey’s deli sat. He wasn’t interested in going to Joey’s as he’d already warned his poor bastard of a brother, twice. Every warning applied there. Tom was trying to make peace with what he and Richie just talked about as the morning light poured through the windows of the car. It all felt like whirlwind decisions no matter how many times he thought about them.
“When Fogarty says he’ll chase you to the end of the world, he means it,” Sam broke the silence, the turning wheels of the car the only other sound forceful enough to cause any disturbance partially.
“I never quit the Philly mob, Sam. I quit that life,” Tom countered.
“I should have guessed from your tattoo on your arm. I find myself wondering if we can trust you.”
“I told that to another lawman a long time ago, who later decided to have me assassinated, Sam,” Tom replied half of his witfulness escaping. Tom rubbed his hands with such vigor which Sam read comfort from – but it was anything but.
Sam brought the car to a stop outside a pre-WWII trashy diner sheathed in a cracked chrome and black pieces who advertised malteds and fried chicken. Tom looked through the window at the empty 2 in 1 stables where meals stood earlier than he watched a weathered marbled sign over the door of the bakery that said “Joey’s Genuine Deli.” Sam borrowed Tom’s story and Joey helped him become a sheriff more easily, though Sam warned Joey to never let anyone behind the deli counter.
At the beginning, Joey ushered them back past the surplus cases of soft drinks, past the trailer frying pitton where a stage mother leaned in, just like in their childhood when the five Starr boys plunged their serrated knives into onions so rapier-fine squashed on truffle from Jersey.
“Hey, look who’s here!” Joey boasted raising both hands towards his brother while fully donned in the same decorative mask that falls partly shut to run sections of the side of a forehead.
Tom rolled his eyes de jour before saying, “Hey, good to be back, Joey,” extending his jaw uncomfortably as the brothers gave each other an awkward bro hug.
Joey looked past Tom to whom Sam was and looked suspicious until Sam handed Joey a picture of his pretty non-relation, asking about the mysterious demise of Ricotti earlier this week. Joey hoisted the magazine slightly with a damn interest in thanks with overstating how glad he was to advise authorities with something he deemed newsworthy, alleging alone and ahead. Always alone.
The sound out front, banging pots and pans together propelled them all towards a larger dining room, rigged up, likely for late-night options where regulars pit up every bus-stop, coffee-drinking coming in most.
There in a booth at the end, blinded from reflection, cradling a frothy flagon of beer lay Vinnie, head buzz shorn, as if he looked cleaner at Schaefer Western chrome.
Tom frightened just enough that the noise out front stepped down a level looked bushed seeing him in tuf as described by Vikki the coat warehouse master he dumped above the brine fields his entire body stunned into escape route; instead like a cheap liquor passing through unhappy bowels into the drain below the expressway serving Jersey and forcing him into a scream through shattered flesh; a cat’s howl.
Vinnie barreled out of the booth and leered back and forth between Tom and Sam, eyes bright white with spotting pupils; crazy ain′t playing well here’s any too clean things on their streets no light to hold anything up obvious even to the briefest darkness. Joey had already cut down most heated onions masking tea brined corned beef knowing what that means to Grampa as well the grilled seasoned beef sa.
“Jesus ” the only word popping out of Tom’s head.
“Don’t kill me! It was a made-man job. Nobody is alive who beats Karl out!” Vinnie bawled, swarming across the booth until Sam’s hand yanked at his shoulder suddenly pinned down like a wet noodle screaming.
“You don’t want to use up your favors with Karl Fogarty, child murderer.”
Tom grabbed at his head before flaking out completely, “…..hey I didn’t kill any kids.”
“Saw that gravestone paid for in Bellaire Cemetery ten years ago— Biker-kid couldn’t have been older than your little Joey here — it was Tracey’s hip they ID’d you… you with JCB, with Jack there,” Vinnie gasping for trying to match air around his and sweat beads desperate for mercy but fearful for tell-all —the point of a sword.
Apparently, the stall wasn’t as big as he thought. That’s all there’s to worry about right now.
Chapter 9: Cindy Becomes Concerned
Cindy watched Tom as he sat on the edge of the bed taking a drag from his cigarette. He’d only just managed to come home from the police custody yesterday, and he’d been drinking nonstop ever since, while she worried the whole day.
She crept nearer to him, trying to reach out to him submissively yet, when he shuffled back without having uttered anything. All were silent, though the ticking alarm clock on the bedside drawer persistently urged, Cindy to tug Tom’s attention to herself before Slone Creek glowed itself dead with sleep.
She wished he would tell her what was going on with him. But he thought she’d somehow construct criticism if he confided in her. Nativity were to blame, for Cindy wasn’t the sort to judge him for protecting his family; she’d do the same for him.
“Tom?” She rubbed his back gently.
Tom flinched, surprised by her touching his back. “Sorry,” he mumbled looking at her face.
“What’s happening with you?” Cindy gradually took one of her hands for his own.
Tom’s features slack except for a momentary suppressive flare at her query preceding his mumbling on again. “I just want you to stay safe.”
“I’m not the one getting attacked by town thugs and mobsters, Tom.” She gasped inhaling all the fumes from cigarette hanging between his lips.
“I just need to know– I just want you to know that I love you,” Tom adds without even looking into her glittering emerald gaze. Knowing Cindy, he was confident that once things died down, they’d mend their frayed bonds.
It felt nasty for Cindy as she placed her smooth palm on the bun on top of her head “I know, and I love you, Tom.” That said, she leant up fingering through his unkempt hair, and pulled him into a kiss. In a period of seconds, she exerted pressure on his mouth, and he reacted tight-lipped below. Soon after, the bedroom even overflowed with female groans when she climbed up leading him along until he collapsed downwards behind closed eyelids.
There, they made love to forget each other’s emptiness in vain attempts to wholly fill the void left behind with years of lust-despite.
“Good afternoon. I’m looking for Tom Stall.” Edie Williams, three-toned shining Jimmy Choo bag under her left arm entered her brand new reporter post to join Rosenthals while projecting her distinctive warmth.
“He’s in his officer,” informed Tom’s second-in-command, Kyle Williams. Women had brows of slightly different colorations being foster and natural ginger colors; Kyle was sprangle-bronzed.
“Thanks, kid.” Williams shimmies past them, barely noticing John’s rambling about where Samantha’d shoved the gym bags Stan awaited with an imperative wink the he’d begun guessing what she bought to himself. Welding the surprisingly not lock-tight guard door of pitch-black dim reception opened Edie down a long stormy ready of the law enforcement archives.
Though beneath the fluorescent rocks roof tile-replica, small video surveillance cameras have been skillfully planted in every corner of building and door-slots are modified ajar for detectable pictures from second-floor files instead of unsettling metal ones; plenty concern for trespassers or sometimes agitating manhandling clients that came by.
Not long after, there came a comfy peep-whistle screech when a metallic door covering led people through with universal lock-file their output flourished with wood-effect beige plain plastic tape of the better industry standard. Williams shunned gaze at Carmella Philips’s vibrant image plastered on Cold Slide Blanskey told her Chris Murray had called ahead to testify to his attendance.
“You’d better ask Phillips about that yourself.” But as she stepped in closer, she stumbled across David Brightling, a well-known forencizer from Ohio County coroner.
“Oh, pardon me. I thought…” But Williams was distracted as she accepted it for greeting she ought to give noticing only his metallic crease pattern of trouser “David Brightling?”
“Sheriff,” David spoke with a sudden foreign familiarity, but security through silence stating credibility, “A car found last evening off Polk Avenue, smaller print labelled GMC in silver.”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Williams.
David Brightling added,”Needless, they’re troubled with searches for suspected or released fugitives, pointed out just in case there, anyways.”
Chapter 10: “Joey Cusack”
The day started like any other day at the Cusack family restaurant. Joey had to calm down one of his usual rowdy customers who had a fight with his girlfriend over something insignificant. Once the couple had left the restaurant, Joey walked to his kitchen to see how his chefs were doing. They were making good progress in preparing the evening meals, but Joey had a nagging suspicion that he couldn’t shake off.
When he entered his small office located behind the kitchen, he saw an envelope on his table. The envelope had the letters “J.C.” written on it with a red lipstick, and it instantly made him feel uneasy. It was an unusual way to address him, and it wasn’t from the vendors or patrons. He handled the envelope with caution that was its cotton paper surface, and finding it lighter than he thought it might contain a safe box.
Joey dismissed the thought and then opened it carefully. He fished out a handwritten note; it read “Watch your brother’s diner, or he’ll watch you inside there with him, Cusack”. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He knew the last time Tom had bullets fly over him was in that place. He took a deep breath and gathered his team for a meeting.
As the meeting continued in his office, the staff could sense his agitation. Their first discussion point was Tom’s proximity to adverse elements of Philly, that he might be connected with them or otherwise could have offended them. During his explanation, more thoughts had formed to Joey’s benefit. He had forgotten the Columbus Day parade that happened a few months earlier, in which Jack had distributed fliers promoting his Capoeira class. One of the patrons happened to get his hand crushed into Jack’s diaphragm, a move that Jack thought was attention-worthy, bringing the latest challenger to the ring. This must be it or might that have led into something much more significant?
Joey wanted to go to the diner himself and talk to Tom but thought it might draw unwanted attention since he has a notorious reputation in Philly with his restaurant, since he let both good and bad through oversights or conspiring willingly. Thinking his wife could send Kyle, the arrogant, free-spirited waiter with an obvious lust for Cindy, Allie agreed with her husband and sent Kyle to Tom’s diner.
Kyle left, set on his quest, exuding an over-eagerness to greet the guy the whole town so frequently mentions as their guardian pure own ego drips down his sleeves. Allie felt better, finally able to catch the personnel breath since the day’s commencement. Yet pressure gave under her pious anchor to distrust the credibility of that assertion all piled up as concern for Tom’s wellbeing besieged her anxiety. The tension in her household had become quite palpable ever since Joe had a viscid reply to his visit to their restaurant.
Around noon, as business was running regularly, Kyle pulled up outside Tom’s diner. As he entered, the bell chimed that shook burgers off the grill in bursts. Tom sweating behind the counter who had no time to debate had scribbled just as Cyril had guided two decades ago with his notion of order in preparing an efficiently tender meat pie. Catching the smirk from Kyle, now unleashed, slovenly unwelcoming any shift into tradition, stormed back from indifference if ever shows up like something angered him.
Once he looked up and saw Kyle, his previous hesitation evaporated. They became close in prison after Tom’s double murder charges have shown a fallacy like his innocence statement though one that might have only looked wrong by promising Lance to keep him on the tight leash. Kyle may hate to admit the following sincerity, but his crime might have gone farther than what moral principles let him justify resulting in harming Tom’s family, thus wanting to aid him was including enhancing all repaying to sound innocent.
“Kyle, my man, how’s life treating you?” Tom said, flashing a warm smile that chanted forgiveness.
“Not too bad, especially now that I get to see heroes in action” joked Kyle, gesturing out the window towards the diner’s sign.
Tom laughed and explained the latest threats he’s facing. “I appreciate you coming here and talking with me about this, Kyle. Joe treated me poorly compared to our past troubles. I fear the worse after hearing vague threats over the radio frequency, you know?” Tom gathered himself, realizing the horrors of the situation after the lags were more open about their devastation once silenced by Pavlovian techniques.
“I don’t understand what’s transpiring, Tom. Do you think there’s something you’re not telling me?” Said Kyle while stopping, looking at something in surprise just outside the diner.
Distractedly, Tom answered: “Why would you think that? This isn’t just a response to recent events; it goes back quite a way,” He slowed as well now apprehensive about Kyle‘s surprise.“What is that?” Tom raises a quizzed brow at Kyle, already alarmed by just another flicker of Kyle.’s concerns.
“That’s Richie Barnes. I thought he looked funny” responded Kyle flat-out in a harsher voice than usual. Tom blanched as realization dawned, going paranoid with a whiplash that screams internally.
“We have to get out of here, we’ll go out of site through the back route,” Tom whispered. Kyle and Tom hurried away as they observed Richard standing still near numerous garbage trucks.
Outside, Cusack’s chefs bustled around bus stands to lose speed up their approaches moving stuff down to the packed alley streets on. Cutting out from plain sight avoided since Joey himself met with Barnes recently. And they had not been taking measurements reminiscing the old times something dangerous had developed let’s go cautioned in their urgency.
Chapter 11: Richie Barnes
Tom knew Richie Barnes was a bad apple as soon as he returned to the motel room, and the moment he saw his hometown hitman, he knew there was trouble. Barnes looked just the same as he had twenty years before, barely aging since his days under Philadelphia’s head clean-up guy, Mark Thibodeaux’s power. Thin, angular in the cheekbones, with flesh only soft enough to be so hard after being tortured by years of drug abuse.
“What do you know about Richie Barnes?” Tom asked.
“I’m afraid I don’t know too much about him,” Fogarty replied, sitting well inside the room’s shadows. “Except that he works directly under Thibodeaux. Any kills Thibodeaux needs doing, Richie Barnes does. The reason why he’s here with you, though, I haven’t puzzled out yet.”
It was Colt who explained that Richie Barnes had been found choking on his own vomit right on Main Street, a mere mile from Tom and Cindy’s country home. Colt was walking out of his place, and when turning his attention to the screeching car, he pulled Barnes over to roll him out from his dangerous choking. They rushed Barnes to the Stalls’ diner’s restroom, where Sammy looked after him.
Despite everything, Tom thought he’d done everything right by cutting Barnes’ oxygen off while choking him with the front buckle, knowing though Barnes would never want to set foot in Tom Stall’s Life station again, or at least, that’s what he thought.
However, against his will, Tom was unable to shake the nagging thought that something else was going on, something that neither he nor the law or pressing media had a clue about.
It was that Tuesday, where Hogan had reverted to cleaning up in the back saying how week-nights are a bore and Rusty felt energized to give Olivia blissful cuddles on Tom’s couch feeling pumped with newfound courage in his predicament.
Though he appreciated his cadet’s firm belief in living let live-at all costs, Tom could clearly feel the tears thirst behind the dried exterior from every member of his courageous cabinet due to their neverending sympathy.
He wished he could settle inside with them and make wrong-right alongside everyone else, maybe be softer for Elliot next time, softly stroking Chloe, reaching out to sign “I love you” to her.
Every person in Millsboro, it seemed, had advised Tom to blow out and live since his showdown with Barnes-nothing more than punk thugs who wanted to betray a local hero having rightfully reclaimed breakfast joints and instated early curfews. Even the trauma felt half-cleared with the long-awaited local pancake house business, so flourishing one week later everyone scrubbing for more seats, more menus in office hours, or more toppings on fluffy hot pancakes that dotted Stalls’ diner daily during rushes.
But at night, even in his happy shelter, Tom understood there was still-very much still-an occluded panorama ahead-a scene he could have couldn’t see more than Philadelphia but wished were not present in his head like an end-of-year pinprick that lingers even past fruition time.
Chapter 12: Raid
Tom’s research led Sheriff Sam to the warehouse where the Philadelphia mobsters were holding Joe, the pizzeria waiter.The Stall family and the Fogarty mob watched as the Special Tactical Law Enforcement Team (STLET) finalizes its inspection and prepares its goals for storming the operation out of hostility saved to Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands,” while in town an alternative hostage drama plays.
Tom knew it was hands down to surrender, but the law officers had struggled to include or break through the thick plus steel doors.
The first man in the lineup cuffs over wires and takes turns diving across one, with a black-and-tan dog launch behind. After the other officers follow gathering and enlarging that point to ram it over making it budgeless, Sam called from his sergeant’s truck that he is contacted to crash.Bashed numb in the convoy besides, Tom carries his pulse revving up 10 bpm every burst of sound overflowing from the site, and soon enough pieces of timber, scattering tires escape tossing them into a disarray havoc unlike ever seen by kindly neighbours.
They lit out from behind bruised blunders to dictate the spectrum at the quest’s cavernous basins, someone even collapses his assault rifle suit on Barney Dog trying to spare him from gory hits continuously tear forwarding them, the human scent not impacting paw judgments on Tom’s faithful companion giving hefty heart attacks, he eventually outdrew his boundaries when needed.
Hands and legs are up everywhere save Tom crawling forward in order to thump his body bulking on a fallen Mobster as Sam takes care to make sure everyone is firm and stable.
Three more picked tom with wire whips before smashing him from crates to wall to cause pre-commandedly nuisance which embed his training and compels.
Breathless and cuffed Tom inquires what and who their associates are notifying relating to chaos who perform past such things only offers resolve within the FBI jurisdiction while nodding to Scars Percy in his fall that only does significant exploration of him.
Right then and there he heard Fogarty call his name, asking him rather politely if he relished in the way he feared then shot
“Adam?” says Fogati.
That startling one sound releases all the anxious thoughts inevitably arranged stuck forever at the backside of Tom’s consolidated DNA; suddenly he realizes that now what he held close as possibilities so then backpedals the chances to analyze what Philly is holding onto as prized possessions in this raid played along by both victims for beneficial advantage and either one of the sides further refuting the sentence extension.
Shocked, Tom doesn’t speak up, only holds the eye contact longer than he expected as he meditates his vow to handle whatever problem related situation there exists; like an illusion in a single burst of silence, he just rests back with his rebounding ghostly limply covered by four men caught for charges disembodying a little serf on each hand..
Chapter 13: “Bad Plan”
The tense environment went into further turmoil as the week rolled on after Tom’s abduction – a testament to the alarming status quo of Millbrook town folk. Everyone walking around seems frantic or unnerving, but no one more so than the home-along Cindy.
Suspecting her of having told Philadelphia’s mob about her husband, she assumed every sound was as foreboding as it probably was. Cindy hasn’t left Tom’s side, worrying either further the paranoia.
The surveillance on Tom had gone to greater lengths that no one outside of the scope could be privy to both specifics gathered or their purpose. Everyone under some kind of ulterior watchful eyes makes conversations difficult – whispers, and last minute check-ins — what if someone is listening or came hearing?
Sheriff Sam tried his very best to maintain calm, pretend nothing has changed, that tensions weren’t elevated, but his deputy’s unrest made it quite impossible not to sense. Ever since Tom’s abduction, he has stopped driving into Millbrook; instead, old unregistered cars sluggishly pull up any time and drive off a few minutes later. It all got so personal, almost exclusive — Like Sharon Ryker waiting by the shelves in his souvenir shop for something longer than usual – sensitive cases weren’t abundant in Millbrook, and reporters flocked no more, Sal assured himself.
As strange as everyone else’s story starts, contrasting to their present life, no one missed a mark when compared to Tom Stall’s blazing baggage. The house becomes a secure hold — known only for the fifteen miles of bumpy gravel road leading up to itself. When Tom’s subconscious flares it’s addiction that moments read with his local produce makes memories bug him like an itch again. Actively engaging in hunting, clearing forest land was the thing they did he begins to lust but former voices accuse trying for civilization in his mind sounded distant. Those moments were usually of intense self-loathing admitted no rational plan shall tax his senses. Hypocrisy reflected as he attempts to pull himself in opposite directions. This shallowly placed comforting principle returns us to his predicament of execution or watching another kill his spouse.
Suicidal tendency mixed earnest ferocity make plans forms rooted ground. Jack being the only other one informed questions Mark Rickus on collateral reasons behind his present employers. Jack believes from reading among friends in Philadelphia that too many spoons can’t kill the skittish brute he fought on multiple occasions at first dig but Rickus scamped away terrified each time. Mark responding under condition to pay for early-toll secrecy can punch greater dents where Tom and Kyle could intercept.
With bated breaths while occupying the police cruiser, they see former executive members feature on surveillance, left to rot scorned criminally cut from the successful society unit that got away stifling law operations. Initially passionate about wanting to coordinate a redemption he feels discernment curbing full movements. Exhausted at the point of drifting off — trying for energy checkpoints and deciding on an arbitrary parking lot, should sleep catch-up with him, Kyle found the idea tempting to attend unsolicited-for invitations. Witnessing Rickus pull up alone in his car moments later made the prospect disappear into uncertainty.
Illustrating toward difficulty he prepared mock punches Ryan Baxter deemed dissatisfying outcome after complaint unless up on those in Philadelphia had action able to shake legit terror out of someone Tom saw on TV as a weed smoking high school student but gained firepower wound team defection. Utter resource wastes under the commitment of satisfaction, drawing Todd Heargraves tonight above boarded realty vacant range – restrained by his passions reflected between swinging.
Over wearing noisy and polluting industrial District nerves increasingly beginning to feel weary over non-witness psychological damage similar day worries unfishin-clumps rattling considering stopping Kyle making unnecessary detours to avoid fans already unaware to new directions. Expanding stakes then bind each misguided guilty party, centering around getting Tom any evidence that could pry the mob from leeching.
Chapter 14: Endings and Beginnings
Tom had always thought he had left the violent past behind him. Yet here he was, forced to confront it again. Everything had been falling apart around him, but now he had made a plan to protect the only thing that mattered to him – his family.
He made a call to Bobby, an old acquaintance of his who was still connected to the Philadelphia mob. Bobby promised to get Tom a meeting with Rocco Castellano, the new boss in Philadelphia who was now inviting old-time associates to come home.
Tom arrived at the airport with Bobby, feeling eerily like he was stepping back in time. The smell of Jet-A fumes and sound of rolling luggage on the concourse. New security measures made everything more complicated, but before long, they were both in a cab heading into the city.
After a brief stop at a roadside security checkpoint, Tom and Bobby were dropped off outside an inconspicuous southern row home. Inside, Rocco was waiting. The man showed great political ambition and confidence that sickened Tom.
As expected, Rocco started the meeting by saying that although another worker in Pittsburgh had gone far beyond orders and threatened Tom’s family, he was willing to move past that and offer Tom a position in the organization that would guarantee his safety.
“I just need to know that you’d be willing to cooperate with me as I move against other bosses,” Rocco insisted.
Tom was disgusted. “You want me to be your hitman, the one who’ll do the dirty work?”
Rocco was taken aback. Tom quickly moved to get Rocco back on his heels.
“You’re making your own bed here, don’t make me help bury you in it!” Tom threatened.
As angry as he was, however, he knew he had a chance here- his family’s lives. He exhaled and turned calmer.
“Maybe there’s a way I can help stop this bloodbath from the not so bloody side, without combat,” Tom reasoned.
Rocco considered the offer for a moment, rubbing his thumb against two fingers – a popular Italian gesture. “Interesting,” Rocco murmured, “may have promise…” Tom stifled his sigh, holding his mask again.
Tom realized he had never stopped acting. It was becoming clearer to him that after so many years in Millbrook trying to be Vaughn, the killer inside had started emulating that typical American persona.
Tom and Bobby left the brownstone together. Once in the cab, a smiling Bobby slapped Tom’s knee and ranted his thanks to him for remembering old favours – using the case of a returning chance to avenge his father’s mutilation.
Tom merely let out a fake laugh and whispered lowly, “We’re not done here, Bobby.”
Later that week, standing in the doorway of his quiet diners office, Tom sighed again. His worries stacked, stumbling over each other to watch. He shouldn’t be comfortable, in this kitchen since now there may still be machinated changes in security.
Suddenly nagging thoughts echoed every hiding ear, warning of his corrupt stature but forcing him to ignore them for what is right to preserve, as Jackie insisted Egidio’s grand appearance earlier warned. He dreaded the upcoming family meeting he’d scheduled that day, they’ll never forgive him demanding further secrecy, secrecy that he had managed to put himself in.
In the days following his visit to Philly, Tom took more risks that shook his depleting sense he has left gushing down hills like a waterfalls scenic picture. He knew he wouldn’t be given leniency. Nineteen years of withdrawal were as irrelevant as a turn of the song was to him, now knowing everything that had piled was descending speedily in the unwitnessed long building plot showing that leaving all his worst archaisms behind wasn’t that obvious.
The assailants had sent to catch Tom off guard made Sherriff Sam a distressed breather breathless-would watch nervously through the window while at rest. A night had been spent making pipe bombs, booby traps in every conceivable location surrounding the house. Tom wouldn’t rest until everything had been set.
The neighbors furtively accuse them of having vengeance plans. Fogarty is the cause behind with a weird bond to Tom yet has nothing worth giving to those moments except nicknames and insinuations that hung way more noir than necessary in that awkward suitcase overstayed in the visitors room.
Cindy was one of the only people coming to terms with Tom’s involvement as the defender for their family, however it troubled her no longer could she suppress the overwhelming thoughts of the change in him, the way he looked at other people, as if sizing them up in his primal primarche drives.
As everybody takes position, other observing made diligently wherever additional heads seek satisfaction but Tom takes no careful criteria assigning only vigilance a replacement that wears him constantly down. The prolonged burden of recurring fears within him, this would have kept them prepared whatever form of avalanche threatens to invade.
Three in the morning sets crimson prediction wandering the mind. But as the silent and scattered moment consumed them Tom begins to feel solace take over the burden, safeguard intact.
As threatening conflict faces him from each direction, there was always one reality Tom knew was solid – and that was his family.
Chapter 15 – The Cover
The sun had just started to set over the peaceful little town of Millbrook. On some occasion, within the silence, down the length of the dusty, empty town lines, a faint, subtle movement might be glimpsed, as evidence passed from person to person. The town was entirely silent. The inhabitants that had survived what would forever be engraved in their memory began the slow process of restoration. They appeared individually, keeping their distance from one another.
Amidst the dozens of traumatized thanatory households seeking both clinical care and mental rehabilitation was one house that was different from the others. Tom Stall and his family vacated the wooden and gentle-looking home on Raspberry Lane, moving their assets to a far of location, somewhere that they could trade feelings for new friends and steer clear of hostility.
The killers that used to the men from the Irish Mob might be continuing their search for Tom Stall, but they wouldn’t be able to find him there, at least not for a long time.
He had managed to rescue himself from their needless dedication, from the pointless repetitions of savage fantasies and made his way through the various videos and moving displays viewed from his hard labor.
Items back in order, blood was gone, and they were cleansed as much as possible. Under the guidance of a business persona and two local cops, the insurance adjusters lost interest in going through any rigorous checks of the house.
Now all there was left for Tom Stall, his wife Edie, and their children, Jack and Sarah, was to start anew. They had witnessed far too much abomination to be at peace here.
The memories of both the lives he had trapped, and the lives he had divinely fostered swirled him under, barely offering even false validation to either life. It was one of the many things crawling around, bobbing in his emotions, urging them upwards, all the way from the days at the bar to the crazy mob killing he perpetrated.
He felt Edie’s hand in his, squeezing gently, inviting him forward, inviting him on. She didn’t have time to ask if he was fine or struggle for squal very believing of her; she was satisfied that he only wanted something that will entirely still him rather than filling him with all emotions like before — things he never felt comfortable with before the craziness.
“I want to put up a bookstore,” he murmured quietly as he caught up with Edie. “Even without having to oversee things, I could run the shop, assist with the books, sit behind a desk during quiet times.”
Edie felt him calm down — comprehending his own true resolutions after all he’d gone through; felt a familiar connection return from the past which always rotated her own anticipations relating to what was ahead of her.
“Alright,” she said, a gentle facsimile of her usual mercy wearing down Tom’s earlier reminder of odd whispers souring her mind before they moved out there.
“I’ll support that. We’ve been customers at so many wonderful deal-all bookstores over the years, so it’ll come naturally to us.”
They tacitly continued treading softly until they arrived at the four-by-four charming station wagon that barely made it to cutting-edge complicit fulfillment. Jack Stall, sensing the impulse of Adie’s hand departure, turns around the hearth and greets the couple launching a legal grip regaling the reassurance he’s pleased to have come up for now.
Sarah Stall hurried around from inside the vehicle and detected a budding smile rest on the side of her lips as she gave Tom and Adie a weightless grunt, considering there are mountains of ways, plentiful departures that founded the trip to memorable or life-solving persuasion, but a complete apology to entreat them was far off the table for the tight family sphere that seemed so ample — safe behind her parents’ embrace. Gripping his suitcase, Tom senses remunerated approbation while loading the land of their family members who were seemingly hidden here.
Some scenes from the A.I. movie A History of Violence
Title: The Diner
EXT. SMALL TOWN DINER – MORNING
The sun is just starting to rise, illuminating the small diner on the edge of the town. The diner looks like it’s been there for ages, with a bit of a rustic feel to the building.
INT. SMALL TOWN DINER – MORNING
Tom Stall, the owner of the diner, is behind the counter wiping it down with a rag. He’s a middle-aged man with a kindly face, and he looks like he’s been serving food and coffee for longer than he could remember. A few customers are scattered throughout the diner as Tom pours some coffee for one of them.
A group of young men in leather jackets come in and take a booth at the corner of the diner. They look like they’re up to no good. Tom watches them with a friendly, but careful eye.
One of the young men, RITCHIE, gets up and heads to the men’s room. Tom sees the other men start to pull out guns and realizes what’s probably about to happen.
In one swift motion, Tom grabs a coffee pot and heads out to confront the band of robbers.
Get outta here before ya do something stupid.
The men turn to face Tom and raise their guns, but Tom doesn’t show an ounce of fear. Suddenly, the men all feel humbled as they catch the look in Tom’s eye.
RITCHIE returns from the bathroom and sees what’s going on. Momentarily stunned, he hangs back for fear of getting involved. The robbers roughly pull the customers up from their booths as shields.
The standoff continues until one of the robbers makes a sudden movement. Instilling fear inside him, Tom knocks the gun out of his hand with an asserive move onto his head.
PAN down to reveal a growing pool of blood under the body.
FADE TO BLACK.
EXT. THE STALL FAMILY HOUSE – NIGHT
Snow falls on the dark streets of Millbrook as Jack walks Kim, their dog, towards his house. As they enter the driveway, Jack glances up at the second-floor window, judging instinctively his parents were absent.
INT. THE STALL FAMILY HOUSE – KITCHEN – NIGHT
Upstairs, Peggy stalls away as Jack noisily tropes in.
I took Kim for a walk. Patricia caught her.
She loves your dog. Did you meet up with the Farlows?
Kristen didn’t show, Rudy wasn’t impressed that you skipped off
Fluttering around at the recent news of gang violations have kept Patriicia worried I didn’t belive his ferocious talks threatened our family, anyways ignore them.
In a synchronicity of regret, Jack offers no comment.
Dad locks up the place tighter than enough. Where are they now? Ice storm warning’s coming.
Felt a drink this would go smoothly. All having their share if you needed the brandy, Jack.
Laughing too hard will make me talk too straight. An excuse for safekeeping lies on TV screen, I guess.
Saying this, Jack walks to the living room and deftly operates the expensive audio system Hank secretly bought as a birthday gift to Tom. As dramatic classical fills the house, Jack transforms slowly behind the couch en masse.
INT. TOM’S HOUSE – NIGHT
Tom sits alone in his living room, staring at the wall. He looks beat, and a little worried. Edie enters the room carrying a bowl of popcorn and tries to light up the atmosphere.
EDIE: Want some company?
TOM: Edie, I love you, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea right now.
Edie is definitely taken aback. Tom senses this and tries to explain.
TOM: This whole mess has just got my head spinning. I’ve got a wife who’s happy that I killed people when we started going out, and a brother making deals with mafias back in town.
Edie is bewildered, angry but staggeringly, mostly buys an olive in silence.
EDIE: You told me everything was okay.
TOM: It is, just not right now.
Edie seems so upset, insisting that he oughtn’t to act so transparent with her. Tom nods, holds her arms.
TOM: I’m always concerned about you, which is why we can discuss anything about anything that concerns us.
She nods, backing down from the beginning scenario with exceptional kindness on her sleeve. Tom gently embraces her before releasing, standing up and starting for the kitchen.
EDIE: (yells after him) You owe me for watching that boring movie, though!
Tom chuckles, and we can see, with no mistaking it, that he adores Edie.
INT. TOM’S DINER – DAY
Tom stands at the counter polishing his worn-out coffee maker.
Eddie enters the diner, brandishing the news clippings of Tom’s heroism and an eager smile. Eddie holds the newspaper open to its front page for Tom to recognize his face but Tom doesn’t reciprocate Eddie’s excitement.
Eddie takes the dry reaction poorly and pulls the newspaper off the counter, announcing that he’s going to a more sociable place. Frustrated, Tom throws the coffee maker rag in the dirty-clothes bin and exits out the door.
OUTSIDE TOM’S DINER, CONTINUOUS
Tom steps outside in time to witness two convicts carrying pistols walk by at a rate so quick Tom didn’t have time to lock the breezeway screen of the cafe.
INT. TOM’S DINER – LATER
Tom, at the end of his workday, checks that his movements have been detected by his trustworthy assistant the whole time he walked by the window. But, recalling the hazardous situation with armed traders just hours earlier and receiving harassing news clippings earlier, he begins to experience an inexplicable sense of vividness and assurance.
Tom sets the garbage on its container along with his old beige Kangol speed wicking hat which adds a touch of cool to preserve his status.
He locks the deadbolt and emerges from the passenger’s seat of his 1989 Buick Station Wagon, emerging to cautionary sights and secrets that implies may follow he and his family longer than expected.
INT. LAW FIRM – DAY
Marie sits down across from her lawyer, Sheila.
MCallister sits with his lawyer, a slimy man named, Tanner.
MARIE: “So what happens now?”
SHEILA: “Now we wait for the verdict. The prosecution thinks they can prove your husband guilty beyond reasonable doubt. We have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
TANNER: “You know you have no defense, Jessup. If you take a plea deal–“
MCallister slams his hand down on the table, cutting Tanner off.
MCALLISTER: “There is no deal. I won’t confess to something I didn’t do.”
Marie speaks for the first time since they arrived at the firm, tears stinging her eyes.
MARIE: “He’s innocent. You have to believe me.”
SHEILA: “We do believe you, Marie. And based on the facts, I agree that this could all just have been self-defense. But the prosecution is going to use your past to make it personal.”
MCallister clenches his jaw, anger seething out of him.
MCALLISTER: “My past is none of their damn business.”
SHEILA: “It’ll become a part of the judge’s and jury’s deciding factors if it gets to that.”
Marie squeezes her husband’s hand under the table, her touch calming him down.
MARIE: “Whatever we have to do to keep him out of prison, we will do.”
Sheila nods, jotting something down on her notepad.
SHEILA: “Good. Then let’s get everything in order before the trial.”
INT. PHILLIES PUB – NIGHT
In an upscale bar, Laura is sitting on a stool, scrolling through her phone with boredom. Her friend Kevin suddenly appears by her side.
KEVIN: (slapping a hand on her back) Hey!
LAURA: (smiling) Hi, what’s up?
Kevin warmly greets the BARTENDER, who hands him a beer.
KEVIN: Business idea. Online greeting cards
LAURA: That’s your genius idea?
KEVIN: We start by targeting millennials. The online platforms will offer sentimental designs, images, and messages. Personalized by country or occasion, and you can make it special.
LAURA: Tell me something I haven’t heard already.
Kevin falls silent, taking a big gulp from his beer.
LAURA: Have you heard from Danny?
KEVIN: No. This is my COVID 19 mate which could make you like a punching bag.
LAURA: Yeah, he’s strangely quiet, making me wonder if he’s ghosted you.
KEVIN: (shakes his head) Nah, you know Danny — he’s just busy, kicked off with final year of college in Columbia.
A very short-haired BARMAID offers them a drink menu.
KEVIN: I need something with bubbles!
LAURA: Water and lime will do for me.
A giggling clatter catches their attention, Shane and Tom veering towards them. Kevin grinning.
KEVIN: Tom Sharpe, how is it going?
The men exchanged greetings, and then there was silence as each one, like awkward strangers on a first date, begins sizing up the other.