It was six hours before the police arrived and found Celia in the wine cellar. She heard the police pull up to house and making a lot of noise as they searched the house. With a rag, she whipped her finger prints off her gun and stashed it under a bottle in wine rack. Then cleaned the powder burns off her hands removing any evidence that she did anything other than hide in the basement. Despite the presence of the police she remained in the cellar and waited, knowing that eventually they will find her, but she hoped that they would leave without her and she could remain alone. She listened closely to all of the noises the police made. Most of it was random banging that was ambiguous and didn’t tell her anything. She just wanted to hear any sign that her father might still be alive, but she knew that he wasn’t coming back. He was dead and that was for sure. By this time, she was no longer sad, or at least that is what she was telling herself. Instead she let anger consume her. Although she didn’t scream, curse, or show any emotions. She kept it all on the inside as a smoldering fire. All she wanted to do was find the men who killed her father and kill them. She didn’t know where to start or how she was going to do it, she just wanted make them suffer, gain some closure or whatever was necessary to flip that switch in her head so that she could stop feeling pain.
When the police found her and pulled her out of the basement, she acted like a zombie and did everything that they told her to. She didn’t know what they were going to do to her or if they were going to help her. She just complied with them to see where it would take her. Still shaken up she replayed her father’s death in head over and over and thought about the thousand different possibilities that could have happened that could have prevented it. How she could have saved his life or how he could have survived. She thought about how she could have spent the day today with him still alive. All of this felt like a dream and she knew it was all too real.
* * *
When they brought her back to the station they gave her some clothes that they had lying around. They smelled musty and didn’t fit her well. The they brought her into a brightly lit room with no windows or even a mirror. There was just a table, two chairs, and cold white walls. They gave her glass of water that was dirty. She only took one sip to keep herself hydrated, but wouldn’t drink more.
There were three of them in the room as she sat silently.
“You’re Celia Ines Morto, right?”
“My name is Alfredo, this is officer Maximiliano and officer Eleuterio. We want to help you.”
She didn’t say a thing.
“Your home was attacked last night and your father Donato Morto was murdered.”
She looked up to him and made eye contact.
“We want to help you and find the people who did this. Are you willing to answer some of our questions?”
At first she considered not responding, but after several seconds she slowly nodded her head.
“Can you tell us what happened? How did the attack unfold? And What did you see?”
“Well you’re detectives, right? It shouldn’t be difficult for you to tell how many there was, what kind of guns they used, what kind of shoes they wore, where they stepped and who they were. You’re all smarter than me and could probably piece together the attack better than I can.”
All three of them looked at each other and were taken back, not knowing how to react. Officer Eleuterio however wasn’t as phased. Slamming his hand on the table he yelled back at her.
“Listen to me! Stop giving us this sass and corporate with us! Now tell us what happened.”
Celia didn’t flinch.
Alfredo grabbed Eleuterio and pulled him back, “Hey, calm down, she just doesn’t know what is going on.”
He turned back to her and replied, “You give us more credit than we deserve. Honestly, we have little to no evidence to work on. We need you to tell us all that you can about what happened last night.”
“My dad killed at least four of them,” Celia rolled her eyes. “You can tell from their bodies that they were Yakuza, you can tell what caliber bullet and gun they used by the empty shells on the ground, and if you lift their shoe prints you can follow them through the house.”
“Really, you think it’s that easy?” Eleuterio was still annoyed. “Your house was in flames when we arrived, and the only body we found was you father’s”
“Wait, you said they were Yakuza and your father killed four of them?” Asked Alfredo. “What exactly kind of work did your father do?”
“And don’t lie to us,” Officer Maximiliano stepped forward. “We found a small armory in your house, and several high caliber firearms stashed throughout your house, hell there was a shooting range in the basement. What kind of family are you?”
Suddenly regretting everything she ever said, Celia made the decision to never open her mouth ever again.
Officer Eleuterio paced around the room feeling frustrated. “Do you think it’s easy being a police officer? We get paid minimum wage to risk our lives every day on the streets of Rio having to manage the thousands of gang members that want to kill us. I have no reason to give a shit about you or you dick head father.”
“The silent treatment is not going to help at all. We can arrest you. Living in that house with all of those firearms like you did, is reason enough for us to send to send you prison,” said Officer Maximiliano.
The festering anger returned as Celia balled her hands into fists. In her head she debated which one to take down first. Eleuterio was most likely to be hostile, but his rage would be his down fall, clouding his judgement. Alfredo seemed like the most calm and collected, they are always the most difficult to fight. She figured that if she were to attack that she would have two seconds to pin Alfredo to the wall and punch him in the throat, giving her thirty seconds to take out the other two, before he got back up. However he was standing in the middle with Eleuterio on his right and Maximiliano on his left. She could pick up her chair and whack Maximiliano in the head first, but then she would run the risk of Eleuterio pulling out his gun. At which point she could take the risk of relying on her reflexes to move fast enough to get close to him and disarm him or she could use Maximiliano as a human shield. However, that would postpone her from being able to attack Alfredo, who could easily take out her feet and bring her down to the floor, since her range of movement would be limited by having to hold onto Eleuterio. They had numbers, weapons and the home field advantage over her. She needed something to even the playing field. With it being a windowless room, turning off the lights seem like a beneficial option. However, the light switch was behind the three of them. There was also the riskiest option of flipping the table and throwing the chair at the lights, but she would have to dodge falling glass and had no way of predicting how the three of them would react. There would not be any way for her to plan her attacks, she would have to act completely improvise. Having to rely on her ears to tell where the cops were. Then would risk the possibility of tripping over something and seriously injuring herself. After all of this she would still have to walk through the police station and she didn’t have confidence in the odds that she could leave without being stopped.
Before she could decide, the door swung open and a panicking officer entered. “Men, we have fire and riot at the gym on Ataulfo de Paiva, we have to go!”
“Shit! Max, Ele go now! I’ll stay here and finish up with her!” Alfredo commanded.
“But wait…” Maximiliano stalled.
“They are shooting, we need everyone over there now!” yelled the officer as he ran out and the other two officers followed him. Leaving Celia alone with Alfredo.
“Damn, that was poorly timed,” he rubbed his beard stubble before turning his attention back to Celia. “You’re not off the hook. I still want my answers.”
“Are you sure? That sounded pretty urgent,” she remained calm despite knowing what was going to happen next.
“We have more than enough officers to contain whatever is going on. I still want you to tell me what your father was doing that caused gang members to attack your home.”
The door swung open again and a curvy woman with long black hair wearing red dress and dark sunglasses.
“What the hell…” Alfredo stopped midsentence as he turned around and stood face to face with her. “Who are you?”
Officer Alfredo lied on the ground gasping for are as the two of the walked out of the room.
“Where have you been, Teresa?” Celia asked as they walked through the police office.
“I would have prevented the police from taking you in, but I was out of the country,” Teresa stopped walking halfway through the nearly empty station before turning around and hugging Celia for an uncomfortably long time. Although the hug didn’t feel warm, but instead cold. “I’m sorry for what happened to your father. He was a major loss to me as well as you.”
“Can you just get me out of here?” Celia held her tears in as she pushed Teresa off her.
“Right I have a limo waiting for us outside.”
It wasn’t long after they got into the limousine that Celia couldn’t holding in her emotions in much longer and broke down into tears. She wasn’t crying for her father anymore, now she was crying for herself, because she was overwhelmed by the uncertainty of her future. Everything that she had ever known has changed and she didn’t know what to do.
“Don’t cry, I’ll take care of you,” Teresa didn’t show much concern.
“No, I don’t want you to,” Celia had a hard time talking through the tears.
“Control yourself, you need to have a clear mind for what’s coming next,” there was a third person in the limo.
Celia wiped away her tears, she looked up and saw a Thai woman in a green pantsuit. She looked nice and neat, but wore a little bit more make up than necessary.
“Celia, this is Tangkwa Chatthapong, she is a new business partner of mine,” Teresa introduced her. “She’s is what one could call a liaison for certain Asian organizations.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Several red flags were raised in Celia’s head. “Is she involved with the men that murdered my father?!” Celia considered grabbing a wine bottle from the bar and breaking it for a weapon.
“Not really, but I am looking into them. However, they were thorough and covered up their tracks well. So, we only know as much as you do, they’re well trained, organized, and Japanese.”
“So, they’re Yakuza?”
“Perhaps, although there are many other gangs out of Japan. Can you tell us anything about the men that seemed out of the ordinary?”
Several more red flags raised up. Celia tensed up and formed fists with her hands. “I just went through this same shit with the police. You are no different to me.”
“Celia, contain yourself. She’s here to help us,” Teresa placed one hand on Celia’s wrist.
“I don’t have much time, five minutes to be exact. So, listen to me, Teresa is paying me a large amount to find the men that killed your father. I understand he was a valuable asset to her and you’re the only lead that I have to go off on. Which means you could either waste my time by continuing to not answer my questions or you could tell me what you know. Either way in five minutes we are going to stop this limo and kick you out and you’ll be on your own.”
Celia looked at Teresa, but she showed no sympathy.
“Well I just witnessed my father being murdered in front of me and there was nothing I could do to stop them. Not only that, but I also lost my home, money, and everything else that I have ever known. My life has completely changed overnight. So, excuse me for not wanting to talk.”
Narrowing her gaze, Tangkwa folder her arms and said, “When I was ten my father kicked me out of his house and abandoned me after I told him that I’m a woman. I had to turn to prostitution to support myself and I found consolation in drugs. Living out on the streets I made many friends and even more enemies. Which have lead me down the road to where I am now. I have witnessed things that you could not even imagine, I have seen many people suffer and die. And I have even had to kill those close to me. So, go ahead and talk to me about tragedy. You’ve got three more minutes.”
Swallowing a lumped in her throat Celia asked, “What exactly is it that you do again?”
“I’m something of a peace keeper between criminal groups out of Asia. You see sometimes gangs need to communicate to each other through someone outside of their gang. That is where I come in. I act as a neutral voice in gang relations. I am connected to many of the gangs in eastern Asia, but associated with none of them.”
She let out a deep sigh after thinking for a few seconds then said, “They attacked around midnight using AK-47s, and were very quiet like ninjas. Also, they didn’t want to kill me, they only went after dad. They didn’t want to steal anything.” Suddenly she felt shocked as she realized something. “Teresa the servants, are they okay?”
“They’re fine, they were safe in their quarters as the attack happened. Then they escaped in their cars when the second floor was set on fire,” answered Teresa. “I’ll have my people contact them and find them new work.”
Celia bit her thumb and was silent for a while.
“Is there anything else?” asked Tangkwa.
“I can’t think of anything.”
The limo came to a stop.
“Well in that case this is the end of the line,” Teresa said as she leaned over Celia to open the door for her.
“Wait, what’s happening here? I thought you said you were going to take care of me?” Celia felt confused and a bit of panic.
Teresa handed her a black leather purse. “I’m sorry, there is not much I can do for you, but give you this bag. In it is enough money for you to buy some new clothes, food, and a week stay at hotel. Along with a burner cell phone, a pistol and some ammo.”
“Yes, a Taurus 809. I’m sure you’re familiar with the model,” Teresa nudged her out of the limo. “Now go we will be in touch.”
Celia stumbled out on to a street lined with stores and cafes.
* * *
Elsewhere in Rio, Naomi’s aching body stirred underneath the twisted and crumpled sheets of her bed as her phone rang. It took her couple minutes for her to realize where she was and what that noise was.
“Oh, that’s right I have phone and it rings sometimes,” she said to herself.
Despite not recognizing the number she answered the phone, “Da fuck is this?”
“Bitch, have you been dead? You know who this be?”
“Ack, I thought you were dead?”
“Have you been sleeping thinking I’m dead?”
“Yeah, it’s been the first goodnight sleep I’ve had in years.”
“Well it’s nice to know that you care.”
“So how are you holding up?”
“Well, Teresa gave me a wad of cash and a gun, so I’m coping.”
“Do you need me?”
“Yeah, get your ass down to the corner of R. Nascimento Silva and Rua Garcia d’Avila.”
“Oh shit, I didn’t realize you were doing that bad. I’ll be right down.”
“I love you too, bitch. Bye.”
“Yeah, kiss your own ass.”
* * *
As Naomi arrive she was terrified by what she saw as she watched Celia approach a woman that just picked up her cup of coffee from the counter. Feeling startled and intimidated the woman took two steps back as Celia stood unmoving in front of her.
“Excuse me, what do you got there?” she said as she stared down at her.
“I… um, it’s an expresso,” the woman was afraid to make any sudden movements.
“I’ll give you twice what you paid, if you give it to me now.”
“N… no, this is mine,”
The woman tried to walk away, but Celia snatch the expresso out of her hand and gave her several dollars. The woman was disguised, but took the money and walked away anyway.
“Oh my god, this is too much,” said Naomi as she approached her.
“Well it’s nice to see you too,” her sarcasm came in loud and clear, not just in the tone of her voice, but also in her body language.
“You’re a mess, what are you wearing?” Naomi drew attention to the print t-shirt and worn out jeans that Celia was now wearing.
“This is just some shit I stole from the laundry mat around the corner.”
“But there’s a clothing shop across the street.”
“Hell no, they’re cheap, and they have a line. They’re horrible.” Celia took a big sip of her expresso and forced the gulp down.
“Oh, please don’t tell me that you don’t know how to pay with cash.”
“I don’t need your shit,” she walked away to sit down at a table outside.
“I get it you’re in shock, it’s okay, but being salty to me isn’t going to help you,” Naomi followed and sat down next to her.
Celia tried to ignore her as she took another sip.
“Listen I’m sad too, your dad dying is horrible. Let it all out and cry. It’s okay.”
She gave her a bitch face stare and said, “I already cried for six hours as I sat in my basement not knowing what was happening with only a gun to hold onto. I’m done crying now.”
“That’s not what Teresa told me, she said that you broke down in tears in her limo.”
“So you talked to her too.”
“She called me after you did.”
“What did she tell you?”
“Not much just that she wants me to keep tabs on you. I suspect that she is going to recruit you to be another one of her killers.”
“Good,” Celia kept an unemotional blank stare as she continued to drink her expresso.
“No, not good,” Naomi grabbed the expresso and pulled it away from her. Celia turned her bitch stare to her. “Listen to me, when she does offer you a job, turn it down.”
“What does it matter? My father was a killer, you’re a killer. It’s only natural that I do too.”
“That’s not it, I’m not trying to tell you not to become an assassin. It’s just that you’re not in the right head space to do it right now. Give it a month then decide if you want to do it.”
“I don’t have a month. I barely have any money. I going to need to find a way to get more and since I don’t have any skills for a real job. It’s either killing or robbing.”
Feeling frustrated Naomi let out a deep sigh and said, “I don’t have much space, but I guess you could stay with me for a little while.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I’ll get by on my own.” She got up and started walking away, but Naomi was fed up with her shit so she walked out in front of her to block her path.
“I’ve had it with this behavior, we both know you putting up these walls and avoiding talking things out is not going to get you anywhere. You called me here and wanted my help, but you keep rejecting my advice. So why don’t you just tell me what you want from me?”
“Shut the fu-“ Celia’s first reaction was to be defensive, but she stopped herself in mid-sentence and thought over what Naomi said. Her mind wanted to go to hundred different places. Her dad dead and everything she ever known has been lost. The unreliability of the police, undesired assistance from Teresa, the uncertainly on whether to trust Tangkwa or not, and Naomi here offering her a hand. All of it seem scary to her. She forced all of the negative thoughts aside and formed a line of the though in her head. After a few seconds se let out a deep breath.
“I just want know if things are going to be okay,” she finally confessed. “I want be able to have some sort of control over my life and to have a plan that I had created, and not be just following someone else plan. Everyone is giving me advice and tell me to do this and that, and I don’t know if they have my best interests in mind or not.”
Naomi grabbed her and rested her head on her shoulder giving her a real hug. “It’s okay, your right. No one can give you the right answers right now. This is your life so you should be able to make your own decisions.”
After a minute of holding her Naomi released Celia pushing her back, but kept her hands on her shoulders while keeping eye contact. “You can stay at my place if you want, and I’ll help you do whatever you want to kill those guys that attacked you father, but for now lets go done to the beach, have a few drinks, and maybe play some volley ball. Tomorrow we’ll figure things out, okay?”
To be Continued