Driven to the Edge: Chapter Thirteen
By Coral Bale, known on the Forum as Reefgirl
The well-dressed man, the Mafia representative, began to speak.
“He’s saying that he is willing to pay thousands of liras for information about the…oh…um…foreign usurpers that are trying to muscle in on their business. Pass the information onto local family members (family are different factions of the Mafia), and you will be protected from reprisals by the usurpers,” Daniel translated.
A big car drew up and the man and his bodyguards got in and drove away. We all heaved a sigh of relief when he drove away, it could have been a lot worse.
“What was all that in aid of?” Nell asked.
“The Mafia are really rattled about these ‘usurpers,’ as they call them,” Daniel started. Nell chuckled.
“Puttana is not Italian for usurper,” she remarked. I smiled. Even I knew what puttana meant. Daniel blushed.
“Sorry, but he used names that even made me blush,” he replied.
“Have we stumbled into a turf war?” I asked. Daniel sighed.
“It’s beginning to look more like it, and if Suzanne’s contact is right, motor racing teams are involved. Not here in Italy; they know better than to cross the Mafia, who are probably investing in teams to do their smuggling, but the usurpers are bigger, better and can get the drugs into Europe quicker and in bigger quantities. The Mafia Don, the guy who spoke to everyone, is letting the Italian teams know, they want the word spread among the motor sport fraternity, that they are not going to take this laying down. Information will be rewarded and retribution is coming for anyone helping the usurpers,” Daniel replied.
“I’m thinking that perhaps James found out who is running this drug ring, threatened to go to the police or the Mafia, if he drove for one of the Italian teams, and was killed before he could,” Nell said.
“Maybe. I think we should get out of here as soon as possible. None of the Italian teams or drivers are involved in this and crossing the Mafia is a death sentence here. If the other gang has people here, I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire,” Daniel said. Nell and I agreed.
We made our way back to our hotel and started to pack up and make our way back to Nice.
I strolled onto my balcony and spotted Jasmine by the pool. She was deep in conversation with a familiar figure, Johnny Markham. Another man soon joined them. He had a badly scarred face and what looked like the start of what is known as plastic surgery. Beatrice had told me of this a couple of years ago; it started helping men recover after being badly injured in the trenches. I called Daniel’s room and asked him to come and watch with me.
A knock on the door told me Daniel was waiting. I opened the door to let him in.
“So what do you think is going on?” he asked.
“I have no idea. Johnny I can understand, he’s a friend of Pietro, but what is he doing here? His teams aren’t here for this race?” I said.
“Any idea who the scarred man is?” Daniel asked.
“I don’t know. He’s not old enough to have been in the war and the scars are too new,” I replied. Daniel nodded.
“I don’t think there’s anything out of the ordinary. As you said, Johnny and Pietro know each other. They scarred man could be a cousin or something,” Daniel replied. I agreed; I was getting sidetracked and seeing demons everywhere.
Daniel left and I carried on packing. I couldn’t help worrying about Johnny and Jasmine. What was Johnny doing with Jasmine, and was he really a friend of Pietro? I thought back to their confrontation at the ferry port; something was not right.
I sat down, got my cards out of my bag and shuffled. I cut them and drew The Moon. I nodded, just what I suspected: there were things going on behind the scenes, things were not what they seemed to be. Most importantly, I must not take things at face value.
We left the hotel and started to drive to Milan, which was our next stop. We chatted about what had happened in Brescia, the Mafia making an ultimatum, and Jasmine, Johnny and the scarred man. Daniel began to speed up heading for a corner.
“Daniel, what’s happening?” asked Nell.
“The brakes have failed,” he said, frantically pumping the brakes. The corner came towards us at speed. “Brace yourselves, ladies,” said Daniel. I put my head on my knees and waited for the crash.