Sempre redemption, p.56
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.56

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
 
Page 56

 

  “Yes, sir. ”

  He stared at Carmine for a moment as he sat up. “We’ll have to take you in for questioning, but you’ll be out by morning as long as you cooperate. Do you want to make a statement now?”

  He wiped his face, trying to get rid of the tears, and groaned when it did nothing but smear blood on his cheek. “Abby,” he said quietly. His throat burned from screaming, the word barely audible.

  “Abby?”

  “The girl inside,” Carmine said. “Her name is Abby. ”

  37

  The interrogation room at the Cook County police station smelled like someone had attempted to clean up week-old piss. Corrado grimaced as he took a deep breath, the harsh stench of ammonia and bleach burning his lungs. Gazing across the metal table in front of him, he eyed the federal agent with distaste.

  Agent Cerone started to speak, but Corrado cut him off before he could get started. “I wasn’t there. I was home, I was alone, I was asleep, and nobody saw me. ”

  The agent gaped at him. “I saw you tonight, Mr. Moretti. ”

  Corrado raised his eyebrows. “Did you?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Are you certain?”

  “You were even arrested at the scene. ”

  “Was I?”

  “Is there something wrong with your memory?”

  “Maybe,” Corrado said. “I suppose I don’t recall a thing from tonight, then. ”

  Corrado forced a look of indifference on his face as Agent Cerone stared at him with disbelief. The agent pulled himself together quickly, gritting his teeth as he flipped through pages of notes. He had hundreds of documents, but nothing to prepare him for facing Corrado. “You know, Vincent DeMarco was a good man. ”

  “Was?” Corrado asked. “Did something happen to him?”

  The agent shook his head exasperatedly. “You’re really going to play ignorant, aren’t you?”

  Corrado merely shrugged.

  “As I was saying, he was a good man. I judged him wrong. He wasn’t callous or selfish. He cared about his family, would do anything for them. And I got to thinking . . . maybe you’re the same way. Maybe I was wrong about you, too. ”

  The corner of Corrado’s lips turned slightly with amusement. “I doubt it. ”

  The agent stared at him for a moment before genuinely laughing. Corrado was much too street smart for the psychological tactics to work on him. He had been through it all before and knew their tricks. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Out of curiosity, would you be willing to take a lie detector test?”

  “I’m afraid not,” he said. “It goes against my religion. ”

  His brow furrowed. “How?”

  “Only God can judge me. I certainly don’t trust a machine to do it. ”

  “You only have to worry if you’re untruthful. Do you plan to lie?”

  “No, I prefer to sit, thank you. ”

  The agent sighed. “When did you get to be so sarcastic?”

  “I’m not sure what you mean,” Corrado said. “I don’t even know why I’m here. ”

  “I see I’m wasting my time,” Agent Cerone said. “Anything you want to say before we end this?”

  “Just that I’d like to speak to my lawyer. ”

  Agent Cerone gathered his things, not the least bit surprised. “Of course. Hang tight. It’ll take a while to get you released, but we should have you out in plenty of time for the funeral. ”

  “Whose funeral?”

  “Vincent’s. ”

  “Vincent’s dead?”

  The agent shook his head. “At least you’re consistent. But yes, he is. They should be alerting the next of kin any moment. ”

  As Agent Cerone stood to leave, Corrado’s expression fell. He was much too weary to keep up the charade. He sat still in the seat and stared at the far wall as his stomach twisted again . . . this time with something much closer to anxiety. He hardly noticed the stench anymore, his grief strong enough to overpower it.

  “Wait,” he said, stalling the agent’s footsteps.

  “Yes, Mr. Moretti?”

  “I need to make a call. ”

  The agent sighed. “Your lawyer’s already next door with Carmine DeMarco. I’ll send him over as soon as we’re done there. ”

  “I don’t need to call my lawyer,” he said. “I need to call my wife. ”

  “Your wife can’t help you right now. ”

  Corrado glared at the man. “She’s going to think it’s me. ”

  “What?”

  “You said they’re going to be making the notification soon. As soon as they show up at my door, she’s going to think it’s me. ”

  A debate played out on the man’s face momentarily, his lips twitching into a frown. “Her brother, her husband . . . it’ll hurt either way. They’ll explain it to her. ”

  “I made her a promise that I’d never leave her again,” he said. “I don’t want her to think I broke it, even if it’s only for a minute. ”

  The agent’s brow furrowed. “How could you promise her that? Living the life you live, you’re bound to break it someday. ”

  “I won’t,” he said. “There’s nothing I won’t do to keep my vows. ”

  “Even if it means killing?”

  Corrado just stared at the man, and he stared right back. The agent broke first, though, a deep sigh reverberating his chest as he looked away. Frowning, he released Corrado from the interrogation room and led him to a small cubicle, where he picked up a black phone and handed it to him. “You have five minutes. ”

  Corrado dialed his house number, listening as it rang and rang. He was on the verge of giving up when he heard Celia’s voice on the line. Although she spoke hesitantly, he could detect no distress. Worried, but not heartbroken. She hadn’t been told yet. “Hello?”

  “I didn’t think you were going to answer. ”

  Celia let out a deep sigh. “Corrado, why does the caller ID say the Cook County Police Station?”

  “It’s a long story. ”

  “Does it end with you getting arrested again?”

  “No. ” He glanced down at himself, eyeing the handcuffs secured to his wrists. “Not technically. ”

  “Do you need me to get you out?” she asked. “I don’t think I can come up with bail money until morning, although we might have—”

  “Celia, stop. I’m not calling about me. I can take care of myself. ”

  “Carmine!” she gasped. “Oh God, what did he do? Is he okay?”

  “He’s . . . ” Corrado shook his head. “Carmine will be fine. This isn’t about him. It’s about his father. ”

  There was nothing but silence on the line for a moment. Had he not detected her steady breathing, he might have suspected she hung up.

  “Celia, Vincent is—”

  “No. ” She cut him off. “Don’t say what I think you’re going to say. Don’t . . . just don’t say it, Corrado. ”

  “I’m sorry, Bellissima. ”

  Before she could react, before he could say another word, the federal agent reached over and pressed the button on the phone, effectively ending the call.

  “You have a lot of nerve,” Corrado seethed, his voice a low hiss escaping from between his angrily clenched teeth.

  “You wanted to tell her and you did,” the agent said. “I didn’t have to give you that much. ”

  * * *

  Disoriented, Carmine’s surroundings twisted and distorted as the interrogation room spun, the dark gray walls slowly closing in around him. Even though frigid air blew out of the vent above him, chilling his taut skin, his body felt like it was engulfed in fire. Teeth chattering, his flushed skin poured sweat, making his torn and bloody shirt stick to him uncomfortably.

  Carmine tried to sort through everything that had happened, but he couldn’t think straight. It was all just too much. Agent Cerone and another man, whose name Carmine couldn’t remember hearing, sat across from him, while Mr. Borza sat to his right. T
he lawyer urged Carmine to cooperate, but the flickering fluorescent lights made it impossible for him to concentrate.

  “Who fired the first shot?”

  “I don’t remember. It happened too fast. ”

  “How many people were shooting?”

  “I didn’t know. A few. ”

  “Did you fire a gun?”

  “No. ”

  “Did Corrado Moretti?”

  “Uh, I can’t say. I told you, it all happened too fast. ”

  “Well, what did you do when the shooting started?”

  “Nothing. ”

  “Nothing?”

  “That’s right. Nothing. ”

  “And you didn’t see what happened?”

  “No. ”

  “Did you hear anything?”

  “Gunshots. ”

  “How many?”

  “A lot. I didn’t count them. ”

  “Who was involved in the shooting?”

  “I don’t know. ”

  “So it could’ve been Corrado?”

  “It fucking could’ve been Jimmy Hoffa. ”

  “I’d rather you keep the sarcasm to a minimum. This is a serious situation. ”

  “I’m not being sarcastic. I told you I didn’t see. I don’t know who shot first, who shot who, who’s dead, and who’s still alive. All I know is what I did. ”

  “And what’s that?”

  “Nothing. I didn’t do a goddamn thing. ”

  Round in circles they went, the same vague answers being given for the same questions. He saw nothing, he did nothing, and he couldn’t recall a thing.

  It was the truth . . . partially.

  He didn’t know what they expected from him. All he could recall were his father’s last moments, the brutal image haunting Carmine like someone had taken a blowtorch and burned it in his brain.

  Gone . . . his father was gone.

  As Carmine’s chest constricted, a memory came to his mind. It happened a few weeks before his mother had been murdered when his parents had taken them to Six Flags. He and Dominic had climbed into one of those spinning cups and spun it so furiously that by the time the ride was over, he couldn’t make sense of which way was up. His legs buckled as he climbed off the ride, his stomach churning ruthlessly. Collapsing, he threw up right there in the middle of the busy amusement park.

  Today, in that room, he felt a lot like he did back then—dazed and disoriented, betrayed and confused.

  Vincent had pulled him to his feet that day, kneeling in front of him. Carmine’s face turned bright red as tears of embarrassment welled in his eyes. He kept his gaze fixed on the cement, not wanting anyone to see him cry—especially not his father.

  “Are you okay?” Vincent had asked. Carmine hesitated but slowly lifted his eyes, nodding as he took in his serious expression. “Everyone falls sometimes, son, even me, but the trick is to get right back up. They’ll always target the ones who appear vulnerable, so you need to be strong. Fake it until you make it. ”

 
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