Hello everyone, Clara Hartley and I (ido) decided to write something together, just for fun. This is Chapter one, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did when we wrote it!.
I watched Kev as he placed the baby mice into the refrigerator. They were still alive, blind and unable to wink open their eyes. He slammed the door shut with his foot.
“Still can’t get over it when you do it like that,” I said. Here in Scale Pet Co. we didn’t do things the humane way. If I had control over things, I’d make sure the mice had an easier death. I tried implementing a death-by-CO2 policy but my pops refused to approve my suggestion.
One day I’d open a pet shop by myself, but for now, I had to put up with the horrible practices of Dalmazio Giachetti, leader of the criminal west side of New York and also, my father.
“Boss says he doesn’t want to waste money on stinkin’ mice.” Kev picked his pencil out from behind his ear and licked the tip of it before scribbling on the clipboard to note inventory. He had a strange habit of christening his pencils with his tongue before using them, and that was exactly why I never dared use any of his stationery. That might have been his master plan.
He fiddled with the top of his mohawk and lifted a cursory gaze toward me. “You shouldn’t be feeling soft for mice. They’re rats.”
“Actually, they’re two very different species.” I was handling the inventory myself, looking through how much dog food we had left. “You should know that, considering you work in a pet shop.”
“Eh.” Kev licked the piercing at the bottom of his tongue. He was tatted head to toe. “Ah, missed one.” He reached for another bag of squirming mice, their skins red and translucent because they never had the chance to grow furs, and tossed them into the fridge like he would a bag of meat. “You’re the only one who takes this shop seriously. You know your pops just wants it as a front.”
Ding. Someone was ringing the bell at the cashier.
I tipped a brow at Kev. “I happen to like animals.”
“The scaly kinds,” Kev replied.
“They have cute, beady eyes.”
Kev snorted. “Yeah, people don’t often use those two words in the same sentence, miss. You might want to get your head sorted out.”
I gave my temple two quick taps using my pencil. “It’s perfectly fine, thank you. You’re the ones who are a little wonky up there.”
Ding ding ding. That person really needed to calm their teats.
I ticked off the remainder of my boxes and walked to the front cashier, giving brief nods to the other staff in the store. They weren’t as tatted as Kev, who’d told me his life mission was to get every inch of his body marked.
I always got grossed out and mildly disgusted whenever I saw Kev kill the baby mice. I wasn’t sure why. Pops raised me in a brutal environment. More than once, I’d seen Pops put a bullet through a man’s head just because he got angry. He’d almost made me pull the trigger once, but the man I had to shoot pissed his pants and I couldn’t do that who someone that helpless.
Pops had taken the gun from me, pushed me aside, and did the work himself.
I’d always hated my father. The feelings were mutual.
“It’s ten dollars, fifty-nine cents, sir,” I said to the wiry customer.
“Keep the change,” he said, placing a twenty-dollar bill on my counter.
Smiling up at him, I tucked the money in the register and watched him walk away. It was normal for this pet shop to get these kinds of customers; they didn’t come for regular cat food or a new hamster cages for their kids.
Mostly, they came for the packages Pops prepared. Pops is the head of the Giachetti Mafia Family, one of the deadliest groups in New York, so he was the kingpin of the black market. This pet shop was his front. He used sweet, loving animals as a disguise for selling everything you could think of. And by everything I meant everything, from dragon powder to women for your exclusive harems. We’d even sold a drogal, a smaller dragon. They were not allowed to be sold since they were an endangered species. But that was exactly why they were in the back of our store. If you had enough money to buy something, you asked Pops.
Kev tapped my shoulder. “Ezri.”
I startled. “Oi! Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“Dalmazio is looking for you in the back.” He smirked while saying that. He knew how much I hated to going there, especially when I was working. Pops and I had made an agreement; no Giachetti business for me. The most I had to do was pass on the packages for him.
How did I get him to agree?
Placing a gun on his thigh during dinner might have played a minor part. I thought he was proud of me for doing that. He liked showings of strength. That was probably one reason why I wasn’t dead yet.
After that dinner, he gave me a good beating. He rewarded me by giving me this job, but I’d never forget those bruises over my arms, stomach, face.
Having a feeling that this wasn’t good, I walked towards the back, saying hi again to rest working here. I walked through the back doors, into a hallway. My heart sped up, walking towards that door. The blue paint on the door had chipped off. There was a small window on the door, covered with a grate. That grate had rusted years ago. The keypad next to the door made it look more questionable.
I typed in my personal code and the the door opened with a klick. My heart stopped for a second with that sound. I fucking hate going through that door. Terrible shit always happened behind it; to me, to others—nobody was really safe when in the stronghold of the Giachetti gang.
As I pushed in, the sounds of the big warehouse filled my ears.
People scampered around, filing Pop’s orders. I walked towards the small office in the back, still wondering how nobody ever found out that this big warehouse was more than a storage for the pet shop.
My father had his back turned toward me when I entered his room. “Close the door.” Pushing the door behind me I walked up toward his desk. His office is clean, a big desk, two leather chairs and a book case are the only things filling this room.
No red velvet sofa in the corner, no Persian rug on the floor, no expensive paintings hanging on the wall. That wasn’t like my father, a cold-blooded person.
He spun around in his chair to meet me. He held a cigar between his right index and middle finger and took a look pull from it. Smoke puffed out from his mouth and nostrils as he blew the toxins out from his lungs.
Looking at the man behind the desk, seeing his greying hair, those icy blue eyes pierced into me. I never guessed what my mom saw in him. Why she would ever share a bed with him? How was I concepted in first place? Some things in the world didn’t make sense.
Mom was gone now. I was stuck with Pops.
Putting my hands on my hips, I leveled the steeliest gaze I could manage at him. “Yeah what?” I was happy my anxiety didn’t show in my voice. What did he want? Dalmazio Giachetti was a walking mystery, and his icy gaze could make anybody’s heart race.
“Three men are coming for a package in two days. It’s a special order and I need you to make sure they get it.” His voice was low and distanced. I nodded, not going to ask what that packages was, or why it was me who needed to be there. Kev or Vincent could do it, they normally handled the special deliveries. I’d learned from asking too many questions. Rows of white lines ran down the length of my back, a reminder that I should never question Pops’ motives.
Pops didn’t teach me lessons with a strong no.. He used his tools on me. He said it made me strong. Then he’d leave me crying on the floor. Sometimes I could lie there for hours, other times, one of his women picked me up to bring me to our doctor. We always had a medical professional on staff, because Pops and his temper could run pretty high.
“Why are you still staring at me? Are you fucking stupid? You can leave now.” Pops set down his cigar and waved two fingers at the exit.
I swallowed, turned around and walked towards the door.
“And Ezri, if by some crazy miracle you fuck this up? You’ll wish you weren’t born.”
I didn’t look at him. I just nodded and strode out the door.
Pops had conditioned me to threats. I didn’t let this one get to me and headed back to the front store.
I needed a hug from Bunny, my pet bearded dragon.
Was it a stupid name? Yes.
Did Bunny probably hate me for it? Also yes.
But Bunny was my best friend and I’d gut anyone who dared mess with him.
I walked to the small office of the pet shop, where he had his own place. I picked up the lovable lizard and nuzzled him to my cheek.
Chapter two is out, read that one here.