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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

THE TEDDY BEAR DANCER -- Excerpt #14

The phone rang. Vic nearly leaped to his feet to answer.

"Gold Tone Gym. Vic speaking."

Silence from the other end. Or was it? Did Vic hear breathing? Something else... faint, muffled crowd sounds. Cheering?

"Yeah, lemme talk to Tony?" an old man's voice wheezed.

"Can I tell him who's calling?"

Vic's thoughts turned to his emergency bag, hidden behind the false back of his utility closet. It held another set of new identity papers and enough cash to get him and Baxter to Canada or Mexico and established in new lives.

"It's personal. An emergency." The old man's voice cracked. "Come on, fella. Don't you know when a guy's ready to fall apart?" He let out a gusting sigh, with a rattle of flabby lips at the end.

That sigh did it, as individual as a fingerprint.

Vic closed his eyes, feeling dizzy as the pieces all fell together. Some of his fondest memories as a boy were with Uncle Pauly at the tracks. The man wasn't his uncle, but one of the hangers-on in the Family who could be trusted to keep the sons of the big guys out of trouble, to train them to put the Family first and see the dirty work as glamorous.

Uncle Pauly had been put out to pasture by the time Vic graduated to the adult ranks. The old man had a weakness for the ponies. Any new system that came along got his attention.

Why was Uncle Pauly calling him here in Tabor, and how had he gotten his number?

"Is this a personal call?" Vic hated himself for putting the old man through this. He had to. He had Baxter to protect. More than Baxter, he had to think about the danger, the damage from a collision between his old life and his new life in Tabor.

What if someone came after Rene to get to him?

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