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I hope you enjoy this chapter.  I was writing for two days.  So, I had to miss you for those days.  I hope you had a great weekend.

Be careful of those bearing gifts

Chapter 4

Bryan Tagnelli looked over at Keith Eron and nodded.  Bryan knocked on the door with his right hand.  A brown grocery bag was in his left hand.  Lights were on inside the Brownstone Walk-up.  Bryan leaned to the right and left to see inside the place.  Curtains were over the windows.  Bryan looked at Keith and knocked again.  Keith looked around to the right to see if anyone walked by a window.  It was an end unit.  A small patch of dirt and grass ran alongside the building.

“I can go and throw a rock at the back window to see if someone is home,” Keith said, turning to walk down the steps.  Bryan shook his head.  “It’s just right there.”  Bryan slowly shook his head.  Keith shrugged and sighed.  Then he pounded hard on the door.

“What the fuck?” Bryan whispered, restraining his voice.  “We’re not here to scare anyone or wake up the neighborhood.  Don’t do that.”  Keith mumbled he was trying to help.  “Don’t help.  Just stand there and—“ A shadow appeared at the door’s window.  “Hello.”  The shadow stayed at the window.  “Hello.”

“This is ridiculous,” Keith said.  “Let’s go in there and teach her a lesson.  That old bird is in there.  We need to have a talk with her before—“

“Stop talking,” Bryan whispered through clenched teeth.

The curtain came away from the window.  Bryan could see part of Crystal Vanner.  She had a blue dress on with blue paisley flowers on it.  Fitting for a sixty-eight or seventy year old, he guessed.  The nine millimeter in her hand did not go with the dress.

“Get away from my door and off my porch before I call the police,” Crystal said.  “You have no right to be at my door and on my porch.  If you think I’m afraid of you I’ll put bullets in both of you.  So, get off my porch while you have the chance.  If you don’t I’ll—“

“Miss Vanner,” Bryan said.  “It’s Bryan Tagnelli.”  She told him she did not care who he was and that bullets did not care either.  “Miss Vanner, I’m here because my aunt sent me.  She told me to bring this to you.”  Crystal looked at him from the door’s window as if she was examining him.  She made sure the gun was in plain view.  “It’s just groceries Miss Vanner.  My aunt thought you’d like some homemade lasagna and bread.  She made too much for us.  She said she ran into you at the grocery store and you two talked.”

Keith put his forefinger to his temple and moved it in circles.  Bryan would not look at him.  He thought if he did look at him Crystal would follow his head and see him, too.  He did not want to piss her off.

Crystal pulled the curtain back more from the door window and looked to her left.  She saw Keith.  “You tell your smart ass friend to get off my damn porch,” she said.  She held up her cell phone.  “One press of the thumb and the police will be here.”  Bryan told her that would not be necessary.  “Get him off my damn porch.  Tell him to stand directly in the middle and down on the bottom step.  I don’t trust him.”

“I’ll do that,” Bryan said and looked at Keith.  Keith was shaking his head.  Bryan nodded sideways for him to go to where she wanted him to be.  Keith shook his head.  “Keith, go, please.”

Keith walked off the porch and stood at the bottom of the steps.  He stared up at Crystal.  But he could barely see her from where he stood.  One day he was coming back to pay this woman a special visit, he thought.  Then he would see how tough she was.  Maybe he would put a bullet in her head.  Maybe worse.

“How do I know you have groceries?” she asked from inside.  “This could be a trick.  Show me.”  Bryan told her it was not a trick.  He moved close to the door and tilted the bag so she could see inside it.  She moved her head to look inside the bag from every angle she could.  “Your aunt never mentioned anything about groceries to me the other day.”  Bryan exhaled.  “Don’t look exasperated.  It’s not my fault.  What do you expect?  We know what you did.  You want me to just trust you?”

“Miss Vanner,” Bryan said, holding back anger.  “We didn’t do anything.  It’s all a misunderstanding.  Your daughter…I meant granddaughter was not accurate in what she saw.  It was not what she thought.”  Crystal looked at him.  “And I’d rather not stand out here yelling about it to your entire neighborhood.  If you’ll open the door we can talk about it.  I think we’ll get this straightened out.  I mean…We all want this to be resolved in the right way.”

“Not all of us,” she said.  “My granddaughter has had nightmares.  She’s been to the doctor ten times because of that night.  Who’s going to pay for her deductible and her other medical costs?  I’ m not made of money.  My daughter is helping her pay for her college and assisting me at the same time.  I’m on a fixed income.”

Bryan wished he could grab her through the window and break her neck.  Greedy old woman.  His aunt pegged her right.  “Miss Vanner, if you’ll open the door we can talk about your needs.  But I’m not going to continue to stand here and yell at you through your door.  I’m here to see if we can come to a conclusion.  You hold the cards.”  He watched her.  She watched him.  They both stood there for a moment.

“You’re not going to try anything?” she asked.  He told her he would not.  He turned and looked over his shoulder at Keith.  Keith had said something but he did not hear him.  Crystal saw Keith’s head coming up the steps.  “Not him.  Just you.”  Bryan turned to look at her.  Then he looked back at Keith.  Keith was at the top step.  “Not him.”

“Okay,” Bryan said.  “Not him.”  Keith was angry.  “Just wait down at the bottom of the steps for me.”  Keith stood there staring at the woman.  “Keith.  Come on.  I’ve got to talk with her.  My aunt told me.  Don’t screw this up.  Go down the steps.”  Keith clenched his jaws.  “Come on.”

“This is bullshit,” Keith said and looked at Bryan and then Crystal.  He turned and walked back down the steps.

The door lock clicked.

I hope you enjoyed Chapter 4.  Chapter 5 will be posted in a few days.


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