“You know me and Tony go way back. Even then I knew he’d go places I couldn’t but he’s the kinda guy that don’t forget where he comes from like some of those suits upstairs have. I ain’t just the guy that guards the elevator to the executive floors, I got a name and he asks what’s going on in my life when he sees me.
So’s anyway, me and him are in the parking garage shooting the breeze while his car gets brought down. He offers to give me a lift across town so I don’t have to waste no time on the subway and get all smelly and crap and then have to rush for my date. Like I says, Tony’s cool. Then them little jerks they got running the valet parking start squawking and gabbling like last year’s turkey and we see all this stuff on the little television they got in their cubicle.
They’re going friggin’ nuts – pardon my French – I have to admit I wasn’t doin’ too well either but Tony’s got like ice water in his veins. He takes his keys from the A-rab kid and we get in and he starts driving and making phone calls. I’m thinking, maybe I didn’t hear the man on the TV right or maybe Tony is checking his contacts to see what’s really going on.
See though, Tony gets real pale and then gets quiet. You know how he gets when he’s making a plan? That’s how he was. Then outta the blue he says, ‘Hey Leo, got a proposition for you.’ After I heard him out how could I say no? I don’t have no close family and no connections so I said yeah, I’ll drive wit you.
There ain’t no need to tell you about how the Moretti’s and … and your folks was. It ain’t important except that your folks was a whole lot easier to deal with than ol’ Nicky. Him was something else and if he hadn’t been family to Tony I woulda popped him one just to shut ‘im up. You see how he is now? He was almost this bad that first day and poor Vinnie said he didn’t shut up until he got his punch spiked if you know what I mean.
Tony was smart. If we had waited even one more hour to get on the road we would still be there, waiting our turn for a ticket across one of the bridges. As it is Tony had to use some pull and we got taken on a cargo ship and then we floated our way down to Atlantic City. Can’t beat that with a stick. Man. That Tony.
But it wasn’t easy gettin’ out of there neither. People were crazy. The news was just no good. But still we did get out and all three of the vehicles went this way then that, cutting back north to get around Baltimore and DC before we could really get going west. I ain’t never seen nothin’ like it and hope to never again. We were a couple a days out and finally getting the rhythm of how to avoid the worst of it when we got hung up in this snarl outside of Harrisburg. Man, there were cars as far as the eye could see in all directions.
Mr. Moretti was about to bust a blood vessel. He wanted to turn around and go back home. He was listening to the radio and they was saying that it wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. It was only the people that were panicking that were causing the problems. If everyone would just go home and stay there and wait for further instructions everything would be all right. The government then told all the gas stations and stores to close so people would have to go home. I mean, how stupid can you get? If there ain’t no gas or food how’s people supposed to get home?
So’s anyway we’re on this stretch of highway just standing around and Tony finally tells Moretti to shut up and get in his car and then ol’ Nicky cusses Tony out but good and then tells all his family to get in the car, that as soon as he can figure out a way to turn around they were going home. Your ol’ man, he believes Tony, tries to talk some since into ol’ Nicky but Moretti cusses him too and says a few things … well that Tony wouldn't want you to hear about. Your ol’ man gets angry and it looks like there’s going to be a throw down right there but your Ma she … she pulls your dad off and they’re standing over by their truck with your brothers. Vinnie’s done had enough and so has Carlo, the other guy that was with us. For Vinnie it was ol’ Nicky he was full of but Carlo, he never had no bottom and wanted to run crying to his sister’s place in Hagerstown. Carlo and his sister ain’t talked in five years but still he seems to think she’ll take him in because he’s her little brother. Stupid guido.
So’s Tony asks me to get in with the Moretti’s to keep the ol’ man from doing something to make an ass out of himself and Vinnie and Carlo was standing with your family. Tony had gotten in the van and pulled out a map to try and figure a way out. Then out a nowhere this wet fog comes down on us. I just get a glimpse of one of them farm planes … crop duster they calls it … following the highway towards the city when I can’t see nothing because there’s this friggin’ sticky stuff all over the windshield – pardon my French.
Then out of the fog Vinnie plants his face against the side window and … and it was like he … You sure don’t need that picture in your head.
Anyway this fog or whatever the heck the crap was just goes away, like smoke or steam. It’s just gone. But … but now I can see there’s people all over the place coughing and gagging, falling down. I can see your family and then I sees Tony and he’s got this … this look on his face I can see even from as far away as I was. I says, “Don’t do it Tony, don’t do it” but he can’t hear me see and even if he could, I don’t think it would have stopped him.
He jumps out of the van and runs over to your family. He’s trying to grab ‘em all up. Your dad just pushes the boys at him and takes your Ma’s arm and they’re all heading for the van. Tony tosses the boys in and turns to see that … that your folks … they were on the ground and … and real still Joey. It was too late for them … and your brothers. I don’t know what it was but it musta been some kind of nerve agent like in the war. It was just that quick.
Tony … Tony man, he was like in shock or something. He’s turning this way and that and then he starts coughing. He got some of that crap on him when he got out to help your family. He didn’t breathe it in, it got on his skin. Then he’s OK for a little while but he’s still got this wild look in his eyes like something – or someone – needs killin’. I guess we was all in shock but Tony was the worst. Ol’ Nick wouldn’t let his family out until they abso-freakin’-lutely had to take a leak and the girls busted out and hit the bushes.
Ol’ Nick went at Tony even though he could see Tony was coming unglued. Tony kept saying stuff like “I promised her.” I figure he was talking about you. You know how he is … he takes things to heart. And don’t get me wrong we were all heart sick, even Moretti, though he was acting like a jackass but Tony was … it looked like something was breakin’ in his head or somethin’
So’s during the night Moretti is saying that’s it, he ain’t going no more. Lot’s of other people are talking about going back home too only there really ain’t that many people to talk about it ‘cause of all these dead bodies … er … I mean … Don’t mention to Tony I told you that part.
Anyway, about Tony. He takes all the keys – where I got the idea from just now – and tells Moretti to get stuffed, no ones going nowhere without a plan. Then a big ol’ dump truck starts coming through and with a bull horn says they’ll be back through in a couple of hours so have the bodies ready to be picked up and to pin some kind of identification to them. Well, somebody had to do it before … before nature took its course. Only people coming from where they were starting first said that the guys – some kind of private security detail from the look of ‘em – are taking all the gold and jewelry off the bodies before they just dump ‘em in the back. Well, Tony man he’s messed up and not having any of it. He takes … well … he said the stuff was yours and it’s in a bag in his pants pocket over there. He wanted to bury your family right but there ain’t no way to do it. No consecrated ground, no one to say the proper words … ain’t really even any ground to do it since it ain’t nothing but concrete roads and parking lots all over.
He accepts he can’t do what he thinks he should but it put a big hole in him to let go it so’s try not to be too hard on the guy about it if he lives. By then Tony’s getting’ crazy angry and you can see his brain is working again. He tells us to siphon off all the gas from all the cars around us and to check for anything useful. Oh Saint Peter Paul and Mary did Moretti start making noise about that. Tony tells him the score and to shut up but I could see that Moretti was making plans of his own. Without Tony’s say so he switches his family to your ol’ man’s truck and puts your family’s stuff on the side of the road so he can put his in.
Him and Tony go at it again but there ain’t no time because we see this truck coming through that is just bulldozing cars out of the way to clear the road … and bodies too if they haven’t been moved off the road like they were ordered to be done. Tony starts scrambling to put your family’s stuff in the van but he’s keeping an eye on Moretti because only a blind man would miss that he was trying to make a move.
All of a sudden Tony tells me to get in the truck and follow him and he grabs that noisy kid Ana and tosses her into the van right as that big truck gets between the van and the truck. I see what he’s up to and jump in the truck pushing Moretti over into his wife’s lap. By the time the big truck is out of the way Tony is using the clear lane it’s left behind to turn around and take off.
Moretti and his wife are coming freaking unglued and I tells ‘em both to shut up and let me drive. It’s been like that ever since. When we had to stop for something – which wasn’t often after that because people got scared of being on the road in case there were more planes ‘cause it wasn’t just us that it happened to but all over the country – Tony had a gun and kept Moretti off him and the girl. Moretti wanted me to shoot Tony to get his girl back but I told him I wasn’t shootin’ Tony and if he told me to do it one more time I’d shoot him instead.
I could tell Tony was getting sick. His drivin’ started to suck and he was lucky that he didn’t drive off a friggin’ mountain – pardon my French. Moretti kept threatening and Tony kept saying that he would save him whether he wanted to be saved or not and what about Lucia and you and … Tony can tell you the rest of what was said if he thinks you need to know.
Just that’s what happened and here we are.”