Luigi looked at his face in the mirror. Just below his left eye was red and swollen. It looked like a red ball that was about to tip off of his mustache. He checked his teach and none of them were loose. It was an unexpected surprise.
“He’s coming to,” Kong announced drawing Luigi away from the mirror.
Kong smirked. “The one you hit. Mine’ll probably be out until sometime tomorrow. I wonder if I can charge him for that.”
“Something tells me he’ll be glad to pay,” Luigi pulled over a chair and sat in front of the stirring Hammer brother. On another chair next to him, and well out of the reach of the bound thug was a tall glass of water, a short glass of whiskey and in between them his gun. Luigi hoped he would only need to use two of them.
“Hey there, champ come on. Take a sip of this. You’ll be okay.” The thug looked at the glass of water being offered him with suspicion. His thirst won out and he took a sip. “Cold enough? Let me know and Kong can get some ice.”
“No, it’s good. Thanks.” The silence fell heavy. Luigi stared at the thug. His swollen face had an expression of pity. The thug didn’t want to know why.
“Listen kid. I know that you’re just dumb muscle. Something that Junior just sics on whoever he thinks are crossing him. I got a soft spot in my heart for dumb animals. But what I got to decide know is if you’re rabid. A rabid dog bites even when he knows better. I got no time for rabid dogs. Simpler to just put them down and move on with me life.” Luigi slowly reached over to the chair next to him. The thug watched as his hand drifted leisurely over the revolver and back over gun. “So, tell me. Are you? Rabid?”
“No. No, sir. I’m beat.”
“Good. Then you get the whiskey. But first you’re going to have to talk.”
* * * *
“Can’t you get this bucket of bolts to move any faster?” Luigi roared at the cab driver. Joe Hammer had talked. He gave Luigi a plan and an address. Luigi had left with a promise to return and offer more than whiskey if the plan went through. The first cab to come by was green with red doors. Luckily the Asian driver knew the address, but Luigi was having a hard time convincing him of the importance.
“I’m going ten over the limit now buddy. I get another ticket and there goes my cabbie permit.”
“Damn your permit! You don’t go any faster and a girl’s going to die!”
“Yeah, yeah. Tell me another one.”
“Listen,” the center of the dashboard held the cabbie permit containing the driver’s name. “Yoshi, listen to me. If you do not move this cab as fast as possible a woman will die in a very horrible way. I can promise you that.”
Yoshi took his eyes off the road and looked in the rearview mirror. Any doubts he had were washed away by the look in Luigi’s eyes. “Hold tight.” The cab took off with a sudden burst that threw Luigi deep into his seat.
Traffic was a blur around them. Red lights ceased to have meaning. Luigi checked his watch. At this pace they should make it in time. A flash of headlights and the blare of horns reminded him that they still needed to make it there alive.
Finally they pulled up in front of a small box shaped house. Luigi jumped out of the car. “Move to the other side of the street and wait!” He didn’t stop to see if the driver listened. He bolted up the stoop. The door was locked. He pounded. “Peach! It’s Luigi! Open the door, Peach!”
Seconds ticked away. Luigi checked his watch again. There was just barely enough time is she would only open the door. More pounding. “Peach!”
Finally there were footsteps. The lack clicked open. Luigi shoved the door in barely registering that the silken bathrobe that clinged to still damp Peach. “What is it? I was in the shower and…”
“Grab the ledger. Now. We have to get out of here.” He looked around the room. A couch. A table. Magazines. Nothing seemed out of place.
“What are you you talking about? What happened to your face?” Her hand gently traced the egg that was his check. He noticed the bruises on her arm had faded. He noticed that her robe was open just enough to tantalize. He pulled her close and spoke quietly.
“You need to get the ledger and we need to get out of here. There isn’t time for anything else.” Feeling the curves of her pressed up against him his body tried to convince him otherwise. He pushed her away. “Hurry. Please.”
She lifted up a coach cushion and undid the zipper. From the fluff inside she pulled a leather wrapped notebook. The phone rang. Before he could stop he she picked it up. “Hello?” From the earpiece he could hear a cold, high pitched voice.
“Bowser Junior says you and your book can go to hell. And in less than ten seconds you will.”
“Who is this?” Peach asked. Luigi grabbed her by the arm and yanked, pulling her out the door and down the stoop. They were halfway in the street when the building exploded, knocking them over.
Luigi’s vision swam. His ears rang. There was a sense of floating. He couldn’t form words. He couldn’t form thoughts. Colors flashed by him. In the distance he could hear trumpets. He floated. Why would there be trumpets in the ocean?
“Hey mister, wake up!” there was a sharp pain to his face. Luigi blinked and tried to make his eyes focus? He was laying on some kind of couch. In front of him were two blobs. He blinked again and harder. When he opened his eyes again the blobs were replaced by Peach, now wearing a green and red cabbie jacket over her robe and Yoshi. “Where am I?” he managed to get out.
“You saved me life!” Peach answered falling into his limp arms.
“When the place exploded you must have hit your head. The lady helped me get you into the cab and then we took off. This is my place,” Yoshi explained.
“Why help?” Luigi stammered out.
“Cause no one good would try to blow up such a pretty lady.
Luigi slowly managed to make his arms move and wrapped them around the now dry Peach. He wanted to enjoy this moment of peace. The smell of her hair. The weight of her resting just right on his chest. The smooth feel of the back of her neck. This was a little piece of heaven. He wanted to remember it.
Because tomorrow he would need to strike back.