49) SYMPHONY OF PLAYERS
Sylvia became ecstatic at the fact her son would soon be home. Fred called her to give her the news about Raphael’s release from Lakeview. At first, she assumed his release to result from Fred putting pressure on the court.
“No Sylvia,” Fred said, I can’t take credit for getting Raphael out. His release resulted in the Prosecutor’s statement to the Judge about Raul’s death. I guess the court understood you needed your son back to give you support.”
“I don’t care who gave the order,” Sylvia chirped, “I’m glad he’s coming home.”
She didn’t ask if Raul’s death happened because of his handiwork; she didn’t need to. Fred previously told her his connections were extensive and now she believed him. Her central focus would be to get through the burial, the insurance settlement and the business agreements with Fred. Shopping for a new house would come later.
Marcia staggered over to the liquor cabinet to fix another drink for herself. For two days, she self-medicated herself with barbiturates and booze. Raul’s death gave way to her depressed mood. When her friend Suzy came to visit, she visibly showed shock at Marcia’s condition.
“Marcia,” she pleaded, “you can’t keep doing this. I don’t want to find out you overdosed on something.”
“He didn’t need to die,” Marcia slurred. “I loved him and we planned to get married when he got rid of his bitch wife.”
“He told you he would be leaving Sylvia?” Suzy inquired.
“Not in so many words,” Marcia admitted. “But he wasn’t happy. I’m sure he wanted to leave her. He only wanted to make sure he retained connection with his son. He’s in Lakeview Boot Camp at the moment, but he will be out next spring.”
Marcia got up to pour another drink. , she tripped over the settee and fell head first to the Oriental rug on the floor. Suzy jumped up from her chair and ran to help her.
“Oh, honey,” she cried, “let me help you up.”
“I’m alright,” she croaked, “I just want another drink. I’m gonna drink until I can figure out how to deal with that slime bag Sandez.”
“Sandez ... who is Sandez?” she asked.
“He’s a big shot who owns a bunch of businesses in the city,” Marcia replied. “Raul used to get Cocaine from him. He thinks he can push people around and I know he’s responsible for Raul’s death.”
Raphael breathed a sigh of relief as he got off the transport van in Manhattan. The driver let him out right at his front door, and Sylvia ran to greet him. She put her arms around him in a big hug as the van drove away.
“I’m nso nglad to be nhome Mommy,” he assured. “But I’m nsad too.”
“I understand Raphael,” she echoed, “come inside and we’ll cry together.”
Sylvia led him into the house and they went directly to the living room. Resting on the coffee table sat a large layer cake bearing the words ‘Welcome Home Raphael’. Sitting on the couch, was Raphael’s black leather jacket, his baseball cap and a wrapped present.
“What’s nthat Mommy?” he questioned.
“Natasha and I baked and decorated the cake,” she announced, “as soon as we found out about your release. I remembered you wanted your leather coat, so I laid it out for you. The present is for your birthday coming up next week.”
Raphael beamed at his mother and gave her another hug. Tears welled up in his eyes, partially because of the sorrow of losing his father but mostly because the love for his mother.
“Thank you Mommy,” he sniffed, “but I nmiss Daddy.”
“I do too Honey,” Sylvia conceded, “but you and I must go on. We need to work hard like Daddy would want us too. Now you are back, your job is to do especially good in school.”
“Are nthey going to put nme back in nmy old class?” Raphael bubbled.
“I would imagine so,” she reasoned, “but we will find out on Friday. I’m going with you. Tomorrow we will go say goodbye to Daddy at his funeral.”
“I’m ngoing to nmiss Daddy,” Raphael moaned. “I will nmiss him a nlot.”
Sylvia didn’t reply.
Suzy stayed overnight at Marcia’s house to keep an eye on her. Often, she caught Marcia, keeping her from falling into the liquor cabinet. The poor girl couldn’t stand straight, much less walk. Marcia finally passed out on the couch and Suzy slept on the love seat. In the morning, Marcia appeared surprised when she arose and found Suzy in the kitchen fixing breakfast.
“What happened last night?” Marcia wondered. “I don’t remember anything from the time I got home yesterday.”
“I found you quite drunk already when I got here,” Suzy accused, “I stayed because I worried about you. Why didn’t you tell me you and Raul had become lovers? And what’s this bullshit you said about some guy named Sandez?”
“Rolland Sandez,” Marcia nodded. “Raul did legal work for him while Sandez provided cocaine in return. Raul said often how Sandez seemed to be a dangerous man. He pulled a gun on Raul once to scare him; and seeing the gun convinced him. Raul said he needed to stay on his good side because Sandez would kill him if he didn’t. I’m sure he killed Raul and I intend to find out.”
“Marcia,” Suzy advised, “you should alert the police. I don’t think you should get involved if the guy is supposedly a bad-ass. You might end up dead.”
“Suzy,” Marcia argued, “don’t worry. I will not do anything stupid. I’m not even positive he has anything to do with Raul’s death. But I will find out.”
Friday came and Sylvia rode with Raphael on the subway to his school. She went with him because she wanted a face to face talk with the administrator, Mr. Brooks.
“Mrs. Hernandez,” Brooks apologized, “I’m so sorry for your loss. We will do anything here to help Raphael get situated again. I reviewed his grades and we are happy to place him in the same classes he previously attended in before he left.′
“Thank you for your considerations, Mr. Brooks,” Sylvia confirmed. “That’s my reason for coming today. My late husband would appreciate your efforts too.”
Sylvia shook hands with the administrator and left to go to work. Mr. Brooks escorted Raphael to his class in Social Studies. The teacher, Mrs. Rhondell, showed surprise to see his familiar face.
“Well, look who is back class,” she beamed. “Let’s all welcome Raphael back to our class.”
Seeing all the familiar students reminded Raphael of old home week. Mrs. Rhondell gave them all a moment to welcome their old friend back into class and smiled at the genuine friendship being displayed.
“OK class,” she encouraged, “let’s settle down. Raphael, we are still discussing how the states got their names. Who can tell me how Virginia got its name?”
“I know,” shouted Teddy, “the state is named after a virgin.”
“You are partially correct Teddy,” Mrs. Rhondell confided, “but who can tell me why?”
“Virginia got its name from Elizabeth the 1st,” Sally broke in, “also known as The Virgin Queen.”
“Very Good Sally,” the teacher responded, “You gave an excellent answer.”
The rest of the day went as scheduled. Raphael suffered a panic attack of sorts because he hadn’t seen his friend Eve at lunch or in the hallways. He hoped she still attended this school because he gave her a ring. He assumed the ring made her his girlfriend.
Because of today being Friday, he thought she possibly took the day off to make a long weekend. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, because not seeing her gave him extra time to review his ‘Pictorial Guide to Love’ book. He intended to put the lessons into play with Eve soon .
Sylvia continued to work hard at the Rescue Mission when a courier brought in a bouquet of flowers in a crystal vase. The card read ‘Sylvia, my condolences on your loss - Please call me when you can -M’. She could see the flowers came from Mark Lawrence, the owner of MassEye Investigations. She also remembered Mark suggested he would enjoy getting involved with her. She picked up the phone and dialed his private number.
“Mark,” she began, “What a nice surprise when I came into work today. Thank you for the flowers.”
“Sylvia,” he reassured, “I’m so sorry to hear Raul passed on; especially after all we talked about the last time we met.”
Mark referred to the fact he wanted a relationship with Sylvia if she divorced Raul for cheating on her. The issue became a moot point now because Raul was out of the picture. Sylvia previously told Mark a relationship with him would be out of the question. At least until she figured out what direction her life would go. Now, Raul’s death conveniently removed a major roadblock.
Sylvia also remembered Mark expressed a desire to bed her down. Perhaps having sex would be what she needed now; to relieve some of the stress she experienced. Mark looked attractive enough and when he placed her hand on his crotch, she determined he felt equipped enough.
“I can’t talk right now,” she explained, “but I’m taking a personal day Monday. Would you be able to meet me at my home?”
“I can arrange a meeting on Monday Sylvia,” Mark answered. “What time would you like me there?”
“How about 10 A.M. or so?” she stated. “I’m doing errands in the afternoon, but my morning is free.”
“I’ll be there Sylvia; count on it.”
Mark sat back in his easy chair and smiled because he knew he would get lucky.
Raphael’s weekend went by at the speed of a snail on an icy uphill road. He wanted to visit his friends at the Penn Station but couldn’t think of a viable excuse to get out of the house. Weekdays was much easier because Sylvia worked until 5:00 P.M. and he found the extra time convenient to stop on his way home from school.
So he spent this weekend flipping through the new books his mother bought him as an early birthday present. He also studied his ‘Love Guide’ sex manual. He wanted to be well versed in the ways of love for the time he finally got with Eve. And he hoped getting together would be soon.
Fred smiled when he read the news account of Raul’s death. With his mission accomplished to get rid of his partner, Sylvia owed him ‘big time’. The paper lauded Raul as a ‘well known’ metropolitan lawyer which wasn’t exactly true. He only worked as a junior partner in the firm. When Fred turned the page and read about the death of Stephen Dexter, he burst out laughing.
‘I guess that’s one debt I won’t be obligated to honor,’ he thought.
He rolled back in his chair and thought about Sylvia. Perhaps he could cut Raul’s share away from her and still get in her pants.
He needed to put thought into the idea.