A LOVELY SHADE OF BLUE - MICHAEL J. SOLENDER
After four decades, Enzo ‘Campy’ Campaglio had finally achieved the respectability for the Campaglio name that had been long coveted by all those who preceded him in the family business. Lighting up a Cohiba on his Manhattan penthouse balcony overlooking Central Park West, plumes of yellow smoke encircled his chin as he shot one smoke ring after another out of his mouth in rapid succession, a self-entertaining game he played since his brother taught him how to smoke in the Jersey Shore tenement they grew up in 45 years earlier.
Campy, an insufferable insomniac, was actually enjoying this sleepless Tuesday evening. Inside the penthouse, a fire roared and there was fifty year-old brandy in the snifter. His accommodations, the brandy and even the Cuban cigar he was enjoying were just part of the perks that came with being the $250 million dollar donor and namesake to the Enzo Campaglio medical Institute at Cornell University.
He would catch an early morning charter up to Ithaca. At tonight’s earlier dinner at 21 in midtown, he had been honored by the trustees and regents privately, no media. Tomorrow, the real fanfare would unfold allowing Campy to puff up on cue like a teenage girl’s bust line at her very first prom.
With $250 mil in donations and a decade long promise of matching endowment contributions, Campy had ensured any past indiscretions would be overlooked and his children, grandchildren and their children would wear the Campaglio name with pride and be assured of coveted placement in both undergraduate and graduate classes at the prestigious Ivy League Institution. Tomorrow’s dinner and lifetime of giving recognition award would be his crowning achievement.
At 41, the Viper had retired at the top of her game. 13 hits, each completed with no snags. Each without one drop of blood being spilled. Not one involved the stature of anyone less situated than a Mafia underboss and 2 had vaulted her into the stratosphere and pantheon of legendary Mafia hit-men, or in the Viper’s case, hit-women.
Senator George H. George from the great State of Nevada and Supreme Court Chief Justice Jason P. Stanley had both died ‘natural’ deaths according to the press and all concerned. Yet the FBI, Secret Service and more than a few connected Mafia Family bosses knew their deaths were engineered by the living legend and babe of no equal, the Viper.
Not a single hit had ever generated a murder charge. Her techniques were so sophisticated, so effective and so completely crafty, the resources the nation’s top law enforcement agencies brought to bear were useless in revealing the true impetus behind the baker’s dozen of deaths she’d left behind.
Lucky Polgna was dropped straight into his Puntenesca from an acute asthma attack after meeting with the Viper for dinner. Her plunging cleavage and barefoot crotch massage under the dinner table proved too much for the aging strongman.
Bones Bennedetii had to have the ivory queen chess piece pried from his hand by the paramedics as they worked on getting his heart restarted. The midnight round of ‘naked chess’ with the Viper had proved to be fatal as she was more interested in his ‘bishop’ which, when stroked convincingly, proved to be check and checkmate for the Double B.
Self-asphyxiation was the coroner’s ruling for both the Senator and the Chief Justice, but each of these was hushed up given the American public’s peccadilloes for public servants and the FBI’s interest in keeping their ineptitude under wraps. Each death had been preceded by a visit from a mysterious leggy brunette. She had been described as breathtakingly beautiful with hazel/green eyes, legs for days, toned calves and firmly rounded butt cheeks. A gumdrop for a nose and pouty lips, always glossed in the reddest red completed the package - the Viper was a stunner.
Yet she seemed to live only in the good guys’ and the bad guys’ minds. No one could categorically say they had ever met her. All her hits were arranged through intermediaries. Funds were paid to numbered Swiss bank accounts. She always delivered, and she ALWAYS got paid.
Law enforcement agencies were told innumerable stories of a mysterious, gorgeous, tall brunette around alleged crime scenes, but no one had ever turned up. She was never available for questioning, never appeared in any photo books and, thus, never positively identified.
She simply did not exist - only a nickname to go by, the Viper.
Legend had it she came by the nickname by holding cobra venom in her mouth inside a specially rigged atomizer and ‘spit’ it into the eyes of her first hit by biting down on the device as her victim lay on his back, his flagpole at full attention in her right hand, waiting patiently for his fob to be bobbed.
Her bags packed, she was dawdling a bit this Wednesday morning having freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee with her pumpernickel bagel and schmear in her Park Avenue manse. A two column inline item on the society page of the Times piqued her interest. She was running late for her private charter to Antigua when she nearly spit her coffee. The headline said it all: Cornell Honors Campaglio at Evening Fete Tonight.
“Yes, Miss!” The Viper’s pilot always answered on the first ring, always. “Yes, Miss, I’ll change the flight plan right away. Ithaca in two hours, yes, Miss!”
Manny Maniscalco was a two bit hood who would have been lucky to see his 30th birthday. He wasn’t that lucky. There was nothing remarkable about Maniscalco, other than 35 years earlier, he ran numbers and women in Jersey City and was rubbed out by an up-and-coming mob tough by the name of Campy Campiglio. The only tears shed for Manny back then were from his bride and his 6 year-old daughter, Elise.
Campy loosened his tie. What an evening. He didn’t think he’d get emotional but with his wife, kids and grandkids all there cheering as the entire room full of distinguished guest gave him that standing ovation. It was all too much. He was glad to have sent them all back to the city. He would join them in the morning for Christmas shopping. He needed to meet with the University President and the Provost in the morning; there was no need for his family to be held up.
No, Campy was content to sit by the fire this late December evening and enjoy the private VIP domicile of the University’s very special guest. He sent the 24 hour butler away and laid back in the solitude of the warm den overlooking the forested, pastoral and now snowy private grounds.
The limo had a small amount of difficulty navigating the snowy roads leading to the private University residence but managed to arrive there at precisely 1:00 A.M. The driver watched in awe as his passenger, a leggy brunette, aimed what appeared to be a laser beam at the card reader at the private gate leading to the secluded property. The gate opened effortlessly and five minutes later, he pulled up to the main house where she instructed him to wait, lights off, motor running for at most a half hour. He was glad she allowed him to run the car; it was freezing and the snow was getting heavier.
The driver thought it strange that his ermine-swaddled client with 4 inch stilettos took a thermos and a small black bag with her as she left his company and headed to the door.
Campy had fallen asleep in front of the fire. When he awakened and saw the gorgeous lanky creature with rock-hard tits and nothing on but a full-length mink coat, he smiled and made a note to himself to personally thank the University President in the morning.
“Well, they certainly have thought of everything to make my stay an enjoyable one.” Campy started to sit up.
“Sit back and relax, sweetie. Let me fix you another drink. Yes, your hosts are most thoughtful. I’ll be here with you until the sun comes up. In the meantime, why don’t you get more comfortable?”
The Viper slipped a small envelope of white powder into the brandy she handed Campy. He already had his pants off and couldn’t even get his drink onto the end table before he passed out cold.
The Viper moved quickly. She opened her bag and took out a catheter. The thin plastic tubing was attached to a bread bag-sized bladder in one self-contained unit. She lubed the business end of the tubing and threaded it into Campy’s flaccid member.
That got his attention as his eyes opened; he could talk, but couldn’t move a muscle. He very distinctly felt the burning sensation of the catheter in his penis and saw the bag filling rapidly with his urine.
“What the FUCK! Do you know who you are fucking with? You bitch! I’ll have you killed...” He was slurring, groggy but awake enough to know he wasn’t in control, just the way the Viper wanted it.
“I know exactly who I’m dealing with, but apparently you don’t. Let's just say I’m settling an old score. A 35 year old score.”
The bag, now filled half full with Campy’s urine, was tossed aside but the catheter line remained in and the Viper was now opening her thermos and pouring the smoking liquid/gas into a special insulated bag that she had affixed back onto the attached apparatus.
“What are you doing?” Campy was whining. “What the fuck is that shit?”
“Liquid nitrogen, you cocksucker. I was only six years old when you popped my father but, to this day, I remember him saying what a cold prick you were. For 35 years, all I ever could remember about you was two words: Cold. Prick. I’ve had a long time to plan this.”
With that, the Viper gave the bag a squeeze and filled the catheter with the gaseous liquid. Campy’s dick immediately turned the most bizarre shade of blue the Viper had ever seen.
Campy Campaglio was found completely naked in a snow bank the next morning outside the main residence at the University VIP quarters. Officially, the cause of death was listed as exposure. The coroner could not explain the strange mutilation to Campy’s privates - they were frozen solid like a big, teal popsicle - and was only too glad to be told by his superiors that he need not report those findings, EVER.
“Is that it? Is that island, Antigua?” the Viper asked her pilot as they began their approach into the azure-rimmed land mass.
“Yes, Miss, it sure is. Have you ever seen such a lovely shade of blue?”
BIO: Michael J. Solender loves to play Texas Hold’em with his buddies. He blogs at Not From Here, Are You?