The Cadaverinis, Shelly had been told, were a powerful family, well-known and feared in the underworld. The De Killers had worked with them in the past – with caution, of course; one must be careful not to get tangled in these complicated Mafia affairs – and that, as far as he understood, was why his mentor sent him to meet Bruto Cadaverini, their especially feared head.
In hindsight, being told that it would be “a learning experience,” along with having to go alone, should have been like a bright yellow stoplight to him, but that’s the thing about hindsight.
He looked presentable enough, he supposed. He was wearing his best suit and his hair was… as orderly as he could get it. Not that looks mattered much, of course, but first impressions do, and, as he came nearer to the Cadaverinis’s residence, he hoped that he would be successful in his intentions. Five seconds later, he was told otherwise by a bullet that grazed the tip of his hair.
… And another one. And a few more dozens of them, all too close for his comfort.
Peeking from the safety of the cover he had quickly found (thank God for solid concrete walls), he scanned his shooters – one, a short, balding middle-aged man in their center, growling commands, stood out; their leader, without a doubt. Bruto Cadaverini.
The barrage of bullets showed no signs of stopping for more than a few seconds at a time, so Shelly tried to calmly settle the situation.
“I-I-I c-come in peace!” Oh, good. They stopped.
“Like hell you do!” Bruto shouted back before resuming his attacks.
“P-Please, sir, may I explain myself?!” He silently thanked the heavens that the mobsters couldn’t see his face at that moment – he was having a fair amount of trouble keeping himself stoic.
The shooting stopped again. “… Who are you?”
“I am de Killer!” In fact, the title would be fully his in a year or two. However, for the sake of convenience (and for getting used to), he was already using the name when the situation called for it. But he lacked the time for such internal monologue, because he was getting shot at again.
“I know de Killer, and he’s not you, kid! And let me tell you, he wouldn’t be hiding like a little pansy!”
Well, that was a failure. He could only think of one more way to get his identity across, and it could end with a bullet in his arm, but even that was still preferable to one in his skull. At their next pause, while they reloaded their weapons, Shelly quickly raised his hand to show them a small calling card decorated with a stylized seashell.
Bruto Cadaverini signaled his men to stop and stepped forward, coming to a halt near the intruder’s hand – which, he noted, was shaking; it was close to unnoticeable, but still unacceptable – on the other side of the wall. While he examined the card, there was nothing but silence.
“Christ, he wasn’t kidding. It really is baby pink.” He sighed – though coming from him, it sounded more like a groan. “Right, come out, kid.”
Shelly passed through the gate to the other side of the wall just in time to see the other mobsters put their guns down. With his best smile, he held out his hand for the leader. “… Shelly de Killer, sir.”
“So you’re his little protégé,” he grunted as he shook the younger man’s hand – or tried to break it, it wasn’t clear. “I’ve got no idea what he sees in you.”
“He… He has told you about me?”
“You come up in conversation every so often.” He started making his way indoors and gestured at Shelly to follow him. “I hope you weren’t the one who convinced him he’s ‘getting old.’” The tone in which Bruto said that almost made him afraid to answer, even though he knew the answer was obviously “of course not.”
“If I may ask… Do you, ah, welcome all of your guests in… this way?”
“Just most of them. Besides, we were expecting people today. The damn Rivales…”
The name was only vaguely familiar, but he realized that interrupting Bruto to ask about it was likely to be a bad idea.
“Wait, do you even know who they are?” The man scowled at Shelly’s silence. “It figures. They’re not really important, but they always think they’re the best boys in town and that’s why they keep messing with the big fish. It’s like they live just to pick fights with everyone else, I tell you.”
“They… only antagonize other families? Do they do nothing else?”
Neither of them quite saw the humour in the situation. It is speculated that most people in Japanifornia have developed some sort of immunity to puns and plays on words, in order to preserve their sanity.
“They’re coming!” A random crony rushed in. “And Robbie’s with them!”
“Dammit!” Bruto then pulled a machine gun out of… Shelly wasn’t sure, truth be told. He could have sworn it appeared from thin air, but he immediately dismissed the idea as ridiculous. “Oh, right. Robbie’s kind of a big one in their ranks. We’ve been planning to take him down and… Agh, no.”
“… Yes?” The young man could guess where this was going. From the way Bruto glared at him then, he could see that was he was right. “Ah, well, I am afraid that will not be possible, sir. I am still not acting alone, and I need Mr. de Killer’s support and supervision in order to…”
“Oh, thank God. I was afraid I’d have to depend on you.” At the same time he screamed at his men to get into position, he ran to the nearest phone, followed by Shelly. “Okay, de Killer, I need you here pronto. It’s what we were talking about the other day, the Rivales…”
The voice on the other side of the line came calm and… amused? “Is he there yet?”
“Hahahah, you know who I mean.”
“… Yeah. Yeah, your little precious is here, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything—“
“He’ll handle things. Now excuse me, I’m… enjoying my off time here.”
Before Bruto could ask him why the hell he sounded like he was munching on popcorn, de Killer hung up. As for Shelly, he was more than almost afraid to ask about the enraged look on his face.
“Alright, kid, you listen good now! I’ve already discussed the payment with your daddy, so get ready, and I swear, if you mess this up…”
“Understood, sir.” He brought no weapons with him, but he was sure he could improvise something. Still, he tried to keep a mental note for the future: always come prepared.
Then, chaos broke loose. This was hardly an exaggeration – the Rivales seemingly had no plan at all and simply burst inside, guns in hand. They were numerous, however, and that was enough to make them dangerous.
Bruto Cadaverini lifted his head from cover to look around, and he was not at all pleased by what he did not see. “Oh, great, now the kid’s gone! Goddammit, the next time I see de Killer…”
A man with a popped collar distanced himself from the rest of his group: Robbie Rivale. “Hey, hiding’s no fair! How are we gonna shoot you this way?”
“For Christ’s sake, Robbie, get a life.”
“But this IS my life, Bruto!”
“This ain’t helping you sound any less sad, Robbie.”
Both were oblivious to the series of men being silently knocked out.
“How about this… You get out of here now and I only shoot you in the leg once.”
“Don’t be that way!” Robbie sighed. “Listen… My wife hasn’t talked to me in weeks. My kids try to pretend they’re not my kids. Mom always cries when she looks at me, you know! So, see, if I walk outta here with something to be proud of…”
“Did I ask you for your life story?!”
“But… But, Bruto!” He could barely conceal his sob. “You don’t get it, do you? You never did!”
“For Christ’s sake, Robbie,” he said as he stood up and faced him, rolling his eyes.
“Listen… Listen to me, Bruto! I want you to know… Deep down in my heart, I still lo—!“ Where did those arms around his neck come from?
Snap. Thump. Quick, efficient, cold.
The assassin coughed.
For once, Bruto Cadaverini was completely speechless.
“… W-Well, then…” Shelly smiled with a small, polite bow. “I do believe I am done here. It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cadaverini.”
The man’s next phone call to de Killer consisted of a mere “You smartass” before an immediate hang-up.