On the other side of Central Park, far from the earnest police and the intrusive paparazzi, the Snake ran on one of the park’s jogging paths, just another person among several who managed to enjoy the park even on a cold February morning such as this. Unlike the others enjoying the park though, he was very different from the rest of them. He was a monster, a creature that wore human skin but on the inside was as dark and as dangerous as Legion. If anyone else knew what he was, what he’d done in order to become this monster, any love or compassion they might have for him would be lost in overwhelming fear and disgust.
Except perhaps for one person. One who could see his good side. It was that person who was motivating the Snake in his crusade, though they probably didn’t know it yet. But they would, and by then all of the Camerlengos would feel his wrath.
The Snake stopped by a tree and took a long sip from his water bottle. Beside him a large dog with grey hair and a long tail was panting, looking pleased to be out and about getting exercise in a place full of so many different smells. Around them, people pointed and stared at the large dog, as if it were an alien rather than a canine.
You’d think none of these dura’kihave ever seen an Irish wolfhound before. the Snake thought, swallowing his water. “Linda.” he said to the dog. “Be’gi.” Let’s go.
With a yip Linda starting running, the Snake jogging beside her. He’d trained Linda from the time she was a small pup, taught her to obey his commands in Russian. The training had paid off well and the Snake was pleased. Although Linda was normally docile, at a single command or even a whiff of danger to her master she could become a dangerous attack dog and a vicious homage to her ancestors who had hunted and killed wolves in the Irish forests and fields of old.
Just as he turned a bend, Snake caught sight of someone whose face he recognized, someone whom he’d searched for and found on the internet last night. Bozhe moy, he thought. What luck! How unexpected!
The Snake slowed to a walk, Linda pulling up next to him to match his pace. Seeing a nearby tree, Snake sat down and pulled out a tennis ball from his sweatshirt. Linda saw the ball and immediately started wagging her tail in joy. The Snake teased her for a second, then raised his arm and threw the ball in a direction with few people in the way. Linda bounded after the ball, her long legs catching up to it in seconds.
The Snake played with Linda for a while, lobbing the ball away from him while she ran to fetch it and bring it back. And while they played, the Snake listened to the conversation of his next target, Thomas Luiso, as he conversed in Italian to the two friends he had met with, unaware that the man sitting by a tree and playing with his giant dog was fluent in Italian.
As he listened he stole a glance at Luiso, a large, beefy man with a military buzz cut, puckish lips, and a shark tattoo on his left hand. The Snake thought Luiso looked like a bald fish on land and wondered if he smelled fishy too. Not that he wanted to check, of course
As the Snake turned his head away he heard Luiso address a question to one of the two men with him. “So, is it true that James Sanonia’s cousin was murdered?”
“It looks to be that way.” said one of the men with Luiso. “And he was murdered by the same man too, it seems.”
Luiso swore in Italian. “The man who might be a Russian.” he said. “Mr. Camerlengo will not be happy when he hears this. If we don’t find this bastard soon, the other bosses and their families will start to think they’re better than us. Especially those fucking Russians! Dio Maledetto!”
The Snake had to stop himself from laughing. You’re worried about your reputation? Snake thought. Not what I would be worried about if I were you. But you’ll learn. You’ll all learn what happens when you take what’s most precious to me!
And the Snake would be careful when he taught them. He would not allow the police to find him, he would not leave any trace evidence pointing to him. He would not do anything more than alert the police to the bodies he’d leave behind, and he would not seek publicity. He knew from too many movies and books that the moment the villain tried to let people know he was the villain, that was the moment it was assured he would fail.
And the Snake would not fail. More importantly, he could not fail. There was too much at stake.
As the men continued speaking in Italian, Snake caught Luiso saying that he needed to get going. One of the men asked if they were still having dinner at Luiso’s home that weekend. Luiso indicated yes and gave the address. Snake felt his spirits soar as he heard the address. Now he knew where his target lived! It was as if God Himself was helping him bring his target to a very painful end.
As the men parted ways and Luiso headed towards Fifth Street, the Snake followed behind with Linda, keeping a steady distance. On Fifth Street Luiso got into a cab, which drove down the street, turned left, and out of sight.
Snake watched calmly with Linda. For now, everything was going well. His first two victims had served their purpose, he hadn’t been caught yet, and the Camerlengos were getting angry and nervous and were looking for him.
Of course, they’d never find him. After all, only the Snake knew the truth about himself. Most importantly, he knew the one thing that everyone assumed was true was false. He was no Russian adult in the mob like they probably guessed he was. He wasn’t even an adult yet! He was an eighteen-year-old American teenager who hadn’t even graduated high school yet!