The meal continues in absolute silence, giving me time to think. After the lovely little tip Mercy gave me before he died in my arms, I've carried on my a small bottle of fish sauce to poison him with. But Lizzie has been by my side ever since we entered the kitchen and I haven't been able to imagine a good enough reason to go into the kitchen and slip it into all the bottles I can find. So far though, it seems like my only option. It would be completely barbaric to slit Garcia's throat and spill blood all over the authentic Greek salad and casserole Carole cooked us.
As I count down the minutes until the meal is over, I sense that there is something wrong with Lizzie's mother. She is so stiff and quiet and clearly upset. There are tears threatening to spill from her eyes.
Just when I feel she is about to speak, it's Lizzie who opens her mouth.
"Dad, this is completely pointless."
Garcia is about to swallow a mouthful of food. He stops and stares at Lizzie.
"This charade. This dinner you think is 'family time' when really, it's just forced. You're trying to show Jess that we can all be a family. But we haven't been a family since you took over the company and Mom got sick."
"Every family goes through trails Lizzie," he says. "That's why we need to make time for each other."
"It's compulsory. I was supposed to go to the shack, but you threatened me–"
"Don't be ridiculous!" he snaps. His eyes dart to me as if worried I would think different of him for that accusation. Little does he know I am aware of his deep, dark secrets. "I'm trying to be better, honey, work is just–"
"That's complete bullshit and you know it."
Garcia's face falls. Lizzie stares him down and I admire her bravery. He can be terrifying when he wants to be.
"Don't use that tone with me Elizabeth."
I see Carole get up and walk to the kitchen. They don't pay attention to her. How did she do that so easily?
"You swear all the time, Dad!" yells Danny.
"Stay out of this," Garcia warns him.
"No Dad," says Lizzie, "this time we're standing up for each other. Did you know Danny got arrested the other week?"
Garcia smiles. "Of course I did. I paid his bail."
"From Las Vegas. A week later."
"What the hell was I supposed to do?"
"At least answer my one phone call," Danny scowls. "I sat in there for a week before Mom could even reach you. Even then, you stayed in Vegas. The only time you even cared was when that Louis Carter guy who works for you threatened to go public with it."
I nearly spit out my sip of water and literally choke on a cough. For a moment, the family stops to frown at me, but then Danny continues to argue while I have a mini heart attack.
How many Louis Carters can there be in this business? The man I shot in cold blood that night at the warehouse wasn't a sex trafficker like Morrison said – he was one of Garcia's employees.
So why did the Mafia want him dead? To protect Garcia? That can't be right, they want Garcia dead as well. But they saved his reputation. If Louis did go public about Danny's jail time, he'd have hell to pay from the media.
Jesus. I saved the ass of the guy I'm supposed to kill.
What is the Mafia playing at?
"That's enough," spits Garcia and I snap back to reality. "I'm done listening to you whine and complain, Daniel, about ever little–"
"All I wanted," Lizzie interrupts him. "Was to go down to the shack with my friends this weekend. Of all the weekends you decide to actually care about this family, it has to be this one." She looks at me with sad eyes. "I'm sorry you have to hear this Jess."
I gaze down at my untouched plate. "It's okay, um ... I'm just going to help your mom in the kitchen."
I carefully slip out of my seat and take my plate to the kitchen. There, Carole is busying herself with an amazing sticky-date pudding. I keep my eye on Garcia and see him get to his feet, continuing the argument in that slippery, evil tone of his. I can slip just enough of this fish sauce into the pudding and no one will see me. Carole seems to be in her own world right now, fetching cream from the fridge.
I unscrew the lid and face the kitchen table.
"I want the both of you to listen to me," says Garcia. "I may not be home every night to cook for you like your mother does, but–"
"She doesn't cook because she has cancer!" yells Danny.
"And when you are home," adds Lizzie and she turns her cheek toward him. "You take your anger out on us."
I freeze with the bottle in my hand and stare in shock at Lizzie, then at Garcia who is about to rage that Lizzie finally revealed the truth behind her wounds. Then I look at Carole. Tears are streaming down her face. She looks worse than ever.
I want to say this family is fucked up. I want to end it. But a part of me is wondering whether there might be a chance for change. Clearly Garcia is hurting from the attack he is getting and Lizzie and Danny are finally releasing what needs to be heard. Carole's illness is somehow bringing them together, making them realize that they need to be a family now more than ever.
My hand shakes as I hold the bottle of fish sauce. I remind myself that Garcia is just as heartless as he was when he sent his men to kill Mercy. But what does that make me?
"You have no idea what I've done for this family. See all these nice things we have? This house?" He indicates to the living room and the pool outside. "This is because of me. I think it's time you all start treating me with a little more respect."
Lizzie glares up at him. "How could I ever respect a monster like you?"
All of a sudden, Garcia grabs Lizzie by her hair and throws her head down on the table. Carole screams. I could stop him, but I don't want to draw attention to myself, or give Garcia reason to mistrust me. I pretend that I'm frozen in shock. And I pour half the bottle of fish sauce onto the pudding.
Lizzie's right. Garcia is a monster.
Danny runs around the table, but his father throws his arm into his stomach and Danny groans, bent over. Lizzie lies on the floor, covering her bleeding forehead. Carole stands beside me, her shoulders quivering with sobs.
And Garcia turns to me.
YOU ARE READING
Free as a JailbirdGeneral Fiction
Jess Knight likes her freedom. Despite being in jail for about sixty-five percent of her teenage life, she is in complete control. But there's only one problem: she doesn't know her purpose. One day, everything changes. Her reputation as the younges...