Title: Where Eagles Fly
Copyright © Sage Amante 2003, 2004. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
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Parallax - Part 11
Max waived out the car window to his wife as he backed out of the driveway. The shower, light breakfast, and coffee had rejuvenated him.
His wife had tried to convince him to take a nap, but he had too many things to do. He had to keep busy, to keep his mind off the sound of the plane crashing into the ground and the burning smell that still permeated his senses. He needed to feel useful, as if he was doing something for Lark just as he knew she would do for him if the circumstances were reversed.
The traffic on I-95 was bumper-to-bumper. It soon came to a dead stop, and Max was thankful for the delay. It gave him time to think and to regroup. By now, the office knew of Larks disappearance and possible death, and Max was glad he had called Sam, John, and Jake before the media broke the news. He dreaded seeing them face-to-face. The bond forged between Lark and the four men was so strong that they all knew it could only be severed by death. Now it seemed their bond was broken, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Max's reverie was interrupted by the sound of a horn honking behind him, and he realized that the traffic had started moving again but he had not. He started to treat the other driver to an obscene gesture but changed his mind. 'Probably some nut,' he mused, 'who will start shooting everyone on the expressway at the least excuse. Fuck it!'
Max pulled away with a screech of tires but had to slam on his brakes almost immediately as the traffic in front of him slowed to a dead crawl once again. He felt the car behind hit his bumper and saw the driver jump out and run across three lanes of traffic.
Max laughed to himself. 'A fucking carjacker or illegal,' he thought. 'What the hell else can happen?' He didn't have to wait long for an answer to his question as his mobile phone rang. "Cauthen here," he answered.
"What do you want?" Max asked, recognizing the gruff voice immediately.
Cipriano Antonelli paused. "A little more respect, Max," he said.
"I respect you, Tony, I just don't understand you," Max replied. "I wondered when youd call."
"Look, Max, I don't have time for this crap," Antonelli barked. "It's time to plan Ter ... Lark's funeral. You know that I can't do it. I need you to do it."
"Jesus Christ, Tony. This is your kid we're talking about. It's time you came up for air and did the right thing."
Antonelli sighed. "Look, I'm trying to do the right thing. If you won't do this for me, do it for Lark. I thought you cared about her."
Max felt the muscles in his neck and jaw tighten. If he could have reached through the phone, he would have strangled Lark's father with his bare hands. "How dare you question what I felt feel for Lark. I loved her, you son-of-a-bitch, which is more than I can say for you."
"Sometimes things aren't what they seem, Max," Antonelli said wearily. "Sometimes it's a parallax view."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Never mind," Antonelli said, the coldness returning to his voice. "Now listen, call Woodlawn. Closed casket. Put her picture on top. Order up some flowers. Try to get the funeral set for Saturday morning. I own some plots at Woodlawn. Her mother's in one them; bury her next to her mother."
"Yes sir, Mr. Antonelli. Anything else, Mr. Antonelli?" Max asked sarcastically.
"Well, now that you mention it," Tony replied, "after the funeral bring the little blonde to my boat. The Blue Lotus, Pier 66 Marina. You can come along."
"Thanks for nothing," Max said.
"So you'll do it?"
Max furrowed his brows. "Yeah, it's against my better judgment, but I'll do it. Only I don't think Judge Lonigan will be willing to come."
"So don't tell her where she's going." Antonelli paused. "Look, just tell her that Lark left something for her, and you're taking her to pick it up. That ought to interest her enough to get her to go with you without a problem."
"Youve got it all figured out, don't you Tony," Max growled.
"I'm trying, buddy. No matter what you believe, Lark was my kid and I loved her." Antonelli dropped his guard just enough to let an edge of sadness creep into his otherwise gruff voice. It didn't stay for long, however, as he continued in a steely tone. "See you Saturday, Cauthen. Just you and the blonde, nobody else."
Max heard the soft click of a phone being placed back in its cradle and sat for a moment listening to the silence before closing his mobile phone and continuing on his way to the office.
Lonnie walked into the kitchen just as Meriam was turning off the TV.
"Leave it on, please," Lonnie said. "I want to see if theres any news on the crash."
"Are you sure you want to watch," Meriam asked with concern in her voice. "You know Max or Joe will let you know if anything comes up. You dont need to watch the media vultures feed on this."
"I want to watch," Lonnie said forcefully.
Meriam hit the on button and both women watched as pictures of Lark and Lonnie appeared side by side on the screen.
Lonnie gasped at the sight. "She was so beautiful," Lonnie whispered. "So beautiful."
Meriam did not miss Lonnies use of the past tense. Perhaps shes beginning to accept the inevitable, the tall woman thought.
Lonnie sat there in silence, staring at the pictures on the screen. It was almost as if she were looking into Larks eyes. Lonnies cell memories infused her entire being with the feeling of Lark - her strong arms, her muscular body, her gentle touch, her soft lips. She felt her body responding to the picture on the screen and wrapped her arms around herself, one small tear making its way slowly down her cheek. Memories of their lovemaking flooded her, and she couldnt stop the heat that rose involuntarily in her body.
Meriam placed a cup of hot coffee in front of Lonnie and laid her hand on the small blondes shoulder.
Lonnie looked up and smiled at Meriam, then lay her head back against the tall womans breast. "Thank you," Lonnie whispered.
"She was my friend, too," Meriam replied, stroking Lonnies arms with her long fingers. "She would want us to do this together."
"Yes," Lonnie replied. "I know she would."
The pictures disappeared from the screen, and the news anchor moved on to another story about citrus blight.
Meriam clicked the TV off, and moved to sit opposite Lonnie at the counter. Just as she sat, the phone rang.
"Dr. Williams," Meriam answered, certain that it was the hospital calling. She was surprised to hear Maxs voice so soon.
"Meriam, Max here."
"Max. Is there some news?"
"No. Nothing new. I have heard from Larks father, though."
"He wants me to arrange the funeral."
"Is the man mad? We dont know "
"We know enough," Max interrupted. "The funeral will be Saturday. A closed casket. 10 A.M. at Woodlawn. Do you want to tell Lonnie or shall I?" Max swallowed hard trying to get rid of the lump that seemed to stay perpetually in his throat.
"Ill tell her."
"Thanks, Meriam," Max said. "Tell her Ill be by this afternoon, will you?"
"Sure. Well be here," Meriam replied.
"Let me talk to him," Lonnie interrupted.
"Max, Lonnie wants to talk to you," Meriam said, handing Lonnie the phone.
"Max? Max?" Lonnie turned to Meriam with a quizzical look on her face. "He hung up," she said.
Lonnie started to dial the phone, but Meriam reached over and gently took it from her. "Hes coming by this afternoon," she said. "Therell be plenty of time to talk then."
Lonnies first reaction was to grab the phone back, but she held herself in check. "Youre right, hes got enough to deal with right now. It can wait until he gets here." She turned and lifted the now stale cup of coffee to her lips and drank it as if it were warm and fresh, not even noticing its cold, bitter taste.
Cipriano Antonelli picked up his phone on the first ring.
"Jesus, am I glad to hear from you. What took you so long to call?"
Antonellis tone was a mixture of anger and relief.
He listened carefully to the voice at the other end, then laughed loudly. "So, youve got a job for me, huh? I cant wait to hear this one."
Antonelli let out another big laugh. "What? You gotta be kidding?"
"No, no. I can do it. They dont call me Amazing Antonelli for nothing. Just let me get hold of Dominic; thats his specialty."
The voice at the other end of the phone continued talking. "I dont know, the cigarette boat, I guess," Antonelli said. "At least its fast."
Antonelli hung up the phone, shaking his head. What next? He thought, smiling wryly. What next?
He picked the phone back up and dialed. "Dominic? Get over here, man, Ive got a job for you. Dont give me that shit. Get your ass over here now unless you want to kiss it goodbye!"
Continued in Part 12
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