It was one of those cold New York mornings that everyone has heard about. A crisp chill to the air as you would be walking down Lexington Ave, or around Madison Ave. The trees almost completed their transformation from green to various shades of red, yellow, and brown. Frost covered everything until the afternoon sun warmed the earth with its rays. The birds no longer chirped, the only sounds you would be able to hear this early in the morning in this part of Central Park were shovels.
Celeste stood off to the side, trying to warm her hands as she watched teppistas slowly, but surely, dig an eight-foot hole. It was not the fastest way to get rid of a body, but she needed it gone. A dead man, who presumably left with the dog walker, could not be found floating down the river. Plus, Celeste hated the cliché of swimming with the fishes. She was surprised that there were no early morning joggers out today. Normally she would have to go out of town to do the job, but with all of the tension right now with the Estars and with the recent interview, it would have looked suspicious if she left town this early without Bruno. So this was the most secluded spot that she could get that was not on her property. Rule number one of disposing of a body: Never sleep where the dead may creep. That would be the last thing she needed right now was for some jogger to come running by and see what was going on, “Well, we can always dig another hole.”
A hand landed on her shoulder, Celeste practically jumped out of her skin.
“Jesus Christ!” She whirled around to see Emmanuel standing behind her, “Do not sneak up behind me like that while I am on a job. Remember the last time that happened? Your wife almost blew your head off.”
“I know, but sometimes it is really funny to see you off of your game when you get scared.” Emmanuel had this big smirk on his face, he always knew how to push her buttons even without meaning any harm by it. Like a drive by scaring for example.
“I am glad that you came though. I have been needing someone to talk to. And right now Bruno really isn’t on my side. And it has always been easy for me to talk to you.” Celeste turned back to the clinking of shovels on dirt.
“I can understand why Bruno is unhappy with you. Normally, you discuss your plans with us before carrying them out Celeste. Why is it now that we are not good enough to be in the know?”
“He was a threat. It had to be done quickly and efficiently. There was a small window of opportunity and I took it. There was no thought just do,” Her mouth formed a thin line on her face.
“What do you think Mother would have done?” Emmanuel looked down on her with wide eyes.
“I have no clue. When she was thirty she was already half-way gone. She probably would have made an even bigger mess of things. Or worse.” The body bag was lying down on the wet earth, a faint smell of death lingered in the air.
“I know, it is just that...Dad would have been upset to see her like this…” Her brother trailed off as he looked towards the sky.
Celeste could barely remember their father. Lila always pushed Celeste towards greatness, but her father always tried to make her life normal. She never wanted a normal life, she embraced what her grandfather started. She was the first-born; she was bestowed this awesome responsibility. This is what she was born to do. Lila drilled that into her head, every chance she got. If you were not perfect, you died.
Training was built into her schedule, every second of the day was dedicated to her training. In high school, she was taking classes that had side benefits; chemistry, anatomy and physiology, economics, probability and statistics, psychology, and government. She participated in as many extracurriculars as she could that would improve her standing with her peers; service clubs, track-and-field, soccer, expeditionary leaders, art club, debate club, and chorus. Lila used every moment of Celeste’s life to make her faster, stronger, smarter. Celeste became the ultimate machine, unstoppable. Even at the cost of her having a normal childhood, it was all worth it to her mother and Celeste in the end.
The one thing that Lila never taught Celeste was how to be “normal”. “Normal” was another level of understanding that could always elude her. The only way that Celeste could learn what the typical childhood was like was through Raphael. He taught her how and when to garden, the fine art of writing and classic literature, the calming feeling of fishing, meditation and relaxation methods he learned from his year in a Tibetan temple, and the skill of chess. Raphael was the only reason that Celeste felt as if she had just a few slivers of humanity.
Their father had a special connection with Celeste, probably he knew that she would never receive a normal life, so much responsibility being placed into a child’s hands was unfathomable. When their father died, the entire family felt it. Raphael was the one aspect of Celeste and her siblings’ life that was not a part of the family business. He was just caught in the cross fire. The car he was in was said to have hit a patch of black ice and cause a ten-car pileup on Brooklyn Bridge. No one from the accident came out alive. When the news was delivered of Raphael’s death it was as if everyone else died with it. Lila slowly started to descend into madness, slowly going in and out of a delusional state, only long enough to realize the reality around her and pushing her into a massive depressive state. Emmanuel lost his faith in everything, Anna-Maria lashed out at school and to her family, Antony III started to obsessively eat. Celeste, in a sense, lost her spark. Slowly, she turned cold, analytical. The loss of her father pushed her to achieve the greatness her mother wanted, but at what cost?
Celeste stood there, trembling from both the cold and from the sudden flow of memories of her father came flooding in her mind’s eye. It has taken her years to forget what it was like when her father was around. “I would not know how Dad would have reacted. He is long and dead. Probably a rotting corpse at this point. Don’t put words in his mouth that he can’t say for himself.”
Emmanuel looked at his older sister, without a word he looked at his sister and placed his arm around her. These actions are the reasons why Celeste felt closest to her brother. She can never talk to others like she could with him, the only person comparable is her father. “You take on so much, some days you need to know that it is okay to have feelings. Sometimes your children do not need the leader of the family. They need their mother.”
“You know I cannot be both. I hate the person that I must pretend to be in front of the crowds, I hate how I should be this person because our family decided that we had to hide who we truly are. I am a killer; do you honestly believe that my children want to know how I shot and killed this man in cold blood? How I have tortured more people than what my ten-year-old can count to?” Celeste was becoming angry with her brother, which was a rare feeling towards him. “Do you honestly think that anyone else could have accomplished what I have done? I have done so much more than Mom ever could. I have created this massive empire. I am no longer that person that you remember, people change like I have done. I am the only person who could have handled the job even if I was no longer the oldest.”
“I never said that you would have been bad at your job, Celeste. I am just saying that on occasion you need to be a mother to your kids. There is no way that any of us could have accomplished what you have since you took over for Mom. Celeste, you need to take a break sometimes and not push yourself,” there was an intense worry in Emmanuel’s eyes, “Maybe for a while you could take a vacation with Bruno and the kids? The business won’t fall apart in a week.”
“I will consider it. Maybe once everything becomes settled down again we could do a whole family vacation. Just go to some beach or to Disneyland like the normal cliché families do,” Celeste had to crack a smile at that, imagining her family attempting to have a normal vacation at the happiest place on earth seemed like a stretch.
“That would be nice,” Emmanuel nodded.
“Though I do not know if we could all handle ourselves in a place like that. I am sure that Marie will end up screaming bloody murder on “It’s A Small World”, you will throw up on the teacups, Antony will end up literally tearing the “Sword of the Stone” out of the stone, and I will end up finding the head of Walt Disney in the underground basement system of Disneyland.”
Emmanuel raised an eyebrow at her, “You really believe that there is a secret underground basement system in Disneyland with Walt Disney’s head? Isn’t that a little farfetched?”
“Well so is the most prestigious family in New York running an underground mafia.” Celeste smiled at her witty comeback to her speechless brother.
“Hey Boss, we are ready,” Clyde came up to them.
Celeste and Emmanuel walked over to the hole that would serve as the final resting place for Sam.
“Emmanuel, can you please start us off,” Celeste started off.
Emmanuel pulled out the Bible that he has carried with him since he was seventeen. The story of how Emmanuel became the man he was today was based around the same reason why everyone else started to evolve: the death of their father. Emmanuel all throughout high school partied more than just the average person, he became the life of the party. He became the secret scandal, even more secret than Anna-Maria and her affair with Vincente.
Emmanuel spent all his time blowing his money on drugs, sex, and alcohol. He slowly started to fall into the hands of addiction. He was with a new girl every week, had twenty-three tattoos that he had no clue of where they came from, and he still does not know to this day why he woke up at four in the afternoon in the middle of Cairo, Egypt. One night after an extensive night of partying; meaning he was on the verge of blackout drunk and about five minutes into taking LSD, Emmanuel had a vision. For some unknown reason, in the middle of the Party of all Parties, Emmanuel still claims to this day that he saw and spoke to a series of people. First, he talked to Jesus Christ, telling him that his way of life was slowly killing him and this was not what he was meant to do. He told him that if he continued this path that he would not have the happy life that he was meant to have. The second person that he met was his idol, Babe Ruth, the only player that his grandfather liked that was both a Yankee’s player and a Boston Red Socks player. He said that he was wasting precious potential for greatness and that he should be ashamed in who he has become. The very last person in his trip was their father. He told Emmanuel that he was disappointed in him. He thought that he would be helping take care of the family and looking after Celeste. He knew what he should have been doing, but was not acting on it. His father looked at him straight in the eye and said that if he did not change his ways that he would not call him his son.
When Emmanuel woke up from that trip he was surrounded by a pile of both women and men who were passed out from either the LSD or drinking too much mixed with the LSD. When he stumbled outside, Emmanuel saw a man giving away free Bible’s and took one. The next day he went to a church and cried. He was so moved by the service that this was the day that Emmanuel considered himself reborn.
Emmanuel finished his passage of blessing upon the empty shell of a man that was lying in a six-foot hole in the ground. “Do you have any last words for Sam?” Emmanuel looked over at his sister.
“Good riddance,” she started to walk away from the grave, “Cover it up. It is starting to smell.”