The phone rang and Rose answered it, then gave a call up the stairs. “Robby, it's for you.”
He picked up the phone in the hallway, and said, “Hello, Robby Hansen.”
The voice on the line said excitedly, “Robby, this is Lily Swanson. That Italian fellow you told me to watch for. He just checked in with two men, and they sure look like thugs.”
Robby said, disgust in his voice, “Well we were expecting him, but we were hoping he wasn't really stupid enough to come. Thanks, Lily.”
He got a dial tone, and then dialed a number and when it was answered, he spoke into the phone, “He's here, at the Heritage Motel. Make the phone calls, please.” and then got a second dial tone. This time the call was long distance. Robby asked, “Hello, you have some information for me, Edward?”
Edward said, gravely, “He went where we thought he might, to get a couple of men,” came from the other end of the line. He gave a description of the men, and then continued, “The boss hadn't realized who he was up against. When he found out who it was, he almost begged me to take a contact phrase that his men would recognize. I'll give you the phrase and you memorize it.”
Edward gave Robby a dozen word sentence. “Have you got that, Robby? Repeat it.” Robby did so, and he got a grunt of satisfaction from the other end of the line. “Perfect. Good luck, Elder.”
“Thanks Edward. I appreciate your help.” Robby told him.
Getting his windbreaker, Robby went into his mother and stepfather's room. Opening the old safe, he got out an object and put it in his pocket. Downstairs he went into the kitchen, where Rose was leaning on the counter and watching two young boys coloring at the kitchen table. The oldest, Teddy, who would be seven in a month, looked up at Robby with curiosity. He asked, “Where ya goin', Robby?”
Robby ruffled his hair, “Elder business, sport, I'll be gone all night, so you and Barry, watch out for each other tonight.”
Teddy said with disgust, “Elder business. Boooorring.”
“Yeah,” said Barry, “Boorring.”
“Copycat,” said Robby.
Barry said, with a shocked look on his face, “Robby, you know I'm not a cat, I'm a wolf!”
“Only four, and already a smart alec.” Robby picked him up off the chair, got him down on the floor, and began tickling him. Barry shrieked with laughter. After a couple of minutes, Robby asked, “Do you surrender?”
He let up for a second to give Barry a chance to answer, “Yes, Robby, I srender.”
Robby picked him up and put him back on his chair. Barry stuck out his tongue at him and then, after making sure Robby wasn't going to renew his attack, he picked up his crayon and went back to coloring.
Robby looked at Rose, “How did you get the savages so calm?” he asked.
She answered, with a smile, “While you were at Wil's, I had the Ronson twins, the Mcintyres, and the Conlin kids over. An hour of tag can tire even these guys out. What did my sister want, if I may ask?”
Robby sighed, saying, “He came, Rose. He's at the motel. We intend to deal with him. Tell Mom and Paul, when they get in. I don't imagine I'll be back until tomorrow, sometime.”
The Heritage Motel was large for such a small town as Benson, but it was a classy place, full most of the year with people who returned year after year, with guests who wanted to experience a good old fashioned place to stay. There were a total of thirty units and only five of those were left unoccupied for the occasional visitor.
Cormier, which was much larger was only eight miles away, it had several adequate motels. Since it was right on the highway it siphoned off the casual customers.
Robby entered the office and saw Lily's face light up. About his mother's age, which meant she was almost fifteen years younger than her sister Rose, she had been an occasional babysitter when he was younger and was a favorite of Robby's, and the feeling was reciprocated. She had two sons and two daughters and one of the sons was in Robby's class at school.
“Hi, Robby! It's nice to see you. Your Mr. Balducci is in room four and his two companions are in three and five,” she said effervescently.
Robby said with a grin, “Thanks Lily. You already know about the arrangements for Mr. Balducci, the other two will be leaving immediately. I'll make sure they pay up to the end of the week, so you aren't out of pocket, though I don't imagine Balducci was planning on staying for more than a couple of days. I'll see you in a few minutes.” Robby gave a wave and left the office, noticing the laundry truck parked in the lot.
He knocked on the door of room four, and it was answered by one of Balducci's companions, a thug if there ever was one. He moved into the room, the thug's jaw dropped at the impertinence.
Robby ignored Balducci for the moment. He looked at the thug, who had answered the door. He told him, “From the description you're Marco.” and then turning, “That would make you Taylor. Not a very Italian name, but then I understand the Mob has become a more equal opportunity organization, in the last few years. Well I have a message for you from your boss.” and bringing up the phrase he had memorized earlier, he repeated it.
They stiffened, looked at each other, shrugged, and started for the door. Robby said, “It'll be real nice of you guys to pay up to the end of the week, in fact I think your boss would like that. Since you probably haven't had a chance to have supper, there's a nice diner at the edge of town. You probably saw it on your way in. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the interior is really nice and they have great food. Feel free to stop on your way back to the highway.”
They just nodded and closed the door gently behind them when they left. Pietro Balducci looked after them, dumbstruck. Finally after they were long gone Balducci looked at Robby, “What did you say to them? It was Italian, but it made no sense!!” he demanded in almost accentless English.
Robby shrugged, telling him, “I have no idea. I don't speak Italian. I assume it was a code phrase. We contacted their boss and when he realized who he was up against, he was glad to give us the phrase. You really should have stayed home, Pietro.”
Taking out the tranquilizer gun, which he had gotten out of the safe at home, he shot Pietro three times in the chest. The man stood there looking at him in disbelief, for the five seconds before the sedative began to take affect, and he began to crumple. Since there was nothing in his way, Robby didn't bother to try to catch him. He was almost disappointed that Pietro didn't hit the floor face first.
He picked up the phone and dialed room service, and Lily answered breathlessly, “Room service! May I help you!”
Robby couldn't resist, “One slightly overweight Italian to go!”
“I'll be right there Robby!” she said excitedly. She was as good as her word; she knocked on the door a couple of minutes later. When he opened it she said, “Lon's taken over in the office, and I've already marked him as checked out.” and she pushed a laundry cart into the room, followed by the laundry truck driver. They got Pietro's coat off, and the driver took his car keys and his ID, then took off his jacket and handing it to Lily, he donned the unconscious man's jacket. Then he helped put Pietro in the laundry cart and stripping the bed they covered him with it, making sure that he didn't have any problems in breathing.
They wheeled the cart out to the laundry truck Lily paused to put a sign on the door saying BEING RENOVATED. In fact the Council was paying to have it carefully cleaned and then repainted. As they were getting an empty cart down with the truck lift, Pietro's rented Caddy went by, the driver giving a little wave as he passed, headed for the city, where he would return it to the rental agency.
Robby pushed the empty cart to the office, while Lily loaded the full cart, and then they were off, in the truck, marked Heritage Laundry. Lily's family also owned it, and nobody would be surprised to see Lily behind the wheel because she occasionally filled in as a driver.
“It's nice of you to let us use your barn, Seamus.” Robby said, as he looked down at Pietro, sleeping peacefully on the very solid bed that had been set up, his ankle shackled to the foot. Curtains surrounded it.
said grinning, “I like Barry too Robby, and from what you've told
me about this one, he deserves everything that you plan for him.”
It was just twelve noon, and Robby and the others were eating, when Robby cocked his head. He said, “I think our guest is waking up. It'll be a few more minutes, so we should have time to finish our meal before he wakes up enough to have visitors.”
Sure enough, they were just finishing when they heard Pietro begin pulling on his chain and yelling for help. Robby took a last swallow of milk and after wiping his mouth with his arm, he got up and passed through the curtain. Seeing Robby he was a bit taken aback for a moment, but then said, “Release me at once!! This is totally barbaric!!”
Robby looked at him for a moment, and then shook his head. He said, “What ever made you think werewolves, were anything but barbarians, Pietro. Aldo, where in heaven's name did your brother get such a stupid idea?” The man who pushed through the curtain was a few years older than his brother and didn't have the fat that Pietro had, but otherwise he looked very much like him.
In a much thicker English accent than Pietro had, he said, “He has been that way since he was a child, Robby. He avoided the rough games that most werewolf children love, and his change was never anything more than a toy, to him.”
“For a while he was a very good doctor, then he became a plastic surgeon to the rich and famous. He got rich, and since then he's always solved his problems in a very civilized manner, with his money, he has no conception of what being a werewolf really is.”
“Well, you are about to learn, Pietro,” Robby said harshly, “After we found out your name from Estelle White's papers, the Council looked at you closely. They decided to ignore your transgression of knowingly having an affair with an Outcast. I disagreed and told them so, but they paid no attention.”
Robby explained, “However, when Estelle's lawyer got in touch with me to tell me that a private detective had been snooping around. We traced him back to you, the Council gave me a free hand to deal with you, if you ever showed up here. I got in touch with Aldo and we decided how to deal with you if you came here. The only reason for you to come to Benson, is your son. With the help you had, we can only assume that you planned to kidnap him and get him back to Italy and rely on your money to keep him.”
“So,” said Pietro defiantly, “he is my son!!”
Aldo shook his head, telling him solemnly, “It wouldn't have worked, Pietro. As an Elder, I can contact a dozen Italian werewolves, who would look on your fortune as pocket change. You don't have enough money to buy your son. You would only have shamed your family. For nothing.”
“So,” said Robby, “we have your transgression of having an affair with an Outcast, and the attempted kidnapping of a young werewolf under an Elder's care. Two major crimes against Werewolf Law. Obviously to you an Outcasting, such as was done to Estelle White, would mean nothing to you, but there is another type of Outcasting much rarer.” He let the silence build for several moments, before saying, “You will be locked in wolf form until you realize what you are, and want forgiveness.”
“You are only forty-five, Pietro, and since our lifespan is longer than normal humans, you can expect to live one hundred and thirty to one hundred and fifty years, so if you don't repent you could spend, at the minimum, eighty-five years as a wolf.”
Pietro said in an appalled whisper, “You can't do that.” his face white.
Aldo said sternly, “Oh but we can, and will, brother. You won't be abandoned, three or four times a year an Elder will visit. You will have the chance to convince him that you are a different person, and Robby or I or our successors if we are dead, can remove the block.” Aldo said, without sympathy. “On the table in front of you there is a Power of Attorney, placing me in charge of your estate, because you have come down with an illness and must go into a rest home, you will sign it.”
“What if I refuse?” Pietro said, still whispering.
“Then we will be forced to fake your death,” Robby explained, “and since Aldo is your attorney, we know that you have left all your money to your wife,” he grinned with humor, “except of course for the bequests, that go to your mistresses.”
Without a word, Pietro got up and taking the pen on the table, signed the Power of Attorney. Aldo moved forward and took the paper just in case Pietro changed his mind. They had a dozen spare copies, just in case he tore the first one up, and they needed to persuade him to change his mind.
Robby looked at Pietro. He said, “Personally I'm a vindictive person so I'll tell you that if you were a decent man, you would at least have been talking to your wife. You would have found out this whole thing was unnecessary. Your wife Anna is pregnant. The doctor says it will be twins, and though it's a little early to tell for sure they think it's a boy and a girl, so you would have had your heir. The heir that you were so desperate for, that you planned to steal one.”
Pietro's face crumpled with shock, horror on his face, completely defeated by the news. He didn't even bother to protest when told to change into wolf form. They placed him in a traveling cage just to make sure he didn't change his mind in the middle of the ritual, and attack Robby or Aldo.
The last of the people in the barn came into the curtained area after the ritual was complete. Obviously Pietro was starting to recover a little of his spirit, because as the man squatted down in front of the cage he snarled savagely. The man shook his head, “You weigh what a hundred and eighty, or ninety? You look like you're carrying a little too much weight. Really unhealthy for a werewolf. Well I weigh two-forty and if you cause me or any of my people problems, I'll come into your pen and we can go at it, one on one.” and his eyes glowed as he changed into a very big wolf and snarled just as savagely back.
Pietro cowed, crept into a corner of the cage, tail between his legs as the wolf changed back into a man.
Robby said to the cringing Pietro, “This is Sam Reynolds, among many other things, he runs a wildlife preserve in Northern Alberta, where you're going. It's very far from civilization, and the only place you can go is the wilderness. Even if you could find an Elder, the block has been sealed, only Aldo or I or our successors can remove it. We intend you to be punished, so the first visit from an Elder won't be for about a year. Goodbye, Pietro, I don't like you one little bit, so if you decide to repent, and it’s genuine, Aldo will be the one to remove the block.
“Don't come back here. That would be considered a third major transgression, and we have a cure for that type of continued behavior.” Robby's voice was very cold, “It's called death.”