Grandma’s Dirty Little Secrets Unleashed!
Peter looked at the house, now sitting in the middle of the highway, and shook his head. “I had no idea this area had floods like this.”
The haggard sheriff sighed. “We had two others come off their foundation, but this is the only one that moved more than a few feet.”
Peter looked at the familiar wrap-around porch where he and his sister had played all sorts of games during the summers in their youth, and marveled that the swinging bench was still attached to the now leaning overhang.
“I am really sorry I had to call with this news,” the sheriff said.
“It’s not like she was young,” Peter said. He’d been here just a few months before, and had been shocked that his grandmother had finally started losing her mind. She’d been sharp as a tack two months before that, but over Christmas she’d kept asking about her receipt for Stupid Stan’s hand. Peter had spent the whole time trying to figure out what she was talking about, but in the end he’d left sure that the next time he saw her he would be putting her into a home.
Not looking at her broken home sitting in the highway in the middle of nowhere Washington state.
“We found her pretty quick. She didn’t suffer.”
Peter had read the report. She’d died in her sleep as her bed had crashed into the wall and broken her neck. He’d checked the history of the area, and found that this particular section of the county had huge floods once ever couple of decades. Nothing in his wildest dreams could have prepared him for this.
“We figured someone should go through her belongings before we moved the house,” the sheriff said.
“I was surprised you left it for so long.”
The sheriff shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “She was a respected member of the community, and we had plenty of offers, but I thought you should probably go through it all first.”
Peter sighed and took off his suit coat. His sister would be here in the morning, but he figured he should get started. “I’ll get my wagon.”
The stairs creaked beneath Peter’s designer shoes. He eyed the still damp wood with suspicion. “Don’t collapse on me,” he muttered as he crossed the threshold and pulled the folding wagon inside.
Even five feet of water and a relocation hadn’t completely removed his grandmother’s love of Cuban cigars. A vice she’d enjoyed for as long as Peter could remember.
All of the furniture in the living room hugged the wall to his right, as if a giant hand had swept it there to get it out of the way. A few pieces were antiques. He’d let his sister take care of those. He was more interested in personal mementos, so he picked through the furniture and opened the drawers under that tables.
He smiled when he saw the hoard of dollar store coloring books she’d always kept in one of them. Her personal address book along with an envelope full of cash was in another.
She always had been paranoid. He’d probably find cash throughout the whole house.
Peter searched through the wreckage, leaving her bedroom until last. By the time he got there the wagon was almost full. He took a deep breath, again smelling the hint of cigars, and moved inside.
The bed was indeed against the wrong wall. Peter walked toward the nightstand. A board bowed beneath his weight, and he jumped back, eyeing it.
Then he noticed it wasn’t seated properly.
“A loose floorboard? Seriously?” Peter squat down and pried it up.
To his surprise, he found a shoe box wrapped in a plastic bag inside. He gingerly lifted it out and placed it on the nightstand. The bag crinkled as he removed the box, surprised it had gotten through the flood unscathed. The top of the box came away with a hiss, and Peter frowned.
“An anthropology textbook?” he pulled it out and gently opened the front cover.
The inside had been cut out so a smaller leather-bound book could nestle there. He removed that book and stared at it.
The words “Memoir of a Mob Cashier” had been scrawled into the brown leather.
Peter frowned and opened the first page. His grandmother’s neat writing greeted him.
“My name is Dorothy Costello, and I was a cashier for my father for thirty years.”
Costello? His grandmother’s last name was Wicker. He kept reading.
“Inside you will find an accurate accounting off all of the transactions I was responsible for. Most of the people in this book have been dead for a long time. Perhaps their stories are ready to be told.”
Peter turned the page again. A hand written receipt had been taped onto the right side of the page. Next to it his grandmother’s writing continued.
“This is the first receipt I ever wrote. I was fifteen years old. You can see it’s in Italian. This man, Piero Russo, had robbed my grandfather of six bottles of valuable wine. When my grandfather’s men found him, they dragged him back and cut off his hands. This is the receipt for the transaction. I gave one copy to Piero, and he kept it on him at all times, so he could tell the others that he’d paid his debt.”
Peter stared down at the paper.
There had always been rumors that his mother’s family had been in the mob at one point, but nothing like this.
He quickly flipped through a few more entries, until he found one without a receipt. The top of the page read, “Stupid Stan.”
Peter put a hand over his mouth. “Holy sh…”