Lucky Dog 1 Short Story – Anniversary 1 – Rounded Days



(Released in the 1st Anniversary collection version white and serialized on Tennenouji’s site in 2009 for Bernardo’s birthday.)


Rounded Days

“…Hey?  Bernardo?”

“…Mm.  Oh.  Y-Yes?  What is it, Gian?”

“Call me Honey when we’re on break.  It’s just the two of us.”

“Eh.  …Y-Yeah.  Mm.  Hahaha…”

“So … how long’re we gonna stay here, kissing sweet love to our cold cups of coffee?  We’ll be in trouble if we don’t get a move on soon.”

“Ah.  Yeah.  You’re right.  Sorry…”


Bernardo has been acting very funny since morning today.

Of course, I know exactly the reason why.  And despite this, I keep pretending I don’t know.

We are the CR:5 – the Mafia of Daivan that never fails to make the worst crybaby squeeze out a few more tears.  And in our family, our Head Captain, Bernardo, has been working his ass off, his head practically spinning from the last few days of stressful work and stressful stress.  …Or, at the very least, that’s what Bernardo’s men and his soldatos believe.

And that’s what I pretend to believe as well.  At the very least, until tonight, that is…


It’s been more than half a year since everything – ever since we managed to forge peace between the CR:5 and GD.

And it’s been two months since I, Lucky Dog Giancarlo, have become Second Boss.

The war in Daivan has settled down on the surface, but despite that there’s always some shit going down every day, and peace brings its own share of daily grievances as cash makes its rounds.

Of course, now that I’ve just barely managed to sit my ass on the Boss’s seat, me and Bernardo, who’s in charge of the family’s wallet, have been watching the past few days fly by without a rest in sight.

“Grrragh!  And here I’d thought it’d cool off a tad once the sun sets!”

“The thermometer has been on the verge of spilling over even though it’s just June.  This is some abnormal weather we’re having.”  In the back of the limousine, Bernardo loosens up the sleeves to his suit.

Backseat it may be, but the place feels more like a luxury suite, with seats like hotel beds paired with refreshment tables and bulletproof walls befitting a tank.  There’s even a cooler, but the refrigeration isn’t enough to keep the sweat from soaking me and Bernardo.

“Why don’t you take it easy, Gian?  There’s still some time until we arrive at our next meeting.”

“Nah, if I loosen up my tie I don’t think I’ve got it in me to tighten it up again.”

“I’ll tighten it for you.  Or perhaps … you’re nervous?”

“That’s my line.  Damn it, that old baboon.”

“…Do me a favor?  Please be careful with your language in front of Benjamin, Gian…”

“I know, I know.  I’m the face of the CR:5 now, being Boss and all.”

“I knew I could count on you.  But … I wonder why the man is asking to see us at a time like this…?”

“Hell if I know, but it’s not like Trump King’s just started harassing us yesterday, right?”

“You are right about that.”


Our destination is the district of Daivan by the port, a place where rich Jews’ve sunk in their roots and set up business as well as their gathering place – the Synagogue – which is where Bernardo and I’ve been called to.

On the surface, we CR:5 are meeting up with one of our allies, the Jewish organization, for them to congratulate my inauguration as Second Boss and to secure their support.  The person who summoned us was the head behind all the Jews in Daivan, Benjamin.

However, Benjamin that old Trump King had already shown his face at my inauguration ritual, and looking at the fact that he’s calling me, the Boss, and our Head Captain to his own turf makes it absolutely certain that we’re not just there for a simple clap on the back and quick kiss to the cheek.


“To think … that we’d be requested at a time when the Boss is absent,” Bernardo says as he picks up a bottle of mineral water from the fridge by his seat.

“Beardy was pretty good pals with our Pops, right?  Then why’d he request for us and not him?”

“I don’t know.  Counselor Alessandro is even returning to Daivan tomorrow.”

“We got a telegram, right?  Said something ‘bout him getting on a boat on some port over the Hudson or something.”

“Yeah.  Giulio and Luchino are heading to New York to greet and guard him.”

Pops – Alessandro – had headed straight to Europe after my inauguration.

On the surface, it was a pleasure trip to celebrate his retirement.  In reality, he’s gone over to settle business with our roots, the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, and now, our Counselor Alessandro’s on his way back, arriving by ship tonight in the New York port.

But, despite all this, the head of the Jews here, Benjamin, didn’t call for Pops, with whom he was friends with, but for me instead.

“I suppose this is what we call ‘a fishy situation.’  Seriously…” mutters Bernardo exasperatedly.

I filch the bottle of mineral water from Bernardo’s mouth and throw it back.  “I wouldn’t mind going to see him by myself, you know?”

“You know there’s no way I can do that.  I’m the Head Captain.  There’s no way I can let our Boss…”

“Is that the only reason?”

“Eh…?”

“This limousine’s 100% bulletproof and soundproof, right?  Our driver won’t hear a thing.”

“Haha … I suppose you’re right, Honey.”  Bernardo continues seriously, “There’s no way I can send you into that viper’s den alone.  That would burn a hole through my stomach faster than any worry I could have otherwise.”

“How happy you make me, Darling!  Well, leaving that aside…”

“Hm?” Bernardo’s eyes narrow behind his glasses.

I make a show of staring out the window and ask, “Huh.  What day’s it today?”

“…Eh.  Um…  The fourteenth … but … is there something … on that date?”

…You’re awful at this, old man.  A blind person couldn’t miss your fidgeting.

“Mmnawww.  Nothing really.  Just thought, man, today’s sure an empty day!  No appointments or anything!  Sigh, and then comes this.  Piss annoying, that’s what it is.”

“Y-Yeah.  You’re right…”

…and now look at you, looking like a kicked puppy!  You’re so transparent.

The limousine holding us as we chat continues on its way to the block with Daivan Port.

◇                                           ◇

“Last time we met was the inauguration ritual, was it not, Capo del Monte?  Signor Ortolani?”

The dry coughs rattling through the broken ventilator of a throat echoes through the tasteless room stained red with sunset and yellow with lamplight.

Bernardo and I stand like scum of the barrel wiseguys in front of the huge desk, across which is seated what looks like a pitch black barrel with a mop set on top.  Benjamin’s eyes, nor his hands, move towards the sofa in the corner of the room.

“It has been a while, Benjamin.”  Bernardo gives a small greeting.  As we agreed, I’m keeping my trap shut until Beardy opens his.  But…

“Lucky Dog Giancarlo.  How has the Boss’s chair been treating you?” a hoarse voice suddenly flies my way with a cough.

“It’s been a rough time.  I mean, the old man had a huge ass, and it sure made the seat way too big for me.  I guess my pretty little ass still isn’t quite used to it yet.”

“H-Hey, Gian…”  I hear Bernardo squeak the words from beside me like he’d stepped on a thumbtack.

But … I can tell, clear as white chalk sprawled out on a blackboard, from Benjamin’s voice, from his eyes, that he’s not looking for some goody two-shoes answer.

Benjamin wets his throat with a glass of water before turning his eyes to focus on me.  “Hmph…  I may have mentioned this before, but we … and you CR:5 … are in an alliance.  What happens to one, happens to the other.”

“We are well aware of this fact, Benjamin.  Originally, we would have cordially invited you to our headquarters for this conference—“

At Bernardo’s decorous words, the Trump King waves his hand impatiently as though annoyed.  “‘Alliance’ – this means, our fates are shared.  Should one live, the other will live.  Should one die, the other will die.  Now I wonder whether the present CR:5 has the necessary resolve and qualities…  For the sake of my brethren, I must confirm this.”

“The ‘present CR:5, eh,” I repeat with a forced smile as I loosen up my tie a tad.

Beside me, Bernardo’s making a face like the foot stepping on the thumbtack’s stuck there and being held there tight.

“Which means Alessandro’s CR:5 did have those qualifications?”

‘That’s right’ lights up in Benjamin’s narrowed gray eyes.

“I see.  I guess there’s a lot up in the air with a youngster like me suddenly stepping in as Second boss.  So?  Whaddaya want me to do to prove that I’m up to snuff?”

“Hahaha…  Our trust cannot be so easily bought.  We will be very thorough in testing the worth of this new CR:5.”

“I see.  And?  Can we just leave now?  Or, perhaps you would rather us unveil one of our talents right here?”

At my words, Bernardo looks at me in sheer silence as a thin layer of sweat spreads across his face.

The grampa in black and gray watches us with a superior sneer.  “The ‘Lucky Dog,’ was it…?  Your scant instances of good fortune seem to have bolstered your arrogance, but luck will always aggregate to zero.  There will always be misfortune to even out the good.”  Benjamin signals to his men waiting ready in the wings, and they leave and come back with a mahogany case, like the ones cigars come in.  The elderly man moves his hand to open it, and…

“Are those … ancient coins?” Bernardo whispers when we catch sight of what’s lying inside the opened box.

The inside of the box is lined with deep red velvet, and seated in the plush bed are several dull, worn-down hunks of metal.

“This is my collection.  These are denarii from Ancient Rome – proper, solid silver coins from an era before people were infected with the filthy practice of printing money on paper.”

“You shouldn’t talk,” I almost say but somehow manage not to.

“I see.  This is a fascinating collection.  However … why are you showing this to us?”

“Didn’t I say that I would test you?”

“You serious?” I blurt out.

Benjamin’s subordinate moves like the clay golem brought to life by the rabbi’s magic and brings the box up to us.

“A design only the genuine article has.  A power.  A beauty.  In a world devoid of justice, this is the one certainty wrought in stone.  Show me … whether you can distinguish the truth from the falsehoods.”

…Don’t tell me that’s why the old fogey called us here…?

“Among those coins, only one is real.  The rest are all imitations created by me.”

“Excuse me, but … neither I nor Giancarlo are familiar with the fine arts.  Would it be possible to propose a different problem?” Bernardo asks in a tone verging on criticism.

“Alessandro saw through this with a single glance.  Show me what the Second can do.”

“However…” Bernardo begins to protest.


I … squint and stare down at the coins lying evenly in their velvet seats.

To tell the truth, they look no different from the bottle caps I see lying on the street after they’ve been run over by one car after another.

Out of all these tiny fragments of metal, just one is real … and the rest are fakes.

…And you’re asking me to tell which is which?


“Excuse me, but … hey.  These’re coins, right?  Man they sure were small, these currencies of old.”

At my voice, Bernardo nods and Benjamin’s face splits with smirk filled with absolute maliciousness if I’ve ever seen any.

“That’s right.  They are coins from the age of the Roman Republic, devoted to the Goddess of Harvest, Ceres.  …Look.  See how even after two thousand years have passed, the aroma of its time is still in the true silver.  Can sense it?  Can you see the fatigued smiles on the soldier’s faces as they accepted these coins?  Smell the smoke of the food sizzling in the market, hear the voices of the women chattering through their shopping, feel the wind of battle…”


…Nope.  Niente.  Not at all.

I sneak a peek at Bernardo.

It looks like ancient coins might be a bit out of the comfort zone, even for Bernardo.

“Guess there’s no choice but to bite…”

“Gian, wait!  I’ll talk—”  Bernardo looks like he’d rather drink a bottleful of stomach meds, but I send him a tiny wink.  And then I turn to Benjamin.

“It’s all or nothing of course?  I’m guessing?”

At my words, the old man smiles an invincible smile and nods.

“I’m no pro at coins.  Can I take a handicap?”

“Just say it.”

“Can I hold ‘em?  I wanna sense that … aroma thing you mentioned for myself.”

After a moment’s though, the Trump King gives a slow nod.

“…Here goes nothing.”  I reach my hand out to those pieces of silver lined up like ducks in a row.

“…Gian…” I hear my name leak almost involuntarily from Bernardo’s mouth, to which I return with another wink.

And then…

“Ah?!”

I take the coin in my fingers … and throw it.  I give it my most casual, tossing the coin up and catching it as though I’m going to ask him heads or tails.  I look.  Then, I repeat.

“…Dear God … be careful with those, brat.  No amount of money can pay for what those are worth…!”

“I know, I know.”

I throw the coins one up after another.  Then, when I toss up the fifth one…

“…It’s this one.”

I lay this one tiny coin out in the palm of my hand and shove it forward for Benjamin to see.

◇                                           ◇

“Sigh … I give up.”  Bernardo takes off his glasses and his head goes down, his fingers massaging his face below the eyes.

“Your face is dashing without glasses, Darling.”

“Please stop joking around…  No, I mean…  Sorry, you were great back there.  Gian, you really are…”

We’re back in the limousine.  I twist off the cap of a bottle of cola I’d picked up at a stand before getting into the car as I hum a little tune.  “Ah, you mean what happened back there?  It’s nothing big.  That mean ol’ grampa had us by the balls.  We should pop open a champagne once we get back to the room.”

“Hahaha…  Yes.  Let’s.”  Bernardo sinks deep into his seat with a sigh.  He stays slumped back for a moment before, without moving his body, his eyes move to glance at his watch.  “…By the time we arrive at HQ, it’ll already be night.”

“Oh?  What, it’s that time already?  Damn that geezer.  He’s stubborn as a mule…”  I reach past Bernardo’s lap for the fridge and rummage around.  “Then … how ‘bout we do it right here?  Just for today.”

“Eh…?  Gian, what’re—“

I pick up a bottle of wine cooled just right and two glasses coated in frost.  “We’ll only have until the clock strikes midnight, anyways.”  After some effort, I break the seal on the bottle, pull off the cork, when…

“Wha—  Ah!  Gian … don’t tell me…  You…!!”

“What, you didn’t think I knew?”  I pour the glacial wine into the glasses (if Luchino saw this I’d be in for the lecture of the century) and hand one to Bernardo.  “Happy birthday to you, my darling.  Buon compleanno, Bernardo.”

“…Gian…”  Still completely at a loss for words, Bernardo takes the glass and clanks it up to mine in a toast.  “…Ah … thank you.  Gian…  Hahaha, I never thought … you remembered…”

“‘course I did!  Today’s the only day I can pull a prank like this off on my darling.”

“Prank?  Hahaha, that’s awful of you.”

“Like you’re one to talk.  You’ve been fidgeting around since sun-up.  Couldn’t have been any clearer what you were thinking.”

“Is … that so…?  I guess I can’t hide it…”  Bernardo narrows his eyes into laughter and puts his lips to the far-too-cold wine.  “This is good.  Thank you, Gian.”

“Or … what?  You’d rather have the whole family stand around with a great big ‘Happy trentune birthday!’?”

“Please spare me…  There’s nothing worse for someone who’s crossed the Thirties threshold,” Bernardo sighs before bursting into laughter he couldn’t hold it back any longer.

I follow suit.  I’d been waiting for this, and I fall in line with him.

“This is the best, Gian.  The best birthday…”

“That means more to me than anything.  A certain old man who can’t sense the mood was being a total killjoy, though.”

“Haha, that’s just seasoning on the joyous occasion.  Now … Gian…”

“Mm … Ber—”

After emptying his glass, Bernardo catches my eyes and, in one movement, draws me close, practically pulling me off the seats, and drowns me in a slow kiss.

“Ah … haa…”  At first, I was surprised.  The moist sensation spreads across my sealed lips and seeps sweetly into my mouth.  The wine passes from his mouth to mine as my tongue swirls through it and I gulp it down with the mixture of both our saliva.  “Haa … This … is awesome.  Sexy.  Drinking like this…”

“Is that a request for more, my honey?”

“Damn you…  The moment sexy shit comes up, you get all perky, you perverted old man.”

Once again, the taste of lukewarm wine washes down my tongue and throat.  “Ah … mm.  You spilled some … on my shirt…”

“We’ll just put it in the wash when we get back.  Haha, you can undo your tie now, Gian.”  Bernardo reaches towards my neck, but I slap the hand away.  “Huh?”

“You need to learn how to hold back, you lecherous old man.  Unwrapping gifts is for the room, right?”

“That’s too bad…  Then, I will hold off on it to enjoy later.”  Bernardo pulls his hand back with a chuckle and once again settles deep into his seat.  “Oh right.  Earlier, that coin business … with Benjamin…”

“Hm?”

“Good job, Gian, in picking out the real one among all of those.  You really are amazing.”

“Hm?  That wasn’t really ‘cause I’m the Lucky Dog or anything.”

Bernardo fixes his glasses and looks at me with shock on his face.

“You and that geezer would both be awful at poker.”

“Wh-What do you mean?”

“There’s no way I’d be able to find the real one out of all those fakes.  When he had me try, you saw me snatch ‘em up and throw ‘em around, right?  I was sneaking a peek at the old man’s face the whole time.”

“Huh?”

“That old man may pretend to be king of the hill, but he’s an awful coward.  When I picked up and tossed the fifth coin, his expression turned completely fish-eyed.  I knew right away, ‘Oh.  This’s the real one.’”

“…  Ha … hahaha…”

Bernardo sits back into his seat and bursts into laughter a second time when he can’t hold the flood of laughter back anymore.

“You really are amazing … frighteningly so, Honey…  No one can hide anything from you.  You hold me in awe, my Boss.”

“Then, perhaps I should start donning a tricorne come this morning every year.”

“You brute.”

We guffaw until we arrive at our headquarters and sip the warmed wine … and share long kisses the whole way back.

END

(Tennenouji Web Site, 2009, Bernardo’s Birthday)


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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ageha
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 18:50:51

    [“Hm? “ Bernardo’s eyes narrow behind his glasses.]<– Space between ? and "

    [“Then, perhaps I should start donning a tricorne come this morningvery year.”]<– morning every year

    Benjamin, please leave your money here and go somewhere else. You are such a killjoy. Couldn't you have done this earlier?

    And Tennenouji!!! Why did you do that? Why did you cut it off right there? EVIL!

    Like

    Reply

  2. etyy
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 21:07:52

    [Bernard sinks deep into his seat with a sigh.] <- You forgot the 'o' for 'Bernard'. Lolz. Welcome back btw. 😉

    Like

    Reply

    • terracannon876
      Dec 27, 2013 @ 22:34:52

      Haha, you mean, up to usual translating speed? Unfortunately this won’t last but this also isn’t the last.

      …Wow, I didn’t mean to make that pun XD

      Anyways, fixed! Thanks~

      Like

      Reply

  3. Lehst
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 17:49:19

    *squeals* I love this~!!! XD oh Gian you’re so cool, i totally knew what he was up to when he started throwing those coins. and Bernardo you lovable worrywort. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Like

    Reply

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