The crowd parted for the great Lucchesi. Men in uniforms met his eyes with reverence then averted them in fear. The women, they buckled and moistened, for Lucchesi had come to save the day.

“What have we got, Muldono?” Lucchesi shook a cigarillo from a pack and situated it between his pursed lips. The torch from his Nibo flared in his pupils before disappearing behind a cloud of smoke from the black roll of tobacco.

“Ah, jeezus, Lucchesi, thank God you have come.” Muldono looked up at Lucchesi with sparkling eyes. Lucchesi snarled at the short man, with his thin hair and his sunken sockets and his paunch. This man who is already dead and might as well have his toe tag made out ahead of time.

The same could be said for Lucchesi. The crowds who came to see him work, the people who hovered near their short wave radios and police bands waiting for that one name to crackle through the air, they came for the spectacle. They knew that Lucchesi would one day explode.

Muldono shook a crooked finger at the building. “It is on the first floor, Lucchesi. It is a nasty one. Dirty and crude, but very solid.”

Lucchesi dragged on his cigarillo long and hard. He watched Muldono from the corner of his eye as the man, little more than a middle manager of thugs and back hills corruption, held his breath waiting for a response from the great Lucchesi.

Muldono licked his lips and wiped sweat from his balding head with a stained rag which he stuffed into the front pocket of his uniform.

“You have what you need, yes Lucchesi?”

Lucchesi looked at the front entrance of the building and nodded and waved Muldono away. He resettled his jacket on his broad shoulders and clutched his bag in his left hand. With his right hand, he reached into his coat and produced a pair of D & G Gold Edition sunglasses and slid them on. He heard the tittering from the women in the crowd behind him. They surged against the police barricades, packed together and glistening beneath the hot sun, as though drawn out on this sweltering day by a magnetic force. The men did this, too.

The crowd muttered as he strode for the front door. A man said, “Lucchesi does not sweat. He does not get nervous. That is how he can do what he does.”

A woman said, “My cousin Ophelia says Lucchesi took her to bed and had her from the time the sun rose until it set again. Never once did he tire and when she was near to fainting from the dehydration, Lucchesi was called out to Venice to disarm a gondola bomb, a fortuitous turn which saved her life.”

Lucchesi heard these things and smiled, for they were true. He paused at the entrance of the building and turned so the crowd could see his face once more. His eyes were hidden behind the mirrored glare of his D & Gs, which reflected the setting sun out over the doting people. Then he entered.

From his bag, Lucchesi produced a folded, lead-lined blanket, which he opened and strung across the doorway. Once inside, away from the eyes of the hopeful, fearful crowd, he relaxed and exhaled deeply.

The bomb sat in the middle of the room, wrapped in brown paper covered with postage stampings. The paper was pulled away to reveal the workings of the device. Lucchesi lowered to his knees before it and pulled up his shirt to reveal the tumor. Balled in the hollow of his stomach, the tumor unfolded from its compartment.

This was Lucchesi.

Arms and legs, short and wiry, extended out from the round ball – from Lucchesi. The man from whom he emerged slumped on his knees as though sleeping while Lucchesi flexed the joints of his fingers and hands and knees and opened his eyes. He yawned and reached down his throat to detach the esophagus that ran from him to his vessel. He gently placed the tube back into the stomach cavity, his home.
Lucchesi wobbled forth to his bag and rooted around for his tools. This would be an easy job. Crude and stubborn was this type of device, but simple for one of Lucchesi’s expertise to dismantle.

The man mumbled and bobbed his head forward.

“Quiet now,” Lucchesi told his vessel. “Leave me to my work. We will be done quickly and then we will feast. Did you see the crowd out there? We will enjoy ourselves this night, I think.”

Lucchesi grinned, revealing a toothless mouth that stretched around the sides of his orb-like body. He turned back to the bomb and hummed an aria.

“No… more,” the vessel-man whispered.

Lucchesi did not turn away from his work this time. “No more of what? I told you to be still.”

“Let me be.” The vessel-man flopped forward on his hands, wobbly and weak. His head hung between his shoulders and saliva dripped from his lips. His esophagus dropped from the cavity of his stomach to drag along the dusty floor.

Lucchesi turned with a set of snips in one hand and pliers in the other. “What is this about, then?”

Before he could react, the vessel lurched onto his face and struck out with his left hand. It landed on the jumble of wires protruding from the bomb. The green wire slid free.

The crowd reacted to Lucchesi’s cry; hands covered mouths when his “NO!” shattered the still air. The explosion knocked them to their backsides and stole the breath from their lungs. The blast brought down the entire building in a cloud and the sad people trudged home dusted with terra cotta.

Their hero was gone, and they searched for solace in each other. The streets were quiet that night, the air thick and moist. Babies were born months later, many of whom would bear the name Lucchesi.

"BOOM! Goes Lucchesi"
Copyright: © 2010 Steve Lowe
Steve Lowe writes dark stuff, except when he doesn’t. His first book, Muscle Memory, will be released in October 2010 as part of the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press. His second book, Wolves Dressed as Men, will be released in November 2010 by Eternal Press. His short fiction is forthcoming or has appeared in Drabblecast, Three Crow Press and Allegory, among other places. In his spare time, he asks fellow authors and creative types odd, mostly random questions for something called The 2-Minute Drill.

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