K-O-W-A-L-S-K-I

Shay Sheridan

This story was written as a "first line" challenge, in which writers took the first line of another author's work and wrote an entirely different story. I used a line from a story by Jamethiel_Bane, changing only the punctuation.


Ray stares at "Kowalski" and feels sour.

He looks at the eight letters again: K-O-W-A-L-S-K-I, typed at the top of the transfer form. Detective S. Raymond Kowalski.

Yeah, that's me, all right.

Ray's eyes stray to the mirror above his dresser, and he considers his reflection before closing his eyes and capturing his image on the Polaroid camera of his mind. When he opens his eyes a moment later, they flicker down to the form, to the line be low "Kowalski":

V-E-C-C-H-I-O.

Raymond Vecchio.

At least the first name is the same. That's good; last time he had to remember to answer to "Murray" for the whole goddamn four months of his assignment. "Murray Green," no less. A name for an old Jewish guy, not a Catholic Polack.

V-E-C-C-H-I-O.

What does a "Vecchio" look like? Ray tries a few faces, trying to channel Don Vito Corleone into his expression. Yeah, right. With the map of Poland all over his face, he looks about as Italian as he does Jewish. Chances are everybody he comes across as this "Raymond Vecchio" will know with one glance he's a fake. Still, Marlon Brando played the Godfather, and Brando played Stanley Kowalski, too. So why shouldn't Stanley Kowalski play the Godfather? "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse," Ray rasps hoarsely. His reflection glowers back, unimpressed. Who's he kidding? "Ray, my friend, you are so fucked."

Whatever. They want a "Vecchio," a Vecchio they'll get.

Ray rolls his shoulders and cracks his neck, trying to ease the tension. He's got a rapid heartbeat hammering, too, and his senses feel sharp, almost preternaturally so. It's the same feeling he always gets at the start of one of these undercover gigs, part terrified jitters, part adrenaline rush. He closes his eyes again and takes a long, deep breath.

Slowly he opens his eyes and regards the man in the mirror.

"Goodbye, Ray Kowalski," Vecchio says.


redchance @ aol.com
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