The huge arm around my neck tightened just a bit. "Al, you've got to calm down," David said. "Think about this. He's been here for a few days. You just arrived. There's no way he killed you."
I could feel myself getting light-headed from lack of air. My strength was completely spent. I stopped struggling with the huge man. "Okay," I panted. "Okay, let go of me."
David loosened his grip considerably, but didn't let me go. "Are you sure?" he asked. "You'll be calm?"
"Yes!" I snapped, irritated at being restrained like a child.
"Okay." He let go of me and took a step back. "Did you hear what I said?" he continued, "There's no way this man could have killed you."
"I've never seen you before, you asshole!" the little man screamed from across the room. "Get the hell out of here!"
I looked over at the man. It was him. I knew it was him. Putting my hands on my knees, I bent over to catch my breath.
"Are you Romeo di Marti?" David asked from behind me.
"Yes," the man said. "What the hell is this about?" He was rubbing his neck where I had clawed at him.
"Romeo," David continued, "I apologize for the confusion. My friend here just arrived. I'm showing him around. He's still a little confused about how he got here."
"No I'm not!" I said, standing straight. "I remember now. I was at a bakery. I was following him!" I pointed to Romeo. "He was driving a Black Lexus. He went to the bakery. It was Italian! An Italian bakery! I remember!"
"Al," David said, "you died less than a day ago. Mr. di Marti has been here for several days."
"Look," I said. "I'm not making this up."
"I drove a Lexus," Romeo said softly. "It was black."
"What?" David and I said together.
"I drove a black Lexus," Romeo said, "and I owned a bakery. In Fort Worth, Texas. Il Forno."
"Yes!" I said. "Il Forno! That was it!"
"I've never seen you before!" Romeo barked. And then, more contritely, he said, "I swear to you, sir, I've never seen you before in my life."
"Hold on a second," David said. "Hold on." He reached back and closed the door. When he turned around, he had a concerned look on his face. "Mr. di Marti, how did you die?"
"How did you die?" David asked again, sounding a bit angry.
"Well," Romeo stammered, "I don't remember exactly."
"What do you remember?"
"I think," he paused, "I think I had a heart attack or something."
David glared at him in silence for a few seconds. "You came to some decision, some life decision," David said. "Next thing you knew, you were here."
Romeo stared at him, but didn't say a word.
"You surrendered to a Fate." David sounded disgusted. "What did you decide, Mr. di Marti?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Romeo replied.
David glared at Romeo for a little longer, and then began to walk slowly toward him.
"Please," Romeo stammered. "I don't know what you mean."
"Tell me about your cousin, Mr. di Marti," David said.
"Your cousin, Darla," David stopped a few inches from Romeo, towering over the little man. "You have a cousin Darla, don't you?" David pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket. "Darla Montagne?"
"Please," Romeo whispered. "Please, let's go and sit down. I'll tell you whatever you want to know."
"Darla Montagne?" I said. "Yes, she was a butcher." David glanced over at me. I went on, "He came in and told me that he was her husband." I looked at Romeo, "You told me that Darla and her daughter were missing."
"No, I never did that," Romeo stuttered. "Please." He looked up, almost in tears, at the giant man in front of him. "Please. I'll tell you whatever I can, but he's crazy." He nodded over at me. "I have never, ever, ever seen him before. I swear to you."
"I believe you," David said. "But he's obviously seen you, hasn't he."
"No!" Romeo replied.
"Yes, I have," I said to David. "You have to believe me."
"I do," David sighed, taking a step back from the terrified little man and looking at me. "And the fact that you're involved in this worries me. This cannot be a coincidence."
"Involved in what?"
David just stared at the floor for a second, lost in thought. "We'll get to that," he said finally, turning back toward Romeo. "But first, I want to hear everything from you. And I mean everything." He snarled at the little man, putting a hand firmly on his shoulder.
"Of course," Romeo whimpered. "Everything."