Disclaimer: The Characters of Due South belong to Alliance Communications. No copyright infringement is intended.
This is all Lila's (from Sentinel fandom) fault . I can blame her, since I told her the original, and true, story. I was going to make this a Jim (From The Sentinel) story, but when going to sleep last night, I realized that it worked much better as a Francesca story. Heh.
As always, the characters of Due South do not belong to me. I thank their creators for their genius and forbearance in allowing fanfic writers to play with their creation and not chasing us down with 'cease and desist' orders or other legal stuff they could do. I make no monetary profit from this and make no claim to the characters I use.
It Happened Like This
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"I can de-bone a whole chicken in under thirty seconds." Francesca Vecchio to Ray and Fraser in 'Dead Guy Running'
"What 'cha got there, Frannie?" Ray Kowalski asked as he held the door open for his former, pretend, sister.
"Supper. Got a couple of capons. You want to give me a hand?"
Ray shrugged, "I guess. What do I need to do?"
"Wring their necks for me while I get the water boiling to pluck them."
Ray stopped dead in his tracks. "Uh, I don't think I can do that, Frannie."
She turned to look at him and frowned. He'd gone terribly pale and she could see the perspiration breaking out on his face. He started to jig nervously in place.
"Uh, you know, I, uh, sort of, uh, well, I don't do dead very well, you know?"
She could have smacked herself. Of course he didn't. She knew that. She blushed. "I'm sorry, I forgot. Can you see if Ray's home? He can do it."
"Sure, I can do that. Uh, sorry I'm not much help." He couldn't look at her, knowing the scorn she had to feel at his squeamishness. He looked up in surprise when her free arm slid around him and squeezed.
"I don't mind, Ray. To tell you the truth, I don't much like cleanin' chickens, either. At least it's not as bad as Cousin Mario butcherin' pigs." She grinned and winked at him.
Interested, despite his roiling stomach, he frowned, then asked, "Uh, what about Mario? Isn't he the slimy one who groped you at that picnic?"
"Yeah. Him. He's a real jerk. I was spending the summer at Uncle Georgio's when I was about sixteen. It was late summer, and the weather was unseasonably cold." Both looked up as her brother, Ray, and their friend, Fraser, entered the room.
"Mario tried to grope you, Frannie?" her brother asked, his expression darkening.
"Don't sweat it, bro. Ray took care of him. Showed him how to do the mudslide." She winked at Kowalski again, who snickered in response. When Mario had followed the nearly frantic Francesca into the woods, he had slipped after them and when the opportunity had presented itself, shoved the annoying creep down a steep embankment to the creek below, covering the miscreant in mud, old mulch, and something long dead. After which, no one was willing to get within twenty feet upwind of him. Her brother looked at Kowalski and decided to get the whole story from him, later.
Francesca, realizing her brother was there, handed him the box with the capons in it. "Here, Ray, make yourself useful." Vecchio frowned and peered into the box.
"Chickens? You bought live chickens?"
"Capons, Ray. For Ma's cacciatore?" She pushed him towards the back door. "Do it in the set tub, will you? It's easier to clean up that way."
"Wait a minute, you want me to clean them?"
Sighing in frustration, Francesca turned on him. "No, Ray. I want you to wring their necks and bleed them while I get the pot of water boiling for plucking them."
Vecchio grinned in almost sadistic glee as he saw Kowalski pale. "Sure. Hey, Kowalski, wanna come help?" he taunted.
Fraser frowned. "Ray..." he said, warningly.
Knowing he was pushing his luck, Vecchio backed off. "Just kiddin', Benny. Take it easy." He beat a hasty retreat, leaving his sister with his partner and friend.
Francesca and Fraser both glared after the retreating Italian. Finally, Kowalski broke the awkward silence.
"So, what about Mario and the pigs, Frannie?"
Francesca turned back to him, "Huh? Oh, Mario. Well, it was late summer and was almost cold for that time of year. Uncle Georgio had said something about inviting one of the hogs in for supper. I'd helped him back in the spring, cuttin' and wrappin' it. Well, Uncle Georgio had to go into the city for some stuff, and left me, Mario, and Cousin Vinnie at the farm. Mario decided that they would butcher the pig for Uncle Georgio. I asked them if they knew how, and Mario said 'Sure, I been huntin' all my life.' Vinnie looked at him kind of funny and then nodded in agreement." While she spoke, she got her mother's largest pot out of the cupboard and filled it with water from the tap. Ray, being closest, took it from her and carried it to the stove.
Fraser filled the tea kettle with water, as well, and set it to heat for tea. "What happened, Francesca?" he asked.
Frannie grinned as she got out the other things she'd be needing to clean the capons. "Well, I told them that once they got it killed and," she paused, trying to think of a nicer way to put it so as not upset Kowalski, "Cleaned, to bring it in and I'd cut and wrap it."
Fraser's eyebrows went up in surprise. "You butchered out an entire hog by yourself, Francesca?"
Frannie, casting a quick glance to see how Ray was taking it, answered. "Well, I told them to take the head, feet, hide and insides off, then bring me the rest."
Ray was impressed. "You can do that? It don't bother you?"
Francesca smiled, reassuringly, "Not if there ain't any blood. Then, it's just meat."
Ray nodded, understanding. His eyes gleamed with admiration for her strength. "That's pretty cool, Frannie. So what happened?" He knew there was more to the story.
"Well, Mario took Uncle Georgio's old Army .45 out. I remember hearing the shot. About fifteen minutes later, Vinnie came in sayin' they had a problem. I remember feeling kinda sick and wondering what had gone wrong. I asked, and Vinnie said they couldn't get the insides, out. I felt sick. I didn't do very good with it still lookin' like an animal, you know?" Both men nodded their understanding, so she continued.
"I swallowed hard and followed him out. I kept tellin' myself that it was just meat, not an animal, it was meat." She paused, remembering, and shivered.
"Did it work?" Ray asked. He reached out to touch her arm. She smiled up at him.
"Well, we got out to the barn and I could see that the pig was dead, and they had hung him up like they were supposed to, to drain all the blood out? They'd put a big, five-gallon bucket under it to catch the blood. I kept my teeth tight together, just in case, you know?" When they nodded, she continued. "Well, I looked at it. I thought that they sure did a weird job cutting its throat, it looked hacked at. Uncle Georgio told me later that it was because they shot the pig behind the head and the bullet, uh, 'took out' its throat on the way through."
Ray paled a bit, nodding. "Yeah. Exit wounds are usually bigger than entrance wounds." Fraser nodded his agreement.
Frannie nodded, too. "Yeah, well, I looked. They had cut him open, and I could see that the ... insides were just hanging there. I looked up and saw that all they had to do was cut around the, what-you-call it, the rectum?"
"Vent." Fraser supplied. At the puzzled looks they gave him, he shifted awkwardly and rubbed one eyebrow with his finger, "That's what it's called, the vent," he explained.
"Right, the vent. I pointed it out to them and told them to cut around it and all the insides would just fall out. Then I headed back to the house. Because all the blood was in the bucket, I didn't have any trouble, really, even though it still had its head and skin on, you know?" Both men nodded their understanding.
"Well, I was about half-way back to the house when I heard them screaming."
Ray frowned, as Francesca started to giggle. "What's so funny? Why did they scream?"
She looked up at Fraser, who was also frowning in confusion.
"Remember me sayin' how they caught the blood in that big bucket?"
Exchanging equally puzzled glances, both men nodded.
"Well, they forgot to move it." Francesca couldn't hold back and started to laugh. "They cut around the vent and the insides fell out, just like I told them it would."
Fraser froze for just a moment, picturing what must have happened. A slow smile began to creep across his features as the picture formed in his mind. He started to chuckle.
Ray frowned and tried to picture it. As understanding dawned, he grinned. "Did you go back to look?" he asked.
"Nah. I was laughin' too hard. But I can't think of it without laughin'." She grinned up at the two men. "They had to wash up with the hose, outside. When Uncle Georgio came home, I was in the kitchen, deboning the meat. We had the ribs and spine meat for supper that night. Funny thing, though," she paused as she reminisced, smiling softly.
"What was that?" Ray asked.
She grinned mischievously at them, "Neither one of them could eat any meat that night, or for the next couple of weeks, for that matter."
"So much for being hunters," Fraser murmured softly.
"Yeah, well, I gotta admit I had a little twinge that night, but it tasted good, so I got over it." She smiled at them, receiving grins in return, even from Kowalski, who still looked at her with admiration in his eyes.
Her brother returned at that moment. Seeing the smug grin on his sister's face, he wondered if he wanted to know, and decided he didn't. He'd taken off his suit jacket and dress shirt, which had been a good thing, as when he cut the heads off, the blood had splattered him. He'd immediately pulled off his shirt and wiped the blood from his skin, then rinsed the blood from the shirt. If he'd gotten any on his suit, he'd have been royally upset; but since he hadn't, he had nothing to complain about.
"Your chickens are ready for you, Frannie," he said sarcastically.
Frannie turned to lift the huge pot of now boiling water, only to find Fraser had beaten her to it. "I'll carry it for you, Francesca. It's rather heavy."
"Thanks, Frase." With that, they headed onto the service porch, where Frannie plucked and cleaned the two capons.
"So, what were you talkin' about, Kowalski?"
"She was tellin' us about Mario and the pig," Kowalski replied.
"Yeah?" Vecchio grinned. "He always was kind of a putz. So, tell me about him trying to grope my sister?" His words were innocuous, but his body language and tone of voice belied the calm.
Kowalski shrugged. "Not much to tell. There was this picnic. A bunch of your family was there and your Ma dragged me along. No one seemed to think it funny that I was or wasn't you. It was like I was invisible, or somethin'." Whenever he spoke of Vecchio's family, he referred to Ma Vecchio as 'your' Ma, so as to not annoy the 'real' Ray Vecchio.
"So, what happened?" Vecchio's voice was silky-smooth, a sure sign he was annoyed.
"So, I was helpin' your Ma with all the food she brought, and by the time I realized that Mario was botherin' Frannie, she was headin' off into the woods. I told your Ma that I'd be right back and followed them. When I caught up, Mario had her pinned to a tree and had his hands down her pants." Kowalski looked at the simmering Vecchio and hurriedly continued.
"I grabbed him and pulled him away from her, then I jerked him around and punched him one. He was already kinda off-balance, and I didn't even try to stop him from fallin'. He slipped in the junk on the forest floor and slid down the ravine. I think the dead thing he hit was a skunk. He stank. Nobody wanted him anywhere near them. He was pretty upset, if you know what I mean?"
Vecchio stared. He couldn't fault him, as Kowalski had done pretty much what he, himself, would have done. As he thought about it, it seemed fitting that his sleazeball of a cousin should end up slimed with something really gross. He smiled and slapped Kowalski on the back. "Good work, pal. So, how'd you like Frannie's blood-bath story?"
Kowalski chuckled. "Well, as gross as it sounds, I don't think it could have happened to a nicer fellow," he confided.
Vecchio gaped for a moment, in shock that the squeamish Kowalski could have just made a joke about blood and guts, but he had. And he'd taken good care of his kid sister. He grinned. "Yeah, you're right. So, you and Benny are stayin' for supper, right?"
Surprised, Kowalski paused just a moment. "Uh, sure. I got nowhere I got to be."
"Good. So, tell me, what else did Frannie get into while I was away?"
"Well, there was this one time..."
The story you have just read is true. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. To this day, I cannot hear the words 'blood bath' and not snicker. No, I didn't go and look at them, but I know that they spent a long time out there with the hose. And, Bill, became Vegan after that little incident... at least for several weeks, then he would only eat beef or chicken, and it had to be cremated. I guess he didn't like learning where meat comes from....
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