Sunday, August 21, 2016

Slow Coming Dark - Chapter X.

X. Sicilian Defense 

Matt ended up having to sign out a car from the SBI motor pool to go home in. He turned the key to his front door at eight o’clock that night, walked into the living room, and saw John Visconti and Tony Stop sitting in his armchairs. Visconti was reading a copy of the New York Times and Tony was tussling with Trumpeldor, wrestling the feisty animal all over his lap while Trumpeldor chewed on his hand and claw-kicked with his rear feet, enjoying himself immensely. Matt eyed them sourly and went to the refrigerator. Two new six packs of St. Pauli Girl that he had not purchased were sitting in the fridge, with four beers missing. Matt grabbed a fifth one and returned to the living room. “You not only bring your own brew, but I see you’ve been so kind as to use coasters on my coffee table,” he said, pointing at their empties. “Who says you Mob guys haven’t got style? The answer is no, I’m not telling you where they’ve gone. This is getting too hot and I want them under wraps. But I’ll tell you what you want to know myself if it will get you two on your way. Although I really should be arresting you right now for wasting that Martin bitch.”

“She is one less Musketeer who will be coming after your wife and your daughter and Miss Silverman,” said Visconti. “I should think you’d be grateful.”

“I am, but frankly I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you’d be half way back to the Big Apple by now after that fiasco at the Sheraton. Instead you seem to have headed to the nearest dry cleaner to get your silk suits cleaned of all the blood.”

“These are new threads,” said Tony.

“That looks like a new Saturn out front as well,” said Matt.

“Our Nissan got kinda the worse for wear,” said Tony.

“Yes, I gather from the witnesses Ms. Martin put a few bullet holes in it. I suppose it’s crushed into a square by now? Never mind, I won’t ask. But you goombahs need to ease your bodies on out of this state, chop-chop. Special Agent Andrea Weinmann is on the warpath. Seems you extracted a couple of her teeth with that rifle butt, Visconti. Not to mention making her look very, very foolish and incompetent to that murdering bull dyke she works for up in D.C.”

“When ladies are unladylike, they must expect the consequences,” shrugged John.

“Not to mention the two remaining Musketeers.”

“Ah, now, that’s the problem,” said Visconti. “Have you any idea where they are or what they are doing? I don’t. That is not a good thing, for either of us.”

“I don’t think Bob Blanchette has himself listed in the Yellow Pages under A for assassins,” said Matt, swigging his beer.

“No, but he does have a phone number where he can be reached,” said Visconti. “You see, we have not come to you empty handed. We do have something to trade, Redmond.”

“Trade for what?” demanded Redmond. “Trade for one more sordid story about how Bill and Hillary Clinton committed a vile and perverted crime and are now spilling the blood of other people to cover it up? I’ve already told you, I’ll give you that for free, just as Alice Silverman told it to me.” In short, precise sentences, Matt told the two of them what Bill and Hillary Clinton had done to Alice Silverman and how Eddie Miami had come to his death. They both sat silent for a moment when Matt had finished.

“And these beasts in human form dare to look down on us?” said Visconti with contempt.

“That’s why my uncle died?” responded Tony, his face black with rage. “Because Bill Clinton and that hag he married decided to have a little fun one night? And then expected Joey and Eddie to clean up their fucking mess? Like we was their fucking garbage men or something? They say ‘Hey, guinea, here’s a coupla bucks, go throw this baby in the dumpster for us’? ”

Matt didn’t bother to point out that Joey LaBrasca had presumably agreed to be party to the crime on promise of a sum of money significantly larger than a couple of bucks. “That’s it, kid. Now I really would take it kindly if you two would vamoose. I appreciate the help you gave me back there, but we are still on opposite sides, you know, and I have no desire to get matey with you, despite the fact that you can afford better beer than I can.”

“It’s not quite that simple, as I think you’ll understand if you think about it a bit,” said Visconti. “To begin with, may I ask what spin is being put on that little fracas back at the hotel by our lords and masters?”

“Officially? The FBI and SBI were co-operating in a major drug bust that went wrong, leading to the tragic deaths of two FBI agents thus far and probably a third as well. That guy Lambert axed out on the sidewalk probably won’t make it. I am not sure who they have decided to put on the spot marked X for this so-called drug bust. Most likely it will be the Musketeers, since thanks to your intervention they’ve got at least one dead hoodlum to show for it all, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if you two as well were on the front page tomorrow. The Dixie Mafia meets the real item from the sidewalks of New York, that kind of angle. Andrea is very sore in every sense of the word tonight.”

“And your people are going along with this?” asked Visconti.

“My boss is chewing nails, but he is going along with it for the time being as a personal favor to Senator Jesse Helms. He and Weinmann got into a shouting match in the Sheraton lobby and damned near tried to arrest each other on assorted state and federal charges. But right now we all seem to want two things. First off, we want to find and neutralize Bob Blanchette and Luther Lambert before they can inflict any more slaughter on anyone, and secondly we all want the real reason for that little bloodbath at the Sheraton kept quiet. This thing has turned into one hellacious can of worms.”

“Do you want it kept quiet?” asked Visconti.

“There’s something else you don’t know about,” said Matt. “Something extremely serious.” Then he told them what he had learned from Jesse Helms that morning. “You understand that the stakes are now infinitely higher than simple vengeance for Pal Joey?  That we are dealing with a madman who really can kick over the whole table if he starts losing the game? I have advised Alice Silverman to go public with the whole story at a press conference to try and save her own life and that of the child, but even that is as risky as hell. It may well drive Clinton berserk.”

“More risky than even you know,” said Visconti. “Five kilos worth of risky.”

“Eh?” said Matt.

“Joey LaBrasca was supplying Bill Clinton with five kilos of uncut cocaine per month. The president and those in his closest circle must be high as a kite almost all the time.”

“Damn!” cursed Matt. “Damn!” He hurled his empty beer bottle against the wall, smashing it. “Jesus Christ, I spend the best years of my life fighting that poison and the people who traffic in it, and now we’re being ruled by goddamn junkies!”

“Given your DEA background, I don’t have to tell you that cocaine addicts are in a constant state of paranoia, riding an emotional roller coaster that borders on madness,” continued Visconti. “Clinton is entirely capable of starting a nuclear war with Red China. Or invading Canada. Or ordering some of his negro minions in the Secret Service to take your friend Mr. Helms out and have him stood up against a wall and shot, Latin American style. Or dropping his trousers and wagging his weenie at a White House press conference. He is on the way out of office and out of power. There are many sharpened knives waiting for him, and he knows it. His star is descending and that of his equally evil but far more dangerously competent wife is rising, which must be very humiliating for him. He may decide to lash out at humanity one final time, just for the hell of it, in some grotesque and bizarre way none of us can imagine. His removal now becomes a matter not just of vengeance, but of public safety, and I believe you people sometimes refer to yourselves as public safety officers. But it's not going to be easy. It will require the most careful planning and preparation of my career. Not being suicidal, I cannot do it alone, and men who can be on a grassy knoll at a certain time, do the job, and then disappear forever are not easy to find.”

Matt stared at him. “So you’re telling me it was....?”

“Yes. Long ago another president and his punk kid brother thought they could use us for what they wanted and then double-cross us. They both learned differently, as will Clinton. But I have to be able to work on this project without Mr. Blanchette and that mountain maniac sidekick of his to worry about. You have the one bait that will draw them like flies to honey, Redmond. I am asking you to help me lure them in and dispose of them, and thus remove not only the immediate threat to Miss Silverman but also your wife and daughter, not to mention yourself. I think I know how to tip Blanchette, but I have to know what to tip him. Otherwise this little game of cat and mouse can go on for weeks or months. From what you tell me, we may not have that much time. Or do you still have legalistic scruples about such a thing?”

“My legalistic scruples, as you put it, stop where the lives of my family and the lives of an innocent woman and a baby begin,” said Redmond. “But I do have scruples about endangering all of the above by calling down two world class murderers onto them.”

“Do you think you can hide from them forever?” asked Visconti. “Can Alice Silverman keep on hiding without the news media picking up the story very soon? Do you think you can conceal their whereabouts from this FBI woman forever? How do you know she and Blanchette are not working in cahoots?”

“Actually, I did find out one interesting tidbit from our federal Salomé,” said Matt. “She has orders to bring her boss the heads of the Three Musketeers on her silver platter as well as John the Baptist’s. My guess is that Ms. Reno is now more or less Hillary’s political whore as opposed to Bill’s, if she wasn’t always. I have this feeling that Hillary wants to tidy up nice and neat before she goes full bore into the New York Senate campaign, with all potentially embarrassing skeletons polished up and neatly packed away in the closet. I suspect it was always part of the plan for your Uncle Joey to end up dead. As Billyboy’s coke connection he was a very dangerous loose end who had to be tied up. Now the Musketeers are on the hit parade as well. Rather like the ancient pharaohs who buried their treasure, killed the slaves who did the digging, and then had the slaves who killed the slaves killed in turn to make doubly sure no one knew the secret.”

“Which will make Blanchette all the more anxious to tie up his own loose ends and disappear for a good long while,” said Visconti grimly. “Expunging this whole episode is now essential to his personal survival. I am offering you a chance to meet this crisis with some measure of control over the how and the when, and with Tony and myself in your corner when the main event comes. Otherwise we must both face the prospect of having these two dangerous men pop up when we least expect it. The immediate threat to your ladies is from these two men. When they are out of the picture, then Miss Silverman can re-emerge into the public view. Once she is there she will be protected to some degree. She’s a star, after all. The Weinmann woman and the law can only do so much to Alice when she is surrounded by her own not inconsiderable wealth, her own entourage, and her own batteries of attorneys which her wealth can purchase. But she has to lose Blanchette and Lambert first. What is Croatoan?”

“A little bit of North Carolina history,” said Matt with a chuckle. “If you ever get the chance, read the story of the Lost Colony. The first of my own ancestors who came to this land, some hundreds of years before the first Italian, I might add.”

“Columbus was an Italian,” Visconti reminded him gently. “A Genovese, in fact. And is not America itself named for another Italian, the mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci?”

“Ouch! Yeah, you got me there,” agreed Matt with a laugh. 


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