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Bone in the throat, p.22
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       Bone in the Throat, p.22

           Anthony Bourdain
 
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  "I said I hadda go to the bathroom."

  "Where is he?"

  Harvey looked nervously around him, peeking out from behind the column. "I think he's over by a display. I told him I'd meet him. I don't have long. You gotta get me outta here."

  "You're not wearin' the wire or anything, right?"

  "Are you crazy? Are you crazy? You think I'm outta my fuckin' mind? I don't wanna live? That, that animal, the other animal, he tore my clothes apart lookin' for it last time I saw him. You realize what woulda happened to me he found one? I wouldn't be talkin' to you, that's for sure . . ."

  "Just hang on. Hang on."

  "Hang on. I'll be hangin' on by my fuckin' nuts somewhere. You think I don't read the papers? I saw what happened out there . . . in Brooklyn . . . I saw what they did! That could happen to me. It's gonna happen to me I don't get out of this. I want to get out. You said you'd get me out. I wanna go somewhere, California, Florida, someplace warm . . . I want protection. You promised me . . ."

  "Harvey, you're worried. I can understand that—"

  "Worried? I'm worried. You're damn fuckin' right I'm worried. Two times I get roughed up for you. TWO TIMES! I'm not lookin for the hat trick. People are gettin' fuckin' killed. He's gonna kill me. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but he's gonna kill me. I know it. He as good as said so."

  "Harvey. What do you have to worry about. You're not wearin' the wire. You drive there in your car?"

  "Yeah, I drove here in my car. What the fuck does that mean?"

  "Listen . . . Calm down for a minute and listen to me."

  "They know! I know they fuckin' know! The fuckin' guy said so. You should see the way this fuckin' guy looks at me . . ."

  "Okay, okay . . . Listen. We got a beeper in your car. You can't go anyplace we don't know where you're goin. I got people watching out for you. Nothing's going to happen. You just gotta hang in there a few more days . . . A few more days and we'll pull you out. You don't want the whole case to go down the drain now, do you? You want our friends to go away to prison for a long time where they're not going to bother you, right? You just have to hang in there. We're this close. Two days, three days most."

  "They're tryin' to take the restaurant away from me. That Sonny character. That TV guy, the Count, he's comin' around tellin me how to run my business. They wanna take it away from me . . ."

  Al sighed, "Listen, Harvey. We'll fix it so he doesn't get his hands on it. We can fix it so he goes down with them. You pull out now, you go weak in the knees now, what's to stop the guy? Humor him. Cooperate. He's not getting his hands on your place. I'll get the liquor authority lookin' at his license. All those disreputable types he hangs out with, they wont let him run a bar."

  "He's runnin' a fuckin' bar now!" shouted Harvey.

  "Yeah, but once we indict his buddies, it'll be different."

  "I don't know. I'm worried. I'm goin' to fuckin' pieces and you won't do anything."

  "Listen, Harvey, when all this is over, think of all the heads you're gonna have in your collection. It's fourth quarter here, pal, you're rackin' up the points, you're ahead . . . Don't drop the ball now. Go for it. You don't like Victor? Not crazy about the Count? Think how much fun you're gonna have seein' 'em all runnin' outta central booking with their coats over their faces. After this is all over you can go on TV, tell Geraldo all about your courageous effort that put away a major crime crew. You can write a book . . . Relax, for Christ's sake. Think about who you want to play you in the movie. I was thinking Al Pacino."

  "Al Pacino?" Harvey thought about this for a second. "He's Italian."

  "Pacino can play Jewish. Okay. You don't like Pacino, how about Jack Lemmon? Richard Dreyfuss?"

  "Jack Lemmon's too old . . ."

  "Dustin Hoffman . . ."

  "I dunno . . . I was thinking, I was thinking Michael Douglas. I want somebody who's more, like, sexy."

  "Fine. Michael Douglas. You want Michael Douglas, I'm sure you can get Michael Douglas. Heroic restaurateur slash dentist goes undercover to beat the mob. I'm sure they'll all be dying to play you. There you go—think about it . . . sitting out there by the side of the pool, gettin' your helmet polished, all those starlets fighting over who gets to play the love interest."

  "Hmmmm . . ."

  "See what I mean? We can't have the hero of the picture slinkin' off to protective custody they haven't even put the bad guys away yet. C'mon!"

  "I want the Dreadnaught. When this is all over, I want the restaurant. I'll get the money. I'll find backers. The place has got a lot goin' for it. We got a new menu comin' in. I'm lookin' at some new equipment. . . I'll drive that fuckin' Count next door right outta fuckin business."

  "There you go, Harvey. That's the guy I know and love."

  "Alright, a few more days. After that no more."

  "Okay. You got my word on it. Now get out there and knock 'em dead. You're a star."

  Harvey hung up and headed out onto the main floor to find Victor.

  "CAN WE FUCKIN' GO NOW?" said Victor. "I been waitin' so long I thought you fell in in there."

  Harvey looked around the convention floor, looking to see if he could pick out his backup.

  "I wanted to see the grills," he said.

  "There they are," said Victor. "Good. Now you seen 'em. Now can we go? I got an appointment."

  "Alright," said Harvey. He followed Victor to the front door, his head turning left and right at the shiny new equipment all around him. They passed through the glass doors and stood by the curb while Harvey felt around in his pocket for his car keys. Victor signaled to somebody in a tan Chevy who was idling by an entrance ramp around fifty yards away. He took Harvey by the arm firmly as the car approached at a slow roll and stopped directly in front of them. Skinny sat behind the wheel. Victor stepped forward and opened the rear door.

  "Get inna car," he said to Harvey.

  "I got my car here," protested Harvey. "It's parked right over there. You don't want me to drive you—"

  "Get inna fuckin' car, Harvey," said Victor. His grip on Harvey's arm tightened as he bundled him into the back seat.

  DETECTIVE CZERNY helped himself to an eggroll and thanked the girl.

  "This looks good, you gonna try one?"

  "He didn't come outta the bathroom yet. You think I should go in and check?" said Detective Alvarez.

  Detective Czerny looked down onto the main floor. "I don't see the other guy either. Where'd he go?"

  "Oh, shit. Don't tell me this . . ."

  Thirty-Seven

  U.S. Attorney Sullivan leaned back in his chair and gazed up at a shelf of football trophies on the wall of his office. Above the trophies was a photo of a grinning Sullivan at the helm of his sailboat, a bottle of Red Stripe in one hand. Next to it was another photo, this one of two sunburned young boys, blond and wearing little white sailor caps, bailing water out of a rubber dinghy with plastic pails. Sullivan let out a long sigh and tossed a copy of the morning paper across the table at Al.

  "You read this yet?" Sullivan asked.

  "Yeah," said Al. "I read it."

  On the front page was a photograph of two dead men, lying in a Brooklyn street. The headline said, BROOKLYN KILLINGS TIED TO SECRET GRAND JURY PROBE.

  "Apparently the Brooklyn DA is not happy with the level of cooperation he's getting from this office," said Sullivan, rubbing his temples and speaking to the ceiling. "You'll notice where it says 'an informed source in the Brooklyn DA's office complained of a lack of cooperation between the Federal prosecutor and other arms of law enforcement'?"

  "I don't get it. That's who leaked it?"

  "Remember I said I'd give the Brooklyn DA a lay-up awhile back on that Brooklyn stuff we were getting? I let him know in a roundabout way that we had come across certain information about Calabrese people coming over here, making loans. I mentioned it over lunch . . ."

  "He settled for that?"

  "He did then. But when these guys show up dead in his backyard, it's
a different story. Now he wants to know who our snitch is, what else he's telling us. He makes a formal request for any 'documentary or recorded materials'—blah blah blah—that will have a bearing on his homicide investigation."

  "And you told him to go piss up a rope."

  "In the nicest possible way, yes," said Sullivan. "So what happens is his office is getting cluster-fucked by the press and the TV people and somebody out there got the idea to throw them a bone, let it be known how we've been less than helpful. . . that it's our fault they don't have anything, that we're hamstringing their investigation in our quest for personal glory. So, some enterprising reporter calls here for a comment."

  "And somebody commented . . ."

  "AUSA Shergold," said Sullivan flatly "I had him in here on the carpet an hour ago. In tears. He says he only spoke on the understanding it was for deep background, whatever the hell that means . . . Says he was just trying to get this reporter to see things our way. Thought he was taking some heat off me, putting it back on Brooklyn where it belongs. That there were other concerns . . . we're not stiffing the DA out of personal pique or anything. So, he did some winking and hinting, trying to get this reporter to hold up on the story, suggested the man should wait for the other shoe to drop. He implied, he says, that if this reporter could hang on to the story a couple a days or so, he'd get a better one. Told him he wasn't aware of the big picture, didn't want him to go ahead with an incomplete or inaccurate story. Of course they went right to press with it."

  "I spoke to Harvey today," said Al. "He's ape-shit over the story. He got slapped around a little by Sally again and he was screaming for us to pull him out."

  "What did you tell him?" said Sullivan, alarmed.

  "I gave him the pep talk. Told him to hang on, it won't be much longer."

  "Can he hold his mud until we indict?"

  "I think I managed to calm him down. I told him we put two guys on him, got the beeper in his car, that he's safe . . . What else was I gonna say?"

  "Fabulous . . ."

  "What about Shergold? You gonna do anything to him? I don't want to be reading this conversation in the fuckin' Post tomorrow," said Al, bitterly.

  "That's just what we need now, a 'disgruntled former member of the Strike Force' rolling around loose on the deck. No, I can't do anything about him now. Put that aside for a rainy day."

  Al sat glumly in his chair without saying anything.

  Sullivan got up and looked out the window for a minute. Finally he turned to Al. "So, give me some good news. I need some good news. You saw Tommy Pagano. You have a nice talk?"

  "Oh, yeah, we had a nice talk, me and Tommy. I took him out to the Metro Grill. The chef suggested it. Said it's Tommy's favorite. You know the place?"

  "Yeah. It's expensive isn't it?"

  "You could say that . . ."

  "Great," said Sullivan. "Some little street guinea gets a freebie at the Metro, I'm here eating macaroni in the cafeteria. You get anything from him?"

  "He's gonna flip. He hasn't yet. But he will. A good wind'll blow him over."

  The veins around Sullivan's nose became redder, and he pounded his fist on the back of his chair. "I can't wait for a good wind! We gotta get on the stick here! You can't just sit around on your ditty-box waiting for him to make up his mind! This whole thing is in danger of coming unraveled . . . Every day goes by without an indictment is gonna be like getting nibbled to death by gerbils! It's just gonna get worse. We have to be seen to be doing something. I need some results! Haul the little bastard in and squeeze him! What are you afraid of, hurting his feelings?"

  "It's hard for him," said Al, flustered. "Even a scumbag like Sally Wig . . . It's his uncle."

  "Yeah, well you told me we could flip the kid! Right here in this office you said we could flip Tommy, get his uncle to trade up. You remember saying that? I mean what's the point of this whole exercise. I'm gonna look pretty damn silly this case ends up with only Sally the fucking Wig!"

  "Tommy's gonna give us Sally and Skinny on the Manso killing," said Al. "He just doesn't want to go too easy. He's going through the motions best he can. It'll make him feel better later, he makes a show of standing up now. We've seen that before."

  "He was there? Definitely? He saw it?"

  "The chef told me. Tommy confessed to the chef. . ."

  "We're not going to find out later Sally and Skinny only held the guy down while Tommy did the killing? There's no indication anything like that happened, is there? I grant this Tommy immunity and it turns out something like that happened . . ."

  "No, no, no . . . The kid's a weeper. A crybaby. He's never killed anybody. Look—where's he gonna go? He just found out his best: buddy's been diming him, he's gonna get his ass hauled before the grand jury any minute, maybe get tossed in jail. . . He's startin' to worry about maybe Sally and his pals maybe killin' him . . . He's got a lot on his mind."

  "What, are you thinking about adopting the little tyke or something?"

  "He's a nice kid," said Al. "I like him."

  "I guess so. Takin' him out to the Metro. Wining and dining him. You're sure he's not a flight risk? He's not going to bug out on us all of a sudden?"

  "Where's he gonna go?" repeated Al. "I talked to Ricard, the chef. I called the State Department. Tommy's never been outta this country . . . I doubt he's even been outta state. Mighta been to the Jersey shore once or twice as a kid. No, he's not goin' anywhere. In a couple a days he's gonna be right downstairs, cryin his little eyes out and tellin' us all about his mean Uncle Sally and his evil friends who led him astray. He's gonna cooperate. I mean we need him to testify, right? We want a nice cooperative witness pointing his finger at Sally and them. We bring out the rubber hoses now, who knows which way he'll go . . . I don't want him whistling the Italian national anthem on me all of a sudden. Not when we're this close. Why rush into rape? The seduction is going so well . . . I'm telling you . . . the kid is gonna flip. He'll make a good witness."

  "I hope so," said a worried Sullivan. "When this meeting is over, I want you to go back to your office and put down on paper the substance of what you just told me. I want a memo for the record."

  Al groaned, "So it's like that . . ."

  "Damn right it's like that! I'm not going to see this whole investigation go down the tubes 'cause you've fallen in love with a source. I'm holding this whole thing up on your assurances . . ."

  "Hey, if I remember correctly, you were the one wanted to make this into a big RICO case. We coulda had a nice, tidy little extortion case, if you'd wanted it . . . You didn't want it."

  "Alright, alright. . . Calm down, nobody's blaming anybody. I just wanted a little reassurance. I've been taking it from all sides here today. So once Tommy comes in, what happens next, the way you see it?"

  "I guess we make some arrests, send a forensic team down the restaurant to swab the drains, collect physical evidence. Hey, it's not all bad news. We've been getting some tapes outta the Dreadnaught office . . . some interesting stuff. Some new additions to the cast. Sally's got this guy Victor LoFaro babysitting Harvey. It sounds like Sally's making a move on the restaurant. And another name—you remember Sonny Roman? The Count?"

  Sullivan's expression brightened a little. "The guy who was on that TV show?"

  "He owns . . . he runs the Villa Nova next door to the Dread naught. Mobbed up for years and years but we never really came across anything. The state tried to reject his liquor license a few years back, because of his unseemly associations."

  "So what's he done?"

  "Well it looks like he's gonna be Harvey's new partner."

  "Oh, I see . . . Okay . . . okay . . ."

  "He'll make a nice picture in the paper if that makes you feel any better. Lovable TV character arrested for racketeering. The state'll love you for it. They got real embarrassed he got himself a license. They say he had somebody up in Albany. His place has been a must visit on the Wise Guy Tour for ages. There's a lot of people who'd like to see him close
d down."

  Sullivan nodded, a smile beginning to creep across his face. "That would be fun . . . That was the show with the cute kid, right? The vampire adopts him or something?"

  "Heart-warming comedy ensued . . ."

  "Okay . . . I like it. See? You managed to make me feel better."

  "I just need a couple more days to land Tommy."

  "Alright, alright . . . How about the other one, the chef, this Ricard character?"

  "We can use his affidavits for the grand jury. I'm not crazy about the idea of using his testimony in a trial."

  "Why not? Tommy confessed to him I thought..."

  "Sure, but it's hearsay, . . And there's other things to consider. His credibility on the stand. I don't think in a trial he'd be very good on cross to say the least. A defense attorney could make much of his drug use. It could be pointed out that we tolerated, even overlooked his use of heroin to get him to implicate others. He'd be a bad witness for us. You put him on the stand, you open all sorts of doors . . ."

  "But he's seen a lot, hasn't he?"

  "Nothing we can't use another source for—tapes, Harvey, Tommy. There's things he could say on the stand we don't want to get into, like the drugs, like Harvey skimming. Even the weapon used in the Manso killing. It could be suggested he planted it. To get drugs, stay out of jail. I'd rather not use him if we don't have to. He could undermine other witnesses on the stand."

  "Any Brady material?"

  "Not to my direct knowledge."

  "Okay, we'll leave that for the time being. Hopefully we won't have to use him. You really think we have a shot at Sally?"

  "Once he's facing life without possibility for the Manso thing? We have a shot. Charlie hates him. I imagine the feeling's mutual. Sally feels like he's gotten the short end of the stick for a long time, doing all the dirty work. We got some tapes of Charlie talking about Sally. Nothing incriminating . . . But if we were to play them for Sally on top of a murder indictment, make it look like he's gonna be the one holding the bag again . . ."

  "Uh-huh . . ."

  "How about you? What are you going to do about the Brooklyn DA? The two DBs out there?"

 
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