CHAPTER ONE

THE DETECTIVE

 

 

"How could this happen?" Frank asked Petey. "That little shit fucked with me for the last time!"

The boss was mad. Petey had NEVER seen him like this. It made him very nervous. When people like the boss got pissed, they became very stupid and very mean. Keeping his eyes on the road, Petey tried to defuse the situation before it escalated.

"Boss, he's a cop. You can't touch him." Petey said back to him in the seat. "Give it time, it will blow over."

"Fuck that noise!" Frank shouted, crushing his cigar in his hand. "That shithead is getting people to look and notice us."

Petey thought this was funny since they were driving a stretch limo. Wisely, he kept that to himself. Now that he'd been promoted to Frank's driver, he watched every word, every symbol that came out of his mouth. With the shit just beginning to hit the fan, he wished he had been looked over.

"I'm going to get that worm! I'm going to get him and his family." Frank growled.

Petey didn't like hearing this at all. Just knowing the boss wanted to go after this guy's family made him an accessory. Offing straight cops and their kids was not his thing. Offing jamokes in the business was OK; they knew what they were getting into.

"Boss, listen to yourself. It's not smart." There, I said it. Maybe I shouldn't have.

Petey realized he shouldn't have immediately. He got the worst of all responses, silence. It seemed like a half an hour before Frank spoke. The dreaded diamond pinky ring started tapping on the window.

"You think I'm stupid?" Frank asked.

"No boss, I said it wasn't smart to go after a cop. Especially one like this." Petey tried to explain without showing his growing fear.

"And what am I supposed to do, Professor Dumbo? Let people see this shit walk all over me?" Frank dictated more than asked.

"He's baiting you, boss. What he has on you is nothing big." Petey's voice cracked.

"You know, Petey, you're right. Instead of showing who's top dog around here, I'll let everyone see me with my dick limp! I used to like you, Petey."

Oh shit!! This isn't good!

"Pull up to Oscar's. I need more cigars." Frank spoke softly.

If I'm lucky, he'll just get another driver.

Oscar's was one of a few cigar shops that could get Havana's. It was a bitch to pull in though. The lot itself was small, and the angle sucked. To get in you had to make the turn from two lanes over. The last thing Petey wanted to do at that moment was to pull in and out fifteen times. Luckily it was late at night and the traffic was nothing. Something had actually gone right and Petey was able to pull the limo in with ease.

"Go in and get me two boxes, and I don't want to hear your fucking mouth the rest of the night. Capish?" Frank announced.

Petey nodded his head and went to the small shop. Frank Gercio stewed in his seat. As soon as he got back to the house, he decided, he was going to get rid that dumbass driver. Nobody seemed to have any balls any more, except his daughter. One person Frank Gercio was actually worried about was his only child. Stupid ass cops did not phase him in the least. But how did that dick, Scalici, know to bust the market at that time? Maybe pussy boy in the shop had been talkin'. Nobody messed with him or his business, nobody. The cop lived on Long Island and had a daughter. He was going to show him what it was like to lose something close. That's what happens when you fuck with Frank Gercio.

Dickhead was taking too long in the shop. Frank was about to go in himself and pop him for being such a slow fucking idiot. But who would drive? He didn't want to, he'd just wait till they get home.

Then it occurred to him, it was quiet. The middle of Queens and it was dead silent. There were no cars, people, or anything. Granted it was 1 AM, still this was fucking Queens! Then he heard something faint, a whoosh. Then it was quiet again. Looking out the window, the tinted glass made it hard to see anything with clarity.

Whoosh.

What the fuck was that?

Whoosh.

This time he heard it even louder.

WHOOSH.

Now it sounded as if it were right above him.

Suddenly, what looked like a tremendous horn penetrated the roof. At first, Frank thought it was going to pierce his head, but it just curled up and clamped on. Two more came in the side bulletproof windows. The limo lurched forward, sending Frank sprawling across the limo into the back, off the drivers seat, face first. His nose squashed on contact as he felt the whole car lift off the ground. The back of the driver's seat seemed to be the new bottom of the car as his stomach dropped. He only felt this way when a plane took off. Fumbling around, he managed to turn around. Another horn had come in the back window. What was beyond that was incredible. A tail. A long-ass fucking tail. Behind that was the skyline of New York getting real small, real fast.

The gun!

Frank kept a .357 Mag in the side door compartment. Unfortunately the side compartment was now above his head. The limo was bobbing back and forth like a toy and all the secret compartments flew open with each jolt. He noticed the gun compartment was already open. Putting his hands down, he felt exactly what he wanted to feel; the long cold barrel of his gun.

"Fuck You!" Frank screamed and fired. Frank quickly remembered why you should never shoot inside a bulletproof car. In an instant, the bullet ricocheted off the horn, window, side, then the soft tissue of his kneecap.

"Sonofabitch!" he cried.

When he opened his eyes and saw all the "horns" at once is when it dawn on him. They're talons.

Back at the store, Petey came out to an empty parking lot.

 

 

******************

 

 

 

This was the worst time of the day for Craig and he wasn't even out of bed yet. Waking up before the alarm went off was, hands down, the most dreaded timing imaginable. His body wanted to stay in bed, but at any moment that 'click' would go off followed by that awful country music. Craig purposely set the alarm on country because he had to get up and shut it off. Another smart move was placing it on the other side of the room so he physically had to get out of bed to shut it off.

It was still dark out. If God was merciful to him, it was only 2 AM. Since it was the end of August though, 2 AM and 4:30 AM looked identical outside. For once, his mind was clear. Every once in a while, a good sleep purged all the bad shit out of his head and he could just relax. It was wonderful to feel the softness off the sheets and pillow. At any moment though, there was going to be a click, then some corncob yodeling. Then came the drive into work on the wonderful Long Island Expressway.

Oh joy of joys, God bless Queens. Maybe it was just 2 AM? He had been dreaming and sometimes when you wake up from a dream it seems like the next day when it's really two hours later. And it was a wonderful dream he was flying again. This time it was over the Catskills. Lakes and mountains were all passing underneath him as he flew to the horizon. He was alone though. Meredith wasn't with him. Odd. Still the dream was so peaceful it made him feel good and horny as hell. Maybe that's why Meredith wasn't in it.

Ring.

No.

Ring.

No, not the phone! This early the phone always meant shit had hit the fan. Energy came quickly as wakefulness rushed through Craig's body.

"Hello!" he answered as if he had been up for hours.

"Get that scrawny white butt in here Scalici. Gercio's been hit, I think." Eye-Isha cracked.

"What do you mean 'you think?'" Craig rebuffed.

"I mean get in here now!" Eye-Isha returned.

"Ok, I'm on my way." Craig grunted and pressed the receiver down, then dialed again. It took two rings before Mrs. Snow answered.

"Yes, Craig?" Mrs. Snow answered on the phone.

"How did you know it was me?" Craig asked, almost offended.

"Who else would it be? I'll send Jeannine right down." Mrs. Snow told him as she always did.

"I owe you." Craig quickly responded with.

"Yeah, the rent. Don't forget." she added and hung up.

Craig lay there for a second, contemplating checking on his daughter before he left. He decided it would be better if he didn't, she might wake up. The radio clicked and Tammy Wynette started to sing.

"Stand by your maaaaan....

"Ugh." Craig moaned.

 

 

********************

 

 

Eye-Isha Barlow had been Craig's partner for just a year and a half. Out of all the detectives they could have placed her with, she felt God purposely had a hand in the paring of the two. Nobody made her think like he did. Sometimes she felt like his daughter, sometimes she felt like his wife, but most times she felt like his mother. He could handle the shits they went after and some of his fellow officers when the need arose. Yet, she still always had the feeling he was like a child lost in the big city. This was a women thing she had, the rest of the men they worked with could not see about him, but she could.

She was worried about him. Gercio was powerful and stupid, a dangerous combination. Craig had the uncanny ability to get under his skin and wrap his nerves in tinfoil. If he wasn't a detective, he would have made a great mob dentist. It also worried her that Craig would push somebody without fear of reprisal. Gercio would push back, and only once. What happened tonight, she felt, was the start of something. Gercio would not leave this Earth without a mechanism in place to get rid off the irritants in his life. Craig was the biggest.

He came into the room unshaven with a bad clip-on tie. That was fresh as a daisy in Scalici terms. Eye-Isha sat on her desk eating her normal bagel with cream cheese and 7-11 coffee. I could only be 7-11 coffee. The chemical the squad room Mr. Coffee made was toxic and saved for lawyers. Only two other plain clothes men were in the room. Of course she had a bagel and coffee for Craig. Lord knows he wouldn't think to get them for himself.

"So what happened? Was Gercio whacked or what?" Craig asked, trying to fix his tie and grabbing the coffee at the same time.

"You're welcome." Eye-Isha said looking at the coffee.

"Oh, thanks." Craig added, "Now what happened?"

"Gercio and his limo disappeared from Oscar's Cigar Shop. The driver said he wasn't gone from the car more then two minutes and it disappeared with Gercio in it." Eye-Isha told him. "According to the driver, Gercio did not like to drive and even if he did drive away, it would have taken awhile to maneuver the limo out of the parking lot."

"What about his house, anybody call to see if he was at home?" Craig asked stuffing half the bagel down with one bite.

"Called the house on Staten Island, and girlfriend Tina's apartment. Nothing." she informed him.

"What about the daughter?" Although he already knew the answer "Up in Livingston?"

"Once she stopped calling me every slur in the book, she said 'no.'" Eye-Isha smiled sarcastically.

Craig knew there was something else.

"And why the shit-eating grin?" he asked.

"The driver, Peter Cusamano, he's in the back asking for protection." She smiled wider.

With his mouth half full of bagel and coffee, he let it hang open revealing it for all to see. "He's talking?"

"He wants to talk." she repeated.

Craig looked up and saw the others also looking on, elated.

"Did you hear that shit?" Craig spoke with food flying out of his mouth. "He's gonna talk!"

The others in the room start to clap.

 

 

 

**********************

 

 

Petey sat in the interrogation room alone. How could so much go wrong so quickly? No matter what really happened, Marcella was going to blame him. He was supposed to protect him to the death. There was nothing to suggest a hit. There were no cars; they didn't stop at Oscar's on a regular basis. Maybe he wasn't even dead; maybe he just drove off in a rage? But how could he have gotten the limo out so quickly?

Over and over he played it in his mind. He went into the shop. Oscar handed him the Havana's immediately; he didn't have to ask. What else? He remembered thinking he had to get back soon before the boss lost it altogether. The weather was getting bad; he heard the wind picking up. He would have heard the engine start.

I'm being watched, he thought.

Looking at the mirror he could just imagine who was on the other side gloating. A few hours ago he would have given it the finger; now his life depended on whoever was behind it. A cold draft blew over his hands that sent a chill right up to his jaw, which started to tremble. He felt it wasn't the mirror watching, the whole room was. The door flew open and 250-pound Petey leaped a good foot and a half.

Craig and Eye-Isha walked in. They had dealt with Petey before he was a major player. Now it paid off for them. Craig ran right up to him a pinched his checks.

"Petey, if you weren't so butt-ugly I'd kiss ya." Craig laughed.

"You do and I'll belt ya!" Petey shot back.

Craig turned back to Eye-Isha.

"You hear that, Detective Barlow? He threatened me." Craig related.

"Heard it loud and clear." Eye-Isha confirmed.

Craig turned and put his face right into Petey's. He smiled a childlike grin.

"Listen you fatfuck. The only reason you're here is to save your fat ass from Marcella. When she hears, and she already did, that you let her dad get whacked, your balls are fish food." Craig spoke in his psychopathic child voice. "Now you speak when you're spoken to, or you get no cream puffs after dinner."

Petey just looked at him and nodded.

"Now tell me what happened." Craig asked and backed away.

"Um, I'm want a lawyer here. I'll tell you everything Gercio did, but get me counsel." Petey told him.

Craig stared at him and reality began to raise its head a bit.

"What scared you really? Off the record. What makes a big guy like you so nervous? You know we can hide you." Craig told him in a more serious tone.

"No you can't. What happened tonight is proof of that." Petey blurted.

"Explain." Craig asked in an almost sympathetic tone.

"Look at how he fucking disappeared! You fucking noticed?" Petey ranted. "They weren't hit. They just die or disappeared all together."

The detectives gave a quick glance at each other. They knew exactly what he meant. The Gercios never put a contract out on anyone big. Small thugs were taken care of by their soldiers. But bigger fish would unexplainably die or disappear. The Post actually started calling him Lucky Gercio.

"You mean to tell me nobody actually killed those people?" Eye-Isha asked.

"Not by regular means. But if you ask me, MJ did it somehow." Petey explained. "If she didn't like you, you were gone. The word was that she was the real boss."

"Do you think Marcella got rid of him?" Craig asked completely enthralled.

Petey nodded his head.

Eye-Isha noticed how cold it had gotten in the room. She could see breath coming out of the two men's mouths as they spoke. A knock on the door, nearly stopped her heart.

"Come in!" she yelled with a heartbeat of at least 110.

One of the officers popped his head in with a bewildered look.

"They found the limo and maybe Gercio." the young officer said.

"Where?" Craig asked.

"Albany." he answered.

"Albany, New York?" Eye-Isha replied.

"Upstate New York Albany." the young cop repeated. "Do you want me to turn the heat up or something? It's freezing in here."

Craig noticed the mirror; it had frost on it.

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