Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I write, therefore I scam

Another section to share because I'm just not up to thinking. Vinnie's married with a kid and has been a cop for six years. He still uses his mother's Manhattan apartment as a pit stop since he now lives on Long Island. Ronnie's a childhood friend who almost got him on record with the mob.


I saw the pastry box on mom’s kitchen table the second I walked in the door. Just like the one from Patty’s, not all that long ago. Jesus, not even ten years?

Mom was chattering on about something; what, I got idea because I didn’t hear a word. I was focused on that box as I made myself grab a glass of milk. Then I casually strolled over to it and helped myself to a Venetian layered cookie.


“Hey, Mom,” I said, fighting to keep my voice steady, “you walk over for these today?”

“Oh, sorry, baby, I forgot,” she said, all unaware. “Ronnie came by. Asked you to call. There’s a phone number written on the box. I said you’d be here about eight.”

No shit there’s a phone number on the box.

Fuckin’ shit. Ronnie? Me and him -- shit, he hardly said anything to me at the wedding. We hadn’t really talked in years. Not since I got the silver shield. But now he wants to talk? Now? The first day I’m downtown he makes contact? The day I find out IAD’s after me, too? Now I had a clue as to how deep in the shit I was.

“Back in a second, mom,” I said. “I forgot something in the car.”

I headed down to the street to a public phone and dialed Ronnie’s number. Like I didn’t have it burned into my brain from all those years ago. It rang once and he picked but said nothing, so I popped off with, “Hey, Ronnie, what’s what?”

Sure enough, he was at the same old phone booth; I could tell from the crackle and the background traffic. His voice was cool and controlled as he asked, “What’s what with you?”

“Good. It’s good.”

“How’s Louisa and the baby?”


“Good. A guy’d like to see you. Can you come by the club?”

Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck.

“The club?” And I was damn proud my voice didn’t shake when I said it. “I don’t think that’s good. Tell you what, let’s meet at -- at the Lime House. At eight.” The joint'd be hopping, then.

“Hold on.”

I heard him dial another phone. He must be at a bank of them. He talked, softly, then came back to me.

“Make it Patty’s Pastry shop at nine.”

“Ronnie, I want to meet in a public place. No offense, but that’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Ronnie talked into the other phone then said, “Vincent’s at nine.”

Vincent’s Clam House. Not all that public, but it was the best I was gonna get, so I just said, “See you then.”

He hung up. Not even a “Later” to me. Yeah, things were beginning to make sense. Like hell they were.

Mom made me a snack of her killer Gnocchi. Washed down by that cheap Chianti she liked, it tasted perfect. Like a last meal, maybe. Then at a quarter to the hour, I kissed her and headed over.

The positive thing about being a cop is you can park anywhere, even by a fire hydrant. You just pop an NYPD ID on your dashboard, and so long as you’re not all night, you got no problems. And since Vincent’s was only a few blocks from mom’s, I was there early. This is one of those quick food joints you find in the middle of the block, a little cheesy but with damn good food. I checked the place out, didn’t see anything that looked off...not even a Caddy parked nearby. Not even many people, it being pretty chilly out. I smelled some fireplaces working, watched leaves blow by from trees up the block. All nice and normal.

I took my service revolver out of its holster and slipped it under the front seat -- can’t go into this packing -- then I rubbed my face to make sure I wasn’t sweating and -- .

Ronnie appeared by the passenger door. It took everything I had in me to keep from jumping at seeing him, and I still couldn’t keep from crossing myself. Then I got out, locked the car and followed him inside.

It wasn’t till we were inside that he shook my hand and kissed me on the cheek with a hug. I did the same back, even as I knew what he was really doing was feeling for a wire or gun.

Once he was happy I was clean, he stepped back and said, “What’s what?”

“What’s what yourself?”

“Gotta check.”

“I understand.”

“You look good.”

“Not as good as you. Never did.”

“I got no responsibilities.”

He wrapped his arm over my shoulders and guided me to a large round table in the back, like old friends...and there sat Lino like a king, two nasty bastards with him, all looking like murder. It was even worse than I thought. He stood and gave me a big hug and a kiss, then motioned for me to sit. I did. What else was I gonna do?

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