Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Loopiness, laziness, more IF please.

I'm not feeling the writing mojo, tonight, so here's one last installment of "Inherent Flaws". This is in 1973, when things are starting to come to a head.


So a few days later, in spite of Marc’s warning, Lou and I were sitting in his car down the block on Broome Street, with a perfect view of the one and only revolving door. Cops and civil servants and all sorts of other people entered and exited, non-stop, none of them knowing or thinking or caring about what went on in there. He had this kick-ass-looking 35mm camera with a lens half a foot long on the seat between us. His sister had shown him how best to use it and he’d already focused on the door so it was ready to fire in a flash.

He was almost like this excited puppy as he said, “I had myself put on steady four to twelves, so I can sit here everyday. Carl didn’t like it much, but...”


“Carlo Pantucci.”

“Oh, okay.” Lou’s partner. I’d only met him once; didn’t really know him but he hit me as a guy who’s a lot like Bobby.

“He’s a good guy. Been together the last four months. Anyway, him and his wife’re still like newlyweds, so...”

“Tell him to make it last as long as he can,” I said, then I got back on track. “I can’t do change this week. I got three court -- well, two trials and a grand jury appearance going on. But next week, I’ll ask Bobby if he’ll do four-to-twelves with me so I can be here, too.”

“I can handle it till then.”

“No, no, no, Lou, don’t even think it.”

“C’mon, Vinnie, you think I need my hand held?”

“I just don’t want you here alone. Let’s start this next week so I can be with you...or better yet, I’ll see if Marc knows somebody who can get us a temporary assignment for a month or two. Just don’t let anybody in on it.”

“Ah,” he whispered in that Kung-fu style. “Tell no one; do everything, grasshopper. Everything we allow you to do.”

Making light of it. That pissed me off, so I grabbed his arm, suddenly scared for him.

“Lou, listen up -- this ain’t a game. I lived around guys like this all my life and Marc gets it. You don’t. You can’t, not unless you’re Italian. This code -- it’s about more than just keeping quiet about what some cop does or what some wiseguy does. It’s about taking care of your family, and your brother’s family if you have to. And the families of those who work for you. Yeah, there’s bastards who pull shit, but they also take care of you ‘cause there’s rules and regulations to the code, and if you violate one little bit, you violate it all. I know what they can do -- what they will do if they have to. Because they’ll see you as going up against the family, and they turn into tigers when it comes to that. You don’t fuck with the family. You just -- you just don’t.”

“Then why’re you doing it?”

Bam, right between the eyes. He was right to wonder, because that’s what I was doing. I’d promised Ronnie I wouldn’t do this, all those years ago, but that is exactly what I was doing. I hadn’t really let myself think about that.

But then I saw my cousin, Fredo, crashed on that chair, his clothes messed up, needle in his arm, exactly like Aunt Mary found him with cops walking around and chit-chatting like he’s just another screwed-up junkie who got dumb about how much horse he could handle. And I heard her weeping in the next room. And I could see him being jumped at the door and held down by a couple of goons as they shot him up. And I could see the terror in his eyes as he realized what was gonna happen and how he fought it as they held him down and let him drown in that crap. And then were heartless enough to leave him like that for his family to see. That’s what this was leading to. It wasn’t just that he was killed; it’s that they spit on my aunt...on my family by leaving him like that. And there’s where the difference was -- junkies would’ve snuck the pure crap in on him and let him die on the floor. It was cops that did this, and that’s who I was after, not Ronnie or Rizo or Dante or anybody else.

“Because it’s those bastards,” I said, the words starting to spill out, “Velasquez, Kowalski, Moretti -- they aren’t family. No, what they’re doing is -- they’re hurting us -- all of us -- our families and how can a cop be involved in this? How can a cop be helping that? Helping assholes who don’t give a damn what they’re doing to families and people who’re part of their own? All for some quick cash and an easy-skater life. They aren’t even animals, those bastards. They’re a cancer. Cancer eating away at everything and not giving a damn that eventually they’ll kill what they’re feeding on and that’ll be the end of them, too. They’ll die along with the people they’re feeding off of, and they don’t care. All that matters is what’s happening now and the hell with tomorrow. It’s sick. It’s fucking sick.”

Lou looked at me, a bit wary. “Man, I don’t even want to think about how that’s messing you up.”

It took me a second to get back in control, then I said, “I’m just telling you, Lou -- don’t take any chances. Be as discreet as possible.”

“Buddy, I’m black,” he smirked, “so I can’t be anything but smooth as a breeze.”

“Cut it out! If it’s their ass on the line, they’d kill us both in a heartbeat if it’ll keep them out of jail.”

“Don’t try scaring me, Vinnie. I’ve been to Nam, and they were some killing motherfuckers, over there.”

“Then that should give you a fuckin’ idea what you’re up against! Ask Carlo; I hear he’s been in Nam, too.”

“I know! Okay? Shit.”

“Wait -- when WERE you in ‘Nam?”

“I joined the reserves when I was seventeen. Got deployed there for a year. Not cool.”

“You never said a word.”

“That’s ‘cause people think we’re all crazy, Viet Nam vets. And if word got around the street, it’d make things harder for me and Carl, both. So it stays in the closet.”

“Right, you said you were in the reserves. But you did two weeks in North Carolina?”

“To work in my own family. Pissed off a couple crackers, too. ‘Damn nigger in my unit’.”

“Shit, Lou!”

“Hey, I can use the word; you can’t. Okay?” And his smile was backed by some serious warning. I nodded. He grinned and said, “C’mon, I’ll drop you off at Court.”

Then he started the car and we pulled away, and I saw at least three of the people near that door watching us leave, probably wondering what we were up to, black guy and a white guy, sitting there for so long and talking so hard. Yeah, real smooth, that’s us.

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