Saturday, July 12, 2008

Short Fiction: Immigrants and Out of Towners: On Loan

Julian’s Bar and Grill sat at the cross section of Atlantic Ave and 14th Street in Brooklyn and was a known hang out for members of what used to be the Capasso Family. In the back, away from where regular citizens would come in and order plates of pasta or Julian’s famous meatballs, Jack “The Carpenter” Carpicize, long-time consigliore to Don Giovanni Capasso was holding court.

Surrounding Carpicize were remnants of the old Capasso Regime, life long members who each equally shared a distaste and distrust for their new Diva. Martina De Rossi, though was in attendance at the funeral, many found her inaccessible and isolated.

“For twenty-two years I stood by Don Giovanni with all the decisions he made, I did my best to help steer this family in the right directions. But this I will not stand for,” Carpicize said from the head of the table. He was in his fifties, but looked forty with his jet black slicked back hair and narrow face. He wore a dark black and maroon suit, his fingers shined with various rings. Down each side of the table were senior members of the Family, each in their late 30s to early 50s, some fat some super skinny; killers and hustlers and thieves sitting around. Everyone not trusting the other more than they could see each other, especially in these tempestuous times of instability. “I will not have an outsider, especially a little girl, take control of the family. A family I worked so hard to bring back from the edge of death!” And Capricize slammed his fist down on the table, emotion splayed out all over his face. He received applause from the thirteen men sitting around him.

“But could it be so bad? I mean, I hear she’s done wonderful things for the Panera Family in Montreal?” A fat faced Italian said from somewhere in the middle of the table. Everyone looked at him and then back to the head of the table.

“You think this is good for us? She’s not a fuckin’ war-time capo even! The fucking Don’s funeral is front page news on the fuckin’ Post and Daily News! The fucking melanzane can read, Bobby! They’re going to know we’re a fuckin’ rudderless ship! Maddon’ if my father was alive to see this shit!” And Carpicize was standing now, leaning over the table. The fat faced Mafioso turned red and faced forward.

Carpicize sipped some wine and cleared his throat. “Now understand me here, I’m not saying I should be the boss, but I’m saying that the boss should come from within. And this little principessa needs to go.” His eyes grew wide to make sure everyone got the message. “She needs to go before she grabs on to too much. She needs to go before she meets with any other bosses in any other families. No allegiances can be made, nothing. She needs to be taken out, sooner the better for everyone.” And everyone dumbly nodded along.

“I know some guys up in Yonkers that could do it for us,” a skinny necked Italian said from the opposite end of the table. Carpicize nodded.

“Ok, we’ll talk here in a minute about that.”

Sean Clark walked into the 4-7’s Command Condo and found himself looking at the faces of NYPD’s top brass. He stopped short, slowly closing the door behind him, as three men in deep blue suits sat with their elbows on their knees, cups of coffee in their hands.

“Where’ve you been?” Captain Ramirez said from his office.

“Uh… I had a date?” Clark offered as he walked past the Commissioner and his two subordinates and into Ramirez’s office. He closed the door.

“The Commissioner wants a full report on the going ons with the Capasso Family since you’ve seemed to cozy up with this … new capo.” Ramirez said in a hushed tone.

“Heh, I got some news for you then,” Clark said. He picked up a coffee cup and filled it with black coffee. His face was still a mess, purple and yellow, jaw puffed out.

“Well, whatever news you do have, the boss has been waiting for an hour to hear it. I hope for your ass’s sake that this news you got is going to be good.”

“Oh, just you wait…” And Clark opened the office door and stepped out. The Commissioner Raymond Kelly stood up and smoothed his uniform as did his two aids. Clark stood before them with his coffee cup and smiled.

“Ahem, um, sir this is Officer Sean Clark, who’s been working on the Capasso Case.” And Commissioner Kelly extended his hand and Clark took it.

“Looks like you’ve been worked over officer,” the Commissioner said.

“Yeah, you could say that,” Clark offered.

“So what’s to report?”

“Heh, get ready for this,” and Clark sat down across from the men as they retook their seats. Clark wondered where to start, and sat in silence for a few seconds. He looked up and began the story.

“With the Capasso Family floundering as of late, Don Giovanni decided to look outside for some help to redirect the flow of money into the family. As we know, the Italians have been slowly pushed out from the major money making schemes in this city. But such is not the case in Montreal, where the Italians still flourish. Giovanni reached out to a young lady member of the Panera Family of Montreal to come in and do some consulting if you will. Before he died, Giovanni made her not only just a capo in their family, but THE capo, second to him. Well, as we all know from reading the papers this morning, the Don died from a heart attack at a flower shop uptown. So this means that,”

“That this lady capo is the new boss of the Capassos?” The commissioner said in slight awe.

“Yeah. That means it’s now the De Rossi Family,” Clark finished.

“De Rossi? What do we know about this De Rossi?”

“She’s twenty-four, Canadian National, has a huge apartment on the Upper East Side, well guarded. She’s somewhat clueless as to how much shit she’s in,” and Clark motioned towards a stack of papers that Ramirez was holding. The captain distributed the papers to the three men sitting on the couch, and each glanced it over.

“Is this credible information?” The Commissioner asked.

“Our CIs are some of the best in the business,” Ramirez said.

“I’ll give you the short version,” Clark began. “What’s left of the Capasso Family is going to form a splinter group, because none of them want to work for this skirt. Their leader, former consigliore Jack “The Carpenter” Carpicize is pretty pissed that he was passed over as the new boss. He’s going to put something into action to take De Rossi out of the picture.”

“’The Carpenter’? That’s a funny nickname,” one of the men with the Commissioner said. Ramirez and Clark exchanged a look.

“A ‘Carpenter’ in mafia-speak,” started Ramirez, “is someone who makes bodies disappear. ‘Painters’ do the hits, ‘Carpenters’ get rid of the bodies.” Ramirez said low.

“Oh,” said the man.

“Anyway gentleman, what course of action do we take in light of all of this?” The commissioner asked.

“Well, there’s pros and cons to the situation,” Ramirez started. “We could let them take De Rossi out. She’s the only real leadership element in their organization, and let Carpicize take over. He’s an ineffectual leader, and most of the Capasso Family is too dumb to understand that. Without strong leadership we could bury the major crime family members by the end of next year, and the scraps we don’t get will easily fall in with other families and pollute them from the inside. The other option we have is that we protect De Rossi and use our man here,” and Ramirez nodded to Clark, “to get in real close and expose the whole organization from the top down.”

“How close are you to this De Rossi, officer?”

“Um, I’m uh,”

“She’s taken a liking to him, you could say that,” and Ramirez smiled. The commissioner nodded knowingly.

“Then I say we use our asset here to get in close. I don’t see a need to draw blood over this issue. If things get too hot, we can offer her protection, maybe even turn her into a state’s witness, especially if she’s being chased around this city by trigger happy wops. From here on in, your officer wears a wire,” and the commissioner stood and his men followed.

“Uh sir, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Clark protested.

“Heh, if you’re going to be hanging out with your new girlfriend all day, officer, you’re going to be getting us some prime cut information, and that’s that.” And the commissioner shook hands with Ramirez and Clark and let himself out.

An hour later Clark’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He dug into his jeans and pulled it out to answer it, knowing it was going to be Martina on the other end.

“Hey,” he said as he answered.

“What are you doing tonight?” She asked. Her voice was rich and the accent always put a smile on his face. He looked around the empty condo, Ramirez had gone home for the night already, leaving him to type up some reports that he didn’t really want to do.

“Nothing, just hanging out, why what’s up?”

“I’m having a late dinner with Jack Carpicize at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, I’m wondering if you’d like to come with me?” Clark glanced down at the thin fiber wire and recorder next to his computer and sighed.

“Yeah, what time do you want to meet up?” He could instantly hear the happiness in her voice.

“Dinner’s at ten, so be there before that, ok? I guess he’s already reserved a table, so just use his name when you get there, ok? And make sure you look nice,”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” and he closed his phone, got up and started looking through his dressier clothes.

Tavern on the Green was the Mecca of fine dining in the city. Only the rich and famous could gain entry, where entres were a hundred dollars or more. The small restaurant sat in the lower section of Central Park, surrounded by millions of yellow daffodils. The clopping of horse-drawn carriages filled the night air, along with the usual bustling city sounds, cabs honking, people talking, and so on.

Clark arrived a little late wearing a black suit coat, designer jeans and a button up shirt that he left a little unbuttoned at the top. Even though it was night time he wore his Ray Ban aviators to help conceal the bruises on his face which were still healing. Under his expensive clothes he wore his Glock 19 on his waist, no holster, and deep down against his skin he had the tiny wire going from just under his throat down to the little digital recorder at the small of his back. Even wearing it made him excited and jumpy. He was sweating and swearing under his breath.

He walked in and the maitre d asked him if he was with a party. He gave the name Carpicize and was instantly shown to a table in the way back where Jack the Carpenter and Martina De Rossi were already seated, drinking wine and nibbling on an appetizer.

“There he is!” De Rossi said, a little tipsy already. She stood and gave Clark a hug, and Clark made sure that she didn’t press too tightly against him, and knock against the wire. She wore an elegant shimmering black dress which was low cut in the front and back, along with a black pearl necklace. The Carpenter sat looking on, his narrow face drawn in, dressed like a mortician.

“Hey,” Clark said and sat down opposite The Carpenter with De Rossi between the two of them. Carpicize leaned back to a man standing along the wall and motioned for him to come over.

“Controllarlo” and he pointed to Clark. De Rossi instantly protested.

“No Jack, no, you’re not going to pat down a friend of mine in front of me. That is a great insult where I’m from!” The goon stood behind Clark’s chair and Clark began to sweat hard. He popped a piece of gum from his pocket and stood up, praying that the goon wouldn’t feel the wire or the recorder pack that he stuffed way down into the back of his jeans.

“Well, welcome to New York City,” Carpicize seethed. He motioned for Clark to stand, and Clark did so, lifting out his arms like a human airplane. People eating around them gave a little notice, watching from the corners of their eyes. The goon only made a cursory search, patting down just the sides, but he found Clark’s gun.

He pulled it out by the grip and showed it to Carpicize. The Carpenter nodded and pointed to the table. A few of the other diners gasped at the sight of the weapon but there wasn’t much fanfare. Clark took his seat and the goon sat the gun next to Carpicize by his fork and knife.

“You weren’t going to use that thing on me tonight, were you sonny?” He asked across the table.


“I didn’t think so, but for dinner, I’m going to hold on to it, ok?”

“That’s fine, as long as I get it back,”

“You know, I didn’t even want you here tonight, I wanted this to be a meeting of Family members, to discuss the direction of the Capas-, excuse me, the De Rossi Family. And now I get to look at your Mick face all night while I try to enjoy my chicken spiccola,”

“Ugh, you’re such an ass,” De Rossi said from her seat, and forked a ravioli into her mouth. Carpicize smiled at her and turned back to Clark.

“What is it you do in Boston, Mr. Clark?”

“I do a little bit of this and a little bit of that,”

“Mm, I love a guy who thinks I’m so stupid to think I don’t know when someone’s avoiding a question,”

“Last time I checked Mr. Carpicize, I didn’t report to anyone at this table. I’m just hear on loan,”

“Yes, yes, isn’t that the trend lately. Outsiders coming into town on loan, it’s very interesting,” And De Rossi cut him a look from over her wine glass. “Anyway, I’m going to talk in Italian to Ms. De Rossi now, so if you’ll excuse us for a moment?” And he turned towards Martina. They began to converse in Italian, and the exchange became very heated. Clark took this time to look around, sizing up the obvious security that was around their table. There were even a pair of guys two tables over having a meal that Clark was for certain he’d seen standing around the money cage at the casino last week. When he turned back to Jack and Martina, De Rossi was very red in the face as The Carpenter was smiling wickedly. Her bottom lip was quivering and it was clear she was on the verge of tears. She tried to cut her raviolis up but Carpicize kept talking to her. Eventually, she had enough, finished her wine and stood.

“I’m sorry it has to be this way, Mr. Capricize,” and she began to walk and wobble her way out of the restaurant. Carpicize smiled at Clark and slid his black blocky gun over to him across the table.

“Why don’t you go catch up with your mistress, lap dog?” And Clark stared at Carpicize through his aviators and didn’t move. “I’d watch at what you’re fuckin’ starin’ at, asshole, now get off my table. You’re smellin’ up the place with that dirty potato smell,” And Clark took his gun, stood and walked out, tucking it back into his jeans and covering it with his coat.

Outside Martina De Rossi was standing in her heels and dress, lightly touching her face with a napkin she took from inside. Clark walked up behind her and stood silently, looking for something to say. They watched the Denali slowly wind it’s way up the long driveway amongst the horse drawn carriages and idly walking people.

The truck came to a stop in front of them, and Michael (or was it Michael Anthony?) got the door for them. Clark let her slide across the seat first and climbed in after, letting the passenger shut the door for him.

“What’d he say to you back there, in Italian?” He asked.

“Nothing,” she said. Clark rolled his eyes. He’d been around women enough to know that “nothing” meant “something.”

“Bullshit, you’re not gonna tell me?”

“There’s nothing to tell, so why bother?” The truck slowly pulled out into traffic.

“Well, Martina, I know something’s wrong, you’re crying. What’d he say?”

“Nothing, I’m fine!” Clark groaned and leaned away, looking out the window of the SUV. “You don’t even care anyway!”

“What’re you talking about? I’m asking you right now what he said!”

“But you wouldn’t do anything about it! There’s nothing you can do!”

“Listen to me, just tell me what he said and I’l” And suddenly there was a screech of tires and the driver, Michael or Michael Anthony cursed aloud.

“Merde!” And the front of the Denali was slammed into by a black Ford Five Hundred. The whole truck rocked up on to two wheels and came slamming back down to all four. Everyone in the truck, none of which wearing a seat belt were jolted violently. The front passenger leaned forward against the dash and shattered windshield not moving. The impact had come from that side.

“Are you ok?” Clark asked De Rossi. She was holding her head, as she bashed it into the door on her side. She nodded and leaned over to Clark. Clark took her in his arms as the driver got out to see what the hell happened. At the same time, the rear of the truck was rammed by another car. They all flew forward into the front seat on top of each other, with the driver still outside the car. “What the fuck!”

Suddenly gunfire burst outside and people started to scream. Clark could look out the open driver’s door at De Rossi’s French guard standing in the middle of the intersection with his pistol out. He was then cut down by gunfire, his head whipping back and legs going out from under him, and it was then that Clark knew what was going on. It was a hit.

He sat up and pulled De Rossi into the back of the truck again, where they had started out, telling her to stay down. He pressed her head down to his knees, and drew his pistol out from his jeans and tried to see what was going on outside. More gunfire, automatic sounding started to cut through the SUV, loud metallic pings and pops. Glass shattering around them. Clark got low over Martina’s body, trying to shield her.

He glanced up and saw a man in a black ski mask running up to the car and he got ready. The rear door where they were sitting came flying open and a man in a leather jacket with a ski mask leveled a shotgun at them. Clark fired twice into the man’s face, as De Rossi screamed under him.

“Go go!” Clark shouted and dragged De Rossi out of the car, down to the street over the dead thug with the shotgun. “Stay down, don’t move!” And he scanned the area. He handed the pistol over to De Rossi, “take this!”

“A gun, no! I don’t do guns!” She yelled over more clattering of machine gun fire.

“This is not an option, take the fucking gun Martina!” And he shoved it into her hands. He bent and picked up the pump 12 gauge shotgun and racked another round into the chamber, catching the unused shell in his hand and recycling it back into magazine tube. He looked back at De Rossi who was holding the pistol awkwardly and prayed that they got out of this alive.

Things got quiet with just the sound of crunching glass and cackling of fire. Slowly Clark, shotgun in front of him, inched to the rear of the truck where he could see two men in ski masks quickly moving in with AK47s in front of them. They had smashed a blue colored Toyota into their rear end, and both cars were stuck together. Clark stood up and whistled to get their attention, and as planned they both hesitated as they turned to face the whistle. Clark fired, pumped and fired again, blowing their chests out. De Rossi screamed again and Clark reached down for her.

“Come on, we gotta move!” Clark could smell gasoline. She dropped his gun and came running, her heels clacking and Clark looking over their shoulders to see if they were going to be chased. People on the sidewalks in the park were scattering, screaming. In one hand Clark held the shotgun, in the other he pulled De Rossi with him.

“Stop here,” and they pulled in behind a large granite block in the park. Sirens were approaching and Clark ducked around the chunk of granite looking back at the crash scene. Two more men in ski masks were holding something down by their waists and lighting it, but what it was Clark couldn’t tell. Then suddenly both of them threw the objects at the SUV and ran. Fire spread all over the scene, and Clark realized that they bombed the SUV with Molotov Cocktails, rudimentary incendiary explosive devices.

De Rossi was crying and slumped down against the rock. Clark watch the men run off down an ally way and felt as though they were in the clear. He unloaded the shotgun, and then broke the gun into two pieces by the take-down screw, making it unusable to anyone who found it, putting the shells and screw in his pocket.

“Ok, let’s get out of here,” and pulled De Rossi up.

They got back to her apartment, after taking a long hike to the north end of the park, and then a bus over to the UES. Once they got up to her place via private elevator, Clark told her to wait in the lift while he looked around the place. He hated not having his gun and was somewhat pissed that she dropped it, but he could replace it. Or even retrieve it from whatever dick took it into evidence.

He stalked around the three floors of her apartment with a fireplace poker and when he was satisfied that they didn’t have anyone waiting for them here he came back and got De Rossi.

They both had a drink in her library, by candle light and she clung closely to him. He played with her hair until it seemed like she was asleep.

He tried to move from under her, but when he did, she clung to him tighter. He sighed and then picked her up and carried her back to her bedroom where he laid her flat on her bed.

The bedroom had a big king sized four poster bed with sheer sheets hanging down. It also had a wall of floor to ceiling windows that showed the entire city and park lit up.

“You can’t go!” She said sleepily.

“I gotta,” he said back to her.

“Noooo” and she trailed off.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,”

“But I don’t want to be alone, stay.” And she tugged dangerously at his shirt by the wire. He groaned.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea Martina,”

“Why not? Do you have a girlfriend back in Boston?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s”

“So stay.” She looked into his eyes, hers being so dark in the low light.

“Lemme go change in the bathroom then,” and she let him go and he walked over to the bathroom which was roughly the size of his first apartment in Queens.

He stripped down to his boxers, tucking the wire into the back pocket of the jeans and came back out. She opened up the bed for him and he slid under the sheets next to her. He found her naked already and before he could say anything, she kissed him hard on his lips, her fingers tugging at his boxers.

“Why did you bother to keep these on?”

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