My plan, such as it was, was simple. Like bees, people tend to stay close to their hives, and judging by Crosetti’s enormous stomach, he was a man who indulged his appetites. So it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that he might have frequented a bar or restaurant within, say, a ten-mile radius of his house on the hill. Possibly he revealed something of himself to someone he met there. Possibly that someone might give me the information I needed to identify him, to find him and his thugs. Possibly.

The search began cheerfully enough. I even bought drinks and sandwiches and joked with the help at Richard’s on Main, Kube’s, Daboars Bar and Grill, the Flame Lounge, and Siggy’s on 212. But I began losing patience by the time I reached the Elm Street Station. I had asked for Crosetti by name and described him to each manager, bartender, and waitress and all the patrons who would talk to me, yet no one admitted to knowing him. My frustration reached its peak when I stepped out of the Last Call to discover a parking ticket tucked beneath my windshield wiper. Murphy’s Law. If I knew where the SOB lived, I’d go over there and kick his ass. I crumbled the ticket into a ball and tossed it in the direction of my backseat. “You’ll never take me alive, coppers,” I snarled in my best Edward G. Robinson. Sometimes I like to entertain myself.


A roadhouse near Braunworth Lake late in the afternoon showed promise, but only because the bartender was belligerent. It was cramped and dark and had sticky rubber tiles on the floor. The clientele was 90 percent male—not a gay bar, just a joint where you don’t take women.

When I entered, the drone of conversation decreased in volume while the dirt and dairy farmers, creamery workers, construction workers, and county highway employees assembled there assessed my value. It took only a moment for them to decide that I wasn’t worth noticing, and the volume quickly returned to normal.

The bartender was leaning against the stick. He looked like a man whose idea of a mixed drink was water on the side.

“I’m looking for Frank Crosetti,” I told him.

-- Advertisement --

“Should I care?”

“I owe him a few bucks.”


“I bet on the Wild to win the NHL title.”

“Why’d you do a stupid thing like that?”

“Wishful thinking. So, has he been around?”


I felt a flush of anger at his remark, as if the bartender were trying to cheat me out of my share of the lottery. I tried to keep it out of my voice.

“Look, pal. If you know Crosetti, you know he’s not somebody you welsh on. Do you expect him around or not?”

“Who wants to know?”

“My name’s McKenzie.”

“Sometimes he comes in, sometimes he doesn’t. He don’t keep to no schedule.”

“Have you seen him around lately?”

“Not for a couple of days.”

“Know where I can find him when he’s not here?”


I believed him. Crosetti had moved in only six weeks earlier, and I doubted that he would have become so valuable a customer that the bartender would protect him. Only what did I know? Maybe they had been Boy Scouts together.

I ordered a draft. The bartender poured it. I slid a five across the stick, and he put it in his pocket. I knew there would be no change.

“If you want to talk to Crosetti so bad, why don‘tcha call ’im?” he said.

“Do you know his number?”


“Neither do I.”

The bartender folded his arms across his chest and watched me sip the beer. From his exaggerated sigh, I had the distinct impression I wasn’t drinking fast enough. I drained the glass and set it down in front of me. He made no effort to refill it. I took that as a hint.

I was running out of possibilities. All the names on the list I had compiled from the Norwood Young America telephone directory had been scratched out except for the name of the roadhouse, which I had circled, and two others.

My next stop was the Norwood Inn. The folks there were pleasant enough, but no one had ever seen or heard of Crosetti. That left Carver Suites on Highway 212, just east of the city.

The lounge was light and airy, and so was the conversation of the women and men who gathered there—more women than men—all of them dressed for business that was conducted in an office. The happyhour piano player was beating the daylights out of some very good Cole Porter, and for a moment I could imagine Nina Truhler beating the daylights out of him. She loved Porter, and Hoagie Carmichael and the Gershwins and anyone else who could put words to melody and create magic.

I sat at the bar. A table tent recommended a lite beer. I ignored it. The bartender smiled and welcomed me warmly—actually said, “Welcome”—and asked what I’d have. I ordered black coffee with a slug of bourbon in it and wondered if Mr. Mosley would approve. The bartender served it on a napkin that told me Carver Suites was a proud sponsor of Stiftungsfest, the annual founders festival, and then went off to welcome other guests. While he was gone I dragged the room with my eyes. There were a few couples, but mostly groups of four or more gathered at the tables. Against the wall, as far away from the piano player as she could get, sat a woman alone. She wore a thin dress and an expression that solicited company. I had the feeling that any company would do. There was a cast on her left hand.

-- Advertisement --