“Something like that.”

“Can’t say I blame you. I’d probably want to whack ’im, too. Only the boss won’t like it.”



“Boss has somethin’ special planned for Frank.”

“Is that right?”

“After we chat with him a bit first.”

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“They say Granata is the last of the godfathers.”

“Not to his face, they don’t.”

“Why is Granata looking for Frank?”

“It’s business.”

“What business?”

“Family business.”

“Uh-huh. Well, I called dibs.”

“Dibs? What’s this dibs shit?”

“It means—”

“I know what it means. And you can forgetaboutit. Dibs. We’ll fucking take care of Frank.”

“Meaning the Bonanno family.”

“How come you know so much?”

“I pay attention.”

“You one of those nerd types always had his hand raised in school?”

“Pretty much.”

A deep sigh. “Whoever we are, McKenzie, you don’t have to worry about it. Not even a little bit. Russo’s gonna get what’s coming to him. I personally guarantee it.”

“Russo is his real name? Frank Russo?”

“You’re starting to annoy me, McKenzie.”

“We can’t have that, can we?”

“No, we can’t. What are you interfering for? Aren’t you listening to me? I promise, we’ll take care of Frank for ya. If it wasn’t for you, we’d probably have him already.”

“By kidnapping Sykora and doing what? Torturing him until he gives Frank up? What, are you kidding? An FBI agent?”

“A dirty FBI agent. Anyway, what do you give a fuck about Sykora?”

“I don’t. But I don’t want the girl hurt.”

“Neither do I.”

“I like the girl.”

“She is likable.”

“You need to come up with another plan.”

“Another plan to do what?”

“To find Frank Russo.”

“What, are people stupid out here? You get past the Hudson and people just go fucking brain dead? It’s none of your fucking business how we get Frank. You stay out of it and maybe you don’t get fucked up, too.”

“You have a bad attitude, do you know that?”

Ishmael thought that was funny.

“McKenzie, you’re just gonna fuck up everything, aren’t you?”

“I might.”

“Ahh, man. I was gonna cut you some slack cuz you have balls, but you’re just too big a pain in the ass to live. Go look outside your window.”

“My window?”

“Go ’head.”

I crossed the room, dragging the telephone with me. When I reached the window, I used the muzzle of the Beretta to push the drape out of the way. It had become dark, but not so dark that I couldn’t recognize Michael and Lawrence. They were standing in the rain in the parking lot just below my room, the Ford Ranger between them. Michael waved at me.

“Hey, McKenzie,” Ishmael said.

“I’m here.”

“You see ’em?”

“I see them.”

“One last time—you gonna back off or what?”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you to get Frank. It’s just that my dear old dad taught me, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

“Uh-huh. Well, tell me this. Just out of curiosity. How are you going to get out of the room?”

The phone went dead before I could answer.

I set down the phone and checked my weapons. The Beretta had one round in the chamber and five in the magazine—I had wasted two shots on the Ford Ranger’s tires. The .25 Iver Johnson taped to my ankle carried seven rounds, but it wasn’t worth a damn beyond ten or fifteen feet. I had no idea what Michael and Lawrence were packing. I glanced at them through the window. They were engaged in an animated discussion. I guessed at the topic. Do we wait for McKenzie to leave the room or do we go up there after him?

I decided to hold the high ground and make them come to me. To emphasize the point, I unlocked the motel room door and let it swing open. A moment later I was in the corner, the bed between me and the door. I kept the Beretta steady on the opening with both hands.

The wind had picked up and blew rain through the doorway. I waited. And waited. The carpet around the door became soaked, and a chill filled the room. My hands began to tremble—I blamed the cold—and my neck and shoulder muscles began to ache. I heard Michael’s voice.

“Hey, McKenzie,” he shouted. “You gotta be fucking kidding.”

They were going to wait on me. Well, let them, I decided.

I abandoned my position, crossed the room, and closed the door. Once again I pushed the drapes aside and glanced through the rainstreaked window. Once again Michael waved at me.

Fine, I told myself. Stand in the rain. What do I care?

I actually grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. I watched about thirty seconds of a rerun of Cops before reality sank in.

Are you nuts?

I turned off the TV and returned to the window. Night had fallen, yet I could still make out Michael and Lawrence. They were now sitting inside the Ford Ranger, but beyond that they didn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

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