He was good to his promise. Bepi did not resist and Bruno did not cause him any lasting casualty. As he lay unconscious on the black marble floor, Cofau finished his tea.
Bruno had an ache in his right hand. He looked at it and saw that the knuckle of his index finger had turned purple and begun to swell. He had inadvertently bounced it off the top of Bepi’s skull. He knew better of course; knuckles were hardly a match for bone. The heel of one’s hand or the outside edge should be used. It would require ice.
Cofau stood and surveyed Bruno’s handiwork.
“Put him in the caldaia, the furnace room, until night comes and then take him back to his companions. Make sure to take him personally. These buffoni are becoming rather careless of late.” Mirko instructed as he set his teacup down. “And I am rather displeased with you Bruno. How is it that you do not exercise more control over these peasants?”
Bruno shrugged nonchalantly.
“They make their choices. I cannot hold their hands all day.”
Cofau narrowed his eyes at Bruno with disdain.
“You should not be so cavalier; you should be more careful of your remarks to me.” He warned.
Bruno did not answer. He picked the Marocchino up by the collar and dragged him down the hallway. Signor Mirko Cofau, always a man concerned with neatness, rang for the maid to come and clean the blood from the marble.
Janet’s intercom buzzed to life. “Yes Mr. Matthews?”
“Janet, get me Winston Garrett over at the Meridian Main Post office.” He told her.
A moment later his phone rang. He picked it up.
“Winny? This is Bill; long time! How have you been?”
Winston hesitated for a moment before he spoke.
“I’m okay, I guess…”
“Fine, fine, Winston… listen,” Bill began as he cleared his throat. “I have a small problem,”
“Uh oh… I don’t think I like the sound of that.” Winston said.
“Don’t start crying, Winny. I’ve had a rough day.” Matthews cautioned.
“Hey, you called me, remember? And don’t call me Winny…”
Bill shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
“Sorry. Look I need you to rush a passport through for a client of mine.”
There followed a long silence. Finally Winston spoke.
“Nobody’s dead Winston…”
“Yeah well, that’s about the only reason I could rush a passport through…”
“Winston, nobody died, I just need to get rid of a client for a couple of weeks…”
“Bill, I can’t do that.”
“Can’t or won’t?” Bill asked.
“Look, just because I’m the Operations Director over here doesn’t mean I can bypass procedure.”
“Sure you can Winston, you’re the boss! It’s not illegal…”
“Maybe not but it would raise a lot of eyebrows and besides, if I go out on a limb for you it could cost me my job.”
“You’re not going out on a limb Winston and I wouldn’t cut it off behind you if you did. Look, this isn’t for some drug runner or a felon. It’s for a client I need to stash, that’s all…”
“Yeah?” Winston asked suspiciously, “So, what has this guy done?”
“Then why the rush? Why can’t he go through the Main Branch in San Francisco like everyone else? You’re going to have to tell me the whole story and even then I’m not going to help you!
Bill stood up. Winston couldn’t see that, of course but when it came to argument; Bill Matthews, Attorney at Law always did better on his feet
“Who was it that called me a year ago to bail their nephew out of trouble?”
Winston’s voice took on an indignant tone.
“Oh come on, Bill that’s completely different! You set up a corporation for tax purposes!”
“Yes, I did and saved him how many thousands?”
“And you charged him!” Winston said defensively.
“No, Winston, I didn’t. He paid the filing fees only; a fraction of what it would have cost him with any other Attorney and you know it. Look, my client is in the middle of a nasty divorce. He shows up at my office unannounced, interrupts meeting with other clients and he calls me every hour on the hour. He’s close to the edge and I’m worried that he’s going to fall off. I need him to get away for a couple weeks so that I can get some work done and so that he can get some breathing space. If I tell him that he’s got to drive to San Francisco then I’m not going to get him out of my hair because he’s not going to do it and then you know what? I’m going to kill him myself!”
“I didn’t think you handled divorce cases.”
“I don’t which is one of the reasons that this is in such a mess. I don’t want to go into that right now anyway because it’s beside the point. I can fix this but I need time and I don’t need my client loitering around my office like some juvenile delinquent with nowhere to go and nothing more to do than cause me grief so, are you going to help me out or not?”
Bill could hear Winston acquiesce. “Okay,” He said, “but on two conditions…”
“Name them.” Bill said as he sat back down.
“Firstly, you owe me and big.”
“Okay. What else?”
Winston thought for a moment and then brightened.
“You know, Amanda and I haven’t been to Tahoe in a long time…”
“Done and done.” Bill said. “You name the weekend and book it; whatever hotel you want and five hundred in chips, it’s yours.”
“Make it a thousand, Amy likes roulette.” Winston chuckled.
“A grand then. Anything else?”
“You don’t tell anyone that I can get this done from here. It’s not illegal but dammit; if this gets out everyone and their grandmother will be banging on my door!”
“No problem.” Bill laughed.
“Okay, get him here in the next hour with his birth certificate and his I.D. and I’ll have his passport for him by close of business. I’ll let you know when Amy and I want our Tahoe trip.”
“Consider it paid!” Bill said as he hung up the phone and breathed a small sigh. The trip and a grand, oh well, he would bill it out as miscellaneous expense on Martin’s divorce.
“Dime un po, Antonio, why did you do that?” Franco asked.
“Well, I uhm…”
“Do you not see that if you place your piece there that in three moves my knight will have your queen and then your king will be in jeopardy from my rook?”
“Maestro this game…” Antonio began, “I mean, I do not understand what this has to do with what you are trying to teach me.”
Franco stood and moved to the side of his desk where he moved a stack of documents aside so that he could sit on the edge.
“Understand Antonio, this game requires the same multilevel concentration as Interview/Interrogation, let us from now on call it by its rightful name, ‘I&I’. You see; you must be able to think in terms of offense, defense and you must do it ahead of the actual play. It requires always that you think many moves in advance, even a whole game, on several separate levels each independent and distinct from the other and yet all interlocked and reliant upon the next, like dominoes. You must be able to change your tactics and prerogatives instantly as the game varies to become something other than that you have perceived it to be and yet still achieve your goal. You must be able to look ahead and recognize what your opponent is trying to accomplish and you must be able to look back on what was done to extrapolate what he will do in the next few moves. All at the same time, you must be planning what you will do and how you will defeat him despite his play and, while incorporating it! For this, you must think three dimensionally. You cannot simply look at the board; see what is there and then react. You will always be defeated! Similarly, you cannot go into an I&I with a list of questions and simply blurt them out! It is not solely a matter of asking those questions and then observing whether an answer is truthful or not based on posture and other indicators. Yes, everything must be taken at face value and for the immediate but it also must be placed into the whole and scrutinized for its aggregate value. You must ask yourself the significance of a truthful or untruthful answer and then, how does it fit or not fit the complete scheme? What is to be gained or lost? Do the answers betray an agenda, an involvement or preclusion of involvement in the crime that you are investigating? It is almost mathematical in its precision, if not ‘A’ then ‘B’; if ‘C’ then ‘D’. Do you see?”
“I think so but it is difficult!”
Franco moved back to sit behind his desk.
“Ah, yes it is but then I did not say that it would be less. Set the board up again and let us resume only this time, do so with a mind disposed to reasoning!”
When the Lion Smiles © 2011 by Mitchell L. Peterson
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