Vincent Giordano was out on account of a clerical error. The charges of tax fraud wouldn’t have stuck anyway, and the D.A. knew it. What the authorities wanted to pin on Vincent they had little evidence of, the murder of a hood from Toledo, Ohio, who was an associate of the mafia strongman.
At the backdoor of Vincent’s fifteen room mansion on Lake Monroe, Billy Garrett, the famed private detective, was waiting. Billy was in black jeans and t-shirt and was smoking a non-filtered cigarette. Looking not at all surprised to see him, Vincent put on his best De Niro and saluted Billy, who was nearing the steps.
“Come to welcome me back to the real world, Billy?” Vincent said.
“You could say that,” Billy said. He tossed down his cigarette, approached the wicker chair where Vincent was getting comfortable, drinking a dry martini.
“Well you didn’t come to clean my pool. Tell me what you want?”
Billy sat on the far side of the deck with his back against the railing, the full summer sun making his face look older than it was, his dark clothes making him look slimmer.
“Rocky Esposito’s family hired me. They want me to watch you.”
“Do they now? Why didn’t they send that punk from Toledo?”
“They don’t want you dead, Vince. They want you on ice in the big freezer downstate.”
“The hell with them,” Vincent said, standing. He leaned his weight on his left foot and pushed himself into the pool. “I’ll have Phillip pour you a drink when he comes back,” he said, swimming towards Billy, who was on the far side of the deck. Vincent’s hair was wet. He was pushing it down.
“No thanks. I can’t stay,” Billy said. He stood from the deck and lit up another Chesterfield.
“So you just wanted to warn me, huh?”
“Take your warning and shove it up your ass.”
Billy stopped five feet from the deck and walked back. Vincent was climbing from the pool slowly, his wet clothes slowing him down.
“You want me to fix you like I fixed Rocky? Do you know what battery acid tastes like, what it feels like sliding down your tongue and into your esophagus?”
“You’re a comedian, Vince.”
“Get the fuck out of here. Don’t ever step foot on my property again, you fuck,” Vincent said. He tossed his wet towel at Billy. Billy caught the towel and slung it over his shoulder.
“See you, Vince,” Billy said, smiling.
Along the edge of the drive, past the gate with the speaker in it, a black Ford sedan was parked. Inside the car two men sat with their glasses on. The driver’s side window came down as Billy approached the car. The driver waived Billy over.
“Did you get it?” the driver asked.
Billy nodded, pulled a small tape recorder from his pocket and said:
“The stupid bastard sung like a bird.”