She gave him a disapproving frown. Penny Alo was tall with a long neck and marble-white skin and the same dazzling green eyes as Lucinda. The same lustrous black hair. She reminded Ryan of a model in the soap ads.

'Your father's having a meeting in the den. Don't bother him. Nice to have you with us, Ryan. You boys get to bed soon.'

Downstairs, a fire crackled as Mickey's father, Joseph, crossed to the bar and poured some port out of a cut crystal decanter, filling three of the long-stemmed wineglasses. Joseph, like Mickey, was physically unimpressive. At fifty-one, he was dark-skinned, short, and wide around the middle. Like his fifteen-year-old son, however, he radiated power. He crossed to Paul Arquette, handing him a glass.

'That's a nice port. I get it sent over from Oporto,' he said, handing the glass to the tall, aristocratic governor of Nevada.

Paul Arquette wore a perfectly fitted gray suit. His sandy brown hair and box-of-Chiclets smile was a recruiting poster for his state. Now forty-five, he had been a behindthe-scenes friend to the Alo casino interests in Las Vegas for years.

He took the glass of port from the Sicilian and watched as Joseph Alo crossed to Meyer Lansky, seated in a large wing chair near the fire, breathing heavily.

Meyer was in his early seventies and had withered physically since Paul had seen him last. His hands shook, but the laser-sharp eyes were windows to his shrewdness. 'Ain't supposed t' drink,' Meyer said. 'Fucking doctor has me eatin' Gerber's. My colon X ray looks like nine miles a' dirt mad.' The mob financial genius took the glass of port from Joseph anyway.

'When did Wallace say he'll get here?' Joseph asked. 'Nine-thirty. He's a punctual nitpicker, the fuck. He'll be here,' Meyer said.

They talked about Meyer's lawsuit against the State of Israel. Lanky had been trying to move to Israel with his wife to live out his days until his cancer took him. But the Israeli Supreme Court invoked a constitutional clause denying immigration to Jews with criminal histories. 'What'd I ever do to them?' Meyer lamented. 'My own people quitting on me like that.'

Then Penny let C. Wallace Litman into the den.

Litman was as short as Joseph Alo, but with a Prussian general's bearing. He was trim in all departments from his tailored suit to his diminutive frame. A Wall Street wizard, he had already been on the cover of Fortune magazine, and he was only forty years old.

'This is Meyer's meeting,' Joseph said, 'but before we start, I want to invite all of you to a duck hunt I've arranged tomorrow. I bought Mickey a new hunting dog for his birthday. A trainer has been coming here for two months, and we're going to try him out in the morning. Meyer, I know you have to get. back to Miami, but I hope Paul and Wallace will stay.'

Paul didn't want to go duck hunting, but he was trapped; Joseph had arranged for him to take a casino jet back to Las Vegas. He nodded and smiled.

C. Wallace Litman stood his ground. 'I'll have to take a rain check, Joe. We're in the middle of a stock acquisition. Gotta drive back tonight.'

Joseph nodded without expression. 'Meyer, you have the floor.'

Meyer started to speak in a nasal voice. 'I don't have to tell you what's been going on since Hoover died,' he said. 'We had that butt-slamming fairy in a box. He hadda look the other way or I'd a released them pictures a him in that motel in Detroit. But Hoover's gone and things have changed. We got nothin' but trouble in Washington. The off-track betting, the drug business, numbers, vice, everything is getting hit by these new bastards. We got the head of the FBI running unchecked and shitballs like this renegade fed in Vegas, this Solomon Kazorowski, trying to bust everybody. Now the Congress goes and passes this RICO Act.'

They all knew about RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; it said that any prior knowledge of a crime made you as guilty as if you had committed the crime yourself. All the feds had to do on a RICO prosecution was get just one member of the outfit to admit that he had discussed a crime with his don and the boss was automatically culpable. In La Cosa Nostra, you couldn't commit a crime on outfit turf without notifying the boss and giving him a 'taste,' so all of the top guys were now at risk. The feds were also setting up a witness protection program to encourage informants. It was a depressing law to contemplate.

'We gotta find a way to shut this fucking thing down,' Meyer wheezed.

'How we gonna do that? It's a federal law.' the Nevada governor said.

'Joseph and I been talking and we got a way maybe works, but you gotta be involved.'

C. Wallace Litman straightened his shoulders. He had been a silent financial puppet of Meyer Lansky's since the sixties. Wallace had been Theodora Lansky's investment adviser in Chicago. Meyer had spotted him working on his wife's account and saw that Wallace was shrewd and ambitious. He'd recruited him ten years ago. Litman was to set up a holding company called Litstar Industries. Meyer would funnel offshore mob money into blind accounts that C. Wallace could draw on to buy legitimate businesses. The businesses were technically owned by Litstar, but the real owners were Meyer Lansky and Joseph Alo. The three men rarely met and nobody suspected that C. Wallace Litman was a shill and a laundry for organized crime. He had risen rapidly on the wings of illegal financing.

'It's not smart for us to be involved too closely in anything,' Paul said.

'Our plan is simple, but it's going to take some time. We have decided that you are going to be the President of the United States,' Meyer said without preamble.

Wallace could see a change in Governor Arquette's demeanor. He seemed to glow with the prospect.

'How we gonna do that?' Paul asked softly.

'The world has changed,' Meyer said as he picked up his glass of wine. 'Radio made it small, TV made it smaller. Politics is changing. Nixon was smarter, better qualified than Kennedy to be the President, but Kennedy with them Boston manners and that flicking hair. He looks like a movie star, so the schmucks elect him. Nixon always looked like he should be selling dirty magazines. TV killed Nixon. TV is the future. You control TV, you control what people see, what people say, and what they think.'

'Wallace and I have already begun to liquidate the real estate we own and started looking around for electronic media properties to buy,' Joseph continued. 'Once we own a television network, we're gonna use it to put Paul in the White House.'

'. . And once you're there,' Meyer said softly, 'you're gonna fire these new fucks in the FBI and over at Justice. You're gonna appoint a new attorney general, new head of the FBI. You pick guys like Hoover who will look the other way. And then, when you get Supreme Court openings, you're gonna start packing the bench with judges who don't like RICO. We're gonna either overturn this thing or neutralize it with friendly cops.' Meyer tried to set the wineglass down on the table but misjudged, and it tipped over.

All of them watched the drops of port as they spattered on the beige carpet, leaving a stain that looked like blood.

The pale morning sunlight woke Paul Arquette early. He was still flush with ambition and the thought of being President. He showered and, before he went down for breakfast, heard Joseph's limousine leave to take Meyer Lansky to the airport.

The dining room was huge, with a forty-foot-long marble table and high-backed chairs that Joseph had imported from Italy. Mickey Alo was already in the room with his prep school roommate. Paul couldn't take his eyes off the remarkably handsome boy. Penny sat at the foot of the table.

'Ready to murder a few ducks?' Joseph said as he swept into the room a few minutes later. Paul had always thought duck hunting was one of mankind's least noble adventures.

'Did you get enough to eat?' Penny asked.

'Up to here.' Paul motioned as he smiled broadly.

It had always amazed him that Joseph had managed to hook a woman like Penny. What could she possibly see in the Sicilian gangster? She came from a wealthy family. She was cultured and refined. She was like a pearl in a pan of gravel, and Paul thought she didn't belong married to Joseph. But maybe she found his power seductive. He wondered what she would be. like in bed.

The men walked into the den, where the twelve-gauge bird slayers were in slots behind the glass of a built-in oak wall cabinet.

Paul chose an English Purdy over-and-under, with an initialed stock and solid-gold butt plate.

'That thing was custom-made,' Joseph bragged. 'Cost more than a hundred grand, so don't drop it in the

Вы читаете The Plan
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату