'The Democratic National Committee wants me to be their candidate. They want to throw all the party resources behind me.' His voice couldn't contain his excitement.

'Then we all want the same thing. Tell 'em to get off the field and we'll make it happen.'

'But if the DNC is pushing me and financing me, I don't think it's necessary for you and your father to stay involved.'

'You're kidding me, no?'

'Mickey, it doesn't change anything. You know there's a big risk using offshore laundered cash to run my campaign. What if somebody finds out?'

'You mean like maybe Warren?'

'The DNC has a huge campaign war chest. They have a preexisting staff. . media consultants, polling experts, issue experts, advertising and media buyers, stature strategists. . the whole setup. Plus, they can put pressure on other candidates to get out of the race.'

'Forget it.'

'I'm not going to forget it. I'm gonna take it.'

'Uncle Pauly.' Mickey used his boyhood form of address sarcastically. 'Lemme get this straight. . My dad and Meyer buy a TV network and use it to get you a national profile; use it to get you a U. S. Senate seat; get you on the Ways and Means Committee and make you a political front-runner, and then, when these fucks at DNC decide to poach on our deal, you think you can invite me down here, keep me waiting in this pink wet dream, and then kick a board up my ass?'

'That isn't what I'm doing.'

'I'm gonna do you a huge favor, Paul. . I'm gonna tell my father that you felt lonely and missed me and that's why you asked me down here. Then you're gonna tell these assholes at the DNC to get the fuck outta our way, and if anything like this ever comes up again, I'm gonna personally empty a dustpan full a' glass into your head.'

Paul and Mickey were a few feet apart, but Paul could feel an almost ungodly warmth coming off the little man, as if he were standing in front of an electric heater.

Paul took a step back, then held his ground. 'You're threatening me?'

'Fucking-A. Glad you recognize it.'

'I will not be threatened. I'm a U. S. senator. You can't possibly think I'll put up with a threat from you or anybody else. The DNC picks one candidate every four years. It virtually guarantees me the Democratic nomination. And I've already said yes.'

'Do you really know what you're doing, Paul?' Mickey asked, his voice even and cold.

`That's why I called you down. I don't want to have any further involvement with your family or your money. It's too dangerous. Now I have to get back to a political strategy-planning session.'

Mickey picked up his sport jacket, with the Polaroid photos in the pocket, and folded it over his arm. 'You're making a mistake.'

'I don't think so, Mickey. Everybody agrees, taking this offer is the right thing to do.'

'When everybody agrees on something, Pauly, you can always bet it's wrong.' Mickey didn't say good-bye as he closed the door of the Flamingo Suite behind him. Warren Sacks was waiting in the blue Ford. Mickey got in and sat next to the media consultant. They headed back to the deserted airfield.

'Nice place,' Mickey said, smiling at Warren. 'Boy that suite of Paul's is nifty. Are they all that good?'

'Pretty much the same. Mine's the Seafoam Suite, all done in green, really restful.'

'If I get back down here, I'll ask for it. Is it on the beach?'

'Just one road down from Paul's, right on the sand,' Warren said, helping to seal his own awful fate.

After they took off, Mickey sat in the back of the Lear-55 in a chair facing Little Pussy and New York Tony. 'Tony, go up and tell Milo t' put this call on the scrambler.'

Mickey waited for the three tinny-sounding beeps that indicated the voice scrambler was on, then dialed. In a few minutes, he had his father on the phone in New Jersey.

'Yes,' Joseph said to his only son, who was now circling at ten thousand feet over the Great Bahama Bank. Joseph Alo's voice sounded hollow through the scrambler. His emphysema was getting worse. Fluid in his lungs gargled when he spoke.

'We're on the scrambler, Pop. I wouldn't call you from the air, but we got a problem.'


'Pauly's had a brain fart. The DNC offered him the nomination. He's going to take it. . Wants us to go away.'

'Change his mind,' the old man said softly.

'It's blown, Pop. He's already said yes. Beyond that, he's risking security. He basically told me to take a hike.'

'Whatta you suggesting?' the old man wheezed.

'I wanna send him over. I got Tony and Little Pussy here with me. We can make it look right.'

'I ain't gonna be here much longer, Mickey, maybe a couple a' months, a year at the most. After I'm gone, this is your business. You know what's at stake. You know how hard we worked, how difficult it will be to replace Paul. You make the decision, you're gonna have to live with the result.'

'I'll be home tomorrow.' Mickey hung up and looked at Tony.

'Tell Milo to hang around out here for an hour till dark, then we go back and land without lights.'

Chapter 2


Five thousand miles and three time zones away, Ryan Bolt was fighting an anxiety attack.

'You've got to talk about Matthew eventually,' Dr. Driekurs was saying.

Ryan was sitting in her beige-on-beige office, focusing intently on his Air Jordans, trying to keep from jumping up out of the reclining chair.

'He's been dead a year and you've barely said anything about it,' Dr. Ellen Driekurs continued.

The neon red and green shoe colors strobed momentarily. He felt dizzy.

'Okay, let's talk about something else, then.' She brought him back.

'Like what?' He looked at his gold Rolex. . Shit, twenty-five more minutes. He was having his weekly fifty- minute hour. He knew he was wasting his time and money but he had to do something, because his life this last year had been a psychotic nightmare. It had started with Matt dying. . And then Linda filing for divorce, and then the dreams that had scared him, keeping him up nights. And on top of that was all the career shit dragging him down, making him wonder if he really had it or had just bowled a few lucky frames.

'Let's talk about what happened at NBC. You said they asked you to leave?'

She had a stumpy build and kept her mid-brown hair pulled back tightly in a bun. She was beige, like her office. . As if lack of color was what would soothe all the manic Hollywood head cases that paraded through, plunking their Gianni Versace asses on her beige sofa, unpacking emotional luggage, putting a good face on career hijackings and drive-by divorces.

'Does it seem funny to you that I stopped dreaming two weeks ago?' He lied, trying to get off the fiasco at NBC. He hadn't been asked to leave. . They'd had security remove him from the screening room when he'd threatened Marty Lanier's life, promising to beat the shit out of the quivering head of drama development while three of Marty's loyal Jedi made no move to save him.

'You dream, Ryan. Everybody dreams. You're just not remembering your dreams.'

'Why is that?'

His right eye began to twitch, a nervous tic that had been coming and going for almost a week now.

'Are you asking me why people dream or why you aren't remembering your dreams?'

'I guess why people dream. .' Filling up more of the hour with bullshit, hoping he could skate through, the Brian Boitano of session therapy.

'Mental images are produced by the subconscious during sleep. Your dreams are the day's residue being

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