table had finished her work and had joined her companions in an upright position for a glass of wine. One of the men reached across the table, took Herbie by the lapels and lifted him over the table.

Stone was impressed that the lift was such that Herbie’s feet had cleared the wineglasses. He watched as, braced between the two very large men, Herbie was escorted toward the front door, his feet not quite touching the floor.

“Dino,” Elaine said.


“Dino, you’re a cop; do something,” she said, nodding toward the three men.

“Elaine, I’m about to be in the middle of a steak.”

“Listen, you want to fuck up my reputation here? I can’t have that kind of stuff going on. Get your ass out there.”

Dino heaved a sigh, got up from the table and walked out the front door, digging in his pocket for his badge.

“What’s going on?” Eggers asked.

“Could be a collection under way,” Stone replied.

“Or a hit,” Elaine observed.

The door opened and Dino entered, supporting Herbie, who was dabbing at a bloody nose with a handkerchief. Dino walked him back to Siberia and sat him down at his table with the two hookers. Then he came back to Stone’s table.

“What happened?” Eggers asked.

“Nothing,” Dino replied. “I just saved his life, that’s all.”

Stone turned to Elaine. “Why do you allow people like Herbie in here?”

“He pays cash,” Elaine replied.


The three were picking over the remains of the porterhouse when Eggers flagged down a waiter and pointed at the enormous bone. “Wrap that up for my wife’s dog, will you?”

“Bill,” Stone said, “your wife has a Yorkshire terrier; that bone will eat him.”

“It’ll keep him away from my shoes for a few days,” Eggers replied, accepting the foil-wrapped gift from the waiter. “You pay three grand for a pair of custom-made shoes from Lobb’s, and a four-pound canine perforates them.”

Stone looked at Eggers in wonder. “You pay three grand for shoes?”

“That’s a bargain; it’s five grand if you go to Silvano Lattanzi.”

“That’s more than I paid for any of the first dozen cars I owned,” Dino said. “If I were you, I’d insure the shoes.”

“Hey, that could work,” Eggers said. “I could claim against my household insurance. I mean, the deductible is only a grand.”

“They’d probably make you shoot the dog,” Stone said.

“That works for me,” Eggers replied.

“Your wife would kill you in your sleep.”

“You have a point.”

Suddenly, Herbie and his two hookers materialized at their table. He was still dabbing at his nose, which had assumed the appearance of a small, battered eggplant. “Stone,” he said.

Stone winced. “What, Herbie?”

“I want to sue those two guys, and I want you to represent me.”

Dino burst out laughing.

“Herbie,” Stone said, “you say you’re a lawyer now; sue them yourself.”

“Then I would have a fool for a client,” Herbie replied, calling up the old legal maxim describing a lawyer who represents himself.

“I can’t argue with that,” Stone said, “but I will not, repeat not, represent you.”

“I can pay.”

“Herbie, the two guys who did that to your nose couldn’t get you to pay.”

“That’s different,” Herbie said. “Owing you would be a debt of honor.”

“And that’s different from the debt to the boss of those two guys how?”

“That debt involved sports; it’s not the same thing.”

“Try explaining that to Carmine Dattila,” Dino said. “That’s who those guys work for. Carmine would hollow you out and use you for an ashtray.”

“No means no, Herbie,” Stone said. “Good night.”

Suddenly Eggers spoke up. “Mr. Fisher,” he said, extending his hand, “I am William Eggers of the law firm of Woodman and Weld.”

“Hey, how you doin’?” Herbie replied, pumping Eggers’s hand.

“My firm would be happy to represent you in this matter; in fact, I would be pleased to handle the case personally.”

Stone’s jaw nearly hit the tabletop. “Bill, are you nuts, or are you just drunker than I thought?”

Eggers waved him away. “In fact, we would be pleased to represent you on a contingency basis.”

“Bill,” Dino said, “excuse me for interrupting, but I think you should know that Carmine Dattila is known by the sobriquet Dattila the Hun.”

“Oh, Dino,” Eggers said, shaking his head “don’t you ever watch 60 Minutes? The power those old guys once had has been much diminished.”

“Nobody told Carmine,” Dino replied.

Eggers whipped out a card and handed it to Herbie. “Mr. Fisher, please call me tomorrow morning around ten. I’ll be out of the weekly partners’ meeting by then.”

Herbie read the card carefully, then produced one of his own.

Stone grabbed it: “Herbert Q. Fisher, Attorney at Law,” it read, followed by a post office box and a cell-phone number. “Herbie,” Stone said, “you only passed the bar today; when did you have these printed?”

“It was just in case,” Herbie said defensively.

“And how come you were so sure you were going to pass the exam?”

Beads of sweat appeared on Herbie’s brow. “I felt very confident that, given my education, it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Who did you get to, Herbie? And how much did it cost you?”

“Well, if you’ll excuse us, gentlemen,” Herbie said with a little bow. “My ladies and I have an appointment elsewhere.”

“Yeah,” Dino muttered, “in the backseat of a cab.”

Herbie swept his two companions out of the restaurant.

“Bill,” Stone said, “what were you thinking?”

“Stone,” Eggers replied, “you are obviously overlooking the public-relations effect of our handling a case against a…”

“Mafia chieftain, I believe the newspaper description goes.”

“Yes, Mafia chieftain.”

Dino spoke up. “Have you considered the public-relations effect of being found dead in a landfill?”

“Really, Dino, it’s obvious that this Carmen…what’s his name?”

“Carmine Dattila.” Dino spelled it for him.

“It’s obvious that Mr. Dattila has never been confronted in open court by a powerful law firm.”

“Carmine Dattila has been confronted in open court a number of times by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is a member of a fairly powerful law firm called the U.S. Department of Justice,” Dino said. “And there ain’t a mark on him.”

Вы читаете Fresh Disasters
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату