“Dattila the Hun?”

“One and the same.”

“That’s the case Eggers sent us?”

“That’s the case.”

“This is a bad joke. Make him go away.”

“It is certainly a bad joke, but if we want to keep me of counsel to Woodman and Weld, I’m going to have to do this. Go and get your pad; I’ll dictate a complaint.”

Joan got up and left, squeezing past Herbie Fisher and managing not to touch him.

“Hey, Joanie,” Herbie said.

“Yuck,” Joan replied.

“Hey, Stone.”

“Herbie,” Stone said, “come in, sit down and shut up.”


Stone gazed across his desk at Herbert Q. Fisher, Esquire. “You incredible fuckup,” he said, as pleasantly as he could manage. Herbie had a plastic cup taped across his nose, and two big black eyes. “You look like a demented raccoon.”

“Stone,” Herbie said, reprovingly, “I don’t think Bill Eggers and the partners at Woodman and Weld would like you to speak to a client that way.”

Stone resisted the urge to throw himself across the desk and strangle Herbie. “Joan!” he yelled. “Come in here and bring the Polaroid camera!”

“Are we going to write a complaint?” Herbie asked.

“Stop pretending you’re a lawyer,” Stone replied.

Joan came into Stone’s office. “We haven’t had any film for the Polaroid camera for two years,” she said, “but I brought my phone.” She held up a cell phone.

“I don’t want to make a call,” Stone said. “I want to take pictures of Herbie’s injuries.”

“There’s a camera in my phone, Stone; there’s one in yours, too.”

“There is?”

Joan swiveled Herbie around in his chair and turned Stone’s desk lamp on his face. “Don’t smile,” she said, holding up the cell phone.

Herbie smiled. “Cheese,” he said, revealing a missing tooth.

Joan snapped several pictures, front and profile.

“Do you have any bruises on your body?” Stone asked.

“Oh, sure,” Herbie said.

“Take off your shirt and stand against the wall.”

Herbie slipped out of his jacket and shirt and stood up. He had half a dozen big bruises around his ribs and belly.

“Did they kick you in the balls?” Stone asked.

“Uh-uh,” Joan said quickly. “That’s where I draw the line.”

“Never mind,” Stone said. “Herbie, have you seen a doctor?”

“The girls made me go to the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital.”

“Do you have a receipt for your bill?”

Herbie groped his jacket, then held up a credit card slip. “Here it is!” he said triumphantly.

Stone looked at it. “You have a working credit card?”

“Well, of course. Oh, I have to see a plastic surgeon to get my nose fixed.”

“Joan, who’s a good nose guy?”

“How should I know?” she asked indignantly.

“Who did your sister?”

“I presume you mean her nose. Steinberg.”

“Make an appointment for Herbie with Steinberg, and make it clear to his secretary that we’ll need a written description of his injuries, along with a statement of the cost to repair the damage. Tell him not to stint. And tell her not to bill us.”

“I have to get my nose fixed pretty soon,” Herbie said. “The ER doctor said it’ll start to heal, and then it’ll have to be rebroken.”

“So, make an appointment and have the surgery,” Stone said.

“That’s going to cost.”

“That’s your problem, Herbie. As far as I’m concerned we’ll have a stronger case if your nose looks bad at trial.”

“But how am I going to attract women?”

“With the money you saved on plastic surgery; they won’t charge you any more than they did before.”

Herbie tucked in his shirttail and began tying his tie.

“Can we write the complaint together?”

“No. I require privacy when I compose complaints.”

“Come on, Stone, let me work with you on this case.”

“Your involvement in this case is going to be limited to your testimony in court, and that had better be good. Now go home and get some rest, and go see Steinberg as soon as possible; I need his report for the complaint.”

“Oh, all right,” Herbie said dejectedly. “And what are you going to do?”

“Research. Now go away. Speaking of research, what’s your bookie’s name?”


“Carlo what?”

“Carlo the bookie.”

“And how much do you owe him?”

“Twenty-four thousand, as of yesterday. The vig is ten percent a week.”

“Good God! How did you ever get a bookie to let you owe twenty-four grand? Is this Carlo nuts?”

“They know I’m good for it,” Herbie said, miffed.

“I guess that’s why they didn’t break your legs, too. No, they would have broken your legs if Dino hadn’t shown up. You ought to write him a thank-you note; it’s the polite thing to do. Joan! Get Herbie out of here!”

Joan came in with a slip of paper and handed it to Herbie. “Steinberg / tomorrow at 10:30.”

Herbie stuffed the number into his pocket and shuffled out.

“I like the limp, Herbie,” Stone yelled after him. “Cultivate it for the jury!”

Herbie vanished down the street.

“How do you get yourself into these things?” Joan asked.

“Look, I was having a quiet dinner at Elaine’s with Eggers and Dino. Herbie turned up, and…Oh, the hell with it. I’m innocent! Now go pay some bills or something.”

“With what?”

“I know you keep a secret cache for emergencies.”

“It’s not an emergency yet.”

“Then don’t pay anybody until they send somebody around to break your legs.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” she said, closing the door behind her.

Stone called Dino.

“Lieutenant Bacchetti.”

“It’s me. I need a Mob expert; you got a guy over there?”

“Wait a minute. Is this for Herbie’s thing?”


“Why are you involved in that?”

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