“Yes, sir.”

“What year?”

“The 2000.”

“We’ll have that, and decant it, will you?”

Stone knew that bottle was going to go for close to two hundred dollars. “You come here a lot, Joe?”

“Whenever somebody wants to hear about the Mafia.” He sipped his Scotch. “Shoot.”

“Okay,” Stone said, taking a long draw on his Knob Creek, “my client was into a bookie called Carlo; you know him?”

“Yeah, his real name is John Quigley; he ain’t even Italian, but he passes. For some reason, his clients are more willing to pay if they think he’s Italian. He works out of a candy store on Second Avenue, downtown.”

“Who’s his boss?”

“A capo named Gianni Pardo, who’s known as Johnny Pop.”

“I can imagine why.”


“Who’s his boss?”

“He reports to another capo, Santino Gianelli, known as Sammy Tools. He was a master burglar and safecracker before Carmine moved him up the ladder.”

“Speaking of the ladder, who does Sammy Tools report to?”

“To Carmine or his consigliere, depending.”

“Depending on what?”

“If it’s to do with methods, to the consigliere; if it’s money, to Carmine.”

“Who’s the consigliere?”

“Carmine’s bastard son, Salvatore Stampano, known among the cognoscenti as Little Carmine.”

Their dinner came and went, and Stone continued to plumb the depths of Joe Giraldi’s mob knowledge. The check came, and Stone put two other cops’ names on the credit card receipt, since the tab looked more like dinner for five or six.

At the door, Stone shook Giraldi’s hand and thanked him. “Joe, you want to make five hundred bucks, quick?”


“Serve Carmine Dattila for me.”

Giraldi laughed heartily. “Listen, right now Carmine doesn’t know who I am, and I want to keep it that way. I’ll tell you where to find him, though.”


“At the La Boheme coffeehouse on Mulberry Street. Carmine spends his days there, making decisions and issuing orders. We’ve tried a dozen times to bug it, but they always figure it out. There’s an office upstairs we’ve never been able to get into.”

“Thanks, Joe.” Stone trudged home, dreading his next move. He was going to have to serve Carmine Dattila himself.


The following day Stone met Dino at P. J. Clarke’s for lunch.

The place was mobbed with advertising guys, lawyers and secretaries, but they had held a table for Dino.

“I hear you met with Joe Giraldi,” Dino said. They sat down and ordered cheeseburgers.

“‘Met with’ doesn’t cover it; the meeting cost me dinner at the Palm, and Giraldi ordered the Kobe beef.”

Dino couldn’t suppress a chuckle. “That’s my Giraldi,” he said. “He wouldn’t take a nickel from anybody, but his knowledge trades high. But what’s the difference? You’re going to stick Eggers with the bill.”

“Yeah, and I put your name on it, too, and another one, too, to try and justify the expenditure.”

“Giraldi gave you what you need, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, and he agreed to testify, too.”

“Did you really offer him five hundred to serve Dattila?”

“Yes. I would have gone to a thousand, but I got the impression it wouldn’t have worked.”

“Carmine has never been sued. You know why?”

“Because nobody will serve him?”

“You got it.”

“How about you?”

“Stone, detective lieutenants of the NYPD do not do process serving.”

“Not even for a thousand bucks?”

Dino looked hurt. “You wound me.”

“Will you go with me for backup?”

“Neither do we sell backup services to process servers.”

“Will you drive me down there and wait?”

“In whose car?”

“I guess mine; you won’t use a squad car?”

“Good guess.”

“After lunch?”

“Why not? Somebody needs to bring the body back.”

A couple of years before, Stone had wandered into the Mercedes dealership on Park Avenue with a fat check in his pocket and a yen for some German engineering. He had driven away in a lightly armored E55 sedan that had been ordered by a man who had feared for his life, but the car had arrived a couple of days late. The deal was with the widow, with the salesman taking a cut. It had saved Stone’s life only once, but that had made it a bargain.

Now they made their way into Little Italy, with Dino at the wheel, and Dino, Stone reflected, always drove as if he had just stolen the car.

Dino screeched to a halt directly in front of the La Boheme coffeehouse, a dingy storefront with a cracked front window. “Are you carrying?” he asked Stone.

“You bet your ass,” Stone said.

“Gimme,” Dino said, holding out his hand.

“You want me to go in there naked?”

“You’re going to end up naked anyway, and it will inspire trust if they don’t find hardware when they frisk you.”

Stone tugged the little Tussey custom.45 from its holster and handed it to Dino. “I’m going to want that back,” he said.

“If you still need it,” Dino replied, admiring the beautiful weapon. “What does it weigh?”

“Twenty-one ounces.”

“Nice,” Dino replied.

“I said, I’m going to want it back; don’t get too comfortable with it.”

“What, you want to be buried with it?”

Stone opened the car door. “You’re a ray of sunshine, you know that?”

“I’m a realist.”

“I’ll be back shortly.”

“I’ll keep the engine running.”

Stone grabbed the envelope containing the summons and got out of the car. He turned and rapped on the window with his signet ring, and Dino pressed the button. “What does Dattila look like?”

“Oh, I forgot,” Dino said, reaching into an inside pocket and coming up with a photograph. “That’s him in the middle,” he said, “except he’s thirty years older.”

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