Lou “The Bat” Genevetti, sixty-three years old, thick-necked with a full head of steel-gray hair and a face that bespoke hard years on the Cleveland docks, was ticking off the minutes. “He ain’t got a broke leg, he gets one . . . maybe two. Nobody comes late when I call for a meet.”
“Lou, it’s only five o’clock now. We made the meet for five, right?” said Sal Pentello in a tone meant to mollify. “Cleveland traffic is heavy right now.” Sal nervously tugged at the sleeves of his five hundred dollar Armani.
“Don’t matta, it’s respect. When I give a time, my people better be here before me,” snapped Lou, his voice gravelly, perpetually hoarse from years of a three-pack-a-day habit.
Lou had not finished his sentence when a new Lincoln Town Car came into view from beneath the downtown Cleveland overpass. “There he is now,” Sal blurted in relief, restively cinching the knot in his tie. “Fuckin' A-on-time”
The Town Car moved onto the winding, cinder-paved access way, which was little more than two ruts in a morass of refuse, old refrigerators, car tires, and abandoned vehicles, some from the ‘40s.
As the car pulled up to the dock where the two men stood, Lou made a point of looking at his watch and tapping the dial. “Where da fuck you been?”
“Sorry, Boss, I got ‘mugged,’ a downtown spook. He gave me a ticket. Told me to keep my Wop ass off his beat,” said Vincent Bardzini, made man, brother-in-law to Fat Tony from down south. He handed Lou the ticket.
The Bat looked at it, checked the officer’s name, Keyshan Washington. “Fuckin’ Niggas, give’em a badge and they own da town.” He wadded the ticket and tossed it into the Cuyahoga River. “Okay, Bardzini, what da fuck’s going on? What’s the problem with them straw-suckers down south? You said it was in da bag.”
“It was, but it looks like this Grayson family has a hitter on the books. Tony had a visitor, got roughed up, and this courier brings a certified check for the million five from a bank in the Caribbean. Now, this alki fuck wants outta the deal.”
“We didn’t make a deal with da alki fuck. This here is on your head. You made da deal, you and that Fat Tony fuck. Some heads gotta be busted—give’em turbans. We got two trailers rolling outta here tomorrow night, and they better come back empty Wednesday morning. Understand?”
“Sure, Lou, sure. I’ll go down and straighten this shit out. I’ll leave now.”
The last to arrive and the first to leave was The Bat’s protocol. As his Cadillac vanished from view back into the Cleveland metropolis, the two Mafiosi summarized the situation.
“Now, just for my own fuckin’ record, tell me again what the fuck went wrong down there in shitsville,” Sal said.
Bardzini: “Fat Tony and that dyke wife of his ran a train on the alki’s niece. They took some pictures and tried to run a blackmail scam. I guess he got greedy and the niece bought a hitter.”
Sal: “We can deal with hitters. What made the alki jump wise and think he could welsh?”
Bardzini: “The million five. He don’t know who paid it. He’s scared shitless. Thinks maybe the feds are watching.”
Sal: “Lean on him. He’s gotta be more afraid of us than the feds, and do it quick. How’s the blow-runs? Any problems with them?”
Bardzini: “Everybody’s greased, from that hick sheriff to the mayor. By the time the stuff is cut, everybody’s takin’ large. You ain’t heard any complaints from Lou, right? He’s gettin’ his okay?”
Sal: “Yeah, no bitchin’, but he always wants more of whatever it is. What about the little scab who was dippin’, shortbaggin’, the alki’s kid, you know, the driver?”
Bardzini: “Fat Tony had to muscle the little brat-fuck. The kid does more blow than the east side on Spico de Mayo. He has a fit, goes apeshit when Fat Tony cuts him off and calls his tab. Starts ravin’, throwin’ pots and pans, disturbin’ guests. So, the Tone throws ‘im in the big freezer for a few hours. Chills his little babbo ass right out. Don’t even have to knuckle him. The kid’s talkin’ right, walkin’ behind.”
Sal: “Okay, paisano. Just don’t leave my ass hangin’ in the wind. We could end up over there.” Sal jerked a thumb towards the oil-slicked Cuyahoga. “Like Whitey and Big Jesus Salvatore.”
Bardzini: “Yeah, I guess the Big J couldn’t walk across with all that concrete on his feet, huh?”
Sal chuckled: “Yeah, now he sleeps with the ‘toids’.”
The two men departed, and Bardzini cut across town to North Royalton where he lived. He was more worried about the situation in Lexington than he had let on with Sal, and he was anxious to leave. He figured he would stop at the apartment, grab a bag of clothes, and leave Sophia a note for when she got home from the beauty salon where she worked—only she was not at work. As he drove into the parking lot, he spotted her car half hidden behind the Dempsey Dumpster.
The cheatin’ bitch hides the car, but forgets about Monday being the day they change dumpsters. I’ll kill the cunt. This time I whack her. He took the stairs two at a time to the second floor and quick-timed it to his apartment door. Keys out, he waited and listened. He heard sex, ass pounding love grunts. I’ll kill her. He opened the door, slipped into the living room and went to the TV armoire, found his silencer and screwed it to the barrel of a Beretta automatic. He moved on into the hallway, down to the bedroom door and listened.
“Oh, oh, oh, big daddddddddy . . . lay that pipe, oh, oh, fuck meeeeeee!”
Bardzini bit his lip. The bitch! She didn’t squeal when he laid pipe. With his Beretta at the ready, he drew back and laid foot to the door. With a tremendous crack of splintering wood and broken lock, the door flew open to Love Italiano, goomba sex in all its olive-oil glory. Caught in the headlights, mid-stroke, was Lou “The Bat” Genevetti. Until this very moment, Bardzini had wondered why Lou was called The Bat. Now he knew. The man’s schlong was a Louisville Slugger and he had it buried in Sweetie Pie’s ass.
Biting his lip and looking more like James Cagney than the Jimster himself, Bardzini pointed the gun at Lou’s head and commenced a walkabout, taking in this grandiose spectacle. He moved around the bed, behind Sophia, who was on her knees chewing the footboard, and Lou, who, until a moment ago, was behind her wielding wildwood with abandon.
Four eyes locked on the gun, followed it in unison around the bed. Sweat dripped, hearts pounded. Then Bardzini stopped, and nobody breathed. He bent behind them. Seconds ticked. They braced—and the silence screamed. He pushed the Beretta’s nose against Lou’s balls. “Don’t stop now, Boss,” he said, in a calm, modulated voice. “When you stop, you die, the both of yas.” They were paralyzed. “Hump!” he growled. He primed Lou’s balls with a plink of the gun barrel. “Now, goddamn it or I splatter your goombas all over her ass!” The Bat complied—as well as physiology would permit.
Lou was in a fix, to say the least, but so was Bardzini. If he killed the cuckolding son of a bitch without permission, the mob would whack him for sure no matter what his reason. With his gun trained on the pair, he pulled up a chair, sat, and tried to think it through, and as usual, it was no good. After fifteen minutes, his head ached and he was even more confused than before.
His ass drenched in sweat, Lou began to bargain. “Kid, this is your day. Like being picked to whack Jimmy Hoffa—your lucky day. A hundred Gs and we forget about it. No need for anyone to know. Whada ya say? Huh? What’s a piece of ass among friends?”
Beside himself, Bardzini waved the gun erratically, aiming it at Lou one second then lowering it the next, only to raise it again with the next surge of anguish. “Shut up, goddamn it. I love that slut!”
“Listen to him, Vinney,” pleaded Sophia. “A hundred Gs. We could go to Hawaii. Take a month—”
“Respect. It’s about respect,” Bardzini said, dropping his head to his hands. “Ain’t nobody gonna respect me if I don’t shoot him.”
“They gonna whack ya if you do, Vinney. Take the hundred Gs . . . it ain’t like he’s the only one.”
Bardzini looked up and Lou stopped pumping. Both looked at Sophia, who now had the look of a fox caught in the henhouse. “Whada ya mean, I ain’t the only one,” Lou said. “What about Italian Stallion. You said I—”
“Yeah, who else you doing?” chimed Bardzini, all but oblivious to Lou’s presence now. He dropped to his knees at the footboard in front of her, eye to eye. “Who else?”
“All of them,” Sophia said, caught but defiant. “I fucked’em all from the top down. Carlo, Sammy, Big John, The Guch, Big Heimy, Little Heimy. I did’em all.”
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Bardzini jumped to his feet and paced in circles, tried to think but only got dizzy. He flopped to the chair and dropped his head to his hands then suddenly looked up. “Even Sal?” he asked plaintively. Sophia nodded. “Shittt,” he moaned and dropped his head again.
Sophia looked at Lou, who was now pulling on his trousers. “Lou, you’ve got the equipment, all right, but there ain’t nobody as good as my Vinney.”
Bardzini looked up, incredulous. “Really?”
“Sure, baby,” answered Sophia. “You’re the greatest. I love you.”
He dropped to his knees and kissed her. “Then what the fuck you doing balling all these other guys, huh?”
“Ya fuckin’ mook, ya.” Sophia rapped the back of his head. “You’re never home. Twenty- four hours a day, you work. Work, work, work. I’m lucky to get it once a month . . . ”
Fully dressed, Lou was inching his way to the door when Bardzini took notice. “Where you going?” he asked, brandishing the gun in Lou’s direction. Lou froze and shrugged, as if to say nowhere now.
Bardzini: “You know this has nothing to do with business. It’s personal. Where ya want the pop?”
Lou: “You still gotta deal with them straw-suckers down south, ya know.” Bardzini nodded. “The shoulder, gimmie it in da shoulder and try to miss them big bones.”
Lou went to the hospital, unceremoniously, of course, but leaving first according to his protocol. Bardzini made it to Lexington after finishing what The Bat had started. Sophia . . . well, Sophia had a smile on her face that was sure to last a week.