As the bitterly cold wind blew snow in his face, Amato had to squint just to find the door of the VFW. With a gloved hand he knocked, and within a few seconds a large man answered, looking Amato up and down, not impressed, he began to close the door in Amato’s face. Flashing his new badge, the bouncer jerked the door right back open. And without a word, the man nods his head for Amato to follow which he does. In silence they navigate the dimly lit, poorly decorated building, past the billiard room, and into the bar, the bouncer leads him to table in a private area. Again without saying a word, the bouncer holds his finger up as though telling him to wait. Obeying, Amato stands next to this table until the man disappears down a hall, leaving him alone.
Taking in his surroundings Amato noticed a lot of geezers who were looking directly at the new stranger who obviously wasn’t a vet from any war. Still dressed in his distressed jeans and tattered brown jacket, he looked more like a hipster which captured the attention of the old jarheads. Regretting his fashion choice, a man appeared from the shadowy hall with salt and pepper hair and with a huge smile on his face looked at Amato and said, “Whatta we have here, another addition to our ranks?”
“You’re Jimmy the General?” Amato asked rather shocked.
“Damn straight.” He answered.
Not wanting to blow his cover, Amato played along while Jimmy did his shtick.
As Amato opened his mouth to say something Jimmy cut him off and in a hushed tone said, “Shut up and follow me to my office?” Following the man, Jimmy patted him on the back and slowly they walked together to his office passing the men at their tables to the office. Amato could feel their eyes following them out of the room causing the hair on his neck to stand up. He didn’t like being in enemy territory especially, when he didn’t know who his enemies were or why they were his enemies in the first place?
When the door closed Jimmy asks Amato “How’s Belesarre?”
“Well he’s fine if you like living in a bum camp. Serves that son of a bitch right, he’s the reason why most of the precinct’s so mobbed up in the first place and now, the feds too.”Not interested in hearing his mentor’s faults, Amato asked plainly, “Can you help me out? I got every cop in this town on my ass and they want my head as a trophy.”
Holding up the badge, Jimmy asked, “Do you know who this belonged to, huh?” Shrugging his shoulders, Amato had no clue. “It’s belonged to Agent Martinelli, we…I was supposed to be watching his back when word got out he had been compromised. By the time I got an extraction team together, he was gone, ten holes in the head.” Trying not to get emotional, Jimmy paused and rubbed his lower jaw before he continued, “Belesarre never let me live that one down.”
“I understand, but he was doing a job though…”
“You don’t understand shit!” Jimmy said with a menacing look in his eyes. “Agent Martinelli had intel about corruption in the bureau, he recorded a few conversations he had with a few of the Cosimo soldiers and was prepping to meet the boss, when he got iced.”
Amato’s jaw dropped, stunned silent, he sat there and ran the numbers in his head. “When was he whacked?” he asked calmly.
“Two years ago,” Jimmy answered.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Amato yelled. “That was the time I went under! You mean I was his replacement and nobody told me about this?”
“It was need to know,” Jimmy answered.
“Fuck that! I needed to know!” Amato said, pointing his finger at Jimmy.
Leaning back in his chair Jimmy said, “It was a tough call but nobody knew who was clean and who was on the payroll anymore.” Offering Amato an olive branch he proposed, “Look, I got some guys. They ain’t much but they can give any mafioso hell.”
“You mean the Golden Girls out there?”
Offended Jimmy pointed his finger right back at him and said, “Hey, don’t make fun. I trust them with my life and they never disappointed me, not neva.”
Defeated, Amato sighed and conceded, “Like I got a choice?”
Satisfied, Jimmy picked up his phone and just as he began dialing they heard a commotion. First they heard yelling then furniture falling to the floor. Rising to their feet, they both reached for their guns. Looking at each other Jimmy maneuvered gracefully to the door as Amato cracked it open. Hearing a familiar voice Amato groaned. Putting his gun back in his holster, he marched down the hall to stop Hurricane Cassie from destroying the joint. “Shit!” Amato muttered under his breath as he and Jimmy saw Cassie trying to muscle her way into the VFW.
“Hey, I said no chicks allowed!” the bouncer yelled holding her back not allowing her over the threshold of the door.
“Outta of my way tater nuts!” Cassie answered as she tried to push this mountain of a bouncer down.
Looking at Amato, Jimmy laughed and asked, “Is that your partner?”
“No! Well…. yeah, I guess,” he said then sighed.
“Ha, ha, ha! Well with the two of ya’s I guess we got a shot at the Cosimos.”
And like that, Amato had the support of a shifty group of old geezers along with his ride or die chick. Surveying his new tactical team, Amato took a deep breath and declared, “I’m gonna need a drink Jimmy.”
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.