Precinct 11 - 01 - The Brotherhood, p.23Jerry B. Jenkins
“I said, ‘Risky? You think my people don’t know where I am or who I’m with? They know where you live, Grazzy, and they know where your associates live. They also know your grandkids’ names and where they go to school.’
“He said, ‘There’s no need to be rattling our sabers,’ and I said, ‘Just give me one reason.’”
“You called him Grazzy, really?”
“You bet I did. I wasn’t afraid of an old Italian. I probably shoulda been, but you got to understand gangbangers to know I didn’t fear nothin’.”
“Grazzy rhymes with Jazzy.”
That stopped the big man. He squinted and held Boone’s gaze. “So?”
“We’ve got to talk about him, you know.”
“What do you know about him?”
“Plenty, but we’ll get to him. Stick with Grazzy for now.”
It seemed to Boone that it took PC a few moments to collect himself and get back on track.
“Well, uh, anyway, you know he tells me he wants to farm out a couple of hits, that the feds and the Crime Commission are all over him and he can’t let ’em trace his enemies’ deaths back to him. I tell him to just tell me who and where to find them and how much it’s worth to him. He gives me a figure. I triple it. He says no. I stand to go. He caves and agrees. We got it done for him.”
Boone stood and leaned against a counter, glancing at his watch. “That was before my time, but the department still talks about how puzzling those hits were. Organized Crime figured out pretty quick that it wasn’t some gang against the Outfit but rather the Outfit against itself and using you. But CPD couldn’t pin it on anyone.”
“You know why?” Candelario said.
“Too many of you, all with the same MO?”
“That’s only part of it. Thing is, even I don’t know who did it. We—me and Jazzy—bring in our best guys, tell them what their part of the take will be when the deal gets done, and the next morning I see dead guys on the front page of the Trib. I pay the lieutenants, they pay the guys, and even I don’t know who did it. The paper says Mob guys get killed but that it looks more like the work of gangbangers than Mafia hit men. We had a good laugh over that one.”
“So you were pretty much at the top or close to it, weren’t you, Pascual?”
“Till I got sloppy; what can I tell you? I don’t know if they had me meeting with Jacopo and his guys or not, but somehow they were hotter on my tail than ever. I muscled the wrong guys, got busted, and was sent up.”
“Stateville didn’t slow you down, though, did it?”
“You know, at first it did. I had a lot of friends in there, but the gangs were hurting each other. It didn’t make sense to me. And when I heard about other gang co-ops around the country, it just seemed like a good idea.”
“So you did this just to be smart.”
Pascual nodded. “I didn’t know all of what forming the DiLoKi Brotherhood would mean, but man, it was like a new place overnight. Everybody was welcome, and it was going to be us against the man instead of against each other all the time.”
“And it pretty much worked out that way.”
Pascual nodded, looking distracted. “Safe to walk outside here?”
“Sure, unless you’re afraid of my guys. You think they want anything to happen to you?”
PC laughed. “I need some air.”
“Only for somebody with no insulation, like you.”
“I’ll be fine,” Boone said, zipping his coat.
It was even colder than he expected. Boone thrust his hands deep into his pockets, and as he and Candelario moved in and out of the shadows of the parking lot light fixtures, they were bathed in their own breath vapors.
“So what happened to you, PC?”
The big man stopped under a light. “You know, Boone, it was the strangest thing. . . .”
He paused as if looking for words. Were they going to forge a relationship after all, even a friendship? Boone let the silence stand until his phone chirped. He peeked to see a text from Jack.
UR out of sight. OK? Respond immediately.
“Your guys worried about you?” Pascual said.
“Yeah, till you just said that. You were saying . . .”
“Well, it’s a funny thing, man. My mom had me where she wanted me, stuck in one place for five years. She wrote me all the time, and I mean all the time. And she came to see me every time she was allowed. Every letter told me I needed to get right with God, get saved, turn to Jesus, all that. It was kinda sweet, really, but for a long time it didn’t get through at all. I kept telling her I believed in God and sometimes I told her I knew I was going to hell. I know it really hurt her when I said that, and even more when I said I didn’t care. The thing was, it was true. I did not care, man. I knew who I was and what I was, and I wasn’t scared of anything. I mean, I guess if I had thought about it, I wouldn’t choose flames for eternity, but if there was one thing my life had done to me, it left me without emotions. At least that’s what I thought.”
“You learned differently?
“Well, I used to get excited about stuff. Hurting people. Killing people. Getting more money. But every time—and I mean every time—whatever it made me feel faded fast. Sometimes, like when I would add a million dollars to my net worth, it excited me for like ten minutes. But what finally got to me, I think, was that my madre told me she prayed for me every day. And not just once a day. Most of every day. Can you imagine?”
“So prayer worked?”
“You know, I never thought of it that way—that the prayer itself worked. I mean, I know it did, now that I look back on it, but at the time it was just that she was doing it. You know what I’m saying? See the difference?”
“I guess, sure.”
“I started having trouble sleeping, and that was new for me, even after all the stuff I had done, all the people I hurt, killed, everything. But now, because my mom is praying for me, I can’t sleep. Even my cellmate asked me what was wrong. I told him to mind his own business, but not quite with those words.”
Pascual fell silent again. Boone watched him expectantly. “So who do you talk to? What do you do?”
Pascual pulled out his phone. “Better turn this on,” he said. “I’ve been out of reach too long. Yeah, see, all kinds of messages from the Wolf.”
“Don’t you know any Spanish, man? What do you think lobo means? Let’s get headed back. I gotta call him anyway.”
Pascual assured Villalobos that he was all right and would be back soon, but he used such foul language that Boone was surprised. When Pascual clapped the phone shut, he said, “Sorry about that. I hate it, but I got to keep up the image or all this falls apart. I start talkin’ like a civilian overnight and everybody’s gonna know something’s up.”
“So you’ve kept him completely in the dark?”
“You kiddin’? One thing in our world, bro, is that we show no sign of weakness, you know? This would be the ultimate. I would be history.”
“I want to hear the rest of your story, PC,” Boone said as they got back into the car. “But I need to show you the phones they put together for this operation.”
“We got plenty of time for that,” Candelario said. “This thing I’m planning is still a ways off.”
“I’m looking at January 6.”
“Kings’ Holy Day,” Boone said.
“Bueno. You’ve done your homework, hombre. Nobody gonna suspect anything going down on a day that’s sacred to the Latin Kings. ’Specially Jazzy. I think I can get all the top guys together with the Outfit guys. That’s when I need your fancy phone.”
After dropping Pascual Candelario off near where he picked him up, Boone headed back home, careful to be sure he wasn’t being tailed. Jack called as soon as PC was out of the car.
“You want me to debrief you guys tonight?” Boone said. “While it’s fresh?”
“No. We got it all down
Boone also found three texts from Haeley, the last one saying that she had to finally get to bed but pleading with him to leave her a message that everything went all right. He texted her back, Heading home. See you this afternoon.
Boone slept like a stone and awoke with an eagerness to see Candelario again. He didn’t feel he had really connected with the man yet, but he had been impressed by his intellect and how forthcoming he was. Mostly, Boone wanted to hear the rest of his spiritual journey, but when he had tried to arrange a time to do that, Pascual had put him off the way he had about the phones.
“I’ll let you know when, Detective Drake,” he had said before sliding out of the car, making Boone wonder why he had become formal all of a sudden. “And next time it’ll be on my turf.”
“Fair enough, but not here, I hope.”
Pascual had laughed. “Neither of us is that stupid, amigo.”
At the office that afternoon, Haeley gave him a look he could only interpret as relief that he was all right. “Where we going tomorrow night?” she said.
“It’s a surprise.”
“I like surprises.”
“Oh, it’s nothing that special,” he said. “Just a new place that looks great.”
Jack and Pete seemed encouraged by what they’d heard the night before, but Fletcher Galloway was clearly not. “I heard the highlights,” he said as the four met in his office. “Your assessment is that the guy has no hidden agenda? We could just bust him as a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and be done with it. He’d be back in Stateville for a long time. That would get one big menace off the streets again.”
Boone shot him a double take. “He also told me he had once added a million dollars to his net worth. Should we check and see whether he reported that on his return and bust him for income tax evasion?”
“Are you being smart with me, Detective?”
“No, sir, Chief. I just hope you were thinking out loud, because I think we want to play this out, don’t we, for the chance to take down the bosses of all the big crime outfits?”
“Of course. But he could have been leading you on. And I can’t say I was amused by your weapons standoff.”
“I didn’t know how else to play that. I sure didn’t want to show weakness.”
“I thought you did the right thing,” Pete Wade said, “if my opinion means anything. But what I was left with at the end of the thing was that we may be taking entirely the wrong angle on this. I’ve been going on the notion that we’re going to record him with all these guys, then protect him until he can spill it all before a grand jury, backing it up with the tapes.”
“Tapes?” Boone said.
“Microchips, whatever. I’ll always call them tapes. But now, if he’s sure he can get them all together in one place at the same time, what stops us from just taking them all in at once?”
Galloway was slowly shaking his head. “The potential for a bloodbath, that’s what. Any meeting like that would have a security force from every faction. And as soon as we make ourselves known, they start shooting, and not just at us. Everybody will suspect everybody else, and they’ll target each other. Candelario gets killed in the process and then where are we? None of those guys will rat the others out.”
“You’re right,” Pete Wade said.
Jack said, “Yeah, let’s just carry this out the way we planned. I’m not wild about his getting everybody together at the same place at the same time, but it ought to make for a mountain of evidence. We keep our distance, make sure Candelario survives it and gets out of there, and then we prep him for grand jury testimony based on everything we get.”
“It’s not like the old days,” Fletcher Galloway said. “Back in the day, we would call the shots, tell him how it was going to go down. I don’t like his putting it off, setting the date, telling you when he’s going to get back to you. I’ve got to share this stuff with the FBI, the Crime Commission, and the U.S. Attorney, and I can just imagine how it’s all going to go over with them.”
“I don’t see that we have a choice,” Boone said. “But I’m willing to be corrected. You want me to push Candelario for another rendezvous, or . . . ?”
“No,” Galloway said. “Let’s play the cards we’re dealt for now. If he stalls you too long, maybe you make a contact. But let’s not look too eager. I wouldn’t waste so much time on his coming-to-Jesus story, though, Drake. We don’t care how he came to this point, as long as he’s here.”
“I respectfully disagree, Chief. I understand him on this, and it helps me get to know him better. Plus it assures me he’s not playing. I’m pretty confident he’s for real here, but I’ll know for sure when I hear the rest of the story.”
“You buying his line about keeping Villalobos out of this?”
“I am. I don’t see how he could make it work otherwise.”
“Well, suit yourself, but keep the endgame in mind.”
Boone and Haeley enjoyed a quiet dinner early Saturday night at a small bistro on the Near North Side that had gotten a glowing review in the previous weekend’s paper.
“If it wasn’t the dead of winter, I’d suggest walking the beach,” Boone said.
“If it wasn’t the dead of winter, I’d accept,” she said. “Michigan Avenue might be a fun stroll for as long as we can stand the wind.”
Boone hesitated, and Haeley said, “What? You don’t like the Magnificent Mile?”
“I used to,” he said. “Painful memories. Sorry.”
“I understand. Anywhere else you’d like to walk?”
She smiled. “Sounds exciting. McDonald’s and the Y are favorite landmarks of mine.”
“You’re mean,” he said.
She laughed. “It’s just that I’ve never heard of anyone walking Chicago Avenue for any reason other than to just get somewhere. Have you?”
“I just want to be with you,” he said.
“That’s sweet. Let’s do it. And you know what we should talk about?”
“I’ll bite,” he said.
“Painful memories. I have some too, you know. Maybe it would be therapeutic or cathartic or whatever they call it to just get ’em on the table?”
“You look dubious.”
“I am,” Boone said. “Doesn’t sound that appealing.”
“It was just a thought. I figure our pasts are always going to be something between us and that they’ll have to come out sometime. But it’s your call.”
“You want to talk about this guy who broke your heart?”
She cocked her head. “I’ve been so mad at him for so long that I don’t think I put it in those terms anymore. I disappointed myself for not seeing through him from day one. Everything about the relationship was wrong, and I kept justifying it. I was stupid and made a horrible mistake.”
“And you want to talk about that?”
“Look what came of it, Boone. I don’t deserve Max, and of course neither does his father—which is good, because if I have anything to say about it, he’ll never see him. But Max is like living balm to me. Proof that God forgave me and made something beautiful out of the mess I had created.”
“You said his dad doesn’t want to see him anyway.”
“True. But I’m a big girl. I know how things go, how they can change. What if, for no understandable reason, he decides he wants to be part of Max’s life? I’d spend everything I own to keep that from happening.”
Boone paid and they bundled up, heading out toward Chicago Avenue. He enjoyed listening to her talk, and if she really wanted to talk about a part of her life she regretted so much, he guessed that was all right. She was going to expect him to do the same, though, and he wasn’t sure he was ready. When he thought about Nikki, he knew he idealized her and might dwell on how much he loved her. Would that be fair to Haeley? Would she really want to hear that?
“I’m never off duty; you know that. Just a sec. Promise.”
They stopped and he stepped away.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“I was going to wait awhile, man, but I want to talk to you tonight.”
“Oh, man, does it have to be tonight?”
“What, you got a date?”
“What if I do?”
“You decide what’s most important, gringo. I’m gettin’ spooked by the Wolf, so I may be running out of time. Your call.”
“Well, of course, PC.”
“I’ll pick you up. Just tell me where.”
Haeley could apparently TELL from Boone’s look that the evening was over. “I told you not to take it,” she said.
“You know there are only about four people in the world I would have taken a call from tonight,” he said as they hurried back to the parking lot.
“You didn’t want to talk to me tonight anyway,” she said, not unkindly. “Lucky you.” He could tell she was teasing.
“We can finish this tomorrow after church,” he said.
“I’d like that, at least until Max gets too squirrelly. You sure you’re ready to talk?”
“That isn’t the point,” he said. “I’ll talk all you want if it gives me more time with you. Question is, are you sure you want to hear it?”
“Why wouldn’t I? If we’re going to be friends, I want to know you. Need to know you. Your wife and son had to be the most important things in the world to you. If you can’t talk to me about them, then what—?”
“It’s not easy.”
“I wouldn’t expect it to be. You worried about becoming emotional in front of me?”
“Heaven forbid you should show a little humanity. What, you think I think you’re a one-dimensional, macho cop?”
Precinct 11 - 01 - The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes