Peter Napoletano decides to come down hard on Catherine Duvall

There’s a legal crisis of monumental proportions brewing for Peter Napoletano and several of his friends and associates. To deal with that crisis he’s decided to lean on Catherine Duvall, to get her to tell him everything she knows about Jonathan Tyne, particularly, how to find the remote ranch in Oregon where he lives. Peter needs help from his business partner Arthur Rhoades, a man secretly in love with Catherine. Rhoades listens to what Peter proposes but balks. As morally compromised as he is, he can’t bring himself to hurt Catherine. He has no qualms about killing Tyne although he himself is incapable of dropping the hammer on Tyne or anyone else, but hurting Catherine is another matter. He believes, with good reason, that once Tyne is dead he’ll be able to persuade Catherine to come back to him, catch her on the rebound as it were, since once upon a time they were boy friend and girl friend. He still hungers for her and regrets letting her get away. It’s imperative that she not learn the role he is playing, helping Napoletano get Tyne.

This piece is from my novel Rogue Elephants, the fourth novel in my historical tetralogy about the Tosca/Tyne War. Enjoy.

An excerpt from Rogue Elephants

–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–

Peter Napoletano had a problem and he needed Arthur Rhoades’ help solving it.  Late yesterday he’d received a phone call from an associate in New Jersey who had a contact in the Justice Department.  This person claimed that a laptop computer owned by a mutual friend of theirs named LaPone, who has not been heard from in more than a month, was being shopped around Washington by a Portland, Oregon attorney in return for immunity from state prosecution in Oregon and California.  Neither the client’s name nor his whereabouts were mentioned but Peter could connect the dots that Jonathan Tyne was the client trying to save his ass by selling LaPone’s computer to the feds.

Peter had some exposure here, as did Jimmy Tosca but according to the New Jersey caller, some eastern associates of theirs who would remain nameless, had a much bigger exposure unless LaPone had been smart enough to sanitize the computer by erasing certain provocative e-mail messages.  Did Peter have an opinion as to whether he had?

Sorry Peter said, he had simply functioned as a buffer between Jimmy and LaPone.  He had no idea what LaPone’s computer practices were, other than that the man used encryption, and he reminded the caller that all he did was provide Jimmy with a name when, after the untimely deaths of Francesco Tosca and Tony Dellacroce, he was asked for help with the Tyne matter.  Peter had sponsored Jimmy to Tino Cassili, so that Jimmy could pitch the commission on using LaPone to neutralize Tyne, but when the secret vote was taken had advised against Jimmy.  He had argued that the Tyne matter could be dealt with much more cost effectively with a simple open contract.  Jimmy, fearing his credibility was slipping the longer Tyne remained among the living, particularly with his new Russian partners, had been willing to meet the commission’s demand for a rather large up-front payment plus LaPone’s sizable fee, so the five wise men had ignored his advice.  Had the caller contacted Jimmy with this information, was how Peter had left the matter?  Twenty minutes later he received a second call, this one from a very anxious Jimmy Tosca who pleaded with Peter to make this problem go away.

He could think of at least three ways to make such a problem go away; the first was relatively simple but had an unfortunate downside that would cause his partner some personal distress.  He needed to question Catherine Duvall about the exact location of Tyne’s ranch and was afraid that if he confronted the woman directly he would alarm her sufficiently that he would have to hurt her to learn what she knew.  Not that he cared that much about hurting her but right now she was bringing in a great deal of money to the restaurants Rhoades and he jointly owned and he held out a modicum of hope that he could persuade the woman to talk to him without destroying this lucrative arrangement.  He certainly was not above threatening to hurt her and a subtle threat might be sufficient to make her tell what he was convinced she knew about Tyne’s ranch.  But in the final analysis, he would not hesitate to hurt her if she was stubborn and if he hurt her enough, then he would have her killed to conceal having to hurt her.  It was, he rationalized, up to her to determine how much, if any, she was hurt and whether she lived to reflect on the very dangerous game she was playing.  He was convinced she was clueless as to the ways of the real world but intelligent enough to quickly grasp her own self interest when that self interest was made plain and he needed Rhoades to help him help her see exactly why she needed to answer his questions, fully and completely.

The second way was much more complex with not even the possibility the woman would survive.  If he could discover whether Tyne had feelings for the woman he would use her as a lever to compel Tyne to give up LaPone’s computer and then dispose of them both.

The third was probably a waste of time and money but Jimmy was paying so it wasn’t as if it was coming out of his end; he’d increased the surveillance on Duvall to twenty-four seven and Frank Rizzo had assured him that the bug in her apartment, damaged when she’d spilled coffee on her phone, would be replaced not later than end-of-business this very day.

So on a rainy and unusually cold Friday in May, two days before the end of Catherine’s four-week gig performing at Cassiopeia, Peter mentioned to Art that they needed to talk, before Catherine finished her second act.  Art, when he was in town, was still performing the nightly introduction to Catherine’s cabaret so he agreed to meet with Peter right after she began singing.  Peter watched Art render his ritualistic introduction from his usual table and a minute or so later left the dining room and knocked on the door to Art’s private office and entered without waiting for permission.

The office had once been a storeroom but a few years ago Rhoades had remodeled it and now it was an elegant masculine space of mixed purpose with knotty pine planks set at a forty-five degree angle on the walls, oak parquet on the floor, faux but rich looking Persian rugs and an eclectic mixture of both functionally utilitarian and traditional furniture.  The desk was an oversize and massively heavy 19th century antique constructed of solid oak.  It had been made in England and carried around the Horn to San Francisco in a clipper.  Rhoades had found it at an estate auction in Marin County.  It was one of his most prized possessions.  In contrast to it, the modern ergonomic executive desk chair, upholstered in expensive calfskin leather, was almost delicate by comparison and might be something more likely to have been chosen by a high-paid computer nerd.  The file cabinets, six of them, were solid oak.  Not quite in the center of the room was an upholstered sofa and matching occasional chair, both covered in expensive authentic lambskin suede leather, the two separated by a low, vaguely Chinese black-lacquered table while directly in front of the desk were two comfortable upholstered armchairs.

Along one wall was a built-in bar made from Philippine mahogany while the other was Art’s ego wall, fronting his diplomas from the Universities of Michigan and San Francisco and countless photographs of Art schmoozing with celebrities or important California political contacts the man had cultivated over the years.  Peter thought Art’s taste sucked, his own tastes ran to ultra-modern teak and chrome Scandinavian furnishings, and he was a knowledgeable collector of western art and had eight expensively framed examples of Howard Terpning’s long vanished Native Americans, but Art made lots of money for him so he ignored the, in his opinion, absurd furnishings, except for the stylized charcoal caricatures of familiar celebrities – Sinatra, Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas, Sammy, Marilyn, Gable, Dietrich and Bogart, which he liked.  Peter never tired of looking at these.

Tonight Peter was dressed as he almost always was, in a good cashmere jacket and cashmere turtleneck sweater.  He must have had a closet-full of them, as Rhoades could not recall ever seeing the same jacket twice.  The one he was wearing tonight was dove gray, the sweater a pale blue that matched his eyes perfectly.  He must have spent hours each day, Rhoades thought, at least those days that were sunny, working on his tan and the contrast with his thick, almost white hair was striking.  Instead of sitting in the chair in front of Rhoades’ desk Peter sat in the upholstered occasional chair off to one side after first pouring for himself at the bar in the sideboard a glass of Rhoades’ brandy.  He sat with his legs stretched out in front of him, ankles crossed and he pushed the table out of his way to make room for his legs.  Rhoades could see his feet were fashionably bare inside very expensive Italian leather slip-ons.  Rhoades chose Bushmill’s whiskey instead of brandy, and so that he would not have to shout at Peter from behind his desk, sat in the matching sofa opposite Napoletano.  He had to step carefully over the man’s legs, as he made no effort to accommodate Rhoades.

He didn’t have to wait long for Peter to get to the point of the meeting.  After taking a healthy swallow of his brandy Peter said, “I need you to do something for me, tonight, and go along with what I intend to do without making a fuss.”

“Haven’t I always supported you?  Why should tonight be different?”

“Because you may have to watch me hurt someone I think you care for and I don’t want you playing hero.  It would be very unwise.”

“I assume you mean Catherine Duvall, since you said we had to talk before she finished her second act.”

“Yes, that’s whom I mean.”

“Why on earth would you have to hurt Catherine?”

“To get her to tell me what she knows about Tyne.”

“I thought that situation was under control?  Isn’t your man LaPone dealing with Tyne?”

“Yes, except I haven’t heard from him in six weeks.”

“Is that so unusual?”

“It’s not unusual that I haven’t heard from him but no one else has heard from him either, and that is most unusual.  If LaPone doesn’t want to be found no one is going to find him but he always leaves a channel open for us to get messages to him and that channel is also not working.  Worse still, there is evidence the target is alive and well when he shouldn’t be.

“His last e-mail message to me contained photos of a man he thought was Tyne for which he wanted confirmation.  At the time I was flying here from New Jersey and couldn’t take his calls or respond to the e-mail.  Jimmy verified that the photos were of Tyne but he didn’t ask LaPone for any details so unfortunately we don’t know what he learned about the location of Tyne’s ranch.  After I landed and Jimmy filled me in we both made bad assumptions about who was handling this thing.  Because Jimmy authenticated the pictures of Tyne I expected LaPone would make contact with Jimmy and Jimmy thought LaPone would contact me so neither of us followed up with the man.  Now people are calling me and asking where the fuck is LaPone?  I’ve heard nothing and calls to his cell phone and the cell phones of the men who were with him go unanswered or to voice mail and LaPone has not responded to any of my e-mails including that fail-safe channel I mentioned.  That is very uncharacteristic of the man, to say the least.”

“Could Tyne have survived an encounter with LaPone?”

“It’s unlikely but yes, it’s possible.”

“But I thought LaPone and his protégé DiSalvo were the best?”

“They are but Tyne has had similar training and when the shooting starts, anything can happen.”

“What does all this have to do with Catherine?”

“I think she knows how to get to his ranch.”

“When I asked her about Michael Ware, before I knew for sure he was Tyne, she said she was severing her relationship with him because he had AIDS.  Why do you doubt her?”

“When was this?”

“Right after the fire at Di Giorgio’s.”

“You told me she specifically said he did not have AIDS, only that he was HIV positive.  Which is it?”

“What’s the difference?”

“There’s a big fucking difference.  If he’s HIV positive but he does not have AIDS, then that could mean he’s a carrier and might never actually get the disease or it could just mean that he hasn’t got it yet.”

“Well, she said he was HIV positive but I assumed that means he has AIDS.”

“Well that’s a bad assumption so unless she said he actually has AIDS, I think its best to assume only that he has the virus.  That means he isn’t sick, probably has no symptoms and is not physically impaired and if he’s not impaired, then he could have survived an encounter with LaPone.”

Rhoades was silent as he considered carefully his next question.  The question itself scared him but what Peter was hinting at scared him even more.  Finally he said, “Peter, just between you and I and the four walls, is Tyne really worth all this trouble?  I mean Jimmy is old, ancient really and not very effective if half of what I’ve heard is true.  Why are all the really important people paying so much attention to his stupid vendetta against Tyne?”

“You know, the bosses in New York asked that very question when they were discussing whether to authorize the use of LaPone, and I can tell you, it cost Jimmy a bundle.  But since they have it no longer matters whether it was smart or not and worse still, LaPone is now my responsibility since I’m the one who made the case for using him.  If Tyne killed LaPone and the two who were with him, and the longer it is that we don’t hear from him the more likely that’s what happened, and I let Tyne walk away, then sure as shit I’ll get whacked.”  This was a lie; Jimmy was responsible for LaPone but Peter wanted Art’s help and if Art thought Jimmy was the one at risk and not him he would balk at doing anything that would harm the woman; he hated Jimmy with a passion.

“Perhaps they’re on the move, getting out of the country and that’s why you haven’t heard?  As soon as they get where they’re going they’ll contact you.”

“Except they rented a car in Portland that they have not returned and they all had airline reservations that have not been used, cancelled or rescheduled.  They did check out of the motel where they were staying but what that tells me is that they intended to leave the area after dealing with Tyne.”

“And you think Catherine knows something about all this?”

“It’s doubtful that she knows anything about LaPone.  I’ve had her watched round the clock since last Wednesday and her phone in Alameda has been tapped since the first of the year.  I can’t tap her cell phone but any calls she makes using it from her apartment are recorded.  So far there’s been no contact with Tyne, no suspicious activity of any kind, but I do believe she knows how to get to his ranch.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I believe she stayed with him there over Christmas.  You don’t need to know how I know but I intend to confront her tonight with the facts.”

“I wish you wouldn’t hurt her.  I’m not sure I can watch her being hurt.”

“She won’t open her legs for you but you’re still looking out for her.  I don’t understand you.”

“No, but we are good friends.  We… we were… we were more than friends a few years ago, after her divorce.  I think she’ll eventually remember what we had and come around.  But there’s a practical reason too for not hurting her; she makes a lot of money for us.  So far her second act in both Bellevue and Berkeley have sold out every night.  That’s twenty weeks and at that rate, if her popularity continues we’re looking to gross at least $1.6 mil this year from the cover charges alone.  It’s not easy to find someone that consistently popular with the crowds we attract.”

“Yeah, I hear you, that money is sweet but there’s another problem even more important than Tyne, at least in the short run.  LaPone was carrying a laptop computer that has information on it that under no circumstances can be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.  If Tyne did kill LaPone then he has the computer.  And worse still, a contact we have inside the Justice Department got wind that a Portland, Oregon attorney has offered LaPone’s computer to the feds in return for a grant of immunity in Oregon and California.  I have no choice, I have to recover LaPone’s computer as well as get Tyne and I believe she’s the key so how much we make from her act is irrelevant.  Why didn’t you tell me you had the hots for her?  That she won’t put out for you is an even better indication she’s saving it for him.  I’ll fix you up with a Vegas showgirl half her age that will make her look like the worn out pig she is.”

“Well, can’t you question her without hurting her?”

“That really depends on her, how smart she is.  Her career is doing quite well and it could do even better if I became her producer.  I have an interest in a restaurant in Chicago and one in Manhattan where her act would be well received but she has to give him up.  If she will do that we can all stay friends and we can all continue to make money, especially her.  But if she won’t play ball…”

“I can’t believe she’ll betray him for money.  She might not help him but she won’t help you either.”

“Well that’s too bad because I have to get Tyne to leave his ranch and if she won’t listen to reason I think working her over might get him to come here.  That’s why if it comes to it I want you to take some pictures of what I do to her.  In fact, I want you to do exactly what I do.  Don’t worry, I won’t take any pictures of you that show your face but I want you to fuck her, roughly, with no finesse, really hurt her like she was a piece of trailer trash, and so will I.  I’ll go first and when I get tired, then you can fuck her and when you get tired, I’ll fuck her again, all night, and we’ll take lots of pictures… and maybe I’ll let Slick fuck her too.  Hey you said you want to fuck her, this is your chance.  You can do anything you want to her and there isn’t a goddamn thing she can do about it.”

“That means you intend to kill her when we’re finished?”

“No, I want her alive so she can call him to come to her aid but if he won’t come she’ll have told me how to get to his place which is almost as good.”

“But if she’s alive she’ll go to the police?”

“No, I have an ace in the hole that will prevent her from doing that; I know where her mother lives.”

Rhoades was close to open revolt with Peter but his basic instinct for survival kept him from saying what he was thinking, except… “You know Peter, we’ve been friends for a very long time, something like twenty years, and because of that friendship, I think you often take me for granted, make assumptions and take liberties that no one else would, like now… with Catherine Duvall.  So, I’m now going to say something that may offend you but remember we’re friends and also remember you do it to me all the time.”

“This is interesting, Arthur Victor Rhoades, alias Andrew Carr, successful author and entrepreneur, finally standing up on his hind legs and complaining.  You’ve got my full attention.”

“How old is Jennifer now… thirty-five?”

“Thirty-four.”

“And you two have been married for, what… five years?”

“Six, in November.”

“She was a dancer, right?”

“Yes.”

“Does she still dance?”

“Not professionally, but she still has the moves.”

“She works out regularly… stays in shape… because she knows that’s what you like?”

“Yeah, like I said, she still has the moves.  Works out every day.  She’s even thinking of opening a studio.  What’s your point?”

“You guys thinking of having kids?”

“I’ve got two from my first marriage and that’s enough.  Jennifer hasn’t made any noises like she wants to be a mom but it could happen.”

“And if she does, you’ll accommodate her?”

“Yeah, I suppose, if I can’t talk her out of it.”

“Okay, pretend it’s ten years from now.  You’re sixty…”

“Fifty-nine.”

“… and she’s forty-four and she’s looked after herself, still has all those moves, still as gorgeous as she is now, only better, because she’s more mature.  Are you going to kick her to the curb and trade her in for a younger model?  Isn’t that what you did to your first wife?”

“Not if, as you say, she’s gotten better, or at least, stayed as good as she is now.  My first wife got fat and I hated fucking her.”

“Well, if you can see yourself sticking with Jennifer despite her getting older, why can’t you understand why I don’t want to see any harm come to Catherine?”

“You didn’t seem to mind much when Dellacroce disposed of that Oregon cunt for you… what was her name… except you were fucking her.”

“Sharon Robinette, but that was different.”

“How so?”

“Robinette was my mistake and I accept that…. except I couldn’t hurt her… I don’t get off on hurting women.”

“Nor do I… except I do what has to be done.  It’s called taking care of business; something you still need to learn.”

“Yes, well, I don’t want it to be at Catherine’s expense.”

“Except Duvall’s not with you, she’s with him.  It appears that she’s bet the farm on him and that means I can have a go at her.  If she was with you, then I’d be more careful.  I’d still want to talk to her, to find out what she knows but I probably wouldn’t hurt her.  I say probably because I’m under a great deal of pressure to resolve the Tyne matter.  I no longer have the luxury of time.”

Rhoades thought about all this for several moments, then steeled himself and screwed up his courage even further, sighed heavily and said, “No, I won’t do it.  I can’t stop you from doing this but I won’t help you.  She’s very intelligent so I think threatening to hurt her will work just as well but afterwards, when you’ve finished using her, I want to be able to deny that I was part of it.”

“You think she’ll continue to work for us after I’ve dealt with Tyne?”

“She doesn’t know she works for us; she thinks she works for me.”

“Wasn’t she your manager in Bend?”

“Yes, but I never told her you and I are partners in the Bend restaurant.  Hell, Lydia doesn’t even know you are one of the owners.”

“So, if I do this you won’t squawk to Jimmy or the commission as long as your hands are clean.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying, but don’t do it here.  Take her to your place, the Bull Shot, anywhere but here.”

Peter stared at Art for a long time and finally shook his head and said; “You’re just as pussy whipped as Tyne over that cunt, more so since at least he fucked her.  Okay, I’ll try it your way, at least once, but make no mistake; I have to get my hands on that computer so if I have to waste her doing it, you’ll just have to choke it down.  Don’t worry; once I fix you up with a Vegas bimbo with tits out to here you’ll wonder why you wasted even a second on this Duvall cunt.  Hell, I’ll get you two and they can take turns wailing on your cock.”

Rhoades nodded and smiled but he wasn’t really interested in a Las Vegas showgirl, even if her tits were out to here but the thought of Catherine wailing on his cock was something he could wrap his mind around, and thought of, often.

Peter Napoletano decides he has one partner too many

Here’s another look at the incredibly dangerous Peter Napoletano…

Enjoy

An excerpt from Rogue Elephants

–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–

Peter Napoletano was waiting in his office at the Bull Shot Lounge for Art Rhoades to arrive for their hastily arranged meeting and was appalled at how truly stupid Jimmy Tosca could be.  LaPone was searching in Oregon for the elusive Jonathan Tyne and since Jimmy had already paid a hundred and seventy big, he was not being shy about giving LaPone advice.  His latest bit of wisdom was for LaPone to lean on the girlfriend, Catherine Duvall and the ex-wife, Madeleine Valdés-Obregón, to get from them the location of Tyne’s Oregon ranch.  And Peter had to agree, leaning on the Duvall cunt was not a bad idea, he was contemplating doing it himself, but messing with Valdés-Obregón was insanity.  Insanity because she probably didn’t know the location of his ranch since Peter already knew she had never lived there with Tyne.  Worse than insanity for the heat whacking her would bring down upon them.

Peter was convinced Duvall could reveal Tyne’s whereabouts, since he believed she had visited him at his ranch over Christmas past.  And whacking her afterwards would present few problems.  The standard way to eliminate a woman deemed disposable was to give her a hot shot of nearly pure heroin.  Peter had done it several times and LaPone was a master of the technique.  He was never without a kit or two, just in case.  The heroin always contained a trace of lactose – milk sugar – to suggest the person doing the cutting had made a simple mistake.  And in Duvall’s case three phone calls to Montreal, New York and Seattle would guarantee arrest records for using and prostitution dating back to her college days so that when her corpse was found with a needle in its arm everyone would believe she ODed.

Not so Valdés-Obregón.  There is no way anyone would believe that lady used heroin, certainly not her husband who probably had her background checked out before he married her.  Even Jimmy knew that much since he was pressuring LaPone to make her death look like an accident.  In Peter’s opinion this was very bad thinking since staging accidents that would pass police and insurance scrutiny was not LaPone’s long suit.  He would surely make some mistake and if Charles Eversoll, her current husband, even suspected foul play the heat he could bring to bear would be felt from coast to coast.  If Tyne’s ex-wife turned up dead, because of the public death threat someone close to Jimmy had made against Tyne, perhaps Jimmy himself, Jimmy would be a prime suspect.  No way that could just be a coincidence.  And Jimmy was either forgetting or he did not know how much money his brother had invested in Eversoll’s hedge fund, Twenty First Century Fund.  Knowing how smart Francesco was and how dumb it was becoming increasingly apparent Jimmy is, he probably doesn’t know because Francesco didn’t trust him with the information.

That afternoon Peter was scheduled to fly to New York to discuss Jimmy with Tino Cassili.  He was ruminating about what to do about Jimmy when Rhoades knocked on his office door.  Peter invited Art to avail himself of whatever he wanted to drink from the built-in bar and asked him to pour a couple of inches of Dewar’s Signature over ice for him.  Rhoades chose Pellegrino bottled water from the built-in refrigerator.  When he was seated in front of Peter’s ultra-modern glass and stainless-steel desk he said, “You sounded a little upset on the phone.  Is there a problem?”

“The problem is Jimmy.  He’s off the reservation in this Tyne matter and I’m in the middle.  I agreed to run interference for him to the commission but now he’s using me as a conduit to LaPone.  If that isn’t bad enough some of the things he’s telling LaPone to do are incredibly stupid.”

“Can he do that, give LaPone instructions?”

“Yes, because he paid both the commission’s fee and the up-front money LaPone demanded.  I’ve tried telling him LaPone does not need his help but it’s like talking to a wall.  But that’s not what I want to discuss with you.  Last night you said you had some information about Tyne and I meant to follow up with you but this shit with Jimmy keeps happening.  So, what about Tyne?”

“I ran into him the other day at a gas station in Seattle.”

“You’re sure it was Tyne?”

“Absolutely.  I remembered him from Bend and he remembered me.”

“What did you two talk about?”

“Continuing as Catherine Duvall’s accompanist in Bend when we reopen; he again refused and then I asked whether he was seeing Catherine.  He said he has not worked with her professionally since the fire in September.”

“Did you believe him?”

“I tried to trap him by reminding him that as Michael Ware he made a CD with Duvall that she is hawking to restaurant patrons.  He was aware, he said, she had made the CD but denied he was the pianist she worked with.  Said the guy’s name was Felix Merak, someone Catherine knew from her time in musical theatre in New York.  He reminded me of the conversation we had about chemical-based sprinkler systems and pointed out how little Catherine and I paid him to accompany her.  He said in the beginning he thought it would be fun playing for her but it wound up costing more than it was worth.”

“What do you think he meant by that?”

“Possibly that Catherine wasn’t putting out for him as he thought she would.  He had a woman with him in the car, a very attractive Asian woman.  When I asked about Catherine his eyes went reflexively to the woman and he said he has been a little distracted.  That’s how he put it – a little distracted.”

“This woman; was she as good looking as Duvall?”

“Better and at least ten years younger.”

“Do you think he is this Felix Merak?”

“The picture of Merak on the CD jacket is definitely not Tyne.  As far as being able to tell by listening to the music, I can’t.”

“What kind of car was he driving?”

“A Chrysler rental.”

“You’re sure it was a rental?”

“Yep, I’m certain, it had an Enterprise sticker on the rear bumper.”

“A rental, eh; that means he flew to Seattle, probably from Redmond or Portland on either American Eagle or Southwest.  Did you write down the license plate number?”

“No, when I saw it was a rental I figured it was a waste of time.”

“Not true.  With the license number I could get information on his contract and maybe learn when he’s flying back to Oregon.  It would be easier with the plate number but if he flew commercial I can get his schedule, but if this sort of thing ever happens again, write down the fucking plate number.”

“It’s possible we might see him in Redmond or Bend, maybe even here in Berkeley in the coming days.  When I asked how long he was staying he said something vague about being there for a couple of days so I comped him the cover and dinner for two, good in any of our restaurants.  I gave him one of my business cards and told him to make a reservation and then hand the card to the maître ď.”

“Did he say whether he would use it?”

“No but he thanked me and put the card in his pocket.  I’ll let you know if he makes a reservation.”

“That was good thinking.  Did you ask where he was staying?”

“I did; he said at a hotel downtown but he would not say which one.”

“Did he say why he was in Seattle?”

“Some technical conference at UW, something like YAPC, whatever that is?”

Peter entered YAPC in the Google search field in his browser and learned that YAPC was an annual Perl conference this year held at the University of Washington April 5-7 in Seattle.  He searched in the YAPC page for Tyne and then Ware and discovered that M. Ware was scheduled to present a paper entitled, Using the Perl Debugger to Debug Apache mod-perl in Real-time the second day of the conference.

“Was this woman a nerd?”

“If she was she’s the best looking nerd I’ve ever seen.  Long black hair, huge dark eyes, nice tits and the little skirt she was wearing barely covered her jewels.”

“You saw a lot for a casual encounter at a gas station?”

“Well, from where I was standing the view of her in the passenger seat couldn’t have been better and naturally I was curious.”

“Un-huh; checked out the quiff okay but couldn’t get the goddamn plate number.”

“I mentioned to Catherine that I had seen him.  She was interested until I told her he had again declined our Bend offer.  After that she couldn’t have been more indifferent.  She said she has not seen him since he was released from the hospital, after the fire.”

“You mean after that fiasco with Nicky Parma?”

“Yeah, that’s what put him in the hospital.”

“And the broad you were shagging Dellacroce had to deal with… all because you couldn’t operate a fuckin’ answering machine.”

“Well, who uses an answering machine any more?  There are services for that… all the phone companies have them.”

“Are you fucking her?”

“No but not for want of trying.  She keeps turning me down even when I made it pretty clear to her that she would’ve had a contract a lot sooner if she’d been a little friendlier.”

“Stupid bitch.  How about the staff?  Do you know if any of them are fucking her?”

“I don’t see her hanging out with any of them and I’ve never seen her leave with anyone.”

“Is she a dyke?”

“I suppose that’s a possibility – or that she’s bi – but I think there was a man in Bend she was seeing and the pianist she came to Bend with was fucking her, of that I’m sure because he bragged about it.”  Here Art hesitated and looked away for a moment and Peter thought he intended to say more but was holding back for some reason.  Finally he said, “I didn’t tell you this when we hired her but I knew her before… some years ago… in ‘93, if I recall…”

“You mean you were fuckin’ her then but you’re not fuckin’ her now.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yeah… that’s what I’m saying.  I met her at a writers’ workshop at USF, just after I published my second novel.  She knew me back then as Andrew Carr, the name, my pseudonym, I write under.  She was recently divorced and feeling sorry for herself so… I dazzled her with my footwork and we had a thing.”

“Art, she was old even then.  She must have been pushing forty?”

“Well, yes… but she has a great body, does these crazy-intense workouts, just like you, she’s smart and pretty good in the sack…”

“No tits.”

“They’re small, sure, but she has great nipples… and…”

“Yes, and?”

“I just liked fucking her.”

“She suck your dick?”

“Man, did she ever.  One of the best I’ve ever had.”

“So what ended it?”

“She has this bourgeois notion about commitment…”

“She actually expected you to marry her?”

“No, but she expected me to keep it exclusive with her.  It ended when she caught me with another woman… and yeah, a woman younger than her.  So… it didn’t last long but there’s no question in my mind she likes men.  I’ve never seen her being cozy with any women.”

“So whom is she saving it for?  Apparently someone not connected with what she does for a living.  That could be Tyne or some other person we don’t know about.”

“I mentioned the woman Tyne was with to her and there was no reaction.”

“Or there was and you didn’t pick up on it.  It could have been something as subtle as a change in the width of her pupils and if you weren’t watching for it you could have missed it.”

“Yes, that is possible.”

“Write down her address in California.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Put a watch on her.  If she’s seeing him on the q.t., I’ll find out.”

“You wouldn’t hurt her would you?  I mean, she’s a nice broad and her act is sold out every night.  It would be a shame to ruin that,” his voice rising in alarm.

“Relax; I’m just going to watch her, to see whether Tyne is seeing her.”

Rhoades went to Peter’s desk and wrote down Catherine’s address on one of his business cards.  He extended the card to Napoletano who ignored it so he set it on the corner of his desk.  Napoletano finished his Scotch and then rose to replenish his glass and when he returned to his chair pocketed the card.

“I’ve been meaning to discuss something else with you and this is as good a time as any.  How familiar are you with our limited partnership agreements, specifically the provisions for succession and dissolution of partnership assets if a partner dies?”

“I know we included language to prevent an estate from forcing us to liquidate after the death of a partner.  If I remember correctly Francesco and Jimmy were both very insistent that the agreements have that language, I suspect because they secretly trusted each other least of all.”

“Yes, well I got to thinking about how Jimmy is the only Tosca left…”

“Aren’t you forgetting Sarah?”

“I should have said Jimmy is the only male Tosca left besides which Sarah knows absolutely nothing about Francesco’s investment holdings.  He never trusted her to keep her mouth shut so he told her almost nothing about what he was doing.  Before her heart attack she was the queen bee of all the guinea broads who moved out here from New York and settled in San Leandro and Castro Valley.  He knew she talked too much, couldn’t get her to stop so he told her nothing.

“Anyway, as I said I got curious so I had my attorney review the Blue Flame limited partnership agreements and he confirmed what I suspected.”

“And what was that?”

“That you and I, as surviving partners, would own on a pro rata basis Saratoga’s holdings… if and when Jimmy passes… that is, if we don’t liquidate the underlying assets.  If we did liquidate we would have to pay to the two estates the dollar value of their realized holdings.”

“Jimmy must have a will?”

“He does but he told me that after his wife died he changed it to leave everything to Sarah and Junior.”

“Which means Sarah inherits everything.”

“You know, Sarah would think she died and went to heaven if we sold off one of the limited partnerships, say that Arizona strip mall that we can’t seem to keep fully occupied, and gave her, say a million and paid the taxes on the distribution.  She would go off on one of her extended cruises and in a year or two probably succumb to another heart attack at which time you and I would own everything.  In fact, we could make up a story that in order to pay her the money and resolve some pending estate tax issues she would have to sign over the rights to the other limited partnerships or they would have to be sold off at fire-sale prices to avoid paying the deferred taxes.  She would look at the million tax-free bird in the hand versus the questionable future likelihood of realizing anything from the sale of the other assets, especially if you explained how much in taxes we would have to pay if we liquidated early, and take the money and run.”

“The only problem with that scenario is that Jimmy is as healthy as a horse.  Sarah may not have many years left but the same can’t be said about Jimmy.”

“Yeah, that is a problem… isn’t it?”

Rhoades stared at him for a moment fully comprehending what Peter was hinting at and finally said, “Regicide is a very, very dangerous exercise frowned on in the extreme by the other crowned heads.  Jimmy may not be the best godfather but he’s our godfather and he has a great many friends back east who would take a very dim view of his untimely passing, particularly if it wasn’t by natural causes.  If the job were done by a known associate the details would eventually get back to Jimmy’s friends who would send their own messengers to demonstrate that regicide doesn’t pay.”

“I wasn’t thinking of using a known associate.”

“You’re not thinking of Tyne, are you?  Peter, he’s just a lucky amateur whose days are numbered.  When LaPone finds him that will be the last we will ever hear of Mr. Tyne.”

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right but wouldn’t it be slick if before LaPone finished off Tyne, Tyne could solve our problem with Jimmy?  Jimmy’s friends would wring their hands and cluck their tongues but with Tyne disposed of life would go on and as a bonus, I would take over the Tosca businesses in the Bay Area.”

“You know that for a fact?”

“Yeah, with Dellacroce gone I’m the logical choice.  I know more about what’s going on than anyone other that Donnie Apia and he and I go way back, in fact, we made our bones together.  He knows he could not run things without Jimmy to tell him what to do and he would transfer that loyalty to me if he knew he would always be the number two.”

“Well, I wish you luck but that is too risky for me.  If it’s all the same to you, I don’t want any part of getting Tyne to whack Jimmy.”

“But you will cooperate with me regarding the limited partnerships?”

“Of course, on that you can be sure we are of one mind.  I just can’t get involved in any of these operational matters.  Indeed, I would lose my usefulness to all concerned if I ever strayed from doing anything other than managing Blue Flame’s investments.”

Peter refilled Rhoades’ glass and his own and they clicked glasses and drank and Peter said, “Here’s to fewer partners and none named Tosca.”

Buy your next new car with a reverse auction

Normally, the only thing visitors to this site will see is my fiction, fragments or whole chapters of my novels Affirmative Action and Rogue Elephants, or my short story When Devil’s Advocacy Fails… Bad Things Happen.  On rare occasions I’ve written a non–fiction piece that has some tie-in, albeit in some cases only remotely with the fiction prose.  This post is one of those non-fiction pieces:

How to buy a new car using a reverse auction process

and the tie-in is that it was so successful I’m trying to figure out how to fictionalize it into one of my novels.  But while I’m intuiting that I thought I’d post it for others to use as they see fit.  I’m sure many of my readers have conducted reverse auctions so feel free to comment.

New cars are commodities and reverse auctions are made for buying commodities.  What makes a new car a commodity is that every dealer that sells the make and model of your choice has exactly the same car.  That means the price the dealer is willing to sell the car for is the most important buying issue.  After you own the car you can take it anywhere you choose for service.

Flash update: September 1, 2016, US auto sales fall 4 percent in August

What is a reverse auction?  It’s just a fancy term for many sellers chasing a single buyer.  When you bid on a commodity, in other words, when you state what you are willing to pay, that is an auction and you are setting a floor under the transaction price.  But when you refuse to reveal what you are willing to pay and instead ask multiple sellers what they are willing to sell the commodity for, you are conducting a reverse auction.  The sellers are competing for your business and depending upon the current state of the market for the commodity you are attempting to buy, you’re likely to get the best price, a price you would never get using any other method.  It’s also very easy to execute without ever visiting the seller.  Here’s what I just did to buy a new Honda.

I live on a remote ranch thirty miles from the nearest city of any size (25,000 permanent residents, another 15,000 seasonal college students) and that city does not have a Honda dealer.  So, I selected eight within 150 miles.  I knew exactly the model I wanted to buy so I was able to conduct the reverse auction from my desk by email and telephone.  And to sweeten the already sweet deal I negotiated, the winning dealer delivered the car to me so that I did not have to make a 300-mile round trip.  You can too.  Here’s how.

First, determine exactly what you want to buy.  I can’t tell you how to do that but if you visit dealerships to inspect and test drive the product, do not buy no matter what deal you are offered.  You can almost certainly do better by executing a reverse auction.

Next, determine how you intend to pay for the car.  If you intend to finance, get pre-qualified first from a lender, not a car dealer.  Once you have a firm offer to finance the purchase you can better compare what financing the dealer might be offering but never, never, never discuss financing with a car dealer before you have his best offer to sell the car.

Next, locate a selection of dealers from whom you are willing to buy.  This is the second new car I purchased with a reverse auction so I chose to get bids from eight.  The first time I purchased a new car with a reverse auction was in 2010 and I obtained bids from 22 dealers, which was overkill and too unwieldy.  Research the dealers within the range you are willing to travel who sell the car you want to buy and select 6-10.  Hint: try Google maps and search on car dealers in your area.

Next, if you can, get the email address of the Internet Sales Manager at each dealership.  I say if you can because most dealerships with an online presence do not disclose email addresses but instead, provide a contact form for customers to use to request price information, what most call an ePrice.  You might be able to get that address by calling the dealership and asking for it but don’t be surprised if they insist you use the online contact form.  Using the contact form will probably not get you the best price in the first set of bids you receive but this isn’t a one-round process so if you are patient and persistent, sooner or later you will smoke out better bids from each dealer even those that insist you use those forms.  And do provide contact information when you fill out the form.  How else are they going to contact you and leaving out your telephone number or email address will only convince them that you are a looky-loo.

Whether they call you on the phone or email you and press you to buy today, right now, this minute, and can you come into the dealership today, your answer is to politely say you are waiting until you receive all of the bids you requested.

I used the contact forms at seven of the eight on my list and to each, even to the one dealer for whom I had the email address of a real person, the approach was the same.  I entered all my contact information and then in the comment box I included the following text, which I pasted from my word processing software:

We intend to buy in August a new (year, make and model go here) for cash.  Prefer (preferred color(s) go here) but color not critical.  Am querying all dealers within 150 miles of (your zip goes here).  Will buy from dealer with lowest price (reverse auction).  Please, no extended warranties, scotch guarding, undercoating or any other dealer add-on.  Please respond with best complete itemized out-the-door price below MSRP.

Then I sat back and waited for the responses.

Now you should be aware that timing has a lot to do with getting the best price on a new car.  Every dealer has month and quarter targets he must meet in order to maintain the pricing relationship he has with the manufacturer.  If he misses those targets the prices he pays for inventory next month or next quarter are very likely to be higher than those in his current inventory.  So month-end, quarter-end and year-end auctions will always get you better prices than those conducted earlier in any given period.  I chose the Monday of the last full week in August to begin my reverse auction.  Be aware that sales people often take days off during the week so be prepared for some delay after the first set of bids are in hand for the second round.

Speaking of the price the dealer pays for inventory, forget about the notion of discovering the invoice price of the car you wish to buy and negotiating up from that price.  That’s exactly what they want you to do.  Any invoice price published on the web is a scam orchestrated by the car manufacturers to convince you that you can out-negotiate a car dealer.  Forget it.  They are the pros and unless you buy and sell cars every day as a business, you are an amateur, a sheep waiting to be fleeced.  You can’t out-negotiate them unless you use a reverse auction.  Any published invoice price on the net is bogus and car buying sites that will connect you with a dealer willing to sell you a car at $129 or $200 or whatever over invoice are getting a kick-back from the dealer if you buy based on that referral.  The referrer makes money and the dealer makes money even if he sells you the car at the so-called invoice price, because you are so smart and such a great negotiator, so anything over the invoice price is gravy.  No merchant in his right mind is going to disclose the price he pays for inventory.  If you think otherwise, well, disregard my advice and experience and do your own thing, and best of luck.

After the first round of bids are in – and now you will have email addresses of real persons – send a polite email to all listing the highest and lowest bids without disclosing the names of any of the bidders, ask them if they are willing to submit another bid and sit back and wait for the second round.  You can, of course, do more than two rounds but very likely two is all you will need and if you try a third and subsequent rounds, you’ll only piss them off.  Be polite and after you receive each bid, thank the person and say you will get back to him when all bids have been received.  And don’t be afraid to reveal in general what you are doing.  I used the term reverse auction and I disclosed right up front that I was soliciting bids from multiple dealers.  If any refuse to participate, chose another from your list of dealers within your area.  Now relax and be patient.  You might even let a day or two go by before picking the deal you want to accept.  Try to have a backup in case the first dealer backs out for any reason.  Most offers won’t be bait and switch but some might say the deal they offered was only good for 24 hours and now the deal is… obviously higher than that first quote.  The only real power you have is your willingness to walk away from the deal and remember; the closer to the end of the period the more likely you are to receive super-low pricing.  Remember too, your goal is to get the best price available at this time and in this place.  What someone else might achieve in some other market is not relevant to you.  I bought a new Honda at 7% below MSRP and I don’t believe I could have done better using any other method.  Good luck and feel free to comment, either with your own experience using reverse auction or to critique my technique.

Flash update: September 1, 2016, US auto sales fall 4 percent in August

Read this article if you are in the market for a new vehicle, especially a new car. This may be the best opportunity in years to buy a new Honda Accord or Civic or a new Acura (or, your favorite marque). Sales of SUV’s are up but sales of cars are down – way down. Do your research and then buy a new car at the end of September 2016 using a reverse auction. September is a good buying opportunity, because it is a quarter-ending month, but so will be the three remaining months of 2016. End-of-year should be a killer buying opportunity. Go get ’em.

Jonathan Tyne’s formidable opposition

What Jonathan Tyne is up against

This excerpt from Rogue Elephants shows what Jonathan Tyne is up against.  It needs no further explanation from me; the piece stands on its own.  Enjoy.

–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–

Peter Napoletano’s patience with Jimmy Tosca’s vendetta against Jonathan Tyne had just about run out its string. What happened to Tyne, whether he lived or died, was of no consequence to Peter. Jimmy wanted Tyne dead, had paid good money to make it happen and Peter had done his part but now Jimmy was involving other people. Tyne’s girlfriend for one, who also was of no consequence to Peter but also his ex-wife, who was now the wife of someone who did matter to Peter and should matter to Jimmy if he had half a brain. Jimmy wanted Tyne dead, yesterday, and since Tyne was proving difficult to locate, Jimmy was getting impatient and was beginning to act irrationally and Peter, who had sponsored Jimmy to the commission, had vouched for him that he was a serious man to be taken seriously, was in the middle of what promised to be a clusterfuck of truly Biblical proportions. Or so Peter thought as he reviewed for the sixth or seventh time the e-mails passing through his computer between Jimmy and Rocco LaPone.

. . .

At forty-nine Peter Anthony Napoletano was at the height of his physical and sexual vigor. Tanned and incredibly strong – power-lifter strong – at five-nine, two hundred five pounds he could bench press two-fifty in sets of five and dead lift twice his body weight. He also swam, not in the 30 by 50 foot pool favored by his guests at his walled estate in the Oakland Hills, but in a separate device called an Endless pool, something like a water-borne treadmill capable of generating a 3 mph current. He did a pretty decent crawl for an hour at least three times per week at the fastest setting. Married five years to Jennifer, a statuesque former Las Vegas showgirl fifteen years his junior, he boasted to his drinking pals he could keep her satisfied without any pharmaceutical help, whenever they commented, politely and respectfully of course, what a lucky guy he was to have such a drop-dead gorgeous wife. Peter was born blond and at forty had gone prematurely gray. Now, his hair almost white but still thick, Jennifer often teased him that he looked the way John Kennedy would have looked had he lived. Peter’s response was always the same: that Kennedy never looked as good on his best day.

Peter, a made guy since age twenty-nine, worked for and was the most important protégé of Tino Cassili, the boss of New Jersey.  Born in “Little Italy” in the Bronx walking distance from Fordham University, he attended Fordham Prep and then the university on a football scholarship.  Tino Cassili became his benefactor after his father’s death when Peter was fourteen.  Peter never knew exactly what his father did for Mr. Cassili but after his father died in a construction accident, Cassili acted as if he was somehow responsible for him.  His father fell four stories to his death at a construction high-rise, which made no sense to Peter since whatever else he was, his father was not a construction worker.

Peter studied statistics and probability at Fordham and was a three-year starter for the Rams at offensive right guard.  He was a ferocious blocker and in his senior year was named to the AP’s Little All-America team, which was doubly impressive since he was a straight-A student.  Too small for the NFL even as a fullback, he tried his hand at semi-pro ball.  In 1972 and 1973 he played for the New England Colonials, a team affiliated with the Boston Patriots, of the short-lived Atlantic Coast Football League until his second concussion in the ‘73 league championship game ended his playing career.  In that game the Colonials beat the Bridgeport Jets 41 to 17 but Peter had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter.  It was then, organized sports behind him, that he went to work for Tino Cassili.  Cassili put up fifty grand and taught Peter the basics of being a shylock.  Always a quick study, in five years Peter had run that seed money up to a half-million dollar book.  It was time, so Cassili reasoned, to either induct him into the family or put him to work in some legitimate place in his vast enterprises.  Everyone knew that the ultimate test was whether a soldier would whack someone if his superior ordered him to do it.  That year an opportunity presented itself that set Napoletano on his life’s path.  Peter never looked back.

He killed his first man and became “made” – made his bones as it were – on the order of one of Cassili’s top lieutenants, the underboss Peter actually worked for, as a test of his courage and commitment.  The guy’s mistress had cheated on him with another made guy, the penalty for which posed a serious problem for all concerned since to kill a made member without permission was forbidden.  The offended mobster wanted the harshest retribution meted out.  He wanted the guy’s dick and balls to rub the babe’s nose in, force her to take the bloody severed organ in her mouth before he kicked her ass and turned her out on the street.  Cassili was agreeable but he also wanted to see whether Peter had the stones to do the hit.  If he couldn’t the cuckold would whack them both on the widely held assumption that an undercover cop or potential informer would never kill a guy no matter who ordered the hit.  He might talk about it, however; talk about what he was asked to do.

As mediator Cassili arranged a meet, ostensibly to “work things out.”  Peter sucker punched the guy and they held him down while he separated him from his manhood.  Peter grasped the man’s penis and testicles in his hand, stretched them out and with one swipe with an incredibly sharp knife made the guy a eunuch.  Worse than a eunuch, he was bleeding like a stuck pig and would have bled to death had not Peter ended his agony with a backhanded swipe aimed at his jugular.  Peter preferred the knife and the exercise was as much a learning experience for him as it was a test of his bonafides.  Over the years he did four more men with that throat slash and one woman with an equally gruesome mutilation of her sexual organs.  Peter wasn’t a sicko, he didn’t relish giving pain but he wanted information from the woman’s husband and the fastest, surest way to get it was to make the guy watch what he did to his wife.

Over the nearly two decades since that seminal undertaking Peter developed two specialties that proved invaluable to the Cassili organization.  The first was an uncanny knack for recruiting professional assassins; all of Peter’s men as they came to be known were good but six in the last dozen years were without peer.  These were on call to any Cassili affiliate that had the price of admission.  Not only was the deployment of these men lucrative but it gradually allowed Cassili to become the arbiter of who got whacked, not just in New Jersey but on both coasts as well as Chicago and Las Vegas.  Peter’s latest was a man named LaPone, a freelancer currently on assignment in Oregon, hunting the elusive Jonathan Tyne.

His second was a logistical masterstroke even more valuable to Cassili and friends; a money laundering pipeline to a bank he established in the Caymans.  The key component was a bottled water plant he owned in Pennsylvania.  The plant shipped tons of bottled water to the West Indies and secreted within many of the pallets were bundles of cash.  To get the cash to the bottling plant Peter used his own trucks.  He owned six trucking companies in the three West-coast states as well as financial stakes in three companies that supplied materials to the plant.  From Advanced Plastics Research, Inc., in Beaverton, Oregon the plant bought drums of PETE pellets, polyethylene terephthalate, used to make unbreakable polycarbonate bottles.  From Aurora Paper in Menlo Park, California the plant purchased its paper packaging products and from Superior Industrial Supply of Tacoma, Washington, sulfur dioxide used to disinfect and sanitize the bottling equipment.  All nine companies were profitable in their own right but it was their ability to conceal large quantities of cash in the trucks carrying supplies to the water plant that made them invaluable.  Peter took a commission from each phase of the pipeline some of which he shared with Cassili.  He was, without question Cassili’s most profitable money-maker.  For the Toscas he also took a cut from the investments made with the laundered money coming back into the country from his bank since he had connected them with his financial partner, Arthur Rhoades.

Ostensibly Peter had been sent west to “round off the corners” to help the Toscas make a success of the wholesale cocaine distribution business.  His real mandate was to look after Cassili’s interest, to make sure Tino got an honest count.  For thirty points Cassili had advanced Francesco and Jimmy Tosca five million bucks to get their fledgeling operation off the ground.  Peter had overseen the early negotiations with the Sinaloa cartel, the source of the cocaine and, of course, controlled getting the cash offshore.  With Arthur Rhoades he packaged real estate investment partnerships that made all of them millionaires many times over.  Rhoades was worth at least 300 million while Peter’s net worth was somewhere between forty and fifty million.  Tino Cassili, at seventy, was a billionaire and owed much of his wealth to Peter Napoletano.

. . .

Peter was waiting in his office at the Bull Shot Lounge for Art Rhoades to arrive for their hastily arranged meeting and was appalled at how truly stupid Jimmy could be.  LaPone was searching in Oregon for the elusive Jonathan Tyne and since Jimmy had already paid a hundred and seventy big, he was not being shy about giving LaPone advice.  His latest bit of wisdom was for LaPone to lean on the girlfriend, Catherine Duvall and the ex-wife, Madeleine Valdés-Obregón, to get from them the location of Tyne’s Oregon ranch.  And Peter had to agree, leaning on the Duvall cunt was not a bad idea, he was contemplating doing it himself, but messing with Valdés-Obregón was insanity.  Insanity because she probably didn’t know the location of his ranch since Peter already knew she had never lived there with Tyne.  Worse than insanity for the heat whacking her would bring down upon them.

Peter was convinced Duvall could reveal Tyne’s whereabouts, since he believed she had visited him at his ranch over Christmas past.  And whacking her afterwards would present few problems.  The standard way to eliminate a woman deemed disposable was to give her a hot shot of nearly pure heroin.  Peter had done it several times and LaPone was a master of the technique.  He was never without a kit or two, just in case.  The heroin always contained a trace of lactose – milk sugar – to suggest the person doing the cutting had made a simple mistake.  And in Duvall’s case three phone calls to Montreal, New York and Seattle would guarantee arrest records for using and prostitution dating back to her college days so that when her corpse was found with a needle in its arm everyone would believe she ODed.

Not so Valdés-Obregón.  There is no way anyone would believe that lady used heroin, certainly not her husband who probably had her background checked out before he married her.  Even Jimmy knew that much since he was pressuring LaPone to make her death look like an accident.  In Peter’s opinion this was very bad thinking since staging accidents that would pass police and insurance scrutiny was not LaPone’s long suit.  He would surely make some mistake and if Charles Eversoll, her current husband, even suspected foul play the heat he could bring to bear would be felt from coast to coast.  If Tyne’s ex-wife turned up dead, because of the public death threat someone close to Jimmy had made against Tyne, perhaps Jimmy himself, Jimmy would be a prime suspect.  No way that could just be a coincidence.  And Jimmy was either forgetting or he did not know how much money his brother had invested in Eversoll’s hedge fund, Twenty First Century Fund.  Knowing how smart Francesco was and how dumb it was becoming increasingly apparent Jimmy is, he probably doesn’t know because Francesco didn’t trust him with the information.

That afternoon Peter was scheduled to fly to New York to discuss Jimmy with Tino Cassili.  He was ruminating about what to do about Jimmy when Rhoades knocked on his office door.  Peter invited Art to avail himself of whatever he wanted to drink from the built-in bar and asked him to pour a couple of inches of Dewar’s Signature over ice for him.  Rhoades chose Pellegrino bottled water from the built-in refrigerator.  When he was seated in front of Peter’s ultra-modern glass and stainless-steel desk he said, “You sounded a little upset on the phone.  Is there a problem?”

“The problem is Jimmy.  He’s off the reservation in this Tyne matter and I’m in the middle.  I agreed to run interference for him to the commission but now he’s using me as a conduit to LaPone.  If that isn’t bad enough some of the things he’s telling LaPone to do are incredibly stupid.”

“Can he do that, give LaPone instructions?”

“Yes, because he paid both the commission’s fee and the up-front money LaPone demanded.  I’ve tried telling him LaPone does not need his help but it’s like talking to a wall.  But that’s not what I want to discuss with you.  Last night you said you had some information about Tyne and I meant to follow up with you but this shit with Jimmy keeps happening.  So, what about Tyne?”

“I ran into him the other day at a gas station in Seattle.”

“You’re sure it was Tyne?”

“Absolutely.  I remembered him from Bend and he remembered me.”

“What did you two talk about?”

“Continuing as Catherine Duvall’s accompanist in Bend when we reopen; he again refused and then I asked whether he was seeing Catherine.  He said he has not worked with her professionally since the fire in September.”

“Did you believe him?”

“I tried to trap him by reminding him that as Michael Ware he made a CD with Duvall that she is hawking to restaurant patrons. He was aware, he said, she had made the CD but denied he was the pianist she worked with. Said his name was Felix Merak, someone Catherine knew from her time in musical theatre in New York. He reminded me of the conversation we had about chemical-based sprinkler systems and pointed out how little Catherine and I paid him to accompany her. He said in the beginning he thought it would be fun playing for her but it wound up costing more than it was worth.”

“What do you think he meant by that?”

“Possibly that Catherine wasn’t putting out for him as he thought she would. He had a woman with him in the car, a very attractive Asian woman. When I asked about Catherine his eyes went reflexively to the woman and he said he has been a little distracted. That’s how he put it – a little distracted.”

“This woman; was she as good looking as Duvall?”

“Better and at least ten years younger.”

“Do you think he is this Felix Merak?”

“The picture of Merak on the CD jacket is definitely not Tyne. As far as being able to tell by listening to the music, I can’t.”

“What kind of car was he driving?”

“A Chrysler rental.”

“You’re sure it was a rental?”

“Yep, I’m certain, it had an Enterprise sticker on the rear bumper.”

“A rental, eh; that means he flew to Seattle, probably from Redmond or Portland on either American Eagle or Southwest.  Did you write down the license plate number?”

“No, when I saw it was a rental I figured it was a waste of time.”

“Not true.  With the license number I could get information on his contract and maybe learn when he’s flying back to Oregon.  It would be easier with the plate number but if he flew commercial I can get his schedule, but if this sort of thing ever happens again, write down the fucking plate number.”

“It’s possible we might see him in Redmond or Bend, maybe even here in Berkeley in the coming days.  When I asked how long he was staying he said something vague about being there for a couple of days so I comped him the cover and dinner for two, good in any of our restaurants.  I gave him one of my business cards and told him to make a reservation and then hand the card to the maitre d.”

“Did he say whether he would use it?”

“No but he thanked me and put the card in his pocket.  I’ll let you know if he makes a reservation.”

“That was good thinking.  Did you ask where he was staying?”

“I did; he said at a hotel downtown but he would not say which one.”

“Did he say why he was in Seattle?”

“Some technical conference at UW, something like YAPC, whatever that is?”

Peter entered YAPC in the Google search field in his browser and learned that YAPC was an annual Perl conference this year held at the University of Washington April 5-7 in Seattle.  He searched in the YAPC page for Tyne and then Ware and discovered that M. Ware was scheduled to present a paper entitled, Using the Perl Debugger to Debug Apache mod-perl in Real-time the second day of the conference.

“Was this woman a nerd?”

“If she was she’s the best looking nerd I’ve ever seen.  Long black hair, huge dark eyes, nice tits and the little skirt she was wearing barely covered her jewels.”

“You saw a lot for a casual encounter at a gas station?”

“Well, from where I was standing the view of her in the passenger seat couldn’t have been better and naturally I was curious.”

“Un-huh; checked out the quiff okay but couldn’t get the goddamn plate number.”

“I mentioned to Catherine that I had seen him. She was interested until I told her he had again declined our Bend offer.  After that she couldn’t have been more indifferent. She said she has not seen him since he was released from the hospital, after the fire.”

“You mean after that fiasco with Nicky Parma?”

“Yeah, that’s what put him in the hospital.”

“And the broad you were shagging Dellacroce had to deal with… all because you couldn’t operate a fuckin’ answering machine.”

“Well, who uses an answering machine any more? There are services for that… all the phone companies have them.”

“Are you fucking her?”

“No but not for want of trying.  She keeps turning me down even when I made it pretty clear to her that she would’ve had a contract a lot sooner if she’d been a little friendlier.”

“Stupid bitch.  How about the staff?  Do you know if any of them are fucking her?”

“I don’t see her hanging out with any of them and I’ve never seen her leave with anyone.”

“Is she a dyke?”

“I suppose that’s a possibility – or that she’s bi – but I think there was a man in Bend she was seeing and the pianist she came to Bend with was fucking her, of that I’m sure because he bragged about it.”  Here Art hesitated and looked away for a moment and Peter thought he intended to say more but was holding back for some reason.  Finally he said, “I didn’t tell you this when we hired her but I knew her before… some years ago… in ‘93, if I recall…”

“You mean you were fuckin’ her then but you’re not fuckin’ her now.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yeah… that’s what I’m saying.  I met her at a writers’ workshop at USF, just after I published my second novel.  She knew me back then as Andrew Carr, the name, my pseudonym, I write under.  She was recently divorced and feeling sorry for herself so… I dazzled her with my footwork and we had a thing.”

“Art, she was old even then.  She must have been pushing forty?”

“Well, yes… but she has a great body, does these crazy-intense workouts, just like you, she’s smart and pretty good in the sack…”

“No tits.”

“They’re small, sure, but she has great nipples… and…”

“Yes, and?”

“I just liked fucking her.”

“She suck your dick?”

“Man, did she ever.  One of the best I’ve ever had.”

“So what ended it?”

“She has this bourgeois notion about commitment…”

“She actually expected you to marry her?”

“No, but she expected me to keep it exclusive with her.  It ended when she caught me with another woman… and yeah, a woman younger than her.  So… it didn’t last long but there’s no question in my mind she likes men.  I’ve never seen her being cozy with any women.”

“So whom is she saving it for?  Apparently someone not connected with what she does for a living.  That could be Tyne or some other person we don’t know about.”

“I mentioned the woman Tyne was with to her and there was no reaction.”

“Or there was and you didn’t pick up on it.  It could have been something as subtle as a change in the width of her pupils and if you weren’t watching for it you could have missed it.”

“Yes, that is possible.”

“Write down her address in California.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Put a watch on her.  If she’s seeing him on the q.t., I’ll find out.”

“You wouldn’t hurt her would you?  I mean, she’s a nice broad and her act is sold out every night.  It would be a shame to ruin that,” his voice rising in alarm.

“Relax; I’m just going to watch her, to see whether Tyne is seeing her.”

Rhoades went to Peter’s desk and wrote down Catherine’s address on one of his business cards.  He extended the card to Napoletano who ignored it so he set it on the corner of his desk.  Napoletano finished his Scotch and then rose to replenish his glass and when he returned to his chair pocketed the card.

“I’ve been meaning to discuss something else with you and this is as good a time as any.  How familiar are you with our limited partnership agreements, specifically the provisions for succession and dissolution of partnership assets if a partner dies?”

“I know we included language to prevent an estate from forcing us to liquidate partnership assets if a partner should die.  If I remember correctly Francesco and Jimmy were both very insistent that the agreements have that language, I suspect because they secretly trusted each other least of all.”

“Yes, well I got to thinking about how Jimmy is the only Tosca left…”

“Aren’t you forgetting Sarah?”

“I should have said Jimmy is the only male Tosca left besides which Sarah knows absolutely nothing about Francesco’s investment holdings.  He never trusted her to keep her mouth shut so he told her almost nothing about what he was doing.  Before her heart attack she was the queen bee of all the guinea broads who moved out here from New York and settled in San Leandro and Castro Valley.  He knew she talked too much, couldn’t get her to stop so he told her nothing.

“Anyway, as I said I got curious so I had my attorney review the Blue Flame limited partnership agreements and he confirmed what I suspected.”

“And what was that?”

“That you and I, as surviving partners, would own on a pro rata basis Saratoga’s holdings… if and when Jimmy passes… that is, if we don’t liquidate the underlying assets.  If we did liquidate we would have to pay to the two estates the dollar value of their realized holdings.”

“Jimmy must have a will?”

“He does but he told me that after his wife died he changed it to leave everything to Sarah and Junior.”

“Which means Sarah inherits everything.”

“You know, Sarah would think she died and went to heaven if we sold off one of the limited partnerships, say that Arizona strip mall that we can’t seem to keep fully occupied, and gave her, say a million and paid the taxes on the distribution.  She would go off on one of her extended cruises and in a year or two probably succumb to another heart attack at which time you and I would own everything.  In fact, we could make up a story that in order to pay her the money and resolve some pending estate tax issues she would have to sign over the rights to the other limited partnerships or they would have to be sold off at fire-sale prices to avoid paying the deferred taxes.  She would look at the million tax-free bird in the hand versus the questionable future likelihood of realizing anything from the sale of the other assets, especially if you explained how much in taxes we would have to pay if we liquidated early, and take the money and run.”

“The only problem with that scenario is that Jimmy is as healthy as a horse.  Sarah may not have many years left but the same can’t be said about Jimmy.”

“Yes, that is a problem… isn’t it?”

Rhoades stared at him for a moment fully comprehending what Peter was hinting at and finally said, “Regicide is a very, very dangerous exercise frowned on in the extreme by the other crowned heads.  Jimmy may not be the best godfather but he’s our godfather and he has a great many friends back east who would take a very dim view of his untimely passing, particularly if it wasn’t by natural causes.  If the job were done by a known associate the details would eventually get back to Jimmy’s friends who would send their own messengers to demonstrate that regicide doesn’t pay.”

“I wasn’t thinking of using a known associate.”

“You’re not thinking of Tyne, are you?  Peter, he’s just a lucky amateur whose days are numbered.  When LaPone finds him that will be the last we will ever hear of Mr. Tyne.”

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right but wouldn’t it be slick if before LaPone finished off Tyne, Tyne could solve our problem with Jimmy?  Jimmy’s friends would wring their hands and cluck their tongues but with Tyne disposed of life would go on and as a bonus, I would take over the Tosca businesses in the Bay Area.”

“You know that for a fact?”

“Yes, with Dellacroce gone I’m the logical choice.  I know more about what’s going on than anyone other that Donnie Apia and he and I go way back, in fact, we made our bones together.  He knows he could not run things without Jimmy to tell him what to do and he would transfer that loyalty to me if he knew he would always be the number two.”

“Well, I wish you luck but that is too risky for me.  If it’s all the same to you, I don’t want any part of getting Tyne to whack Jimmy.”

“But you will cooperate with me regarding the limited partnerships?”

“Of course, on that you can be sure we are of one mind.  I just can’t get involved in any of these operational matters.  Indeed, I would lose my usefulness to all concerned if I ever strayed from doing anything other than managing Blue Flame’s investments.”

Peter refilled Rhoades’ glass and his own and they clicked glasses and drank and Peter said, “Here’s to fewer partners and none named Tosca.”

The FBI makes Jonathan Tyne an offer he can’t refuse

The FBI now has Jonathan Tyne’s nuts between a rock and a hard place.

This next scene from Rogue Elephants, Jonathan Tyne’s first encounter with FBI Special Agent Raymond Wright begins to reveal a plot twist in the story I doubt any of my readers will anticipate. It mentions a backgammon game between Tyne and his lawyer Miriam da Silveira. She is attempting to negotiate immunity from prosecution for Tyne for numerous crimes, principally homicide, with the attorneys general of Oregon and California. Without a context that reference to backgammon is confusing so I have included a few paragraphs from the preceding scene, which allows me to make a point about these excerpts.

In every case where I have asked someone whose literary opinion I trust to evaluate my work I pose this challenge, to wit: pretend you have found my book on the New Books shelf at Barnes & Noble. You buy a latte (try a flat white from Starbucks and smuggle it into B&N; superior by an order of magnitude), find a comfortable chair, open the book at random and begin reading. By the way, this is exactly how I decide whether to buy a book written by an author whose work I have never read before. This is exactly how I chose to buy and read, for example, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I opened the book at random, somewhere around page 110 and began reading about Bennie and Sasha. Twenty minutes later I bought the book.

My goal is to write so well that anyone performing this exercise will want to back up to where the scene/chapter begins and read for context, and of course, buy the book. My books currently are not for sale but it should be obvious by now that the sale I wish to make is to secure agent representation.

So, I have backed up into the scene in which Tyne and da  Silveira play backgammon, as if you opened the book to page 241. Please feel free to comment on this technique of asking for literary criticism as well as the prose itself, and remember, literary criticism is not an attaboy pat on the head for a job well done. Those, of course, are welcome but literary criticism is line-by-line dissection of the work, exposing every weakness, every misstep on the writer’s part. Alas, I have yet to find someone with a dispassionate, non-judgmental, professionally competent perspective on the fiction art to help me to see where I can improve. I’m optimistic that eventually I will.

For those of you reading this piece who have not read any of my stuff before, the first chapter of both of my novels are on this site as are many other scenes. You will find them in the site’s archives and as always, enjoy.

–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–

“Stop for a moment.”  He had resumed massaging her feet.  When he did she went to the sound system and inserted the CD Tyne had given her: Cabaret by Catherine, with piano accompaniment by Merak.

The rich sound of Catherine’s voice filled the room.  He had made one mistake in the third track, “Two For The Road,” and he listened for it.  He went back to his chair and Miriam returned to the sofa and when the song was about to reach that point he said, “Listen for the error I made.

“There, did you hear it?  That four-note scale and chord should be sharp.”

“Only a professional would know it’s an error.  I certainly don’t.”

“I’m not a professional.”

“Well dear, whatever you are sounds good to me.”

Just then the downstairs buzzer rang and Miriam went to the speaker and spoke into the microphone.  “It’s the food I ordered.”

Tyne went down to the foyer and paid with cash tipping the delivery girl a couple of bucks.  When he returned to the condo Miriam had the dining table set including candles, chop sticks and a chilled bottle of Riesling.  Tyne was content to listen to Catherine’s music so they said very little while they ate, both of them sharing a little of each of the four dishes Miriam had ordered.  Afterwards, and after the CD ended Miriam said, “You can have us both.  I don’t mind sharing.”

“That’s confusing and I’m very old fashioned.”

“Isn’t it time you learned some new tricks?”

“Maybe it is but not today.  When Catherine and I reconciled I gave her my word that I understood the meaning of exclusivity; I was asking that of her and I would give it to her in return.  How could you ever trust me if she can’t?”

“I don’t require exclusivity and I’m not offering it to you but I am saying we should have sex.”

“Sorry Mimi, being with Catherine has taught me some things about life and loving I should have learned a long time ago and didn’t.”

“Do you know what it means to be polyamorous?”

The question and the direct way the woman was looking at him gave him a moment’s pause.  “I’m not sure.  Why don’t you enlighten me?”

“It means having a primary love relationship as well as one or more secondary love affairs.  The difference between polyamory and cheating is that everyone knows what’s going on.  Everyone knows who is doing what to whom.  It’s all done with shared knowledge, respect and empathy.  Right now I have a couple of secondaries but no primary.  I’d like you to audition for the part.”

It took him a moment to wrap his brain around what he’d just heard and even then he wasn’t sure how to respond.  Finally he said, “I’m not sure I can handle the complexity such an arrangement would require.  I’m also not sure I’m secure enough, emotionally, to not be jealous of the other men… or are there women too… that share you?  And I doubt I could keep my relationship with Catherine if she found out what I was doing… and I take it all the players are totally open with what each is doing?  I would have to tell her and she would tell me to take a hike… at least, I think she would… I would hope she would.”

“Once upon a time there was a woman… but no longer.  There could be again… I just haven’t met her yet.  She’d have to be like me… and there are very few women like me.”

“What you are suggesting turns my view of life completely upside down.  I have to think it through… before I can even consider the possibilities.  That’s fair, isn’t it?  I mean, you wouldn’t want me as a member of this select set if I treated the idea as just so much casual sex?  That’s what it would be if I didn’t… you know… give it some careful thought, and even then I might say no.”

After a moment she said, “Okay, I’ll accept that, for now.”  She cleared the table and hating leftovers, she double bagged the uneaten food and dropped it down the garbage chute in the hall beside the elevator.  There was still half a bottle of wine left so she said, “How about backgammon?  Wouldn’t you like to try me again?  I’m pleasantly tired and I’ve had some wine so you just might beat me?”

“I’d love to have another go at you.”

It was getting chilly so Miriam pressed the igniter of the fireplace’s gas log.  She turned out all the lights save the sconces that flanked the wet bar.  These and the fireplace were ample.  They shared the remainder of the Riesling and played backgammon sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace.  They played for five dollars a unit and by midnight Tyne was one hundred and fifty dollars in the hole, three times as much as he had lost to her on the boat.

Being a mathematician Tyne seldom lost at backgammon when playing against people less well versed in probability than he but in Mimi he had met his match.  She was a master manipulator of the cube and increasingly as the evening wore on she teased him that no self-respecting nerd should ever be beaten so consistently by a bottom feeder who could barely add two numbers together without using a calculator.  The harder he tried to beat her the worse he played and the more she needled him.  He knew he was in over his head when she proposed they play strip backgammon and the loser had to perform oral sex on the winner.

It would have been so easy to just let it happen especially when she lay down in front of him in the flickering glow of the fire and raised her arms over her head so that her kimono gaped displaying a breast and a nice flat belly and she said, “If you lose you won’t be cheating on Catherine, you’ll just be paying off your bet.”  Then she bent one knee and rocked her hips from side to side so that her thighs parted invitingly.  Tyne tossed off his wine, kissed her once below the navel and shoved the cube down inside her panties.

He stood, said good night and started for the guest room.  “Wait, I want you to have something to help you sleep,” she said.  She pushed the satin panel aside giving him a flash of dark hair, rubbed the cube inside her vagina and then threw it at him.  “Suck on this why don’t you so you know exactly what you’re missing.”  He caught the cube and stuck it in his mouth and said, “Tastes good like a pussy should.  Thanks for the game.  We’ll have to do it again real soon.”  She looked around for something else to throw but all she found was a pillow.  Her aim was good and it struck him in the back just as he was going through the door of the guest room.

. . .

At breakfast the next morning there was no mention of the previous night’s backgammon game even when Tyne placed the cube beside Mimi’s plate of scrambled eggs.  She ignored it but poked her tongue out at him and ate her breakfast with an almost continuous smirk.  At one point she leaned back in her chair with her fingers laced behind her head and laughed to herself as if she had just heard the funniest joke.  When she was finally able to stop giggling she doubled the cube as if they were playing backgammon and again fell into a fit of laughter.  She then doubled the cube again and laughed even harder and finally Tyne started laughing too.

Miriam was already dressed for the office and she explained to Tyne that she would be in meetings all morning but that Maggie would arrange a conference call with Attorney General Grainger and Elizabeth Sullivan.  She would stay close during the call in case she was needed but he shouldn’t expect to see her before 1 P.M. She would then explain the details of the offshore account she had created and if he was satisfied he could transfer the money this afternoon.  He said that was cool and she gave him a cool kiss and departed.

At nine Tyne dialed the toll free conference number at GGS for the first of the three daily fifteen-minute scrums.  They went around the room and each engineer said what he had accomplished the previous week and then what he intended to do this week.  In the R&D scrum in which he was a pig as well as the owner Tyne reported that he had downloaded the latest release of the source code for an open-source project they were evaluating and his testing had revealed a bug, which he fixed.  He had submitted the fix and the tests he also wrote to the project maintainers’ e-mail list.  Someone on that list had further modified his code and a patched release was now available.  He asked the senior of the two engineers in the scrum to download the patch, build it, test it with whatever tests it comes with and then run his test suite against it and report the results to the e-mail list.  He told the engineer where he could find the tests.  He said he expected to be back in Palo Alto the next day and would spend the rest of the week reviewing recent code check-ins.

When the last of the meetings ended at 9:45 Tyne felt restless so he changed to sweats and went for a five-mile run and pushed himself very hard the last mile, doing it in the very fast time, for him, of just under eight minutes.  When he was in college and at OCS he could do five miles in thirty-seven flat, not bad but still a minute and a half too slow to qualify for SEAL training, but now, at fifty-six, he was happy to keep the run under forty-five minutes.  As he was jogging slowly along the path that led to the condo complex from Holman Park along Cornell Road he overtook another runner who as Tyne passed him said, “What did you do with the bodies of LaPone, Desantis and DiSalvo?”

Tyne stopped and stared at the man, ready to fight with his hands and feet if necessary.  The man did not appear to be armed and he made no threatening movements.  He was black and a little shorter than Tyne and not as heavily built but he looked fit, and his sweats were as wet as Tyne’s.  “I beg your pardon?”

“They were staying in Mount Vernon at the Blue Mountain Lodge until April 9th and then they disappeared, poof, just like that.  They rented a car in Portland and it too is missing.  LaPone and DiSalvo had airline tickets to Kennedy in New York and Desantis was booked on a flight to Oakland, all on the 9th, and those tickets were never used, nor were they exchanged for cash nor replaced with others.  Do you know why they were staying in Mount Vernon?”

“I’ve never heard of any of them so how the fuck would I know why they chose to stay one place or another?”

“Because they were hunting for you.  We know they were hunting for you, we know they found you and we also know that after the 8th of April, they simply ceased to exist, anywhere on the planet.  Does that suggest anything to you?”

“Who are we?”

The man slowly removed a leather case from a pocket in his sweats and tossed it to Tyne.  Inside the case were the credentials of a Special Agent of the FBI named Raymond Wright.  Tyne studied the picture and the man carefully, then he closed the case and tossed it back to the agent.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t think you do either.”  Tyne began slowly walking along the path in the direction of the condo and the man in the sweats fell in step beside him.

“We don’t really care if they’re dead or not, we’d just like to know how you managed it?  LaPone was a stone killer and DiSalvo was his apprentice.  Desantis was… well, what can I say, a two-bit grease ball from Oakland, but he could pull a trigger too, if the victim was looking the other way.  How did you take them down?”

“I screwed up my face and gave my war yell and they ran away crying mama, mama.”

“That’s very good; the director will appreciate that.  He will also be pleased to learn that I could barely keep up with you on that run.”

Tyne entered the garage and went to the stairwell and keyed the pass code and then as he held the door, he said, “The lady I’m staying with is an attorney.  Do I need to ask her to join us?”

“Miriam da Silveira, excellent choice as legal representation and moving in with her was a master stroke.  I have to hand it to you Tyne, you sure know how to pick them; let’s see if my list is complete; there’s your attorney David Hardin’s wife and Paglia, Duvall and now da Silveira in a little less than a year.  Did I forget any?  Wait a moment, I did forget that real estate fox who sold your condo.  Now what was her name again… oh yes, Muñoz?  Now why would you think you need to sic your attorney on me?  I’m on your side.”

“How can you be on my side?  You think I killed three men who like to hang out together at cheap motels.”

“Eight.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Eight men; we think, no… we know you took down eight, or ten actually, if you count those two in the restaurant.  There are two more missing and presumed dead but if you did them you fooled even us.”

Tyne let the door to the stairwell close and stared at the man.  “Come on agent Wright, if the FBI actually believes I killed eight men I will need a dream team of attorneys like Ms. da Silveira.”

“Let’s see if I have the complete list; first was Francesco Tosca, Maruca and Dellacroce, the three from the Mount Vernon motel and Jimmy Tosca and his protégé Donnie Apia.  If I missed any, please feel free to fill in the blanks?  The two MIA’s are Frank Rizzo and Mario Sabatini, part of a crew that works for a guy named Napoletano.  They were last seen May 19th.  If you did them there’s no reason to be shy with me; take credit for them.  All eight were soldiers in the undeclared war you waged against the Tosca family.  We’re not quite sure why you didn’t do Napoletano, maybe he’s next, given what he did to the Duvall woman, but had you done him or if you do him it will be personal.  You have to be careful not to do that too often.  Making it personal dramatically increases the risk… by an order of magnitude.

“The two Toscas, Dellacroce and LaPone were manna from heaven; the others were gravy.  We guessed you were going to do Jimmy, since he was the last one left who was hunting you so we made a little mischief of our own and the results are very promising.  If you are wondering why no one connected you with Jimmy, well that was our doing.

“By the way, it’s always wise to be careful when people like the Toscas have a hard on for you but please don’t kid yourself that you are safe because both Toscas are in the ground.  It doesn’t work that way.  You killed several made members including two from the Genovese family and the other families will not tolerate such a direct challenge to their authority.  To whack a made member takes a special kind of permission and without it, the shooter is marked for life.  They will never stop looking for you, never.  They’ll put out an open contract on you that anyone can collect.  It’s cheap too, the going rate can be as low as twenty-five hundred bucks.

“Oh, one other thing, that was me who called you at your Martinez condo the night you killed Francesco Tosca.  I thought you were at work; I didn’t know you worked from home that day.”

“It sounded like a bad telemarketing sales pitch to me; I really wasn’t buying any of it.”

“Really, I thought it was quite pithy and right on point.  I used the phrase that singer you’ve been shtuping to refer to the fact that you lived with Catherine Duvall in Bend for three months last year and spent a couple of nights in a Vancouver hotel in December having sexual relations with her.  Surely you remember me saying that?”

Tyne rubbed his fingers through his hair and smiled and shook his head in dismay, and said, “Do you actually expect me to admit to any of this?  You want something from me so why don’t you just say what it is so I can get out of these sweaty clothes.”

“We want you to keep doing what you’ve been doing.”

Tyne stared at the man but did not trust himself to respond.  Finally he said, “You are going to have to put that in words a six year old would understand.”

“Okay, you took down the heads of a local crime family and several key lieutenants.  You’ve seeded chaos and confusion from Mexico to as far away as New York, with a little creative help from us.  You did it without any assistance from anyone and with minimal resources.  You kept the collateral damage to a minimum, we are very impressed and we think with our help, you can do even better.  Incidentally, Sylvia Rotolo, a very smart girl indeed, is one of ours.  If you had whacked her along with Jimmy we would have been very sad and the fact that you didn’t convinced us you are one of the good guys.”

“I don’t know anyone named Sylvia Rotolo.”

“She was Jimmy’s girlfriend, and one of our informers.  She lives on Fairbanks Avenue in Oakland and was in the house the night you did Jimmy Tosca and Donnie Apia.  She couldn’t identify you but you didn’t know that and we actually thought you would not want to leave her alive.  Right after you left and before she called the police she called me.  I knew it was you because she was alive.  Funny thing what fear will do to someone’s ability to recollect.  She did not recognize you even when the police included your image in a photo array.  Deaf, dumb and blind was what you told her to be.  You scared the shit out of her and that bit about a short heavy-set shooter wearing a fedora was masterful.  There are several Mexican shooters who fit that description so I told her exactly what to say to the police and then I spread the word on the jungle drums that Jimmy’s killer was a Mexican killer for hire.  Thanks to you we have a nice little war going between the Mexicans and the Italians.  You showed remarkable professional restraint and for that we are very grateful.”

“You knew someone was coming to kill Tosca, possibly me and you did nothing to protect your informer?  You were just going to let her take her chances and hope for the best?  With friends like you one hardly needs any enemies.”

Wright shrugged and said, “Women like Sylvia are expendable.  We’re in a war Mr. Tyne, or do you prefer Mr. Ware… and there are always casualties of war.  Besides, just because we believed you would take out Tosca didn’t mean we knew where or when it would happen.  It was only after the fact that we realized she had been at risk.  We had no idea you even knew about Sylvia.”

He ignored the reference to his new legal name.  “What exactly do you mean, with your help I can do better?  What sort of help would that be?”

“A new identity, mission specific identities, money within reason, weapons, communications, training if you think you need it; you tell us what you need.  Oh and one other thing, ADA Sullivan is a very competent prosecutor.  We could make her investigation go away, permanently.  And one last point that will serve as a reality check, we don’t run the witness protection program but we know the people in it.  If what you want or need is a new identity we can supply perfectly good credentials but those from WITSEC are better.  They dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s while we just create the documents.  For example, they’ve perfected a very clever arrangement for salvaging your 401(k) or your IRA.  You should definitely go forward with the arrangements Ms. da Silveira is making but if you think that identity will be compartmentalized and we won’t know it, well, you need to think again.”

“I’ve heard enough.  If any part of this were true I’d be in custody and even Miriam da Silveira wouldn’t be able to help me.”

Tyne re-keyed the pass code and started up the stairs, when Wright said, “November Four One Niner Six Tango.”

Tyne stopped halfway up the first flight and stared at the man.  “I thought that would finally get your attention.  How long do you think it would take Ms. Sullivan to figure out the flying time between Concord and John Day in a plane like a DHC-2 if she knew you were a licensed pilot?”

Tyne turned around and slowly walked back down and stepped through the door to the stairwell and let the door close behind him.  He started walking towards the rear of the garage where there was a small green-space with some mature shade trees with benches.  The man who called himself Raymond Wright walked beside him and said nothing until they were seated in the shade of one of those fine old trees.  For the first time since they began talking Tyne saw the agent’s profile and he had a long scar along his cheekbone that ended under his left ear.  He saw what Tyne was looking at and did not look away and Tyne said, “I have one of those too but in a place you can’t see.  Would you mind taking off your sweat shirt?”

“Not at all,” as the agent pulled the shirt over his head.  “Go ahead, pat me down.  I’m neither armed nor am I wearing a wire.”

Tyne quickly but thoroughly searched the man and found nothing other than the pass case containing the ID he had already examined, a cell phone and a set of car keys.  When he handed these back to the man, he opened the clamshell on the cell, pressed a few buttons and then showed Tyne the screen.  “That is your cell phone number, isn’t it?”

Tyne held the opened phone in his hand and looked at the display, but instead of confirming the number, he turned off the phone’s power, closed the clamshell and handed it back to the agent and said, “Let me see if I have this straight, you want me to kill mafia gangsters by order of the FBI?  Do you have any idea how fantastic, no surreal is a better word, how surreal a notion that is?  And even if I was willing to do what you are suggesting, a special agent hardly has the authority to make such an offer.”

Wright pocketed the cell phone and said, “Excellent, the director said you are very intelligent.  You are correct, I can’t make such an offer; I’m merely the messenger of someone who can.  Mr. Tyne, do you remember the name of the marine whose life you saved in Vietnam?”

“Sgt. Charles Ryan Carpenter.”

“When was the last time you had any contact with Mr. Carpenter?”

“Let’s see… we were evacuated together to a hospital in the Philippines, then after rehab at Balboa Naval Hospital we stayed in touch through college.  I know he went to Boston College and was accepted at Holy Cross Law.  I attended his wedding to Carolyn Abramson after he got his undergraduate degree.  I went to Berkeley for graduate school and we lost touch after that.”

“Does the name C. Ryan Carpenter mean anything to you?”

“If that’s the name Charlie is using, it happened after we lost contact with each other.”

“Am I to understand you aren’t aware that C. Ryan Carpenter is a Deputy Director of the FBI?”

“You seem surprised that I don’t know that fact but I don’t follow what goes on in Washington.  I usually try to vote none of the above or write in the names of one of my horses for president and my dog for vice president.  I know the Director is a political appointee but I assume the Deputies are all career cops.”

“Director Carpenter will be pleased to hear that you are apolitical and yes, he is a career officer, with responsibility for suppressing organized crime.  He would like to meet with you personally to explain why we want you, why we need you.  Will you meet with him?”

Tyne studied the man’s face for a long time, then he smiled and said, “I don’t know what the fuck you are talking about but I would love to see Charlie Carpenter again.”

“I’ll set it up and I’ll be in touch.”  He started to get up and Tyne gripped his forearm tightly and he sat back down.

“E-mail only, always encrypted; no phone calls that are not planned in advance.  Let’s exchange PGP keys.  You can use my initials, j, e, t at wildhorseconsulting.com.  If I get any e-mails that aren’t encrypted I will delete them as SPAM without reading them.  Do we understand each other?”

“Perfectly.”

“Are you to be my controller?”

“Yes.”

“Then I will only ever deal with you or Charlie, never anyone else.  Are we clear on that?”

“Yes, not without the mutual approval of you and the Director.”

“Agent Wright, when I was a boy growing up in Chicago I had a collie dog named Ginger.  You will include the phrase Ginger sends his regards each time you send me e-mail.  My call sign in SEALORDS was linebacker; you will know you are reading e-mail from me if it contains the phrase linebacker misses Ginger.  Is that understood?”

“Do you want me to share those phrases with the Director?”

“Absolutely not.  Those phrases are for your eyes only.  I will work out a pair with Charlie that only he and I could possibly know.”

“Anything else?”

“How was it possible that the media and ADA Sullivan were unable to discover I have a VFR ticket?”

“We put a little check mark in an FAA database that protected the record from disclosure without a special security clearance.  That check mark can be removed just as easily as it was made.  And one final thought I’d like to leave you with, just in case you’re thinking of declining the Director’s request; it would be a shame to go to all the trouble of getting a new WITSEC identity and then have it disclosed to the very people you are trying to avoid, you dig?”

Tyne stared at the agent and finally shook his head and the agent offered his hand.  Tyne took a long time to decide whether to accept the handshake but finally he did.  The man immediately began jogging up the path towards Cornell.  Tyne watched him until he went out of sight, then he moved his rental car from space seventeen and parked it on the street facing the complex.  He then went back to the condo where he found Mimi on the phone.

Jonathan Tyne is granted immunity from prosecution

Prologue, spring 2014: Peace negotiations and rehabilitation of combatants

In the spring of 1999 the Kingdom of Tosca, loosely allied with the Democratic Republic of Polyakov, declared war on Jonathan Tyne. The Kingdom consisted of all or parts of the eight great counties surrounding San Francisco Bay in the Peoples Republic of California. The Kingdom was not then structured as a traditional Sicilian cosca; its leadership was shared by two brothers, Francesco and Joseph, known as “Jimmy”, with a crown prince, Frank the Younger waiting in the wings. Neither of the brothers was called don. Both preferred to be addressed as Mr., or boss – capo in Italian – or simply by their first names depending on who was speaking. The brothers Tosca were part of the great post-World War II Sicilian Diaspora.

The DRP, an absolute dictatorship headed by a Lyubertskaya vor v zakone, Valerian Sergeyevich Polyakov.  These particular Russians, the Polyakovs, were not among the first to arrive in Brighton Beach – extortionist thugs from the Soviet gulags dumped on the U.S., as Castro dumped Cuban criminals, during the Brezhnev era – but the second wave, the ones that came after the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  The smarter of these realized rather quickly there were better pickings in other places besides south Brooklyn, namely Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and in our case, the San Francisco Bay Area.  What the Toscas were for the cocaine trade the Polyakovs were for heroin.

The immediate cause of the war was the perceived legal threat Tyne posed as a witness against the crown prince. An ambitious and corrupt assistant district attorney willing to suborn perjury (thus the first title) – surely one of those Jack Cade would have wanted to kill – virtually guarantees Tyne will be a target when she leaks to the media he can identify the last man standing.  He can’t… and won’t but that is irrelevant. The charges that could have been brought against Sonny Tosca: six counts of capital murder; no small matter. Valerian Sergeyevich had no beef with Tyne; his concern was if Tyne fingered Sonny, Sonny might give them up to get a better deal for himself, the cult of omerta having fallen by the wayside. The war lasted exactly 449 days and ended in stalemate after the death in battle of Baron Jimmy; Baron Frank the Elder having died in the Battle of Castro Valley fought during the hours of darkness of November 11-12 of that year. The crown prince, while hiding in Europe, died mysteriously in a road accident in early 2000. Some said an agent of Tyne was responsible. Others maintained a Tosca rival from another cosca, or possibly a Russian, arranged the crown prince’s death to look like an accident. A few even speculated that a high-ranking knight of the realm dispatched the CP in an act of regicide. Regardless which of these accounts is true, the Kingdom held Tyne responsible for the CP’s death.

Prime Minister Peter Napoletano and Tyne himself negotiated a modus vivendi in the late spring of 2000. The PM, then heir-apparent to the throne and determined to be Don Napoletano, that is, if he could liquidate or out maneuver his chief rival, Sir Anthony Turco, an ambitious and resourceful knight of the realm, welcomed the truce. Italian rather than Sicilian, Napoletano had no personal ax to grind with Tyne but as PM he had to carry out the orders of his leaders. He did so with vigor and dispatch. During a hastily called peace conference Tyne made him an offer he could not refuse. No documents ending the war were signed but hands were shaken, promises made; the two men’s word was their bond.

The war was fought in six great engagements documented in great detail in the historical novels subōrnāre, Affirmative Action, The Seventh Circle and Rogue Elephants written by the eminent historian Thomas Docheri. Both sides took casualties. The opposing forces were so disparate that Tyne fought a guerrilla war. Tyne, a trained intelligence officer once in the pay of the United States of Oil, who honed his skills during three deployments to South East Asia in the failed imperial expedition to suppress the nationalist ambitions of an avuncular man named Ho, modeled his campaign after those great guerrilla leaders: Sun Tzu, Nathanael Greene, Giáp, Guevara, Castro and Begin. Like all successful guerrilla campaigns, Tyne used stealth, intimidation, terror, hit and run, ambush, torture and assassination – learned during ten months seconded to the Phoenix Program – and as such broke a number of laws of the U.S.O., the Peoples Republic of California and the Republic of Oregon. During those six great campaigns Tyne captured documents and artifacts of war that were of abiding interest to the encompassing states. So valuable were these spoils that the controlling principalities were willing, reluctantly to be sure, to overlook certain indiscretions on the part of Tyne in return for his surrendering all captured materials and full disclosure of his methods of operation. In return, the U.S.O. would provide Tyne a new identity. However, all was not as it seemed. A super-secret element within the U.S.O. had plans for Tyne and was willing to betray him to his erstwhile enemies, if necessary, to obtain his cooperation.

The following is an excerpt from Rogue Elephants that finally reveals for the first time the details of the meeting between Tyne and the interested parties during which a grant of immunity from prosecution for high crimes and misdemeanors committed during the war was given. The author wishes herein to acknowledge his debt of gratitude to the lawyers that represented Mr. Tyne for their invaluable assistance. This history of the Tosca/Tyne War would not be what it is without their inestimable contribution.

–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–)|(–

Jonathan Tyne spent part of the weekend preparing for his allocution hearing and the other part in transit.  The preparation involved using his word processing software to write a narrative of what he had done and speak it out loud to hear how it sounded.  Saying the words out loud helped reduce his too wordy prose down to its essentials, or at least less wordy than had he not performed the exercise.  On Sunday he flew Alaska Air to Portland and was on the ground by 15:20.  Miriam was not at home when he arrived.  The note she left said she was attending a fundraiser at Marylhurst University and he should expect her by seven at the latest and if he played his cards right she would let him take her to dinner.  He did, a place near RiverPlace marina named Les Misérables, a new restaurant in Portland that had been getting rave reviews.

At dinner Tyne said very little; instead he listened carefully to Miriam’s explanation of the process and what he could expect.  Several times she cautioned him that what was crucial about an allocution hearing was to omit nothing and not to lie.  The entire procedure could come a cropper if it was later discovered that he had lied or left something crucial out of the story.  He assured her that he understood, that he would be forthcoming and would answer all questions truthfully.  She thought he should not drink more than the single glass of wine he ordered with dinner and that he get a good night’s sleep so they returned to her condominium by eleven and shortly thereafter they retired.  It didn’t work; he couldn’t sleep and rather than lie awake he continued the preparation he’d started the day before and he finally fell asleep at four.  She woke him at seven and by ten they were in her office in the US Bancorp Tower at 111 SW 5th Avenue.

The offices of Allen, Hardwick and Hardin, suite 2800, occupied half of the 28th floor of the 42 story building and when Tyne saw them for the first time he understood why he was paying $750 an hour for Miriam’s time.  He had dressed in a charcoal gray worsted suit, blue Oxford button down and maroon tie while Miriam wore a navy blue pin stripe suit with a white silk blouse.  When Maggie arrived he thought they were twins except Maggie’s suit was light gray.

While they waited in Miriam’s office David Hardin ran herd on the attendees assembled in the larger of the two conference rooms within the suite.  Someone was late and at ten minutes past ten David stuck his head in her office and said, “Mr. Vickers would like to get started.”

“Who’s missing?”

“Judge Thayer.”

Miriam, Maggie and Tyne entered the conference room and David performed the introductions.  Tyne recognized a few of the faces – Elizabeth Sullivan from Alameda County, Mike Castelano of the Oakland PD and surprise, surprise, Raymond Wright of the Washington DC office of the FBI.  Of the others, he caught the offices they represented more than the names – Philip Schiff, another ADA from Alameda County, an FBI general counsel named J. Edgar Snow, someone from the Oregon Attorney General’s office, a female counterpart from Sacramento, an NSA computer expert named Philip Druary, a forensics specialist from the FBI’s Washington laboratory named Holzner and a middle-aged court reporter named Mrs. Bettis  – and overseeing it all was Franklin Vickers; tall, gray, a little stoop shouldered with half-frame reading glasses over which he stared fixedly at Tyne.

Vickers began by stating why they were all gathered in this room and what they expected to hear.  When he finished Miriam, stalling for time, said, “Franklin, we have a bit of a problem.  I asked the Attorney General to appoint a special master to conduct this hearing and he’s running a bit late.  My firm’s senior partner David Hardin has been in telephone communication with him and as we speak he is in a cab on his way here from the airport.  I expect him momentarily.”

“What is his name?”

“Judge Edmund Thayer of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He sits in San Francisco.”

“Why did you feel the need for a special master?  Don’t you trust me to treat your client fairly?”

“Of course I do but there are other interested parties to this allocution, representatives of the states of Oregon and California and the issues are rather complex so I asked the AG to appoint someone not involved with the outcome of the hearing, a neutral party with no ax to grind.  I’d like to wait until he arrives?”

“I don’t see why we can’t get started and catch Judge Thayer up when he arrives.”

“Perhaps we could use the time while we are waiting to review the immunity documents,” said Maggie.

“Weren’t they faxed to you Friday?”

“Yes they were but those were drafts.  I’d like to verify that the final versions are exactly the same as the latest drafts and if they are not, to understand what might have changed.”

Vickers passed copies of the two agreements to Maggie without further comment.  While Maggie compared her copies with the Vickers’ copies Miriam examined the package of Whelan credentials that Vickers had placed in the center of the conference table.  She showed Tyne a few of the documents she must have thought particularly interesting – the new passport, the Coast Guard masters license, the new DD-214 that documented Whelan’s military service – until Maggie interrupted her and whispered something in her ear.  She then excused herself and she and Maggie left the room.  They were gone less than five minutes and when they returned Miriam said, “I’m afraid we have a problem with these documents that makes it impossible to continue with this hearing until it is resolved.  I’m specifically referring to the omission from the final version of the immunity agreements reference to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.”

“Mr. Tyne is not a government employee and therefore is not entitled to protection under that act.”

At that moment Judge Thayer, to Maggie and Miriam’s relief, arrived and after apologizing for being late was brought up to speed on the point of law they were discussing.  He said, “My understanding of IIPA is that it was meant to be broadly construed to include anyone whose safety could be compromised by the disclosure of the particulars of his identity regardless of his employment status.  I think when the government manufactures a new identity out of whole cloth the recipient certainly qualifies for such protection.”

“Well, the agreements have already been executed by the Attorneys General of both Oregon and California.  I think we should proceed with the allocution and deal with the language of the agreements later,” said Vickers.

“That’s not your decision to make,” said Miriam.  “Unless that language is added back to both agreements I will advise my client not to allocute.”

“If he doesn’t allocute he doesn’t get the identity documents.”

“Yes, and if he doesn’t get the credentials you don’t get the physical artifacts.”

“I was informed that all parties were in agreement with the terms of the immunity being granted to Mr. Tyne?  Is that not true?”

“I specifically informed all parties that language referring to IIPA must be include in the agreements and as of Friday, it was.”

“Well, it’s really up to Mr. Tyne, whether he wants to go forward with the agreement as is and receive the identity documents or risk additional delay with the distinct possibility of impasse,” said Vickers.

“Mr. Tyne, what say you?” said Judge Thayer.

Tyne fingered the new drivers license and the passport.  The cover was not new; it showed modest use.  He thumbed through it and found entries for two trips to the U.K., one to France and one to Italy, all in the last five years, exactly as was documented in his current passport.  He placed it back on the stack of documents and said, “Please show me the language you are referring to?”

Maggie showed him the two California documents; the draft Miriam had shown him on Sunday and the one that was signed by Attorney General Grainger.  He read the draft carefully and when he looked up Maggie said, “The Oregon draft agreement had exactly the same language.”

“No deal.  Even with that language someone in government might still leak my identity but without it there is nothing to put people on notice that disclosure carries sanctions.”  He stood and buttoned his jacket and said to Miriam, “I’m leaving, are you?”

“Please wait in my office.”

After Tyne left the room Miriam said, “Houston we have a problem.  Based on my experience with this client he isn’t going to change his mind and unless you do and add that language back to the agreements there is no point in continuing.”

“I read copies that Ms. da Silveira faxed to me Friday and I found them to be correctly drafted and enforceable and they both contained reference to IIPA.  In fact, I would have been surprised had they not,” said Thayer.

“We have not included that language in any agreements made by this office in at least a year,” said Vickers.

“Well, for this client you need to make an exception,” said Miriam.

“I’d like to understand why the government no longer believes an informant’s identity warrants protection under that act?” said Thayer.

“I can’t speak for all of government but in this case under Pub.L. 97-200, 50 U.S.C. § 421 – 426, specifically §426 paragraph 4B Mr. Tyne is not an employee of the government, not a military officer and is not an informant to the foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism components of the FBI,” said Snow.

“Ms. Silveira?” said Thayer.

“One moment your Honor while I review the language of the act.”  She had a copy of it in her case notes and after a quick perusal looked up and said, “Mr. Tyne’s new identity certainly qualifies as confidential information pursuant to the act and he is an informant per subparagraph ii of the section Mr. Snow cited.  If it is not, why don’t we publish new WITSEC identities in the Federal Register?  Clearly we don’t so even if assigned the lowest security level the information must by definition be confidential.  The question then is whether the information he will provide is to be excluded from those bureau agents engaged in foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism activities.  Does the bureau intend to prevent those bureau elements from having access to Mr. Tyne’s disclosures and if so how, or will his information be generally available within the bureau?”

“Mr. Snow?” said Thayer.

“I believe it will be generally available your Honor.”

“Furthermore,” said Miriam, “from the documents Mr. Vickers sent me I understand the Canadians are interested in Garrett Neustadt, Mr. LaPone’s persona when he operated in Canada and Great Britain and Philippe Édouard Paquet, Mr. LaPone’s French persona, is wanted by Interpol.  I would think if we are not encouraging our experts on foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism activities to familiarize themselves with the information Mr. Tyne will provide, we should be.  The implications of the money-laundering scheme alone should be of interest to them.  Not to strikes me as criminally irresponsible.”

“Mr. Snow?” said Thayer.

“I simply reiterate Mr. Tyne is not an informant of a division within either the bureau or the CIA dealing with foreign subversives or foreign subversion.  The persons involved here appear solely to be members of domestic organized crime and therefore Mr. Tyne’s identity is beyond the purview of IIPA.”

Thayer removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes for a moment, then he put them back on and said, “It is my judgment that Mr. Tyne is an informant of the government and his information will be widely disseminated within law enforcement organizations at both the federal and state level so he does fall into that class of persons for which IIAP was created to protect.  Furthermore, the language referencing IIAP contained in the drafts I read was appropriate and therefore should be restored in the immunity agreements.  Now this is an administrative procedure not a legal one and therefore the government is free to dissent but if it does we must terminate this proceeding immediately while the parties renegotiate the agreements in question.”

No one said anything for at least a minute and so Thayer said, “Since no one is willing to speak first I will cut to the chase.  I want to hear now from anyone who desires we terminate this proceeding or forever hold your peace.  I cannot allow Mr. Tyne to allocute believing his identity is protected by IIAP if indeed it is not.  Mr. Snow, you seem to be leading the charge on this for the bureau; what say you?”

“I have nothing further to offer, your Honor.”

“Very well, put the language back in the agreements.”

“Your honor, it was no small matter to get all of these participants here today and both Oregon and California are represented as is Justice and the bureau.  My office has the latest state of the art communications, teleconferencing and fax equipment, which we will make available so that revised documents can be prepared and signed today.  We would prefer not to reschedule this hearing if we can avoid that possibility,” said Miriam.

There was a murmuring of assent from the assembled lawyers and Maggie took charge of coordinating document preparation and faxing to Salem and Sacramento while Miriam went to find Tyne.  She found him sitting in the outer lobby and she beckoned him to join her in her office.

“That fucking bastard Wright and your friend Carpenter are trying to screw you.  They want to make sure you play ball so they removed that language from the immunity agreements in order to coerce you into working for them.  I hope you understand what was going on in there?”

“What happened after I left?”

“I convinced them with Judge Thayer’s help to add back to the immunity agreements the IIAP language that makes it a federal crime punishable by up to ten years in prison to disclose information about the identity of a confidential informant.  Maggie is now working with some of the attorneys present to amend the agreements and get them signed so that we can proceed today with allocution.”

“Otherwise this thing today will have to be rescheduled?”

“Yes, and I’m assuming if we can get the docs redrafted you’ll allocute?”

“Yes, I want to get it over with today too.  Mimi, when I reveal that I killed Jimmy Tosca will they make an issue of Madeleine having made false statements by giving me an alibi?”

“Phil Schiff will but I’ll deal with it.  Don’t worry about Madeleine, I’ll look out for her interests.  It’s imperative that you not lie about any of the details of that event, certainly not in any misguided attempt to protect your ex-wife.  Jonathan, understand something, you get to walk but only if you don’t lie.  If later they discover that you lied during allocution they can rescind the immunity agreements and use the information you provide during allocution to prosecute you.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, I get it.”

“Good, now how about I treat you to a really good lunch as my guest in the City Grill on the 30th floor?  Most Portland residents think it’s the best restaurant in town.”

. . .

They were given a table with a magnificent view of the Willamette River and downtown Portland.  Miriam ordered authentic Long Island Sound Blue Points and a cold shrimp salad while Tyne chose grilled Alaska King salmon and she entertained him by people-watching, pointing out some of the people present she recognized and what they did for a living.  Most were attorneys of one kind or another.  Tyne concluded she must be very well known in Portland as quite a few acknowledged her with either a wave or a brief greeting.  None seemed interested in him.  They lingered over coffee until 1:30 and left when they saw Maggie, Thayer, Snow and Vickers enter the restaurant for their own lunch.  On their way out Tyne noticed the piano bar off to one side and made a mental note to return at some point to give it a try.

He waited in Miriam’s office reading The New York Times until almost four when she came to get him; she said they were ready to resume.  Back in the conference room Miriam reviewed the immunity agreements with him, showed him that the newly revised and signed copies were exactly the same as the drafts she had reviewed with him on Sunday at her condo and he signed where she indicated.  Miriam then used the wall phone to call an assistant who was standing by.  A moment later this assistant arrived pushing an equipment cart bearing a large plastic tote, the aluminum rifle case containing LaPone’s M-40A1 sniper rifle and the case containing his spotting scope.

Tyne donned a pair of latex gloves he had brought with him, opened the tote and arranged the weapons and personal effects on the conference room table.  He had organized and bagged what Miriam called the artifacts so that each weapon was grouped together with its owner’s personal effects; except the sniper rifle, spotting scope and the MAC-10 he recovered from Jimmy Tosca’s Lincoln Town Car were set off by themselves.  To avoid damaging the table he left the vests, still caked with dried blood, in the bottom of the tote.  Finally, he placed the T40 ThinkPad, wrapped in clear plastic in the center of the table and the replica in front of his own chair.

The forensics expert took charge of the laptop and immediately began dusting it for latent prints and Franklin Vickers began by saying, “Mr. Tyne, please describe, as specifically as you can how you came into possession of this laptop computer.”

“Your Honor I must…”

“Hold your water Ms. Silveira, I’m way ahead of you.  This is a most unusual proceeding and I want to take a moment to review why we are here, my understanding of what the parties are agreeing to and to lay down some ground rules for how we will proceed.

“In Federal Criminal Procedure an allocution is almost always relative to the taking of a plea; the defendant says out loud in open court what he did; the victims, if any, may be heard relative to sentencing and the attorney representing the government may question the defendant with regard to the crime or crimes to which he is admitting.  The judge then decides whether to accept or reject the plea agreement.  In this case Mr. Tyne is not a defendant, there is no federal plea agreement being considered, in fact, there is no violation of any federal statute of which I am aware.  The federal government, as I see it, is merely acting as a broker between Mr. Tyne and the states of Oregon and California.  It is my understanding that Mr. Tyne will allocute to felonies he committed which are punishable under the laws of those two states; furthermore he will reveal information about the criminal behavior if others of which he is aware and he will surrender certain property seized during the commission of those felonies in return for immunity from prosecution by Oregon or California, or any of their subordinate jurisdictions.  The lawyers present representing various federal agencies and the two states mentioned may question Mr. Tyne and if and when satisfied with his answers, will affix their signatures to the immunity agreements signifying that Mr. Tyne’s allocution is deemed adequate to the grant of immunity.

“Now I want to caution the attorneys representing Oregon and California not to withhold their signatures because they believe they can prosecute Mr. Tyne based on what they might learn during this proceeding.  A prosecution brought against a person making a good faith allocution would be subject to mistrial with prejudice unless evidence independently obtained was the basis for the prosecution.  I, and every sitting jurist I know, would take the gravest exception to such a misuse of prosecutorial power.  On the other hand, if it can be shown that Mr. Tyne perjures himself during this proceeding then the validity of the immunity agreements can be challenged and the government is free to use the information they learn during allocution as they see fit.

“Now one last comment before we proceed; I will expect to hear arguments why the representatives of either or both states refuse to sign the immunity agreements if that turns out to be the case.  Ms. Silveira, does that statement satisfy you so that you may encourage your client to proceed?”

“There’s one other point of law I’d like to raise if I may your Honor?”

“Concerning these immunity agreements?”

“No your Honor, concerning federal immunity.”

“I wasn’t aware that Mr. Tyne is seeking federal immunity?”

“Nor was I?” said Vickers.

“If I may have a moment your Honor it will become clear?”

“Please be brief.”

“Thank you your Honor, I shall.  I’m concerned that a vindictive government may bring a future action, either criminal or civil against my client for a civil rights violation, or since e-mail, cell phones and Internet access play such central roles in my client’s activities, wire fraud is a favorite prosecutorial catch-all when other charges are lacking or any number of other federal statutes too numerous to enumerate.  One only has to examine the artifacts arrayed before you to see at least two violations of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and you will hear during allocution how my client improvised handcuffs to restrain two of the victims, acts which if interpreted literally could lead to federal charges for kidnapping.  So I reviewed public immunity agreements, those not associated with WITSEC clients, negotiated by Justice over the past two years and using them as models I drafted one for Mr. Vickers’ signature.  At the end of Mr. Tyne’s allocution, if the state representatives are satisfied, and I’m willing to stipulate that only if they are satisfied, then I want Mr. Vickers representing the Attorney General to sign the federal agreement I drafted.  When Mr. Tyne leaves here today I don’t want him looking over his shoulder wondering whether the government is preparing to proceed against him.”

“Mr. Vickers?”

“This is quite irregular your Honor.”

“But you do grant transactional immunity to federal witnesses and informants, do you not?  For example, for those brought before federal grand juries?”

“Yes your Honor.”

“Prospectively, and by that I mean for crimes not specifically covered in a federal indictment but impossible to enumerate?”

“For crimes revealed during allocution, yes, but certainly not for crimes not confessed during allocution.”

“Thank you Mr. Vickers for making my principal argument for me, which is precisely why the agreement specifically refers to high crimes and misdemeanors revealed during allocution.

“Your Honor, I’m concerned that during allocution Mr. Tyne will reveal violations of one or more federal statutes that were not anticipated by Mr. Vickers or me during our negotiations to this point and I wish to preclude any unpleasant surprises for my client.  I have heard some but certainly not all of the facts Mr. Tyne will allocute to and of course, none of the questions he will be asked so the potential for prosecutorial abuse is very real.  I’m not proposing anything in the agreement the government doesn’t routinely grant federal informants.  My client should be protected equally from federal as well as state prosecution in return for the information he will provide but without a written agreement to that effect we must rely solely on the goodwill of the government.  Meaning no disrespect to any of the federal officials present, my client and I would prefer a binding written agreement to anyone’s goodwill.”

“Mr. Vickers?” said Thayer.

“May I read what you are proposing?”

Miriam handed Thayer and Vickers each a copy of the two-page agreement she had drafted and Thayer said, “Do you need a few moments to read it Mr. Vickers?”

“No, I’d like to get started with Mr. Tyne’s allocution; I’ll read it while my colleagues are conducting their examination of Mr. Tyne.”

“Very well, Ms. Silveira, are you now ready to proceed?”

“I am as long as it’s clearly understood that we expect all three agreements to be signed before we will surrender the physical artifacts that are the basis of this hearing.”

“Noted, Mr. Vickers, does the government intend to call Mr. Tyne as a witness in any pending or future federal prosecution?”

“We intend to use the transcript of this proceeding as a deposition to establish the provenance of the items Mr. Tyne surrenders.”

“Then I think Mr. Tyne should be sworn,” and he did so.  “Now Mr. Vickers, you may proceed.”

Vickers repeated his opening question and Tyne spoke for almost forty minutes about the night LaPone and his two associates came to his ranch.  During his presentation he identified each package of weapons, which were taken from which man and that he had found the sniper rifle and spotting scope in the trunk of the car the men came in and only assumed they belonged to LaPone.  When he finished the attorney from the Oregon Attorney General’s office asked, “What did you do with the bodies?”

“I dumped them in Mill Creek Wilderness.”

“How did you transport them there?”

“In the car they came in.”

“Please describe how you did that?”

“I stripped the bodies of their clothes and personal effects and loaded them into the car and parked it out of sight behind some rocks…” Tyne described in some detail staging his pickup truck in Prineville and using his dirt bike to return to the ranch, first stopping at the Bandit Springs rest area to scout out a suitable place to dump the bodies.

“The next day, Tuesday the 11th, I drove to Summit Road a mile north of Bandit Springs, the forest service road that forms the eastern boundary of the wilderness area and I drove up that road exactly 8.7 miles to the place I had found the previous day with the dirt bike.  I left my ranch a little after midnight in order to arrive at the rest area before first light.  It was a little before five when I reached the spot I intended to use.  I unloaded the bodies and pitched each of them over the edge.  I estimated from the time it took for them to hit bottom that the drop was at least 400 feet.  I then drove to the place where I left the car and turned it into a derelict.  I then used my bicycle to return to my truck in Prineville and was back at my ranch by early afternoon.”

“Why the Mill Creek Wilderness?  Why did you choose that particular spot?”

“In the summer of 1998 there was a major forest fire, the Hash Rock fire that was ignited by lightning strikes northeast of Prineville.  It was pushed by the wind into Mill Creek Wilderness and once it did the fire fighters gave up trying to put it out.  The terrain is incredibly rugged and inaccessible so the crews focused on keeping the fire from jumping Highway 26.  They did and the fire wasn’t extinguished until it began to snow in October.  Remembering that fire, it seemed like a good place to dump the bodies.

“If you want to recover what the coyotes haven’t eaten you could have a team rappel down the face of that cliff. Or, you could hover a helicopter, say fifty feet off the bottom and lower a team by winch. But getting at them overland… forget that.”

“These vests, can you say with certainty which vest was worn by which man?”

“Indirectly; each is a different size.  LaPone was a big man, well over six feet and stocky while Desantis was the smallest.  I’d say the middling sized one belonged to DiSalvo.”

“These infrared devices you used to secure your property, how did you acquire them?”

“From Capitol Security Supply of Reston, Virginia.”

“But such devices are restricted and are not available for sale to civilians?”

“They were happy to take my money.”

“But someone helped you buy that stuff.  Someone authorized by his or her position within law enforcement had to say it was okay for you to purchase that stuff.  Who was it?”

When Tyne said nothing the attorney said, “We can call the company and ask them.”

“Then why are you asking me?”

“I can ask you anything I want and you have to answer or we can deem your allocution unacceptable and that would invalidate these immunity agreements.  Didn’t your attorney instruct you that you have to answer?”

“My attorney told me not to lie.  Refusing to answer is not lying.  Refusing to answer is nothing more than preventing you from sanctioning a brother officer with whom you disagree.”

“No, it’s a little more complicated than that.  If you want immunity and these new identity credentials you must answer.”

“Bullshit.  The only thing I have to do is tell the truth about any crimes I committed.  Buying some electronics stuff and even inducing someone to help me buy it is not a crime.”

“You’re gambling Mr. Tyne and you’re not a lawyer so you could be wrong.”

“I’m gambling that you want all this shit,” and Tyne gestured at the array of weapons laid out on the table, “plus the laptop computer more than you want to know details that involve other people in the most incidental ways.  I’m admitting killing eight people so how I obtained the security devices is trivial in the grand scheme of things.”

“Your Honor, please instruct Mr. Tyne that he must answer my question.”

“Mr. Tyne, why are you refusing to answer Mr. Blair’s question?  It seems a perfectly reasonable one to me.”

“An officer I respect did vouch for me to that company but I fail to see how revealing his identity serves any purpose.  I admit killing those three men.  Furthermore, I admit that I planned the ambush and that I let Desantis bleed to death in order to satisfy myself that he was telling me the truth.  I have no intention of answering that question so I respectfully suggest we move on.”

“If you don’t answer Mr. Blair’s question I will halt these proceedings and render these agreements null and void?”

“I guess we’re done then.  Mr. Holzner, please be kind enough to wrap the LaPone laptop in that plastic material.”  All during this exchange Tyne kept his eyes locked, unwavering, on attorney Blair’s face, never once looking at anyone else even though he knew another in the room was versant with all of the issues relating to the equipment purchases.

“Jonathan, are you sure you want to do this?  These immunity agreements are priceless and these credentials are exactly what you need?” said Miriam.

“It’s done.”  Tyne rose from his chair, stepped behind it and pushed it against the table clearly signaling his intention to leave.

“I vouched for Mr. Tyne to Capitol Security,” said Castelano.  They all turned to look at the Oakland cop.  “He called me and explained what he wanted to buy and from whom and what he was going to do with the equipment and I thought it was a good idea to secure his property, since I’m the one who told him about the Tosca threat and that it was better for him to avoid the Bay Area.  I still think it was a good idea, otherwise LaPone would have killed Mr. Tyne.”

“Is that true Mr. Tyne?”

“Yes.”

“Was it Lieutenant Castelano who told you the Oakland police had been paid to look the other way?”

“No, what the lieutenant told me was that no one in law enforcement could protect me before the fact.  He said the criminal justice system was designed to track bad behavior so that bad actors can be apprehended after the fact.  All the police could do was pick up the pieces afterwards and if they got lucky, perhaps apprehend the perpetrators.  He warned me that the Tosca crowd was very determined and very dangerous, to keep my head down and he wished me luck.”

“Is that true lieutenant?”

“To the best of my recollection, that’s exactly what I said.”

The attorney seemed satisfied or at least he had no additional questions so Tyne resumed his seat and moved on to how he killed Jimmy Tosca and tied the search for Tosca to information about Sylvia Rotolo obtained from Vincent Desantis.  Philip Schiff took up the interrogation and he spent at least an hour taking Tyne through the surveillance and stakeout of Rotolo’s Fairbanks Avenue bungalow.  When Miriam suggested they take a break Schiff said, “Your former wife lied to the police about you being with her the night Jimmy Tosca and Donnie Apia were killed, didn’t she?”

“That’s true.”

“So in addition to committing two homicides you and she conspired to kill these two men, isn’t that also true?”

“If Mr. Tyne has immunity for homicide, which these agreements indeed provide, then he also has immunity for conspiracy to commit homicide.  If he cannot be prosecuted for conspiracy neither can his ex-wife.  There must be at least two parties to a conspiracy and in this case, de jure there were not two so Mr. Tyne’s ex-wife cannot possibly be a conspirator.  Whether she obstructed justice or not is interesting gossip but irrelevant.  I think we should move on,” said Miriam.

“My ex-wife agreed to give me an alibi but she did not know what I was going to do.”

“I think we should move on,” said Miriam.  “In fact, I really do need a break.”

“Let’s take fifteen minutes,” said Thayer.

. . .

When they resumed Schiff asked Tyne when was it he decided to kill Jimmy Tosca and Donnie Apia?

“As to Tosca, it was when I read his e-mails to Peter Napoletano in which he encouraged LaPone to torture and kill my ex-wife and Catherine Duvall to learn my whereabouts and as to Apia, he was present and functioning as Tosca’s bodyguard the night I shot him.”

Miriam then handed out copies of the ten e-mail threads Tyne had mentioned.  Tyne was asked to describe his relationship with Catherine Duvall and he did, except he left out the events of May 19th and any mention of the white van.  He knew Schiff was aware of his relationship with Catherine from the investigation conducted by Lieutenant Harris, whom he knew worked for Mike Castelano.  Tyne was prepared to talk about the white van but only if the questions asked suggested anyone had knowledge of those events.  Schiff seemed satisfied and Elizabeth Sullivan then asked him to describe the killing of Francesco Tosca, Anthony Dellacroce and Victor Maruca.  He did and also explained how he used the DHC-2 to discover the road detour that gave him an alibi.  He also described landing at Lakeview, Oregon to buy gas but omitted mentioning the help Raul Ochoa had provided.  Sullivan was livid when he first mentioned the airplane and showed her his FAA pilot’s license.

While she was looking at his license Castelano asked why Tyne had impaled Francesco Tosca with the rebar?  He said, “To make sure he was dead.  People can survive the most awful wounds; I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t and it was the only silent weapon available.”

“The press speculated there was a message intended or it was ritualistic.  We even asked a psychologist to prepare a profile of the sort of person who would do such a thing.”

“You wasted the tax payers’ money.  When I left my condo I looked for a sturdy edged weapon and the best I could come up with was a steak knife.  All my best tools were at the ranch but there were a few pieces of rebar in the garage I had used to lay out a sprinkler system and I took them along rather than have nothing.”

“Why didn’t you just shoot Francesco Tosca in the head the way you shot his brother?”

“Because the weapon I used on Jimmy was suppressed while my own pistol is loud.”

“Which pistol did you use on Jimmy?”

“The SIG.  It’s the most accurate of the three I acquired from LaPone and his crew.”

Sullivan then resumed questioning him.  She asked why he didn’t go to the police after receiving the telephone warning?

“My attorneys all asked the same question so I have racked my brain to recollect as precisely as possible what the caller said to me.  I wrote it down and you may have copies of it but I’d like to read it for the record, if I may?”

Judge Thayer asked to see a copy and Miriam handed it to him.  He read it and then said, “Yes, please read it for the record.”

Tyne read from his copy: “‘Mr. Tyne, if you want to live to see tomorrow, don’t go home tonight.  Go to a motel, stay at your office, go back to Oregon or wherever, but under no circumstances go home.  Frank Tosca knows you’re in town this week and staying at your condo.  At least two and possibly three Tosca enforcers intend to take you out tonight.  Up until now you’ve made some good moves playing the invisible man, but you also made a foolish mistake.  The singer you’ve been shtupping works for a connected guy.  Even if you get lucky and survive tonight, chasing after that one will get you killed.  Don’t be stupid.  Trust no one.  And don’t waste your time going to the police.  The Oakland cops and the locals have been paid to look the other way.’

“I didn’t go to the police because I thought it was pointless and as I said, I watched my condo to see whether anyone would come and when they did, I assumed the rest of the warning was valid.”

“Why didn’t you run?  The caller thought you’d be safe in Oregon?  Your plane was only minutes away and you were out of the condo before anyone arrived?”

“For two reasons; first, I was concerned that to run based on the warning could be exactly what someone wanted me to do, and second, it wouldn’t have stopped anything.  They would simply have tried again, and as we’ve seen, they did.”

“But isn’t it reasonable to assume they sent LaPone after you because you killed Francesco Tosca?”

“You can believe that if you like but in order for that to be true you also have to believe Jimmy was indifferent to the death of Frank Tosca, Jr.  They blamed me for that even though it happened in Europe.  I don’t.”

“But you could be wrong, right?”

“Yes, it’s possible I was wrong and had I run they might have become discouraged and given up the chase.  It’s also possible that pigs can fly and you can believe that too if you like but I choose not to.”

“Did you, in any way, direct or indirect, have anything to do with the death of Frank Tosca, Jr.?”

“None.”

“Was Frank Tosca, Jr. the man you shot at Pietro’s in March of 1999?”  Sullivan fixed Tyne with the stare.

“I do not know whom I shot that night… because his face was completely obscured by a stocking mask.  I told you and your investigator that at the time and I’m telling you now.  I cannot identify the man I shot.”

Sullivan continued to stare at Tyne and when she failed to get him to blink or look away she said, “Did you think killing Francesco Tosca would end this… your attorney called it a war.  Did you think it would end with the death of Mr. Tosca?”

“I hoped it would.  I believe in the maxim that if you cut off the king’s head you don’t have to worry about the king’s army.  That’s what I endeavored to do.”

“Is that what you were doing when you killed Jimmy Tosca; cutting off another king’s head?”

“Yes.”

“Mr. Tyne, when does it stop?”

Sullivan was again staring at Tyne with her best prosecutorial stare and Tyne stared back and after a pause for effect he said, “It stops, Ms. Sullivan, when you and your colleagues here take these predators off the street.”

“Whom are you going to kill next, Peter Napoletano… or Arthur Rhoades?  Mr. Napoletano is mentioned prominently in those e-mails you cited and isn’t Mr. Rhoades the connected guy in that warning you claim you received?”

Tyne shook his head in frustration.  “Ms. Sullivan, I can’t believe how fucking clueless you are.  The Toscas, Dellacroce, Maruca and Apia were Sicilian.  They were never going to quit, not on this side of the great divide.  With them I had no choice.  If you knew anything at all about these people you might have asked me about Turco rather than those other two, except he’s not related to any of them by blood or marriage, but he is the logical choice now to run things.  Napoletano is Italian and Rhoades is just a bean counter… businessmen, and as such know that a vendetta is bad for business.  Both are your problems now, not mine.  My war is over.  I’m going to take my new credentials and disappear and I’ll only come back when I see that you’ve indicted those two for racketeering. And although I can’t prove it,” as Tyne looked pointedly and gestured at Wright, “but maybe you guys can, Rhoades is responsible for the death of an Oregon woman named Sharon Robinette.”

“Why should we do that?”

“Because Napoletano is at one end of the money-laundering scheme Vincent Desantis told me about before he died and Rhoades is at the other.  Desantis called Napoletano the mob’s banker.  According to him Napoletano owns a bank in the Caymans and a bottled water plant in Warren, Pennsylvania called Allegheny Spring Water.  The plant ships most of its output to the Leeward Islands and the money moves to the plant in trucks also owned by Napoletano.  Desantis didn’t say but I think it’s reasonable to infer that when the plant buys stuff needed for operations it gets shipped in trucks owned by mob-controlled trucking companies.  Don’t ask me the name of the bank or the trucking companies; Desantis either didn’t know or he chose not to tell me but I verified for myself that Allegheny does exist in Warren.  Now as to connecting Napoletano and Rhoades, the former along with his wife owns something called Salt Creek Enterprises LLC of Providence, Rhode Island and this Salt Creek LLC is one of the investors in Rhoades’ Blue Flame Properties.”

Miriam now handed copies of two pages taken from the Duvall report prepared by ESS showing the details of Blue Flame Limited Partnership #7 and Salt Creek’s 1120-S income tax return for 1993 to Vickers, Sullivan, Schiff, Blair and the woman from Sacramento who had yet to ask a question.

Tyne watched, fascinated, as Vickers merely glanced at his copy, handing it to Snow, the attorney for the FBI, who read it carefully and then handed it to Wright, who like Vickers merely glanced at it.  Tyne concluded that the information came as a surprise only to Snow who was probably not in the loop.

“Where did you get this material?” said Sullivan.

“After the dust settled from Tosca-one my ex-wife offered to obtain a background report from an executive security firm her business employs, something she called a known associates and associations report, on Catherine Duvall.  At the time I was intimately involved with Ms. Duvall and I wanted to learn whether there was any substance to what I was told by the anonymous caller concerning her relationship with Rhoades.  These two pages came from that report.”

“Your ex-wife knew you killed Francesco Tosca?”

“She guessed I probably did but I never explicitly confirmed to her that I did.”

“May we see this report?”

“The report is in my possession and I can say categorically there is nothing more in it that is relevant to this proceeding,” said Miriam.  “I judge it to be work product and thus privileged.”

“Does your firm also represent Ms. Duvall?”

“In certain contexts yes, though the exact nature of the relationship is of course confidential.”

“Mr. Tyne, when was the last time you communicated with Ms. Duvall?”

“The day I was interviewed by detective Harris regarding the deaths of Jimmy Tosca and Donnie Apia.  Harris couldn’t locate Ms. Duvall and had not tried the simple expedient of calling her on the phone.  I did, spoke briefly with her and then I handed the phone to Harris.  I believe she was in Canada at the time.”

“And you have not spoken to her since?”

“Nope.”

“Why not sir, since you said you two are intimately involved?”

“We were, past tense, but in January she broke it off and after she spoke to Harris she hung up on me.”

Tyne thought he noticed a non-verbal communication, a nod, between Sullivan and the man from Oregon named Blair, who said, “Would you elaborate please on the death of Sharon Robinette?”

“Excuse me Hal, Judge Thayer, I fail to see how a discussion of this man Rhoades’ mistress is relevant to these proceedings?” said Vickers.

Tyne stared at Blair and said, “Will you enlighten him or shall I?”

“Yes, please enlighten us all, since I haven’t heard this either,” said Miriam.

Finally Blair said, “Sharon Robinette is… or was the sister-in-law of the Honorable Kenneth Lilja, member of congress from Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District.”

Tyne turned away and pressed his fingers and thumb into his eyes. Suddenly, he rose and hurriedly left the conference room, saying, “I need a moment.” Every pair of eyes in the room stared in amazement at his sudden departure. Even his two lawyers were stunned into silence and neither thought to call out or moved to bring him back. He was gone several minutes but when he returned his face was composed. “Sorry, collateral damage. Of all that has happened, of all the men I killed, I regret most what happened to Sharon. She was a friend. Her only sin was her poor choice in men. Catherine Duvall has that same failing as she too was once involved with Rhoades. Now that she has moved back to Canada I’m hoping she has cut that cord for good.”

Miriam gripped his hand under the table when Judge Thayer instructed him to proceed.

“I asked Vincent Desantis, as he was dying, whether Rhoades killed Ms. Robinette. He said he knew no one by that name, so I explained to him that she was Rhoades’ girlfriend and that she was found dead of an apparent drug overdose the day after a Venezuelan named Argueta Otálvaro and Nicholas Parma tried to kill Catherine Duvall and me at Ms. Duvall’s home in Bend the night of 11-12 September 1999. Desantis said Rhoades stayed the weekend of 10-12 September with Robinette because he’d rented out his home at Black Butte Ranch. He gave Francesco Tosca her phone number. Rhoades had traveled to Bend from the Bay Area to participate in meetings at a restaurant he co-owned that had sustained damage as the result of a fire earlier that week. Incidentally, another purpose of his trip to Bend was to determine whether I was staying that weekend in Bend with Catherine Duvall. According to Desantis some time Saturday, the eleventh, Tosca called Rhoades on Robinette’s landline. He answered and unfortunately for Robinette, he failed to turn off her answering machine, so the entire conversation was recorded. Later, the woman listened to her messages and learned what had gone down. Again, according to Desantis Rhoades could not bring himself to kill the woman even though that’s what Tosca ordered him to do, so Tosca sent Anthony Dellacroce to Bend to do the job. Apparently Dellacroce chartered a jet and flew to Redmond, Oregon. He killed the woman with an injection of nearly pure heroin but he timed it so that Rhoades had an alibi, his arrival the afternoon of the thirteenth in San Francisco by commercial air from Oregon.

“I think what Desantis told me amounts to what is known in law as a dying declaration and thus is an exception to the hearsay rule but my attorney gets very upset with me whenever I attempt to make a legal point, since I have not studied the law.”

“How can we be sure Desantis knew he was dying?” said Blair.

“Oh he knew all right.  I made it clear to him when I removed the tourniquet that I thought he was lying about the things he told me and I would only put the tourniquet back on if he told me the truth.”

“Yes, but simply removing a tourniquet that has been in place for several minutes will not automatically result in a victim’s death,” again from attorney Blair. “Before a person bleeds out his blood might clot, thus sealing even a severed artery. The clot may be unstable but it might hold until the victim can be re moved to a medical facility. How did you know his blood loss was mortal, and more to the point, how did you convince him that it was mortal?”

“The severed artery, in my opinion, was not from the buckshot pellets, the wounds from which were high up on his thigh, but from the jagged end of the femoral, which was sticking out of his thigh a few inches above the knee. I believe he broke his leg when he fell after being shot twice. I’ve seen more wounded, dying and dead men than anyone in this room other than Lieutenant Castelano here will see in a lifetime, but as you say, more to the point, I intended to keep his wound bleeding, even if it stopped on its own.”

In the ensuing silence this revelation elicited Castelano said, “I have additional information concerning a series of phone calls made by and to Nicholas Parma that may be relevant I’ll share with the attorney from Oregon subsequent to this allocution.”

They seemed to have run out of questions so during the pause the computer expert, Philip Druary, asked Tyne for the password to the LaPone computer.  The forensics technician had long since finished dusting it for fingerprints.

“Before Mr. Tyne reveals the password I’d like to get a sense that the attorneys for Oregon and California are satisfied with Mr. Tyne’s allocution and will not withhold their signatures from the immunity agreements?” said Miriam.

When no one spoke Judge Thayer said, “As before no one will speak first so I will.  I now wish to hear specific reasons why any of the parties present deem Mr. Tyne’s allocution inadequate.  When I hear those reasons we can discuss how to remedy them.  I want to see this allocution end satisfactorily and will act to arbitrate any lingering reservations the parties may have.”

“Your Honor, may I say something?” said Tyne.

“Please do?”

“When Mr. Druary examines the computer he is going to discover that LaPone held funds in offshore accounts at ScotiaBank.  My attorney advised me that these immunity agreements cover felonies I committed between Tosca-one and Tosca-two inclusive and that I must fess up to everything I did for the agreements to be valid.  The money in those accounts is now in an account that I own and control and I intend to keep it.  LaPone intended to kill me so I seized his assets, those that I could find, in lieu of civil damages.  Please note in one of the e-mail threads mention of the fee for killing me he received in advance from Jimmy Tosca.  You can call it embezzlement or misappropriation or just plain theft but I consider it to be covered by those agreements and I’m not surrendering the funds.  I’ll give Mr. Druary the password after all the lawyers have had their says regarding these funds and we settle the issue that they now belong to me.”

“How much are we talking about?” said Vickers.

“After I converted his stocks to cash, $637,779.40.  I have since used a small amount to cover my expenses to set up a new account that only I control.”

“It now comes clear why Ms. da Silveira insisted on a grant of federal immunity,” said Vickers, “so her client can keep this money.”

Tyne then listened while Miriam argued with Snow, Blair and the woman from Sacramento who’s name turned out to be Phyllis Meeker, about the disposition of the money. They all had various reasons why each jurisdiction was entitled to some or all of LaPone’s financial assets, being as they argued the product of his criminal behavior. In the end Miriam said that like it or not, her client was adamant and the timing of his act fell within the period covered by both immunity agreements. If they insisted on recovering the funds they would wind up with nothing and would have to develop information about Napoletano’s money-laundering scheme independent of what they learned from Mr. Tyne during allocution. She reminded them, as if they needed a reminder, the money and assets the government was likely to recover from dismantling Napoletano’s operation were orders of magnitude greater than the trifling sum her client had appropriated from LaPone. When they finally demurred Tyne gave Druary the password.

Druary logged into the machine with user account rocco, password !lupara, quickly opened Eudora and said, “How did you decrypt these PGP messages?”

“He kept the pass phrases in a file named somepgpstuff.txt.  I can’t remember which directory it’s in but you can find it with the file search utility.”

Druary found the file and began reading the e-mails with Snow looking over his shoulder.  He said, “How did you crack the password?”

Tyne slid the 3.5” plastic disk across the table and said, “I booted the machine with this and I downloaded the NTFS file system driver NTFSDOS from the Internet.  I copied the SAM file to the disk and then hacked the password with L0phtcrack.”

“Where did you learn how to do that?”

“From the book Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets & Solutions.”

“What sort of machine did you use?”

“A 4-processor Intel server with four Xeon cores running Linux with LaPone’s machine running in a VMware virtual partition.”

“How long did it take?”

“I think it stopped running at about 18 hours after trying a little over half of the possible permutations.”

“What pattern of permutations?”

“An ASCII word, that word preceded and followed by a single special and the word both preceded and followed by the special.”

“Did you use a dictionary?”

“Yes, the Italian language dictionary that comes with Microsoft Word.”

“Did you open the case or in any way tamper with the machine?”

“No and I wore gloves whenever I handled it.  Once I copied the disk’s image I kept it wrapped in that plastic until today.”

“I understand you copied the image to a replica?  Is that how you found the file containing the pass phrases?”

“Yes.”

“How were you able to get into his account at ScotiaBank?”

“His browser was Netscape and his master Netscape password for the software security device was the same as the machine account password.  Had it not been I’d have used the same technique I used to hack the SAM file.”

“So if I do the same thing, attempt to log into his ScotiaBank account, what am I likely to see?”

“You won’t be able to log in as I changed his password.”

“You obviously have spent a great deal of time studying his e-mails?  Can you point me to those that discuss Mr. James W. Coyne?”

Tyne walked around to where Druary was sitting and said, “May I?”

Druary handed him a pair of latex gloves; he’d discarded his after arranging the weapons, and with them on Tyne found the threads relating to Coyne.  He then returned to his seat while Druary and Snow pored over the messages.  While Snow read the e-mails Druary said, “Do you remember the date and time you hacked the machine, as close as you can recall?”

Tyne thought back over the events immediately after the shooting and said, “It was the morning after the shooting, Monday April 10th, and it was right after I had breakfast, probably between 9 and 10 A.M.”

“What did you use to make the image copy?”

“NTBackup.”

“So I won’t find file access after, say 10 A.M. on April 10th of this year?”

“That’s correct.  I did all my research on the replica.”

“And where will I find the information about the ScotiaBank account?”

“Do a search for the Winzip file scotiabank1998.  When you unpack that archive you’ll find an Excel spreadsheet that documents his use of the account for ‘98.  There’s also one for 1999 and 2000.  LaPone was a very meticulous record keeper.  I think you should be able to match the e-mails in which he discusses the people he killed with the money transfers to learn how much he was paid for each.  I intended to do that but I never seemed to have enough time.”

Snow and Druary continued to examine the messages for several minutes and then Snow blurted out, “Shit, the son of a bitch got eighty grand for killing Coyne.  And Tino Cassili paid for the hit.  Jesus, we’ve got his ass at last, and Jackie Harbaugh’s too, the business manager of Coyne’s local.”  He leaned back in his chair and said, “Mr. Blair and Ms. Meeker, we really need this computer so I want you both to grit your teeth and sign those immunity agreements.  You too Franklin, it’s worth it.”

Vickers handed them to each in turn and they both signed while he signed the federal agreement. Miriam squeezed Tyne’s hand under the table so hard her nails left red marks on the back of his wrist. Maggie gathered up the agreements and left to make photocopies. After that the government attorneys all seemed to loosen up and talk among themselves and one by one they left the conference room. The forensics technician packed the weapons into the tote while Tyne, in no hurry to leave, examined each of the new credentials carefully and when he finished placed them back in the cardboard shipping container they had been in and went to wait for Miriam in her office.

Before he got up to leave, and after Sullivan and Schiff had both departed, Mike Castelano, who Tyne noticed seemed to be lingering, as if he wanted to say something, stepped close, bent so he could speak discreetly, first touched his shoulder and then squeezed his arm. Very quietly he said, “Got a plane to catch; otherwise I’d let you buy me a drink. Watch out for Wright. He’s not your friend. He wants Carpenter’s job and he’ll do anything to get it, including using you. The next time you’re in the Bay Area call me. We’ll drink some beer and talk some shit from the old days when we were both young and stupid. Better yet, bring the Canadian woman with and I’ll grill some steaks.” Tyne said nothing but nodded assent and with one last hard squeeze of his arm the cop left the room.

While Tyne was waiting for Miriam, who was arranging to receive a transcript of Tyne’s testimony, David Hardin stuck his head in the door and said, “Are you in a big hurry to leave or can we talk?”

“I’m not going back to the Bay Area until tomorrow; what’s on your mind?”

“Boats are what’s on my mind, specifically yours.” Tyne was sitting in the corner of Miriam’s leather sofa so David sat in the matching club chair beside him and said, “You didn’t tell me that the banks don’t like to loan money on steel boats, particularly those that are one-offs?”

“I’ve never tried to get one so I wasn’t aware that was policy.  Have you changed your mind about buying Northern Lights?”

“No, but I’m just a poor struggling bottom feeder, not a big shot money bags client who just rolled the feds for six hundred Gs and change.  I need you to take back a loan.”

“Is that all; I thought you were going to chicken out and buy a fiberglass boat at twice the price?  Did you get herself to help you write up an offer? The way she rolled those feds I’m sure to get a proper skinning.”

”Yes, she’s now the resident expert on marine transactions,” and he handed Tyne a manila file folder containing two copies of the five-page offer to purchase. Tyne read through the well-drafted offer; Miriam had used the sample he had given David plus she’d done her own research into the wording of contingencies. David would put twenty thousand down and make eight quarterly payments of sixteen grand at nine percent but he wanted fresh bottom paint and new zincs, and the offer was subject to survey and Hardin’s ability to purchase acceptable marine insurance. She also spelled out David’s expectation that Tyne would assist taking the boat north at no charge other than a week’s use of the boat when the Hardins were not using it. If he wanted the boat for longer than a week, she’d included what looked to Tyne like a competitive bare-boat weekly charter rate. There were also several paragraphs that dealt with Tyne’s liability during the week or weeks he would use the boat and how he would make them whole if he damaged the boat; a typical charter agreement that made the lessee liable for everything including a diver post-cruise to inspect for bottom damage. David was learning fast.

“This is fine but I thought we agreed the price would be one thirty-three? Why the extra three grand?” – the quarterly payments amortized a balance of 116K after the down payment.

“It’s an inducement to get you to provide financing.”

“I noticed you left the seller’s name blank?”

“I don’t know your new name.  Neither Maggie nor Mimi would tell me what it is.”

Tyne handed David his new passport and David said, “Whelan, good Irish name, but didn’t we change your name to Michael Whelan last year? And isn’t that the name we’ve used in the trust agreements I created?”

“Yes, we did but without a middle name.”

“Does that mean you have credentials both with and without a middle name?”

“Un-huh, and a set of Tyne credentials too.”

“You clever rascal,” and he hand entered Tyne’s full new name on the purchase agreement. While Tyne initialed each page and signed the agreement Hardin wrote out a personal check for the down payment. He gave David the name and phone number of a marine insurance broker in Seattle. They then discussed scheduling the survey and agreed to take the boat north over the July 4th weekend.

When Miriam finally joined them after the last of the visitors departed while they were still discussing the trip north, they hugged and kissed and she told him the hard part was over.  What was left was to complete the money transfers, to document Tyne’s untimely death and if he still desired new credentials for Catherine Duvall, to obtain from her copies of her existing credentials and what she desired her new name to be.  Miriam assured him that she would oversee all these details.  Tyne also asked her to send a copy of the transcript to the congressman.  If anyone, he said, could keep the heat on the Oregon authorities to go after Rhoades for Sharon Robinette’s death, it was he.  She said she would do that too.

David looked a little surprised when he heard Catherine’s name mentioned; he assumed Tyne and Mimi were an item.  He shook hands with Tyne and returned to his office.  Miriam and Tyne had dinner together at Fong Chong’s at 4th and Everett in nearby Chinatown. During dinner Miriam said her daughter was visiting so the guest room was not available but if he wanted to stay with her in her room that was quite all right.  He elected to stay on his boat at RiverPlace.  He told her even if he wanted to stay with her that was not the best way to meet her daughter for the first time.  The next day he returned to San Francisco on a mid-morning flight.

Back in his apartment in Portola Valley he checked for encrypted e-mail for the first time in almost a week at wildhorseconsulting.com and found one he initially thought was from Catherine.  It wasn’t.  It was from Raymond Wright who wrote:

Congratulations Michael Thomas Whelan.  You did good.  However, I’m wondering if there was a message for us in your allocution; something about your war being over and you intended to disappear until a couple of the opposition were indicted for racketeering?  Don’t hold your breadth.  At this point we don’t know what the best disposition is of your information but have no fear, we will think of something appropriate.  Regarding the Coyne information, you deserved immunity for that alone.  California was bluffing, Vickers knew they were bluffing but he wanted to see what Ms. da Silveira and you would do about calling their bluff.  You caved too soon; you could have had those agreements without disclosing Napoletano’s Cayman bank or his bottled water plant.  In fact, you gave away too much but as good as she is, you are both amateurs so you can be excused for not knowing how good your cards really were.

Now to get down to cases, the director said you would send your thoughts and requirements for joining us.  I thought we would have had them by now so I’m wondering whether you changed your mind?  I like you Michael Thomas and I want to work with you and I respect what you did way back when for the director but I’m not bound by any fucking IIPA 1982 bullshit.  If I want to out you I can do it in such a way that no one, and I mean no one will ever know it was I.  And if you get back with the Canadian woman and she gets a new identity, I’ll out her too.  Now let’s both calm down, no threats, just a couple of badass motherfuckers who are going to do great things together.  Please send me your requirements ASAP, I’ll make sure they are properly addressed and we’ll get the show on the road.  I hear we’re going to Coronado for a few weeks.  I always wanted to see what those guys are made of so I’m looking forward to the trip.

Tyne wrote back:

I’ve been a little busy the last few days getting ready to play those cards.  Tomorrow I’ll draft my expectations.  From what I’ve seen so far I can’t imagine what I will ask for that will seem unreasonable.  Later alligator…

He then wrote an e-mail to Catherine bringing her up to speed and he noticed with some satisfaction that she had at least read his last to her.

How to get rid of three dead bodies

That’s my protagonist’s dilemma in my second novel, Rogue Elephants. It’s part of a series that begins with Affirmative Action. The character’s name is Jonathan Tyne. The three dead men came to kill him and it cost them their lives. He knew they were coming. Not them specifically, these three, but he knew someone was coming. He’d been warned by a cop friend. And he was prepared. The odds, three against one, were against him, and he knew whomever came would not come alone. So, he set up an ambush to blunt some of the advantage they had and they walked right into it. Now he has three corpses to dispose of and the car they came in.

He can’t go to the police. What he did, the ambush and the aftermath were quite illegal. One of the men was badly wounded and could have survived the encounter if Jonathan had been willing to help, by for instance, transporting him to a hospital. He wasn’t. His intent from the beginning was to kill anyone who came for him. Before the wounded man bled to death, he served a useful purpose: he gave up information about who sent them and how they found him. He didn’t want to give it up but he did. Jonathan crossed the line when he extracted that information. Torture and depraved indifference, not to mention the ambush itself, are crimes in Oregon and elsewhere even if the victim is a hired killer.

Jonathan lives on a quarter-section in the back-of-beyond in Oregon, so he could bury them. He could borrow a back hoe from a neighbor, dig a deep hole and plant them. But, and there’s always a but, he’d have to tell the neighbor why he needed the hoe. He could say one of his horses died and he had to bury it but then he’d have to shoot one of the horses because the neighbor knew how many he had. He loves his horses, as much as any human can love a horse, so killing one of his is out of the question. He’d kill a man or men who tried to kill him, or die trying, but killing one of his own just for the sake of killing wasn’t in the cards. Besides, when the three turned up missing, in a few days or perhaps a week, someone would come looking for them. He’d made himself hard to find but these three had found him and others would too, especially if these three had reported his whereabouts to the person that hired them.

That’s enough of a preamble. Pretend you spotted Rogue Elephants on the new-fiction table at B&N, were attracted by the cover art and decided you could invest ten minutes or so reading a few pages. You opened the book at random and came upon these passages. Enjoy, and please tell me what you think. The thing an author most wants is constructive criticism (or criticism, even if it isn’t constructive). 😉

—)|(—)|(—)|(—)|(—)|(—)|(—)|(—

West of John Day the highway is flat to rolling and moves away from the steep mountains that block radio reception on 395. Tyne turned on his radio and tuned it to a station that updates news and weather on the half hour. He was carrying chains in case he ran into snow at either Keyes Summit or Bandit Springs but he hoped he would not need them. The station played the usual rural-America nasal-twangy country music that did nothing for Tyne. He much preferred smooth jazz, any and all piano, R&B or the folk/rock exemplified by Carly Simon and Carole King, but he needed to hear that weather report. When it came on he was pleased to learn that the weather throughout central and eastern Oregon would be clear, with high pressure expected to last at least the next 48 hours. That would not only make this trip easy but also tomorrow’s more complicated and risk-laden one with the bodies. He switched to a favorite Simon CD and settled back for what he hoped would be a totally uneventful trip.

It was. He made good time to Prineville, stopping only briefly to use the pit toilet at Bandit Springs. Thirty minutes later, at about 1:30, Tyne reached Prineville, quite hungry, so he headed for the Ranchero, a good Mexican restaurant on the east side of town. Prineville is small, only eight thousand or so souls, and would go unnoticed save for the fact that the Les Schwab Tire Company, known throughout the west for its incredible customer service, is headquartered here. Once Prineville was the center of vast lumbering operations in the Ochocos, but no longer. When the Mill Creek plywood mill closed a few years ago, so did much of the town. The lunch hour is mostly over so there are only a few customers, most likely tourists passing through, still lingering over their margaritas. Tyne chose a booth away from everyone else and ordered carne asada and a Negro Modelo. The ride back to Bear Valley on the dirt bike is going to be long and cold so Tyne intends to eat well. The steak is very nicely done and he leaves only a little of the rice. He pays in cash with a nice tip for the young Mexican waitress, and then fires up the big Dodge 4×4. He heads east on highway 26 to Main where he turns right moving in the direction of the Crook County fairgrounds on the southwest side of town where he knows he can park the truck where it will attract little attention.

Near the fairgrounds he slows at each intersection looking for a quiet place to park. At 7th he finds the place he’s looking for and turns into the dead end road. It is lined on both sides with older, not very well-maintained houses. The lots are large, at least a half-acre each, almost all with big mature trees in front, but the lawns are mostly dead or dormant. Some have driveways but most of the cars that can be seen are parked at the curb. A few are parked on the grass and there is at least one sedan resting on blocks, like a beached whale, no doubt for its owner’s amusement. Tyne wonders idly whether such cars ever actually are finished and driven again once they reach this state. Tyne travels several blocks along 7th, almost to its end, and then parks under a large elm behind a fairly new red Ford pick-up. He lets the turbo run a minute or so to let it cool before shutting down the engine. He then sits quietly for at least five minutes while he observes the neighborhood. Not much is stirring, only a few dogs. It’s time to dismount the bike and start for home. With any luck he should make it by 7:00.

Tyne locked the truck and eased the bike down to the road. He then pushed the ramp back into the bed and closed the tailgate. He pulled a knit ski mask over his head, then the helmet and finally the gloves. It took three attempts to start the engine but it ran smoothly and he headed west towards Main. He stopped only once at a feed store where he purchased a half dozen pairs of his favorite gloves, the thin close-fitting suede and nylon kind worn by carpenters. Wearing a pair of these Tyne could pick up a dime or a finish nail and they made excellent shooting gloves.

Within minutes of leaving the store he was east of the town cruising effortlessly at 60. He again stopped at Bandit Springs to relieve himself, then turned off on the forest service road named Summit a mile or so north of the rest stop. He noted his odometer and then followed this road for several miles as it wound and climbed its way towards Cougar Butte. He had ridden this trail many times on horseback but this was his first motorized visit and the distances surprised him. It was actually shorter to the top than he thought but that perception had been conditioned by the slower pace of a horse that needed an occasional rest stop to catch its breath. It was at one of these places where the road was particularly steep that Tyne thought would be suitable as the final resting place for the three dead men.

The road curved to the right as it climbed. On its right side was a steep wall of rock that extended upward hundreds of feet to an unseen rim while on the left was an exposed cliff face. Over that edge was a drop of at least five hundred feet at the bottom of which grew a profusion of willows, wild black berries, sagebrush and junipers. Tyne stopped the engine and set the bike on its stand and walked to the edge. The face of the cliff was so steep he could barely see the bottom but by following the contours of the canyon he could see that approaching the base of the cliff by foot would be extremely challenging and probably impossible by horse. He certainly would not want to risk using one of his horses to make an approach. If one could even get to the base of the cliff, it would require aids to climb to where he now stood. A helicopter could fly through the canyon but there wasn’t anywhere for one to land. To hike into the canyon on foot would require fighting those berry bushes, with all their thorns for at least four miles. Since it was a wilderness area it was against the law to use a motorized vehicle even if the terrain permitted, which it did not. Tyne looked at the odometer and noted that he had traveled 8.7 miles from highway 26 and he decided this would be the place where he would dump the bodies.

He fired up the bike and returned to the highway and continued east towards John Day. He did not stop to see the bear at Mitchell but pressed on and did not stop again until he fueled at Mt Vernon. He arrived back at his ranch tired, stiff, cold and ravenously hungry just at dusk. After feeding Beau and the cats he checked the password-cracking program, which was still running and had already tried more than twenty-six thousand words from the Italian dictionary and 16 million permutations. For his own supper he opened a can of chili to which he added a couple of slices of cheese. He heated it in the microwave and ate it with some nachos and washed it all down with a bottle of cold beer. After he ate he set out his mountain bike along with a tarp to cover the body and a shovel and sledge hammer he intended to use to age the Buick. Then after walking Beau he set his alarm for midnight and slept like the dead.

When the alarm woke him he was so stiff from the motorcycle ride he said screw it and almost went back to sleep. He lay awake for ten minutes and tried to convince himself that the disposal chore could wait another day but finally got up and took several Advil to minimize the stiffness. The password-cracking program was still running having now tried more than 66 million unsuccessful combinations, about 12% of the possibles. Tyne knew it could take more than a full day to try every combination in the dictionary but he was impatient to examine the contents of the laptop and had the cracker been successful he would have postponed the unpleasant chore he was about to undertake.

He dressed quickly and while he brewed a pot of coffee took Beau with him while he loaded his mountain bike and the tools into the Buick. The body in the back seat was stiff with rigor and was just beginning to smell. He slid the tools under the corpse of the man he had killed near the bridge and then covered the body with the tarp. The bike went on top and he secured it with heavy rubber bands with hooks bent into the shape of the letter S. He opened the trunk and satisfied himself that he could get the other two corpses out, then quickly closed the trunk lid as they too were beginning to stink. As bad as this chore was going to be, it would be nothing to how unpleasant it would be if he left it another twenty-four hours. Satisfied he had the tools he would need he confined Beau to his outdoor run.

Back in the kitchen he transferred the strong coffee to a thermos. He knew he would need the forehead flashlight so he grabbed the backpack he’d worn the previous night. He locked the house and returned to the Buick. The engine started immediately and he drove towards the main gate, which he locked behind him. The fuel gauge showed the tank to be ¾ full. He knew he could probably get to Bandit Springs without stopping but just in case he went back to the barn for an empty five-gallon plastic gas can which he placed in the trunk with Vincent and the man whose name he had already forgotten. If he did have to stop for fuel he would walk to the station as if he had run out of gas on the highway.

At this late hour highway 395 was deserted and so was John Day. He saw only one moving car before he turned west on highway 26 and left the town behind him. He made good time to Bandit Springs arriving at the junction with Summit Road at 4:45 well before first light. He switched off his headlights and turned onto the forest service road, and held his speed to twenty MPH. It took 45 minutes to reach the exact spot he had chosen but he was certain he had seen no other headlights either ahead, behind or on any of the other roads that could be seen as he ascended towards Cougar Butte. When he found the spot he shut off the engine and the car’s parking lights and donned the forehead flashlight. Before he turned on its light he stepped out of the car to let his eyes adjust to full dark.

He guessed the elevation at that spot was about 6,000 feet but the eastern horizon was above him so there was still no usable light. The air was so clear that enough moonlight from the sliver of moon visible to the west made it possible to see the car and the edge of the cliff. Tyne began with the man in the backseat. He opened both rear doors, removed his bicycle and the tarp and pulled and pushed the corpse until it was lying on the road on the driver’s side of the car. It took ten minutes of heavy exertion to get the body out and Tyne was sweating and winded from the effort. He took a minute to catch his breath, then dragged the man to within a few feet of the edge. Getting the rigor-stiffened body out of the car had been a challenge but once it was on the ground he had little difficulty dragging it around.

He aligned the body with its feet in the same direction that the car was pointed. He then opened the trunk and one by one, pulled the bodies out and arrayed them in line with the first. When he was done he had all three in a line, head to toe, naked as the day they were born.

Author’s note: equations for falling bodies:

t = \sqrt{\frac{2d} {g}} \;\text{where}\; {g=9.81 \,\text{m/s}^2}
d = \frac{1} {2}gt^2,d \;\text{in meters}

Now he turned on the forehead light so that he could see the edge clearly. He grasped the first body by its left ankle, bent his thighs to give himself the power of his lower body and with a mighty heave, whipped the corpse around in an arc and pitched it out over the edge into the darkness. He began counting slowly and when he reached seven he heard a hollow crumping sound when the body landed at the base of the cliff.

Tyne seldom went anywhere without a scientific pocket calculator; he owned several and his current favorite was a Sharp. A quick calculation told him the drop had been at least 240 meters, nearly 800 feet, much more than he’d thought. He paused just long enough to take several deep breaths and repeated the maneuver with the second corpse. Finally, he came to the third body; it was Vincent, the man he had tortured for information about Jimmy Tosca. Vincent was the smallest of the three but the broken right leg that seemed to move with a mind of its own had made this body the most difficult to handle. Tyne crossed the ankles and gripped both of them as he heaved the body over the edge. After it hit bottom he carefully examined the ground between the car and the edge in the light of the forehead lamp. He could see nothing that looked like human tissue so he laid the bicycle on its side on the backseat, closed the trunk lid and the doors and started the engine.

First light had finally arrived so as before, he used only the parking lights. He had to drive another mile higher along the road until he found a place wide enough to turn around. By the time he reached Bandit Springs he could just see the sun’s corona peaking over the eastern horizon. He had not seen another living soul or a light during the entire exercise and now he turned off his parking lights and drove to Terrebonne.

An hour later he entered the BLM land from Lower Bridge Road near Steamboat Rock. He drove cautiously but at this time of morning he did not expect to see anyone. He drove about a mile into the public land; always pointing south, following roads he vaguely remembered until he found a place others had used to dump their trash. He parked the Buick amongst the debris, lowered all of the windows completely and shut off the engine. First he removed the travel bags from the front seat, damaged each to make it unusable and scattered them amongst the garbage. Then he removed the bicycle, his tools and the jack and set them aside. He then took a few minutes to walk fifty meters away from the car and walked in a full circle looking for any reason not to use this spot. Satisfied, wearing a pair of the new gloves he had purchased the day before he quickly removed the license plates and all four wheels and let the car settle onto the desert floor. He tossed each of the tires, after first releasing its air, in a different direction away from the car and then did the same with the spare. He discarded the fuel tank cap and briefly considered torching the car but decided against it because the fire might attract unwanted attention. He did burn the tarp and the five-gallon gas can to unrecognizable goo since they both undoubtedly bore his fingerprints.

He opened the hood and then for the next hour shoveled sand into every part of the car he could reach as well as on top of the roof, into the engine compartment and the trunk. He stood back from the car as he slung shovel full after shovel full into the car to simulate the effects of blowing sand.

When this was done he used the sledgehammer to break out the windshield, the rear window, the instrument cluster and the radio. He also pounded the radiator until the coolant leaked out and removed and discarded the caps to the brake fluid reservoir and the power steering pump. He removed the oil and transmission dipsticks and tossed them aside. He also ripped out the spark-plug wires and pried off the battery connectors and removed the battery. Then he threw a few more shovels full of sand into the engine compartment to hit any openings he may have missed. He then stepped back and surveyed the result.

There was no question in Tyne’s mind that he had destroyed the car but he was disappointed the paint was still too shiny, too new. He would just have to depend on the wind and the blowing sand to finish the job but he invested another half hour using the shovel to abrade the paint to hasten the deterioration. Then he broke the handles of the shovel and the sledge and tossed them and the jack aside. He checked the glove compartment for documents and torched the owner’s manual. He then mounted the bicycle and headed for Prineville.

Near the road he entered from he passed another dumpsite, much smaller than the one where he left the car. He paused just long enough to bury the license plates under a pile of construction debris, remove the ignition and trunk keys from the key ring and discard the parts separately. He then resumed his ride to where he parked his truck.

* * *

Read the first chapter of Rogue Elephants here.

Let’s get a discussion going…