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25

HOWIE CARBINE, CAPO of southeast Morris County, New Jersey, part-owner of several restaurant chains — Grandmamama's Fish 'n' Fillet, six outlets, New Jersey; Salty Pete's Sea-tacular, four outlets, Staten Island; Leaning Tower of Pizza and Pasta, seven outlets, Queens and Brooklyn; many more — sat at his kitchen island in his very nice if slightly gaudy McMansion, dressed in bathrobe and slippers and peach jockey shorts, and scoffed down some Cap'n Crunch with half-and-half. He looked over to watch as down the stairs from all the bedrooms above came Mikey, fourth of his five sons and, if truth be told, not the brightest apple on the tree. "So," said the father, "how'd it go last night?"

"It didn't," muttered Mikey. He'd been born sullen, he would die sullen, and he was doing a whole lot of sullen in between.

Howie paused with a spoonload of Cap'n halfway to his mouth. "It didn't go? Didn't the fuckin truck show up?"

"The fuckin truck showed up," Mikey said, as he poured Froot Loops into a bowl and came to join his father at the island. He was dressed in shiny black swimming trunks with red flames coming out of the crotch, and a gray sweatshirt that read nypd in blue.

The father waited, but the son merely loaded up with some Froot Loops and glowered at the countertop, so at last the father said, "So? What happened?"

"The fuckin truck showed up," Mikey said, speaking through pastel pieces of grain, "but then somebody fuckin wrecked it."

"Fuckin wrecked it? What, the fuckin driver was drunk?"

"It wasn't the fuckin driver," Mikey complained, taking on more pastels. "He got outa the fuckin truck, some other fuckin guy got into it, drove it the fuck off. We never even got a look at the fuckin guy."

"Drove the fuckin truck off?"

"Ran it two fuckin blocks," Mikey explained. "We're racin the fuck after it, you know we are. Then this other fuckin guy shows up, some other fuckin car, gets out with a fuckin axe, takes the fuckin axe to the fuckin tires, cuts them all to fuck."

"And what are you fuckin guys doin?" demanded the father. "Standin around with your fuckin thumbs up your fuckin asses?"

"Nicky and Petey went after them in the Audi," Mikey said, "but then this monster fuckin guy with the axe, he throws the axe at Nicky and Petey in the Audi, and the Audi rams into the back of the fuckin truck and the whole thing goes up in fuckin flames."

"Anybody killed?"

"No, everybody got out."

"Too fuckin bad. And these other guys, these fucks, they got right away from there? You never got any idea who they were?

"Not a fuckin clue," Mikey said. "Unless it was Pauly and Ricky and Vinny and Carly, tryin some kinda fuckin mind game on me."

Howie pointed his milk-dripping spoon at his number four son: "Your brothers got fuckin orders from me: lay the fuck off. They know, Mikey, this is important to you."

"Fuck, a course it is."

"It's your own operation," Howie told him. "You conceived it and you're runnin it yourself, and nobody's gonna fuck with you. All right? You hear me? Nobody's gonna fuck with your operation, take it from me."

"Well, yeah, but, what the fuck," Mikey mewed, "somebody did fuck with my operation, they fucked with my operation last night, and now those fucks out in Pennsylvania are pissed off, they blame me for the fuckin truck, they say they can't get some other fuckin truck here until Wednesday, and now, because of the insurance and the cops, they gotta make up some manifests, what the fuck was this truck supposed to be anyway and how come it was in New York on Amsterdam Avenue at two o'clock in the fuckin morning. Meantime, my fuckin customers in Ohio, they're pissed off, too, and that was the best part of the whole fuckin plan, I've got my middlemen in fuckin Pittsburgh, for Christ's sake, I've got my end buyer in Akron, nobody's ever gonna find this shit or trace this shit, and I'm sittin pretty on nothin but fuckin profit."

"With a little slice over here," the father said.

"Well, sure," Mikey said, "naturally a little slice over there, I know how the world works, you didn't make yourself my old man for nothing."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"Only now," Mikey said, "we got these three extra fuckin days to wait, the fuckin bar's supposed to be padlocked by now, but I can't do it, the fuckin goods are still in there. We squeezed the fuckin customers out, but we still got the shit, stacked up all over the fuckin place in there."

"What about the owner?"

"What, Raphael?" Mikey offered a scornful laugh. "He don't know shit from green soup," he announced. "He's off there in some Dumb Fuck, Queens, with his head full of this faggy fuckin music, when it's all the fuck over, he still won't know what the fuck happened." Mikey shook his head. "I don't know what went on last night," he said, "I don't know who the fuck or what the fuck, and I'd like to know, but one thing for sure, Raphael Medrick I don't got to worry about."


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