Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Collection

Danny stepped into the South Boston basement bar gladly getting a break from the elements. He had walked from his dive apartment to the corner of A Street. Winter was crawling in fast, but he only wore plaid pants and a leather coat, reaching down to his thigh. He needed to look tough. The .38 special was tucked into the right front pocket.

The crew was huddled in a booth near the front door. Part of the barroom walls were covered in cheap paneling and the rest was cinderblock. They drank cans of Schlitz, making plans for collecting debts. Sliding into the booth, his uncle Mickey acknowledged him, raising his chin before taking a swig of beer.

Danny glanced around the bar to see if anyone was listening. Nobody sat in the booths or at the bar nearby. People knew enough not to listen, but public meetings made Danny uncomfortable.

“Hey kid,” Mickey said. “Did you bring the .38?”

“Yeah, I got it,” Danny replied. “But why can’t I get a .45 auto like Joey?”

“Like I’ve been tellin’ you kids,” Mickey snapped. “A revolver is less likely to jam. When the time comes to actually fire the thing, I need to know it’s going to work. You have to clean an automatic all the time.”

Danny nodded, acquiescing to the older hood.

He felt a tinge of panic at the thought of actually using the gun. Having never been tested, he wondered if he’d could go through with it, or freeze like a coward. A waiter came over and placed a can of Schlitz on the table. Danny cracked the top and took a long guzzle. Even though it was frigid outside, the beer felt smooth going down. It immediately calmed his nerves.

Mahoney stopped talking and looked him over. “You alright kid?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Danny snapped.

“Look don’t get smart with me,” Mahoney barked. “I don’t need some kid freezing up on us out there.”

“The kid is okay,” Mickey said. “He’s my sister’s boy. And don’t forget that he’s Tommy Devlin’s son for Christ sake.”

“Just because his father was a tough wiseguy, don’t mean he’s the same.”

Danny took another long swig. This was how it was going to be until he earned some stripes. Always the kid who hadn’t proven himself yet. He feared failure like there was no tomorrow. Part of him wanted to take off to Florida or California and sell cars, get away from it all. The other part wanted to get it over. And not just break some guy’s fingers, but cap him. Then there wouldn’t be any questions, just like his old man.

“Listen up,” Mahoney said, leaning over. “Us guys are going up to Revere to pay a visit to our friend Mr. Albercio. He’s been betting a lot and losing big time.”

“But isn’t he connected?” Sean Flannery said.

“This guy’s into us for thirty grand. He’s going to pay like everyone else.”

“Sure thing,” Mickey added. “But won’t this start a war with the Italians?”

“Albercio is a dink,” Mahoney said. “There’s nothing more to it. Sure, he’s like a cousin of the Bertuzzi family. But knowing Frank Bertuzzi, he ain’t going to go to war over something like this.”

“And the boss is okay with all of this?” Mickey asked

He was the only one that could ask Mahoney such a question. Everyone was quiet, waiting expectantly for the answer, a confirmation that they were really supposed to go and rough up a connected Italian.

“This has been cleared at the top.” Mahoney nodded calmly. “Let’s get going.”

They cleared out of the booth. Mickey tossed some cash on the table, nodding to the bartender on the way out.

Outside, the wind had picked up and Danny could feel coldness chilling him to the bone. The 1970 Chevy Impala was parked around the corner. Mahoney swung the passenger door open to the big boat of a car, so Danny and Sean could climb into the back. By the time the heat had cranked up, they were pulling onto Route 16 headed up to Revere Beach. There was no turning back from here.