The Consubstantial Man
by Edward Ahern
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Frank Witt Dossier, DEA excerpt: None of the interrogated adult males reputed to be part of Mr. Harry Crispen’s crime organization admitted to knowing Ms. Stanton or Mr. Witt, nor of any involvement in drug trafficking. In sum, they admitted nothing at all.
The restaurant was little, with only nine tables. At three p.m. the only people in the restaurant were a waiter and two large, seated men. Frankie focused in on them. Late thirties, fat packed on muscle. Shirts hanging out over their pot bellies. Careless, they’re not checking to see if anybody else is around.
Bernice and Frankie sat down wordlessly.
“Yeah. Where’s Harry?”
The talker of the pair tapped back half a glassful. ”Harry sent us, says you gotta convince us before he’ll talk to you. Where’s the weird drink? And who’s the drunk?”
“He’s Frankie. And it’s real. We got a drink makes you feel like you’re screwing a seventeen-year old cheerleader. And not only that. Show ’em, Frankie.”
“Hello,” Frankie said. “Watch this.” He reached in his pants pocket and pulled out the folding knife. Both men moved their right hands under their drooping shirts and belly flab.
Bernice let out a strained laugh. “No, no, relax. This is a demonstration.”
Frankie slowly opened the knife and sliced a one inch cut in his forearm. He turned the forearm so both men had a good view. They watched as, in less than three seconds, the bleeding stopped and the wound closed.
“We think it’s permanent,” Bernice said. “One drink and you’re set. I knew Harry would doubt me, so I told him he could down the shot and pay me five large when he sees that it works.”
Two burly necks twisted as they glanced at each other. The talker answered. “Harry says different. He says you give us the shot of this stuff for free. He likes it, he talks to you about how much you get when you give him the rest.”
Bernice kept her eyes on the two men, but she could feel Frankie’s smoldering presence. “That’s not what he said. I’ll call Harry again and explain things. Don’t take it the wrong way, but no deal.”
The talker leaned forward and backhanded Bernice across the face, splitting her lip. “Look, bitch, we’re doing it our way, or you’re going to take a beating you won’t be able to heal from.”
Frankie leaned forward, taking the mini bottle out of his pocket and showing it. “Look guys, let’s just talk.” As he was saying this, he grabbed a plate from the table top and slammed it into the talker’s mouth. The plate snapped in half, and Frankie swung the jagged edge across the mute’s throat.
“Holy frig!” Bernice yelled.
The two obese men fell out of their chairs and hit the floor. Frankie grabbed his own chair and bounced it off the two men’s heads. “This didn’t work out so well, Bernice.” He unscrewed the mini and drank it. “Not for you, suckers.”
The waiter had run back into the kitchen. The two fat men on the floor weren’t moving. Bernice’s eyes swung back and forth “Are they dead? Harry’s gonna kill us both.”
“Don’t think they are. We’ve got a few minutes before the cops come. Go through their pockets.”
“Chances are, they brought the money just in case.”
Bernice dropped to her knees, rolled the fat mute guy over and found his back-pocket wallet. “Must be three, four large here.”
“Great. What about our other buddy?”
She crawled over to the other man, trying to ignore his splintered teeth, and reached down into his front pockets. “Got it. Exactly five grand. And they’re both breathing.”
“Check the back pockets too. He’ll have money on his ass.”
She found the wallet. “Yeah, another couple thousand. Here’s all the money.”
“Peel two grand off the top. That’s for you. Okay, we gotta go.” He took the rest of the money, then helped Bernice up, taking her arm as they walked to the car. “I’ll drive.”
Ten minutes into the drive, Frankie glanced over at her. “Harry’s people will be at your diner in a few hours. Repack your trousseau into the hope chest, we need to leave before they get there.”
“They’ll trash the place.”
As Frankie began to crest the last hill before the diner and trailer, park he spotted two SUVs parked in front of the closed diner, and three men in suits standing near the door. “You expecting anybody?”
“Suits in the desert. It’s looking like Uncle Sam wants me. You must have gone True Confession on the web sites. I’ll stay hid up here and watch you walk down like a beauty contestant.”
“You abandoning me?”
“No way. But you can find out what they want. Go ahead and tell them the truth, except for the part about robbing Crispen’s men.”
The three suits circled Bernice as she approached her diner. “Bernice Stanton?”
“We need to ask you some questions about your web search last night.”
“And who the hell are you?”
The three men flashed identity cards.
“They look different from each other.”
“Joint task force, NSA, FBI, DEA, Agents Withersi, Haunchez and Greune. How did you get here?”
“My chauffeur just quit.”
The men exchanged glances, but knew they had no real chance of finding a driver in an unknown car. The shortest guy spoke. “Shall we talk inside?”
Twenty minutes after the questioning had begun, the diner’s wall phone rang.
“Okay if I answer that? Might be important.”
Bernice got up, walked behind the bar, and picked up the phone. It was Frankie.
“Hi, sweetie. Put one of them on, please.”
She turned to them. ”It’s for you.”
The FBI man in the middle got up, walked over, and took the phone from her. “Hello?”
“I’m the guy who drank the stuff. I’ll do something for you, but you’ve got to do something for me.”
“In maybe a half hour, a car full of large men will pull in and begin to threaten Bernice. If you hide in the kitchen with no lights on, you’ll be able to see and hear their threats, so you can arrest them for assault. They work for Harry Crispen. I’ll give you what you want, but you make very sure that Harry knows to lay off. She gets hurt, you get nothing.”
“And you’re jerking me around. Come back here so we can talk.”
“You looked sweet in that dark suit, but I don’t think you’re my type.”
“Where’s the substance? What’s your name?”
“I’ll call back in a couple hours. If Bernice tells me you took care of the posse, I’ll tell her where you should look. Put Bernice back on, please.”
“Sweetie, listen. Tell these guys everything you know. Everything. Chances are they’ll eventually drug you and get the answers anyway. They’re supposed to take care of Crispen’s goons for you. I’ll call back in a couple hours and make sure they did. Then I’ll tell you where I put the Cuervo bottle. I called a TV station and tipped them that federal agents were arresting perps at your bar. They’ll maybe get there before I call. Busy, busy, gotta run. Later.”
“Frankie? Frankie?” She dropped the phone back onto its hook.
“Okay,” she said, “here’s the whole story, no crap.”
Copyright © 2016 by Edward Ahern