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Authors: David Hosp

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BOOK: Among Thieves
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“Is this some sort of a test?”

“Yeah, it’s a test.”

“That’s fucked up. I don’t have to prove shit to you.”

“Suit yourself.” She lapsed back into silence.

He drove on, going over the scene in his head. He was determined not to give her the satisfaction of rising to her bait.
Seventy-five percent clear rate or not, who the fuck was she?
“McAfee was wrong about one thing,” he said after a while, trying to sound conversational.

She looked at him but said nothing.

“Whoever did that wasn’t just settling a score. It wasn’t some simple beef with the North End boys, or even with the Salvadorans
in MS-13.”

“What makes you so sure?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Too messy. Too involved. If the wops or a rival mick gang felt disrespected or was settling a score it
would’ve been cleaner. They would’ve taken him out quickly and gotten the hell away. Double tap to the head—like they did
to Bags—or maybe even a drive-by when he was out in the open. No way they’d spend the kind of time they needed to do the damage
we saw back there. And if MS-13 wanted to make a point, they would have used machetes on him. It’s their thing.”

She shrugged, as though the observations were beneath acknowledgment.

“And Murphy knew the people who did it.”

“People? How do you know it was more than one?”

“Johnny Bags. It had to be more than one, and they had to know Murphy because of Bags.” He felt her lean toward him, and he
continued. “Bags was Murphy’s bodyguard. That was his job for the past ten years. His only purpose in life. From what I hear
he was no rocket scientist, but he was good at his job, and loyal to a fault. There’s no way someone gets that close to Murphy
if they didn’t know him without Bags putting up one hell of a fight. Plus, whoever did this managed to get Johnny back into
that corner of the garage voluntarily. The body wasn’t dragged—the blood pooled under his head where he fell, and there was
no messy trail—so he died where he fell. He didn’t even get his gun out before he was shot. I can’t imagine Bags leaving Murphy
alone and going back into that corner with someone he didn’t know. And once he was there, Murphy would have had time to run
when he heard the gunshots, unless there was more than one guy there—so we know it wasn’t a single perp.”

“What’s that tell you about who did this?” Sanchez asked.

“Nothing for sure,” Stone admitted. “But I’d start by looking within Murphy’s own organization. Could either be someone above
him who felt threatened for some reason—”

“Which could only mean Ballick,” she pointed out.

“Right, if the order came from above. But it could also be someone underneath him. Or maybe even someone on his level trying
to move up. The organization’s been all fucked up for years. Ever since Bulger took off.”

“Why torture him, then?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Not sure. Maybe there was a personal aspect to it. Or maybe they were trying to make it look like something
it wasn’t. I’m just guessin’, though.”

“And the message? ‘The Storm’? What’s your thought on that?”

“I got no idea. Maybe it’s just adolescent bullshit. Some of these guys never get past the comic book stage. But it’s taking
a risk to leave something that distinctive behind. Seems like there should be a better reason. Guys who do shit like what
we saw back there usually aren’t holding on to reason too tightly, though.”

She turned and looked out her window again. They had pulled past the Federal Courthouse down by the water and were crossing
the Evelyn Moakley Bridge back into Boston, heading toward the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which wound through the city above the
Big Dig. The bridge was named after the wife of Joe Moakley, a powerful congressman. The Greenway was named for Rose Kennedy,
the mother of John, Bobby, and Teddy Kennedy. Only in Boston were public works named for the relatives of politicians. It
said so much about the place.

“So, what do you think?” he asked.

“I think you’re right,” she said. “I think you’re just guessing.”

He shook his head bitterly. “That’s it? That’s all I get?”

“Like you said, it was a test.”

“So, what’d I get, like a C?”

“It was pass/fail.”

“And?”

She hesitated before she answered. “I’ll get back to you.”

Special Agent Robert Hewitt sat in his car, watching the activity at the Body Shop from across the street. Things had quieted
down, and now those who remained were loitering, mainly. They stood around, smoking cigarettes or leaning against their cars,
cracking jokes as they waited for the bodies to be rolled out. He’d watched as the detectives pulled away, and he was tempted
to go back in to get another good look. He was sure that no one who remained would have the balls to force him out without
Sanchez there, but his presence would draw too much attention, and too many people on the force would start to ask questions.
That would make his life more difficult.

He took out his cell phone and dialed the number.

“Yes,” the man answering the line said.

“It’s me.”

“And?”

“Murphy’s dead.”

“How?”

“How do you think?”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. He was beaten. Badly.”

“Tortured?”

“That’s a reasonable conclusion based on what I saw. And there was a message written next to the body.”

“What was it?”

“‘The Storm.’”

“That’s our boy. Have there been any others yet?”

“Not that I know of. Murphy’s bodyguard was killed, but he’s not involved, and he wasn’t tortured. Maybe there won’t be any
others at all.” As Hewitt spoke, the coroner’s assistants wheeled two gurneys out of the Body Shop. They were laughing as
they slid the body bags into the van.

“There will be others. Otherwise, why send the message?”

“If so, then we don’t know who they are yet. I haven’t heard about anything else that matches what was done here, and I would
have heard about it.”

There was silence on the other end of the line. “Stay on top of it. This is the break we’ve been looking for.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I think it’s time for me to be more involved. I’m coming to Boston.”

Chapter Four

It took Finn nearly an hour to make the two-and-a-half-mile journey from Nashua Street to Fenway Park. Normally the drive
would have taken fifteen minutes, but it was Patriots’ Day and the streets were packed.

Patriots’ Day, which marks the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, is celebrated only in Boston. It’s one of three smug
local holidays intended to remind an indifferent world of Boston’s place in American history. For all the city’s parochial
pride, however, few Americans would have heard of Lexington and Concord were it not for
Schoolhouse Rock
. Even worse, few Bostonians have any idea what Patriots’ Day is intended to celebrate. They do know, though, that it means
an extra day off, and it’s the day on which the Boston Marathon is run every year. It’s also a day the Boston Red Sox play
a special morning game at Fenway Park. The holiday causes mayhem in the city, as people line the streets early, and the bars
are packed by midmorning.

Finn parked at the edge of the Fens, close to the Back Bay, in a lot owned by a client. He’d called ahead to reserve a space,
knowing that otherwise there was little chance of finding anyplace to leave his car. By the time he’d pushed his way through
the carnival atmosphere around Fenway Park it was nearing noon. When he found his seat next to Tom Kozlowski and Lissa Krantz
two rows behind the Red Sox dugout, Boston was leading six–nothing in the fourth inning.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, squeezing into his seat.

“Your loss,” Kozlowski replied. He was a butcher’s block of a man in his early fifties, with a bold, carved face marred by
a long scar that ran from the corner of his right eye to the bottom of his ear. He was dressed in cheap polyester slacks and
a sport coat Goodwill would have turned down. Blue collar through and through, he’d spent a quarter of a century in the Boston
Police Department, most of it in homicide, before he was pushed out and became a private detective. The cop inside him wouldn’t
let go, though. He worked out of a small office in the brownstone in Charlestown where Finn had his law practice, and did
enough work for Finn that they loosely considered themselves partners. “You missed a few good innings,” Kozlowski said.

“I said I was sorry.”

“I heard you.”

“What’s the problem?”

“Problem is, you’re late. We been coming to this game ever since you started the firm. It’s a tradition.”

“I only started the firm a couple of years ago,” Finn pointed out.

“Even worse. New traditions are fragile.”

“Quit your bitching and watch the game,” Lissa said. She was a small, attractive, razor-tongued woman in her mid-thirties,
with thick dark hair and a strong jaw. She’d worked as a paralegal for Finn while attending law school at night, and since
graduating and passing the bar the previous year had been taken on by Finn as an associate. She was wearing capri pants and
a cashmere sweater that had probably cost more than Finn paid her in a month; she came from that kind of money. She and Kozlowski
had been dating for over a year, and Finn couldn’t imagine a stranger couple. The thickness of their skins and their physical
attraction to each other seemed the only things they had in common. Apparently that was enough.

“You’re the one who’s been bitching about him for the past hour,” Kozlowski said to her. “Don’t play all innocent.”

“I’ve never played innocent.”

Kozlowski grunted. “True enough.” To Finn he asked, “Where were you, anyway?”

“Nashua Street.”

“New client?”

“Maybe. Old acquaintance; we need to talk about whether he’s gonna be a client.”

“Anyone I would know?”

“You remember Devon Malley?” Finn asked.

“From Southie? The thief?”

“That’s the guy. You know much about him?”

Kozlowski shook his head. “Not really. He had a rep for a while, but it died. He was basically a minor player.”

A beer vendor passed in front of them in the aisle. Lissa put her fingers in her mouth and gave a deafening whistle. It was
loud enough to startle the young man, and he nearly dropped his tray. “Yo! Three over here!” she yelled.

Finn put a finger in his ear and gave a pained shake. “Is that really necessary?”

“Jesus, you’re a pansy,” she replied. She pulled out her purse and found a twenty.

“You sure you don’t want me to get these?” Finn asked. “It’s a work function.”

“Keep your wallet in your pants, boss. I’ve got more money than you.”

“True. But still…”

She looked at him. “You really want to pay?”

“Not really, no.”

“Fine. Then shut up.”

Finn smiled at Kozlowski, who just shrugged. “So, what did Devon get pinched for?” the ex-cop asked.

“Robbery,” Finn answered.

“No shit, that’s what he does. You wanna be a little more specific?”

“Not really.” Finn took a sip of his beer. “He was robbing a clothing store,” he said after a moment.

“Allegedly,” Lissa tossed in.

“Good girl,” Finn said. “Allegedly.”

“How allegedly?” Kozlowski asked.

Finn shrugged. “The police walked in on him in the store at midnight holding a bunch of women’s lingerie,” he admitted.

Kozlowski shook his head. “That’s not very allegedly. It’s gonna be hard for him to live that down.”

“It was high-end stuff,” Finn said.

“I’d hope so.” Kozlowski took a huge bite out of a bratwurst that had been sitting on a cardboard tray on his lap. A chunk
of sauerkraut and mustard toppled off the end and splattered onto the front of his shirt. Finn thought it was an improvement.
“So, does he have any kind of a case we can work with, or would we just be looking to plead it out?”

“Don’t know yet. All I’ve got is his side of the story. I don’t know where the cops are with this. Maybe we can come up with
something. Devon seems to think that when he gets out he might be able to throw someone else to the DA. Maybe get probation.”
Finn thought about it for a moment. “Probably not, though.”

“So it sounds like a shitty case,” Kozlowski said. “Why would we want it?”

Finn sighed. “I knew the guy back in the day. Back when I was mixed up in all that. I feel sorry for him. How can I say no?”

“Easy,” Kozlowski said. “Tongue on the top of your mouth, exhale and round your lips.
N-n-n-o-o-o
. See?” Finn didn’t smile, and the ex-cop’s face darkened quickly. “You didn’t tell him yes, did you?”

“No, I told him maybe. But I’m thinking yes.”

“I thought you said we were gonna discuss new cases. All three of us.”

“So, I’m discussing. Like I said, I feel bad for the guy. I’d like to help him out.”

“How old is he?” Lissa asked.

“Somewhere in between Koz and me,” Finn said.

“That old?”

Kozlowski stared out at the field. “Thanks.”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Lissa said. “I was just thinking being a criminal must suck as you get older.”

BOOK: Among Thieves
7.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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