Falanga and Big Ears Make Their Move

Mariska Sarkozy had taken Javernick up on his job offer and was preparing to depart the nut ranch. Her assistant, Vazul Dobos, carried her suitcases to his Ford Coupe and made room for them in the trunk. She watched closely as he repositioned his own luggage in the cramped space. “Be careful you oaf, that’s expensive Italian leather, don’t scuff it up.” 

“Yes, your excellency.”  

“You’ll follow me in the car. We should reach the casino by late afternoon.”  

“What do we do with the car and the motorcycle when we arrive?”  

“Javernick has lakefront property where he’s building a marina. We’ll leave the vehicles and travel by boat to the casino.” She placed a holstered pistol in her saddle bag and buckled it shut. “I’ve notified Von Ingersleben about our move. We’ll settle into our new jobs and await further orders from Berlin.”  

Mariska had known Colonel Heinrich Von Ingersleben since 1939, when she worked as a professional dominatrix in Budapest. The Great Depression had devastated Hungary and the country’s leadership saw trade with Germany as a path to recovery. Before long, Nazi army officers were crossing the broad Danube in their Mercedes-Benz convertibles and it would only be a matter of time before Miklós Horthy knuckled under to Adolph Hitler and joined the Axis powers. War was brewing in Europe and the Nazis had already taken Czechoslovakia by force. 

Von Ingersleben was a plump German in his mid 50s with a pale complexion and a taste for amphetamines. In his everyday life as a Nazi army officer, he was arrogant and abusive towards his underlings, but with Mariska, he played the part of a docile submissive. The role of dominatrix was not an act for Mariska. She was born with a manipulative personality and her domination of Von Ingerslaben evolved into a lasting sadomasochistic relationship.  

They met for coffee and strudel at an outdoor cafe. It was situated on an incline above the wide river’s east bank with a view of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, a Victorian era masterpiece that linked the two sides of the ancient city, Buda to the west, and Pest to the east. The Danube was the color of lead and had a revolting odor because it was heavily polluted with sewage and industrial waste.  

Below the cafe, at the base of a stone retaining wall, a street vendor boiled pork sausages over a charcoal fire. The strong smell of garlic and paprika masked the river’s foul odor until the wind changed direction, then the stench returned, as disgusting as before. It was early spring, and the sky was darkening over the Carpathians to the north. More cold rain, maybe snow, was coming in the afternoon.  

Fluent in German, Mariska wore a long mink coat and tall lace-up boots. Her hair was cut short, and her lean face made up with heavy mascara and berry shaded lipstick. She wore a pair of diamond stud earrings that were given to her by another one of her sadomasochism clients, a South African jewelry merchant.  

Von Ingersleben had a wool overcoat draped over his shoulders. He was in uniform, as required, and his peaked Nazi cap, seine schirmmütze, sat on the table before him, his wispy blond comb-over doing little to conceal the bald spot on top of his head. 

Von Ingersleben was a native of Leipzig, but he changed the subject quickly when Marika asked him about his hometown, so they talked about music and the arts instead. Mariska preferred the Italian baroque era, Vivaldi and Tartini while Von Ingersleben favored the classic Germans, Schumann and Strauss. Mariska avoided any mention of politics because the influx of Nazi military personnel was so controversial. The Nazis were welcomed by the ruling classes, but Hungarian commoners were troubled by the onslaught, particularly the sizeable Jewish population. 

The Germans were everywhere. Mariska noticed several of their long, three axled Mercedes-Benz convertibles driving by as they sat at the outdoor table sipping their coffee. The cars were accompanied by heavy Zündapp KS 750 motorcycles. Enlisted men in infantry helmets carried machine guns in the sidecars.  

From the cafe, they walked up a sharply pitched back alley to Mariska’s faux dungeon. It was housed in a loft above an abandoned warehouse, a drafty space with a handful of high windows, worn gray flooring, and little furniture. Numerous half-wild cats inhabited the building. Mariska had lured them inside by feeding them and encouraged the felines to stay in her efforts to keep the city’s prolific rats under control.  

After scaling a steep and narrow stairway, Mariska lit a fire in a coal burning iron stove. As the drafty industrial space warmed, Von Ingersleben removed his starchy uniform and dressed as the imaginary Austrian farm girl Heidi, complete with a braided pigtail wig and a short plaid skirt that did little to hide the silk underwear he wore beneath it.  

The Nazi fell to his knees and busied himself polishing Mariska’s tall boots as a trio of the feral cats watched closely, purring with curiosity. When the submissive chore was completed, she bound the cross-dressed German to a diagonal wooden cross that sat by itself in the middle of the mostly empty room. Von Ingersleben’s voice echoed eerily in the dimly lit space as he begged for discipline and then cried out in twisted pleasure when Mariska caned his posterior until it bled.  

Mariska charged the eccentric Nazi considerably more than what a conventional prostitute earned in Budapest. He happily paid her in stacks of Hungarian banknotes and added a generous gratuity for the privilege of pleasuring himself in her presence when she was finished with her sadistic torture.  

Von Ingersleben had developed a tolerance in his drug addiction, so he needed to take more and more, and it led to amphetamine psychosis. Delusions of grandeur and paranoia came next, along with a total loss of human empathy. For all practical purposes, the Nazi was clinically insane, and at the same time, in a position of unquestioned power. 

Soon she was humiliating him in public settings, taking him for walks in collar and leash. The perverted Nazi on all fours, not as the farm girl Heidi now, but as Mariska’s pet dog, a Weimaraner named Heinz. She took him to a secluded park, where he stripped off his uniform, and wearing nothing but his undershorts, sniffed the flowers, and hoped he wouldn’t be recognized.  

Sleep for the amphetamine psychotic came with insane nightmares, and Mariska laughed heartily when Von Ingersleben told her he’d been seen by the Fuhrer in one of his dreams, lifting his leg in a sea of vivid flowers. “Is that you, Colonel Von Ingersleben? Peeing on the tulips I see!” 




Inspector Alvin Cockburn and Lieutenant Blake Keen sat in a camouflaged blind on a hilltop next to the nut ranch. They’d erected it under cover of darkness, and once completed, it was impossible to pick out from the valley below. Cockburn was watching Mariska and Dobos through a pair of high-powered binoculars. “Looks like they’re getting ready to fly the coop.”  

“Where do you think they’re headed?” said Keene.  

“Hard to say, but we’ll see if we can tail them in the van when they depart.” 

A few minutes later, Mariska crossed the chapparal covered hills on her motorcycle and Dobos followed closely in his Ford. Once they’d passed, Cockburn and Keene removed the camouflage netting from their hidden step van and fell in behind them. By the time the Hungarians had reached the town of Thousand Oaks, the Brits had closed the distance between them and could keep the car in sight.  

Cockburn was behind the wheel. His espionage underling was not accustomed to driving on the right side of the road and had come close to causing a head-on collision the same day they’d arrived. So Cockburn drove the van and Keene operated the audio surveillance equipment. That was the arrangement he’d insisted on after the near-miss with the Pontiac Roadster in the hills south of Sherman Oaks.  

He could still hear the blaring horn and see the look of terror on the other driver’s face. A thrilling moment to say the least, and luckily Keene had steered the van in the appropriate direction to avoid the impending crash. Good God. Was it fatigue from the long flight? Or more likely, the lad’s mind was on the stunning American ladies they kept seeing as they drove through the unusual city. It was far different than London, no doubt about that—much less cramped for space and seeing the prolific oil derricks everywhere he looked certainly took some getting used to. He’d laughed at himself for bringing along the raincoat and umbrella that were only collecting dust now. No need for rain gear in the perpetual L.A. sunshine, though he’d been told it could turn rather wet in the winter months. 

When Ellsworth had assigned Keene to accompany him to the states, Cockburn had expected a competent espionage partner. He was awfully young for the job, that’d been Cockburn’s first impression, but he’d come with high marks from the home office. After working with the lad for a week, he found Keene to be clumsy and scatter-brained, and he seemed to have trouble concentrating on their redundant espionage tasks. His father must have been the one responsible for getting him the job. That was the conclusion he’d come up with because the old man held a lofty position at Scotland Yard. British nepotism had reared its ugly head once again to burden him with an incompetent partner in an extremely difficult assignment.  

Precisely what the Hungarian bird was doing in the states was still a bit of a mystery. They knew she was connected to the Nazi brass and was staying in communication with a high-ranking officer, a Colonel Von Ingersleben. They’d tailed Sarkozy and Dobos to a rocket propulsion laboratory in Anaheim, and it appeared they were casing it in broad daylight, but it was unknown if they’d tried to break in, mostly because Keene had screwed up so badly in his mailman impersonation stunt. He’d buggered that one up royally, and Cockburn was sure it was when Sarkozy had realized they were under surveillance…But the rocket technology angle seemed like a likely explanation. It was well known that the yanks were ahead of the curve in physics and engineering, and their sharpest minds seemed to gravitate towards Southern California. No wonder, with the pleasant weather and agreeable lifestyle…  

Traffic was heavy through the San Fernando Valley and the eastern reaches of the L.A. Basin. Heavy enough that they could continue following without Dobos noticing he was being tailed…But by the time they crossed Cajon Pass, Dobos had recognized the van in his rear-view mirror. In the stop and go traffic through Victorville, it was obvious he knew they were being followed. Cockburn could see him looking the van over in the Ford’s rear-view mirror. When he pulled in behind Sarkozy’s motorcycle at a gas station in Barstow, Cockburn continued driving down the remote desert town’s lone boulevard. 

“He watched us go by,” said Keene from the passenger side.  

“Yep, he knew we were following,” said Cockburn. “My guess is, they’re headed for Javernick’s casino.” 

“So, what do we do now?”  

“I’ll notify Baker Street that they’re relocating. More than likely, Ellsworth will instruct us to move our operation too.” 




Melvin and Kaylee were on their way into Vegas to shop for furnishings for the new house. The construction was for the most part done, and though she’d spent a few nights so far, Kaylee was waiting until they were married to officially move in. She knew that as soon as she vacated her cottage, word would get out, and the valley was full of gossipmongers. It wouldn’t take long for them to accuse her of living in sin.  

Kaylee’s good looks made her an easy target for spiteful women like Wren Calhoun. Ever since she’d been in high school, she’d been singled out for abuse by unattractive women who resented the attention she received from the Moapa Valley’s men.  

She didn’t want Melvin to take the situation for granted either. They were marrying for life, and she was ready to dedicate herself to being a good partner for him; ready to give up her job and spend her days keeping his house, cooking his meals and bearing his children. He’d better take it seriously. 

If Melvin had proposed when they first began dating, she would have said yes in a heartbeat, but his freewheeling independence was one of the reasons why she loved him. He’d always been a gentleman, though he certainly had his wild side—the drinking and carrying on with Javernick and Roland and such.  

Melvin was awfully handsome too, and he was staying in shape, even though his work had evolved into more of an office job. Men she’d gone to school with and saw around town were growing beer bellies, but Melvin still had his youthful bronc buster’s build and that fire in his eyes that she’d fallen so deeply in love with. He had a strong sex drive too, and she wasn’t expecting much trouble with the mechanics of having kids…Not from Melvin. 

It was astounding how fast Vegas was growing. Everywhere they looked, there was new construction. Downtown was exploding with brand-new commercial buildings and to the south, along Las Vegas Boulevard, casinos and hotels were going up fast. The army was building a new military base on the northeast side, and all over town, housing developments were springing up too.  

“Bonnie said she heard that back-east crime gangs are building all the new casinos,” said Kaylee as they drove through the busy city. “I guess you need to be Italian to join the gangs is what Bonnie said.”  

“Claude said it’s mostly Sicilians, but they have Jewish and Irish gangs too. It’s not just Italians.” Melvin hadn’t told her about the problem with the Toledo mobsters and Javernick’s deal with Lou Civella. 

“They only let Italians in the Italian gangs and Irish in the Irish gangs?” 

“Not sure. I don’t really know that much about it. I’m just going off of what Claude said.” 

“If they hadn’t built the dam, it’d still be a sleepy little train stop like it was before.”  

“That’s a fact, Kaylee. The water and electricity brought all the criminals in.” 

“And the legal gambling.” 

“Well, yeah, that too.” 

“Did you tell Claude about the skeleton we found in Saint Thomas?”  

“No, he was swamped with work, and I never got around to it…But I did tell Roland.”  

“What did he say?” 

“He thought it was probably a practical joke. Could have happened around the time the water reached town and people like Hugh Lord were torching their houses.” 

“Like somebody propped it up and left it there like that?”  

“Yeah, so it would scare the daylights out of whoever found it.” 

Kaylee laughed. “Like us.”  

“Yeah, I’ll admit I was a little bit frightened.” 

“Me too, but who else would have ever found it?”  

“Well, if the water goes back down some day. Sooner or later, we’re bound to have a drought…Seems like a reasonable explanation. Considering the mood people were in when we finally got flooded out.” 

“Yeah, he’s probably right, and it makes it seem a whole lot less scary…But where do you suppose whoever did it got the skeleton?”  

“I don’t know, Kaylee. Let’s hope they didn’t snatch it out of one of the coffins when they were moving the cemetery.”  

“Oh my God. That would be enough to go to Hell for.” 

“Prison too. Don’t think Judge Cartwright would look too kindly on that one at all.”  

“We could still tell the police about finding it.”  

“Probably not worth the trouble, and we’d need to take them down there in the sub to see it. Unless they have their own deepwater diving outfits.” 

“I suppose you’re right.”  

“I don’t know about you, but I’d just as soon not go back down there for anything anyway. It was sort of depressing. Seeing my hometown underwater and everything.” 

“Yeah, it was pretty creepy.” 

They went to a store that sold a variety of fabrics and bought material for curtains. Bonnie Knox was a seamstress and she’d help Kaylee make them. Next, they went to a home furnishings store and picked out appliances and furniture. Kaylee was stunned by how expensive everything was, but Melvin said he could afford it. Javernick was paying him well, and he wasn’t going to be stingy about it. The store had a delivery truck that was included in the prices, so they didn’t need to worry about moving what they bought to the house. 

Melvin tuned the radio to a big band station on their way back home. “Chatanooga Choo Choo” by the Andrews Sisters was a current hit single and Kaylee sang along because she knew most of the words by heart. The road leading out of town ran parallel to the Union Pacific rail line and there was a passenger train bound for Salt Lake rolling abreast of them. Melvin pulled up next to the locomotive, leaned out the window, and gestured for the engineer to blow his horn. They both laughed when he acquiesced, because it was awfully loud, and it fit right in with the rhythm of the song. 




Anthony Falanga was a certified moron. If he’d spent more time casing the casino, he might have realized the timing was off. It was an extremely bad move on his part, choosing the same night that Lou Civella and Carmelo Viscuso were having their sit-down.  

Javernick had set the mob bosses up with a large suite on the floor above the casino where servers could bring them food from the restaurant. A multi-course gourmet meal with plenty of wine was de rigueur for any summit meeting in the Sicilian underworld. 

It was a Saturday night, and the casino was busy. The novelty of the underwater location had attracted numerous high rollers from L.A. and beyond. The faux tropical reef and its automated sea life were the talk of the town in Hollywood and San Francisco, and many of the guests had flown in on seaplanes. 

An anxious Javernick sat at the casino bar with Roland and Eunice. Melvin had taken the weekend off to work on furnishing the new house with Kaylee. Lonnie Rey was behind the bar making drinks.  

“A couple of those mob boys were over there flirting with Little Juanito,” said Eunice.  

Javernick put his finger to his mouth. “Please refrain from any reference to that word tonight, Miss Adair.” 

“What word?”  

“M-o-b,” said Javernick, his voice barely above a whisper as he spelled it out. “I’d like to keep their presence confidential. I don’t want to scare off any of the other guests.”  

“Okay then, Claude, I won’t use that word, but a couple of those Italian fellas were over there joking around with Little Juanito. They were hanging around watching Molly in the mermaid tank, then they lost interest quick when they saw Little Juanito sashay by in his tight little undies.” 

“Whatever rings their bell.” 

“Nothing against ’em, they just don’t look like the type.”  

“You’d be surprised, Eunice. Marriage between men was considered socially acceptable in ancient Rome.” 

“No shit? Marriage between men ain’t socially acceptable in modern Pensacola, I’ll tell you that much.” 

Both mob bosses had brought along plenty of muscle. Outside the suite where the sit-down was taking place, a pair of security goons watched the stairs and elevator. Carmine Giordano stood outside the entry. He took a close look at each of the servers as they arrived on the elevator, then inspected the food they were carrying to make sure everything looked legit. Next, he tapped on the door to tell Carl “Easy Money” Sorbello to let them in.  

Civella, Lococo, and Viscuso sat at a dining table inside. They ate at a relaxed pace and began the meeting with small talk—sports, cars, politics, etc. Beyond their illicit rackets, mob bosses almost always had a legal street business to justify their income. Like Nick Lococo, Viscuso owned a business in the construction industry. That’s what had brought him to Vegas from Chicago, so they talked about that too.  

High above them, on the surface of the lake, Vincent “Slick Vince” Scudari and Sammy “the Grave Digger” Roselli stood by the 47th floor entry watching the docks. Scudari worked for Lou Civella and Roselli for Viscuso. The two of them hanging out together was a demonstration of the mob comradery that was taking place between the rival capos downstairs. 

On the roof of the hotel, eight stories above Scudari and Roselli, Marco “The Shrimp” Di Stefano stood watch with his high-powered binoculars and a .22-250 scoped sniper rifle. With the magnum loads, he could consistently hit a target’s bullseye at 350 yards. The forty grain slugs were relatively small, but traveling at over 4,000 feet per second, they were surgically accurate and extremely deadly. 

It was early evening when Falanga’s stolen boat cleared the narrows, and the tall neon sign came into view in the distance. Iacono was behind the wheel and Falanga was riding shotgun. Beyond Branigan, there were four more Irish mobsters riding in the back—Oscar Duffy, Jack Campbell, Sean Downey, and Big Ted O’Leary.  

Duffy’s gang was an experienced armed robbery crew and he’d made a deal with Falanga to split the proceeds fifty-fifty when they knocked off Javernick’s casino. Falanga would pay Iacono and Branigan out of his share, and Duffy would compensate the rest of the Irishmen.  

It was a clear night with a waxing gibbous moon and the boatload of easterners were staggered by the huge number of stars they could see, many more than they’d ever seen in the heavily polluted skies over Toledo and Cleveland. 

Anthony Falanga was from Kokomo, Indiana, a small city between Indianapolis and Toledo. Mario Falanga, the mobster’s father, owned a pair of cesspool pumpers—Chevy trucks with five-hundred-gallon tanks mounted on the back and pneumatic pumping apparatus hooked up to the motors. They were older vehicles and most of the time he only had one of them on the road while the other was undergoing repairs. If both trucks were down, it meant money was tight, and Mrs. Falanga was complaining.  

Tony had an older brother named Adriano. Tall, good-looking, and hung like a stallion, he received quite a bit of attention from the local girls. Adriano usually had more than one steady girlfriend, and sometimes more than one of them would show up at the house at the same time. One girl would be making out with Adriano in his bedroom while the other sat with his kid brother in the living room awaiting her turn.  

Tony, he never got anywhere with the girls, though Jesus knows he tried. Short and skinny, he was nowhere near as well-endowed as Adriano…The truth was, Tony was under endowed. Adriano had an honest eight, but his kid brother was closer to four, and the girls all knew it too. One of them had checked him out and burst out laughing when she got his pants down. Girls talk and when word got out, they started calling him Adriano’s beat-off little brother. 

Mrs. Falanga wondered why Tony was always sitting in the living room with a different girl while Adriano’s bedroom door was closed and locked. She could hear them inside fucking too. She never said much about it, the bedsprings squealing and the girls moaning, because Adriano was the apple in her eye, and he could do no wrong. All she would do is tell Tony, “Turn the Victrola down and quit playing that goddamn race music,” because the kids were listening to a lot of boogie-woogie piano music back in the 1930s. She didn’t really care that Adriano was fucking half the girls in Kokomo.  

When Adriano turned eighteen, he bought a Harley Davidson. He rode it into Detroit and met up with a French-Canadian motorcycle gang selling bootleg whiskey. He became a local legend in Kokomo when he began selling bootleg hooch to the local teenagers. Once he’d established a steady clientele, he moved on to selling reefer and cocaine too, and he started making a whole lot more money than Mario was earning with his cesspool pumpers.  

Fat Chuck Rizzo heard about Adriano’s illicit business enterprise, and when he found out he had Sicilian heritage, he invited him to join the Toledo Cosa Nostra. Kokomo wasn’t so far away that he couldn’t take him under his wing, because Indianapolis didn’t have an active mob family. In no time, Adriano took his vows of Omertá, and became one of Rizzo’s key lieutenants.  

Tony was still in high school when Adriano joined up. There weren’t many Italians in the neighborhood, and Angelo Iacono and Frankie Bianchi were the only other Italians his age. All three of them, Tony, Big Ears, and Frankie worshipped Adriano, he was a local cult hero, and Tony was his beat-off little brother. After they graduated high school and turned eighteen, Tony asked Adriano if all three of them could join the Toledo mob too. 

When Fat Chuck Rizzo interviewed them, he agreed to induct Tony and Big Ears because they both could verify their Sicilian heritage, but Frankie Bianchi made the mistake of telling him his people had emigrated from Turin, a city in the north. “Turin, Bianchi?” Rizzo had said. “Jesus Christ, you might as well be French and the last thing I need is a fucking frog in my Sicilian organization.” After that he really started fucking with him and told him he might be better off joining the French Foreign Legion, or to check with the Corsicans in Montreal.  

Frankie almost started crying because Adriano, Tony, and Big Ears were all made men now, and they were laughing at Rizzo’s lame jokes. He’d been singled out for abuse because, what? His family was from the wrong end of Italy? WTF? And he really took it to heart. Tony and Big Ears went to work learning how to run numbers and Frankie got a job at the only real Italian pizzeria in Kokomo, Romeo’s Taste of Sicily.

Frankie started drinking heavily and one night he shot a guy in the hand for trying to put ketchup on a pepperoni pie. He was standing there behind the counter, twirling the dough, and the next thing you know, he had a snub nose .38 in his hand, squeezing off shots. It was a retarded kid with the ketchup bottle, Larry Francis, he really didn’t know any better, and Frankie Bianchi ended up doing five to ten downstate, at the Indiana State Penitentiary in Jeffersonville… 

Back on the lake, Falanga turned in his seat to address Duffy. “Like I said at the hotel, you guys go in first and clear the way. Take Branigan with you.”  

“Sure, Falanga. We’re the micks, so we do the dirty work.” 

“Because Big Ears and me were here before so we might be recognized if Javernick has someone watching the front door.” 

“And Branigan won’t be recognized?”  

“He’ll blend in with rest of you micks because you’re all wearing the same suits.” All five of the Irish mobsters were wearing matching suits, so they’d look like performers with their musical instrument cases in hand—Falanga’s idea. He’d come up with it the night before on his second bottle of red wine. “And Big Ears and me would stand out with our Sicilian good looks because everyone’s suspicious of Italians these days. You know, they think we’re all Cosa Nostra, especially with what’s happening in Vegas. All the new casinos and everything.” 

Duffy turned towards O’Leary. “Falanga and Big Ears might be recognized because of their Sicilian good looks.” The Irishmen exchanged sarcastic facial expressions, then Duffy turned back towards Falanga. “What happens if we need to use the tommy guns downstairs? The slugs are liable to go through the walls, won’t that flood the place out?” 

“The outside walls are made of bulletproof glass and heavy steel to account for the water pressure.”  

“You sure about that?” 

“Yeah, I’m sure, and even if we do get some bullet holes, it ain’t gonna flood the place out right away. If we get a few leaks, who cares, so long as we find the dough before the place fills up with water.”  

“And you’re sure the bank is in the casino?” 

“Yeah, it’s gotta be.”  

“Gotta be? How do you know they don’t have it in a safe somewhere else?”  

“If it’s in a safe somewhere else, we’ll find it. Stick one of them tommy guns in Javernick’s face and he’ll sing like a bird. With the L.A. high rollers comin’ in, he has to have enough dough on hand to cover big payouts.”  

“I don’t know, Falanga. The whole thing sounds kind of half-assed. You could have spent more time casing the joint.” 

“What do you mean you don’t know, Duffy? The place is a sitting duck. The closest cop shop is fifty miles from here. We got all the time in the world.” 

“If you say so,” in a skeptical tone of voice. 

“I say so. Like taking candy from a baby.” 

On the roof of the hotel, Marco “The Shrimp” Di Stefano watched with his binoculars as Iacono guided the boat into a slip at the far end of the floating docks. Branigan climbed out and tied if off to a mooring cleat with a hank of rope, and Di Stefano watched closely as the rest of the Irish mobsters climbed out too. They were all carrying musical instrument cases, and Downey handed one of them to Branigan…Big enough to hold a trombone. Or a Thompson submachine gun. 

“Give us a couple of minutes to secure the front entry,” said Duffy to Falanga.  

“Sure thing,” said Falanga. “Then Big Ears and me will cover your rear.”  

Duffy rolled his eyes, then nodded at O’Leary with a sarcastic expression as they began walking towards the entry. “Falanga and Big Ears will cover our rears.” 

Standing inside the entry doors, Scudari and Roselli saw them coming.  

“What’s up with these clowns?” said Scudari as he watched the five Irish mobsters walking towards them in their matching suits, carrying their musical instrument cases. 

“I don’t know, Vince. Let’s check it out.” 

The motion activated double doors opened automatically and Scudari and Roselli began walking towards the five Irishmen. From thirty feet away, Duffy looked them over and noticed both reaching inside their sport coats to place their hands on their hardware. Roselli was a notorious button man, and Duffy, recognizing him, realized both were made men. “Gametime, boys,” he said. Swiftly unlatching the musical instrument case, Duffy pulled out his submachine gun, but Roselli beat him to the draw and shot him twice in the chest with his .357 revolver. Scudari nailed O’Leary with his .45 semi auto before the Irishman could get his own tommy gun out of its case.  

Meanwhile, on the roof, Di Stefano put Campell’s head in the crosshairs of his high-powered scope and squeezed the trigger—another Irish mobster went down. Back on the dock, Branigan had his tommy gun out of its case, and he sprayed Scudari and Roselli with a volley of automatic fire, instantly killing both. Branigan and Downey took off running for the boat and Di Stefano began taking pot shots at them from the roof, rapidly working the bolt action on his sniper rifle.  

“Get us the fuck out of here, Big Ears,” said Falanga as he quickly untied the rope from the mooring cleat. 

“We got to wait for Branigan and Downey,” said Iacono.  

“Fuck Branigan and Downey…Go!”  

“No, fuck you, Tony.” Iacono had the motor running, but he waited on the two remaining Irishmen, dashing across the docks.  

Branigan reached the boat and leaped into the back. Downey was right behind him, but as he jumped for the boat, Di Stefano nailed him between the shoulder blades. He landed in the back but was dead as a doornail, the slug had pierced his aorta. Iacono took off towards Vegas, opening the throttle as Di Stefano continued taking wild shots. 

“What the fuck, Tony?” said Branigan a few minutes later as they raced back through the narrows.  

“What do you mean what the fuck, Branigan?”  

“I mean, what the fuck just happened back there?”  

“Looks like we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  

“You can say that again…One of those guys I shot, I recognized him. It was Sammy Roselli. Viscuso muscle.” 

“You’re kidding. Roselli was in the Bocce Club both times me and Big Ears had our sit-downs with Viscuso.”  

“It means Javernick’s connected, Tony. Big time. It was a mistake trying to knock off his casino.”  

“So what do we do now?” said Iacono.  

“Get the fuck out of Vegas, Big Ears. That’s what we do now.” 

Halfway to the marina, they decided to get rid of Downey’s body. They tied the boat anchor to his corpse and tossed both overboard.  

Back at the casino, Lonnie placed a desk phone in front of Roland and gave him the handset. Roland kept his voice low as he talked to Maximino while Javernick and Eunice continued with their conversation. When Roland replaced the handset in its cradle, Javernick knew something terrible had happened. He could tell from the disturbed expression on Roland’s face. 

“We have a security crisis upstairs,” said Roland. 

“What happened?”  

“It sounds like Civella and Viscuso’s guys just thwarted an armed robbery.” 

“Holy Christ.”  

“Five men are dead, Claude, on the docks outside the entry.” 

Javernick and Roland boarded the elevator. They stopped on the second floor where the sit-down was taking place and Javernick asked Giordano to summon Nick Lococo. He joined them a few moments later.  

When the trio arrived on the 47th floor, they found Maximino standing by the front desk with Elias Thunderhawk and Jace Lyle. Maximino looked extremely upset, eyes wide and hands trembling. He’d heard the shooting and then went outside to find the bodies lying in pools of blood on the docks.  

Javernick, Roland, and Lococo went outside. Scudari was one of Lou Civella’s top lieutenants, Lococo had known him for years, and Javernick could see the anger building in Lococo’s eyes as he stood over his dead friend’s bullet riddled body. Branigan had really done a number on him with the tommy gun. Roland remained calm and cool, what Javernick expected, because he’d served in an infantry unit in World War One, and he’d seen his share of death and mayhem in the trenches west of Paris.  

Marco Di Stefano appeared at the entry doors, carrying his sniper rifle. “It was Falanga, Nick. He stayed in the boat with Iacono and sent the micks in to do the dirty work. Branigan shot Vince and Roselli and then made it back to the boat before I could nail him.”  

“That no good sonofabitch.” Lococo looked like he was ready to explode.  

“I’d better call the sheriff’s office,” said Javernick. “Roland, please find some blankets and cover up the bodies. Have Elias and Jace escort anyone who needs to get through. Maximino looks like he could use something strong to drink.” 








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