The Vendetta Defense

Free The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline

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Authors: Lisa Scottoline
Philadelphia. No Lucia had gone to jail only because they had a fairly mouthy blonde on retainer, whose listing to the right was barely detectable.
    Judy snapped closed the Tylenol jug and watched Frank apply a butterfly Band-Aid to the bald noggin of Tony Two Feet, who had proved, not surprisingly, to excel at kicking Coluzzis in the shins. Unfortunately, his Mr. Potatohead-eyeglasses had been knocked off in the brawl and nestled broken in his shirt pocket, their dark frames showing through the thin fabric.
    And for Judy’s part in the battle, she had found herself relegated to the sidelines, apparently viewed as Switzerland by the Coluzzis. After she’d lost one of Bennie’s brown pumps in the fussing, which was no great loss, she helped the cops bring the mess to a close. Pigeon Tony was unscathed only because he hadn’t been at the fistfight and had still been trapped in TV custody. Judy was at present rethinking her position on televised arraignments. They were an excellent idea where Italians were involved.
    She stood at the head of the table. “Here comes the lecture. First of all, we’re damn lucky that the judge didn’t revoke Pigeon Tony’s bail, and I hope all of you know it. You have to understand right here and right now that we are not going to run this case this way. I may be a slow learner, but I’m getting the idea. The Lucias hate the Coluzzis, and the Coluzzis hate the Lucias. But right now that doesn’t matter. I cannot and will not defend Pigeon Tony in this case if you people can’t control yourselves.” Judy wasn’t used to being so dictatorial, but she was starting to like the power femme thing, even though her version of it sounded like a gym teacher. She wished for a whistle on a gimp lanyard, in school colors. “You people have to think a lot more long-term than you have been. You can’t be so emotional all the time.”
    Pigeon Tony blinked. Mr. DiNunzio looked grave. Tony Two Feet hung his head.
    Frank smiled, despite a goose egg rising on his right cheekbone. He stood at the opposite end of the table, resting his hands on the back of Pigeon Tony’s chair. “Need I remind you that we come by it honestly?”
    “Need I remind you that your grandfather’s life is at stake?” Judy watched his smile fade. “Get over yourselves. Being Italian is no excuse for bad behavior any longer. In any event, not with this lawyer. From now on we do this my way, every step of the way, or Pigeon Tony finds somebody else to represent him.”
    Pigeon Tony stopped blinking and the corners of his mouth went south.
    “Pigeon Tony, listen to me.” Judy softened her tone, since even gym teachers had a heart. “Do you understand what I’m saying here?”
    “Judy, we no start fight. Coluzzis start fight.” He made a bony fist with his hand and waved it in the air. “They hit, then we hit.”
    Tony Two Feet nodded in agreement, as did Tony-From-Down-The-Block, and Judy realized she had a fairly tough row to hoe.
    “Tonys. Gentlemen. Please. I really don’t want to hear ‘they started it’ from eighty-year-olds. You’re grown men, not little boys. You should all know better than that, and you’re still not getting it.” Judy heard herself and wondered when dodgeball was starting. “This isn’t a schoolyard game, or a fight, or even a war. It’s a legal case. A matter of law.”
    “In a war,” Frank said coolly, sipping his coffee, and Judy bore down.
    “Maybe so. But I run this war or I’m outta here.” She picked up her briefcase and walked to the door of the conference room, in case Pigeon Tony missed the point. The fact that it was her own conference room seemed a detail compared with the drama of the demonstration. If she kept this up, she’d be promoted to health teacher and could draw fallopian tubes shaped like moose antlers on the blackboard. “We do it my way, or I’m gone.”
    “No! Judy!” Pigeon Tony exclaimed, his voice thin with anxiety, and she turned at the door,

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