both men and women, playing what looks to me like blackjack. I think I catch a glimpse of Daytona’s double comb-over, among the card players. There’s even a little bar, with a man and a blond woman leaning against it, waiting for their drinks. Three men dressed in dark suits mingle silently with the crowd, keeping an eye on everything that’s going on.
When Tano Casale does something, he does it right. I’m pretty sure that tomorrow morning, none of what I’m looking at will be here to greet the light of day. The tables will be broken down, the green felt and the black curtains covering the high windows of the warehouse will all be gone. There’ll be nothing but a warehouse full of people cutting metal with oxyacetylene blowtorches, hammering, and waving paint spray guns and airbrushes. But tonight there’s still plenty of time for anyone who wants to hunt for a lucky card or a winning number. They just have to pay their dues, winning occasionally and losing almost inevitably, as required by the rules of the game.
I follow Micky as he walks across the warehouse floor, heading for a door that looks like it leads to an office. Before we have a chance to knock on the door, it swings open and a man walks out. His face is swollen, and a stream of blood is pouring out of his nose. He’s doing his best to stop the blood with a pocket handkerchief. Another man with a powerful physique and a face that’s probably seen more than one bout in a boxing ring holds him firmly by the arm, pushing him along toward the exit and concealing him from the view of the other players.
Micky knocks twice on the doorjamb, and then walks through the door, which has been left wide open. I follow him through. Inside we see two men. One is sitting down at a desk piled high with paperwork and the other is on his feet, leaning against a zinc filing cabinet.
The one sitting down is Tano Casale.
He looks to be about forty-five, with slicked-back hair. There are a few streaks of gray around his temples, and not a trace of gray in his thick, dark mustache. His eyes are determined but his right eyebrow, crisscrossed by a small scar, gives him a slightly quizzical look. His big hands resting on the desktop convey an idea of strength and of a person who knows how to use it.
He sees us walk in and nods hello to Micky. The nod is followed by a smile that says the boss likes Micky. My friend must be a reliable worker and a good earner. What I hear about Tano Casale is that he’s a man of his word and that he recognizes and rewards merit.
“ Ciao , blondie.”
“ Ciao , Tano.”
Micky, for all his airs as a man of the world, is intimidated. He points to me.
“This is Bravo, the person I mentioned on the phone.”
Only then does Tano seem to notice my presence. He looks me up and down without a word and his face hardens.
“Bravo? What kind of a fucking name is Bravo?”
A voice emerges from my memory and echoes in my head. It sounds like sandpaper on rust.
… hold still, youngster, don’t give me trouble. If you make this easy on me, I’ll make it easy on you and try not to make it hurt too bad. Understand? That’s it, don’t squirm. Bravo!
I shrug my shoulders.
“Maybe it’s not a name, maybe it’s just an involuntary shout of approval I get from people.”
Tano bursts out laughing.
“Nice answer, kid—bravo!”
“You see? You said it, I didn’t.”
Maybe my ready wit has made a good impression on him, or maybe not. Still, when the smile fades he looks at me differently. He waves me over and points to the steel and Formica chair in front of his desk. Micky can tell he’s no longer needed, and he leaves before anyone has to ask him to. The other man remains standing, on my left. Maybe he’s trying to intimidate me, but I ignore him.
Tano offers me a thoughtful tone of voice and a piece of flattery.
“All kidding aside, I’ve heard good things about you. You’ve put together your little network, you seem to know what
Noam Chomsky, Reese Erlich