happened to Miss Ping-Pong?” he asked.
Little Muzzie, who now feared Angie more than ever, shrugged. “I heard the Gigentis are opening some new clubs on Tonnelle Avenue.”
“Could be,” Angie said. “You of the mood to pour a little sambuca?”
Big Muzzie stepped up. “We’re closed —”
“No problem,” said Little Muzz, going quick to the round bar, yanking back the canvas cover, and coming up with a bottle. With Pinhead two weeks dead and Soldato missing, Little Muzz was looking to the future.
Turnip smelled the anise through the cap.
Two shot glasses, and Little Muzzie retreated as the friends set their elbows down to raise a toast.
“To what?” Turnip said.
“To Soldato,” Angie replied, “and to being careful what you wish for.”
Turnip didn’t get it, but he sipped anyway, expecting a coffee bean to bump his lip. When he put down the little glass, he said, “So you’re going to tell me?”
“Tell you . . .”
“What’s in the coffee can?”
Turnip shook it and heard something rattle inside.
“You like to guess,” Angie said. “Guess.”
A minute later, Turnip said, “I could use a fuckin’ clue, Ang.”
“What did Soldato say?”
“He said he didn’t want to see you no more.”
“Which did not mean . . .”
Suddenly, Turnip recoiled.
“Bingo,” said Angie.
, Ang.” Then he whispered, “You took his eyes?”
Figuring the Muzzies were peeping, Angie nodded slow.
Turnip blessed himself.
Angie said, “Nobody puts you on the spot,
il mio amico
His head spinning, Turnip asked, “Ang, dead or alive?”
Angie dipped his little finger in the sambuca. “What do you think?”
BY DENNIS LEHANE
I t wasn’t that Alan didn’t love Nicole. She was possibly the only person he did love, certainly the only one he trusted. And after he’d beaten her or called her all kinds of unforgivable things in one of his black rages, he’d drop to his knees to beg her forgiveness. He’d weep like a child abandoned in the Arctic, he’d swear he loved her the way knights loved maidens in old poems, the way people loved each other in war zones or during tsunamis —
love, pure and passionate, boundless and a little out of control, but undeniable.
She believed this for a long time — it wasn’t just the money that kept her in the marriage; the makeup sex was epic, and Alan was definitely easy on the eyes. But then one day — the day he knocked her out in the kitchen, actually — she realized she didn’t care about his reasons anymore, she didn’t care how much he loved her, she just wanted him dead.
His apology for laying her out in the kitchen was two round-trip tickets to Paris, for her and a friend. So she took the trip with Lana, her best friend, and told her that she’d decided to have her husband killed. Lana, who thought Alan was an even bigger asshole than Nicole did, said it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
“I know a guy,” she said.
know a guy?
” Nicole looked from the Pont Neuf to Lana. “A guy who kills people?”
Turned out the guy had helped Lana’s family a few years back. Lana’s family owned supermarkets down south, and the guy had preserved the empire by dealing with a labor organizer named Gustavo Inerez. Gustavo left his house to pick up training pants for his three-year-old and never came back. The guy Lana’s family had hired called himself Kineavy, no other name given.
Not long after Nicole and Lana returned to Boston, Lana arranged the meeting. Kineavy met Nicole at an outdoor restaurant on Long Wharf. They sat looking out at boats in the harbor on a soft summer day.
“I don’t know how to do this,” she said.
“You’re not supposed to, Mrs. Walford. That’s why you hire me.”
“I meant I don’t know how to hire somebody to do it.”
Kineavy lit a cigarette, crossed one leg over his knee. “You hire somebody to clean your