West 47th

West 47th by Gerald A Browne

Book: West 47th by Gerald A Browne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gerald A Browne
the daybed an intercom. The have-around in a pink, short-sleeve shirt wasn’t wearing a piece, although no doubt there was one within easy reach beneath the daybed.
    The have-around blocked the way. “What do you want?”
    â€œI’m here to see Riccio.”
    â€œSure you are. Got an appointment?”
    â€œYeah, Mitch Laughton.”
    â€œFor this morning?”
    â€œI think not. Riccio ain’t seeing nobody this morning. He told me.”
    â€œLook on his agenda.”
    â€œOkay, asshole, down you go.” The have-around crowded Mitch with his belly.
    Mitch avoided it. “Don’t contaminate me.”
    â€œI’ll break your fucking face, that’s what I’ll contaminate.”
    Mitch did a take that stopped everything. He focused his interest on the guy’s eyes, craned forward a bit, scrutinizing more closely.
    â€œYou wearing eye shadow?”
    â€œIt’s smudged. Your eye shadow. The left eye.”
    â€œYou calling me a fagala?”
    â€œYou’re also quick.” Mitch indicated the intercom. “Call up and tell Riccio I’m here. You’re bad for business. When I see Riccio I’m going to tell him you cost him.”
    â€œFuck you. All I got to do is press that red buzzer and three cowboys will come down and rip your head off.”
    â€œAnd all you’d do is watch, right? What is it, you afraid you’ll break a fingernail or something?”
    The guy fisted his fat right hand and swung.
    Mitch easily sidestepped it.
    The momentum of the miss carried the guy forward in a sort of clumsy lunge, spun him on his fat legs so now his back was to the stairwell. While he was trying to recover his balance Mitch brought his foot up to the guy’s gut and shoved.
    The guy grabbed at the air as he went over backwards, pitched down the steep stairway, caromed from wall to wall with the sharp edges of each of the fifteen steps hurting grunts out of him all the way to the bottom. He lay there face up.
    Mitch peered down at him, thought the fat of the guy should have cushioned and prevented serious injury. Maybe not, though. The guy wasn’t moving.
    But then suddenly he was up and coming up, awkwardly clambering on all fours, gorilla-like.
    Mitch had time to think how much he disliked this kind of guy, how this sort seemed to always bring out a mean part of him. It wasn’t anything personal.
    The guy’s hands got to the landing. He tried to grab Mitch’s leg.
    Out of sympathy Mitch didn’t kick him. A kick was in order and would have been easy, but, instead, Mitch merely gave the guy’s face a push.
    The fall the guy took this time was about the same, looked and sounded just as painful. He lay sprawled in a contorted position at the bottom of the stairs and, from the sounds of his moans, it was doubtful he’d attempt another climb.
    Although the way was cleared now, Mitch had second thoughts about continuing on up to see Riccio. Before getting to Riccio there’d be more have-arounds to contend with and if he managed to get past those there would be Riccio’s routine.
    All Mitch had wanted was to exchange a few words with the man and leave with him a set of the Kalali photographs. But Riccio would never allow only that. He was an advocate of old-mob ways, slow, snaky, respect and all that. He’d insist on having espresso poured into merely rinsed cups and a couple of petrified anisette cookies placed on the saucers along with tiny stainless steel spoons.
    Riccio would conversationally circle the reason for Mitch’s unscheduled visit with irrelevant observations and opinions and throw in a mob anecdote here and there. As though he had all the time in the world and Mitch wasn’t suffering the place with its cheap, tasteless furnishings. Black synthetic carpet with such a high pile it looked like a million writhing worms and no telling what might be hiding in

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