“Who the hell are you?” I watch as the well-built man with a shaved head stands in the door of the cell. I known full well who it is; Maurizio Francis Alvaro aka Salty, second child of Mario Alvaro, the head of the Alvaro crime family. Not as big as the Falcone’s or as ruthless as the Triads, but a syndicate on the move. Maurizio is in Blackgate serving a year for knocking out three policemen who were trying to arrest him on arson charges.
“Which bed WAS yours?” he asks me as he eyes the bottom bunk I’m currently sitting on.
“You’re the new fish, you get the top,” I tell him as I stand. He’s a good head taller and about twice as wide, but size means nothing prison. You kowtow or show weakness and you get it; either in the back or the butt and I’m not getting stabbed!
Salty just stares. Its unnerving especially since there is absolutely nowhere to go. I’ve drawn my line. Slowly he steps forward. And then past me to the top bunk. “Got a name?”
I don’t see it coming. He pins me up against the cell wall, forearm across the side of my neck. “I get the bottom bunk, capish?”
“Get…your…sausage…fingers…off…me!” I push off the wall and crack him on the cheek with my head. It gives me a small space to escape. I get my guard up as he fires off a barrage of punches and elbows. Salty is all muscle no skill, which is lucky for me. If he had a few lessons in a martial art he’d be even worse! I clip him on the nose at the cost of taking a shot in the ribs. Salty tackles me into the bars which is a blessing in disguise. Hurts like hell but it alerts the guards. I just hope they get here before I’m turned into minced meat.
I punch him several times in the back of the head which gets him anger, so he bites me! A large chunk of my side is being squeezed between his pearly whites; I now know how a sandwich feels. Suddenly there’s airhorns and black shadows and yelling as guards come down on us and break us up. I pass out looking straight at Salty who is glaring right on back.
I think I made a good impression.
“What are you doing here?” I ask as I walk free from Blackgate. Salty sneers as he leans against the bright yellow Camaro, looking like a million dollars.
“Told you I’d look after you when you got out,” he says throwing me the keys.
“Don’t fill your pants, Marky,” Salty laughs. “She ain’t yours! I’m just letting you drive me around.”
“Yes, Miss Daisy!” I one finger salute him and get in. “Where to?”
O’Malley’s is a cop bar. And its for that reason Salty picked it for our first drink together on the outside because screw those guys! Besides a lot of them skim and some are just flat out worse than the people they’re putting behind bars.
“Pick your poison!” Salty declares as he strides in. “I’m buying!”
“Bourbon & Zesti!”
Salty shakes his head in disgust. “Were you in Blackgate or St Agnes’s Ladies Prison?”
I roll my eyes. “Tequila then.”
It’s always pretty full as cops work irregular shifts and the licensing guys turn a blind eye that this place is 24 hours. I find a table between some uniforms and some suits, more than likely detectives or internal affairs. They eyeball me because they think that’s scary or something. I’ve been in Blackgate ladies, your eye stink means very little to me.
“Enjoy the fresh air,” mocks one of them. “While you can.”
Salty slaps down a handful of shots along with two bottles of Ryerstad Lite. “Welcome home Marky!”
“Salute!” We cheers shots and we’re away. We catch up, talk rubbish, brag, drink and generally cut loose. It’s a fun time. But then nature calls after a while and I stagger over to the bathroom. I head to the urinal, jam my fingers down my throat and heave.
“Won’t get rid of the alcohol. It goes straight to the bloodstream.”
I look around to see a guy who looks like an accountant, possibly that butler from that show with the dogs and cars in Hawaii. His name is Lieutenant David Cornwell. He's actually my boss, washing his hands.
“Dave,” I wipe my face and nose. “What’s up?”
“How’s the assignment going, Mike?”
I straighten up, unzip and add some yellow to chunky bile soup I made. “It's Mark. Tough as. But I’m in. Also, not as drunk as I make out, can’t operate a car though.”
I wash my hands and straighten up. “Yeah, you’re going to have to punch me.”
“This long in the bathroom we’re either lovers or I’m a rat. So, make a fist and hit me!”
Dave is a pencil pusher from way back and isn’t sure the request. So, I shove him.
“Hit me or I’m going to put you through the wall!” I tell him.
It’s a terrible punch, telegraphed and not strong but it hits on the cheek. I go with the blow, smack into the basin and hit the floor. Dave quickly leaves. I lie there on the dirty tiles; I’ll get up in a moment.
“Mark! Where the f…..MARK!” Salty enters the bathroom and helps me up. “What the hell happened?”
“One of those suits took a cheap shot while I was whizzing!” I tell him as I look in the mirror almost not recognising who I am. Today name is Mark Vara, I’m an ex-con…. but actually I’m a police officer with the GCPD and currently on assignment to infiltrate the Alvaro crime family; an assignment I’m currently fourteen months into. Four months outside establishing a rep, a year in prison to build a decent cover story.
“Bastards!” Salty kicks a stall door off its hinges in anger. “Which one?”
“Leave it,” I tell him as I wash my face. “You go out there and punch on and we spend tonight behind bars, I just got out! He’ll keep.”
“Ain’t right!” Salty declares stalking back and forth like a caged tiger. “Ain’t right!”
“Go order some Blue Curaçao shots,” I tell him as I start collecting urinal cakes. “We’ll teach’em a lesson another way.”
Salty hugs me and kisses my forehead. “You’re such a sneaky bastard, Marky! SHOTS! SHOTS!”
I’d rather make a bunch of cops sick from drinking toilet water than starting a brawl that could end in gunfire. I catch my reflection in the mirror, standing there cradling a dozen urinal cakes against my charity donated clothes.
“You’re still Michael Irvine,” I quietly remind myself before heading out to the bar.