Saturday, August 26, 2006
I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble. If I did, would you find me in those dark hours, eyeing some broad at Blinco's, about to find myself in the middle of the biggest story to hit town in years?
I'm Tony Soprano of the Court TV discussion board fame. No, not the guy on that TV show. I just took his moniker cause it gave me cover like a cheap toupee when a fella's follicles are few. I'm not afraid of cops like Gottlieb. I was there the night the caper with the fry cook went down.
Did I see it? No.
Gottlieb and I rub each other the wrong way, like a cheap wool suit you've had one year too long. Things were tense that night, my friends. I shot off my mouth a few times. As Gottlieb passed my barstool, he leaned in close. I could see the oily sweat on his shiny bald head. "Keep riding on me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver." He straightened up and, with his posse following him, sauntered out the door into the alley. What happened next, well, that's the most baffling mystery story in years.
A friend of mine, a newsie, was in Blinco's a few nights later. "Tony, Have the barkeep pour me some of that booze you're drinking, and I'll tell you a story you might want to hear."
"Good booze makes any tale you're going to tell one I want to hear." I motioned for him to pull out the barstool beside me. We waited till the dame serving us gave me a wink and sauntered back to the bar.
"Did you see Gottlieb's picture on the front page of the local rag. Did you read the piece saying his boss Nifong should be worried he's going down for the Blinco's gig?'
"Yeah, me and half the town saw that. What's your beef? Gottlieb's days as a Big Shot Bully are as numbered as a Currier and Ives calendar. The cook ratted him out, said the "Bald guy" was the instigator. Of the coppers here that night, Gottlieb fit that description like a Hong Kong suit you had made to order. He's as finished as a Dame from an East Coast Boarding school. He's going down.
The newsie smiled, took another sip of his drink. "Not so fast, Tony, Gottlieb may have hired a lawyer, but he ain't gonna take the fall. Our big story tomorrow is two young cops will take the rap for him. No way bossman Nifong will let his boy Gottlieb go down till the Dukies are duked out."
I took a drag on my cigarette and watched the smoke curl across the table. The newsie leaned in and pushed copy of the morning's paper my way. Our eyes met again as I glanced at the photos of the two cops charged."
But they have hair! There heads look like lucky sheep who ran from a careless shearer. No way they fit the Cook's description. And Gottlieb lawyered up faster than a railroad car on an icy stretch of track!”
"Exactly. Nifong's the boss. He ain't gonna let no stinking fry cook ruin the best campaign strategy since Washington rowed across a frosty river in Delaware. Gottlieb's the chief investigator. Three months later, he turned in ...pages of notes. His recollection of events added details to Nifong’s case like a New York seamstress adds sequins to a songbird’s gown. Gottlieb's in solid with the boss.”
I sat in stunned silence, not even a come hither look from the comely barmaid could stop my thoughts.
The newsie took another sip of the bourbon I bought him.
"It ain't the first time either. One morning. around 6AM, Gottlieb ran a red light and rammed his car into another guy's ride right here in Raleigh. When the smoke cleared, the wreck caused $7000 worth of damage. Our man Gottlieb didn't even get a ticket. Tony, if that was you or me, think the Raleigh cops would let it slide like a fried egg on a greasy stove?"
I leaned back. The newsie smiled a knowing smile. "Ain't gonna happen, Tony. Watch and see. The guy with the smashed car, the poor fry cook here that got knocked around? They are NOBODYS, Tony. And NOBODY cares.”
My beat can be ugly, my friends. The night can be cold. But this story chilled me like a eager bridegroom's champagne waiting to be uncorked. But it's not over yet.
Tony Soprano doesn’t go down easy.
******Footnote: Unlike some OTHER fiction writers LieStoppers feels the need to distinguish fiction from fact. Should the NYT wish to carry this story, LieStoppers will insist they disclose the difference. Tony Soprano was NOT in Blinco's the night of the Fry Cook beating, but we link to the basic facts of the story that ARE true.