From Chapter 15:
The entourage followed Nick Mattera into Savino’s Italian Market, down the center aisle to the meat case in the back. Nick lifted the folding counter, walked behind the butcher blocks and into the back room where Tony Savino conducted most of his illegal business.
Albert Apicella, one of Tony’s deputies, was in there, sitting across from Tony at the folding card table that had acted as Tony’s unofficial desk for more than 20 years. They each had a cup of cappuccino that Tony’s counter girl, Angela, had made for them, and a small plate of biscotti. Tony was smoking a cigar and punching figures into a $5 Texas Instruments calculator with extra-large keys. In front of him were betting slips from the gambling parlors he ran up and down the North Shore, and stacks of twenties, fifties and hundreds. Nardini guessed it was about thirty-thousand dollars. When Tony looked up to see who’d walked in, his cigar nearly fell out of his mouth.
After thinking about it for a second, he shrugged and said, “OK, Nicky, I’ll hear what your friends have to say.”
“Thanks Tony,” he said. “This is…”
“I know everybody,” Tony said as he stood up.
“Mr. Seymour, nice to see you again.”
“Again?” Nardini asked.
“Believe it or not, smart ass, Mr. Seymour and I go to some of the same fund raisers.”
“I don’t have to tell you, Mr. Seymour,” Tony said, “you’re not the first politician to come back here on business.”
“I’m sure I’m not,” Jim Seymour said.
“You, on the other hand,” he said, turning to Benny Hill, “are a first.”
“No cop’s ever been back here,” Tony said.
“No honest cop,” Benny said.
“Hey you,” Tony said. “Be nice. Didn’t your mother ever tell you don’t speak ill of the dead?”
“Benny was in the Marines with me, Tony,” Nick said. “He’s with ATF now, but has agreed that whatever we say here today will be off the record.”
“It better be,” Tony said. “Or you see that big galoot over there,” he said, pointing to Albert, who didn’t look up from counting the stacks of hundred dollar bills in front of him. “He’s gonna take one of those meat cleavers my guys are using to cut up those ribs and stick it right in the top of your head.”
“Easy, Tony,” Nick said.
“Easy nothing,” Tony said with a grin. “He knows I’m just teasing him.”
Turning to Rachel, Tony’s features softened, like every man who looks at a woman that sexy and beautiful.
“And you,” Tony said. “You’re welcome in my place any time,” he said, kissing her hand. “Why’d you let this big dummy get you involved in this shit?”
“I was kinda involved already, Tony,” she said.
“Too bad. You’re a sweet kid.”
“OK, what are we gonna talk about?” Tony said.
“Angie!!!” he yelled before anyone could answer. In two seconds, the phone on the wall rang. Tony punched Line 1, which was blinking.
“Bring a tray of cappuccinos and biscotti back for our guests.”
“Right away, Tony.”
“Throw that sissy shit away,” Tony said, looking at Nick and Nardini’s Starbucks cups. “What the fuck’s the matter with you guys. I thought I raised you better.”
“OK, now what are we gonna talk about?”
“Like I said, Tony,” Nick began. “Everything here today is off the record. But I think we all have the same problem. And if we share everything we know, I think we can come up with a solution.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
Benny Hill started to explain the connection between Costello Labs, Strain B and the Mexican cartel. About five minutes into his presentation, Angela came in with the coffee and snacks.
“That’s a good girl,” Tony said, giving her a peck on the cheek. “Thank you. Now give us some privacy.”
As Benny began to explain the nexus of drugs again, Tony put his hand up and looked at Rachel.
“Do you know everything he knows?”
“I do, Tony.”
“Then you tell me. I’d rather here it from you.”
Rachel proceeded to tell Tony about their meeting at the White House. As the story unfolded, everyone seated around the table could see Tony’s anger building as his face got redder and redder. Amazingly, he never raised his voice or lost his temper. Every once in a while, he would interrupt and ask a question. Whoever could give the best answer spoke.
When everything had been explained to Tony, he just sat there for five minutes and digested it all. No one said a word.
“So let me get this straight,” he said, after a long pause. “This British scumbag they got running Costello Labs, gets the exclusive government contract to produce this Legal Weed shit, and is making billions of dollars for his company, and that’s not enough?”
“That’s right, Tony,” Jim Seymour said.
“And they call us ‘organized crime?’”
Only Tony and Albert laughed.
“So now, this limey fuck gets in bed with the cartel, and for some reason the cartel is fucking him over on this deal?”
“That’s right,” Benny said.
“Do we know why?”
“We have a theory,” Benny said. “But maybe you’d rather hear it from Rachel, since she was the one who laid it out for the president.”
“Wow!” Tony said. “I’m gonna get the same briefing as the President of the United States. What a fuckin’ country. Go ahead sweetheart, tell me.”
“We think Banuelos is double-crossing Pearson because he’s gonna take Strain B and market it worldwide all by himself.”
“Yeah, we know that,” Tony said.
“How the fuck do you know that?” Benny asked.
“I got my sources, too, dipshit,” he said.
“What sources are those?” Benny asked.
“I’ll tell you when the time is right,” Tony said. “Don’t worry. We’re gonna get these scumbags. But we’re gonna do it my way. And, believe it or not, I’m gonna need your help,” he said, looking at Benny.
“What kind of help?”