The Leone Crime Family Box Set - B. B. Hamel



In a few minutes, I was going to kill a man.

The asphalt was slick with rain as I stepped out of my black SUV and into the pitch dark night. I shut the door, making the sound echo off the old brick building’s walls, bouncing around the block and out of sight. The only other sounds were the patter of rain in puddles and the soft idling of the SUV’s engine.

I knew Steven was watching carefully, a loaded Glock in his lap, as I stepped into the SUV’s headlights and let them silhouette me from behind.

“You good?” Steven called out the window.

“I’m good,” I said.

My eyes moved over to the abandoned school, my gaze passing over the boarded-up windows. The parking lines were beginning to fade, and the lawn around the school was beginning to get overgrown. I’d have some guys come out and cut it later in the week.

I looked up as another car came down the block, heading toward the school. It was a red thing, beat up with nearly black tinted windows, rust around the bottom, and duct tape holding on the front and back bumpers. One of the headlights was out, but the thing still managed to drive despite the fact that it seemed as though it was about to fall apart at any moment.

The car pulled into the parking lot, swung around, and stopped about twenty feet away from me. I crossed my arms, my pulse beating slow. I let the rain tap against my black jacket, not caring much if I got wet. I had on jeans, black boots, a gray button-down shirt, and a nylon jacket over it all. My dark hair was pushed back, almost haphazard and lazy. I took pride in my appearance, only insofar as it intimidated my enemies.

On a normal day, I wore a suit. Form-fitted, expensive. But I didn’t want to be visible that night, so I wore something different.

The car’s engine stopped and its only headlight winked out. A figure got out of the driver’s side and lingered a moment, the door still open.

“Dante?” he called out.

“Roger,” I said. “Get your ass out here. I’m getting rained on.”

The door slammed shut and Roger came walking toward me. He was an older man, probably in his fifties, but skinny and pale. His shirt hung off his bones, his khaki pants were too baggy, and there was a hole in his tennis shoes. His hair was gray, though covered with a ragged Phillies baseball cap, and he had bags under his eyes. He gave me his crooked grin and hesitated a few feet away.

“Hey, boss,” he said. “Hey, thanks, uh, thanks for, uh, seeing me.” He touched his hand to the base of his neck and shifted from foot to foot.

I stepped out of the beams of the headlights and moved to my right, closer to the brick-fronted school with its high arched doorway up a long flight of concrete steps. For a second, I could almost picture the kids that used to walk up those steps every day, probably since I used to be one of them.

Back when I was just a little shit, before I owned these streets.

“I was wondering when I’d hear from you,” I said, watching Roger closely. “You’ve been a little hard to get a hold of these past few days.”

“Right, right, sorry about that, boss.” He smiled at me and wrung his hands in front of him. “I’ve been, you know, laying low.”

“Laying low?” I asked in mock surprise. “Why would you need to lay low, Roger?”

“Uh,” he said and clenched his jaw. “You know, boss, I should just come clean, right?”

I took a step closer to him and he flinched back almost by reflex. I smiled at him, tilted my head. “Yeah, maybe you should.”

“You know I hit a strip club, right? I thought it was… I thought it was owned by this fucking guy, Mack the Nose. You know Mack? Black guy, really tall, all ripped and shit?”

“I know Mack,” I said. “He’s Haitian. Nice guy.”

“Yeah, yeah, right, real nice guy, but I was trying to rob him, you know?”

I nodded and stretched my arms, never taking my eyes off Roger. “But it wasn’t Mack’s place, was it?”

“I thought it was,” he protested. “I really did. I didn’t mean…” He trailed off.

“Who owns that strip club, Roger?” I asked.

“I didn’t know,” he said and took a step backwards. “I really didn’t. I don’t… you’re not mad, are you, boss? You know I’d