FINDING THE TRUTH
The sequel to Looking For Answers…
After talking to one of the alleged victims, P.I. Marcus D’Angelo thought he’d finally solved the mystery surrounding the rumors of shakedowns and extortion in Little Italy involving Sal Ravello. His partner, magazine reporter Jake Reilly, isn’t so sure. He suspects what Marcus was told was more self-serving than true. After all, the informant bound to be feeling bitter. He’s still stuck in the old neighborhood with a failing business while his fellow victims have sold theirs and moved on to better things.
Marcus knows he can’t close the case without further investigation, but there’s something that concerns him even more than the possibility he was lied to. Jake has a new job that could mean him going on assignment to the Far East for several months. If this happens, can their relationship survive a long separation?
Jake sighed loudly and shook his head. “Don’t tell me. Bet it has something to do with that crazy business in Little Italy. Am I right?”
“Yup.” I took another sip of coffee and blew him a kiss. “And it’s all your fault. Yours and the chief’s.”
I rapped my knuckles hard against my forehead. Shit! Me and my big mouth. Our local chief of police had come to me directly and requested I look into the rumors. He could do nothing officially due to lack of evidence, but with his son, Pete, and Sal’s son, Mitch, now a couple, he wanted the problem solved. He also wanted his name kept out of it for obvious reasons, so I’d let Jake think Mitch was my client.
“Our local police chief. He umm… Nothing the cops can do without proof, so he sort of referred the case to me to take a look,” I replied. It wasn’t a complete lie, just a slight re-arrangement of the truth.
“I see. And where did you get the idea that we’re at fault?” Jake asked, frowning.
“You said the only reason the butcher talked was because he felt bitter after the other victims sold their businesses and moved on. And the chief said, without proof, what I was told amounts to nothing more than hearsay. I know you’re both right and it’s made me stop and really think.”
“The rumors. They’ve been going around for years. No one seems to know if they’re true or if they’re completely false. If they’re true there must be evidence somewhere. And if they’re false, then something must have happened to start them.”
“What did the police think?”
“Nothing helpful.” I tapped my fingers against the surface of the table.” They investigated with every resource at their disposal when the original complaints were made and it got them precisely nowhere. They didn’t find a thing, not even the tiniest hint of any wrongdoing. But then you and I go visit the butcher, and bingo. It was like turning on a tap. All was revealed like it was no big deal, and I swallowed every last fucking word without question.”
“So now you’re having second thoughts? Or is that you’re feeling guilty for accepting what you were told without question?”
“A little of both, I guess.” I shrugged. “It’s like the chief said, the butcher could have heard what he told me second, third or even fourth hand, and a story like that loses nothing in the retelling. I assumed what we were told about the non-existent insurance policy was the basis for the rumors. It was possible, even plausible. People get greedy, and things like that happen all the time. But without confirmation, I have no way of knowing if it was or not.”
Jake frowned. “For all we know, the butcher made up the story as he went along. As a journalist, I learned the hard way that when someone relates a story about questionable activities in which they’ve played a part, they’re always very careful to show themselves in the best possible light.”
“You mean like rearranging the facts or even redirecting blame?”
“Happens all the time.” Jake shrugged. “And for obvious reasons it’s understandable. Basically what the butcher did, when he spun his little tale of the non-existent insurance policy, was to make sure that he came out smelling of roses. According to him, he and the other members of their little group were on the side of the angels. They disagreed with what the brother was doing and tried to make him see sense. At least that was his version of events.”
“Maybe that’s exactly what happened.”
“And maybe not. The only thing you can be sure of is that he was involved. Then you turn up, start asking questions, and hand him the perfect opportunity to wiggle his way out of any possible trouble.”
“You think that’s what he was trying to do?”
Jake took a sip of coffee. “I’m with you. I don’t know what to think or what to believe. For sure the butcher was a member of the group, he didn’t deny that. But does he know what he told you for an absolute fact? Was he actually there and heard it firsthand? Or was it stuff he got secondhand, filled in whatever blanks there were, and cobbled it all together as a story in the event someone asked?”
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