Cleaner Man

by C.W.Smoke

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"I didn't think about the piece of paper that Joey gave me till after he turned up dead....just a bunch of numbers and letters that lined up into neat handwritten columns across the page. 'Hang onto this for me,' he said, barely glancing up as he shoved the paper into my hand. That was just two weeks ago when I made my regular visit.

"You had to know Joey....always an angle....always grabbin' higher than he should....usin' his Italian blood....wantin' everyone to think he was 'connected.' Hell, as long as he produced, his bosses could care less. They knew exactly how he was connected all right, like the servant's outhouse is connected to the manor.

"But Joey was always puttin' on airs, even in high school when we were buddies. At least in the beginning I thought we were buddies. Turns out he had the hots for my sister. Yeah, Joey liked girls with big boobs, and Margie's bouncing sweater entertained male imaginations every school day as she strutted across the school yard with her juicy, ripe coconuts just waitin' to be picked. He was workin' me to get next to her....always an angle. Joey didn't know it, but Margie liked him too. She liked his dark, Sicilian looks, and she had a thing for thick, black, curly hair, so I just let nature take its course, minus my percentage, naturally. That's how Joey and I began doin' business..."

* * *

I glanced up from reading Alex Metrovich's statement while thinking what a bombshell that piece of paper would prove to be. Sure, Justice couldn't use the paper as evidence in the criminal proceeding, but the information contained in those neatly arranged, handwritten columns would provide enough leverage to pry the lid off the Mafia's hidden control of the union. Dates. Amounts. Account numbers. A slick kickback scheme for laundering money from the union's general revenue fund to the current union leader's political war chest. What used to be black and white had been blurred to gray. Outright theft was now labelled as creative campaign financing. All I had to do was let certain people know that I knew, and the walls would come tumbling down like dominoes. How could I have ever been so niave? I must have been smiling because Jarrett from Justice was looking at me funny.

"You reading the part about her tits?" he asked.

I continued smiling and shrugged noncommittally. No sense getting too close. After all, officially, I wasn't here at this Department of Justice safe house....didn't even exist....just an anonymous cleaner sent in to eradicate a troublesome stain.

"I left that part in to give the....uhh task force, a picture into his head and to establish their longstanding relationship," he continued.

It never ceases to surprise me how even a trained lawyer will volunteer information if I just sit there in silence, staring at him. Ever see a person spill his guts just because an open microphone is thrust under his nose? Same principle.

When I failed to respond, Jarrett fidgeted awhile then made an excuse to leave the room. I went back to my reading...

(to be continued)

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