William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Nine

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Rick Biondi stood in front of Rocky’s desk, staring at the rolled out putting green.  He took the putter, lined up his shot, then turned and threw the putter at the bay window.  “I’m not here to play games,” he said, anticipating the shattering of glass that would have punctuated his statement.  Instead, the putter bounced and flew back into the room, knocking a very expensive Waterford vase from its pedestal.

Rocky didn’t say a thing.  He was folding a dollar bill into the shape of a swan.

“I’m not here to play games,” Biondi repeated.  He considered picking up the pieces of the vase, but he felt the gesture would diminish his point.  “I don’t even know why I’m here, why I have to keep talking with you?”

“Are you finished with your tantrum?” Rocky asked.

Biondi nodded.  “I’ve been on edge lately.  This is a new start for me, and I want it to be a clean start.  So can you tell me what you want?”

Billy St. Clair adjusted the nozzle on the gas fireplace, let the fire roar.  “You came to us,” he said.

“Yes,” Biondi said.  “I want to understand the nature of our arrangement.  Am I out?  Am I done with you guys or is there more?  It seems like there’s always more.”

Billy poured himself a Scotch and another for Biondi’s nerves.  “Remember that night we took that BMW?” he began.  “I gave the valet a hundred bucks for the keys but I couldn’t drive a stick, so you were the wheel man.  Even though we were supposed to go straight to the yard, we drove across the bridge, took the turnpike to Princeton and cruised the campus looking at college girls.  Do you remember what happened when we finally got to the chop?”

Biondi shook his head.  “Up until three weeks ago, I was a New Jersey State senator,” he said, “so no, I do not remember what happened when we allegedly got to the chop.”

“Iggy was pissed off,” Billy said.  “He ripped the antenna off the car and beat us both with it.  I still have marks on my back.  I’ll bet you do too.”

“I don’t want to think about that anymore.”

“Neither do I,” said Billy, “but it affirms that we share a past, that we were brothers at one time, so have a little respect.  You don’t walk into my house and throw things around.”

“I didn’t walk into your house,” Biondi said.  “This is Rocky’s house.”

“His house is my house,” Billy said.

Rocky folded his hands and leaned back.

“His house in my house,” Billy repeated.  “By that, I mean that we have a family business.  I think you understand that.”

“I’m not sure I really do understand that.”

“You know that Rocky and I were raised by the same foster parents, one block away from you and your foster parents,” Billy said.  “You know that we tussled, us three, through some hard years.”

“And you’ve done well for yourselves,” Biondi said, opening his arms wide to take in the house.

Rocky found a cigar in the humidor and lit it.  “You came to us, remember?  You called us.”

Rick Biondi folded his arms and stared into the fire.  “I have a new thing here.  A new life for me and Linda, here in California.  It could be good for me.”

“Special Assistant to the Governor and Lead Litigator for Parks and Public Architecture,” Rocky read from his notebook.  “You’re the man Schwarzenegger tapped to identify waste in public spending for state-held properties.”

Billy laughed, and Biondi shot him an evil look.

“Sorry,” Billy said.  “I was just remembering back when we were seventeen and you tried to rape that girl in South Philly.  Talia; she was a friend of mine.”

Biondi said nothing.  “That became a non-issue when I backed legislation for the state of New Jersey to sell Washington Irving’s summer estate.   I did that for you.  You bought it, turned in into condos, and made millions.  I understood that I would never have to hear of that incident again.  And I didn’t rape her.”

“I thought you got off cheap on that one,” Billy said.  “Talia was a friend of mine.  So I know that you didn’t rape her.  I know that she clobbered you with a tennis racket and knocked out your left eye.  That’s why you have a glass eye.”

“It was a misunderstanding.”

“It was,” Billy said.  He sat on the couch next to Rick.

“What do you want from me?” Biondi asked.  “You’re going to hold onto me, or am I free to live my life?”

Rocky shook his head.  “Nobody is holding on to you.  You and me are clear.  We walk different paths now.  You didn’t even need to come here and have a tantrum, but I appreciate much of the gesture.”

“You’re serious?”

“I am.  And if I want a favor from you, I’ll asked it.  And it will be a favor, not something owed.”

Biondi nodded.  “What?”

“I want the governor to privatize some expensive historically-marginal properties, specifically Lundt Castle.”

“I didn’t even know there was a Lundt Castle.”

Rocky smiled.  “There is.  And it costs taxpayers a quarter of a million a year to maintain.”

“Maintain,” Billy interjected.  “Not to fix it up, just to maintain.  One hundred and six acres of prime Napa real estate and the place is going to shit.  Just last week another balcony nearly collapsed.”

Biondi said nothing.

“I want a resolution allowing approved contractors to develop this property and other such properties on the state register,” Rocky said.  “I want you to bring that message to Mr. Schwarzenegger.  Tell him that you know of an outfit that has the money to undertake the privatization of this project.”

Biondi shook his head.  “He doesn’t even know me yet.  It was his tax guy who brought me in.  I’ve actually only talked with him a few times.  I don’t know if I can do this.”

Billy put his arm around his shoulder.  “Didn’t we pay the bulk of your campaign finances, one way or the other?”

“That was back east.  This is different.”

“Is it?”

Biondi fished for a cigarette and lit if from the big lighter on Rocky’s desk.  “I do this,” he said, “and I’m clean, right?  I don’t have to be thinking about St. Brendan Boys keeping a file on me?”

Billy moved the ashtray, placed it on the edge of the couch.  “You have nothing to worry about.”

“St. Brendan’s was dissolved more than ten years ago,” Rocky said.  “All I’m asking from you is a good word to the governor, that you have a credible and fiscally-solvent developer for Lundt Castle.”

“I don’t have to worry about you after that?”

Rocky lit a Haitian cigar.  “This is all I’m asking of you,” he said.

Rick Biondi stood and buttoned his coat.  “I get bits of shit every day about being friends with people like you.”

Billy picked up his putter, lined up his shot.  “People like me,” he repeated.

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Written by williamdoonan

November 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm

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