Gone for Good Page 68


“Then you already know that I don’t have a clue where my brother is.”

He took a sip of the iced tea. “That I do.” He was still staring at the refrigerator; he head-gestured for me to do likewise. “You notice anything missing from those pictures?”

“I’m really not in the mood for games, Pistillo.”

“No, me neither. But take a longer look. What’s missing?”

I did not bother to look because I already knew. “The father.”

He snapped his fingers and pointed at me like a game show host. “Got it on the first try,” he said. “Impressive.”

“What the hell is this?”

“My sister lost her husband twelve years ago. The boys, well, you can do the math on your own. They were six and four. Maria raised them on her own. I pitched in where I could, but an uncle isn’t a father, you know what I mean?”

I said nothing.

“His name was Victor Dober. That name mean anything to you?”


“Vic was murdered. Shot twice in the head execution-style.” He drained his iced tea and then added, “Your brother was there.”

My heart lurched inside my chest. Pistillo stood, not waiting for a reaction. “I know my bladder is going to regret this, Will, but I’m going to have another glass. You want anything while I’m up?”

I tried to work through the shock. “What do you mean, my brother was there?”

But Pistillo was taking his time now. He opened the freezer, took out an ice tray, broke it open in the sink. The cubes clattered against the ceramic. He fished some out with his hand and filled his glass. “Before we begin, I want you to make a promise.”


“It involves Katy Miller.”

“What about her?”

“She’s just a kid.”

“I know that.”

“This is a dangerous situation. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out. I don’t want her getting hurt again.”

“Neither do I.”

“So we agree then,” he said. “Promise me, Will. Promise me you won’t involve her anymore.”

I looked at him and I knew that point was not negotiable. “Okay,” I said. “She’s out.”

He checked my face, looking for the lie, but on this point he was right. Katy had already paid a huge price. I’m not sure I could stand it if she was forced to pay a higher one.

“Tell me about my brother,” I said.

He finished pouring the iced tea and settled back into his chair. He looked at the table and then raised his eyes. “You read in the paper about the big busts,” Pistillo began. “You read about how the Fulton Fish Market’s been cleaned up. You see the parade of old men doing the perp walk on the news, and you think, those days are over. The mob is gone. The cops have won.”

He finished pouring the iced tea and sat back down. My own throat suddenly felt parched, sandy, as if it might close up altogether. I took a deep sip from my glass. The tea was too sweet.

“Do you know anything about Darwin?” he asked.

I thought the question was rhetorical, but he waited for an answer. I said, “Survival of the strongest, all that.”

“Not the strongest,” he said. “That’s the modern interpretation, and it’s wrong. The key for Darwin was not that the strongest survive—the most adaptable do. See the difference?”

I nodded.

“So the smarter bad guys, they adapted. They moved their business out of Manhattan. They sold drugs, for example, in the less competitive burbs. For your basic corruption, they started feeding on the Jersey cities. Camden, for example. Three of the last five mayors have been convicted of crimes. Atlantic City, I mean, c’mon, you don’t cross the street without graft. Newark and all that revitalization bullshit. Revitalization means money. Money means kickbacks and graft.”

I shifted in my chair. “Is there a point to this, Pistillo?”

“Yeah, asshole, there’s a big point.” His face reddened. His features remained steady, though not without great effort. “My brother-in-law—the father of those boys— tried to clean the streets of these scumbags. He worked undercover. Someone found out. And he and his partner ended up dead.”

“And you think my brother was involved in that?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

“You have proof?”

“Better than that.” Pistillo smiled. “Your brother confessed.”

I leaned back as if he’d taken a swing at me. I shook my head. Calm down. He would say and do anything, I reminded myself. Hadn’t he been willing to frame me just last night?

“But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, Will. And I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. We don’t think your brother killed anyone.”

Another whiplash. “But you just said—”

He held up a hand. “Hear me out, okay?”

Pistillo rose again. He needed time. I could see that. His face was surprisingly matter-of-fact, composed even, but that was because he was jamming the rage back in the closet. I wondered if that closet door would hold. I wondered how often, when he looked at his sister, that door gave way and the rage was let loose.

“Your brother worked for Philip McGuane. I assume you know who he is.”

I was giving him nothing. “Go on.”

“McGuane is more dangerous than your pal Asselta, mostly because he’s smarter. The OCID considers him one of the top guns on the East Coast.”


“Organized Crime Investigation Division,” he said. “At a young age, McGuane saw the writing on the wall. Talk about adapting, this guy is the ultimate survivor. I won’t go into detail about the current state of organized crime—the new Russians, the Triad, the Chinese, the old-world Italians. McGuane stayed two steps ahead of the competition. He was a boss by the time he was twenty-three. He works all the classics—drugs, prostitution, loan-sharking—but he specializes in graft and kickbacks and setting up his drug trade in less competitive spots away from the city.”

I thought about what Tanya had said, about Sheila selling up at Haverton College.

“McGuane killed my brother-in-law and his partner, a guy named Curtis Angler. Your brother was involved. We arrested him but on lesser charges.”


“Six months before Julie Miller was murdered.”

“How come I never heard anything about it?”

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