The rain picks up as I head to an unmarked bar, a nameless chunk of brick and mortar, built for concealment of profit, not the pursuit of. It’s not exactly a secret that J. Icama runs most of the organized crime in Potato Town. It’s also not exactly a secret that he’s in good with a handful of judges, and has dirt on a handful more. Charging him for drug trafficking or money laundering is about as effective as handcuffing water. The only thing that’s going to stick on a guy like Icama is murder one. And even then it needs to be an ironclad case. You don’t want to be the badge that went after Icama and lost. That’s a recipe for life on the run. And it gets real hard to run in cement shoes.
A thunder clap announces my arrival at the bar, echoing in from behind me as I enter. Icama’s already waiting. Looks like Ed tipped him off. Don’t blame him. Might have saved his life. Potato Town’s streets are lined with rat traps, and only Icama has that map. Icama waves me over with a confident smile and a hearty laugh, cigar smoke twirling in the air around him, dancing from his fist. I don’t bother to take off my coat. No matter how this goes, I won’t be here long.
He greets me with one word, more a statement than a question, detective, a rehearsed moment from a life memorizing mob flicks. There’s times where this job doesn’t feel real, like it’s all a play, that I’m caught in narrative. This is one of those moments. Or maybe that’s just the feeling of fear getting bashed down by denial. Either way, I’m thankful for the heat supported by my shoulder holster, a safety blanket with a safety. I get straight to the point. He’s not offering pleasantries so neither will I.
I tell him a Russet’s been murdered, done in by a real cold blooded bastard in the middle of the street. He gives no response, no sign of recognition or surprise. He’s a damn good poker player, even when he’s not holding cards. He deliberates before talking, weighing the reputational hit a conversation with me might entail. When he speaks, it’s slow. Intentional. He tells me he hired the tail at the request of one of his workers, a night club entertainer. Gives me her name, Madame Crinkélcute. Says he had no part in what went down. I don’t doubt him when he tells me he could produce a hundred witnesses that would confirm that. He suggests I ask the dame, the emphasis on a dame an invitation to leave.
So I do. But not before lingering at the door, sending back a knowing glare. I see you Icama. And now you see me. Then I’m gone, back into the crying night, another suspect to interrogate.