Material Witness by Robert Tanenbaum

Material Witness by Robert Tanenbaum

Author:Robert Tanenbaum
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Published: 2010-06-14T16:00:00+00:00


Bello arrived, fashionably late at seven, looking worn and smaller than she remembered, clutching a bottle of Bardolino. He was only mildly drunk. Marlene was wearing her red Chinese jacket outfit for the occasion, giving her the look of one of those toys that pops up after you knock it down. He offered the wine wordlessly as he moved into the loft, his deep-set eyes taking in the room in one sweep. Marlene saw his eyes cast around again, more slowly this time, and when his eyebrow moved up a fraction of an inch, she said, “He’s in Atlanta. Just us burnt-out Italians tonight. You hungry?”

“I could eat, yeah,” said Bello, and she ushered him to the dining zone. A dinner with Harry Bello, she found, was easily distinguishable from one with Oscar Wilde; the cop ate steadily and with good appetite, acknowledging Marlene’s comments with monosyllables between bites, and succeeded in consuming two-thirds of a lasagna the size of the Manhattan Yellow Pages. Marlene talked throughout the meal, about Italian cooking, about Queens and cops she knew that Bello might know, trying to draw him out, to find the person beneath the cryptic style. She also filled him in on what she’d learned through Karp and Stupenagel about Leona Simmons.

In the end, after having eaten all he could, and having drunk five-sixths of the wine, with the espresso and biscotti on the table, Bello, who might be a drunk but was no boor, began to yield before Marlene’s assiduous pumping.

He had, it emerged, been married to the same woman for twenty-six years, had been with the cops since he got back from Korea, and still lived in the same house he had bought on the GI Bill the year after Doris and he were married. Doris had wanted him to go to college on the Bill too, but he liked the cops and he thought he was too antsy to sit in a classroom.

Doris had taught first grade. They never had any kids, a buried sadness. But two city paychecks—they had a nice life, and Marlene sensed that the romance that had blossomed in high school had never faded, preserved, as by a minor miracle, through the sexual katzenjammer of the sixties and despite the many temptations that drop in the path of New York police detectives.

He also talked about working Brooklyn homicide in the old days, watching as wave after wave of gangsters succeeded one another, keeping time with the changing demographics of New York: Irish, Jewish, Italian, now American and Jamaican black; even more recently various new immigrants from the mysterious East—Odessa to Saigon—had cut into the action. They all seemed to affect the same style of flash and often chose the same corpse-disposal areas as their predecessors. They talked for a while about the blackened underside of the famous melting pot; the old days were better.

Harry told a good story when he got warmed up. The star of all the stories was Jim Sturdevant, the


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