Ashes to Ashes Preview

Unedited. Enjoy anyway :)

He felt refreshed. It was amazing what a good night of sleep could do when coupled with a warm shower and some food. He slept well, albeit with a snub-nosed revolver under his pillow. He’d thought about sleeping with the safety off but a part of him was concerned he might toss or turn the wrong way in his sleep leaving nothing but a mess and a headless corpse on his king size mattress.

It only took one guy to slip past your guards and into your ivory tower turning your fortress into a tomb. Rafael Rontego had done it once before and it just so happened that cold-blooded hitman was pissed off at anyone flying the Ciancetta flag.

The Pope pushed his tie up tighter around his neck as the elevator door opened and the three men standing in the iron box packing curious bulges on their hips and under their jackets stepped out ahead of him. He knew all three of their names. He knew their mothers; he knew where their kids went to school. Each one had grown up in the neighborhood and each one could be trusted to try their best to protect him.

And maybe against some scrub or wanna-be gangster they could. But not against the best.

The guards fanned out across the Del Avant condominium lobby causing several residents to move out of the way. Black trench coats and large box-shouldered men seemed to have that effect, even if a frail and thinning lawyer walked slowly in their wake. The entourage didn’t stop, or break stride, and purposefully made its way to the glass double doors of the building where two black Lincoln Town Cars idled.

The condominium rent-a-cop rushed to hold open the doors for the men, who didn’t even acknowledge him, as they swept out onto the sidewalk. Their hands drifted under their coats or fell casually to their hips. As if choreographed, both drivers stepped out of the waiting cars, and came around to hold the rear passenger doors closest to the sidewalk. Two men, one with a camera emblazoned with a WIVB sticker, rushed towards them from behind the vehicles. Two of The Pope’s men stepped in front of them, effectively blocking them from the consigliore as he made his way to the rear car. His third guard stepped to the front of the walk, his eyes scanning Delaware Avenue.

The Pope took his wide brim hat off and wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. He was just about to slide into his awaiting chariot when he saw the curious camera poking between his two men.

Another man tried to peer between the three of them and microphone in hand, he shouted, “Tim Rollings with channel 4, WIVB!” He must have noticed The Pope looking up because he continued, “Mr. Biela sir, is it true that the Ciancetta family was involved or perhaps responsible for the deaths of several police officers and FBI agents at what the public is deeming The Bethlehem Blood Bath?”

The Pope stopped climbing into the Lincoln and sighed. Even though he knew the reporter was baiting him, as mouthpiece for the Ciancetta family, he couldn’t let a statement like that go unchallenged. Oftentimes the court of public opinion was what stood in the way of appeasement and serious investigation. Before turning to face the camera, he plastered his best courtroom grin onto his cheeks and took in a deep breath. Hat in hand he whirled around and looked at the camera, not the reporter asking the question.

“That is outrageous Tim. As far as I know there were quite a few Russian hooligans apprehended there. The Ciancetta family has nothing to do with any criminal activities and cannot wait to see justice done to those who would seek to harm the fine law enforcement personnel that live by such high standards and protect all of the residents of Buffalo, New York, night and day, all year round.” He stretched his grin wider. “In fact, Tim, Leonard Ciancetta, the man your television station sees fit to slander at every available opportunity, wrote a check to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association just this past week in the amount of fifty thousand dollars. How much have you donated Tim?”

As if the anchor hadn’t heard a word he said, he shouted another question. “What about the fact that at least two men who are connected to the Ciancetta family were found at the scene? One of them, a Russian, found dead and another, Antonio Benedici, is currently being held by the BPD on suspicion of murder. Mr. Biela is it true these men are both part of the La Cosa Nostra and were on the payroll of Leonard Ciancetta?”

He felt the sweat beading on his brow but continued to smile and look into the camera. “Look you just said a Russian.” He scoffed purposefully. “So now the Italian La Cosa Nostra, which has been pretty much dead and gone since Gotti, is employing Russians?”

“What about this Antonio Benedici?”

“Who? Look I never heard of him. But if you find a law someplace that any wealthy Italian in the USA is responsible for the actions of every lowlife, Italian or otherwise, then let me know because I’ll move to Canada. But as it stands now, America is the greatest country on earth and it ain’t a crime to have ancestors from Italy.”

He placed his hat on his head, waved for his men to follow him, and slipped into the car. One slid next to him, another into the front seat, as the driver slammed the door. He ran around the front of the Lincoln and climbed in behind the wheel. Through the windshield, The Pope could see his third man grab the shotgun position in the lead car, and like a mini caravan the two vehicles moved away from the curb.

“To Rumors?” Nuncio, the driver, asked.

“No to BCJ.” The Pope took his hat back off and rested it on his lap, stroking the felt between his thumb and forefinger.

“Buffalo City Jail?” Nuncio asked to make sure.

“Yes, and hurry.”

It was time to free Antonio Benedici before he tried to free himself. And that crazy WOP might just attempt it if he thought he was being left to hold the bag.


  1. I just finished the other books in this series and can hardly wait for this new one to be published. Great writing.

  2. I agree, bring on book #3