Sergeant Joe Blenkinsop was a good cop.Like all good cops he had learnt to rely heavily on his instincts.Now, as he looked around the large wooden crates, piled
almost to the ceiling in the small warehouse, his instincts told him that something was very wrong.He started to turn, reaching for the snub-nosed .38 revolver tucked into his belt,
even before hearing the footsteps behind him.But this time his instincts did not save him.Even as he began to turn the two gunmen opened fire on him.At
point-blank range the first two bullets were both lethal -- one penetrating his heart, the other passing through his left temple to lodge deep within his brain.But the gunmen did not
stop firing until they had emptied their revolvers, firing a dozen bullets into his body, which bucked and twitched beneath the hail of lead before finally slumping into a bloody heap on the
Sante Piccolo looked across at the diminutive, grey-haired old lady sitting quietly beside him on the front seat.He knew that strictly speaking he wasn’t supposed to use the
black-and-white squad car to ferry private passengers.But due to a mix-up in the shifts, his partner, Joe, had been called onto duty at the last minute.Too late to
arrange for anyone else to collect his mother from the airport.Not wanting the old lady to be stranded in a strange city, Joe had badgered his long-time pal until Sante agreed to
collect his mother for him.
Seeing the wide-eyed look on the face of the old lady, as she looked up in wonderment at the towering projections of glass and chrome that made up New York
City, Sante said, “It’s a big city all right.”
Looking startled, as though she had forgotten the presence of the cop sitting beside her, Mavis Blenkinsop looked across at him and said, “Yes...Yes it is.It’s quite a change
from our little town back east.”
They continued to make small talk for a few minutes longer, however, Sante could tell the old lady had something she wanted to get off her chest.
‘She probably wants to thank me for rescuing her from the chaos of the airport terminal,’ thought Sante, ‘and doesn’t know how to bring it up.’But
instead, to his astonishment, she finally said:
“You know, this wasn’t really necessary.”
Seeing the policeman’s look of surprise, she explained, “I mean you chauffeuring me from the airport...Don’t get me wrong, Sergeant, I’m very grateful for all the trouble that you’re going
to, but I’m not really as frail and helpless as my son, Joseph, seems to think...In a small country town, like the one where I was born and raised, you soon learn to look after
yourself.If I had stepped out of the airport into a strange, big city like this, without someone to meet me, it would have been a bit of a shock...at first.But I would
have found my way to my son’s apartment, without too much trouble.”
She paused for a moment, before adding, “Over the last twenty-five years, since the death of my husband, I’ve learnt to be self-sufficient: I might look like a helpless old lady, but I
know how to look after myself.”
‘Yes, I just bet you do too!’ thought Sante, smiling at the old lady’s feistiness.
They were only a few minutes drive from Joe Blenkinsop’s apartment building when the call for assistance came over the police radio.
Like Joe Blenkinsop, Sante Piccolo was a good cop.So, although his first instinct had been to drop Mavis Blenkinsop off at her son’s apartment first, after a second’s
hesitation he flicked on the black-and-white’s siren, spun the car into a hard U-turn and sped toward the warehouse area reported over the radio.
“Just keep your head down when we get there, in case there’s any gunplay,” warned Sante.He stole a glance at his elderly passenger, who seemed more excited than concerned by
this sudden turn of events.
Sante needn’t have worried, though.The gunplay was well and truly over by the time they reached the warehouse.They arrived just in time to see the lifeless body
of Joe Blenkinsop being lifted on a stretcher into the back of an ambulance.
“Oh my God!” said Sante Piccolo.He stared in shock out through the front windscreen at the sight of his long-time partner’s bullet-riddled corpse, temporarily forgetting the
old lady sitting beside him in the squad car.
“Joseph!On no, Joseph!Not my Joseph!” shrieked Mavis Blenkinsop.She leapt from the black-and-white with an agility that belied her frail
“Mrs. Blenkinsop!No!” cried Sante.He reached across the front seat in a desperate bid to pull her back into the patrol car.But too late.
The old lady was already racing across the macadam, toward the startled ambulance men.
“Joseph!Oh my Joseph!” shrieked Mavis.She tried to throw herself across her son’s body, almost causing it to topple off the stretcher, which swayed precariously
as the two men struggled to lift it into the back of the ambulance.
“Mrs. Blenkinsop, no!” warned Sante.He pulled her away long enough for the two ambulance men to do their job.Then, as she struggled against him, he gave up and
allowed her to climb into the back of the van to ride to the hospital with her son.
Half an hour later, although still clearly upset, Mavis Blenkinsop had calmed down enough to ask, “Who...Who could have done this terrible thing, Sergeant?Who could have
murdered my Joseph?”
“We...we don’t know for sure, Mrs. Blenkinsop,” admitted Sante Piccolo.He stood with his back hard against a wall in the small examination room, at the hospital where the old
lady had been taken, when at first it had seemed that she would need sedation.“But for the last two years Joe has been....”
The policeman stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, then corrected himself, “Joe had been trying to get the goods on a local Mafia creep named Mario Danzig.Danzig operates
out of the back of a pool hall in Old Manson Street, and we believe he’s in charge of the local gangs of juvenile pushers....”
Seeing Mavis Blenkinsop’s puzzled look, Sante explained, “These days the drug lords use junior high school kids to push drugs for them.That way they can pay them peanuts, and
if the pushers get caught, instead of going to jail for years, they get a slap on the wrist in the juvenile courts and are straight back out onto the streets pushing again.”
Mario Danzig was tall and lean, with a thick crop of jet-black hair, which made him look fifteen years younger than his age of fifty-two.Over the last twenty-five years he had
had his hands in many million-dollar deals.But at the moment he was engaged in a penny-ante game of stud poker with three of his “boys”, in his office at the back of Mario’s Pool
Mario had just decided to raise a quarter, when the door in front of him suddenly opened.At the sound of the creaking door, the three hoodlums dived for the floor and reached
for the revolvers that they wore in shoulder holsters, as...in walked a tiny, grey-haired old lady.
Sighing from relief one of the hoods stood up and said, “Wrong door lady, the powder room is two doors further on...”
Then Mavis Blenkinsop pulled a .38 revolver from her handbag and opened fire.
While Mario Danzig dived for cover under his large oak desk, one of the hoods tackled the old lady and managed to disarm her.Miraculously the six shots fired by the old lady
had all gone astray and no one had been hurt.
“Got her boss,” said the hoodlum.And Mario climbed out from his cubby-hole to see the hood holding the long barrel of his revolver hard under the old lady’s nose, her own gun,
now empty, lying useless at her feet.
Walking rapidly across the room, Mario grabbed the revolver from the startled hoodlum and said, “What do you think you’re doing, you creep?This is a little old lady; you don’t
go treating little old ladies like that!”
“But boss...!” protested the hood.
“She’s old enough to be your mother.How would you like it if some creep treated your mother like that?”
Looking perplexed as well as a little offended by the comparison, the hoodlum complained, “But boss, she just tried to kill you!”
Mario thought about that for a moment, then said with a laugh, “Hey everyone’s entitled to make one honest mistake in their life.”Then a little more seriously, “But I’m sure
we can talk this thing out civilly.”
He started to lead Mavis across toward his bullet-riddled desk, then seeing the three hoods standing around still, said, “I said we’ll talk it out...You creeps can wait
With a few grumbles of protest the three hoodlums went out in the hallway as Mario led Mavis across to his desk.Straightening up a chair for her, he joked, “You’ll have to
pardon the state of the room, but it’s just impossible to get good help these days.”
As Mavis Blenkinsop sat down, Mario Danzig walked around to the front of the desk.Dumping her .38 revolver into the desk drawer, he straightened his chair, then sat down and
asked, “Now what is this all about?”
Seething with rage, more at her failure to kill Danzig, than at the way his boys had handled her, she said, “You killed my son!”
Mario thought about that for a moment, shrugged, then said, “Maybe I did...Maybe I didn’t...What was his name?”
Genuinely surprised Mario asked, “The cop who was killed in the warehouse.”
“That’s right...You killed him!”
“I can assure you Mrs. Blenkinsop, I had nothing to do with the death of your son, Joseph.”
“You killed him, or you had him killed!” insisted Mavis, refusing to be convinced.
“Mrs. Blenkinsop, I did not have your son killed,” insisted Mario.“Hell I’m no angel, I admit it...Sure I’ve had guys killed from time to time.I’ve even killed
one or two myself...But I didn’t kill your son.Sure he was being a bit of a pest to my organisation, but as a matter of policy I never have cops killed...It’s bad for
For the first time since bursting into the back room, Mavis Blenkinsop felt unsure of herself.Seeing how crestfallen she looked, Mario said, “Mrs. Blenkinsop, I know how you
feel about the loss of your son Joseph....”
He hesitated for a moment, breathed deeply, then said, “Some years ago I lost my brother...Not...not in all of this...Not in my business.Leonard...That was his
Choking on his grief, he had to stop for a moment before saying, “Leonard was too good to be involved in this kind of racket.He hated the Mob and even tried to talk me into
getting out...Of course I couldn’t have, even if I’d wanted to...Getting into the Mob is a lot like getting married, except that when they say, ‘Till death do you part,’ they ain’t kidding, because
no one lives very long after quitting the Mob....”He paused again for a moment, then said, “Anyway, Leonard was killed in a simple hit-and-run.If...if I’d known who the
driver was I would’ve had my boys kill him!”
He stopped to wipe at his eyes with one hand for a moment.“But there were no witnesses and the driver never came forward...So they never found out who he was.For
two years I used my network to try to track the driver down...But it was hopeless...There were no clues.”
As he stopped to wipe at his eyes again, Mavis Blenkinsop was shocked to see that Mario Danzig was crying.
“Look at me,” he said with a half-hearted laugh, “a big Mafia goon crying like a baby...Anyway, Mrs. Blenkinsop I didn’t have your Joseph killed, but I do know how you feel.
Leonard died ten years ago, but I’ve never completely got over his death...Never stopped missing him....”
Wiping his eyes on a handkerchief this time, he said, “I don’t have a clue who killed your son...But I’ve got contacts...If you like I’ll ask around, use my network to try to find out who
did kill him.”
Shocked by the Mafia boss’ tears, Mavis Blenkinsop sat there in silence for a few moments before finally saying, “Thank you...Mario...I...I’m sorry that I tried to kill you.”
Mavis Blenkinsop returned to her son’s apartment building confused by her talk with Mario Danzig.Over the next week or so her confusion, and alarm grew, as a major Mafia war
broke out in the big city.For ten days New York in 1999 seemed more like Chicago in 1929, as rival gangs opened fire upon each other with revolvers, shotguns and even Uzis.
After ten days more than a hundred people had been killed, half of them innocent bystanders, and another fifty were on the critical list.
Afraid to leave the apartment building, despite her feisty nature, Mavis Blenkinsop sat before the television set watching in mounting alarm as the corpses from each new gun battle were
displayed on the late night cable news broadcasts.
It was on the tenth day of the Mafia war that Mavis jerked to attention as the film on TV suddenly showed someone she knew.An amateur camcorder video, the film showed Mario
Danzig flanked by two of his boys walking toward his car.From behind him a young mother, leading two small children, walked out of a bank as a black Cadillac rounded the corner at high
speed.Looking up at the sound of screeching tyres, Mario dived for the bullet-proof car as the machine-guns opened fire cutting down Mario, his two goons, the mother and her two
“Oh no!” said Mavis, clasping her hands over her mouth.Shocked both by the shooting of someone she knew, no matter how slightly, and also because she realised that if Mario
Danzig died, she might never find out who had authorised the murder of her son.
An hour later Mavis was at the hospital mentioned in the news bulletin, trying to get in to see Mario.But after managing to charm her way past the nurse at the front desk, she
found herself stymied by the young constable posted on duty outside the private room where Mario had been taken after eight hours in surgery.
“But I have to see Mr. Danzig!” insisted Mavis.
“Sorry lady, but that’s impossible.”
“But I have to see him!”
“Sorry, but Mr. Danzig is in a bad way.He’ll be lucky if he ever sees anyone again,” said the young cop.He stopped as it occurred to him that the little old lady
might be Mario Danzig’s mother, in which case he had just committed a horrible faux pas.
They continued to argue for another few minutes, then as the noise of the argument reached the people inside the small ward, the door opened and out stepped Sante Piccolo.
“Mrs. Blenkinsop?” he said, astounded to see her.“What are you doing here?”
“Please, Sergeant,” begged Mavis, “I’ve got to see Mario for a minute.”
“I’m afraid that’s out of the question, he’s in a critical condition.”
Before she could argue further, Sante opened the small door and stepped back into the ward, where Dr. Marilyn Coburn and two nurses were carefully monitoring the life-support machines that
kept Mario Danzig just this side of death.
As Marilyn Coburn looked up his entrance, Sante explained, “Just an old lady wanting to see Danzig.”Then remembering that Coburn had known his dead partner, “Joe Blenkinsop’s
mother.Though lord only knows how she knows this creep.”
“Mrs. Blenkinsop?” said Mario in a weak voice, startling Coburn and Piccolo, who had both thought that he was long past speech.“Mrs. Blenkinsop is here?” repeated Mario,
desperately trying to sit up on the bed.
“Easy, easy!” warned Marilyn Coburn, gently pressing him back dawn.
“But I’ve gotta see Mrs. Blenkinsop!” insisted Mario.
“Mario that’s impossible!” protested Sante, going across to help hold the dying man down on the small bed.
“Then you’ve gotta tell her,” said Mario, startling Sante by grabbing him by the collar and pulling him down over the bed.“You’ve gotta tell her that I found out for her... I
found out who killed her son.”
Both Sante and Marilyn Coburn looked startled by this revelation.
Hardly able to speak anymore Mario said in a croaking voice, “It was two outta town shooters hired by that creep Franco Venuti.”
“Are you sure?” demanded Sante.
Ignoring the question Mario continued, “I promised her I’d ask around until I found out, and I did...”
For just a moment his eyes were shining with ecstasy, then slowly Mario’s grasp slipped from Sante’s collar and as he fell back onto his bed, the life-support monitors went
While Marilyn Coburn fought futilely to restore life to Mario Danzig’s dead body, Sante Piccolo went out into the hallway where he found Mavis Blenkinsop still waiting.
“He’s dead,” said Sante curtly.
“Did he...?” began Mavis.
Nodding his head Sante said, “He told me that Joe was murdered by a rival Mafia boss named Franco Venuti.”
“This Franco Venuti...?” began Mavis.But she was cut off by Sante who answered:
“He’s dead.Franco Venuti was killed in the Mafia war two days ago.”
“Then justice has been done,” said Mavis, sounding satisfied.“My Joseph was killed and now his murderer has been killed!”
Sighing from frustration, Sante said, “Mrs. Blenkinsop, before he died Mario Danzig said that he asked around for you...to find out who killed Joe?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Mrs. Blenkinsop, Mario must have asked around too much.”
Looking perplexed Mavis said, “I don’t understand?”
“He must have asked the wrong person.He must have asked Franco Venuti or someone in Franco’s network...”Seeing that she still didn’t understand he explained, “As
a consequence of your desire to find Joe’s killer, we’ve just had one of the bloodiest Mafia wars in the history of this country...Mrs. Blenkinsop, you got revenge for the murder of your son, but
in the process over a hundred people have died.Half of them Mafia creeps, the other half innocent men, women, and children who just happened to be in the wrong place when the shooting
Turning he started to walk into the private ward, then looked back and added, “Even Mario Danzig died for you...You’ve had your revenge for Joe’s killing Mrs. Blenkinsop, I just hope
© Copyright 2010
© Copyright 2016 Philip Roberts. All rights reserved.