Detectives Chandler and Livermore stood shoulder to shoulder on the one-way mirror’s good side in a small room reeking of sweat and nicotine. All four eyes were boring a hole in their suspect, Herbert Gormley - seated on the other side.
‘The clock’s ticking,’ Chandler mumbled in his gravel voice. ‘We need to get that son-of-a-bitch to talk. This could be our shot at collaring Dutch Tony.’
Dutch Tony, that hard city’s hardest bastard. A large man with a concrete face and an unrivalled reputation among his fellow villains for his brutal approach to making money, he had a finger in every pie; from car-jacking and drugs to people-trafficking and extortion.
‘Shall I have another crack at him?’ asked Livermore. ‘On my own this time?’
‘Fill your boots.’
Herbert Gormley was wearing double bracelets: metal cuffs over the crude tattoos of black crows that covered both wrists. His salt-and-pepper hair was slicked back above dark brooding eyes; giving him a predatory appearance like a hawk in the rain.
Livermore retook his seat.
‘You again, huh?’ snarled Gormley.
‘‘Fraid so. And you know what I want, don’t you, Herb?’
‘You can bang that same drum all day and night, pig, but you won’t get nothin’ outta me.’
‘You got pulled over with uncut coke in the boot of your motor. Street value of nearly two million notes.’
‘So fuckin’ what.’
‘So fucking what? Really, Herb? With your record, that’s enough to put you back behind the door for more years than your dumb arse can count.’
‘I’ve been down before. I can do it again, no problem. Prison ain’t shit.’
‘Maybe. But what do you think Tony will do when he finds out you lost his gear; that you’re sitting in here talking to me?’
‘Tony’s good people. And he knows I’m loyal; knows I’m sweet. He wouldn’t do what you’re suggesting.’
‘He’s not good people, Herb, and he doesn’t give a fuck about you or anyone else. All he cares about is the bottom line and keeping himself on this side of the wall. You should know that better than I do. Don’t sit there and kid yourself, Herb. Tony’s a fucking animal and he’ll have your throat slit at the earliest opportunity, in prison or out, if it means protecting what he has.’
Livermore waited half a cigarette before speaking again. Marinade in that, you daft prick.
‘In short, you fucked up,’ Livermore continued, ‘and now you have to pay the bill, one way or the other.’
Another deliberate pause. A definite drop in Gormley’s shoulders; perhaps a paling of the face.
‘I need to take a quick piss, Herb,’ he said, putting his smoke out in the ashtray, ‘and as soon as I get back I’ll be looking for an answer.’
Before Detective Livermore was out his chair, both men knew what Herbert Gormley’s answer was going to be.