Warren Murphy: Mafia Fix

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    Mafia Fix
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When ten billion filthy drug dollars' worth of heroin pollutes the Jersey shore and threatens to make the Mafia a second Evil Empire, the president knows there's just one man who can stop a Jersey Kingpin from destroying the country and that's an ex-Jersey cop resurrected and nicknamed the Destroyer. Remo Williams is on a mission to mainline death and destruction into the Cosa Nostra before Main Street gets stuck. But how will Master Chiun's masterpiece of a human killing machine score? Will history's biggest drug score go bust? With Remo on the mission you know he'll sniff out the swine and cover his tracks but when he gets to the top will he find he's gone too high and realize that the Mafia fix is in?

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"Somebody just passed. That was close. I'll let you know when there's something new. Everything's too close."

Vincent Fabia sold 174 hot dogs that morning and eighteen more by 4 p.m. that afternoon. He was literally soaked with sweat. His tee shirt looked as if it had been hosed, and his trousers were two shades darker than normal. His hair hung limply in wet strands; his eyes were red. He felt as though he could neither lift his hands nor his feet; just keep his balance by great strength of will. But when the four loaded tractor trailers with the emblems on them- Ocean Wheel Trucking Company-began to roll off Pier 27, he knew suddenly that he could climb Mount Everest if he had to.

He leaned into the corner of the cab, flicked a switch, and said very loudly:

"Pickles. Pickles. I'm going to get pickles. Got to get pickles. Pickles."

And the signal beginning the close of the trap was out. He shut the flaps of his truck, and for the first time in three weeks did not bother to close the lid on the big mustard jar beneath the counter, from which he filled the small dispenser jar.

He stuffed the .38 calibre police special into his belt and toyed with a line that he might deliver at some communion breakfast-about youngsters having a choice between right and wrong, and no ethnic group being particularly addicted to any special offense, and maybe even how too many people remembered only the Italian gangsters who were caught, not the Italian detectives who caught them.

It was the Mafia and the people who dealt with them who were the fools, not the majority of hardworking Italian-Americans and other Americans.

Vincent Fabia did not get a chance to deliver his speech about who had brains and who didn't. His brains were found splattered on the seat of the cab of his hot dog truck at 3 a.m. the next morning, parked near the cemetery on tree-shaded Garfield Avenue in Hudson, New Jersey. Powder burns surrounded the remnants of an eye socket and slivers of his skull were imbedded in the back of the seat.

Just before quitting time, two longshoremen had been crushed to death beneath a container that slipped its rigging and plummeted down onto them in the hold.

And two office workers, who were photography buffs at an office at Pier 27, left work without taking their camera. They never came back for it. Which was all right with the management, because it never got much work out of them anyway.

The state and local police stayed on alert until midnight and, finally receiving no signal, checked with the Treasury Department.

By dawn they received word to call off the alert, with thanks for their cooperation. They were not told what the mission had been or whether it had succeeded.

They were also informed to be on the alert for any Ocean Wheel Company trailer-trucks. To stop and to search them. They were not told how many Ocean Wheel trailers or what the license plate numbers were. They saw no such trucks.

By 1 p.m. th.e next day, in the oval office of the White House, the assistant attorney general who had coordinated the operation was explaining to the attorney general, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Treasury secretary and a very dour President, what had gone wrong.

"At about 4 p.m., we lost contact with our Treasury agent, and that was it. No traces. Nothing. We are in the midst of a blanket search now." He stood at the far end of the conference table, a sheaf of papers before him, wishing for a mild heart attack. Even a severe one would do.

"You said two tractor-trailers with heroin. How much heroin in each?" This question from the director of the FBI.

The assistant attorney general moved his lips and mumbled something.

"I didn't hear you," said the director of the FBI.

"Full," said the assistant attorney general, forcing out the word.

"Full? From front to back? Two full trailers of heroin?" The director's face was red and he was almost shouting; he had never been known to raise his voice in conference.

"Yes," said the assistant attorney general.

There were groans in the oval office of the President of the United States.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," the President said. "Stay right where you are. I will be back in a moment. Continue this without me."

He rose and strode from the room, down a corridor, up a flight of stairs, and into his private quarters. His wife was napping on a big double bed and she woke her gently, asking to be forgiven, but just as firmly insisting that she leave the room for a moment.

When the door was shut, he took a key from his pocket, unlocked a dresser drawer, and brought out a red telephone with a white dot. He looked at his watch, as he lifted the receiver. It should be answered at this time. It was.

"Yes, sir," came the thin voice.

"Do you know what happened in Hudson, New Jersey, yesterday?" asked the President.

"Yes," came the thin sour voice. "There were many things that happened. You are probably referring to the shipment from Marseilles."

"Yes. The two trucks."

"There were four."

"Then you are working on it," the President said.

"I should hope so."

"Will you use him? That person?"

"Mister President. Please save your advice for football coaches. I'm busy. Now do you have anything important to tell me?"

"No. No. You have it all. Is there anything I can do?"

"Perhaps. You might try to keep the Treasury and FBI people in that area to a minimum. It might save their lives."

"Then you are going to use him?"

"That is a fair assumption."

"Is he there now?" the President asked.

"He is finishing up a matter elsewhere. He will be there shortly."

"Then you have everything under control?" the President said.

"Is there anything else you wish to tell me, sir?"

"Please. This is a grave crisis. It would ease my mind if you told me that you have it under control."

"Sir, if I had it under control, we would not be using him. By the way, sir, I have told you there were four trucks. Please do not give that information to anyone else, lest they ask you where you got it and you give them little confidential hints."

"I understand," the President said. "I know now that we will solve this crisis. I'm considering it under control."

"If that makes you feel better, sir, fine. Unfortunately, you seem to think that person is a solution to problems, when in reality he is a potential problem of far greater magnitude himself."

"I don't know what you mean," the President said.

"Good," came the thin voice, and then the click. The President returned the receiver to the cradle and the phone to the drawer, then shut and locked the drawer. He had been hung up on again.

As he returned to the conference, in much better spirits than he had left it, he wondered where the man on the other end of the line had found that person, what his name really was, where he was born and what his life must be like.

But most of all he wondered what his name was.


His name was Remo.

He tried very hard not to be bored, as if the threat were very real. This was necessary to get the exact information he wanted. The exact information was what he had been ordered to get before he could proceed.

So when the ruddy-faced gentleman in his late 50's casually asked him if he cared to go fishing, Remo had said "yes, that was what he had come to Nassau for."

Then when the ruddy-faced gentleman told him to wear the lifejacket for safety and had insisted on buckling it himself, Remo had thanked him. And when the ruddy-faced gentleman guided the small motor launch to a small cove protected from the sweeping breezes of the Caribbean, told Remo that the life jacket was really weighted and the buckles were really reinforced locks and that one stamp of the ruddy-faced gentleman's foot on a gray plug near the stern of the boat would sink it, Remo showed fear.

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