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The Cuban Connection by Kevin Surface Excerpt 11

Santini finally arrived at the back of the warehouse on Pier 67 and put his Cadillac in park. He grabbed the duffel bag on the passenger's seat and slowly got out of the car. He took a prolonged look at his watch. Th e hands on the illuminated dial read nine fifty-five. Five more minutes, he thought. Somehow, his gut instinct told him it would be the longest five minutes of his life.

"You still got him, Stevie?"

"Yeah, boss, he just turned right up there a few hundred feet ahead."

"Which pier, Stevie, can you tell?" asked Paulie.

"It's up ahead on the right. Can you see his Cadillac parked to the side of the warehouse?" he asked as he pointed his fi nger across the window of the car.

"Yeah Stevie, I see it. Go ahead and pull over. We'll go it by foot the rest of the way. Get your peashooters out, guys, this could get hairy.

Frankie Santini stood on the dock that was parallel to the warehouse and lit another cigarette. He heard himself wheeze as he sucked in a massive gulp of the nicotine-laden tobacco. He looked out over the water line of the East River and thought that it wouldn't really be that bad to leave the whole place behind. Hell, maybe he'd buy a piece of land that had a stream running through it, and learn how to trout fish. Or maybe even better, he would open up a hardware store and become a regular Joe, just like everybody else. "Yeah, right," he said to himself as he let out a hearty guffaw. Imagine me, just a regular guy. Taking another drag on the cigarette, he stole a glance at his wristwatch: ten o'clock. Time to get this show on the road, he uttered to himself silently as he tossed the cigarette down and walked briskly toward the long dock that ran perpendicular to the one he was on and ran the entire length of the fishing pier.

The four Mafia men sneaked around the back of the warehouses leading up to Pier 67, walking mainly on their toes to avoid the creaks in the planks that might give them away.

Walking up behind the warehouse on Pier 66, "Peanuts" Gravese waved his hand downward in a violent flutter, the indication for them to stop in their tracks. He edged his head around the corner of the warehouse to see if he could get a glimpse of Santini. His head snapped back almost simultaneously as he pushed his back up against the rear of the building.

"What is it, boss?" Stevie Perlozzi asked him excitedly. "Did you see him?"

"Yeah," he answered back between gasps of breath. He's up there by the water. It looks like he's looking for somebody."

"Who?" asked Tony Amato with more than just a little apprehension.

"How in the hell should I know, you idiot? You think I've got a crystal ball?"

"Why don't we just go ahead and go after him now?" Perlozzi asked.

"What for, Stevie, standing on a dock and looking around? I know he's up to something, but I want to know what it is. Let's give it a couple of more minutes. Plus, that'll give us the opportunity to get a little closer so we'll have a better shot at nabbing him."

A blast of adrenaline shot through Frankie Santini as he caught the first glimpse of the white powerboat coming from the south. It was cruising at a nice pace, probably twenty-five to thirty miles an hour, he guessed. The sleek boat passed in front of him about a hundred feet out from the dock. He could see that there were three men on board dressed as they were supposed to be. Two out of the three running lights were green, the other one red. Good so far, he thought to himself as he watched it pass him by and head out of sight. He picked up the duffel bag with his left hand and withdrew the .45-caliber Beretta from his waistline with his right hand.

"Did you see that, boss?" Perlozzi asked nervously. "He just pulled out his gun!"

"Yeah, I saw, Stevie. Try and stay calm." They were now positioned around the back of the warehouse on Pier 67. Frankie Santini was standing one hundred feet or so in front of them on the dock next to the water.

Santini's heart pounded furiously as he spied the boat coming back from the north. There it was; all three running lights were green. It was the sign for all clear. The boat started heading for him at an angle as the overweight Mafia captain paced anxiously on the dock.

"Boss! That boat's coming to get him!" yelled Tony Amato.

As the boat neared the dock, one of the men threw the boat cushions over the side in preparation for making contact with the dock. He could clearly see the boat now. There were defi nitely three men on board. "Come on! Come on!" he yelled to them frantically as the boat came nearer to the dock.

"Now!!" shouted Paulie Gravese as the four men sprung out from behind the warehouse and sprinted up the dock to where Frankie Santini was standing.

"What the...?" Santini voiced audibly as he turned around to see the four armed men running up the dock toward him. What's going on? he thought to himself as he heard the first gun report.

"Hey Frankie, where in the hell do you think you're going?!" shouted Gravese as he squeezed off another round off from his handgun.

Behind him he heard what sounded like a series of thunderclaps as the men in the boat started discharging their weapons from the other direction. He crouched down to one knee, the realization that he was caught in crossfire, causing him to start reeling off several rounds from his own gun in a state of agitated panic. His heart stopped beating for a split second as the realization of who was pursuing him hit him like a Mack truck. As the bullets rained in on him from both directions, he stood there in a frozen trance, staring at the raging face of his longtime friend and business associate Paulie "Peanuts" Gravese. "What's he yelling?" he thought as they kept running toward him.

"Traitor! Traitor!" they yelled again.

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