"He's a thousand miles from here if you get us killed, Bootsie."
The fat man grunted, slowed down. The window was foggy from
their breathing, and Bootsie took out a white silk handkerchief and
wiped at it. Then handed the handkerchief to Delaney. The doctor
wiped at the steamy front window on his side, then rolled the side
window down an inch. Bootsie grunted.
"How come you don't got a car?" Bootsie said. "You could follow
"Can't afford it."
"Come on. You're a doctor."
"That's why I can't afford it."
"These bust- outs around here, they don't pay?"
"They're poor, Bootsie. They still get sick."
The fat man turned, made a right and another right, heading toward
Little Italy. A few kids were coming down from the tenements.
One of them was carrying a surplice, its hem emerging below a wrapping
of Christmas paper, the boy off to serve the seven o'clock mass at
Sacred Heart. As Delaney so often did, long ago. He noticed that up
here the streetlights were still working. Another zone in the city grid.
"What happened to Eddie?"
"You'll fi nd out."
"Maybe I could get ready if you told me what happened."
Bootsie sighed, pondered this, made another turn through the
snow- packed streets. Parked cars were turning into immense white
sculptures in the wind- driven snow.
"Mr. Corso got shot, maybe an hour ago."
"The stomach. Maybe the arm too. And maybe the hand. There's
blood all over his fingers . . ."
"I mean, where'd it happen?"
"The club. We had a New Year's party, all the guys, the wives. A
band too, and all the usual shit, noisemakers, funny hats. Most people
go home, maybe t'ree in the morning. Some of the guys go over Chinatown
to get laid. Then there's a card game, whiskey, a big pot. I
cook up some breakfast, scramble eggs, sausage, the usual. Then in
the door comes t'ree jaboneys, guns out. They don't say a word. They
just start shooting. Then everybody's shooting. The t'ree shooters go
down, but so does Mr. Corso. He's hurt real bad, but he says, 'Go
throw these cocksuckers in the river.' I stay with him while the other
guys haul the dead guys away. It's still dark, see? Nobody on the street.
All the lights out. No cops. Nothing. Just the fucking snow."
He pulled up a few doors from the storefront housing the Good
Men Social and Athletic Club. The street was empty. He and Delaney
got out. Bootsie knocked on the door. Three fast raps, then two. A sallow
man with dead eyes peered out, opened the door wider. Most of
the lights were out.
"Took your fuckin' time," the sallow man said to Bootsie.
"Fast as I could, Carmine. It's a fuckin' blizzard out there."
The club was a mess of noisemakers, funny hats, overturned ta-
bles, and blood. Delaney could see smears through the blood where
bodies had been dragged. Against the wall, Eddie Corso was lying on
a cot. He smiled thinly when he saw Delaney.
"Medic, medic," he whispered, and then grinned in a bleary way.
There was blood on his face, probably from his wet crimson hand,
but there was a huge spreading stain of blood on the white shirt.
"Jesus, it hurts like a bastard, Doc."
"You've been through worse."
He grinned. "Morphine, morphine . . ." The call of the trenches in
the rain. "Please, Doc . . ."
Corso laughed and then moaned, and Delaney gave him what he
needed. He swabbed his arm with cotton soaked in alcohol, prepared
a syringe, then injected him with a shot of morphine. Corso winced,
then sighed in a gargly way. Delaney ripped open the bloody shirt to
look at the worst wound, then used pressure and tape to staunch the
Kenn Nesbitt is new Children's Poet Laureate(Jun 12 2013) Kenn Nesbitt has been named the new Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation, which noted that the two-year position...