Johnny, I'm not telling Ciro nothing. You tell 'im for yourself."
Portocci's nostrils flared and his hands quivered as he yelled, "Then tell that stupid broad there to get rid of that stupid damn top! Tell 'er Johnny Portocci likes titties, and right now he couldn't even swear she's got any!"
The girl's head snapped up and her eyes glazed under an indefinable emotion — fear, or perhaps anger. Her hands dropped to her side and the glazed eyes sought the gaze of Vin Balderone. She knew, the eyes said, that Johnny was taking out his frustrations on her — and she was seeking help from the only possible source.
Weakly, Balderone said, "F'Christ's sake, Johnny, this's a public pool. She can't go taking off her top
God, don't go getting . . . hey, take her back to your room, f'Christ's sake. She'll show you her titties, f'God's sake, Johnny."
"I'll do it myself!" Portocci snarled, his anger seemingly feeding on itself. He shifted his weight to one elbow and seemed ready to lunge toward the girl. He halted, however, in mid-lunge as something incomprehensible happened to his face. The snarl disappeared and became a distorted grimace around the suddenly enlarged mouth, the tip of the chiseled Roman nose caving in and becoming lost in the collapsing structure just below as bits of flesh and bone and teeth seemed to explode outward in a frothy red fountain. In that same electrifying instant, he was flung rigidly back to the cushions of the lounge with a bounce of rapidly relaxing muscles.
Balderone's stunned eyes swept the length of the still body and became riveted on the toes, as though he were wondering why their rhythmic motions had ceased. Only then did the distant
of a high-powered rifle pierce his consciousness.
The girl was screaming, crouched just off her chair and bent oddly off balance in a time-stopping inspection of the messy remains of Johnny the Musician Portocci.
Balderone took a confused step backwards, one hand clawing toward the hardware inside his jacket, instinctively reacting to the presence of sudden and violent death. In that micro-instant of understanding, a deeper instinct moved him and he began running for the cover of the building — sprinting with both hands pumping him on, the weapon forgotten. Perhaps, in that electric moment, he realized that no instinct could save him now.
And perhaps he remembered some of those many times in the past when
had been on the opposite end of the gun, when others had been running just as he was now doing, with that last breath of life charging into the nostrils.
He leapt into the air suddenly as he reached the corner of the pool, twisting grotesquely in a sidewise and uncoordinated fling into the purified waters in which he proudly owned a "solid half-int," defiled now with his own geysering blood, and Miami Vino sank slowly to the bottom without hearing that second
of a distant sniper's special.
Case of prosecution
A deeply disturbed Captain of Detectives left his vehicle beneath the portico of the curving drive and entered the synthetic luxury of the motel lobby. He paused to get his bearings, then pushed on through the hushed atmosphere, beyond a line of potted palms, and through another doorway opening onto the pool-patio. Here uniformed officers stood in quiet consultations with guests and employees while men in civilian suits conversed among themselves and moved purposefully about the flag-stoned patio to point out specific features and to jot findings in small, identical notebooks. Two others stood beside a chaise lounge, bending to a close inspection of the still form of a man clad in bathing trunks. A few yards away a medical examiner knelt beside another corpse, this one fully clothed and obviously recently reclaimed from the waters of the pool.
A man at the chaise lounge looked up and noted the Captain's arrival then hurried over to greet him. "Looks for sure like a sniper's work, Captain Hannon," he