Man in Fedora and Raincoat

“Printed in Blood: A Johnny Stone Mystery, Chapter 5” by Dean Goldberg

Chapter V

I wasn’t sure where the screeching sound was coming from, but it galloped toward me like an The M1Garand rifle on hop. I pushed through the darkness to get away, but it burrowed into my brain, until I managed to open one eye. On the nightstand the Garand had magically turned into my phone. I pulled myself up into a sitting position and managed a croaking, “Stone here.” Anything to stop the noise.

“The captain wants to see you, Johnny.” It was Eddie McCann, the tough, battle-scarred desk sergeant at the 25th precinct.

“Yeah?” I tried to match Eddie’s tough guy voice, “What about?” I asked.

“How the hell do I know? Just told me to call and get you over here.”



I looked at my watch. It was 7am. I wondered what could be so important that the captain needed me this early. I forgot to say that the captain’s name was Farentino, as in Toni’s father.

“I’ll be there in an hour.” I said. I figured by the time I showered and shaved and poured some coffee into me, I’d be half awake; it’d been a week from hell.

“Hey Eddie,” I asked, “what kind of mood is the old man in?”

“If I tell you,” Eddie said in a whisper, “you won’t come.”

Visiting Toni’s dad was like going to see the Pope, only this Pope handed out prison time, not blessings. His sacramental garb was a clean, starched uniform that looked like it could stand up without anyone it in, with enough medals to start another Bronze age.  Getting to the big man’s office was an adventure in itself, like being at the Zoo, but you’re the one in the cage and everyone is looking at you as if you’re the reason the city’s so fucked up. I did have a couple of friends on the force, Ernie Hinds and Tommy Monroe, two guys who were in the service with me—foxhole buddies in fact. We had a bond that couldn’t be broken; I had saved Tommy’s ass, or more specifically, his head from being blown off his neck when we were surrounded by some nasty fellas who belonged to Mussolini’s gang. I got a wave from both, but that was it. The rest of the guys didn’t like that I was ‘close’ to the captain, which I found enormously funny, since that was Captain Farentino’s problem—that I had the impudence to think that his only daughter, Toni, would fall in love with a guy like me. He knew we’d split up so I was a little fuzzy on why he wanted to see me. Cops didn’t much like private dicks, and since he was the top cop, he didn’t like me the most.

The squad room looked as though a retired, very drunk, ex-cop designed it. It came with a horrible light green paint job, that was peeling from exhaustion, old age and smoke. Marvin Goldberg, our only Jewish guy was the squad’s comic.

“Hey Johnny, did you piss Toni off again?”

I liked Marvin. His suit was about as old the ancient typewriter he poked at with his long two index fingers, and he smoked the cheapest, smelliest cigars. He was tall and gangly and moved with a studied awkwardness. But he was a hunting dog at heart and never gave up until he had his man, or woman, between his teeth.

Finally, I got to Farentino’s door and knocked, a good solid, knock, if I say so myself.

“I’m not scared,” said the little voice in my head, in a little voice.

“Come in,” he barked in his sandpaper voice; so different than Toni’s. In fact, everything about the captain was so different than Toni’s.

“Sit down,” he said, not looking up.

I did. I wasn’t scared.

The captain was reading somebody’s rap sheet. It must have been a good three

minutes before he looked up at me, then frowned.

“You look like shit Johnny.”

“It’s been a week, Captain Farentino”

“You don’t have to be that formal with me Johnny, you can just call me Captain.”

I felt wave of love flow over me.

He pulled a Camel from the pack and lit up.

“Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” he said, making it very clear that he wasn’t offering me one of his.

“I’m alright,” I said as casually as I could.

Another minute of silence.

“Sorry ‘bout you and Toni,” I knew he wasn’t, “but you’re a good looking fella, if you cleaned yourself up a little and bought a new suit. I’m sure there’s some little gal out there who’ll make you happy.”

Amazingly he kept a straight face. His smile was in his voice.

He took a long drag and slowly exhaled in my direction.

“But that’s not what I called you in here for Johnny.”

I waited. This time it was only about thirty seconds, before he leaned toward me and said in a very low voice.

“Listen Johnny, I know that Vinny was a good pal of yours, but you need to stay clear of this one. It’s out of your league.”

I was beginning to go from tense to annoyed.

“Out of my League? I don’t know what you mean,” I waited a beat, “Captain.”

“This is police business, Johnny, and we’re running a full investigation into it, we

don’t need a gumshoe hanging around making trouble.”

I didn’t speak. He went on, “I heard you were at the morgue tonight. Why”

“Like you said, Vinny was my friend, maybe my best friend.”
“Did his mom hire you? I also heard you were at her house.”

The hairs on the back of my neck started to make their move.

“No, she did not hire me, and yes I was at the morgue.”

The Captain half smiled, “Yeah, I know, he was your best friend.”

“I wanted to see him. Before the morticians got to him,” I said.

He looked serious. “Then you know what kind of beating he took.”

I nodded.

“Listen Johnny, I know we’ve had our differences, and it’s not all about Antonia. I think

you’re a smart kid, you did everyone proud over there in Europe. I just think you picked

the wrong business. I still don’t know why you didn’t want to join the force—and don’t    give me that crap about not wanting to wear a uniform ever again,” he poked his stubby      finger at me, “but you’re a stubborn son of a bitch. Okay, so maybe you’ll make    something out of it, I hear you’re pretty good and the clients like you. But you got to stay         out of this one.”

“What if I don’t want to?” I said. “What if I want to get the guys that did this. For Vinnie, for his mother, hell, even for Toni, she loved the guy too.”

The captain almost growled this time, “Leave Toni out of this. I mean it.”

I put my palm out, “No worries about that.”

“And if and when you talk to her for some reason, make sure you tell her to stay back.”

His face relaxed.

“Look. I’m just telling you to keep away from this one. Far away. Tell Mrs. Santelli we’re taking care of this, and we’re going to find the guys that did it.”

I got up. I really don’t know why I did, but there I was standing.

“You could use the help,” I said.


“Why,” I asked. I was already trying to figure out how he knew about where I’d been,      and why the interest.

The captain stood. Let’s just say I had to look up to look him in the eyes, which were        pretty angry now.

“Just stay away Johnny. I’m not kidding, I hear you’re snooping around and I’ll pull you in.”

I tried to match his intensity without get my head knocked off,

“What’s this all about Captain? Why the wall of silence?”

“Never mind, Johnny. Just do as I say.”

He sat down and picked up the rap sheet again. I was dismissed. I put down my empty class and started to walk out.

When I opened the door, he shouted, “Hey, and say hello to Angie for me.”

I didn’t turn around and I didn’t slam the door. I had no intention of staying out of this puzzle, that was for damn sure.

1 thought on ““Printed in Blood: A Johnny Stone Mystery, Chapter 5” by Dean Goldberg”

  1. Suspenseful and intriguing! I love the description of the relationship between Johnny and the Captain. I got tense with Johnny as he was waiting to find out what the Captain wanted. Looking forward to reading the next chapter!

Comments are closed.