WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN by Jay D. Homnick (Fessay #6)
Tony Canoli was buzzing with excitement. He simply could not get over that he, Tony the Phoney, was being called to a meeting with the Don himself.
“Siddown, Tony, siddown,” Don Guido said. “I’m lookin’ over your file here and it’s quite impressive.”
“Why, thank you, Don, this is quite an honor for me.”
“Let’s see what we have here,” the Don murmured as he leafed through the file. “Connected in 1994, very nice work. What’s this? Disconnected in 1996?”
“Didn’t pay my phone bill.”
“That’s not good, my boy. But I see you were reconnected almost immediately.”
“Yeah, whacked the phone guy.”
“Terrific, that’s what we like here, initiative. Well, Tony, I have a project for you that I think is a perfect fit for your special skills.”
Finally Don Guido began to explain to Tony the job at hand. It seemed that the fellas had gotten woid dat da Feds had some new gizmos dat dey was usin against sommada boys, or something to that effect. Tony’s task was to approach the FBI, claim that he was ready to be an informant and ask to be wired for his next big meeting with the Don.
That way the boys in the… er, Outfit could find out what the new technology was and be better equipped to bring crime up-to-date in the 21st Century. Tony was honored. He was so abuzz that for once he didn’t get buzzed before a big job.
Sure enough, the Feds were thrilled when he made his approach. They told him that they would love to send him in to his headquarters wired. But, they explained, there would be no need to “wear a wire” on his body. That was old-fashioned and much too risky. If someone decided to pat him down, the gig would be up and he would be down.
No, this new system was foolproof.
The way it worked was that a small chip would be inserted into his ear. That chip would act as a transmitter enabling the FBI to eavesdrop on the conversation and record it without any need to wear something bulky outside his body. There was only one thing. It required surgery with anesthesia to implant the chip deep enough in the ear that it could not be detectable to the naked eye. Tony agreed, and the procedure was done.
When Tony came back to report to the Don, he was a big hero. First they sent him to the bent doctor who performed a surgery to remove the piece. Then they threw Tony a big party, gave him a big promotion and made him made. You can make much more if you’re made and Tony had always thought he had the makings of being made; now he had finally arrived and been made made.
From that point, Tony got to sit in on every major meeting. He could not believe his good fortune. He was being treated with real respect. He had money, prestige; you name it, he had it. He was on top of the world.
And then suddenly, inexplicably, it all came crashing down. The Feds closed in and arrested every member of the family from the Don down to the lowest of the disconnected and the unmade. In fact, everyone but Tony was arrested, but fortunately no one suspected that he was the informant, since he was the guy who had exposed the new Fed ear bug.
All the men were awaiting trial, but no one knew what evidence the Feds thought they had. Tony was still hopeful that they were just running a bluff, angry at him for backing out of his deal to be a fink. But Tony would not be intimidated. Oh, no. Tony Canoli is no rat.
Tony seemed to be fidgeting a great deal as he told me this story, sitting next to me on his bar stool. It was like he couldn’t sit still, rearranging his position every few seconds.
“Well, this is very weird,” I said. “I hope it all works out the way you think and the FBI releases them for lack of evidence. Although the word in the street is that they have tapes.”
“Yeah,” Tony said. “I heard that too, but that don’t make no sense. The doc pulled that thing out of my ear. I seen it myself afterwards.”
“I don’t doubt it,” I said. “We should know soon enough, when they go to court. By the way, what brings you to this neighborhood?”
“Really? What kind of doctor?”
“Proctologist. Been having terrible itching down there for the last little while. I gotta have it looked at.”