“Pat tell Murray to get in here asap”
Before the words were out of my mouth I saw Murray Kaplan striding down the hallway to my office. Murray was a shorter, fatter, younger version of me with less hair a $400 dollar suit that was trying hard to look like a $4000 suit and a $15 shirt from Kohl’s that ruined any attempt to look professional. But Murray was smart and reliable, he had been my top associate for 4 years now and one of these days he would try to move up in the firm. It would never happen and he would end up leaving to start his own lobby practice with 4 or 5 clients that he thought he had stolen but in reality were dogs with fleas that I needed to get rid of because they either didn’t pay their bills on time or were just a general pain in my ass with no upside. It happened every 5 years or so and when it did I would find another Murray but for now Murray was my go to.
“Murray I need you to draft a tax exemption bill for 5 online food sale products, make sure one is truffle butter and call Ronald Hawksbille to verify what he thinks is his top seller, add it to the bill and then fill out the list with three or four other products not sold by any of our clients or any other lobbyists clients. Make sure that shitty greek yogurt Chubbsonme doesn’t meet the definition for exemption”
“You still mad that Mr. Siler signed Chubbsonme, boss?”
“Fuckoff Murray don’t be a wise ass now go back to your hole and draft me a bill”
As I spun around in my chair, a chair by the way that used to belong to Arthur Ross when he was Speaker, a chair that I won from Roth in a card game in Roth’s office decades ago, I saw my cellphone light up with an incoming call from Andy Carp of the FBI.
Fuck this day had been going so well.
“What’s up Andy?”
“Meet me for coffee at Eggy’s Diner”
“Can’t do it I’m booked all day”
“the amount in your Key Bank checking account, do you want me to tell you how much you have in the other eight bank accounts you have in the states and the off shore accounts?”
“I’ll see you at Eggy’s in 20 minutes”
“I’ll be waiting”
I’d known Andy Carp since we were kids. We grew up in the same suburban town. He had been in the FBI since I was a young legislative staffer, he had made more federal corruption cases in Albany than all the other agents combined, he also was the agent that busted me 15 years ago for trying to entice, Andy and the government said bribe, a mid level senator. Bribing run of the mill legislators is a large risk, small reward move in the lobbying world. As I gained experience and insight I learned the only people worth bribing were top level players who were smart enough to not accept a straight bag of cash, they required more artistry and finesse but back then I thought a thick envelope to Senator “Egomaniac I plan to be President someday” was the way to go.
I literally pissed myself ruining a brand new Armani suit when Andy knocked on my door at 730 in the morning as I was on my way to the office. Why do they always do that? It must be in some law enforcement training tape from the old KGB library. Two or three robots in blue suits and conservative haircuts at the door telling you your life is over if you don’t cooperate. What you should do is tell them to fuck off politely and call your lawyer. But as I think back on it Andy was alone and smiling. I’ve only seen Andy smile when somebody was getting hurt or was in mortal danger. I think Andy’s idea of relaxation is watching ISIS beheadings. Andy alone and smiling is a dangerous opportunity.
After I changed my suit Andy explained the facts of life and that I had a choice. I could be convicted of bribery and mail fraud and do 2 years in a federal prison or I could help him set up legislators and stay out of jail and continue my meteoric rise to power. It was an easy decision. And I’ve regretted it every time Andy called for coffee.
As I went down the elevator to the parking garage to collect my Audi A8L from the valet I couldn’t help but think how the Audi perfectly complimented my philosophy about lobbying. It was beautiful in an understated sought of way, it’s engineering was impeccable and compared to Lace’s Bentley drew half the attention but always worked. In other words it represented the best in class and didn’t give a fuck who thought otherwise. I slid into the gorgeous ox blood red leather seats put the heated gear shift in drive and let the 400 horsepower w12 engine purr as I glided from the parking garage and onto the pot holed streets of downtown Albany, christ it was like being in Baghdad or Troy. It took 15 minutes to get to Eggy’s diner. Eggy’s was a shithole, it was overpriced and the food was terrible, the only thing it had going for it was a parking lot behind the diner like a no tell motel and a guarantee that nobody I knew in politics would see us there together.
Andy was already there at the corner table, back to the wall in the gunfighters seat. He did that on purpose, not because he wanted to sit there but because he knew I did. He was dressed like every other FBI agent I’ve ever met or seen. Dark blue suit, white shirt and a dark blue tie. Conservative haircut and a decent pair of black shoes with plain black socks. Andy had a cup of coffee and an overpriced chef’s salad in front of him. I sat and ordered a coffee, no way was I eating anything here.
As I watched Andy open a sugar packet and pour it into his coffee I noticed he took a handful of the sugar packets and dropped them in his coat pocket, without a hint of shame, the cheap fucker.
Andy got right to the point, he always did unless he was threatening me.
“So Mort do you still represent Ravi Kamatrappa?”
Ravi was the head of the research arm of The Albany Institute for Technology. He was supposed to be a professor and an expert in micro dot technology. All I really knew about Ravi was that he showed up about 20 years ago from some southern college I had never heard of wearing thousand dollar cowboy boots with blue jeans and driving a beat up Lexus, he still wore the cowboy boots and jeans but now drove a McLaren. Somehow he had parlayed his line of bullshit into a series of state grants, arranged by yours truly, and now Ravi was pulling down over a million dollars a year in salary and had control of a 300 million dollar pot of state money to build out the infrastructure needed to manufacture micro dots or whatever other imaginary product he was pedaling. If Ravi was a con man he was one of the great ones and he had me on retainer to the tune of $30000 per month which he paid like clockwork. But if Andy was asking, Ravi just became a soon to be former client.
“Mr. Kamatrappa is a valued client of my firm”
“You know he got arrested last night DWI on the Northway with a 17 year old coed blowing him?”
“In the McLaren? She must be a gymnast”
“Not the McLaren in his wife’s Jaguar”
“No shit” Now the fact Ravi was with a coed didn’t surprise me he was renowned as a world class swordsman but the fact that he didn’t call me to get him out of trouble was a bad sign.
“Yup and do you know who bailed him out of jail and is representing him”
“Why would I give a fuck?”
“Because it was your old running mate Dickie Siler. He had Bob Haxter with him to act as Ravi’s criminal defense lawyer. That’s a lot of star power for a DWI and a blowjob don’t you think?”
Ravi called Richard not me. Not only was Ravi soon to be an ex-client but if I had anything to say about it he was soon to be in prison. But first things first I needed to find out what Richard was up to, and I needed to find out what Andy wanted and I needed to give a lot more thought to all the shady deals I had helped Ravi set up, especially the Oxford Road Development Group that Ravi was running all the construction contracts for his micro dot manufacturing plant thru. And I knew right where to start. I would meet Bob Haxter for drinks.
Bob was a former AUSA that went into private practice about 10 years ago. His firm did criminal defense especially white collar cases and personal injury law. I’d sent him quite a bit of work over the years and I knew the only thing he loved to talk about more than himself was his client’s troubles.
As I glanced back at Andy I noticed he was starting to smile.
“So let’s talk about Ravi after you have a chance to think about how much you want to help the FBI . . . again”
Before I could respond Andy stood up and left without saying a word. And of course without paying. These FBI guys were cheaper than the legislators they were always trying to jam up, at least your average legislator would pay for breakfast from their campaign account that you had just donated to.