As I threw my golf ditty bag in the Audi I noticed Dan and Trini walking into the clubhouse together and heading for the private rooms on the second floor. He might be a good catholic boy but he was going to need a new watch and a dose of penicillin. His Omega Montreal, now my Omega Montreal was in my ditty bag right next to the microcassette. All in all not a bad day. I was out $2000, my payoff to the hose, but I didn’t have to hire his idiot kid, Karp would be happy with the tape and I had another watch bet story to tell anyone who asked where I got the Omega.
Before I could even leave the parking lot Pat called on my cell.
“Leathers, I’m glad you finished your round your phone has been blowing up with calls about Jim Stork”
James Stork, now that was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. Jim was a lawyer who showed up about 15 years ago from some big New York City law firm and started his own firm with a couple of other young guys. They were doing well mostly because Jim for all his failings, and he had many, was a genius when it came to getting clients. The firm grew quickly and then Jim decided to apply his talent and complete amorality to lobbying. He should have been a natural. He started a torrid affair with Sandy Corogi the wife of lobbyist Nick Corogi and the sister of then Governor Fitzgibbon’s chief of staff. Sandy was the head of the state consumer affairs office and soon left to start a lobbying practice that she ran out of Jim’s law office. They both left their respective spouses and moved into a large home in Loudonville which was down the block from Jim’s old house where his wife and kids still lived. Jim got his wife a good job in the senate and the kids would come and go from both houses. The rumor was Jim did as well. Jim’s new house became the defacto clubhouse for those legislators and lobbyists that Jim and Sandy entertained lavishly. It also was the home for the Senate card game. This was a weekly game of poker that included top senate staffers, several lobbyists and various businessmen who were Jim’s new lobby clients. It was also where I met Ravi. Jim had invited him to the game and Ravi lost a lot of money which ordinarily would have guaranteed him a regular seat but the next day a New York tabloid had a small story about the game that everyone believed came from Ravi. Ravi never played poker at Jim’s again but I was able to convince him that Jim had blackballed him for the news story that Ravi knew he wasn’t the source for. I knew it as well since I was. This way I got Ravi as a client and Jim didn’t.
Jim’s house was also the scene of one of the most amazing events in the annals of Albany lobbying depravity. During one of the poker games with 3 or 4 potential big money clients at the table, Sandy walked thru the card room on her way to the hot tub on the deck behind the house. This was not unusual as Sandy was always a gracious host and socialized with us during the game but this time she was completely nude. Not a stitch of clothing on and I must say for a 40 something women she looked like a porno star without the tattoos. Although that isn’t completely accurate as I noticed she had a tattoo on her left hip that consisted of a 6 inch ruler with the phrase “you must be this big to enjoy this ride”. Her nudity wasn’t what caught everyone’s attention, although it was riveting. It was the fact that in her right hand she had a firm grip on the hose’s hose.
Jim would eventually leave Sandy for a much younger women who was his live in au pair. His lobby practice disappeared within months of getting caught by the lobby commission in an investigation where he was heard on tape requiring his clients to provide him cash with which he made campaign donations in his own name and for entering into a contingent fee contract for a casino license that he spelled out in emails that his partner, Bill Volt the former state party chair, turned over after the commission politely asked for his records. Who does that in this town? You never write it down and you never turn it over if you own a shredder, rookies.
Jim was eventually disbarred for his role in a real estate Ponzi scheme and the last I had heard had moved to Florida with the au pair and their triplets. The rumor was he had been arrested in Florida for stealing a Mercedes from a rental car agency and for trying to sell the house he was renting. According to local news reports he actually was able to get a cash deposit for the rental home but the scheme fell apart when the homeowner drove by and saw the Mercedes being packed with children’s toys and a for sale by owner sign on the front lawn.
Say what you want about Jim’s life style, I never thought he was immoral I was absolutely positive he was amoral, and I found myself secretly rooting for the guy to pull off his latest scam.
“What about Jim?”
“No shit, how?”
“No, in Albany”
“In a pool?”
“No they found him in a barrel of pickles in the old pickle factory out by Ravi’s micro dot factory”
“A pickle barrel? That’s crazy”
“Sure sounds like it”
“Who called about it?”
“Who didn’t its big news, you have to start leaving your phone turned on while you play”
“Just give me the calls I have to return Pat, I don’t need a lecture”
It was weird but Jim’s death was actually depressing me and making me irritable.
“There are only two that you should return before you get back here, Call Andy Karp and Casey Sailer”
“I’ll do that but email me the rest I don’t think I’m going back to the office”
I had a sudden need to see Jamie and talk to her about my depression.
“Your friend is found in a pickle barrel, you have at least a dozen calls to return and you decide to go visit an Amish whore?”
How could she possibly know what I was thinking?
“Fuck you Pat and by the way aren’t you friends with Trini Sandoval?”
“We’re not really friends I play tennis with her why do you ask?”
“Because as I was leaving the club she was fucking Danny, just thought you might want to warn her of Danny’s reputation”
“Daniel would never do that he is a good catholic boy”
I chuckled as I hung up, at least ruining Pat’s day made me feel better.
I dialed Karps number.
“FBI Agent Karp speaking”
“Andy its Leathers, you called?”
“Yes we need to meet at Eggy’s I want the cassette of your discussions with Hibert”
“OK but it will be about an hour or so I have to meet someone first”
“I know, Pat said you would want to see Jamie and talk about Stork, that’s the other thing we need to discuss it looks like the Stork death was a homicide”
“Really Andy? You don’t think he committed suicide by drowning himself in a pickle barrel? No wonder the FBI has such a sterling reputation in this town”
“Careful Leathers I was at the scene and it appears it was a murder carried out by the Israeli’s.”
“You’re prejudice is showing Andy. The Jews aren’t the only ones that like pickles”
“The fact that he drowned in a pickle barrel is just one clue the fact that he had a talus wrapped around his throat is proof it was the Israeli mob it’s their calling card”
“Ok I’ll see you at Eggy’s in an hour”
I hung up and Andy went back to eating the full sour kosher pickle he had taken from the murder scene.
I decided not to call Casey, I didn’t need a lecture on punctuation and he wouldn’t have any useful information even if the Israeli mob had sent him a press release explaining the who, what, when and why.
Instead I drove straight to Jamie’s loft.
As I sat on Jamie’s patio looking out over the Albany skyline I was sipping an ice cold glass of homemade root beer and enjoying her homemade Amish pretzels.
Jamie joined me on the patio.
“Why are you so sad Leathers?”
I explained the whole Jim Stork story including the pickle barrel.
“You know the death of someone you know doesn’t have to be so final”
“What are you talking about Jamie, ending up in a pickle barrel with a talus wrapped around your throat at the hands of some crazed Israeli mobster is about as final as it gets”
“I’m not talking about Jim. I’m talking about you”
“I don’t understand, like usual”
“Let me see if I can make it easier to understand”
“Here comes another Uncle Elmer Amish fable”
“No this is a real story. My whole family was on our deck one fourth of July and there was an English family that were friends of my parents visiting. They had a couple of little kids who were playing with some of the kittens, you know how many kittens are around an Amish farm Leathers?’
“I don’t have a clue Jamie”
“Well there are lots, anyway one of the dogs jumps on a kitten and breaks it’s back so my grandmother picked up the kitten by its tail and threw it in the burn barrel, The English kids are screaming and carrying on and grandma says to them, “calm down it’s just a kitty it’s not your pet, this is a farm we have lots of kitties””
“That’s barbaric but so what, how does that help me?”
“Jim Stork was not your family, this is Albany we have lots of kitties”
This is Albany we have lots of kitties, in retrospect no truer words have ever been spoken.