Alex Shimmel had dropped off the face of the earth. He had been missing for the last week. I had tried every number I had for him all his emails, I had even called the CIA’s main switchboard, no one had seen or heard from Alex since he walked out of the Fish and Hunt Club restaurant in Manhattan without paying his bill. The last person to see him was well known business television commentator Gary Casparino, who claimed Alex had gotten drunk and wandered out muttering that the Fish and Hunt needed a walk in freezer to be a real hot spot.
It was possibly the worst time for Alex to go missing. While he was skiing in Davos or lying dead in some morgue things were happening fast in Albany.
I had been able to convince the three men in a room to appoint a study panel to review the medical marijuana dispensaries issue. The key had been getting Dante to place a story referring to the dispensaries as drug dorms. The public’s response combined with the fear the governor and the legislative leaders had of Ping’s RICO case resulted in the panel being appointed in record time. The governor then picked his former counsel, Ken Kline, to be the chairman. Kline’s claim to fame had been his memorable quote that the administration had three speeds, get along, get paid or get killed. Kline had spent many years with the governor and had always been the one adult in the room, ever since he left to make a fortune in the private sector he had been McLowey’s go to guy for putting together book deals and putting out fires. Kline would make sure the panel took it’s time and if history was any roadmap to the future he would also make sure that he figured out a way to profit from whatever findings were eventually released.
All of this was predicated on McLowey staying in office long enough to let Kline manufacture a solution that would have McLowey and Kline get along, get paid and kill their enemies. And McLowey staying in office was looking less and less certain.
Ping had gotten wind of the Sunday Times story and of some unnamed parties looking into his taxes and had panicked by leaking his upcoming RICO indictment of New York’s government to the Times in the hope it would bounce the sex story from the Sunday edition. Instead the Times had run both stories side by side on the front page. As a result over half of the legislature’s spouses had filed for divorce and every one of them was now afraid to transact any business as usual until they saw who Ping actually indicted.
Many of the spouses were now talking on the record to both Ping and the media about their husbands and or wives misuse of their office. Speaker Washington’s girlfriend was so upset about the piano key orgy that she hand delivered to the media records showing that Washington had received reimbursement for per diems on days his campaign had paid for his visits to a gay karaoke bar in Florida. After reading the story Ping announced that he had begun another investigation into the misuse of campaign accounts by elected. The Jewish caucus simultaneously announced that they would do all they could to quote “get the schvartzas” out of the Assembly leadership before they corrupted the entire assembly. When Washington’s people responded that it was the last three Jewish speakers that had been convicted of corruption the Jewish caucus responded by alleging anti-Semitism by Washington and demanding his resignation. I still chuckle every time I see the picture of Lev Behuda and Dixie Junkins arguing outside the Assembly chambers. Lev had Dixie in a headlock while Dixie had Al Sharper on his cellphone. The smart money was betting on Washington’s resignation and Dixie’s body being found at approximately the same time.
It turned out Hibert’s wife did read the New York Times, at least on Sundays when she liked to look at the advertisements for home furnishings. The end result was she became so upset about Hibert’s other family that she called his other wife to discuss their children’s future. Hibert was now obsessed with insuring that all his children would be able to get no show jobs with companies that lobbied him that the rest of the Senators, republicans and democrats alike, were in open revolt since no jobs were available for their friends and family. It wouldn’t be long before a new majority leader would be selected and given the razor thin majority Hibert’s party presently held it might even be a compromise candidate Like Senator Squabble. No one respected Squabble or his Brooklyn hipster douchebag persona but everyone agreed a new majority leader that would let every senator do what they wanted without control or supervision would be a welcome change from the hose’s iron fisted control and selfish attitude to graft and corruption.
McLowey was on his way out as well. He got greedier than usual and sold the book rights to his next book “Profiles in RICO indictments” to a publisher that was actually part of an undercover sting that the U S Attorney for the western district had set up. McLowey asked Liketysplit to negotiate the deal since Kline was busy with the study panel. Lickety had sold the book by guaranteeing McLowey would detail all his previous book deals and how he had profited from them. When told what Lickety had disclosed to the publisher and the U S Attorney’s office in Buffalo all McLowey could say was “fuck me”. Unlike Washington and Hibert, McLowey was going to fight to stay in office and had announced that he planned to run for president during the next election cycle. No one expected him to be a serious contender but his candidacy would give him access to federal matching funds to use for his criminal defense and material for his next book “Profiles in Comebacks”.
Ping was preparing for what would be the trial of the century when he put the entire government on trial for RICO corruption, but nasty rumors from the Times sex story about his use of prostitutes were swirling around the capital. One young lady had even told the Times that Ping kept his socks on during sex and had monogrammed micro condoms he insisted they use. The sex stories combined with the allegation that he had violated federal money laundering statutes by investing his micro condom fortune in a chain of Asian grocery stores that were being used to import and sell illegal Chinese counterfeit Hermes pocketbooks had caused Ping to slow down his fund raising. He was now only fundraising from the private sector and most Albany insiders doubted he would ever be a viable candidate for anything beyond State Senator in the future.
Denny’s predictions were coming true.
The only downside from my perspective to the present situation was that the big ugly had failed to be passed and as a result I had not won my truffle butter bet yet.
But as Cadillac Curtis used to say “In Albany politics the world can change in the time it takes to make a phone call”
My cell phone rang.