Friday, July 4, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 48

“Could you repeat the question, please?”

Quiet, individual sighs blend into a raucous, collective groan that echoes around the oak-paneled Trenton courtroom like a barking pit bull. The wave of verbal animosity finally crashes over me and dissipates.

Seems my dumb responses and other delaying tactics wear thin on the assembled State Grand Jury. Gee, I’ve only been on the witness stand two hours. And I’ve already given them my name and address.

“Mr. Carr, please pay attention,” Franny says. “This is very important. You’re taking up the grand jury’s time. Now, once again, look around the courtroom. Do you see the woman who had Anthony Farascio's body removed from Butch’s restaurant that night?”

Franny sports quite the courtroom demeanor. Impressively dressed. Authoritative. Articulate. In possession of all the facts. And pissed as hell at me for dragging this out, although staying very much in control for her audience.

“Please, Mr. Carr. Look at the target of this investigation. Do you see that woman from the restaurant here today?”

I have to admire the way Franny uses word emphasis. Every gaze in the courtroom focuses on Mama Bones. Hard not to, the way Franny drags her description out. I’ve heard any good prosecutor includes acting classes in his or her training, but Franny might need an agent.

I stare at Mama Bones. Her gray hair. The sharp eyes that miss nothing. And dressed today like the sweetest grandma you ever saw, including blue hair, hand-knitted shawl, and aluminum walker.

“Mr. Carr. Please.”

Guess it’s time to get this over with. I take one last deep breath before I drop the five-hundred pounder: “I can’t be sure.”

Franny’s cheeks flush. “What did you say?”

I search the back of the courtroom for something to focus on. I memorize the details of the double-door’s right side, the six-inch brass hinges. “I said ‘I can’t be sure’ it’s the same woman.”

El Cap-i-tan’s sea-green eyes burst into flames. The small courtroom barks again with whispered conversations. A knot expands inside my gut. Reminds me of the time I farted at Susan’s parent’s Christmas dinner.

Franny almost spits at me. “Mr. Carr, you identified this woman, by name, on, three separate occasions. In your sworn statement to my office, in fact, you described Angelina Bonacelli exactly, and swore under oath, on the Bible, that you’d known this woman by sight for more than seven years.”

I nod in complete agreement. “Of course I know Mama Bones. She’s the mother of my business partner, Vick Bonacelli. I just don’t know for sure she was the woman in that restaurant.”

Franny snatches some papers off the prosecutor’s table. “You were certain before. My transcript shows you voluntarily mentioned Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli, by name, as the woman who supervised the disposal of Anthony Farascio's body.”

What drama. Franny’s long pointing finger reminds me of Madame Lafarge.

“Yes, that’s true,” I say. “That’s what I thought. What I’m saying now is, though, I’m can’t be sure the woman in that restaurant was the same woman I see sitting here today. I just can’t be certain.”

Franny’s cheeks puff like balloons. Then air hisses out between her teeth like a punctured tire.

Next Friday, Chapter 49

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