Sunday, October 18, 2015
Deadly Lullaby by Robert McClure
Title: Deadly Lullaby
Fresh off a nine-year stint in San Quentin, career hitman Babe Crucci plans to finally go straight and enjoy all life has to offer—after he pulls one or two more jobs to shore up his retirement fund. More than anything, Babe is dead set on making up for lost time with his estranged son, Leo, who just so happens to be a rising star in the LAPD.
The road to reconciliation starts with tickets to a Dodgers game. But first, Leo needs a little help settling a beef over some gambling debts owed to a local mobster. This kind of thing is child’s play for Babe–until a sudden twist in the negotiations leads to a string of corpses and a titanic power shift in gangland politics. With the sins of his father piling up and dragging him down, Leo throws himself into the investigation of a young prostitute’s murder, a case that makes him some unlikely friends—and some brutally unpredictable enemies.
Caught up in a clash of crime lords, weaving past thugs with flamethrowers who expend lives like pocket change, Babe and Leo have one last chance to face the ghosts of their past—if they want to live long enough to see their future.
We leave Boyle Heights when we merge onto 60 East toward Pomona; we are on 605 a few minutes, then take I-10 toward San Bernardino. We are at the West Covina ramp before you know it.
We drive side roads for about fifteen minutes, then pull in to the parking lot.
My son says, “It’s a setup. I can feel it.”
He parks at the end of a row of luxury cars. I say, “Nah, this old warehouse has just got you spooked, that’s all.” I look it over and make some professional observations: “We are, what, over four miles outside the nearest town? Christ, you could fight a war out here and never upset a civilian ear. It is a perfect place for a hit.”
This is not what he wants to hear.
I recognize this and say right away, “But Macky would’ve already whacked you if that’s what he wanted to do. Relax.”
He asks me a question that comes from nowhere, as if it is something that has occupied his mind all along: “Why are you doing this for me? Why?”
My son and I are communicating here, making progress, and a small lump rises in my throat. I think a few beats and almost come clean with him, almost reveal all there is to know about the meeting with Macky. I change my mind when I realize I cannot predict his reaction, that he might spoil the dynamics of it all.
“Why else?” I say, and change the subject. “A condition of the sit-down is that we be unarmed. Hand over your weapons.”
He unholsters his department-issued Sig Sauer from under his jean jacket, hands it over with no complaints—something of a surprise to me.
I tuck the pistol under the seat, then look him in the eye. “Your throw-down, too. I know you have one.”
He pouts and I hold out my hand and wiggle my fingers. “C’mon, c’mon . . .”
He sighs and reaches for his right ankle, unsnaps the peashooter he has strapped there and palms it to me while looking the other way.
“You got a knife on you, can of mace, stun gun, any other weapon at all?”
“All I have now is you,” he says to the window, and turns to give me that hesitant look of semiconfidence again.
Robert McClure read pulp fiction as a kid when he should have been studying, but ultimately cracked down enough to obtain a bachelor's in criminology from Murray State University and a law degree from the University of Louisville. He is now an attorney and crime fiction writer who lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky. His story "My Son" appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, and he has had other works published in MudRock: Stories & Tales, Hardboiled, Thug Lit, and Plots with Guns.