BOOK SAMPLE READ
Friday, October 13, 1964. Ten, A.M.
Servito angrily jammed the remains of his cigar into his ashtray, then telephoned Allison’s office. “Jerry, it’s Jim. I need to see you. It’s very important,” he said with obvious urgency .
“What’s the problem, kid?” “I don’t want to talk about it on the telephone.” “Then I’ll see you at the station at noon. I’m going to the track this afternoon.” “Then let’s have lunch.” “Sure. Where?”
“Porky’s.” “You buying?” “Yup.”
“Good. See you there.”
Servito left well before noon, hurried to his favorite whorehouse, Triple A Modeling Service they called it, and relieved his almost constant sexual urge. He then drove south to Lakeshore Drive, then east to Ashbridges Bay, a filthy industrial area in the heart of southeast Toronto. Porky’s Diner, specializing in waitresses with large breasts, greasy hamburgers and draught beer, was located near the center of Ashbridges Bay. He entered the diner and found it already crowded with raucous factory workers. He proceeded directly to and empty table, as far as possible from the noisy beer drinkers.
Allison waddled into the diner ten minutes later and headed for Servito, his gigantic size fifteen shoes flapping on the wooden floor. “How you doin’, kid?” he asked, squeezing his oversized butt into a chair on the opposite side of the table. “You ordered yet?”
“Nope. I was waiting for you.” “You wanna beer?” Servito nodded solemnly.
Allison turned and waved to the waitress behind the cash register on the bar. “Hey, Tess! Give us two Black Label over here!” he shouted, then turned to Servito. “What’s on your mind, kid?”
“I’m having difficulty figuring out why I can never get a better gasoline price from anyone else. The only conclusion I can come to is that nobody has a better price.” Servito leaned forward and glared menacingly into Allison’s eyes. “Are you paying all the taxes on the gasoline you’re selling to me?”
Allison chuckled, then scowled. “That’s none of your business.”
Servito leaned closer to Allison. “Never mind the bull-shit, Jerry! Just answer my question. Are you, or are you not paying the taxes on my gasoline?”
“You’re stepping over the line, kid,” Allison warned.
Servito bared his teeth and pointed his index finger directly at Allison’s nose. His almost translucent gray eyes bored into Allison. “I don’t give a flying shit about lines! I want the whole story and I want it now! I don’t want to wake up some morning and find the feds climbing all over me for the taxes you evaded. And I don’t want them to tell me that you screwed off to never-never land with all the money.”
Allison’s rotund face blanched and he shook his large head slowly. “You’re an ungrateful prick!” he said acidly.
“If it hadn’t been for my fifty grand, you wouldn’t be here to worry about things that don’t concern you.” He paused while Tess delivered two large ice- frosted mugs of draught beer. “One of the things you have to understand is that the gasoline business is a rough game. You have to do whatever it takes to survive in it. If you don’t, someone’s gonna be there to clean your clock.”
Servito tightened his lips and bared his teeth. “No more bull-shit, Jerry. Just answer my question.”
“I’ve told you as much as I’m gonna tell you, kid. The rest of the story’s my business.” Allison stood abruptly, toppling his chair backward and causing it to clatter on the floor behind him. “Call me when you need another load. If you don’t, I’m gonna send some people into your office to find out why. You got it?.” He chugged half of his beer, then turned and headed for the exit.
Servito caught up with Allison in the parking lot and tripped him by kicking his ankle.“Jesus!” Allison shouted, stumbling, then falling forward and spread-eagling on the pavement.
Servito pressed his right foot firmly against the back of Allison’s neck. His right hand was in his jacket pocket, his index finger pressed against the trigger of a snub-nosed 38- caliber revolver he had stolen in Billings, Montana.
“We’re going to play truth or consequences, Jerry.” he said, smirking confidently. “I have piece, here, and it’s pointed right at the back of your fat head. Get up and haul your fat ass into the car, now!”
Servito lifted his foot and Allison complied, quickly and submissively.
Servito barged in beside Allison, pushing him to the passenger’s side. He slammed the door, then revealed his pistol.
He lowered his eyes and chuckled sarcastically. Allison’s involuntary urination had stained the crotch of his beige trousers and had spread onto the car seat. “This is the end of the bull-shit, Jerry. Just answers, now!” Servito demanded.
“I don’t own a damn thing,” Allison whimpered, shaking uncontrollably, mesmerized by the muzzle of Servito’s gun. “I’m just the pimp. I put people together.”
“How does it happen, Jerry?” “I...I do it through a broker and a trucker.” “Who’s the broker and who’s the trucker?”
“The broker’s a man named Bob Bushing. He owns a company called Empire State Oil. His office is in Buffalo...The trucker is Dave Lasker. His company is Amerada Tank Lines. He runs outta Fort Erie and Niagara Falls.”
“Very good,” Servito said, smiling briefly. “Now how is the game played?” “Bushing buys the gasoline and Lasker hauls it.” “Who pays the tax?” “Nobody.”
“So I was right. How does it get done?”
“Empire State buys the gasoline from a refiner in the United States, or in Canada. Bushing warrants that the gasoline is purchased for export to the opposite country. The refiner sells the gasoline to Empire State at the refinery gate on an ex-tax basis on the assumption that the taxes will be collected by governments in the destination country. Then Amerada picks it up and hauls it across the bridge. From there it gets distributed.”
Servito’s swarthy face displayed a puzzled frown. “So why aren’t the feds breaking down my door and demanding the taxes?”
“As soon as the gasoline crosses the bridge, we make it disappear. The feds don’t have the slightest idea where it goes.”
“How do you make it disappear?”
“A million ways. The simplest is to haul it directly to the customer, but that’s too risky. The driver has to make sure he’s not being followed. That’s not as easy as it sounds. The feds are real good at following trucks.”
“So what’s the best way?”
“The best is to drop it into Amerada’s storage tanks in the destination country. Amerada waits a couple of days, then takes it out of storage and hauls it to the customer. The feds have no way of knowing which gasoline came out of storage.”
Servito was impressed. “That’s interesting...Any other games?”
“Ya there’s the one I really like,” Allison answered, displaying a slight relaxed grin. “The Regina Loop. It’s beautiful. It shows real imagination...Say you buy gasoline from a Canadian refiner. You tell the refiner the product’s going to the United States, so like I said it’s sold to you on an ex- tax basis. Your trucker picks it up at the Canadian refinery and hauls it across the border. He drives a few miles down the road, waits for an hour or two, then turns around and hauls it back into Canada. He tells customs that the customer didn’t want the gasoline, or that he couldn’t afford to pay for it.”
“What happens then?”
“Customs cancels your manifest and assumes you’re going to take it back to the refinery for refund. But it never makes it to the refinery. Now you’re home free to sell it in Canada. You sell it for a penny or two under the market and pocket the tax.”
“That’s beautiful. Tell me another one.”
“Yup. The old water trick. It’s an exquisite variation of the Regina Loop. You buy gasoline, ex-tax, at a Canadian refinery for export to the United States, then deliver almost all of it to a Canadian customer. After that, you fill the truck with water and head for the border...Gasoline floats on water you know.”
“If Customs check the truck, they see the remaining gasoline on top of the water and assume it’s a full load. You continue into the U.S., wait for an hour of two, then dump the water in a farmer’s field, turn the truck around and drive back into Canada. Is that beautiful or what? Oh there’s one more. We do a lotta business with the Indians. They don’t pay tax on gasoline sold on the reservations, and maybe some of that gasoline finds its way off the reservations.”
Servito’s gifted criminal mind had shifted into high gear. “How much commission does Bushing pay you?”
“One cent a gallon for every gallon I move.”
“That’s chump change, Jerry,” Servito scoffed, aware that a penny was a fraction of the take, and that Bushing was pocketing a fortune. He returned the gun to his jacket and smiled. “Why the hell have you never gone after the big bucks?”
“Allison shrugged his bulky shoulders. “I don’t know...I guess I don’t have the balls.”
“You’ve been working for nickels and dimes too long. How would you like to make some real money?”
Allison grinned nervously, suddenly experiencing a surge of relief. “Sure.”
Servito’s intense gray eyes focused on Allison’s. “From now on, you and I are going to be partners.”
“The way I see it, Bushing’s vulnerable as hell. The customers are yours, Jerry. Bushing can’t function without them.”
“So what are you saying?”
“We’ll do our own deal. We’ll be the broker and give Bushing the commission.”
“Where do we get the trucks?”
“We’ll use Lasker’s. If he doesn’t agree to haul for peanuts, we’ll get our own trucks...Hell, maybe we’ll even buy his company.”
Allison’s surge of relief was quickly extinguished. His hazel eyes showed enormous fear. He struggled to postpone another urination. “You’re talking about playing with fire. You know there’s gonna be big trouble.”
“Fuck ‘em!” Servito snarled, flashing a fiendish grin. “Trouble’s my middle name. If they hassle us, we’ll arrange some very unfortunate accidents.”