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New York Titans' quarterback Hunter Logan is on the winning streak of his life--until he places a bet that gets traced by the mob. Now, Hunter is trapped in a no-win situation--if he goes along with the mob, he's risking ...
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New York Titans' quarterback Hunter Logan is on the winning streak of his life--until he places a bet that gets traced by the mob. Now, Hunter is trapped in a no-win situation--if he goes along with the mob, he's risking everything he's ever played for. If he doesn't, he's risking the life of his family. With the FBI moving in, it's up to the quarterback to make the call.
Tony Rizzo pulled back the heavy crimson drapes and looked out at the gloomy Manhattan day. Central Park was covered with a blanket of snow, and a gray mist hung in the air. He couldn't even see the Dakota. The barren trees were a dark, inky web against the pale sky. Rizzo smiled and stretched; he had just gotten out of bed and it was already two in the afternoon. It was Sunday, a day to build a fire, sit on the couch in a big soft robe, and watch the game. Then he remembered that he had to work, and he frowned.
But business was business. Rizzo went to his closet, grabbed a T-shirt, and strapped a 9mm Beretta semiautomatic under his arm. He stepped into some ratty jeans and pulled a heavy cardigan sweater on over the T-shirt and the gun. He grabbed a faded army coat from the back of the closet and checked the pockets. In the right was a snub-nose .38. In the left was a silencer-both came from New Orleans and could never be traced. He slipped on a pair of black Reeboks and headed for the door.
"Tony?" called a sleepy voice from the bed.
Rizzo stepped back into the bedroom and gazed appreciatively at the long blond hair and shapely figure beneath the satin sheets. He loved models. They were like toys, playthings he picked up at the Manhattan clubs that he visited nightly.
"I'll be out for a while," he said. "Stay if you want to. If you leave, just lock the door on your way out."
Rizzo turned his back and let himself out. He knew she'd still be there when he got back. If there was one thing a girl like that couldn't stand, it was indifference.
He walked down the hall. Expensive white paper embossed with thin gold columns hung on the walls. Plush red carpet covered the floor. Tony walked past the elevators and headed for the stairs. It was a long haul to the basement, but the old clothes he had picked for today would raise more than a few eyebrows in a building like his, and he wanted to slip out quietly. Only the garage attendant would see him this morning, and Willie was used to his unorthodox comings and goings. Having to sneak about stairwells was enough to make him think seriously about his uncle's repeated requests that he move back to Brooklyn, where the rest of the family lived and where he could come and go as he pleased without having to worry about his privacy. Mike Cometti and Tommy Keel were parked right next to Willie's booth in an old beat-up maroon Fleetwood. Rizzo gave Willie a wink and climbed into the backseat.
"You wanna coffee, Tony?" Cometti asked as he pulled the steaming cover off a white Styrofoam cup and handed it back.
"Thanks, Mikey. Where's Angelo?" Rizzo asked in a displeased voice while absently considering the back of Tommy Keel's head.
"Your Uncle Vinny called him this morning and said he needed him. Ang couldn't think of a reason for saying no to your uncle, since you don't want anybody wise to this . . .
"Tommy's gotta get his feet wet," Cometti added.
"You up for this, Tommy?" Rizzo said in a harsh tone, looking at Mikey all the while. Mikey shrugged and nodded apologetically.
"Yeah, I'm OK, Tony," Tommy said looking over his shoulder. "Like Mikey said, I gotta get my feet wet sometime."
"OK," Rizzo said flatly. "Let's go."
Tommy Keel put the car in gear and lurched out of the garage into the gloom. He took them straight down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park, then wove his way through the narrow streets of Greenwich Village until they found themselves parked in a dirty alley behind a row of buildings just off Bleecker Street. Steam billowed from a grate, and the stench of garbage caught in their throats.
The three men got out and walked around the block to a bar called Ironside's. The place was only half-full, and they were able to find a booth in a dark corner near the back. From there they could observe the other patrons in the bar without really being seen themselves. They ordered three beers from the waitress and settled down to watch the pregame hype on the big-screen TV.
Before too long the bar was full, but not crowded. Ironside's was not a popular place, but you could always count on the regulars to show up for an event as big as the Super Bowl, this year between the Titans and the 49ers. Mike Cometti spotted an enormous fat man squeezing through the door and taking off his coat. He nudged Rizzo. The Fat Man was wearing a black T-shirt and baggy dark green pants. He was breathing heavily as he made his way to the bar. Two grimy-looking characters vacated their seats to make room. The Fat Man was obviously an important figure at Ironside's.
"There he is," Mikey murmured, his brow darkening.
Rizzo only nodded and took a gulp of his beer. His face turned to stone. The bar got noisier as game time approached.
At the kickoff, everyone except the three in the corner cheered. Tommy glanced nervously at Rizzo, Mikey, and the Fat Man. The longer the game went on, the more Tommy's knee shook under the table. Rizzo counted the empty draft pitchers as they were periodically removed from in front of the Fat Man, who had begun sweating profusely. Both Mikey and Tommy ordered another round whenever the waitress happened by. Rizzo nursed his first beer and ordered a second one only two minutes before the end of the half. When the half ended, the Titans were trailing the 49ers 17-3. Mikey stood up and turned to Tony, "I gotta piss like a racehorse," he said apologetically.
Tommy slid out of the booth at the same time, and mumbled, "Me too." Rizzo continued to watch and wait. When his two companions returned, they seemed less uptight. It was well into the third quarter when the Fat Man sent away his fourth empty pitcher.
"OK, Tommy," said Rizzo.
Tommy looked frightened, and Rizzo grabbed Tommy tightly by the arm and shook him a little.
"Go," he said between clenched teeth.
When Tommy had disappeared out the back toward the bathrooms, Rizzo turned his eyes on Mikey.
"You sure about this five-pitcher shit?" he said.
Mikey nodded. "Tony, I told you a thousand times. Every time the Fat Man finishes his fifth pitcher he makes his move on the john. Zeke says he's like clockwork, says the slob would piss his pants if he drank any more without pissing. He says he can't figure how the guy can go that-"
"OK, OK," said Rizzo. "Gimme some snort."
Mikey looked around cautiously, out of habit. Everyone's eyes were on the game. He took a little silver box from his inside pocket and handed it over. Rizzo fished beneath his T-shirt for a tiny gold spoon that hung on a chain around his neck. He took two big snorts, closed up the box, and returned it to Mikey. It was six minutes into the fourth quarter and the Titans were down 20-9 when the Fat Man finished his fifth pitcher.
The Titans were driving and their quarterback, Hunter Logan, ran a bootleg across the fifty yard line. A cheer went up in the bar. All eyes were fixed on the game. For a moment Mikey was afraid the Fat Man wouldn't leave his seat in the middle of such a crucial drive. Tony would not be happy if he was wrong. Then the Fat Man lurched from the bar and swung his bulk toward the bathrooms.
Logan faded back to pass. All the Fat Man could do was give a fleeting glance before he disappeared into the back. Rizzo and Mikey eased themselves out of the booth and followed the Fat Man as nonchalantlyas they could. No one noticed. Tommy Keel was in the back of the hallway. He had checked both bathrooms to see that they were empty, then kept a watch to make sure no one came in from the kitchen. He gave Rizzo a thumbs-up. Rizzo looked back to see that Mikey was standing at the other end of the hallway with his back to the bathrooms. He stuck his hands in his coat pockets and went in.
The Fat Man had somehow wedged himself into the stall. His pants were down to his knees, and his head was bent over in an attempt to see. He relieved himself with an audible sigh. From his pockets Rizzo removed the pistol and silencer. He moved quickly, but appeared to be in no great hurry as he screwed the two pieces together. Finished, he stepped forward, put the barrel of the gun to the back of the Fat Man's skull, and pulled the trigger.
The Fat Man jerked forward but remained nearly upright, wedged in the stall. His feet were crooked, and they twitched slightly. His bladder continued to empty into the bowl even after he was dead. Rizzo leaned into the stall and stretched his arm over the Fat Man's enormous back. Carefully he put two more slugs into the Fat Man's brain. He then broke down his weapon and jammed the pieces into his pockets. They would be at the bottom of the East River before the end of the game. Rizzo flipped off the light switch and quickly left the bathroom. He glanced left and gave Mikey a low whistle. Mikey gave a quick final glance around the bar. The crowd erupted in a cheer as Logan connected on a touchdown pass. Everyone's eyes were glued to the TV to catch the instant replay. Mikey turned and followed Rizzo and Tommy out the back door.
With their previous drive, the Titans had narrowed the gap, leaving the score 20-16. A touchdown was all that stood between them and the championship. Hunter Logan faded back to pass. He'd missed the blitz and knew none of his receivers were hot. He tucked the ball in tight and prepared for impact. The strong safety hit him at a full sprint. The instant Hunter felt the blow, he spun his body and ducked at the same time. The safety fell uselessly to the ground. Hunter's spin put him outside the pocket, where the rest of the 49ers defense was pouring through. His ducking caused the defensive end who had to contain him to miss him as well. Now Hunter rolled out to his right, running for his life. Just before he reached the sideline, Hunter leaped in the air, twisted, and launched the ball twenty yards downfield. The tight end, who had seen the predicament, had broken his route to provide him with a safety valve. The tight end caught the ball at the same instant three pursuing 49ers crashed into Hunter, driving him four yards outside the boundary. Yellow flags flew from every direction.
Hunter lay dazed under the pile. He heard cursing and flailing. Above him, his own teammates were violently removing the defenders who lay on top of him. Leading the ruckus was Hunter's best friend, the Titans noseguard, Bert Meyer. Bert yanked the biggest 49er, Olson Fain, by the face mask and savagely twisted him back to the ground.
"That's our quarterback, you piece of shit!" roared Meyer as he delivered an open-handed whack to the head of the six-foot-six, three-hundred-pound Fain. Another yellow flag was tossed into the melee. Fain would have retaliated with more than a stream of obscenities if he had not been on the Titans sideline surrounded by the entire team, all of whom were pushing and shoving him. The referees quickly interceded.
"You son of a bitch!" screamed a purple-faced official who had seen Bert's blow to Fain. "That's dirty play, you bastard! Another stunt like that and you're gone!"
Bert paid him no mind. He was too busy helping a disoriented Hunter Logan to his feet.
The trainers and team doctors quickly surrounded Hunter, who was trying to push his way back into the game.
"Hunter!" barked the team physician. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm OK."
"Hunter," the doctor continued, "what's the score?"
"I don't know. I'm OK."
"Do you know where you are?" the doctor asked.
"I'm OK," replied Hunter as he tried to break free from Bert and the trainers. "OK, OK," the doctor said, "just tell me how many fingers you see and we'll send you right back in the game."
"Three," Hunter said.
"OK, you guys, get him to the bench," said the doctor as he held up a single finger for them all to see.
Hunter struggled. "Let me go, you assholes! I've got to get in there! I'm gonna win this son of a bitch!"
"Hunter, come on," Bert coaxed, "you'll get back in there. Just get yourself together first."
Time was running out. The Titans sent second-string quarterback Bob Dunham in to replace Hunter. The penalties offset each other, but the Titans still had the ball on the 49ers twenty-one yard line. The Titans ran a sweep that went for twelve yards. The crowd roared. It was first and goal from the nine. With Dunham cold off the bench, the Titans would attempt to run the ball into the end zone.
Dunham fumbled the snap on first down. The Titans recovered, but they were now second and goal from the fourteen. They tried a draw that got them only three yards. It was third down and everyone in the world knew they would have to go to the air.
"What the hell's going on?" Hunter demanded as he tried to peek through the medical staff.
Dunham dropped back and threw a quick and wild ball out of bounds to avoid the blitz. It was now fourth and goal from the fourteen. There were only thirty-seven seconds left in the year's most important football game. A field goal was useless.
Pop Peters, the Titans head coach, called a time-out and came over to the bench. "Doc!" Pop bellowed. "What's the fucking status? I need Hunter in there, damn it!"
Hunter jumped from the bench. "I'm there, Coach!" he announced. The trainers and doctors grabbed him by the arms.
"What the hell, Doc?" said Pop.
"I can't let him in there, Pop," the doctor replied. "I don't give a good goddamn if it's the Super Bowl or not. This guy isn't right. He can't even see straight. I won't take that risk. He won't do you any good as he is anyway!"
"Check me, Doc!" Hunter implored. "Check me again!"
Behind them all, Hunter grabbed his friend by the arm. He shot him a quick pleading look. Bert nodded.
"OK," the doctor said, holding up three fingers, "how many?"
Bert gave Hunter three quick pinches on the ass. "Three," Hunter said. "Wait," the doctor said. "You said that last time. How many now?"
Bert gave Hunter two quick pinches.
Everyone looked at the doctor.
"Jesus!" said the doctor. "His pupils are still dilated as hell . . ."
"Time, Coach!" the side judge bellowed at Pop.
" . . . OK, go!" said the doctor.
"Roll right ninety-two fade!" screamed Pop, as Hunter dashed out onto the field.
When he reached the huddle, Hunter bumped into his center, stumbled, and almost fell.
"Hunter, you OK?" asked Murphy, the center, as Hunter knelt in the middle of the huddle.
"I can throw this bitch in my sleep," Hunter said.
"Get it to me, Hunt," said Matt Brown, Hunter's best wideout. "I'll make the play."
"No," Hunter said firmly. There was no time to argue. "They're gonna have two men all over you, Matt. I gotta go to Weaver. Weaver, you know what to do. Roll right, ninety-two, fade, on one . . . ready . . ." "Break!"
The Titans lined up on the ball. Hunter got up to his center. He couldn't really tell what defense the 49ers were in, but he knew they'd send every man on a blitz and go man-to-man coverage on his three receivers. Hunter steadied himself on the center and barked out the cadence.
"Down . . . set . . . hut!"
Hunter dropped four quick steps and rolled three more to his right before he lofted the ball. He was immediately engulfed by defenders. Weaver ran straight to the goal line, then broke for the corner of the end zone. Only when he was two yards from the corner did he look up. The ball was there, and Weaver pulled it in, dragging both feet in bounds before he collapsed outside the end zone with the defender on top of him. Touchdown! Weaver jumped up and held the ball overhead for the whole world to see, as the crowd roared its approval.
(c) 1999 by Tim Green"
Posted November 8, 2007
The New York Titans Quarterback Hunter Logan is on the winning streak of his life. His team is doing fantastic and is well on their way for a state championship. Before the championship game Hunter is chased by the mob and is caught in a very bad deal and there is really no good way out of it. The mob leader Tony Rizzo is trying to take over his uncle¿s mafia organization and he thinks the first step in doing so, is getting a quarter back and trying to get him to throw the football game. If Hunter goes along with the mob and the point shaving scheme works, then it will net millions of dollars and he will lose his career and never be able to play football again. Hunter does not listen to the mob then they will come after the ones he loves the most. With the FBI moving in fast, Hunter has to make a decision does he want to go with his career that he has tried so hard to fulfill or does he want to protect his family? He better move fast because time is running out and all the bets are off. This book would be great for people who do not just like sport books.
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