David Shea, a high powered Wall Street investment banker, has a past that wont be denied. As a teen, he led a group of four friends to beat a local bully to death and let someone else take the rap. David has managed to avoid every bad break, but in a life of big money payoffs, potentially lethal pitfalls, and legal wrangling, fate is bound to get the upper hand at least once.
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|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
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About the Author
Born in New York City, HAROLD ROBBINS is one of the world's bestselling authors, writing novels that often mirrored his own experiences and that were peopled by charcacters he had met. He died at the age of eighty-one in Palm Springs, California.
Born in New York City, HAROLD ROBBINS is one of the world's bestselling authors, writing novels that often mirrored his own experiences and that were peopled by characters he had met. He is the author of The Carpetbaggers.
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By Harold Robbins
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2001 Harold Robbins
All rights reserved.
SATURDAY EVENING, APRIL 20, 1974
Four of them were together that Saturday evening: Dave Shea, Cole Jennings, Bill Morris, and Tony DeFelice. These four had minor reputations as more than troublemakers.
Dave Shea was a handsome young man, tall and muscular, a football player. He was very charismatic. Every girl's dream was to date Dave Shea. He had been his school's quarterback for two years, during which his team lost only one game. In his senior year the team went undefeated. Besides that, he was an outstanding scholar. He was inducted into the National Honor Society in his junior year. His special subjects were mathematics, chemistry, and physics. As of April he had accepted a football scholarship at Rutgers University. Without the scholarship he would have been unable to go to college. But he had the scholarship and his future seemed assured.
But he had a dark side. It wasn't alcohol. The fact was that Dave was a cheat. He did it on the football field, where he had an exceptional talent for knowing when officials weren't looking and then clipping, face-mask violations, even for punching an opposing player in the nose. In close contact with a defensive lineman, he started his "trash talk." Calling people names until he would get them to react. A trick that could get a star defense man ejected from the game, while Dave stood gaping and shaking his head, wondering what had caused the foul. In the chemistry lab he knew what results were expected from a problem in qualitative analysis and pretended to have achieved that result, when he really hadn't. He was in fact a good player and a good student, but he had his little tricks to make himself look even better.
"You're good enough, Shea," Cole said one day. "Why not play it straight ...?"
"Look, Jennings. Your family will send you to college, no matter what. You're smart, too, but you don't need a scholarship. I do. I have to cover myself ... be better than good ..."
"Gotcha. But you are good enough!"
"Yeah? Well, I'm looking for a little insurance on it. The son of a wholesale grocery salesman who drives around the county begging for little orders ... Hey! They add up their nickels every month, hopin' there's enough to make the payment on the car. I don't want to live like that, Jennings!"
He didn't want to live without sex either. He first shoved his big penis into a girl when he was thirteen years old.
She was seventeen.
"Jesus Christ! The guys said you're ... Hey, I can't take all that, Shea."
"Bet ya can," he said, with a hard-on that ached for release.
He began to enter her slowly until he was buried deep inside her.
"God almighty! Hey! I wouldn't have believed it!"
Eventually, Amy, who also declared she couldn't possibly, did. And complained it hurt. But he couldn't get enough, and after the first time neither could she.
Cole Jennings played basketball and was good at it. He was tall, six feet six, and had an indefinable agility on the polished floor that brought him recognition as a valuable player. His blond hair fell over his forehead as he dribbled toward the basket, dodging this way and that, avoiding the players trying to guard him, until at the last moment he passed the ball to a teammate close to the goal and charged in to take the rebound if the shot missed. He made most of his points by capturing rebounds and jamming the ball through the basket.
He, too, was an excellent student. One of them, Dave or Cole, would be valedictorian of their high school class.
As Dave had suggested, Cole did not need a scholarship, athletic or academic, to go to college. His father was senior partner in a major realty firm. His family could and would pay his tuition at any school he wanted to attend.
From the time he was old enough to drive, Cole had his own car. That night he was driving his graduation present, already given him though graduation was seven weeks away. It was a black Pontiac TransAm. His parents had always indulged their son. His graduation was no exception.
Cole was a responsible, thoughtful young man, and even if he could burn rubber he didn't. Conservative, compared to Dave.
Dave envied Cole when he saw the beautiful black TransAm. Someday, he thought ... someday ... but he never even got to drive his father's old Chevy. That car was too important to making a living for his father to allow his son to drive it.
Bill Morris played both football and basketball, though he was not the star that Dave and Cole were. He spent most of his time on the bench. Even so, he "went out" for sports and was considered a jock. All of these four were. He was not the scholar his two friends were, either; and his parents had been squirreling away money for years, in anticipation of his college tuition. Bill would not win a scholarship.
He was a solid young man, not heavy enough for football and not tall enough for basketball. On the basketball floor he wore plastic-rimmed eyeglasses held in place by a rubber strap behind his head. On the football field he wore no glasses and relied on a slightly blurry vision of the developing play. Since he was a guard and all but invariably was blocked after he did or did not block his man, it made little difference. He was dark-haired, and oddly was already showing, on his forehead, the initial evidence of baldness.
Of the four, many would have called Tony DeFelice the one most likely to succeed. They were all jocks, but Tony was a jock in a very different sense. He was a Golden Gloves boxer with a promising future.
He was a welterweight, knife-thin, with muscles as hard as the steel of a knife. Many were afraid of him, but he had been trained to restrain himself and never use his boxing skills outside the ring. His ambition was to go to the Olympics and then to turn professional.
He was an extremely intense young man, with hard eyes. People who knew him well were aware that he had a ready sense of humor and found amusement in all manner of things and people.
His family owned a score of packer trucks and collected trash and garbage over a wide area of Bergen County. They were said to be "connected." They were a family of shrewd, hardworking Italian immigrants, who had hauled first in a single mule-drawn wagon and had gradually worked their way up to the considerable business they now owned.
On this humid April Saturday night it was the same old thing: nothing to do. They were silent as they listened to Bruce Springsteen sing his latest hit. The four boys had bought six-packs of beer and drunk twenty bottles between them. The remaining four bottles were on the floor of the backseat of Cole's car. A little after ten Cole drove into the parking lot of Pizza Palace on the edge of Wyckoff.
The Palace might more realistically have been called the shack. It had only four small tables. Customers were expected to take delivery of their pizzas and drive them home. The boys ordered two pizzas and returned to the car to wait the twenty minutes until their pizzas would be ready. They opened their last four bottles of beer and talked about whether or not they should drive off during the twenty minutes and buy another six-pack or two.
They had sat there, drinking their last beers and talking aimlessly when Jim Amos came alongside the car.
"Well, if it ain't Slaw," he said in a beer-slurred voice. Slaw was a nickname sometimes fastened on Cole. He didn't like it, but he didn't make an issue of it. "New wheels, Slaw?" Amos goaded.
Amos was twenty-four years old and had served four years in the United States Navy. He was known in the town and area as a drunk and a bully. He would walk up to a smaller and younger boy on the street and ask him what was the finest service in the United States Armed Forces. The boy might not know that Amos had been in the navy and might say United States Marines or something else. If he didn't say navy, Amos might deck him.
Or he might say, "You're wrong, and I'll let you buy me a few drinks to make up for it."
In any case, Jim Amos was a bully. He'd been beaten up two or three times, for having taken a swing at the wrong man; but that had not discouraged him, and he remained a two-bit punk, looking for someone to intimidate.
Tonight he was feeling aggressive.
"Slaw and his Three Muskeeters. Mommy and Daddy get this for baby boy?" he said as he hopped up on the fender and sat.
Dave came out of the passenger side, fast, and rushed around the car. "Get your ass down from there, Amos," he yelled.
"Y' gonna make me?"
"I'm gonna make you."
Cole was out of the car now, followed by Bill and Tony from the backseat.
"Oh. All four of you. Fine. Suits me. Who's first?"
Dave grabbed Amos by the legs and threw him off the fender, onto the gravel of the parking lot. Amos was drunk, but he was quick and strong. He scrambled up and charged Dave, throwing a shoulder against his chest and knocking him back against the car, where he was vulnerable to the punch to the chin that Amos threw. Dave was dazed for a second.
Amos set himself to throw more punches to Dave's face and down one of his opponents. But Cole grabbed him from behind and wrestled him away. He punched him hard on the kidneys.
Amos broke out of Cole's grip, turned, and punched him in the stomach. Cole doubled over and vomited beer.
Bill stunned Amos with a hard punch to the ear.
Dave had gained his sense with a fury. As Amos was momentarily disoriented, Dave shot a hard fist against his nose, which collapsed in a spray of blood. Amos shook his head and moaned. His knees began to buckle. He was finished.
But Dave's anger was not assuaged. He stepped up to the staggering Amos and put every ounce of his weight and strength into a crushing blow to Amos's jaw. Amos dropped backward to the gravel. His head hit with a sickening crunch.
The police arrived a moment later. One of the officers knelt beside Amos and examined him.
"This man is dead."
The families gathered at the Bergen County Jail.
The Sheas were frightened. Dave's mother was weeping, and his father's lips trembled. "That poor boy! That poor boy!" Mrs. Shea kept murmuring through her tears. She meant Jim Amos.
The Jennings family was grimly composed. Stuart Jennings was prepared to confront trouble and had summoned his lawyer.
The Morrises seemed not to comprehend what was going on. Their faces were blank, as though they were in shock, which in fact they were.
Anthony DeFelice glowered. When his father arrived he told him to keep his mouth shut and slapped him on the side of the head.
Witnesses from Pizza Palace assembled to give statements. None of the witnesses was quite sure what had happened, except that all agreed Tony DeFelice had not hit Amos.
From that point, all was confusion.
"Those three there, they all hit him. I seen 'em," an old man with a three-day stubble of white whiskers declared.
"It was self-defense," Dave asserted angrily.
"Three of you? Self-defense against one feller?"
A fat girl spoke. "Jim Amos was a drunken bully. He was always starting fights."
"We know that," said the chief of police. He was a muscular, middle-aged man in a tan uniform. "On the other hand ... well —"
"He's dead," said the old man. "An' three of 'em were beatin' up on 'im."
"Which one of you swung the punch that broke his neck?" asked the chief of police.
"Uh ... just a moment," said a white-haired man with a flushed face. "I'm going to advise these boys not to answer that question, or any others, until they've had a chance to consult with counsel."
The white-haired man was Lloyd Paul Strecker. He was attorney for the Jenningses and had arrived at the police station before they did. He had a formidable reputation in Bergen County, not just for being a tough lawyer but for his political connections.
An assistant district attorney arrived. Her name was Lela Goldish, and she was about thirty years old, an attractive young woman, with broad hips and a prominent ass. She was also hyper, moved in jerks and spoke in clipped sentences.
"What've we got here?" she asked.
The chief of police gave her a brief statement.
"Manslaughter," she said. "Maybe involuntary manslaughter. Sure as hell not murder."
"Okay," said Strecker. "I think these boys should be given a chance to confer among themselves. They are all involved. They should sing from the same sheet."
No one disagreed. Dave, Cole, Bill, and Tony went into a little conference room to talk.
Dave put his elbows on the table and his face in his hands. "Shit ..." he said. "It's the end for me. Manslaughter charge. There goes my scholarship. There goes my fuckin' life. Even if I don't go to the slammer, Rutgers won't want me. It's the end!" He looked grim.
"You didn't have to hit him that last time," said Cole. "We had him. He was finished."
"I was ... pissed," Dave said. "The son of a bitch ..."
"We're the witnesses," said Tony calmly. "Whatever we say happened, happened. Self-defense."
"They won't buy that," Dave muttered. "Four of us ..."
"Only the guy that shot the last punch," said Bill Morris. "He was out. The guy that —"
"Yeah, sure, Morris," said Dave. "I killed him."
"Jesus, man," said Cole. "I guess it's gonna go tough for you. I don't think you'll get a big sentence, but —"
"What the fuck does it matter!" Dave glared. "I'll wind up like my old man. A nobody."
"We oughta talk to the lawyer," said Tony.
They asked Strecker to come in.
"Here's where it stands," he told them immediately. "We can make it involuntary manslaughter. The man who threw the last punch can plead guilty to that. He'll get probation."
"But he'll have a felony record," said Dave despondently.
"Well ... actually, that can be expunged from the records in a few years. It won't prevent a man from getting into law school, for example — because the record won't exist."
"But right now —" Dave muttered disconsolately.
"For a while it will be an impediment," said Strecker.
"An impediment that —"
"Can ruin his whole life," said Cole sadly.
"I see where this is going," said the lawyer. "I'm going to leave you boys to talk together."
With the lawyer out of the room, the four boys sat silent for a full minute. Then —
"I'm the one with the most to lose," said Dave. "You guys are going to college because your families can pay for it. Mine can't. My scholarship is the only way I'm going to get a college education. The only goddamned way."
"What you're saying," said Tony, "is that one of us should confess he shot the last punch."
Dave closed his eyes and nodded. "I'm the only one whose life is on the line."
"I'll go this far," said Tony coldly. "If one of these guys wants to take it, I won't screw it up. I won't tell the truth."
Dave looked at Cole. "You've got the least to lose. You're going to whatever university you choose, because your family will pay for it. You've got a first-class lawyer. Your family and your lawyer have got political connections. You can come out of this smelling like roses. I come out piled in shit."
Cole drew a deep breath. "Except for you, Tony, we all hit him. All of us. Dave couldn't have — Well, he couldn't have if Bill and I hadn't done what we did. I mean, I figure we share the responsibility. And — Dave's right. He's got the most to lose. I've got the least." He stood and opened the door. "Mr. Strecker —"
The lawyer listened gravely to what Cole told him. He shook his head. "All right. I don't buy it, but if that's what you want to do. I know what you have in mind."
The newspapers were angry.
"Half the town believes that," said Bill Morris.
"And the other half knows what a prick Amos was," said Dave.
"Anyway ... it's all settled," said Cole. "Three years probation, after which the record will be erased. I'm accepted at Princeton. And —" He turned to Dave.
"Your scholarship is intact, and you'll be going to Rutgers."
Dave nodded. "I won't forget this, Cole."
Cole looked at him. "Yeah sure." He knew in his heart that Dave would never look back.
Excerpted from Never Enough by Harold Robbins. Copyright © 2001 Harold Robbins. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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