By 5:00, Ben Perrini was at Birdy’s. As he walked in the bartender gave him a hurried glance and continued drawing a beer.
“Good to see ya, Detective. It’s been awhile.”
Ben’s abrupt head nod took care of a need to reply.
“Is this an official or casual visit?”
Not wanting to disclose the purpose of his visit, Perrini grunted.
“Thought the rent on my bar stool was about due.”
“Aw. We always hold for the law, Ben. We know anybody on the City payroll is good for it. What can I get for you?”
“How about a Beef Tartar, medium and fries?”
“Cookie doesn’t get in until 5:30. How about a beer while you wait?”
“I’m on the wagon, Joe. You can draw me a soda. Put it on my tab. But I’ve got a couple of questions while I’m waiting.”
“OK, shoot. I’ve probably got a couple of answers I haven’t used lately.”
“How many of your regulars are Italian, Joe?”
“Don’t know for sure. Maybe ten or twelve.”
“With the brickyard’s payroll, I woulda guessed more like half of ‘em.”
“Won’t quibble over numbers, Perrini. What do ya really want to find out?”
“I’ve got a tip I need to follow up on.”
“OK. Out with it. Don’t make me beg for a clue.”
“Do you know anybody by the name of Restorini?”
“Yep. Riago Restorini usually eats and drinks here on a daily basis. What’s he done now?”
“Don’t know. That’s why I’m asking questions.”
“Well if you stick around you can ask him yourself. He comes in about this time every night.”
“Lets make it a surprise, Joe. When I finish my hamburger, if I ever get one, you can introduce us, OK?”
Almost on cue, Riago Restorini stomped in yelling “Buonasera” and sauntered over to his booth of choice.
“Beer and a menu, se tu per favore, subito!”
The bartender barked back, “You don’t need a menu, Woporino. You always order the same damn thing.”
“What’s an Italiano Artista need to do get some respect around this dump. I’ve been kicked outtada back door of better places dan dis.”
“Whatsa matta, Restorini? Can’t ya take a joke?”
“Bad day at the kiln. Just bring the damn beer and the usual, smartass.”
“Ya might need an extra napkin. Ya got company tonight.”
“Whatya talking about? I don’t need no company.”
“No choices on this one, Riago. This is DI Perinni, Deer Park PD. You two Dagos have a go at it.”
Ben Perinni’s sarcastic, “Thanks for the intro, Joe.” was followed by Restorini’s,
“What the fuck? Who invited him?” and in a perfect segue, flashing the badge, Perinni slouched into the booth.
“Sorry to interrupt your nightly recreation, Mr. Restorini. I’ve just got a couple of questions.”
Back behind the bar, Joe was relieved of his job as host for the impending inquisition.
“Let’s get it over with.”
“For starters, can you account for your time during the first week of February?”
“Worked all week, here for meals.”
“What about after that?”
“Bar closes a one. Drove home slowly fell in bed.”
“You got anybody to vouch for that?”
“Nope. Sleep alone, dammit.”
“Right. Well, We’ve been told you carry a concealed weapon. I need to see it and the license to carry.
“I don’t have it anymore. Here’s the paper.”
“This says it’s a SR22. Where is it now?”
“Don’t know. Traded it in on an AK-47.”
“When and where?”
“Last week. NRA Gun show in Sandpoint, Idaho, don’t need no license.”