Chapter 11: Sanity Maintenance
November 7, 1984: 2100
Unlike DeMarco’s takedown, the Lombard sting was a total disaster. No sooner had Rico and DeMarco boarded Lombard’s yacht, when unexpectedly the mobster announced they were going to cast off. None of them had counted on that. The surveillance crew was not prepared and Rico was going to be out on the open sea without backup.
As soon as the yacht’s engines began to sputter, DeMarco panicked, lying to Lombard that he skimmed the payment money to pay off the man who killed Barbara Carroll. But when he saw Lombard’s eyes narrow coldly, he completely caved, pulling off his shirt to show Lombard the wire the cops “made” him wear in a desperate gesture to win back his boss’ trust.
Listening to the worsening situation on the yacht while he waited nearby on the Scarab, Sonny shouted for the squad to move in before it turned into a bloodbath.
“All units… move in! Code Red! Move in!”
Then, firing up the Scarab’s engines, they raced for Lombard’s yacht.
“Come on… come on…” Sonny shouted above the roar of the Scarab engine. He trained his binoculars on Lombard’s yacht in the distance and cursed softly under his breath.
“What the hell is Jerry doing there?” he asked, his voice cracking with emotion
Barbara Carroll’s husband was creeping forward, inching his way along the deck. And Crockett was sure he saw a revolver in the distraught man’s hand.
“No,” he groaned. “No, Jerry, no!”
The Scarab cut through the waves, racing against all odds. But when they heard the single shot, Sonny knew they were too late. His only hope was that his partner was still in one piece. He could deal with anything but the thought of Rico dying because he hadn’t worked out all the possible kinks in their plan.
His eyes wild with worry, Crockett stepped onto the yacht and held his breath, expecting the worst. He kicked open the door leading to the inside of the vessel and stared into the gloom. Rico and Lombard stood there with their hands in the air DeMarco was dead, shot through the heart with a single slug from Jerry Carroll’s revolver.
“Why?” Crockett whispered hoarsely.
“I had to, Sonny; I just had to.” Jerry answered.
Crockett put his hand on Jerry’s shoulder. “Yeah,” he muttered. He understood how Jerry’s world had been shattered, his sanity stripped away. Sonny saw the suffering on the man’s face; sensed his relentless hunger for justice. It didn’t matter what happened from here on because nothing the law could do to him would make him regret what he had done.
Sonny handcuffed Jerry’s hands behind him, the same way Rico had handcuffed Lombard a few minutes before. Jerry’s head hung miserably but Lombard seemed unconcerned, telling them all how he was not about to miss his next appointment for lunch.
Castillo wasn’t optimistic either. “Lombard’s too slippery,” he warned them. “He knows how to play the system.”
And just as he predicted, Lombard’s lawyer arrived a short time later, ready to spring him before the mug shot could even be taken.
Jerry Carroll’s fate was an entirely different matter.
“So whatta ya think they’re gonna do to him, huh?” Rico asked Sonny that night as they sat on the St. Vitus under the stars
“It’s hard to tell. No priors… family hardship… diminished capacity. He’ll be hit with a hard sentence. After that it will be up to the judge.”
“Lombard’s probably out back out there on his yacht, sailing out into the blue.”
Shaking his head, Sonny swung open the hatch door and disappeared down the stairs that led to the galley.
“It stinks!” he shouted up to Rico.
“Ya got that right.”
After a few seconds, Sonny returned with two fishing poles and handed one to Rico, who looked puzzled. “What’s this?”
“This is what is commonly known as a fishing pole. People fish with it.”
“Ten o’clock at night and you’re gonna go fishing, Crockett?”
“It’s called ‘sanity maintenance’, Tubbs. Ya outta try it sometime.”
Rico stared after his partner trying to decide if fishing was the answer to assuring his partner’s stability
“Would ya cast off the bow line?” Sonny shouted.
“The bow line?”
“Oh, I forgot!” Sonny chuckled. You’re from New York! Uh… that’s the front of the boat, Rico!”
“Oh… We’re gonna sail this thing in the dark?”
“Yeah, sure we are, Rico. I have lights on this baby and everything.”
Rico caught the sarcasm in his partner’s tone. “Okay, okay. So I’m a city boy. Just give me a manual or something and I’ll bet I have my sea legs in no time!”
Leaning over to loosen the rope that tethered the yacht to the dock, Rico lost his balance and almost tumbled head over heels into the bay. Sonny tried hard to muffle his laughter.
“I heard that, Crockett. Just let’s see how cocky you are when you come up to my neck of the woods. Try navigating the New York City subway and we’ll see just how street smart you really are!”
“Never gonna happen, Rico,” Sonny answered smugly. “I have no intentions of ever setting foot in ‘gridlock’ city.”
Sonny steered the boat out onto the bay and anchored when the Miami lights were nothing more
than a glitter in the distance
Rico tossed him another beer. “So, partner. Now that you’ve had this chance to work with him a little, what do ya think of the new Lieutenant, this Martin Castillo?” he asked.
Sonny sat down on a deck chair and popped open his beer. “He’s intense, that’s for sure. But maybe he’s just what the squad needs.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No.” Sonny picked up his pole and with an expert flick of his wrist, let the fishing line float on the wind until it landed with a soft splash in the water. “There’s something about him, Rico. Something… different.”
“Yeah, I’ll say,” Rico grumbled.
Sonny pulled back and cast his line again.
“I don’t know. He may seem hard nosed about some things but, he’s disciplined and he’s honest. And besides that, I trust him.”
“Sorry. For me, the jury’s still out on that one. Ask me in a couple of weeks and maybe by then I’ll have seen the light.”
“If he doesn’t fire your ass first!”
“I wouldn’t talk. His first impression doesn’t exactly make you ‘Cop of the Year’.”
“Maybe not. But at least he knows I’m not the kind of guy that rolls over and plays dead when the going gets tough.” He took a sip of his beer, grunting contentedly. “So, Rico, buddy,” he laughed, eyeing the pole hanging limply in his partner’s hand, “Ya gonna put that hook of yours in the water some time tonight? Or maybe you’re one of those New Yorkers who thinks the fish are gonna jump into the boat all by themselves?”
“Keep it up, wise guy. I won’t forget those words and you know what they say about ‘payback’ now, don’t you?”
“Sure do, Rico,” Sonny laughed heartily “But then, that’s a whole ‘nother story, my friend. A whole ‘nother story!”