Just By Chance – Chapter 6

Frank Famulari, the head of New York’s largest crime family, was seated behind a mahogany desk in his Sands Point mansion admiring the unobstructed view of the Long Island Sound. As usual, he was dressed in his signature cardigan sweater and collared polo shirt. His men called it the “Perry Como” look, and had nicknamed him, “The Barber.” Frank got a kick out of that since Perry Como had been one of his favorite entertainers. He even looked like the former barber-turned-crooner and affected the same easy mannerisms. Unless, of course, he was angry. He waited until the forty-five-foot Morgan sailing yacht was out of sight before turning his attention to the men seated across his desk.

“So Dino, this thing with Vinny, do you think it was business?” Famulari asked.

“Who can say for sure, Frank?” said Dino Girardi, one of Frank’s captains. “I’ll put some feelers out.”

“Was he down there on business?”

“Not that I know of,” Girardi replied, shaking his head.

“Benny, he was your cousin. Were you two close?”

Benito Battaglia, aka “Benny the Bat,” tapped his fingers on Frank’s mahogany desk.  Unlike Vincent Molini, aka “Vinny the Vig,” who was college-educated and very bright, Benny’s greatest assets were his loyalty and the force with which he could swing a baseball bat. Benny worked as a loan collector for his recently deceased cousin.

“Yeah. We was very close. Very close,” Benny said.  “We’d get together a couple times a week, not countin’ business stuff.”

“Do you know if he was down there on business?”

“He told me it was personal. He took a day or two off. Shoulda’ been back today or tomorrow.”


“Yeah, as far as I know. He went down there to see a girl.”

“A girl. Was she his goomah?”

“No, Vinny didn’t have no regular goomah. He liked to play the field.”

“He goes all the way to Florida to see a girl when he’s got all he can handle up here? I don’t understand.”  Famulari sat back in his chair and ran a hand through his close-cropped gray hair.

“Me neither, to be honest,” Benny said, shrugging. “Anyways, he told me he met this girl on the Internet, and had a date set up with her.”

“Is she a pro?”

“I don’t know. Vinny didn’t say.”

“Beats the hell out of me why a guy would go that far just to get laid,” Famulari said.

“Yeah, I know what ya’ mean. Vinny, he had this thing for, whaddya call them…Orientals. Couldn’t get enough of them.”

The crime boss walked to the window and looked out at Long Island Sound for a few seconds, thinking. A bodyguard, dressed in a black warm-up suit, slowly walked along the property’s perimeter outside. Famulari turned and faced the two men. “Okay. So, Vinny goes down to Florida to meet some girl he met on the Internet. It’s not for business. He’s dead. What else do we know?”

Girardi shrugged. “Right now, that’s all, Frank. All we know is what we hear on the news.”

“Do we have anybody down there who’s got an in with the coroner’s office?”

“I’ll check. You want me to ask the Miami people if they can help with the coroner? I’m sure they’ve got someone they can call.”

Famulari returned to his desk, sat down, and shook his head. “No. We keep this in the family for now.”

“As you wish. The news people are all over this. If it was business, it won’t be a secret for long.”

“I know. But I’d like to find out before them if we can.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Girardi said.

“Good. The cops are probably all over Vinny’s place by now. I’m worried they might find something that’s embarrassing to us.”

“Hopefully, he was careful about what he left around,” Girardi said.

“He was careful,” Benny said, nodding, “very careful. He keeps stuff at his sister Rosalie’s. He told me in case somethin’ like this happened.”

“Okay,” Famulari said. “You check on that.”

“Benny,” Girardi said. “Vinny was on the Internet, so I’m assuming he has a computer.”

“Yeah, he’s got one of those laptops.”

“Do you think he keeps any business stuff on it?”

“I don’t know, but I can check. He left it with me.”

“Good,” Girardi said. “At least that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about.”

Famulari stood and pointed at the two men. “Dino, Benny…I want you to follow up on that girl. Find out who she is, where she is, everything. Let me know as soon as you have anything.”

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