"'If Justice personified is blind, then Injustice personified most certainly is. That personification is a blind man. This blind man sits by the phone day and night in a darkened room. He waits for the call from some of the city's most dangerous and corrupt individuals. He talks about the lofty ideals and notions of justice in the courtroom, but one look at the last name on his client's list -- Campisi, Manfredi, De La Rosa, Blackwood -- and you know that Matt Murdock's talk is just that.' It goes on and on like that for another two pages. Bunch of talk about the mistrial with De La Rosa, then the stuff about the Crusaders... and then a last saying you should be disbarred."
"So, usual Daily Bugle
boilerplate," I said to Karen. "Remind me to sue them for libel when I get the chance."
That paper has attacked me so much over the past year that I could barely notice Karen's pulse rise anymore when she reads their editorials. They're not the only place that likes to attack me. Papers, websites, TV stations, social media, even other lawyers and politicians all have an anti-Murdock stance of some sort... at least, the politicians and media organizations not in the pockets of my clients.
"That's all, Karen. You can go."
Karen Page, a paralegal and my only staff member, quickly and quietly left the room while I leaned back in my chair. Karen was the gatekeeper when it came to any time with me. I only worked by referral, my card nothing but a phone number. That phone number rang here to Karen's desk. From there she would do the Murdock test: Either you had enough cash to cover my fees or your case was unique enough to grant me exposure. If you didn't have one of those two things, then Karen would refer to her rolodex full of other lawyers happy to take the case. If you did pass that test then she passed you along to me and we would have a meeting either at my office or at whatever lockup you happened to find yourself in. Hopefully said meeting would be in my office if only for the scenery.
My office sits on the fortieth floor of an impressive Midtown skyscraper. They say it has one hell of a view of Lower Manhattan. Guess I'll take their word for it. The rent alone for this office would bankrupt most law firms. Someone once asked why I paid so much for the space when I could have gotten another one on the same floor without a view for a hundred thousand dollars cheaper. I didn't dignify them with a response. In this business, what I do on the books and off of them, you show strength by your decisions. A blind man wasting a hundred grand on a view he'll never see is part of my strength. It's part of my power. I bought the office because I could.
"Phone call for you," Karen's voice chirped out of the speaker on my desk. "It's... Uncle Angelo..."
Syosset, New York6 PM
"Matt, my boy," Don Campisi said cheerfully.
His old and withered hands felt like sandpaper scrapping against the skin of my hands. He patted the back of my hand and put the other hand on my elbow to guide me across the lawn. He thought of it as a favor. The truth was I could get around the yard better than he could. I've never laid eyes on the man but I can describe the old mob boss perfectly. Short, squat, with wisps of white hair on his pale scalp. Large eyeglasses so thick his eyes look alien. To the world at large Angelo Campisi looks like a doddering old grandfather. To think that's what he is would be to sorely underestimate the man.
"I'm so glad you made it out," he said once we were both sitting in lawn chairs. "I know it's a hell of a drive out of the city, especially for you."
"Well, I didn't hear any moaning under the car when I stopped, so I guess I did alright."
"If you hit 'em just right, you won't hear any moaning at all!"
Campisi laughed at his own joke before moving on to small talk. He had to tell me all about his kids that I didn't care about. I nodded at the right times and said the right things. One of Campisi's men came out and dropped off two impossibly strong coffees. Just the smell of it gave me the jitters. Campisi picked one up with shaking hands and took a long sip. After that he finally got down to it.
"I want you advice on something, Matty. You know Joey Bags? Works with that crew out in Long Island Ciy? He and Paulie came to me a few nights ago with an idea on a score. Those fucking biker pricks you repped last year, what were they?"
Officially, the Crusaders Motorcycle Club is simply a group of motorcycle enthusiast. In reality they are the worst of the outlaw motorcycle gangs in America. They run guns, drugs, whores, and create general mayhem and destruction everywhere they go. They are also without a doubt my most reliable clients.
"They got a club over in Bensonhurst," said Campisi. "Joey Bags and Paulie are gonna have a sit down with them tonight. They want to use these Cruasder fucks to mule coke and dope across the country. They're always going on these cross country rides to Piss-ant, Florida or somewheres out in California. They don't go on the interstate and they can make drops and deliveries to our people in Miami, Kansas City, or wherever. Instead of a fucking pick-up truck carrying two hundred pounds, fifty bikers carrying six pounds a piece make drops over the course of a week. "
My mob lawyer hat was on. I needed to play through the motions to get what I wanted at the end.
"Could be risk involved. One of these bikers could try to rip you off, get a wild hair up his ass and decide to take off for parts unknown while stealing from you and his club."
"He does that he's dead," Campisi said coolly. "And not just by our people. His own people. Those biker fucks, they don't play around if you betray them."
I knew that all too well. I represented their president on a murder charge last year. One of their members was talking to the ATF. He suddenly had an accident that cut his tongue out, or at least that's what I made the jury believe.
"I think it'll work," I said with a nod. "What's your exposure?"
Campisi shrugged and took another sip from his coffee. "Paulie and Joey are meeting with the top guys and that's it. If the rank and file get pinched and want to flip they'll rat out the guys in their club and they will stand tall. No way it gets back to them or me."
"I'm just hurt and offended I wasn't consulted on this. Blackwood is my client, after all."
Campisi put his dried up hand on the back of my hand. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming. "It's Paulie's show, you know how he is with you. Thinks cause you're a mick you can't be trusted."
I didn't say it, but I thought that maybe Paulie was on to something. Maybe he was the only member of the Campisi Family with a bit of sense.
St. Patrick's Cathedral11:20 PM
I had twenty grand in my jacket pocket when I went in St. Patrick's. The twenty grand was partially my cut on the forthcoming deal with the Crusaders, as well as my retainer for doing the don's legal work. Going into churches always made me think about my mother. Maggie Murdock was like a ghost. She left New York in the mid-90's and never looked back. I had no idea where she was or where she had been. I often wondered what she was doing if she were still alive. I thought many times over the years about hiring a PI to track her down. In the end I never found the strength to pull the trigger. I'm not sure what terrorizes me more: the fact that she may be dead, or the fact that she may be alive.
The twenty grand in my jacket didn't feel that big. It was just two hundred one hundred dollar bills bundled into twenty neat thousand dollar packets. The cash felt light enough when I took it out of my jacket and stuck it in the poor box. They say all the good Catholics tithe ten percent. By that logic I had to be a great one. Before I left I asked a priest to light a candle for my mother. I knew why I never wanted to meet my mom. If I never found her she would always be that devout catholic woman I heard about over the years. She could never be corrupted like my dad was. She was frozen in time as a good woman. A good woman who would never have to witness what her son had become. I made a final prayer and prepared myself to go to work.
Long Island City2:14 AM
"We don't fuck with drugs we don't make," Arthur Blackwood, president of the Crusaders Motorcycle Club, said with a scowl. "We're not errand boys. You want mules go to Washington Heights and get some project niggers. Why the hell should we stick out neck out for you? Because you say you'll pay?"
The two mobsters looked at each other as they leaned against the hood of the Cadillac. Paulie D'agistino, the underboss of the Campisi Crime Family, rubbed his chin while Joseph Baggato "Joey Bags" stuck his hands in his pants pockets and shrugged.
"That," Joey Bags started. "And, we both know your club is going under. The days of the outlaw biker gang ain't what they used to be. You're hurting for money. The ATF busts your balls day and night about that little weapons trafficking business you got. Fact of the matter is you need this. You're already making these fucking rides anyway, why not get paid while you're at it? Say yes."
Blackwood looked behind him, where three of his fellow bikers sat parked on their motorcycles in the back alley lot. Blackwood shuffled his feet and exhaled before finally nodding.
"Fine," he said.
Suddenly a sharp whistling noise filled the air. A spinning object flew from the shadows and decked a biker in the forehead. Paulie and Joey pulled pistols from their waistbands at almost the same time the Crusaders did. The two sides looked across the lot for any indication of who the thrower was.
"The hell was that?" Paulie asked, looking at Blackwood. "You trying to pull something on me?"
"Me? What about you?! You're a goddamn informant or something?!"
Out of the shadows a blur of motion slammed into Joey Bags and knocked him to the ground. Both sides opened fire in a torrent of fire and lead. Blackwood fell to the ground as bullets fired above him. The figure jumped away microseconds ahead of the shots. The figure swung back into the shadows and up onto the roof of the warehouse.