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The Story Teller - Tony Bertot
The sequel to The Heart of an Assassin picks up where it left off.
In this final chapter in Tony Bertot's Assassin Trilogy you find yourself rooting for everyone.
There are no bad guys or good guys and the intrigue and suspense builds as you push against your wish to finish the book knowing full well that the end is as unpredictable as its two predecessors.
New York City
As John Connolly, head of the Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), watched his agents Sheila Cooper and Sam Williams file into his office, he wondered why his superiors did not demote him for his failure to protect Judge Livingston from an assassin’s bullet. He figured it was because they were working in conjunction with New York City police, and his superiors and the city's politicians were too busy blaming each other. However, Connolly was beyond that. It was a joint effort and, as far as he was concerned, they were all to blame.
Nevertheless, how could he blame Agent Sheila Cooper or Detective Tyler Santiago when they were both out of town protecting the judge? In fact, they managed to keep him alive long enough to bring him to the courthouse to testify.
The assassin simply outsmarted them.
"Captain, we have been pouring over the information about this Theo Gresco," said Sam.
"And?" responded the captain.
"Well, here is what we have; He was born in Chicago to a Lucia and Sergio Gresco. At the age of eight, he witnessed his father's death when the store they owned was bombed. It appears his father pissed off a local crime boss when he refused to pay him extortion money. Immediately after the bombing, his mother took him to Sicily where he remained for most of his youth. While there, he learned how to fire several weapons and became somewhat of a celebrity for his marksmanship. Though I cannot confirm it, there was a strong rumor that he was solely responsible for the execution of several members of a well-known crime family after they had threatened his grandparents. Though his mother is dead,
I cannot determine how and when that happened." Sam reported.
Sheila continued with, "In late 1954 Mr. Gresco, then 21 years old, returned to his old neighborhood in Chicago. He got married to a girl by the name of Sylvia Santiago. Also during that time, he befriended Nick Costello, a neighborhood thug. During the same period, two men were executed on the same corner where Theo Gresco's father owned his store, the one that had been bombed. An unidentified caller, who supposedly witnessed the event, named the two victims as Mario Pierina and Rico Vitalia, and claimed that he saw Nick Costello execute them.
“Though it took some time and many phone calls, we managed to break through the red tape and get a hold of Theo’s and Nick’s military records. These records show that both Theo Gresco and Nick Costello joined the service within a week after the execution of those men.
They did their tour of duty together overseas. Where exactly, we don't know.
However, both men were listed for many commendations, including marksmanship.
What is really interesting is that both men received numerous Vietnam medals as well when officially we weren't in Vietnam." Sheila said.
Before continuing she looked at Sam, took a deep breath and went on with, "Of real interest is that Sylvia and Theo had a son. A son they named Tyler."
"Why would that be of interest to me?" the captain asked.
Sheila stared at the captain for a second, sighed deeply, and went on,
"Because, sir, further investigation found that Detective Tyler Santiago is Mr. Theodore Gresco's son."
It took a few seconds for the impact of what Sheila said to sink in. "What!" the captain almost shouted. "Are you sure?" he asked them both.
"Yes sir. We double-checked and then triple-checked. Detective Tyler Santiago was raised by his uncle George, who happens to be the brother of Sylvia Santiago," Sam finished.
"Holy crap," commented Captain Connolly, who was now standing and holding his hand to his forehead.
Seeing the captain's reaction and the look on his face, Sheila spoke up,
"Captain, based on all we have found we don't think Detective Santiago knew who his father was. He didn't know this guy was his own flesh and blood."
"Are you shitting me? How in heaven’s name can you sit there and tell me that with a straight face?" the captain asked her, almost shouting.
"Captain, Detective Santiago never saw his father. His mother brought him here when he was very young, and until her death, she was the only listed parent.
As far as we can tell, Tyler never laid eyes on him again ... till now."
Sheila went on to explain, "Captain, I know this from personal experience. When Tyler, I mean Detective Santiago, and I were in hiding with the judge in Pennsylvania, we got to talking and he told me he had a vague memory of his father. He was very young when his father went away, and he never saw him again. When I asked what happened, Tyler said his mom told him that his father had to go away and may never come back,"
The captain stared at both of them as if in a trance, while shaking his head back and forth."I hope your attachment to Detective Santiago is not clouding your judgment," the captain said, directing his comment at Sheila. "This is too freaking weird," he added."Who else knows about this?"
"No one, sir," they both responded.
"No one can know about this until we straighten it out. You understand?" the captain told them while pointing his finger at their faces.
"Yes, sir, we understand!" Sam responded as both he and Sheila nodded their heads.
"You two need to understand, we are dealing with the Giordano family who has ties everywhere. Who's to say Detective Santiago was not planted here?" the captain raised his voice. "And now you tell me the man Detective Santiago shot, the man who fell into the East River, was his own father, whose body, by the way, has not been found."
There was a short pause as all three contemplated the gravity of the situation.
"Where is Detective Santiago now?" the captain asked in a calm voice.
"We don't know. What we do know is that he quit the force a few months back, sir," Sam responded.
"Well, find him and bring him back here. I would like a word with him," the captain ordered. "Also find this Nick Costello. Let's see what he knows about all this," the captain added.
"Sir, we've tried to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Nick Costello and have come up empty. After leaving the service he simply disappeared." Sheila stated.
"Then dig deeper. A man does not simply disappear. Somebody out there knows," the captain demanded.