IN THE WORKS
a crime novel
Bill Geer is slow, WASPish, divorced, past forty, and terminally bored. His gift for making money without much effort doesn’t make him happy, and now his son won’t speak to him. What he’d enjoy with his martini is some cocaine, which he recalls from early days.
Josh Greenleaf is small, quick and sharp, and happy to provide this popular commodity, What he really knows and likes is art, but he’s stolen too much over the years to be employable. Bill doesn’t care, he deals with banksters every day and admires quick-thinking native new Yorkers like Josh. When Josh sees Bill’s loft, the liking becomes mutual, and Josh hustles out-of-towner Bill into an art gallery as a cure for the blahs.
When Bill hires Felipe Dorman to handle the business end, animosity between Josh and Felipe is instant and Geer-Greenleaf is a ticking bomb full of laughs.
It was August in Manhattan, hot and sticky, with thick foul air and heavy mid-town traffic. Charlie Van Impe was heading north on Eighth Avenue in the Da Vinci Art truck, approaching a traffic jam involving the Port Authority bus terminal and Lincoln Tunnel. He turned east and continued uptown on Sixth, looking for a place to park. In his truck were several gallery-bound paintings, some very expensive. The Da Vinci truck was substantial and stylish, with a separate cab, dark side windows for privacy, and a giant reproduction of the Mona Lisa on each side. Transporting art was Charlie’s major source of income, others being mid-level cocaine transactions and general light trucking. He also studied karate and created unsalable miscegenated oil abstracts derived mainly from Jackson Pollock and Morris Katz. Sometimes he moved things for his uncle Vincent, Vincent Imperiale of Bensonhurst. Uncle Vincent didn’t pay, but he’d helped him buy the truck, provided insurance, and fixed tickets. Uncle Vincent had also expressly stated that he would never think of involving his only relative with a college degree in anything dangerous. Being on his uncle’s good side was mandatory for many reasons.
Traffic was barely moving, but he was close to his destination, the De Wilde gallery on 57th Street. After dropping off a painting, he drove to the Steuben Gallery and dropped off another, then drove around until he found a parking space near De Wilde. Then he opened a bottle of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, tuned in an oldies station, and relaxed, being careful to check for observers each time he tilted the bottle. Everyone respected this methodical side of Charlie, who was big, fit and quite smart, and might have gone to law school, which would have been another family first. He was cautious by nature, and had changed his name to van Impe when one of his uncle’s associates made the evening news by taking a ride he never returned from. But Uncle Vincent had nothing to do with Charlie’s art business. He was on his own, and he liked it that way.