KNOX: Volume 3 will be published next week. Until then, enjoy this brief glimpse into the twisted mind of Knox Savage.
I bought the rundown bistro in the Meatpacking District two years ago. I closed it down immediately and got a letter from “a concerned resident.” He was worried that I was devaluing the neighborhood by closing down a local favorite. People who concern themselves with stuff like property values and the historical richness of a rundown restaurant are the kind of people I envy.
They don’t worry about whether they’ll wake up in the morning with the muzzle of a silencer pressed against their forehead. They don’t look at every single person they know and wonder if — or when — that person will betray them. And they sure as fuck don’t worry that the person they care about most in this world will be killed today, and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
There are a million reasons I do the things I do. And those are just a few. Avenging my mother used to be the number one reason. Now it’s her.
Rebecca is gone. I’ll stop at nothing to get her back. And Lenny and Gino know that.
I snap my fingers at Billy as we enter the restaurant. “Dust off one of those tables and take it to the back. And three chairs. Hurry up!”
Bruno locks the door after Lenny and Gino enter behind me. Lenny looks around the dusty restaurant as if he’s entered a fucking haunting house.
“What are we doing here?” Gino asks nervously.
Gino’s a young kid from the old neighborhood. His father was close to Tony Angelo. Before his father accidentally fell off the Brooklyn Bridge onto a passing tour boat. I’ll admit, that was a rookie mistake on my part. But it happened a long time ago, before I knew how to make people talk.
“We’re just here to talk,” I say, flashing them a chummy smile. “Come on. Let’s go sit in the back where we can have a little more privacy.”
Gino and Lenny look at each other. They know they have no choice but to follow me. People don’t appreciate having their choices taken away. It triggers their animal instincts. That’s why you have to keep them calm. Don’t let them feel too threatened.
Billy has cleared a large area of the kitchen by pushing the stainless steel prep tables into the corner. The table and chairs he robbed from the front of the restaurant are now dust-free and standing coldly in the center of the kitchen.
“Have a seat, boys,” I direct them as I reach up to grab a few glasses off a shelf. “You want a glass of water?”
Lenny and Gino look at me like I’m crazy. They want me to get to the point.
“I asked you two if you want a fucking glass of water.”
“No,” they reply in unison.
I nod as I put back the dusty glass. Taking a seat in the third chair at the table, I lean back and smile at Lenny and Gino.
“Do you boys have any idea what I brought you here to talk about?”
They both shake their heads, but Lenny’s hiding something. He won’t look at me. I wait a moment for the rage to subside, then I continue.
“We’re here to talk about Rebecca Veneto. Do you all remember Rebecca? John’s little girl?”
Lenny’s eyes dart toward my face for a moment, then he looks down at the table again. “Yeah, I remember Rebecca. I … I ran into her the other day at the gym.”
“I know. What did you two talk about?”
“If you already know, then you probably know what we talked about.” I look Lenny in the eye for about two seconds before he continues. “All right. We talked about you.”
“Listen, Lenny. No need to get nervous and clam up. We’re just chatting. Okay?” He doesn’t nod so I nod for him. “Now, don’t make me ask you again. What did you and Rebecca talk about?”
“Nothing, we just —”
“Don’t say nothing! That’s not the way you have a conversation, Lenny.”
The silence that follows is wet with their fear. They both stare at the table, trying not to let that fear show. They’re feeling cornered.
I chuckle and Gino’s shoulders jump at the sound. “Hey, we’re all friends here.” I can see Lenny cringing inwardly. “I know you all don’t know me, but you know my company is handling John Veneto’s security detail. And you know Rebecca was abducted last night, right?”
Gino’s eyes flit toward Lenny, but he doesn’t speak.
I smile at this. “Do you dress like that every day, Gino?”
He looks confused for a moment, then he looks down at the tattered brown T-shirt covering his round belly. “Uh… yeah. I guess.”
“You do realize you look like complete shit, don’t you?”
“What the fuck?”
“Have you ever stepped on a fucking treadmill? You know, one of those things you run on that makes you feel like you’re going nowhere? Do you know what a fucking treadmill is?”
The gun is out of my holster and the bullet is exploding through the back of his head before either of them know what’s happening. Gino’s body tips sideways toward Lenny, who’s eyes are wider than saucers as he jumps out of his chair.
“What the fuck did you do?” he shrieks in his awful whiny voice.
“Sit down, Lenny.”
“You fuckin’ killed him! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
I lock eyes with Bruno then nod toward Gino’s body, which is slumped across the chair Lenny just vacated. Bruno grabs Gino’s fat lump of a body off the chair and lays him on the dingy tile floor.
“I said sit down, Lenny.”
Lenny’s chest is heaving as he stares at Gino. Then he glances around the kitchen. Looking for an escape. But Bruno and Billy are blocking both exits. He looks at me and I nod at the chair for him to sit.
“I … I can’t sit there. It’s covered in blood.”
Billy leaves his station near the back door to wipe off the chair and Lenny begins eyeballing the exit.
“Don’t get any ideas, Lenny,” I warn him as Billy’s cleans up the blood. “Now sit.”
He shakes his head as he takes a seat again. “I don’t know where she is. I swear to God. I don’t know nothing.”
He’s going to start crying. I hate this part.
“Well, I suggest you go home and take some fucking ginkgo for your memory. Because I want you to go home and tell everyone who I am. I’m Knox Savage. And I will kill you and your wife if you don’t have some fucking information for me the next time I see you.” I stand from the chair and nod at Bruno. “Get him the fuck out of here.”
—-end of excerpt—-
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