Authors: Robert J. Randisi
Table of Contents
EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY SOMETIME
LUCK BE A LADY, DON'T DIE
HEY THERE â YOU WITH THE GUN IN YOUR HAND
YOU'RE NOBODY 'TIL SOMEBODY KILLS YOU
I'M A FOOL TO KILL YOU *
FLY ME TO THE MORGUE *
IT WAS A VERY BAD YEAR *
* available from Severn House
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2012 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
This eBook edition first published in 2012 by Severn Digital an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2012 by Robert Randisi.
The right of Robert Randisi to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Randisi, Robert J.
It was a very bad year.
1. Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998âFiction. 2. Sinatra, Frank,
Jr., 1944- âFiction. 3. Gianelli, Eddie (Fictitious
character)âFiction. 4. Detective and mystery stories.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-311-2 (epub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8191-5 (cased)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Who makes every year a very
good year for me.
âBut now the days grow short,
I'm in the autumn of the year . . .'
Lyrics by Ivor Arthur Davies
This is a work of fiction. To the author's knowledge Miss Abby Dalton has never at any point in her life posed for risquÃ© photos. In her career she has exhibited nothing but grace and dignity.
et me tell you about being an octogenarian.
You can't do the things you used to do, at the ripe old age of eighty. You can't eat the things you like, because now it's all bad for you. And what you
good for you is either grey or green.
The other thing is, you read the newspaper. Specifically, the obituaries. It's always a good news/bad news thing. Good when your own name isn't there, bad seeing all the familiar names.
One name that caught my attention was Floyd Patterson. At twenty-one, Patterson was the youngest heavyweight title holder in history. At seventy-one, he had succumbed to Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.
âWhat's the matter? You look like you just lost your last friend.'
I looked up at Mark Hancock. Mark held in The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino the job I once held in the Sands. The Venetian now stood where the Sands had existed until its implosion in 1996. That was one of the reasons I liked to take my breakfast there. It wasn't the same place, but it was
the same place. If you get my meaning. I can't explain it, but it was a comfort to me.
Mark sat down across from me. He ran his hand over his black hair, shot through with grey. It was a habit he had acquired since turning fifty a couple of years ago. Mark had started to feel old. Maybe that's why he liked having breakfast with me.
What I wouldn't give to be fifty again.
âThat's not something you want to say to someone my age, Mark,' I said.
âOh, yeah,' he said. âSorry.' He signaled to the waitress for coffee, and snatched a menu from the table.
âAs a matter of fact, I have lost a friend,' I said. âFloyd Patterson died.'
âYeah, I heard that on the news,' he said. Then: âWait. You knew Floyd Patterson?'
âYou haven't been listening to me,' I said. âI knew everybody.'
âWell, I know you knew everybody in the entertainment field,' Mark said. âFrank, Dino, Sammy, and like that. But I didn't know you knew sports figures.'
âSports isn't entertainment?' I asked.
âWell, maybe now . . .'
He was right. Back then sports â especially boxing â was not considered part of the entertainment field. Although Muhammad Ali â who I first met when he was Cassius Clay â was doing his best to change that.
Mark ordered his breakfast from the fresh-faced waitress, watched her walk away and then turned back to me.
âSo did you know Mike Tyson?' he asked.
âI met him,' I said. âI wouldn't say I knew him.'
âBut you knew Floyd Patterson?'
âVery well,' I said.
âYou goin' to his funeral?'
âI don't travel much these days, Mark,' I said. âI especially don't fly.'
âCan't say I blame you for that,' he said, nodding. âYou could get trampled in an airport.'
Or a mall, I thought. Especially when your feet are numb from diabetes. No, I pretty much stayed close to home, these days.
âI hadn't seen Floyd in a long time,' I explained. âWe lost touch. I'm sorry he died the way he did, and too soon.'
To somebody my age, seventy-one was too soon.
Mark's bacon-and-eggs breakfast came. I looked down at my bran cereal and fruit. If I ate what Mark was eating my sugar would soar sky high. Luckily, I could still drink coffee, but no more orange juice for me. I remembered the days I used to watch my buddy Jerry Epstein pack away a couple of stacks of pancakes. Now he was recovering from prostate cancer. As soon as he was well enough he said he was going to visit me. I was afraid when he got off the plane I'd see a shadow of what Jerry once was. That was certainly what he would see when he looked at me. But Jerry was in his seventies, and if he kicked the cancer he'd still be as healthy as a horse.
Floyd Patterson was beyond that, though. He was gone. In his prime he was small for a heavyweight, about a hundred-and-eighty pounds, but he was fast and strong. The only times he lost was when he came up against somebody faster, and stronger. Ingemar Johansson, Muhammad Ali, and Sonny Liston came to mind.
âHey, didn't Patterson fight Liston in Las Vegas years ago?' Mark asked.
âHe did,' I said. âIt was the rematch.'
âOK, now wait,' Mark said. âTell me you were there that night.'
âI was there that night,' I said.
âOh, man!' Mark said. âWhat I wouldn't have given to see that fight.'
âIt wasn't much of a fight, as I remember,' I said. There were other things I remembered about that night, though. And other people . . . lots of other people . . .
âThat was nineteen-sixty three. I was a bigger stud then than you are now, kid . . .'
ang on to your hat,' Nick Conte said. âThis isn't gonna take long.'
Richard Conte â a tough-guy actor whose close friends all called him âNick' for the simple reason that it was his real first name â was seated to my right, Frank Sinatra to my left.
âYou're crazy,' Frank said. âThat first fight was a fluke. Liston's way too slow for Floyd.'
Conte leaned forward to look past me at Frank.
âWanna double the bet?' he asked.
âYou're on, pally,' Frank said. âFloyd takes his title back tonight.'
Nick looked at me. âYou want a piece?'
âI'm not gamblin' on this fight,' I said. âMy heart is with Floyd, but . . . I don't know. Liston looks tough.'
âSee?' Nick said to Frank. âEven Eddie says Liston wins.'
âHe didn't say that,' Frank said. âHe just said Liston looks tough. Well, he ain't gonna scare Floyd to death.'
âWell, he scared him enough to KO him in two minutes the first time,' Conte said. âI don't see it goin' too much longer than that this time.'
âYou're crazy . . .' Frank said, but I didn't hear the rest.
I had to admit, Sonny Liston was sorta scaring me to death, and I wasn't even in the ring with him. The knockout in the first fight â which actually came at two minutes six seconds into the first round â had been devastating to Floyd. I wasn't sure he was fully recovered yet, psychologically. And he did look less than confident to me in the ring.