The next morning, Detective Page ambled into the squad room, toting
his guitar. A cigarette dangled from his lips. The advanced shading on his
face indicated that he had not bothered to shave. Plant was already at his
desk, sipping a cup of steaming tea, and poring studiously over a stack of
Jimmy carefully set his guitar in its regular place and sat heavily
down at his desk.
"Good morning, Jim!" Robert greeted him cheerfully.
"I don't know how much longer I can keep this schedule," Jimmy whined.
He took a small drag from his Marlboro, exhaled, and crushed it out in the
ashtray on his desk.
"Hey! Stop complainin'. This is real excitement for a change!"
Robert said enthusiastically across the sea of papers that separated them.
"I don't want to hear a negative word out of you. Besides, I've been
researching the band Arachnid all night and found some pretty heady stuff."
He tapped the stack of papers in front of him triumphantly.
Jimmy's chair squeaked in protest as he leaned back to plop his boots
on top of the desk. He lit another cigarette.
"What heady stuff?" He asked, trying not to sound too interested.
Robert leaned forward and lowered his voice an octave. "Arachnid has
connections to the Tortellini family, one of the biggest crime syndicates in
New York City." He paused for effect. Jimmy's eyes narrowed until they
almost closed. He took another drag.
"Well, it seems that most of Arachnid's equipment was destroyed in a
fire at a venue they were supposed to play a few years back. The hall went
up in flames a couple of hours before the show. No one was there, but the
equipment was all set up. The band was in a jam, so to speak, because they
had to finish their tour, but had no equipment, and no money to adequately
replace it. They went to a loan shark connected with the Tortellini family
to borrow the hundred grand they needed."
Jimmy knitted his brows. "Why didn't the record company or manager
foot the bill?"
"That's the catch. They already owed big on their record company
advance. Management was in hock up to their gonads, too."
"Insurance?" Jimmy offered.
"None. The drummer knew a guy, who knew a guy, well, you know how
that works. Pretty soon they were on the receiving end of a low interest
loan compliments of the Tortellini family."
"Hmmmmmm." Jimmy contemplated what he had just heard. "So you're
saying that this was a money hit. Arachnid owed the Tortellinis money, and
they killed the lead guitar."
"It seems logical," Robert said.
Jimmy shook his head. "I'm not convinced. What about the guitar?
There was definitely a guitar missing there. That reads into it somehow."
"I hate to burst your bubble, old mate, but that guitar you
autographed burned in the theatre fire. It is no more. That's why it wasn't
at Banana's flat."
Jimmy continued to shake his head. "I don't think it's that simple."
Robert changed the tenor of the discussion. "And, I think I know who
did the hit."
Silence from Jimmy.
"I talked to my weasel last night . . ."
"Oh, I talk to mine all the time," Jimmy said flatly, a small smile
parting his lips.
"My contact, wiseass," Robert laughed. "He told me where we might
find one Roberto 'Bicycle Bob' Pesto, the Tortellini family hit man. Not bad
for a night's work, eh?"
Jimmy made a small sound in agreement, screwing his lips up a little.
"What'd you do last night, Jim?" Robert asked.
"It was Les Paul night at Fat Tuesday's."
"Ah. How is he doing, then. Good?"
"Gettin' old. A little shaky, but he can still cut it," Jimmy
replied, tamping out his cigarette.
"That's been said about us, you know," Robert said with a small,
Jimmy smiled back. "Inspiring, isn't it?"
"Let's go get Bicycle Bob," Robert replied.
Detectives Page and Plant sat in stakeout outside of Tonio's Casa di
Pasta 'n' Sushi, the front business for the Tortellini family social club in
Little Italy. It was here that Robert's weasel said they could find Bicycle
Bob dining every Wednesday, the family's spaghetti day. Robert had stocked
his souped-up, vintage Duster with his favorite krispy kreme donuts and a
thermos of coffee. Robert defended his rampant donut eating by claiming that
when one plays a role, one must play it to the hilt in order to benefit
completely by the experience.
Jimmy, on the other hand, was not fond of donuts. Robert had insisted
that he try one. "They're krispy kreme!" He offered, encouragingly. Jimmy
made a few finger holes in it, tasted the filling, and promptly threw it out
of the car window.
"What the fuck did you do that for?" Robert asked his partner,
exasperated. "That's like leaving a bloody popcorn trail. Everybody will
know we're cops if they see that donut outside the car!"
Jimmy shrugged, and started to reach back to get his guitar, which he
had set upright on the back seat as if it were a passenger.
"And, goddamit Jimmy, will you stop bringing your guitar with us? You
can't play it on a stakeout!"
The moody detective raised his hands in surrender, and hunched down in
his seat, sighing miserably. "This cop thing is getting pretty old," he said
in a threatening tone.
"Oh, shaddup," Robert remarked, keeping his eye on the front door of
Tonio's, "this was mostly your idea, anyway, and you're goddam buggering out
"It was a meaningless bet," Jimmy corrected.
"Yeah. Just like playing Stairway to Heaven on that ridiculous
Japanese TV show. You always pick the winners, an' then everybody asks ME
'why'd you do that?'"
Jimmy pulled down the visor and opened the mirror on the back. He
checked his hair, paying special attention to the grey streaks.
"You're beautiful. Don't bother," Robert said, snapping the visor
back into place. Jimmy hunched down more, pouting, and folded his arms across
"Will you straighten up and watch out for Bicycle Bob? Help me out a
"I don't even know what the bloke looks like," Jimmy said, dejectedly.
"He's this skinny, dark-haired Italian guy. He'll be wearing powder
blue Nikes and will have a red handkerchief in his front pocket. Or, at
least that's what the weasel told me."
Jimmy nodded, and made a poor attempt to look like he was looking.
"Why do they call him Bicycle Bob?" Jimmy asked after a few minutes
of faux surveilance.
"He does a lot of his hits from a bicycle, according to mob
mythology," Robert replied. "There was one hit in particular, where he
killed a Gnocci family capo while he was jogging in Central Park. Bob just
peddaled like the devil past him and pumped him full of lead on the way.
They never found the murder weapon, nor the bicycle. But everyone knew it
was him. A lot of mobsters have been dispatched by a two-wheeled hit man.
That's Bicycle Bob. Hey!" Robert exclaimed suddenly. "I think that's our
Sure enough, a thin Italian guy with powder blue Nikes and a red
handkerchief exited Tonio's Casa di Pasta 'n' Sushi. He walked briskly down
the street after checking both ways.
"Draw your pistol, Jim. We might be in for some action," Robert said
as he fingered the ignition key, waiting for the right moment to move.
Jimmy groped under his jacket. "I forgot to put it on," He said
Robert shot him a deadly glance. "You brought your guitar but you
forgot your goddam weapon?"
Jimmy flashed a sheepish grin.
"Nice." Robert said under his breath as he started the car. "You're
just not cut out for this shit, are you?"
Robert did a u-turn in the street, and began driving slowly, staying
just behind Bicycle Bob. Bob detected he was being followed and hurried his
pace. Robert then sped up, drew his gun, and called to the man on the
sidewalk: "Pesto! Hold it!"
Bicycle Bob gave them one quick, backward glance, and then started
running. He crossed the street in front of the car and sprinted down the
sidewalk. Robert hit the gas, and raced ahead of the running man, making a
sharp turn onto the sidewalk, blocking his way.
Bicycle Bob tried vaulting himself over the top of the car, but Jimmy,
in a lightening move that continued to amaze Robert for years afterwards, and
provided hours of tale-telling fodder for his grandchildren, grabbed his
guitar from the back seat, leaped out of the car, and smashed Bicycle Bob
straight across the legs with the instrument. The guitar made a loud,
unearthly twang, and Bicycle Bob flew into a crumpled heap on the roof of
Plant was right on top of the hit man. He cuffed the wheezing
mobster, relieved him of his pistol, and plopped him in the back seat of the
car. Plant then turned to Jimmy, and said, "Damn good work, partner! I
take back everything I said . . ."
But Jimmy, oblivious to the drama, was leaning against the Duster with
his guitar, alternately pounding the strings with his fist and shaking it,
trying to duplicate the unique sound he heard when the instrument had come
into contact with Bicycle Bob's shins. Robert--and a perplexed and rather
stunned Bicycle Bob--watched the display for several minutes until Jimmy
stopped, grousing to himself:
"Ah, fuck it. It was a once in a lifetime sound. I wish I had had me
Radio Shack jobbie with me."
Driving back to the 9th, Bicycle Bob asked his captors, "what the hell
are you bringing me in for, anyway? I didn't do nothin'!"
"You're wanted in connection with the murder of Banana DeLong," Robert
answered in his most cop-like cadence.
"Oh." The mobster said, puzzled. "Aren't you gonna Mirandize me?"
"What? Uh, no. Not here. Jimmy's gonna do that later," Robert
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