He led Gregory deep into the corrugated shed. The other five guys followed. They came to a plain metal door. Beyond it was a windowless space set up like a boardroom. Four laminate tables had been pushed together end to end, like a barrier. In a chair in the center on the far side was Dino. He was younger than Gregory by a year or two, and shorter by an inch or two, but wider. He had dark hair, and a knife scar on the left side of his face, shorter above the eyebrow and longer from cheekbone to chin, like an upside down exclamation point.
The guy who had done the talking pulled out a chair for Gregory opposite Dino, and then tracked around and sat down at Dino's right hand, like a faithful lieutenant. The other five split three and two and sat alongside them. Gregory was left alone on his side of the table, facing seven blank faces. At first no one spoke. Then eventually Dino asked, "To what do I owe this great pleasure?"
Manners were manners.
Gregory said, "The city is about to get a new police commissioner."
"We know this," Dino said.
"Promoted from within."
"We know this," Dino said again.
"He has promised a crackdown, against both of us."
"We know this," Dino said, for the third time.
"We have a spy in his office."
Dino said nothing. He hadn't known that.
Gregory said, "Our spy found a secret file on a standalone hard drive hidden in a drawer."
"His operational plan for cracking down on us."
"Which is what?"
"It's short on detail," Gregory said. "In parts it's extremely sketchy. But not to worry. Because day by day and week by week he's filling in more and more parts of the puzzle. Because he's getting a constant stream of inside information."
"Our spy searched long and hard and found a different file."
"What different file?"
"It was a list."
"A list of what?"
"The police department's most trusted confidential informants," Gregory said.
"There were four names on the list."
"Two of them were my own men," Gregory said.
No one spoke.
Eventually Dino asked, "What have you done with them?"
"I'm sure you can imagine."
Again no one spoke.
Then Dino asked, "Why are you telling me this? What has this got to do with me?"
"The other two names on the list are your men."
Gregory said, "We share a predicament."
Dino asked, "Who are they?" Gregory said the names.
Dino said, "Why are you telling me about them?"
"Because we have an agreement," Gregory said. "I'm a man of my word."
"You stand to benefit enormously if I go down. You would run the whole city."
"I stand to benefit only on paper," Gregory said. "Suddenly I realize I should be happy with the status quo. Where would I find enough honest men to run your operations? Apparently I can't even find enough to run my own."
"And apparently neither can I."