Change of Plans

Sammy exited Bud's office, throat dry and armpits moist. He'd thrown the scent off for now, but it would only be a matter of time before Bud's hamster wheel started turning in his head.

Sam hadn't been lying about the boomerang, but he knew exactly who had caused it. Harold Isaacson.

He checked his watch. Well after eleven o'clock. Char would have tried to contact him by now. Paulie had left a message about where she'd gone and it was killing Sam to not know what was going on.

For now, he had to keep it cool. Act like he and Bud we're okay, even though every day he walked in the office he had to stop himself from slashing the S.O.B.'s throat.

It would all be worth it. Just to see the look on Bud's face when he realized that his 'kids' weren't the cold monsters he'd tried to create. Papa Bud. Sammy sniffed out a laugh. Maybe Sam was cold-blooded for wanting Bud to go out like this.

He grabbed his wool coat from his office and headed out towards the ferry. If he hoofed it, he could catch the last boat to Bainbridge Island and sleep in his own bed for once. Outside, his breath puffed in icy clouds, dotting out his path like the kid in the Family Circus comics.

 His phone beeped in his slacks pocket. He pulled it out.

 A text message from "Dolly", AKA Agent Gary Carlson.

Sammy held his breath and pulled up the message.

"Got lonely waiting, darling. Don't worry though, found someone to keep me company. Tell me you love me and we're all good."

Sammy smirked. Agent Carlson was kinda funny for a pig. His message came through loud and blessedly clear: They'd intercepted Char in Philly. 

How they would explain everything  to her was going to be interesting. Sammy texted back that he "loved Dolly" - meaning that he was still in the clear with Bud.

Sam could barely remember how he'd extricated himself from this mess Bud had indoctrinated the grandkids into. Ultimately, he guessed he could thank Martin.

Two years ago - long after Martin had finally stopped drinking the Kool-Aid - he'd also started dropping names to his new FBI friends. At the time, he was only mad enough to throw the Isaacson branch under the bus.

But the Isaacson's weren't stupid and they were corked about all the FBI surveillence that followed. They'd smoked out the leak and traced it back to Martin. Which, in their minds, equalled the Templeton's. And the silent war began.

For all of Bud's big talk, he had no idea what was going on. It was ironic, really. The one Templeton with direct access to Harold Isaacson was the one person who didn't have a reason to hand him over.

Martin had initially told Sam to give Bud the whole story - just to get to Isaacson and be down one kingpin. But it was crazy. Bud would have a Hire on Martin so fast, his gravestone would be complete before the hit was. Martin the martyr.

No way Sammy was losing one of his siblings to this game. He was the oldest. He'd failed them all once by letting them get into the business. And Paulie getting in...God, that was a necessary evil. And, Jesus, he'd been paired up with Orin Burke. Something about that guy's motives was off. Sammy wasn't getting the whole story on him from Bud.

Sammy made it into the warmth of the ferry terminal seconds before the last boat docked. He had a few minutes yet before it unloaded and he could board.

He wearily ran his hands through his hair. Halfway through he realized he'd mussed it up. A clear sign he was losing his composure. He cleared his throat and smoothed it back.

No time for a break down. Sammy had only just figured out the boomerang connection and things were moving too fast now.

Let Bud stew in the possibilities of who'd thrown the boomerang. He'd figure it out soon enough. Good for getting to Isaacson. Bad for Martin. It would only be a matter of time before the whole story came out.

But there was no longer any choice. Especially since Isaacson had Martin anyway.

They had a very small window to act. The problem was, they had no way of knowing when Bud caught on and when the clock started ticking.

The End

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