NORTH NORTH HOLLYWOOD – Chapter 4 – by Peter Nolan Smith



The red light next to Las Vegas flashed on the departure board. America West’s flight was in the final stages of boarding and Frank deRocco rushed Sean through the JFK’s crowded terminal. The detective’s gold shield got them through the metal detector and Sean’s bag passed the X-ray test.
They ran to the gate and deRocco brandished his badge.

“I gotta get this man on the plane.”

“They’re shutting the door.” The Dominican attendant was closing out the flight.

“Is the door shut?” deRocco presented his NYPD gold shield. He was out of breath. Cigarettes were killing him.

“Not yet.” The gate attendant hated dealing with late passengers, but he picked up the phone and told the ground crew to hold the flight. “I wish you people could get here on time.

“This is police business.” deRocco wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Tell them to hold the plane.”

“I could always catch the next flight.” Sean tried to shrug off the heavy cop’s grip.

“No you can’t. I paid for this one and this is the one you’re taking.” deRocco dragged him down the slanted corridor to the Boeing 757. Once more the badge was presented and the ground crew reopened the door.

“Are you sure you’re going to be alright?”

derocco’s face was a florid red.

“Stop stalling and get on the plane.” deRocco pushed Sean through the jet’s door.

“What about you?”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m going alone?”

“Yeah, you’re going alone, but someone will meet you in Las Vegas. He’ll tell you the what, where, and when.”

“What about the money?”

“The money?” The detective stuck an envelope in Sean’s pocket. “You just do like I told you. It’ll be a snap.”

The 757’s door shut with a slow thunk and the stewardess asked Sean to take a seat.

“Does this flight make any stops?”

“No, it’s direct to Las Vegas.”


A non-stop flight excluded his deplaning at a hub airport. deRocco’s contact would be waiting in Las Vegas with Sean’s photo in hand and probably a gun in a shoulder holster, but that fate was hours away and he walked down the aisle.

He almost sat in first-class.

No one ever questioned an intruder, but decided to not push his luck and settled for snatching three magazines from the overhead bin. Economy was almost as bad as a charter flight, since nearly every passenger was white-haired and overweight. The steward motioned for him to buckle up and Sean sank into his seat by the window.

The 757 pulled away from the gate on time and taxied onto JFK’s main runway. The big engines throttled up with a roar and the jet’s acceleration drove the tons of steel down the runway, till the plane climbed into the air in defiance of gravity. Seventeen seconds later the pilot banked the aircraft, giving Sean a slanted vista of Manhattan’s spires and towers and for the first time this morning he realized that he was leaving New York.

Once the 757 leveled off at 24,000, the flight crew passed out free nuts and drinks.

Sean scrounged three packets, which he devoured in a minute.

Once the seat belt sign went off, he dug his bag for a leather toiletry bag. The cop hadn’t touched a thing. With Las Vegas only five hours away he had a lot of work to avoid violating the Fifth Commandment.

Back on the ground at JFK deRocco punched a ten-digit number on his portable phone and a gruff voice answered after three rings, “Who’s this?”

“Like the only person who has this number. Me.”

“Where are you?”


“Where’s Tempo?”

“On the plane”

“What about you?”

>”I don’t fly, you know that.” Throughout their long collaboration Kev had played the ?away games’. The ex-cop had insisted on his partner joining him for this last contract and now shouted, “You and your fuckin’ flyingaphobia. How am I gonna do this?”

“You’re not doin’ nothin’.” Normally Driscoll could have executed this contract in his sleep, except every pro only has so many ‘games’ in him and Kev was well into overtime. “You got the Fed-Ex package, right?”


“Just do like I told you and we’re in the clear.”

“Is he clean?”


“Who else?”

“He’s like an altar boy.” deRocco fought off the urge to light up a cigarette in the non-smoking terminal.

“Good, this is going to tie up a lot of loose ends.”

DeRocco was slowly coming down from the morning’s high-tension act.

“What’s it like out there?”

“What’d you care, you fear-of-flyin’ freak? I’ll call you later.” The line went dead.

Outside the terminal building deRocco lit up a cigarette and lifted his eyes to a jet lumbering into the sky. What scared him most about flying was the lack of control. All you could do was sit there and pray the plane didn’t crash into a swamp or cornfield.

Shaking these fiery images, deRocco sucked on the burning tobacco and congratulated himself on another job well done. No one else would have, of course very few people did what he did and after this job neither would he.

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