Omerta

Dear Mr. Rafaelli,

It is with great disappointment that I write to you today, a disappointment that I’m sure will be echoed and enhanced by your reaction to the bad news. And the news is bad indeed, because it entails (for me) a loss of nearly a year of my time and the scrapping of my entire current project, and (for you) a substantial loss of income and possible freedom. But I feel that, under the current circumstance, I am left with no other option than to terminate our arrangement.

When one of my prison contacts, who worked closely with me on my previous book, mentioned your name as a source, I must admit to being thrilled — perhaps even overeager. True crime books, after all, are my specialty, much as actual true crime is yours. And while my books on drug cartels, serial killers, and famous kidnappings have sold well and won acclaim, I felt unsatisfied, for I have never tackled the biggest issue of all in this rather specialized field: organized crime. So, when I first met you, I thought you might be the trigger (no pun intended) I needed to write the definitive work on organized crime in 21st-century America. For your part, you seemed to see in me an opportunity to tell your story, make a nest egg for your eventual release, and embolden your reputation as a notorious hoodlum.

What happened over the course of the next several months I would characterize as “mutual instransigence”, which I feel is more fair and accurate than your phrase “big screw job”. I will first address your claims, so you do not feel me selfish. First, I am not a “fat homo”. My weight is within medical tolerance for a man of my height and age, and my lovely wife Rita and my son Jake stand as a rebuke to the latter claim. Second, I am sorry you find my prose style compares negatively to those of Mr. Capote and Mr. Chandler, but in my defense, those gentlemen were primarily writers of fiction. Third, it is not up to me to grant paroles, and I am truly sorry if you believe I made any promises in that arena. Fourth, you are entitled to claim my writing is “flat” and “boring”. Obviously the True Crime Writers Association of America, which has selected twice to reward me their highest honor, does not agree. Finally, I did not “renege” on my promise to introduce you to Mario Puzo. He died fifteen years ago. I had nothing to do with it.

Now, as for my complaints: you promised me in good faith “disturbing secrets” and “shocking truths” about Mafia conspiracies, corruption, and crime. While you have defended repeatedly your fulfillment of the letter of this promise, the spirit of it has been woefully neglected. The information that Morrie “The Strangler” Brandt was a skilled baker and an expert badminton player, while previously unrevealed in the literature, hardly constitutes a jaw-dropping revelation. Your claim that the shotgun murder of Henry Proccelli was the accidental product of a summer cold is, to be frank, difficult to accept. And your “blockbuster” information about major government officials in the pocket of the mob are lessened considerably when one learns that they are almost all local postmasters, animal control agents, fire marshals and minor county procument personnel. The inclusion of a former Undersecretary of Agriculture does little to “glitz up” the whole sorry affair.

In light of this mutual dissatisfaction, I feel it best to part ways. Naturally, you will be paid the agreed-upon consulting fee, but I’m afraid that I cannot pay the royalties or advances on the now-aborted book project, nor do I feel it would be in either of our best interests to speak with the parole boards. However, I do appreciate your kind gesture of flowers for my ailing wife, and please see the correct address to send them, below.

Regretfully,

Thomas E. Morris

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