After John returned and cooked up a fabulously New York Italian feast, the three of us dined together at the conference table again, then John and I took turns playing Gravano in chess, a game he’d learned while in prison, and then we employed the available VCR in the common room to enjoy “Point Break,” the recently released to VHS celluloid treatment of Keanu Reeves’ “Johnny Utah,” a young FBI agent who poses as a surfer to ensnare a Patrick Swayze led group of bank robbers who wore masks as “dead presidents” whilst knocking off banks. As the movie concluded, Sammy looked at me and smiled — “G’nite, ‘Johnny Utah’. I’m going to bed. See what you can do about that sparring thing tomorrow.”
John immediately look in my direction. “What is he talking about?” he snapped, as Sammy’s door softly closed.
“Hey, Bro, “The Bull” wants to box me. He said ‘spar,’ but I’m thinking of heading to the FBI Academy gym and grabbing some headgear and wraps and gloves. I’ll go to the Marine Corps PX, secure some mouthpieces, and what the Hell, think Bruce or George or John Gleeson may have a problem with it, as long as we go light?”
John settled back in the conference room chair. “Dude, you are flat-out fucking crazy! But who am I to stand in the way of your Olympic dreams?” He winked. “I’m going to bed. Lock Sammy into his room, and don’t stay out past midnight securing your gear, kid. I told the HRT guys we’d run with Sammy under their watchful eyes, on a Lunga Lake tank trail they’ve staked out, at 4:30AM sharp tomorrow.”
I winced thinking of how soon 4:30AM would arrive, nodded quickly, and was already out the door before my training agent could change his mind.
The next morning, bleary-eyed, “Sammy the Bull” joined John and me on the tank trail, flanked by two HRT blacked-out Suburbans filled with armed operators.
“Five miles only, Sammy,” HRT Dave barked. “Jimmy and John will accompany you along the route, on foot. Stay behind our lead pace vehicle. It will light the way with its headlights. If you attempt to make a run for it, I will release the “Hounds from Hell” to chase you down. There’s a reason HRT operators easily run sub-six-minute miles. Don’t test the system, Sam.”
“Where the fuck would I go, Bo?” Sammy remarked. “Think I’m crazy?”
We finished the run at a pace right under 7:30 minute miles. Once back inside the suite, we showered (separately, thank you), and John headed out for more grocery shopping and to switch out the videocassettes we’d watched.
As “The Bull” and I retired to our chairs in the conference room, he inquired as to the schedule for the day.
“Well,” I started, “far as I can tell, John Gleeson, George, and several other agents and prosecutors arrive on Tuesday, so we have a few days to kill before the real hard work of the proffer-briefings commence.
“Let’s mold our mouthpieces in the kitchen,” Sammy remarked. “And, how’s about a ‘light’ workout?”
“Sure, I’m game,” I allowed.
We then commenced to boiling the rubber mouthpieces on the stove, form-fitting them to our mouths, and cooling them in cold water. I moved to the conference room, pushed back the large briefing table, and stacked the chairs on one side of the room.
Sammy carefully began wrapping his fists with the linen wraps I’d scored from the FBI gymnasium, and asked me to tie them off. After he returned the favor, we both donned headgear, and I looked at “The Bull,” realizing just now that his eyes were at the same level as my chest. He was built like a tank. But he was quite compact, and I noticed I had a considerable reach advantage on him.
“You sure you want to do this, Bo?” I inquired, adopting his friendly moniker.
“Yup,” he allowed, his mouthpiece securely in place, and further intelligible conversation a fool’s errand.
“Okay,” I directed, “here’s the guidelines: one minute rounds of 50% effort. Let’s stay away from direct shots to the face. But, I’ll match what you do. Remember, you’re old enough to be my Dad!”
“Fuck you!” his garbled response and he lunged forward, fists raised. From the corner of my eye, I detected that the two assigned HRT guards had wandered back into our space, casually leaning against the wall, and a bemused voyeuristic look crept across both their faces.
Next thing I recall was the sharp sting of a crisp jab to my proboscis. Tears welled in my eyes, and a small trickle of blood emanated from my nose. “The Bull” was now hunched over and giggling. “Fuck you, ‘Johnny Utah.’ I always wanted to knock a cop the fuck out.” He quickly backed up, doubled over now with laughter.
I stepped backwards, adjusted my headgear and purposely shed my shirt. “Come on, Gravano. You’re a fucking ‘paper tiger.’ One thing to be THOUGHT a tough guy. Where I come from, people earn respect. That was a cheap shot. You agreed we’d go 50%, and that we’d avoid our big Italian schnozzes. I’m game though. You wanna dance? Let’s dance. So much for 50%. It’s on.”