Candy Candelito walked out of the Puerto Rican rain forest when he was twelve years old and went in search of his father. Candy had grown up in a tin shack with a dirt floor, the only male in a household made complete by his mother and three sisters. As the youngest, he had been spoiled as much as it is possible to spoil a child in abject poverty, but when the time came for him to go, only mild objections were raised. Young boys rarely hung around long enough to sink into the squalid surroundings that snuffed out hope as easily as a cloud drifts before the sun. Candy found his old man at El Commandante, the island's racetrack, where Candelito senior was a sometimes trainer and groom, a backstretch bum of the worst sort. He noticed at once that his son was tiny and very thin, no doubt the result of a deficient diet, and he taught him how to horseback. The rest is history. Twenty-five years later, Candy wheeled his Mercedes into the setting sun on Plainfield Avenue in Elmont, Long Island, skirting the training track at Belmont Park, on his way to a dinner engagement. He had ridden three winners that afternoon, not in the least unusual for him, and people waved and smiled at him from the curb and the windows of other cars. He returned their salutations with an easy charm that comes with success, and he was once again surprised by the fascination that clung to a dark corner of his mind. He could barely read and write. He spoke broken English and didn't do much better in his native Spanish. He couldn't draw a picture, add a column of numbers correctly, or understand half of what was written and said about him, but he could ride thoroughbreds. Some said he was the greatest jockey who ever lived. Others qualified the statement with reference to the accusations of race fixing that always accompanied his name. Every bone in his body had been broken, some more than once, and the feats of courage and daring that had made him great were a matter of record. He was loved and hated by the racing public with the same kind of passion that raged in his conniving soul. "When you come from nothing, first you take care of number one," he thought to himself, "but they will never understand that." And, on that day, in May, 1978, he was the world's leading jockey. He had won more money and more races than any other jockey on the face of the Earth. "I could have done better," he said with a smile, and then he pounded the wheel in frustration at the dismay that always followed his elation. "One hand washes the other," he said. "You've got to do what you've got to do." Some obscure morality that he could never quite grasp refused to leave him entirely no matter how many horses he pulled, and he had pulled hundreds, maybe thousands, in his career. It had begun more than fifteen years before when he and Tito Malvesta, the powerful rider from Panama and Candy's best friend, had decided to organize the jockey colony in New York into an illegal money machine. They had managed to bring twelve of the fifteen regulars into their camp which was enough to insure the outcome of five of the nine daily races on an average, and variations on the theme sometimes provided unexpected surprises. For example, if there were twelve horses running in the ninth race which featured triple wagering, and nine of the jockeys were in Candy's corner, it guaranteed that the remaining three would finish first, second, and third. As these riders were invariably on longshots, the triple payoffs were often astronomical, as much as five or six thousand to one. The wives, girlfriends, and cohorts of the "in crowd" ran wild for more than a year, collecting and salting away millions of dollars, and then an ex jockey named Sam Bartolo got in on the action and brought his mafia connections with him. Things changed in a hurry. With Mulberry Street money pouring into the machines, prices on winning tickets plunged dramatically, and then Sam got caught along with a few of the minor jockeys and locked up for five years. All of them kept their mouths shut (for future favors), so Candy and Tito were safe, but moves had to be made more selectively now. There were investigators everywhere, and then there was a new wrinkle brought in by the mob called "the juice." It had to do with horses being drugged before a race, and Candy was just beginning to get a handle on it. Ballino's is a no-nonsense Italian restaurant with excellent food on a tree lined side street about five miles from the track. It's the only commercial business in an otherwise residential sanctuary of lawns, driveways, and picket fences, and there is no sign to distinguish the place. Candy drove the Mercedes into the parking lot in back and locked it up. Every horseplayer worth the price of his Racing Form knew the car, a maroon coupe with a New York plate that read "C C RIDER," and care always had to be taken to protect it from the wrath of a disgruntled loser. Candy entered through a back door and passed through the kitchen adjusting his sport shirt of white lace and his custom tailored suit of royal blue velour. He shook hands with Puerto Rican dishwashers and Sicilian cooks who deferred to the legend in their midst, and then he stepped into the dining room, a high-ceilinged, brightly lit box where photos of horses winning races lined the walls and a sea of white tablecloths stretched before him. Among the oddities of the establishment was that tables were not set until occupied, and there was no menu. If is was Italian, it was available. As it was not yet seven o'clock, only a few people dotted the landscape of starched linen. Tony Ballino, a squat Sicilian of perhaps sixty-five, put an arm around Candy's shoulder. "Eh amigo," he said, "long time no see." "I don't get around like I used to," Candy apologized. "What can I say?" "Don't worry about it," Tony replied. "I read the papers. Denny's here already. He's waiting at your table." The restauranteur and his star client walked arm in arm to a far corner, the eyes of the sparse collection of mere mortals following them as they went. "Did he order yet?" Candy asked. "No. He's just got a bottle of Soave." "Allright," Candy said. "Bring us a cold anti pasto, no cheese and no olives. Then we'll have broiled fish, whatever's fresh, and some plain broccoli." "Eh," Tony laughed, "you think I don't know how jockeys eat by this time." As Tony turned to walk away, Candy slid in next to Denny Flood, the well known English rider who had been plying his trade on the New York circuit for more than two years. Denny looked haggard and worried. He was known as a natty dresser, but his expensive suit was not freshly pressed, and his tie was somewhat askew. Candy straightened it. "My friend," he said, "you don't look too good." "I wonder why," Denny replied with a note of sarcasm as he turned his glass in his hand. "Hey Denny," Candy said, smiling and holding his companion's arm, "the candy man is here. We'll work it out." The antipasto was placed in front of them, and they nibbled, diminutive men accustomed to eating like birds to keep their weight close to one hundred and ten pounds. "What do they want?" Denny asked. "Misacci sent word that goes something like this. He figures you made a score of eighty thousand with Native Coin. He wants it all as a gesture of faith that you're not going to blow the whistle on us and run back to England to escape prosecution." "Sick bastard," Denny muttered. "Let me tell you exactly what happened." Candy shook his head. "It doesn't matter what I think." "I know, I know," Denny agreed, "but I want you to understand it. Jimmy Bloom had been training this two year old, and he had him ready to win. He approached me to ride the horse, and we bet him heavy. He galloped in by ten lengths and paid forty-one sixty. We made money. So what's the big deal?" "The big deal is that you didn't let anybody know." "Candy, for Christ's sake," Denny argued, "if I told Misacci the colt was going to win, they would have dropped a bundle on him, and he would have paid nothing. You never should have let those fucking mafioso in on the game." Candy laughed. "Unfortunately I like breathing. They didn't leave me much of a choice." "Well, I'm keeping the money, and I am going back to England. I can't take this shit anymore. And you can tell Misacci that he doesn't have to worry about me. I'll keep my mouth shut because I like breathing too. And besides, I like being a jockey. How many mounts do you think I could get at home if it came out that I was holding horses in New York?" Candy looked confused. He bit his lip. "You can't do it, Denny. They won't let you get away with it. That's why I'm here. I'm trying to save your life. You've made plenty of money. Give them the eighty grand, and then maybe they'll let you off the hook. They'll agree to let you go home." "I see it differently," Denny said. "I don't think they're ever going to let me off the hook. By not paying them, I'm calling their bluff. If they leave me alone, it's like going through a hole that's too small and coming out the other side." "You're out of your mind," Candy whispered. "If I could, I'd pay the money for you, but they'd never let me. They want it from you personally as a kind of insurance." Filet of sole and the vegetable arrived, and, in spite of the tension that had grown between them, they ate methodically, skilled athletes trained to function under pressure. "Surely you can see what I'm trying to do," Denny said. "I want to break away clean." Candy seized the back of Denny's neck with one of his incredibly strong hands and held it as though in a vice. He spoke slowly with gravity and conviction. "Are we talking the same language?" he asked. "I'm telling you that you can't get away, clean or otherwise. If you don't do what you're told, they're going to kill you. Please listen to me." Denny disengaged Candy's hand with his own and held it fast. He smiled. "Hey sweets," he said, "thanks for what you're trying to do, but the game is over for me. I won't play anymore. I've been putting my ass on the line six or eight races a day for more than fifteen years. You should understand better than anyone when I say that as far as I'm concerned, I'm just doing it one more time here. If I get through, I get through. If I don't, well then, fuck it." Candy rose and threw a hundred dollar bill on the table. He pulled Denny to his feet and embraced him. "I love you, you fucking maniac," he said, and then he spun around and hurried out the back door to the parking lot. A sparkling blue Lincoln Continental stood next to his Mercedes, and as he approached, the passenger window slid down evenly. Candy looked in and shook his head from side to side. He never said a word. The window went up, and the car glided away. About ten minutes later, Candy pulled off the Northern State Parkway and stopped on a quiet side street. He could no longer control himself. He was shaking like a leaf. He had seen hundreds of riders come and go. Some were just not good enough. Others didn't have the love and dedication to starve themselves for the right to the thrill of reaping the whirlwind thirty or forty times a week. He had seen the little men and women bashed and broken repeatedly, even killed by the regal beasts, but Denny Flood was the first jockey he had ever known who was actually going to be murdered because he could no longer tolerate the corruption that ruled their lives. It was inevitable, he thought to himself. Eventually, it had to come to this. And then he turned his car around and headed back toward Belmont. His original destination had been home to his wife and teenaged children, Juan and Donna, but he'd changed his mind. It was Melissa he needed to see, sweet, young, Irish Melissa, the apprentice woman jockey who said that she loved him, would take nothing from him, and made no demands upon him. Melissa Clancy's apartment was the top floor of a small private house just off Dutch Broadway about fifteen minutes from the track. She was a gutsy nineteen year old from a tough neighborhood in Chicago who had exercised horses at Arlington Park and decided to come to New York to give the big time a try. She was getting a few mounts and winning a race now and then, but she wasn't setting the world on fire. Not many people did in the rarified atmosphere where excellence was commonplace. Candy awoke in her arms when the alarm went off at four o'clock in the morning. She reached a stark white, freckled arm over his brown shoulder, stilled the buzzer, and turned on a desk lamp. "Hey Cee," she said, "come on. Those horses aren't going to work out by themselves." Candy opened his eyes. "Fuck them," he said, and he pulled her sandy brown hair until she was under the covers with him. He made love to her quickly and forcefully. "Damn!" she giggled as they came to full consciousness together. When it was over, they kissed endearingly before running to the shower together. Candy's swarthy, muscular frame was covered with scars, and misshapen bone and sinew were evident. Melissa's pink and white skin looked like that of a newborn child in comparison. At the conclusion of their ablutions, they donned the uniform of their trade: jeans, boots, polo shirt, and nylon jacket, and they hurried to the Mercedes. Candy's whip and helmet were in his car. Melissa got hers from her old TR6, and then they drove off toward the track together. On the way, they stopped and picked up coffee and donuts. About the time that she got back in the car, there was a break in the music on the radio for the morning news. It hit them both with equal weight, and they were struck dumb until the report was over. Dawn broke suddenly in a clear sky. The morning was brisk and still. Birds chirped ecstatically, but there was no wind to carry the sound. The disembodied voice came out of the dashboard and provided a sketchy, unemotional account of the top story of the new day. "The body of the internationally famous jockey, Denny Flood, was found slumped over the wheel of his car several blocks from his house in East Meadow, Long Island a little after midnight last night. Police reports indicate that he might have had too much to drink and pulled over to the curb to rest. When discovered, the motor of his car was running, the windows were closed, and the passenger section was thick with carbon monoxide. It seems that a set of unusual circumstances cost Mister Flood his life. A hole in an exhaust pipe allowed fumes to enter the vehicle as he slept and eventually suffocated him. The special investigators of the New York Racing Association will join the East Meadow police in a thorough investigation of the matter, and both organizations assure us that no stone will be left unturned. To quote Vincent Gidron, the head of racetrack security, 'The facts as I have been able to gather them so far leave room to suspect foul play. When a figure of Denny's stature dies, it is never possible to consider the matter closed until every avenue has been thoroughly examined.'" Candy turned off the radio, and they rode in silence until Melissa screamed at the top of her voice. "They killed him! The dirty bastards killed him because he made a score and didn't let them in on it!" Candy's brain was swimming in rage and despair. His heart felt as though it was going to leap out of his chest, but he maintained a cool, confident exterior. "Mel," he said softly, "I want you to listen to me real good. I want you to calm down and keep your mouth shut. The back side is going to be crawling with cops this morning. You don't know anything, so you have nothing to say." "Nothing to say, my ass," she spat back at him. "He was a friend of yours, and you know everything that goes on around here. Where were you last night before you came to my place?" "I was in Ballino's with Denny. I tried to convince him to give the Native Coin money to Misacci. I told him what would happen. He said he was calling their bluff. I pleaded with him, but there was nothing I could do. I tried, Mel. Please believe me, I tried." She caught the desperation in his voice and hooked an arm through his as he drove. "Okay, okay, you tried," she said. What do we do now?" "We don't do anything, and we don't say anything." The guard at the Hempstead Avenue gate told Candy that he was wanted at the security office, and after he'd dropped Melissa at one of the barns where she galloped horses, he walked in on a meeting of several men at Vincent Gidron's office. Talking stopped and all eyes were on him. "Good morning, Vinny," he said. "I just got the news about Denny on the radio of my car. You know what good friends we were. I'm afraid this is hitting me pretty hard." He took a seat in one of the empty chairs at a conference table where the others were gathered. Gidron was a slim, neat character with white hair approaching sixty. He had been a chief inspector in the New York City Police Department. "We won't keep you, Candy. There are just one or two matters to be cleared up. These gentlemen are from various law enforcement agencies. We understand that you had dinner with Denny at Ballino's about six-thirty last night." "That's right," Candy said. "Would you mind telling us what you talked about?" one of the strangers asked. "I own a lot of property in Puerto Rico," Candy explained. "Denny was considering getting involved in the real estate business with me. Besides that, we made small talk about riding and the things that friends talk about." "Where did you go after you left him?" Gidron asked. "I spent the night with Melissa Clancy. As you know, I'm a married man, so I'd appreciate it if that wasn't spread around." Gidron smiled. "We know about your friendship with Melissa," he said. "There's no need for us to advertise it." "Thank you," Candy said. Gidron scanned the others with his eyes. "Any other questions?" When there was no response, he patted Candy on the shoulder. "That will be all for now," he said. "Anything I can do for you, just let me know," Candy said, and he rose and left. A heavy mist clung to the surface of the main track, the famous mile and a half oval where the last of the triple crown races is run each year. The sun was not yet high enough in the sky to burn it off. Several horses were breezing and galloping, but when Candy came through the gap on Affirmed, he was immediately the center of attention. The big chestnut had already won the Derby and the Preakness, and this was to be his last workout before the Belmont Stakes. His regular rider, Steve Cauthen, was out of town, and Laz Barrera had assigned the task to Candy. The jockey adjusted his helmet and goggles, spun his whip nimbly between his fingers, and pressed his knees into the massive shoulders beneath him. He took a loose hold on the reins and directed his mount around to the clubhouse turn along the outside rail going in the wrong direction. When he turned the horse around, Affirmed pricked his ears as if listening for something. "Yes, Little Red," Candy said, tightening his hold and leaning into the colt's neck, "you are going to run a little for me this morning. You are going to go along nicely until we get to the seven-eighths pole, and then you are going to show them why you are the best there is." Affirmed seemed to pick up momentum as his feet flew effortlessly over the ground. The wind whistled through Candy's helmet, and he smiled as he continued his monologue. "We're getting close, my love. We're getting close to paradiso. O yea, Little Red. O yea, and fly away." Candy chirped once and waved the whip behind Affirmed's ear as they passed the seven-eighths pole, and suddenly rider and horse became one, the mist on the track creating the illusion that they were a missle being propelled at great speed close to the surface of the Earth. Candy was in absolute control, but he could not see where he was going. His goggles were filled with tears.
Causes Kenneth Brown Supports
Adherence to the Constitution of the United States as written and the prosecution of those who violate Constitutional Law.