2023_Bruno_Pantagglia1

Bruno Pantagglia

A cell provides the only rest for the wicked.

“Welcome back, Mr. Pantagglia. It’s our pleasure to have you staying with us.” Undersheriff Reese, the superintendent of Shattuck County Jail, had known Bruno Pantagglia for years. Bruno had been the county’s guest Reese’s first year as superintendent, and Reese’s predecessor had made a point to introduce the undersheriff to all influential prisoners. 

“Thanks, Sheriff. I’ll let you know if I need anything.” The man spoke without smiling, and he always used slight of tongue to give Reese a promotion. Reese couldn’t tell whether or not they were on friendly terms, but he preferred to let the promotion go unchecked.

Reese knew Bruno referred to his annual stint in stir as his vacation. Bruno had mentioned in passing that when his wife had suggested they take a family vacation to Florida, Bruno had explained he’d have no protection outside Central City. He wouldn’t know anybody, wouldn’t know if he was safe or not. Anybody could be an enemy. His wife had given him a strange look and agreed to stay in a hotel in Long Beach and at least get away from work for a few days. Bruno had neither agreed nor disagreed, so while his family went somewhere warm, Bruno spent a week or two every year in Shattuck County Jail. Somebody had to take a fall now and again to balance the books, and a good captain went down with the ship. He’d never seen the ocean, but he liked the ebb and flow of jail. Guys respected and protected him, even guys he’d never met. In Florida, he’d be a nobody; in jail, he was a king. Reese didn’t pretend to understand the logic, but he knew, even in the jail where he was boss, Bruno had more power.

“We’ve got Cherry Nibs, which I know are your favorite, and I’ve had your sheets from home put on your bed. Is there anything specific you’d prefer for the evening meal? I believe we’re currently serving hamburger patties, but perhaps I could have something delivered for you?”

“Why don’t you order some pizzas for the guys in my block. We don’t need anything special, a couple of pepperonis, a couple of supremes, and a couple of cheese pies should do it. That’ll be a nice way for me to say hello to the boys. Get them from Giorgio’s. That’s my favorite.”

“That’s an excellent idea. It’ll keep morale up. So important.”

Bruno put his mitt on the undersheriff’s shoulder and squeezed. “Thanks, Chief. Do you have my cigarettes?”

Another promotion. “Here, take mine.”