Am flight forty-seven from Tampa was about twenty minutes outside New York. The
trip had taken nearly seven hours and the suits in the corporate office would
be very pleased. There were no empty seats on the maiden flight of the new
wider body DC-3 and the 257% desired profit margin would be achieved.
two seats on either side of the aisle, it was the first sleeper transport, and
boasted an in-flight bar service as well as in-flight meals. Something no other
airline offered. No more lugging picnic baskets on the flight with you.
Kaminski was grateful for the new state of the art, double paned, safety glass
windows Pan Am had installed specifically for the enhancement of her travel
pleasure and as the slender, dark haired beauty sat gazing out her window,
mesmerized by the heavenly scenery, her excitement mounted when the New York
skyline came into view. In her excitement she did exactly what the man sitting
next to her hoped she wouldn't do. She struck up a conversation. As she spoke,
she continued to marvel at how a single, dark, low cloud which seemed to
emanate from the waterfront, hovered over lower Manhattan.
“I yust love to fly! Don jew?” The
young women spoke with a heavy Cuban accent, but was very proud of her command
of the English language.
me?” Came the terse response. Her soft, perfectly tanned facial skin beamed
with a broad smile. This time the young woman spoke slowly and distinctly.
say, I-yust-love-to-fly! Don-jew?”
yeah. Can’t think of nuthin’ else I’d rather be doin’ lady.” The man dressed in the brown, leather bomber
jacket and baseball cap answered, facing straight forward, hardly acknowledging
yeah lady, I speak English. Don jew?!” He replied
sarcastically. The aircraft jolted for a second time with turbulence as it
entered the warm airspace over the city. The stranger clung more tightly to his
seat, and tried not to look scared.
I see! Jew have afraid! Dats okay jew
have afraid!” The young woman sat casually, seat belt undone and legs crossed
over. She made no attempt to ignore his white knuckles, welded to the armrests
of his seat.
not afraid!” The man became conscious of his loud speech and lowered his tone. “I
just don’t like the air bumps!” He exclaimed as he slowly released his death
grip on the seat handles.
De air bimps!” He replied with increased sarcasm, no longer
making any attempt to conceal his irritation at the women’s intrusion on his
Jew meen disturbulance!”
“Disturbulance!” The women turned her body to face him and
began to demonstrate with broad sweeping gesticulations. “Iz
when atmoosferic disturbulance
comes from cold air mass and warm air mass crash together and make unstable,
dense air mass. So jew have disturbulance!
No air bimp!” He stared, open mouthed.
the hell are you lady, Charles A. Lindbergh?”
Jew silly boy! Lindbergh, he a man! I Martina, Martina Kaminski. Are jew in dee Army?” After a brief hesitation, the man
Doc McKeowen.” He gave a cursory nod. “No. 4-F,
perforated ear drum. Not supposed to fly.”
Jew are a Doktor? How nice?” Her sweet, coy voice
dripped through her broad smile and all over the seats and she slowly to
snuggled up to him. Doc moved over in his seat to maintain the distance.
lady I’m not a Doctor. I’m a private investigator.” She pulled back from him
with a noticeable change in attitude.
a cop! Jew dun look like no cop!” She said suspiciously.
not a cop. I’m a P. I..” She looked at him quizzically. “Private
Investigator." He caught site of her over-sized hand bag on the floor. "You
know like when a guy thinks maybe his wife is cheating on him, say with a
younger guy or something." He slid a little closer and propped himself up
on the arm rest. "Like maybe she came back from a vacation say . . . in
Havana, and she’s very pretty, and her husband is a little older, and they
haven’t been married that long." He leaned into her. "And he’s worried that she might go puttin’ the make on every guy she meets because maybe, just
maybe she married this guy to get her citizenship. You know, stuff like that.”
young girl was now sitting with both legs pulled up to her chest, feet on the
seat with an extreme look of worry on her face. Doc noticed her concern had
turned to fear, and felt a short tinge of remorse. He smiled and sat back to
allay her fears.
lady, I’m sorry. Really, I didn’t mean anything by it.” She did not respond,
but continued to glare at Doc.
Lady I’m sorry.”
jew know dees dings?! My
husband, he send jew?!”
Mrs. Kaminski . . . Martina. Your first name is Hispanic, I can see your
passport in your hand bag, it’s American.” Doc pointed to the small black
carry-on, poking out from under the seat in front of Martina. She allowed her
eyes to briefly dart to her bag and then back again. “If you were coming from
Florida you wouldn't need your passport. And you’re wedding ring is brand new. Plus
I doubt I would find too many Kaminskis in the Havana
phone book”. The women began to relax a little. Doc wanted to stay her fears a
did you know about that warm air mass and cold air mass stuff? That’s pretty
interesting.” Martina was still trying to make up her mind who he was, and so
remained in the fetal position on her seat. Without
turning away from Doc she reached into the seat back in front of her and
removed a trifold brochure. Like a dagger from a scabbard she pulled it and
thrust it at Doc.
read about the disturbulance in dees!”
Taking it from her, Doc glanced at the latest issue of Captain Carl’s Tips,
an informational brochure published by the airline.
many good dings in dare. Maybe some day jew read. Den jew don be so
scared and den jew don drink so much.” Mrs, Kaminski
explained to her involuntary travel partner, nodding at the seven or eight
empty drink glasses stuffed in the seat back, in front of McKeowen.
ya what lady, my mother dies you got the job!” As he
spoke he jammed the pamphlet back into the seat packet. She was slapped by his
irritation but didn't want any more tension between them.
sorry! I Dun mean to criticalize jew!
My father? He used to drink also. All dee time!” Doc smiled and nodded,
reminiscing about happier times when the woman was being quietly entertained by
dee time, he drink, drink, drink, drink, drink.” She was again very animated in
her behavior. Doc wished he had a drink.
you anything like your mother?”
jes! Sometimes people dink dat
we are seesters. Why do jew
wonderin’ why your father drank.” Doc was back in
dun know?” Martina seriously contemplated the question.
the plane taxied to the appropriate tarmac, McKeowen
reached under his seat and produced a small, navy blue gym bag. The initials
'Y.M.C.A.' were stenciled across one side of it and
it was easy to see there wasn’t much in it.
Doc always travelled light for two reasons. He
hated carting luggage around and, he didn’t own any. He didn’t need it. The
fact was that he had never been out of New York State before. Except to New
Jersey, and what the hell, that didn’t really count now, did it?
Standing around the base of the roll up stairs, out on
the tarmac, were several skycaps in their mandatory dark blue uniforms. The sky
blue Pan Am logo on the breast pocket and brim of the cap showed they had paid
their mandatory fees to work for free. These men, all of them black, made their
livings solely on tips. One of them approached Doc with an oversized metal
cart, and asked if he needed a grip. Doc looked at the enormity of the cart,
then to his diminutive bag, shrugged and said, “Why not?”
Doc passed him the bag on which he placed the cart,
tilted it back and they headed across the tarmac towards the terminal.
“Mr. MacCuuen! Mr. MacCuuen!” Doc turned to see Mrs. Kaminski running after
him, her black, slide on heels clopping on the asphalt while struggling to keep
her overstuffed black bag on her shoulder.
“Go on. I’ll catch up.” Doc instructed the cap. “Mrs.
Kaminski. What a pleasure to see you again.” She came alongside and dropped
anchor then removed her oversized sun-glasses before she spoke.
“How do jew know my husbent he’s older?” Doc sighed.
“I figure there’s plenty of young guys in Cuba, but no
money, so you come here where there’s money. But not many guys your age have
that much money. If they do they’re probably connected, in which case you
probably wouldn’t be screwing around.”
She didn’t know whether to be pissed off, indignant or
just clop away.
“Anyding else, whiseguy?”
“Yeah. If my wife had a body like that she wouldn’t have
time to go to Cuba.” Her anger began to leak away.
“Are all jew Irish so smart?”
“I’m not Irish. I’m Scottish.”
Outside the terminal, taxis snaked in a never ending
line along the curbside. A black Checkered
pulled up immediately and the operator hopped out. While the driver went around
to open the trunk for his passenger’s luggage, Doc tipped the cap.
happen Mac? Bastards lose your luggage?” Asked the cabby, eyeing the cart.
second time this month.” Doc answered as he threw the gym bag into the trunk
and got into the cab.
Christopher Street. Don’t wake me till we get there, and don’t go by way of
Brooklyn Bridge.” Doc instructed.
an hour later the taxi pulled up out side Harry’s
Front Page News. Doc got out and, with the last of the bills and change in
his pocket, paid the driver.
the early hour of half past five, the dark of winter had set in. Traffic was
flowing freely now in The Village, and the evening chill could no longer be
Front Page, everyone called it “The News Stand”, occupied the
entire ground level of 1929 Christopher Street. The corner entrance and small
display window were capped by a hand lettered, green enamel sign which hadn’t
seen a fresh coat of paint since Lindy had seen Paris.
with black wire, twirly racks, stacked with post
cards that never sold, (come to think of it, nothing ever really sold except news papers and an occasional stale candy bar), you’d be
hard pressed to squeeze four people in there at any one time. That included
claim to fame was the time Mel Blanc came into his candy store and said it was
so small you had to go outside to change your mind. Harry was a Bugs Bunny fan
life had long ago settled into sitting on a high backed stool all day, framed
by racks of candy bars and potato chips, and was rarely seen to venture out
from behind the counter. An unseen radio constantly played in the background
and he read all day long. To his credit, he read only the classics. Captain
Marvel, The Shadow and The Phantom. These were by far the best, for it was
common sense that they were the most realistic. Every time Superman or Batman
got in a fix, they would come up with some wild gizzmo
they just happened to have nearby or hanging on a belt and escape certain
death. Ridiculous. Who ever heard of yellow kryptonite anyway?
lost a leg in the last war, and in between warm sodas and cold coffees the old
man would give Doc tips on horse racing, despite the fact Doc had never been to
the track a day in his life.
respected Harry because he was one of those old people who could tell you what
he had for breakfast on any given day, six months ago, and he seldom ate the
same thing every day. This made Harry the perfect lobby watch-dog.
ground floor of the five story building was never intended as any sort of a
shop, so when the owners remodelled it, just before World War I, access to the
upper floors had to be rerouted. The ground floor conversion was an attempt to
keep up with the flood of businesses which swept the Greenwich Village neighborhoods just before the war broke out. Doc walked in
through the glass door which opened into Harry’s.
Where the hell you been for a week?”
Harry. I figure I earned it. Anybody hangin’ around I
should know about?”
a bad guy in sight Doc.”
“Gimme a late edition, will ya.”
“Didja hear the news? The Krauts sent a sub into the harbor! Sunk some big boat!”
ta Christ Doc! They did!”
took the half folded news paper and tucked it under
his arm while he headed for the door to the upstairs offices.
Harry. See ya later.”
tellin’ ya Doc, this war ain’t like the last one. We could lose!”
“We ain’t gonna lose Harry. We’re the
good guys. Hell, Lamont Cranston lives here!” Doc called over his shoulder,
passing through the single door to Harry’s left.
sixty year old structure was immaculately cleaned and maintained but the
elevator seemed perpetually out of order so visitors and residents had to climb
the ornate metal staircase to reach their destinations.
the third floor Doc turned left down the hall towards his office. He took the
paper from under his arm and, just as he began to open it, a voice called out.
Doc!” The voice startled him and he jumped as he looked to the right of the
corridor a smile slowly crept over his face.
Redbone!” Tucking the paper back under his arm, he continued walking towards
his office. The elderly black man, bent on one knee was repairing a lock, and
as he passed by, Doc patted him on the shoulder. Redbone spoke in a slightly
diluted Cajun’ accent.
if I startled you, man. Just surprised to see ya.” Redbone
said, reaching into his tool box.
noticed the mop and bucket propped against the wall on the man’s left.
on double duty, eh Redbone?”
“Goin’ on six months now. But I don’t mind. Keeps me busy
since Saddie went to sleep.” Doc smiled and nodded in
acknowledgement of Redbone’s stoicism. He continued down the hall and stopped
in front of a door on the left.
Doc?” Doc was staring at the glass pane on the office door as he unlocked it.
get time, take this damn name off the door, will ya? It’s
stinkin’ up the joint.”
Doc. First thing tomorrow.”
the door and went in, thought for a moment, stuck his head back out, and called
down the hall.
there’s probably gonna be a baptism tonight, so if
you hear anything it’s okay.”
be goin’ doin’ nuthin’ stupid Doc!”
door shut and the glass panel was back lit when Doc turned on the office light
'Sammon and McKeowen. Private
Investigations Agency. We Peep While Others Sleep' was the only office occupied
at this late hour.
unremarkable office was only about 400 sq ft, and was
partitioned to the right as you walked in the door. The partition was wood
halfway up then iced glass and stood just over six foot tall. There were a pair
of opaque, deco globes suspended by chain from the ceiling around the lights. An
army cot, half sized ice box and hot plate on the other side were home. They wee semi-stashed out of sight. Just in case a client
accidentally showed up.
peered into the letter box screwed to the back of the door, but didn’t bother
to remove the three or four envelopes it contained. He locked the door, dropped
his bag and moved over to his desk, in the corner of the room and, exhausted,
removed his coat and flopped into his chair. Staring into space he suddenly
jumped up and violently kicked the chair knocking it to the floor. He stared at
it for awhile to make sure it was it wasn't breathing
then sighed and reached into his jacket pocket and produced an airline ticket
stub. Staring at it, he shook his head.
He mumbled tearing the useless document into small pieces and threw them in the
still for another moment, he righted the overturned chair. He decided he didn't
feel any better and so he went over to the sink and washed his face longer than
necessary, and as he dried himself the reason for his inability to focus dawned
on him. He was fighting something that he had never felt before.
all the physical and emotional strain encountered with thirteen years on the
job, and seven years of marriage, something was different. Something made him
feel like nothing mattered any more. It was
depression. Doc was smothered by it.
the towel in the basket under the sink, he walked back over to his desk and
opened a wall cabinet behind him marked “Classified Files”. He withdrew a rocks
glass and a bottle of Irish Whiskey. Pouring a full measure into the glass, he
adjusted the chair and sat down.
around the room, which he realized contained the sum total of his life, he sank
deeper into his depression. He saw the steel simplicity with which he used to
approach life methodically eroding away and became lost in the resulting mist
of confusion called apathy.
lifted his drink and his eyes drifted off to the right settling on a picture of
a middle aged man in a policeman’s uniform sitting on a shelf next to some
shooting trophies. The policeman’s photo had a black ribbon tied around the
upper left hand corner of the frame. A gold N.Y.P.D. badge was mounted on a
dark wooden plaque, and stood next to the photo. Doc stared at the picture and
after a minute smiled.
You were right. I should’a stayed on the force.” He threw
back his shot. “But ya gotta
admit, it ain’t nuthin’
like the god-damn movies!”
underneath the desk and into a specially constructed compartment under the
drawer, Doc removed a snub nosed .38 and a .45 Colt. After a functions check on
both weapons he loaded them and placed them in separate desk drawers.
He sat forward, leaned on the desk and slowly
let his gaze drift until it fell on a picture of a woman, sitting on the shelf
below the policeman’s. She was a semi-attractive brunette, late twenties and
wore some sort of graduation gown. The hand written inscription read, “To
Hubby, Love Forever, Mary.”
downed his second drink and shook his head in the direction of the photo. He
leaned back, put his feet up and turned off the desk lamp, leaving himself and
the room bathed in the alternating shadows of Jimmy O'Sullivan's neon sign.
in those god-damned movies.
syncopated rhythm of the Smith-Corona keys reminded Shirley of the Morse code
radio messages she heard in an Alan Ladd war movie last week. Alan Ladd! Now
there’s a man! The engaging, eccentric black girl indulged her fantasies as she
trudged through her work day. With instinctual dexterity, her well manicured fingers floated in mid
air, coercing the keys to perform.
without the weight of a wedding ring to encumber the fingers, they moved
faster, Shirley mused. Although attractive by any standard, she was, by her own
reckoning, an old maid at twenty-six.
God-damn it!” Shirley cried out, quickly putting her index finger to her mouth.
wrong?” It was Nikki Cole, the receptionist stationed with Shirley at the
oversized reception desk.
busted a freakin’ nail!”
you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
I got potty mouth, but there are worse problems to have!”
what?” Nikki challenged.
gettin’ the hiccups when you’re horny!” Shirley
told you that in confidence, damn it!”
worry, I won’t tell nobody. Besides, I kinda think
it’s cute.” Shirley smirked as she turned back to her typewriter. “This way he
always knows when you’re ready.”
Nikki reached under the desk and produced a
large pickle jar, nearly filled with nickles, and
held it out to her workmate.
another week and we can have lunch at Grauman's.” Nikki
commented as the five cent piece Shirley retrieved from her purse clinked into
“Grauman's Chinese Theater? That’s
know.” The sounds of laughter echoed through the empty, marble plated lobby.
curved, Deco reception desk was surrounded by a chest high counter, covered in
Carrera marble. It was a large, “D” shaped island, floating in the center of a lobby set back from the elevators which
appeared much too expansive for the two slender women it housed.
dual elevators, a few scattered ashtrays and the reception desk gave the
distinct impression they were put into the lobby as an after
thought. There was no indication whatever that this was a headquarters
for the intelligence service of the U.S. Navy.
no sentries were visible, a tap on one of the buzzers installed underneath the
desktop where the girls were working, would summon Marine guards to assist any
the conservatively dressed Nikki offered her help to Shirley, the switchboard
buzzed. Donning the cumbersome headset the attractive auburn haired, blue-eyed
twenty-something answered the incoming line.
morning, Third Naval District, may I help you?” Nikki Cole and her switchboard,
nick named Cary, were the primary means of communication for number 90 Church
Street and the outside world.
would be Captain MacFall’s office sir. Just one
second and I’ll connect you. Thank you Major, your voice sounds lovely in the
morning too.” Rolling her eyes towards Shirley, Nikki connected the cloth
covered cable to one of the dozens of brass plugs sprawled before her.
at the other end of the line, lay a new desk top model, black rotary Bell
telephone. These latest models were much more of a pleasure to use than the old
‘licorice stick’ phones which were
awkward, difficult to dial and required both hands to manipulate.
stark contrast to the desolation of the lobby, the large, upstairs office
sprawled out to cover the entire floor, and was a cacophony of typewriters and
telephones. Unabated activity was in full swing despite the fact the work day
was only fifteen minutes old.
“Good morning, Captain MacFall’s
office, may I help you?”
“I’m sorry Major, but the Captain is in a meeting. May I
take your number sir? Uh huh . . . yes sir, I have it.” There was a pause as
the secretary smirked into the phone. “And your voice sounds like Ethyl Mermon after a half pint of bath tub gin. Good-bye, Major.”
Behind the secretary’s desk stood a wooden frame door
with an opaque glass panel. Lettering on the glass stated that it was the
office of the Branch Chief of Naval Intelligence, Captain Roscoe C. MacFall which explained why the door was closed for the
better part of the day and, more often then not,
A pair of thick
fingers separated two leafs of the metal Venetian blinds allowing a pair of
steel-grey eyes to peer out across the sprawling office.
Like a headmaster staring at an oversized classroom, he
observed the impressive collection of pre-war FBI agents, detectives, District
as well as Federal Attorneys and Treasury Department operators at work in the
office before him. Still facing the glass, Captain MacFall
began to speak.
“Two months into the war and we’re losing 100 ships a
month. We won't be up to full production capacity for six to eight months. And
now a raving lunatic who is too stupid to get into art school has got saboteurs
in our back yard!" He made his way back to the head of the conference
table and flopped into his high backed chair. "Hell, I thought it was bad
when Dewey lost!” MacFall's bad mood was interrupted
by one of the men dressed in civilian attire sitting near the other end of the
“Sir, we don’t know it was sabotage. The official
investigation doesn’t even start until today.”
“You want to proceed on the premise that it wasn’t and
wait for them to hit us again?” The Captain responded to no one in particular.
The agent had only stated what most of the half dozen
operatives in the small conference room were thinking. Which didn’t make it any
easier when the C.O. pointed out the obvious to him. MacFall
now stood facing the men in the sparsely furnished office. An awkward silence
filled the room.
Gathered in this conference room were some
of the most powerful military men in the country with, what they believed to
be, the most powerful government in the world backing them. They were
unaccustomed to defeat. However, now it appeared that not only had the enemy
won the war in Europe and were winning the fight in the Atlantic, but he was
knocking on America’s front door.
The primary goal of the intelligence group, which up
until this meeting was the security of the Atlantic convoys, had now been
shifted to security of the New York harbor, and it
was to this end that MacFall sought ideas and
suggestions. The Tuesday morning meeting continued.
“Sir!” It was Lieutenant James O’Malley. “Seems to me
what we really need is inside information about what’s really going on, down on
the waterfront I mean.”
“Thank you for your blinding insight Lieutenant.” The
Captain rarely employed sarcasm, but he was genuinely in the dark and didn't
“D.C. has tripled our allocations, broadened our legal
powers beyond our wildest dreams and we’ve even stooped to hiring girls.” The
tension was broken and laughter circulated the room when the lone female agent
present smiled at MacFall and slowly gave him the
finger. Just then the door opened, and a burly, late middle-aged man made his
way to a seat.
“Has anyone considered the idea of using . . . uh . . .
snitches?” O’Malley continued.
“Glad you could join us Agent Johnson.” MacFall was in no mode for lack of punctuality.
“Late at the range.” Johnson grunted back as he perused
the room. “What’s all this about snitches?”
“Don’t tell us. Another 300.” The civilian agent seated
next to Johnson quipped.
I shot a 299.”
I’m doin’ Veronica Lake.”
battin’ around ideas to upgrade intell
on the docks.” MacFall interrupted.
somebody suggests stoolies? Who’s the FNG?” Treasury
Agent Johnson often regarded himself as the only one in the room with any level
OIC attempted to answer.
was . . .”
the FNG.” O'Malley shot back.
think for a New York City second the Pentagon’s gonna
give you money to pay snitches?”
used paid informants all the time at the D.A.’s office.”
around the office Johnson continued on his vein of antagonism. “Will all the
D.A.’s please raise their hands?” Noting the lack of response he added, “Gee
kid, I don’t see no hands. How 'bout that!"
realise you’re a lawyer Lieutenant O’Malley but . . . sounds a bit thin.” MacFall prompted.
don’t pay them in cash, sir. You barter with them. Sort of like using military
script in a theatre of war.”
United States Treasury is not about to print anything that can be
counterfeited. You can take that to the bank.” The agent sought to quash the
missing the point. You don’t actually have to give them anything. Just tell
them you’re going to give them something. Or better yet, just make them think
you’re going to give them something!”
. . . you’ll get the local cops off their back for awhile.
Or like, you want to know who the dirty cops are so you can get them off the
take and save the crooks money. You just gotta use
your imagination.” O’Malley was a lawyer and made a persuasive argument. With
her heavy South Boston dialect the lone female agent joined the fray.
say hear him out.”
would.” Johnson shot back. After an exaggerated glance around the room the
fart?” She loudly asked.
come-back J. J.! Wonder why you’re always striking out with the girls?” Johnson
glared at her.
It was MacFall once again trying to keep the train on
the tracks. “Carry on Lieutenant.”
most of us still have a lot of our old contacts. If we could somehow organize
and enhance that information, we could pool it and draw up a plan of action.
Theoretically we could develop one helluva network.”
Now it was one of the civilians joining in. “I was on D.A. Hogan’s staff and I
don’t know about this stoolie idea. I can tell you
from experience that the Mob has no sense of humor
about song birds. And the Mob controls the waterfront. Period! Nobody was
allowed to even think that at the D.A.’s office, but that don’t change the
facts. Nothing goes on down there without their say so or them knowing about
it.” Johnson saw his chance to euthanize the idea.
You too Betsy Ross. Do we honestly believe that stoolies,
the most untrustworthy of criminals, the scum of the scum, are about to risk gettin’ their heads ventilated just to help the people who
are being paid to put them away? It’s a stupid idea!”
They could be bumpin’ off Germans and dumpin’ their bodies in the East River right now and we’d
be none the wiser!”
can you see some poor dumb Kraut bastard caught down on the West Side Drive by
a couple of union guys?!” The civilian agent mocked a German accent as he held
his hands in the air, in mock surrender. “Nine, nine. I am nut
a polleece man! I am only a shpie!”
There was a ripple of laughter.
that may be our dream scenario, gentleman, we can’t bank on it. I would also
remind you that our infiltrators are not necessarily German. They may just as
well be Italian Facists or Spanish Anarchists.” MacFall interjected the sobering thought to the assembled
group and everyone was involuntarily reminded that the overwhelming majority of
the people they would have to deal with on the waterfront, would be Italians or
is a little strong, don’t you think, Mr. Johnson?” O’Malley was careful not to
use Johnson’s title. O’Malley folded his hands on the table, in front of him
and looked across at the bureaucratic treasury agent.
took a couple of beats to soak through to the rubber stamp oriented agent, but
he eventually came to the realization that he was being challenged. The older
man continued the volley.
I hurt your feelin’s Junior. But we have a serious
situation here. We have a lot of things to do and no time to do them! This is
no time to be grasping at straws!” Although the row had essentially been
reduced to the two men, civilian against military, everyone else paid close
attention to where it was going.
MacFall sat in his chair at the
head of the table and observed with more attention then
the others exactly how O’Malley defended his argument.
it been tried?”
a matter of fact, yes it has! And as soon as it was sent up for approval, it
came right back down again. Disapproved!”
what grounds?” The Lieutenant knew he was loosing
ground but refused to yield.
the grounds it was stupid! Worse yet, politically risky!”
all due respect to the Treasury Department, your people aren’t exactly trained
for wartime counter-intel.”
have a better suggestion, I’m willing to listen.” Offered the Lt. The fat
balding man lost what little composure he had left.
know what Sonny? I’ve been in government service since before the last war! Since
before you were born, god-damn it! I made my bones on the Palmer raids fer fuck’s sake! And, besides having no respect, you
haven't got the faintest idea what the hell ballpark you’re playin'
the very least we could kick it around and see if anything comes out of it. Wouldn’t
you agree, sir?” O’Malley’s calm demeanor
kept pace with Johnson’s growing anger.
pent up tension of the room became even more restrictive, and some of the men
were embarrassed that their weekly meetings had come to heated exchanges.
Everyone remained silent. Johnson felt he had no choice. The federal employee
slammed his briefing folder shut, stuffed it into his bag and headed for the
I have a full agenda, and no time for childish ideas. I’ll read a copy of the
mimeo on the rest of the meeting. Good day gentlemen.” Johnson made a
remained sitting with his hands folded in front of him on the conference table.
A second civilian, sitting at the far end of the table, broke the silence.
I know Frank Hogan’s office as well as anyone. I don’t know that they’re going
to be in a big hurry to reveal their mob sources. Stoolies
are their primary source of success in the court-room. That’s how Dewey got to
Dutch Schultz and it's the only way he could nail Luciano.”
do you think the prosecutors office will work with
us?” MacFall had already come to the conclusion that
it was worth a shot.
they are very protective of their sources of information. It gives them
tremendous leeway in the court room. But, given how critical our situation is .
left his sentence hanging as he realized the direction it was taking.
well. Are there any other suggestions gentlemen? Lady?” MacFall
asked as the meeting pressed on.
sir.” It was the Commander. “I’ve drawn up a plan, along with a rotating
schedule for a surveillance operation I’d like you to look at sir.”
is it?” Asked the Captain as he was handed the folder containing the details of
the proposed operation.
a plan to place agents on some of the strategically located skyscrapers
overlooking the waterfront. They’ll be issued binos
and a hand radio, and pull six hour shifts. They can watch for any suspicious
activity and radio it in.”
happens at night when it’s to dark to see,
Commander?” Asked MacFall as he flipped through the
“Uhh . . . they . . . pack up and go home, sir.” Came the
resigned answer. Nobody laughed.
like a good stop gap measure Commander.” He handed back the folder. “See that
it’s put into action.”
agents sensed the end of the meeting was at hand, and began to pack up. The
Captain called one last time for input and then reminded various members of the
group of different details requiring attention, before adjourning.
zero seven, sharp. O’Malley, need to talk to you.” As the men filed through the
door, MacFall came up behind O’Malley, who was last
in line, and spoke to him. “Lieutenant I’m heading across town, walk with me to
the elevators. I want talk to you.”
puzzled young officer complied, and when the duo were clear of the office and
out of earshot of the secretaries, O’Malley spoke first.
I apologise. I know I was out of line, but that dumpy bastard really gets my
goat with his bureaucratic attitude. I don't mean to ruffle feathers it's just
. . . ” He was cut off in mid sentence as the C.O.
raised his hand displaying the same smile he wore a half an hour ago.
glad you ruffled his feathers, Jim. Johnson doesn’t make much of a
contribution, but we’re stuck with him until he retires next January. Just
don’t make it a habit.”
you sir, I won’t.”
that’s not why we’re talking.”
is it sir?”
we’re going to do this thing, we need to approach Hogan’s office in the right
light. At all costs they must not know how grave the situation is. Someone from
here will have to contact someone from there. We’ll have to do it fairly soon,
and I’d like that someone to be you.”
was surprised that Captain MacFall had made these
decisions so soon. He was also pleased and surprised at having been asked to
make first contact.
you sir. I really feel there’s potential here. If we can tap into the
information pool already in place . . . ” Once again he was cut off.
it for the Admiral, Lieutenant. He’ll need the convincing, not me. He’s the one
that’s going to have to sell it to Washington.”
sir.” The elevator arrived, and MacFall got on.
me at Hogan’s office at 1100 hours. You’ll lias with
Murray Gurfein.” After the doors closed Lieutenant
O’Malley hung his head and rubbed his eyes mumbling to himself.
“Gurfein! Great! A lounge singer sired by a used car
salesman! Only not as sincere.”
elevator doors opened into the lobby and, as he crossed the hall behind the
reception desk, Lieutenant O’Malley checked his watch. 10:35 a.m. It’s only a
fifteen minute walk to the D.A.'s office, he thought to himself. Save cab fare
Lieutenant O’Malley.” The echo of a female voice filled the lobby. O’Malley
turned his head as he made his way to the exit.
Shirley.” He waved and gave a cursory smile, putting on his gloves.
incorrigible!” Nikki said to Shirley.
that means I think he’s cute, you’re right. I’m . . . what you said!”
through the brass plated, double doors, O’Malley was temporarily overwhelmed by
the bright winter sun. The noise of the traffic combined with the cool air to
remind him of how much time he spent cooped up in an office.
through the streets of the city, he was distracted by the faces of the
passers-by. He could not help but notice for the first time since America had
entered the war a few short weeks ago, that there were no real changes in the
expressions on the faces of the people as compared to before the war. Not like
the film footage coming back from Europe. Those were people who had not only
seen the face of war, but lived through it. There was one similarity though. The
shortage of working-aged men. Fortunately in America it wasn't due to casualty
rates or slave labor camps. But things were already
getting tight. There was even talk about suspending the major league ball clubs
for the duration. That was ridiculous! What would they do? Get women to play
the men may be away fighting and dying, but at least they’re not hanging around
some soup line waiting for a hand out, he concluded.
shook the cold off as he entered the City Building. The fat, red faced security
guard at the reception window asked him who he was there to see.
James O’Malley. I’m here to see the D.A.”
sir. You just take the elevator to the . . . ”
the fourth floor and turn left.” He finished the security guard’s sentence. “Thank
you very much officer.” Riding in the elevator, he was struck by a powerful
sensation of deja vu. As if it was just another
pre-war work day.
the office, he was greeted by a secretary with a man sitting on her desk.
here to see Mr. Hogan.”
It was Murray Gurfein, one of Hogan’s prosecutors. He
hopped down off the desk and made his way over to O’Malley.
back sailor boy. Good to see you!” Gurfein hadn’t
changed. Worse yet, he still acted as if he and O’Malley were old drinking
buddies, despite the fact they hardly ever worked together before. O’Malley noticed
that Gurfein still wore civilian clothes.
on in Jimmy boy, Captain MacFall is in with D.A.
Hogan. Ah, Nancy, sweetheart, could we have some coffee?” The D.A.’s secretary
didn’t even give him the courtesy of an annoyed glance. She just kept typing.
two men moved into the inner office, and Hogan took a seat behind his desk. O’Malley
and Gurfein arranged chairs next to MacFall in front of Hogan, and the pow wow began.
how can we help the United States Navy?” Hogan asked.
I haven’t told the District Attorney about your proposal yet. So why don’t you
give him the Reader’s Digest version, and we’ll take it from there.”
the next ten minutes the chief prosecutor was made familiar with the assumed
potential for saboteurs to infiltrate the New York harbor,
and how the Navy proposed to deal with the problem using stoolies.
O’Malley couldn’t help but notice that both times he mentioned the word
sources, Gurfein and Hogan shifted positions.
he finished, both civilian lawyers sat in silence for a moment, and Hogan
exactly is it you would like us to do?”
first off tell us if you think they'll work with us. I mean, do you think
they’re patriotic enough?” Asked the Lieutenant.
think that you’ll find that most of the hoods here, despite the fact that
they’re liars, cheats, thieves and murders, are good loyal Americans.” Volunteered
not only made the trains run on time, but when he first began his rise to
power, he didn’t want any competition in the country, so he kicked the Mafiosi
out of Italy.”
was usually the case, with the exception of the loyal American part, the D.A.’s
office was about twenty years behind on the accuracy of its information.
Hogan said concerning the Mafioso was true. His point
however, was mute. The Mafioso no longer controlled crime in New York, or in
most of the rest of the country for that matter. Although names the Black Hand,
La Cosa Nostra and Mafia would last well into the twenty-first century, the
organization now in control was the Unione Siciliano
run by The Commission.
third year of the Great Depression was the only profitable year for Universal
Studios between 1929 & 1936, thanks to one film, “Dracula”. Coincidentally
it was a profitable year for men like Buggsy Siegal
and Meyer Lansky, as they began to organise crime nationwide. They were not
alone. They worked under the direction of the man who would become “The Boss of
Bosses”, Lucky Luciano. When Lucky finished implementing his national plan for
organised crime, there were only three basic differences between the Unione and any other American corporation.
The Unione could account for all of their assets all of the
time, it was crystal clear who was in charge and The Commission didn’t have a
seat on the New York Stock Exchange. They didn’t need one, they controlled or
influenced most everyone else’s to one degree or another.
that case Mr. Hogan,” MacFall said, “we’d like to
have some names we could approach.” Hogan immediately realised he would
ultimately have no choice but to cooperate. But with a little bit of the old
stall game, he might be able to manipulate the ground rules.
Captain, that’s probably not the best way to go about it. Let me work on it. Give
us a couple of days to go through the files, and we can get back to you.” Cooperate
or not he was not about to let his territory be trampled on by anyone, least of
all some Washington bureaucrat.
now that that’s settled! Welcome home Jim!” Gurfein
extended his hand towards the Lieutenant. O’Malley did not reciprocate.
Lieutenant won’t be running our side of the show, Mr. Gurfein.
I’ve selected another officer.” MacFall explained.
Who would that be sir?”
“Haffenden, Lieutenant Commander Haffenden.
Lieutenant O’Malley will act as liaison between our two offices.”
appoint a man to work with you as well Captain, and get back to you with who it
is.” Hogan pitched in.
enough.” MacFall stood up, signalling the meeting was
over. “Lieutenant O’Malley will contact you the end of the week.”
forward to working with your men, Captain.” Hogan said. After everyone shook hands the officers left. There
was a brief interval, and Gurfein turned to Hogan.
do you want to handle this?”
better go slow with them. Go through the files.” Hogan thought very intently as
he came around from behind his desk.
do it. Don’t give it to anybody else. When you go through the records, see who
we’ve fingered on the docks. Let’s give them only one. And for God sakes let’s
keep this under our hats, huh?”
chief. I’ll start on it right after lunch.” Gurfein
began to leave. As he had the door half way open, Hogan called to him.
Murray. Make sure whoever you pick out of the files has an indictment. I mean
an air tight indictment. One we’re going to win no matter what. I don’t want to
screw up any opportunities for convictions.”
Gurfein nodded, then as he stepped
through the door hesitated. Coming back into the room, he closed the door
behind him, leaned back on it and folded his arms displaying a mischievous
smile. Hogan looked up from his desk.
about the wire taps?” Gurfein grinned.
After a short pause Hogan instructed. “Leave
them in place. This could get interesting.”
his way out, as he passed the secretary’s desk, Gurfein
asked what had happened to the coffee. With no discernible movement whatsoever,
the secretary kept typing while she issued her reply. “I forgot.”
outside the D.A.’s office, in the hallway, a separate assessment of the meeting
was under way as the two officers walked towards the elevators.
you okay with this liaison position, Lieutenant?”
. . . yes sir.”
don’t sound very sure of yourself.” Enquired MacFall
as both men reached the elevator. After considering his words carefully,
O’Malley spoke again.
we need to tread lightly with these people.”
assured Lieutenant, we’ll only tell them what they need to know.” The elevator
arrived and they boarded. They were alone. O’Malley continued.
don’t mean just that sir.”
do you mean?”
do business a lot different than we do, sir.” The bell rang, and as the doors
opened, both men stepped into the lobby. “I know, I used to work in that
have my ear, Jim.” MacFall listened more closely.
Dewey, Gurfein and that crowd have built a career on
the fact that they got a conviction against Lucky Luciano.”
from what I understand, he needed to be put away.”
doubt sir, but . . .” O’Malley was
clearly not comfortable discussing the inner workings of the D.A.’s office and
their Mob-like code of silence.
on.” MacFall coaxed.
trial evidence wasn’t as they portrayed in the papers. There were some serious
procedural questions. Most of those girls testified under what they believed to
be the threat of physical violence.”
gangsters are brutal people. That’s why they belong in jail.”
not talking about the Mob sir. I’m talking about the prosecutor’s office,
particularly Dewey.” Both men had now moved off to one side of the lobby, out
of common earshot.
threat of prison, sir. They wave it around like a magic wand. Testify or go to
prison. The girls were threatened with unusually long prison terms if they
didn’t testify against Luciano. Some of them were even coached what to say. Section
399 of the State Criminal Code says you can’t get a conviction on one person’s
testimony. Your supposed to have corroborating evidence. They had no evidence,
so they got hookers and people who wanted him out of the way to testify. No one
can ever say the witnesses lied. The D.A.’s office is the only one who can
prosecute for purgery, so any one who said what the
D.A. wanted was safe. Later half of them recanted and it wasn't all due to Mpob threats. Purgered testimony
alone is what got Luciano convicted. Political ruthlessness is what got him
such an unusually long sentence.”
what do you know, a lawyer with ethics!” MacFall
don’t get me wrong. I think all those bastards belong in jail. It’s just that I
don’t consider that my brand of law. We play games like that with the rules,
and we’re no better than them. Or the people we’re supposed to be fighting over
in Europe for that matter.”
what I’m hearing Lieutenant, is that people like Hogan and Dewey have their own
agendas, and are not adverse to going outside the rules to achieve their aims?”
isn’t that just good red-blooded American politics?”
my point is, that if push came to shove, and the potential for a scandal arose,
someone in that office would see it as a stepping stone to their career, and
the Navy would be the loser. Not to mention the world-wide propaganda value of
the fact that the United States Navy is turning to gangsters for help!” Continued
second thoughts about your own plan Jim?”
at all sir. Just that after working both sides of the fence, there’s a reason
why most of those guys up there are not in uniform.”
appreciate your candor. Your point is well taken
you, sir.” The two officers exited the building, and through the bustling lunch
hour crowd, Captain MacFall nodded to a nearby hot
York tube steak?”
not? I’ve been eating too healthy anyway.”
the New York City waterfront for the first time is an impressive sight. It is
unique in the world of waterfronts. The convoluted structure of the docks
allows them to encompass all five boroughs as well as border seven cities along
the New Jersey shore, just across the Hudson River. The shear vastness of these
structures can only be appreciated from the air, and their true splendour is
best experienced during sunrise or the change of seasons. In addition it is
unlikely that any other waterfront is marred by such a long and consistent
history of violence.
is here, amid the bitter sweet aromas of hemp and creosote, nearly every King,
Queen or Head of State from has arrived then embarked for some far corner of
the globe. While on these same timbers someone’s father, brother, uncle or son
has became an unwanted coroner’s statistic.
these docks are composed of more then timber decks
and pitch coated pilings. There are the men and women who live and work in this
city within a city. Along with these temporary caretakers of the waterfront,
are the terminals and warehouses which sustain life through the blistering heat
of summer and the sub-zero temperatures of winter. The long, narrow buildings
are large enough to house entire populations of small countries, and it is
within these structures that the majority of longshoremen, stevedores or
dockworkers, depending on your cultural orientation, work out their days,
sacrificing their feet, knees, backs and sometimes their lives, to make ends
typical terminal had a thirty to forty foot high ceiling mostly composed of
heavy glass in order to take full advantage of the sunlight. At night the work
was carried on under the blinding glare of mercury vapour lamps. The
rectangular footprint of the building was divided into three parts. The
shoreward end of the building, furthest from the water, was usually partitioned
off for office space, while the remainder of the sparse floor area was divided
through the long axis into equal halves. One side of the terminal was
designated for arriving freight while the opposite side was usually designated
for out going freight. In addition to this
arrangement dictated by practicality, there was a special corner bin designated
“OS & D”, as it was in terminal 16A.
Danny! What’s OS & D?” Asked the newest member of the Longshoremen's Union
everyone called ‘Kid’.
got that kid broken in yet? God-damn it!” The heavy set foreman scowled as he
walked by the two workers. As they stood next to a 1500 pound crate of loose M
yet, Bennie. Just showin’ him around.” Danny yelled
get a foot under it! You ain’t bein’
paid to be a wet nurse!”
come he’s alway’s yellin’?”
Asked the sixteen year old dockworker. Danny answered as he continued to shift
“‘Cause kid, he got ulcers. And he gets a bonus if he can
get us to move extra freight. And he just got some bad news this mornin’.”
what?” The kid asked, not really interested, but making conversation as he
Joey Morretti is doin’ his
Morretti from here?”
“Whata ya think’s gonna happen?”
know. He only found out a half hour ago, and Morretti
ain’t come to work yet.” Danny updated the kid while
they continued to move some boxes to give the illusion of working.
what wuz you askin’ me?”
OS & D?”
looked around the floor and located a small wooden crate with a red metal tag
wired to it. He motioned the kid over and began to explain.
ya see dis here Spanish wine?” His apprentice nodded.
Danny pulled back his right leg and one of his U.S. Army issue, paratrooper
boots, crashed into and through the pine crate. Rich colored
amontillado spilled out through the broken glass staining the broken crate and
concrete a dark red. The smell of alcohol permeated the air.
Said Danny as he continued the lesson. “Ya see that
red tag?” The kid nodded. “That means this piece of freight is insured for
$10,000 or more. But one of them bottles is busted. Which means now we gotta put this in OS & D. Over, Short and Damaged. Why?”
it’s damaged?” The kid responded in disbelief.
good.” Gesturing to the bin, Danny said, “Gimme a
hand.” And off they went with ten thousand dollars worth
of cracked timber and broken glass.
we’re done here we gotta load a flat bed with some
oil ta go over ta the fish market.”
ten or twelve yards from the bin, Danny looked up as he heard screaming coming
from the office area which was just adjacent to OS & D. The screams were
punctuated by the sounds of breaking furniture and through the window the pair
could see the stocky foreman had just thrown someone to the floor by way of a
desk, and was viciously attempting to rip the time clock off the wall. Danny,
with twelve years on the wharf, understood instantly.
Kid drop the crate!”
like Morretti came to work!”
then Joey’s battered body came crashing through the plate glass office window
and hit the concrete floor of the dock with a sickening smack.
matter what happens don’t interfere!” Danny cautioned at the unexpected
extension of the lesson. The kid suddenly noticed colors
were a little brighter, and the harbor smelled
stronger than usual.
there amongst the broken shards of glass, there was surprisingly little blood. As
Joey began to roll over, his supervisor broke out the remnants of the office
window with a metal chair, threw it at Morretti, and
stepped through the broken frame and out onto the platform. The burly foreman,
completely consumed by rage, steam rising from his sweaty face in the cold
morning air, looked around for another weapon.
this time most of the workers had gathered at that end of the dock to watch the
latest show. Joey, now up on all fours, blood dripping from his nose, watched
as his opponent spotted a bailing hook stuck into a nearby crate, and slowly
moved towards the vicious tool. Joey seemed paralyzed.
eerie silence befell the terminal, accentuating the screaming of the gulls
circling outside as they fought over a piece of meat.
“Morretti don’t look so good.” One of the men behind Danny
and the kid whispered. The Kid looked at Danny.
connected on the Jersey side.” The former paratrooper narrated without turning
away from the action.
took some real beatin’s in his life. His father was
on the docks during the depression when all dem
blacks come down from Harlem with weapons wanting to take over the waterfront.”
happened?” The kid asked as Danny gave the history lesson.
ended Mott Street 50, Harlem 0.” Danny answered.
his own blood dripping onto the concrete floor, Joey thought about his father’s
description of the bloody battle when the two factions met in Greenwich
Village, and how the Blacks were beaten back in an all day
battle with bailing hooks and Johnson bars. That’s why he didn’t go for the
hook, even though he had seen it first. He knew better. With over a dozen
witnesses, Morretti knew he was home free.
taken the bait the infuriated foreman, held the ten inch iron hook menacingly at
his side as he walked towards his intended victim. Morretti,
now up on one knee, fragments of glass imbedded in the side of his baby face,
and blood flowing from his forehead, smiled as he watched the big man hesitate.
rounds in rapid succession fired from Morretti’s
thirty-eight buried themselves in the foreman’s chest, and it was his turn to
lay face down in the broken glass and blood.
kid jumped at the report of the weapon, and instinctively started towards the
ex-foreman. Danny threw out an arm and blocked him. “Forget it! You wuz in the back wit me. All you
heard was some shots. Got it?” The Kid couldn't avert his stare. “Come on we
got a flatbed to load.”
hour and a half later, the last of the police squad cars drove through the
terminal gate, and right behind it was a flat bed
loaded with olive oil. The squad car turned south towards the Battery, but the
truck headed straight cross town to Fulton Street.
overweight truck driver finished his coffee and threw the paper cup out the window,
but left the cherry cheese danish hanging from his
mouth as he maneuvered his vehicle up to the
loading docks, in front of the Fulton Street Fish Market. After turning off the
engine, he lifted his hat to wipe the sweat from his forehead, and his dirty
hair stood up, mated together from grease and dirt.
this huge complex of bins and stalls, stocked with every species of fish
imaginable, was municipally owned. However, like the adjoining retail outlets,
the cannery and nearly the entire distribution network, it was controlled by
one man, Joseph “Socks” Lanza.
Socks Lanza was the undisputed
number one power in the American fishing industry. Period. He gained and
maintained control of this empire with a very logical technique. A strangle hold
on union labor. Socks simply established his own
unions, extorted funds for membership, and after filing some papers with the
AFL, was in business.
example, the Sea Food Workers Union, which was only one of a handful of unions
run by Socks, dominated the Fulton Street Fish Market. In classic mob fashion,
he covered all the bases with a separate union for each labor
force. A trick learned from the D.A.’s office, where they would file up to half
a dozen charges for one alleged offence, and try to get one to stick. A charge
to cover all the bases so to speak.
market, which supplied seafood from Maine to the Carolinas and as far west as
the Mississippi, was teeming with activity that Wednesday morning. Unlike the
bitter sweet aromas of the wharfs across town, there was only one smell here. The
smell of fish. Acrid, pungent and overwhelming. The smell of fish which
engulfed and permeated everything and everybody from the workers in their blood
stained aprons, to the handful of clerks and typists encased in a glass boxes
which appeared to be stuck to the ceilings as they overlooked the masses of
workers gutting, shifting and selling their loads sixteen hours a day.
The unsavory truck
driver waddled his way across the slippery floor, and weaved his way in and out
of the numerous stalls of flounder, eel and shell fish. As he chewed his cherry
cheese danish with his mouth open, he considered
himself lucky that he didn’t have to work under these unhygienic conditions. Making
his way to the staircase leading to the office, he ascended, and, when he
reached the top, ignored the paper sign on the door telling him to wipe his
feet before he entered.
heated air of the glass encased room was a welcome relief from the bitter
February chill flowing through the lower level of the open market. Stepping up
to the chest high counter, the middle aged driver removed his gloves and
reached into his coat pocket to remove the invoice for his delivery.
Emily!” He addressed the receptionist, who although the same age as the driver,
had weathered her years behind a typewriter far better than he had his years
behind a Mother-of-Pearl steering wheel. His syrupy voice held no sway with
her, and she showed her affection for him openly.
the hell you want, fat ass?” He was undeterred.
was your Christmas, Emily?”
me tell ya, Burt. I remember three things about my
Christmas. A, it was in Hot Springs. Next, it was too short. And tree, I didn’t
have ta conversate with no delivery boys!” Her last comment was in synchronized
harmony with the strokes of her pen as she endorsed the document in front of
her, pulled the pink copy and curtly shoved it back across to Burt.
circulated the office as Burt bid Emily a fond good-bye and wished her a happy
Valentine’s Day. The receptionist didn’t answer, but instead made her way over
to a door with a wooden letter box fixed to the inside of it. Through a slot in
the cross piece of the door she inserted the rubber stamped, endorsed invoice. Above
the slot, lettered on the frosted glass panel of the door, was the name “J.
Lanza, President Amalgamated Sea Food Workers Unions”.
the other side of the door five men sat at a dark mahogany conference table,
and it was a large, jowly man who was conducting the meeting.
the story in Queens?”
Mr. Lanza, as far as we can tell, some guy named Dimitri has a coupla trucks and is deliverin’
around Astoria for twenty per cent under the rate.”
many trucks he got?”
through some papers, a third man reported. “Five Boss.”
you tree.” Pointing to the three largest of the four men, “Get over to Queens.”
He spoke as he made his way around the table to his desk.
this prick! Work him over, good! But don’t cripple the fuck! We still need him ta pay.” Two of the men standing in front of the desk
smirked at one another. Lanza continued. “Wreck one, maybe two'a
his trucks. Let him know who done this.”
should we say is callin’ Mr. Lanza?”
him you’re from the Fulton Watchman’s Protective Association.”
into a bottom drawer of the desk, Lanza produced three strange looking items. Homemade
devices made from empty wine bottles filled with a yellow-ish
substance and corked with a primitive fuse system, they were too large to fit
into a conventional pocket, but small enough to conceal inside a coat.
these stink bombs. Find three of the markets he’s been deliverin’
to and pop one in each of them. This way they’ll get the picture too. That’ll
be the day some God-damned Ruski son-of-a-bitch moves
into New York!” As the three men filed out the door, the phone rang, but before
answering it, Lanza spoke to the remaining man in the room.
Boss. That’s about it.” This man was smaller and better dressed than the other
three. In addition he carried a double strapped satchel.
then. Make the rounds, check the numbers and get back to me this afternoon.” As
the man opened the door to leave, there was one additional instruction.
stay the hell away from Easy Emily!” Both men smiled.
picked up the phone. “Hello . . . yeah speakin’.”
K. Guerin’s office, please hold for Mr. Guerin.” A look of surprise registered
on Lanza’s face when he heard his lawyer’s voice on the other end of the line.
What’s up Guerin? I thought we didn’t need to meet til
come up. The D.A. wants to talk.”
about what!? If that prick wants to talk, tell him ta
wants a meet.” The lawyer tried to maintain his patience.
the hell for? What does he want to cut a deal?” Lanza became slightly more
enthusiastic about talking to the D.A.
No deal!” The difficulty in maintaining his patience was that Guerin knew,
although he had not told his client this, that Lanza had two chances of beating
his current indictment. Slim and none, and Slim had just left town. Lawyers
don’t like to lose cases, regardless of the guilt or innocence of their
clients. Of course, the Mob paid as well as any corporate entity, better than
most, so he would stick with the case as long as possible.
deal? Then fuck him!”
I think you should meet him. It’s important!”
was a momentary pause on the mobster’s end of the line. Finally he spoke.
better not be a set up! And it better be important, god-damn it!”
is important, and it isn’t a set up!”
“Awright then. What’s the plan?”
tell me what time you want to go up to the courthouse, and I’ll meet you.”
“Whatta you kiddin’ me or what? I
go waltzin’ up to the courthouse in the middle of the
day and every punk from the Bronx ta Hoboken is gonna
think I’m cuttin’ a deal, and that fuckin’ D. A.’ll, do everything he can ta get
the word out that I am.”
It’s not a trick, trust me!”
you?! What? You stopped bein’ a lawyer yesterday?”
funny, prick! When and where?”
had no stake in whether or not Lanza met with the D.A. He was not being paid by
anyone for this, and it was not going to affect the outcome of Socks’ trial.
him you’ll call him. Tonight, at eight.” Lanza had already worked out all the
details in his mind in the last few seconds of conversation.
will you call me?”
at seven-fifty nine. I gotta go!”
sea food workers and some retailers are havin’ a
dispute. I called a meeting to straightin’ it out.”
“Straightin’ it out?! You own the unions and the retailers!”
they're like little kids, always fightin'. Time for
Daddy to have a talk. After all, the only thing that matters is the bottom
line, right?” Joey checkmated the lawyer.
one more thing!”
the DA if he knows who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Socks asked laughingly.
hung up, pleased with his forthcoming plan.