the first time since the turn of the century the overall labor situation in America was stable. The violent union
wars of the twenties were replaced by the violent labor
wars of the thirties and the Depression, which in turn gave way to the
retooling and re-employment required by the war effort. There was an unwritten
“no strike” agreement for the duration of the war amongst the waterfront labor force, and virtually every individual or entity
involved in labor utilized this time to posture and
jockey for political position in preparation for the day when things would
return to normal.
significant piece of the union pie was being sought after by the American
Communist Party, represented by the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. In 1942 the C. P. A. were a legitimate
political party and, in contrast to any other party, stood on a platform
composed almost entirely of labor issues. They held
sway with large segments of the labor population of
America owing to their earlier victories against vicious factory owners in New
England and New York, and until the witch hunts of the Late Forties there were
no widespread fears of Communists taking over the country and eating all the
The labor union leaders of other factions
however, were very afraid. The Communists offered members of the labor force something the other parties would not even talk
about, a share in the pie. However unsuccessful this would prove to be in later
years, at the time it was a difficult enticement to ignore.
party had gained considerable momentum on the west coast and the man out there
doing all the talk about pie sharing was a man named Harry Bridges.
made the mistake late that February, of coming to New York. He compounded this
error in judgement by letting his intentions be known, before leaving the west
coast, that the goal of his pilgrimage would be to organise labor
in New York.
he was functioning completely within the law, as a duly elected representative
of a legitimate political party and an international labor
that was in California. Seems way out there on the sunny West Coast Harry
hadn't gotten the word that New York labor was
already organized. By some Italians.
LaGuardia Field Bridges took a taxi into mid-town and arrived at the Hollywood
Hotel about mid-morning, across from one of Luciano’s former favorite night spots, the Paradise. Although the Hollywood
did not boast the elaborate floor shows of the Paradise, the service was good,
the rooms spacious and it suited Harry’s love of comfortable surroundings. After
all, if one were to battle the bourgeois, one had to understand its ways.
effeminate desk clerk saw nothing unusual in the dark haired, medium built man
in the dark gray suit and as Mr. Bridges registered,
the desk clerk rang for a Front, and then handed the new guest his metal tagged
room key. The bell boy, who had been leaning against the wall reading a comic
book, took his time getting to the desk and Harry headed for the elevators. Waiting
for the guest to be out of earshot, the desk clerk, in his lispy
dialect, addressed the front.
I’ve told you time and again about that gum! Take it out of your mouth this
instant or I’ll report you to Mr. Carlson!” The bellhop made an exaggerated
gesture of swallowing the offending confectionary.
frail little desk clerk, about half the size of Frankie the bellhop, did not
think it a good idea to push his luck, so when Frankie approached, the clerk
turned and occupied himself at the back desk.
Frankie watched the new guest walk towards the elevator he squinted his eyes in
a gesture of faint recognition. Turning the register around he read the name
and smiled. He carried the two suitcases to the elevator, which had already
taken Mr. Bridges up to his room. Setting them aside by the large fern, he went
across the lobby to a bank of phone booths.
“Lemme talk to Mr. Lanza.” Frankie felt like a kid at
Christmas when he pulled the door shut.
the hell is this?”
I need to talk to him.”
over at the Hollywood. Tell him I got something for him.”
on.” The bellhop knew he had a chance to start establishing his reputation in
The Unione. Frankie reckoned that if his guess was
right, he would no longer have to wait for his piece of shit brother-in-law to
get him connected.
who am I talking to?” Lanza asked impatiently.
Lanza! This is Frankie. Frankie the bellhop, uptown at the Hollywood Hotel.
sir. I think I got somethin’ for ya.”
like what Frankie the bellhop?”
know that Commie Pinko labor
guy from California?” He had trouble containing himself.
Bridges the Commie? What about him?”
who just checked into room 1017?” By now the diminutive desk clerk had swished
across the lobby and was heading towards the phone booth.
Lanza asked in a low, slow controlled voice,
registering increasing satisfaction as he spoke.
there, at the Hollywood?” There was a momentary pause on Lanza’s end of the
line. “Room 1017, is dat right?” Lanza reconfirmed.
sir. I’m supposed ta take his bags up right now.”
nice job Frankie the bellhop. You still want in at the union?”
Lamarr got nice tits?”
down to Fulton Street on Monday morning. See Joey DiTorrio.
Tell him I sent ya. Hey kid, what the hell is that bangin’ sound?” Lanza held the receiver away from his head
and looked at it. The desk clerk had found Frankie.
“Nuthin’, Mr.Lanza. I’ll take care
of it, thanks.” Frankie hung up and slid open the bi-fold door. The clerk
stopped his banging, and took a step back from the phone booth.
you put Mr. Bridges' bags in the elevator?!” Frankie the used-to-be bellhop
gave no verbal response. Instead, he walked back over to the fern and lifting
the two suitcases, threw them into the open elevator. He reached in and pushed
several buttons, and the cases disappeared behind the closing doors.
his small round, blue and gold cap, he walked over to the reception desk, and
after tossing the cap over the desk, Frankie magically produced the gum from
his mouth he was supposed to have swallowed, and spat the wad on the open
register book. Giving a broad smile to the clerk, who prudently remained across
the lobby, he slammed the book closed and pressed firmly, being sure to smash
the gum flat.
from his safe position by the phone booths, the clerk called out that Frankie
had better find another job because he was never going to work at the Hollywood
yeah. He was going to report him to Mr. Carlson too.
luck that morning ran thin after Frankie’s phone call. Although he immediately
dispatched a reception committee, by the time they arrived uptown, Bridges had
left his room. Next he called Commander Haffenden’s
suite at the Astor, but there was no answer.
instructed the three men to hang around the hotel and call when Bridges
returned. Their wait was short. About an hour later, Harry walked across the
lobby and took the elevator up to his room. Socks picked up the phone on the
I was just tryin’ ta call you!”
you got something for me on the other dock situation?”
But we got an out of town visitor.”
Haffenden’s anticipation quickly peeked as he harbored hope that someone had finally caught a saboteur.
labor organizer?” Haffenden
was seriously surprised.
He did not attach the same significance to this development as did Lanza. Then
again Haffenden was not involved in illicit labor manipulation. Not technically.
He’s a Commie!”
being a Communist isn’t illegal.” It never occurred to Lanza that Haffenden would give him any opposition on this.
if he starts talking some of that Commie shit out here? What if he came out
here to disrupt the unions? What about if he’s in cahoots with some German
spies or somethin’? Then it would be illegal! Right?”
Haffenden knew what Lanza was driving at. He wanted Haffenden’s okay to take care of Bridges.
he gave the nod, and anyone ever found out he sanctioned violence against an
elected representative, the operation as well as his career may be over. On the
other hand, if he told Lanza to lay off, he might not have as much cooperation
as he was presently enjoying. Haffenden’s long
what you gotta do. Only, I don’t need to know how. Just
let me know when it’s done.” There was nothing more to say. He hung up.
called the hotel and gave his men their instructions. Then he placed a second
call and arranged for a flight.
didn’t know it yet, but his pilgrimage was over.
block away from the Fulton Street Fish Market there stood a three story brick
warehouse, circa nineteen twenties. The two hobos standing at the side door
were surprised when they saw the bright yellow sign nailed to the doors:
BY ORDER OF NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF HEALTH.
RATS FOUND ON PREMISES.”
“What’samatter? Can’t you read? It says, ‘Closed . . . for .
. . remodlin’.”
I really liked that place too. Spacious, nice gentle ambience.”
two disappointed men turned and walked away in search of other accommodation,
and a place to share their bottle of vintage Thunderbird wine.
used to store large shipments of dry goods, the warehouse was abandoned in the
late thirties when temperature controlled storage and the advent of more
efficient trucking came to lower Manhattan. With most of the windows broken out
and literally every single fixture, removable or not, having been removed, the
building was of little use to anyone except some of the less desirable hobos
who had been banned from the doorways, streets and sewers of the Lower Bowery.
course New York being New York the building might have been abandoned but that
didn't mean it wasn't occupied. Voices could be heard emanating from the
basement. They were the voices of Lanza and Haffenden.
The words however had a Marconian crackle to them.
small room, in the basement, were two men. The room they were in was in the
extreme corner of the lower level, and it’s door had a crooked sign hanging by
one nail which read: “JANITOR”. The two men wore bulky headsets and were intently
staring at the RCA eight inch reel-to-reel tape recorder, while listening to
the play-back of Operation Underworld’s two prime players.
the hell do you make of that?” One of the agents asked, sliding his bulky
headset down around his neck.
me by the short ones! I figure the guys at the Hollywood belong to Lanza. But
this other guy he’s reportin’ to has to be somebody
pretty god-damned big.”
it sure as hell ain’t Luciano. Must be some new boss,
moved in to take over.”
the hell do they come up with these ridiculous names?”
night Harry Bridges remembered coming around the corner onto Broadway, and then
the stars were swirling in front of his eyes, and his vision blurred to a haze.
Now he sat in back of a car with a huge man sitting on either side of him, and
his arms were pinned behind his back.
short time later, he was in the back room of a restaurant, lying on the floor,
still blindfolded, beaten and bruised, sounds of banging pots and crashing
dishes surrounded him. A car pulled up outside, and he was man-handled into the
back seat. At LaGuardia Field he was escorted onto a plane, shortly before take off, and he understood that except for in the movies,
he had no reason ever see New York again.
next morning even before he had eaten his eggs, Socks was back on the phone
with The Commander.
don’t anticipate any more trouble concerning that Brooklyn Bridge deal. He got
on a plane last night.”
What about Brooklyn?” Lanza hesitated before answering.
need a meet after the weekend. Monday, the usual place, alone. I f you get
there first, don’t order the fish.”
won’t.” Lanza had a nervous feeling as he hung up. Not only was this operation
taking away from his own business time and making no contribution to his
impending case, it appeared to be rapidly gaining in intensity and scope. Worst
of all, what if Jimmy The Bull was right? No one anywhere had discovered any
for meetings were on a rotational basis per day. In other words if a day was
given over the phone, it actually meant the day after, and depending on which
day the meeting was actually on, the times were previously set. For example,
Mondays were always three o’clock, Tuesdays were always four o’clock and so on.
If a special, unscheduled meeting was necessary, a code word was used in the
conversation and special couriers were utilized. Late that afternoon Socks got
a special courier.
Luciano had a close partner, Frank Costello. Frank Costello had a top notched
bookie, Eddie Erickson. Eddie would regularly meet with Walter Winchell. Every
so often in order to get the inside scoop on “big time” crime stories, Winchell
would pass information on winning horses to a very highly placed law
enforcement official. The same official who now stood at window #3 of the
elderly man in the cashier’s cage read the ticket the gambler had just slid
across the counter.
Albany Eddie to show in the third.” He looked up at the small man in the dark
suit with the oval, baby face. The cashier recognised him instantly, even
without the two body guards standing on either side of him. Double checking the
clip board hanging next to him to confirm the results, the cashier filed the
ticket and counted out the man’s two hundred and fifty dollars.
man stepped off to one side and faced into the wall to put the money away, and
one of the short, pugnacious men with him commented as he removed his wallet
from his breast pocket.
don’t bet too often Chief, but when you do, you sure can pick ‘em.”
just have to know how to study the ponies, agent. That, and a little luck.” The opened bill fold showed an I. D.
card with a red stamp across it which read, “DIRECTOR” and a picture of the
little man, as well as a small, toy-like gold badge. The name under the photo
read: J. Edgar Hoover.
Park was the third leg of The Triple Crown and one of the oldest and largest
race tracks in the country. Although races were normally restricted or
suspended in the winter months, the combination of the mild weather and the
wartime atmosphere persuaded the owners to extend the season.
was always the best day to be there. There were specials at the restaurant,
happy hour started earlier, and there were more races to bet on. Whenever
someone brought a friend to the track for the first time, they were careful to
bring them in through the main arcade.
it was here that the excitement flowed over the lucky losers at its strongest,
and the absolute sensation of privilege at being allowed to donate your money
to such a fine establishment was most appreciated. It is highly probable that
this is the very atmosphere that first inspired Buggsy
Siegel to claim to have conceived the idea of a casino in the middle of the
desert, to his compatriots a few years later.
awful stench of the food and cigar smoke, permeated the arcade and flowed out
onto the first few tiers of stadium seating where they collided with the
pleasant aromas of horse shit and damp turf.
time is it?”
past five Mr. Hoover.” Looking at his watch short agent number one answered. All
three men wore identical dark suits, white shirts, Fedoras and shiny black
shoes so you could not tell they were FBI.
you two go and watch the races. Meet me by concession stand three, at six
Mr. Hoover, we’re supposed to stay with you at . . .” Short agent number two
began to protest, but was cut short.
SAID GO! GOD-DAMN IT!” They went.
He was the most successful bureaucrat in the history of Washington D.C. From
the time his father got him his first job at the Department of Justice, in June
of 1917, his borderline fanaticism, which he mistakenly believed to be loyalty,
grew ever stronger and increasingly self-perpetuating.
In no time at all J. Edgar’s ability to manipulate knowledge and
information before it reached the people, had grown to legendary proportions.
During the Deportation Hysteria of the early 1920’s Hoover worked at the
Enemy Alien Registration Section, appropriately abbreviated EARS, of the Bureau
of Investigation. It is from the 'reports' of the misguided scientists who
testified with “scientific proof” that aliens, especially Eastern European
Jews, were by-and-large undesirable, (due to everything from crime and disease
to an increased tendency to display feeble-mindedness), that he first learned
how easy it was to dupe the American public.
Performing center stage with a backdrop of anti-immigrant fever suited
Hoover’s purist mentality as well as taught him that oldest of government
bureaucrat’s tricks. Find something or some one to
label a dangerous common enemy, and after shining the spotlight on them, rally
supporters to mold into a power base on the premise you are the man to defeat that
enemy. Before the First War it was the Eastern Europeans, mostly Jews, during
the Second War it was “The Hun” and later it became the communists. Today it's the nebulous “Axis of Evil”.
Appropriating money wherever he could Hoover began to build his empire
within The Empire. However, money was not the only ingredient in the
From his early days in the twenties Hoover learned that money and
political influence bought access to the broadsheets, accompanied by
sympathetic stories which would go a long way towards helping him achieve his
dream of becoming a national hero.
He sensationalized his police stories through the media with consummate
skill. His personally approved police dramas for the “Lucky Strike Hour”, a
popular radio show, were by 1932 specifically designed to establish his bureau,
and by default himself, as pop culture icons. The children’s episodes of Junior
G-Men, broadcast nationwide, told youngsters how to recognize and report
suspicious persons to the local authorities, as well as taught them how they
should think and behave if they were going to grow up to be good little agents.
Follow-up shows such as Gangbusters and This Is Your FBI
continued his unending quest for popularity.
Ironically, even though it was from his hatred of aliens Hoover built a
career, it was an alien that would help him establish it once and for all in
the public eye by giving him Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger. From the
first time “Baby Face” Nelson called them “G-men” and John Dillinger’s body was
splashed across the front page, J. Edgar knew he would be a star.
His big break came in 1924 when the Bureau reached an unprecedented
level of corruption. He seized the chance when he was offered and accepted the
directorship of the Bureau, and took the post on the condition he be allowed to
isolate it from politics, effectively transforming it into an autonomous
By 1941 Hoover had been in service for twenty-five years, twenty-one of
those years as Assistant Director or Director, and although most career
individuals would consider themselves prime candidates for retirement, J. Edgar
wasn’t even halfway through his dictatorship.
How was a multi-million dollar government organization, which was later
able to enact law allowing a file to be compiled containing the details of
every one of its citizens' personal lives, held at bay by a criminal syndicate
which Hoover claimed did not exist? The answer is very basic. Hoover was
Lucky Luciano understood two principles regarding the approach towards
the American way of doing business when he established The Commission. Every
man has his price and when attempting to buy someone, always start at the top.
J. Edgar’s inane fear of bad press had kept him away from open
confrontations with organized crime, his policies regarding this behavior are
well documented. Through his consistent and unwavering public denial of the
existence of organized crime, Hoover did more to help the criminal syndicates
than any other single entity up until the circus known as the “War On Drugs”,
(which seems to have replaced the “War On Poverty” but has recently taken a
back seat to the “War On Terror”).
David Marston, a retired FBI agent, in his much acclaimed book, Inside
Hoover’s FBI, commenting on the relationship of organized crime and the FBI
under Hoover, stated that, “. . . although they, [the FBI and organized crime],
were presumptive enemies, in the first four decades they competed primarily for
This may have been an understatement. Marston, in the same publication,
comments that, “J. Edgar Hoover was the best FBI Director Organized Crime ever
This attitude set the ground work for The Unione
at a time when they already had controlling influence in New York’s City Hall
through Albert C. Marinelli, the well known Tammany
boss with whom Lucky shared a suite at the 1932 Democratic National Convention,
at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Marinelli’s rival, Jimmy Hines, another New York
top political leader, shared a suite with Frank Costello, Lucky’s partner in
the Unione. Both of these rival delegations were
there to elect the Presidential candidate for the 1932 elections. If this
sounds a little convoluted, let's simplify it.
The American Presidency is basically a popularity contest with little or
nothing to do with leadership ability or competency. Who
ever has the most money to maintain the highest profile wins the
contest. So, in 1932 between the Great Depression and Prohibition, (only in
America would someone attempt to make alcohol illegal in an effort to better
society), the general public were not happy with the existing leadership, which
was Republican. Ironically this opinion was arrived at largely due to political
corruption. As a result it was pretty certain the Democrats would take the
election. The question was, which Democratic candidate would get the nod?
This being the case, Luciano and Costello each escorted a delegation
leader to the convention, along with appropriate financial donations, so that
regardless of which Presidential candidate won, Al Smith or Franklin D.
Roosevelt, The Unione were assured of being in the
FDR who, only a short time before the convention, as Governor of New
York, set free from prison approximately sixty members of The Commission, was
the front runner. In January of the following year FDR was sworn in as the
thirty-second President of the United States.
Start at the top.
The FBI were no exception. J. Edgar, a man who given the chance would
impose the death penalty on anyone who opposed capital punishment, loved horse
racing. Eddy Erickson was a top notch bookie who worked for Frank Costello.
Walter Winchell was, well Walter Winchell, anything for a story.
Costello would give Erickson the expected winner of a given race,
Erickson would contact Winchell who in turn would get it to Hoover.
Ever wonder how Winchell got the scoop on so many top crime stories?
Every man has his price.
So in the space of a few short years, Lucky’s organization held
considerable influence in all the upper echelons of authority, and in turn
established contacts, patterns and techniques which are considered to be
standard operating procedures to this day when dealing with or within the
Federal Government or any large corporation.
headed over to the concession stand and ordered a hot dog. A race had just
begun, so the stand was nearly abandoned. There was a man standing in the far
corner, nursing a cup of coffee, and Hoover walked over to him while he ate.
Socks, how’s the fish business?”
Lanza wore a hat, and was visibly uncomfortable. “Let’s drop the names, huh? Whatta' you want from me?”
want a hot dog Socks? They’re really good here. Not like that shit they pawn
off on ya over at Yankee Stadium.”
I don’t want a fuckin’ hot dog! What’s this about?!”
the dog? I just like to treat my guests right Socks.” J. Edgar spoke while he
chewed, and allowed his words to drip with arrogance. “I hear you had a guest a
coupl’a nights ago.”
the hell you talkin’ about?”
finished his frankfurter, wiped his hands with a napkin, threw it on the floor
and reached into the side pocket of his jacket. Reading from the note pad he
produced, he began to give Lanza an education.
want a complete details concerning the Brooklyn Bridge deal. And its
association with the Hollywood Hotel on Broadway. What exactly, if any, is
their significance to a one Harry Bridges?” Lanza, initially expressionless,
“Lemme ask you a question. How come you guys always talk
like you got a rod up your ass or something?” Hoover began to boil. Spectators
could be heard behind him cheering the race on.
you ain’t got it all.” Lanza informed him. Hoover
looked at him quizzically.
forgot the Manhattan, the Williamsburg and the Queensboro.” Lanza baited.
warning you Lanza, you ain’t as immune as you think! I
could shut you down tomorrow!”
and if Frank Costello and a coupl’a others testified,
we could shut you down today! So don’t give me that strong arm of the law,
holier-then-thou bullshit. You’re just another crooked cop.” Hoover looked
around nervously. Lanza clearly had the upper hand now.
want to know who the hell all these new guys on the docks are, and where
they’re coming from!” Hoover demanded.
just new workers. Friends, relatives. We need the help. There’s a war on if you
I heard! And soon there’s gonna be another war on,
wise guy!” Hoover threw a news paper on the counter. It
was folded open to page four. Lanza picked it up and read the short story with
the “X” next to it. The story reported a California labor
leader who was irate at the treatment he received while visiting New York, and
that he intended to ask his state representative to launch an investigation.
was taken off guard, but not shocked, he already read the paper.
to page two, Lanza began to slowly, and neatly, tear out a second article which
ran nearly an entire column. He spoke as he worked. Then he slid the article
over to Hoover.
know. With all the tax money you take from the people you pretend you’re suppost’a be defendin’, maybe you
could spend a few bucks on a pair of elevated shoes.”
at the insult, Hoover’s expression registered extreme anger as he eyed the lead
line on the article:
DIRECTOR ADAMANT; ORGANISED CRIME NON-EXISTENT!”
public address system announced the last race of the day was about to begin.
south of the Fish Market, on the corner of Peck Street and Franklin D.
Roosevelt Drive, was a small fish restaurant frequented by local workers. The
Italians had their pick of restaurants, the Jews usually brought their meals
with them, but the Irish and the British workers were blessed with The
Chinaman. The Chinaman, no one could pronounce his name, owned and ran Chanze Chinese Chippy, which served the most authentic fish
and chips in Ireland’s western most county, New York.
approached Chanze just before the late rush hour,
which started about eleven p.m., and shook his head and smiled as he glanced at
the six stove pipes Chan had installed at different points on the roof and
exterior walls. The pipes served no structural purpose, but instead vented the
smell of the fried fish dishes in various directions, and could be opened or
shut individually so as to allow the aromas to waft in any given direction. The
strategy of course, to this venting conspiracy, was to entice patrons who might
otherwise waste their time eating more healthy lunches and suppers, or whatever
the after pub meal might be called. “I
wish I had that guy working for me.” Lanza thought to himself.
entered the eatery and took one of the red enamelled booths in the back. As
always he sat facing the door, after all this was a popular time for his
co-workers to kill each other in restaurants. An attractive Chinese girl with
long, silky black hair and green eyes, one of Chan’s sixteen offspring,
approached the booth the minute Lanza sat down. She looked to be in her late
want I should bring you a menu, Mac?” She was born and raised in New York, and
so spoke perfect English.
I’m waitin’ on someone.” She left him alone and
Lanza, looking at his watch. He was ten minutes early for the special meeting.
the hell did Hoover know about the Hollywood? And worse yet, the god-damned
Bridges job! It just didn’t make sense! Nice future, Socks. A contract on me
for working with the Feds, FBI on my ass, and some big shot Navy Intelligence
guy given’ me grief! Prison’s startin’ ta look pretty
was no easy way out, and just as Socks began to regret his patriotic feelings,
Commander Haffenden came through the door.
waved, but it didn’t matter, Chanze was so small it
what’s the story on Brooklyn?” Haffenden wasted no
the hell with Brooklyn! We got bigger problems than Brooklyn!”
you okay?” Haffenden was unprepared for the change of
schedule. He had called the meeting to increase the load on Lanza. Now it
looked as if someone had beaten him to the punch.
I haven’t got a god-damned clue how, or when it happened, but Hoover is on to
J. Edgar Fucking Hoover. Mr. FBI!”
do you know?” Hoover wasn’t necessarily a serious problem as far as Haffenden was concerned. He would likely be able to deal
with him through normal channels.
his maniacal devotion to his bureau and the fact that there was a government
operation he wasn't in on had the potential to make things messy.
maybe it was the meeting I had with him at Belmont Park this afternoon. Or than
again maybe it was the fact that the little sawed off son-of-a-bitch knew all
about The Hollywood and the Bridges job, I’m not sure. But what I know for sure
is that you gotta serious god-damned leak in your
operation!!” Lanza had a hard time containing himself as he spoke. He kept
looking at the door.
nobody on my side had access to any of that information. When you called me,
that was the end of it. There was no reason for me to tell anybody about that.”
Well, somebody told somebody! Either that or we got fairies in the god-damned
phone lines!” Haffenden looked at Lanza, hesitated,
and then sat back in his seat. The Commander had an epiphany.
the hell are you talkin’ about?”
think the only other people who know about our little merger might have a
Gurfein!” Lanza had a delayed epiphany. “Whata we do?”
“We do what all good operatives do when they
think they’re compromised. We use them!” Haffenden
hadn’t felt this mischievous since he was a teenager. He was making Lanza edgy.
call me tomorrow at half past ten. Talk in the open. Don’t use any code. Tell
me we have to meet immediately. Something’s gone drastically wrong since last
night. Act panicky.” That shouldn’t be hard! Thought Lanza.
me you’ll have the microfilm from the FBI job ready to hand over. Got it?”
FBI job?” Lanza was feeling he was definitely in over his head.
do it! Okay?” Chanze daughter returned to the table.
“Youse ready ta order or what?”
next morning, as prearranged, Lanza rang Haffenden
and set the meeting for that afternoon at half past twelve. An hour and a half
before meeting time a jazzed-up, cherry-bomb red pick-up truck pulled up
outside the fish market on Fulton Street. The chrome garnished vehicle sounded
its horn twice and Lanza came out of the market carrying a brown paper bag. He
had no way of seeing the agent on the top floor of the warehouse a block away,
but Haffenden warned him he would be watched.
the agent in the warehouse checked his watch and went to make the call, Lanza
and the driver of the pick-up pulled away from the market.
Frankie the bellhop! You got the routine straight?”
about it Mr. Lanza! Just sit back and enjoy da ride like you wuz at Uncle Milty’s!” Frankie
was pleasantly surprised at being called into work a day early to do a special
favour for Mr. Lanza.
pair had no sooner looped around the Battery and were heading north onto West
Side Drive when Frankie saw the dark blue sedan in his rear view mirror.
friends are here Mr. Lanza. Ya want I should start
north of the tunnel. Around pier forty.”
pre-lunch hour traffic was yet to hit so the run north of the Holland Tunnel
was about five minutes. However, right at the Christopher Street cross-over
Lanza braced both feet against the dash board, sat back and gave a nod. Frankie
the bellhop smiled and the two agents in the sedan watched in disbelief as the
ten year old truck grew smaller and smaller, until by the time they reached the
12th Street cut off it vanished altogether.
it! Go red! Right now god-damn it! Go red!!” The senior agent knew first hand how much J. Edgar appreciated failure. The
driver floored the pedal and the sedan raced around several cars until reaching
a point on the highway where they had an unobstructed view for half a mile.
couldn’t have just vanished!” The driver spoke to his preoccupied passenger who
was consulting the neatly folded map he held in his lap.
off on Tenth Avenue! If they’re leavin’ The City
it’ll be the Lincoln or the G. W.! If not we’ll get them by West 57th.” At the
exit the sedan unit called in by telephone and alerted the 69th Street office
of the likely intercept locations and then drove north along tenth.
old pick-up, which was now approaching River Side Park, was used extensively
during Prohibition. After refitting her with a larger, six cylinder engine, a
four barrelled carburettor and the new experimental tubeless tires, slightly
underinflated, she was better suited to “runs” now then in the days of running
rum over the Canadian border.
still wanna take the bridge, Mr. Lanza?”
they’ll have it covered. What time is it?”
off on 96th, cut across the park. Go to Central Park South. A little birdie
told me we could probably find our friends there.” Twenty minutes later, as
predicted, they found the dark blue sedan parked on Central Park South and
agents were outside their parked vehicle and while the driver was half way
through a hot dog, the senior agent stood by a telephone booth, impatiently
waiting for a location check, smoking a cigarette in the cold midday air.
and Frankie had driven past them, turned around at Columbus Circle and were
half a block away approaching from the west end of the park.
corner pay phone finally rang and before he had the receiver to his ear the
senior agent heard his partner yelling.
they are! The bastards are back!” Pointing at them he threw the remainder of
his lunch into the street and drew his service revolver. His partner yelled
into the phone.
got them!! East on Central Park South! We’re rolling!” Slamming the phone down
he ran to the car as his partner fired three rounds at the passing truck. The
first two shots buried themselves in the wooden bed of the vehicle, but the
third shattered the small rear windshield spraying glass all over Lanza and
Frankie. Lanza went straight to boiling.
crazy bastards! Shootin’ wild in the streets like
that! Did you see that shit?” Without waiting for an answer he put the bag on
the floor and reached into his shoulder holster. Frankie gradually accelerated
after turning south onto Fifth Avenue and slowly smiled as he watched Socks do
a quick functions check on the .45 Colt.
gradually reduced his speed to allow the FBI agents to close the gap between
her steady kid. Don’t make no sudden moves.” Breaking out some residual glass
in the rear window and bracing himself against the frame, Lanza fired two
rounds into the grill of the sedan, which by now was only two car lengths
behind, and one into the windshield between the two agents.
fluid gushed from the grill and the fan could be heard whacking the engine.
steam hissed out of the grill through the bullet holes the two agents, panicked
by the shots, lost control of the car which snaked back and forth across first
three then all six lanes of Fifth Avenue traffic. A Canadian tour bus swerved
to miss the sedan and climbed halfway up a Sunshine taxi parked on the north
bound side before coming to a halt.
agent driving the sedan, struggled against the uncontrollable momentum of the
huge vehicle but managed to regain steering long enough to avoid hitting the
parked cars on his right. However, the serpentine pattern continued and they
quickly ran out of road. Only a few seconds later they slammed through the
wrought iron fence surrounding the public library at 42nd Street.
as well as visitors walking to and from the busy building were thrown into
pandemonium as the momentum of the large vehicle sent it careening up the
granite stairs and crashing violently into one of the Corinthian columns
adorning the entrance.
turned back around in his seat and replaced his weapon as they continued down
bastards!” He turned back and yelled out the window. “This ain’t
Chicago ya know!!”
time is it?”
Square Park was a small park which occupied about three square blocks. The
centre of the park was dominated by a large grassy field surrounded by a paved
walk and benches spread out around the footpath and otter
areas. Tompkins provided visitors a refuge from the urban landscape by virtue
of the tall trees and assorted foliage dominating the entire perimeter. Due to
its small size only four gates were available to enter or leave the park, one
at each corner.
Socks had Frankie drop him off at East Houston
and Essex and told him to wait at the Tenth Street entrance. He then began to
slowly stroll north on Avenue A with the bag tucked under his arm. Within one
block of the park, he noticed a man following him.
exactly twelve-thirty the party started.
appeared and made his way across the brown grass towards the north west corner
of the park waving in an exaggerated manner to an old man sitting on a bench,
feeding the pigeons. Lanza sat down next to him and slipped him a small
container which he removed from the brown bag.
of Hoover’s men, inconspicuous in their gray suits,
and black shiny shoes, worked their way past the cripple beggar in the grass,
the old lady on the bench and four old men sitting at a table playing chess
three agents had slipped around behind Lanza and the man, and remained out of
sight in their imaginary stealth. Fedoras cocked at just the right angle, arms
outstretched with snubbed nosed .38's pointed at the
ready, they sprang forth precisely as Lanza was helping the old man loosen the
lid on the jar of heart medicine he had removed from the brown paper bag.
your hands up and drop your weapons!” The cripple beggar stood behind one of
the agents and held a pistol to the nape of his neck as he spoke. Turning
slowly towards the right to look at his assailant, the agent saw the four chess
players now had their military issue .45's aimed
straight at his two partners.
suggest you comply, gentlemen.” It was the old man sitting on the bench who had
a remarkably young voice. As the revolvers were being collected Lanza saw his
cue and immediately stood and walked towards the exit in the north east corner
of the park.
unmarked sedans pulled up to the gate to a position just behind the assorted
collection of Government agents and, as the last of the FBI agents was
handcuffed, and escorted into the back of the first car, they were driven away
by the old woman. The Naval Intelligence Operatives piled into the second car
and both vehicles u-turned and drove away the park.
me. I have a delivery for a Mr. D. A. Hogan” The young Parcel Post driver
consulted his clipboard as he spoke to the fat, red faced guard at the city
court house behind the window.
D. A. Hogan, Knumbscull! You know as in District
Attorney of New York City D. A.!” The obese guard corrected.
impressed. You can spell.” The driver leaned forward and eyed the rotund
stomach of the guard. “Guess I don’t have to ask why you’re not on active duty.
Meanwhile I still have a package for this guy Hogan. Where is he?”
place you ain’t goin’. It’s
restricted.” The guard smiled at being able to exercise what little power he
by me lumpy. I get paid either way.” The driver spoke as he turned to walk
away. “Tell him it’s a priority shipment from the Department of Naval
Intelligence, and it’s marked Classified Delivery.” He was nearly out the door.
“He can pick it up between nine and five at the uptown . . . eh . . . the North
guard had a noticeable change in attitude when he heard the classified part,
and forcing himself out of the booth, which he normally did only twice a day,
he waddled out to the street to the driver who was already in his truck.
said there was a classified ticket on that package?” Trying to be humble while
attempting to project authority was difficult.
you better get that upstairs. Ta the fourth floor.”
now it was nearly three o’clock and after the D.A.’s secretary signed for the
package and the D.A. got around to opening it, it was four fifteen. The three
FBI agents had been in their cell at the Federal Holding Facility on Governor’s
Island for nearly four hours.
D. A. stood alone in his office, behind his desk hands on hips, staring down at
the three badges, empty service revolvers and I. D. cards which lay in a neat
stack on his desk, and his secretary was attempting to contact the New York
office of the FBI.
knew the taps were now essentially useless, but could not bring himself to give
the order to disconnect them. When a judge grants special permission to install
a wire tap, he is very unhappy when he finds out it
has been in place for several months, and nothing came of it. Most judges
believe it reflects on the competency of the police work. Hogan had asked for
two bugs, one for each of Lanza’s phones. The judges were justified in their
one’s Moe? Huh? Just tell me that. I Want to know which one’s Moe?” It was now
seven-thirty, and although it had only been an hour and a half since their
release, the three FBI agents already missed the serenity of their cell, on
got to be Moe because I know I’M LOOKING AT THE THREE FUCKING STOOGES!!” The
three agents stood motionless in front of the desk. Hoover’s New York office at
69th Street and Third Avenue was only used by him on rare occasions. It was
situated in a good part of town only three blocks off the FDR Drive and not far
from Roosevelt Island. He hated New York. Mabel, the middle-aged secretary
could hear him through the sound proofed door and decided it was a good time to
call it a night. She quickly gathered her things and left.
in God’s name did you three ever get selected for New York branch? Did you know
somebody? Did you have connections? Better yet, how the HELL DID YOU EVEN GET
SELECTED FOR AGENT TRAINING?!!” Hoover paced behind the big desk while the New
York Bureau chief sat quietly in the corner, hands folded in front of his face.
He didn’t respond when Hoover addressed him.
hope ta’ hell this isn’t the best you’ve got up here!” He finally took his
seat. The oversized desk made his small stature look clownish as he spoke
ladies. Here’s what we’re gonna do. Have the
secretary, what’s her name?”
sir. Her name is Mabel” The agent answered quickly and mechanically.
Mabel contact the D.A.’s office in the morning and your three . . . agents,
will go over there and collect their government issue service revolvers. You
know. The ones you swore an oath NEVER TO RELINQUISH! And then you will camp
out on top of Socks Lanza. Not in the same neighborhood,
not in the vicinity, ON TOP!! He stops short, I want you up his ass! Somethin’ is goin’ on down on the
waterfront and I intend to get to the bottom of it! Are we clear?” No one was
in a hurry to speak. Finally the tallest of the three agents mustered the
Director, we can’t go over in the morning.”
why the hell not, Moe?”
the city offices are closed on Saturday.” Hoover was heating up again. He
yelled through the soundproofed door for the secretary.
MABEL!! Find out how to get a hold of the D. A. on a Saturday morning and book
me a flight to Washington, for first thing Monday!”
was different than the average working class individual. Other than being
willing to take a risk, a contributing factor to the financial mess in which he
now found himself, he liked Monday mornings. It’s not that it was any easier
for him to get out of bed at the irritating sound of the alarm clock, but he
always looked at Mondays as a time to start over. Another opportunity to keep
that promise to himself he’d been breaking since New Years
Day. Or to do some little thing he put off all last week.
on the other hand had a much more practical view towards these things. Every
year Louie made the same New Years' resolution, which was not to make a New
Years' resolution. And he never broke his resolution. Not once. This way he
significantly reduced the amount of personal anguish he would put himself
through in the following 364 days.
with the new glass panel on the front door, the office cleaned up, and a new
table in the right hand corner of the room for Louie to work at, Doc felt a
sense of renewal as he entered the office on this peaceful Monday morning. Adding
to his sense of satisfaction was another case closed. Better than that, a
potentially ugly divorce case with a happy ending. Very rare. Doc felt good
about it, he liked the Birnbaums.
was nine thirty-five and Louie was late. He was always late on Monday mornings,
but there wasn’t that much to do. Doc played a game of mental darts with Loiue's good excuse calendar. The subway was late, the
alarm didn’t go off or Doris was sick and he had to drop the kids off at
sat down at his desk after setting the coffee pot on the hot plate, and opened
the folder someone had placed squarely in the middle of the blotter so he
wouldn’t miss it. He opened it and saw it was the client report on the Birnbaum
job. Louie must have done it to impress, and maybe to make up for losing track
of Birnbaum last week. Just as he began to read it, the door opened and Louie
Doc! Got the new window in huh? When are we gonna get
it lettered?” Louie sounded extra chipper. He offered no excuse. Zero points on
the dart board.
got Redbone working on it. Hey Louie?”
Doc?” Louie hung his coat up and was making his way over to his table when Doc
held up the report with two fingers like a used Kleenex.
good huh? That’s the Birnbaum case. Makes ya proud,
that’s not a report. I’ve seen reports, they don’t look like this.”
was impervious to insults. He took a magazine out of his back pocket, sat at
his table, put his feet up and began to read.
on Doc. That’s a completely usable report.”
For the bottom of a bird cage.”
me one thing that’s wrong with it?”
subject as he disembowelled himself from the station’.”
right! Disembowelled! It means to remove. I looked it up! Hey Doc, look at this!
Five acres of land for only 500 bucks! What a deal!”
Where? Siberia.” Doc crumpled the report and threw it in the trash.
better, Southern Florida,” Louie related. “Some place called Coconut Grove.” He
circled the article with his pencil.
ever been to Southern Florida Louie?”
But you have. Just recently too, haven’t ya?” Louie
laughed. Doc didn’t.
better get on the ball, Bonehead. If I’m not mistaking you got about three
weeks to your State Board exam. You screw it up because you’re trying to
describe the ‘ambulance of a room’ on your final test report, and your gonna be back haulin’ garbage
with ya cousin Guido!”
on Doc! Don’t I always pull through?” Louie opened the manual and started to
idly flip through the pages. “Hey! Speakin’ of screwin’ up, you called that broad down on Church Street
not a broad Louie. She’s a good kid that’s had a tough break.” Doc removed a
blank Client Report form from the files and began to fill out a new Birnbaum
Doc. You called that nice broad that’s had a tough break down on Church Street
yet?” Louie lowered his magazine. “How the hell you know she’s had a tough
break? She spill her guts to you already?”
what do private detectives do?”
in this town one of two things. They pay the cops or the judges to get work or
. . . they starve. Which is probably why that prick Sammon
is doin’ so good uptown.”
detect. That’s what they do. Now get your head outta yer ass Louie, ‘cause you’re
PISSIN’ ME OFF!” Louie, never saw it coming. Doc blindsided him by flinging a
copy of the New York State Private Investigators' Regulations at him and nearly
knocked him off his chair.
Doc! What the hell was that for?” He sat up straight and started to pay attention.
Exactly the intended effect.
you got a lotta potential. But you piss me off with your nonchalant attitude. You
better start payin’ attention! Because someday when
your ass is draggin’ in the dirt, and you least
expect it, some asshole cop, some irate husband or just some punk off the
street is gonna put one in your back! Doris and the
kids ain’t gonna make it on
what their handin’ out downtown, god-damn it!” The
part about Louie’s family was unexpected, by Doc as well as Louie. Doc realized
he had recently developed an uncontrollable gut reaction to images of kids and
looked down at the manual. It was impossible to find the right words. “Jesus
Doc, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you cared. I'll . . . “
say it! Just do it! Be a detective, god-damn it!”
Doc! Don’t you think I wanna be? I try my ass off to
figure stuff out. Get clues, find traces. Nuthin’! And
then there’s you! You look at a god-damned piece of dust and give me the
history of the room! I can’t do that! Honest ta Christ Doc, I don’t know how
you’re not rich! You should'a stayed on the force. You’da made Chief by now.”
retort was disarming, but Doc wouldn't be thrown off the track of trying to
focus his best friend.
couldn’t stay on the force because most of those guys are in it for the steady
pay check and the pension. Half the shit they solve gets solved because some
guy rolled over for them, the other half gets solved because the crook screws
up. Look, Louie, you gotta feel it. Here, in your
gut. You gotta eat it, sleep it, breath it and shit
it. You gotta want it! It’s not about the money. It’s
about doin’ somethin’ you
love. Somethin’ you’re good at. Somethin’
you’re passionate about!”
but Doc. I ain’t no good at nuthin’!
Hell, I nearly lost that old Birnbaum guy last week and he's older then
Methuselah!” Louie looked down at the desk. Doc guessed what was coming. “And
there’s something I gotta tell ya.
I broke a rule. A rule of tailing.”
I know. He saw you.” Louie’s head snapped to the upright position, and he
looked at Doc like a dog seeing it’s own image in a
mirror for the first time.
see, damn it! How the hell did you know that?”
pay attention.” Louie continued to stare. Doc felt compelled to explain. “You
told me you and Birnbaum came down town on the same train, that means you got
off the train at the same time, at Wall Street. I saw you were in the phone
booth before Birnbaum was through the door. And, since the phone is further up
the street than the door, that means at some point you had to cross in front of
or by him. So I had to assume that you were made.” Louie was relieved Doc
hadn’t deduced the screw up on the platform.
important thing is, that he didn’t see you in two separate locations during the
tail. That’s a dead give away.” Louie was
exasperated. He threw the book on the desk and himself back in his chair,
looked up at the ceiling and closed his eyes.
I’ll help you. Teach you everything I can. But you gotta
work with me here Louie. Louie!” He looked back at Doc. “Focus, will ya?”
will!” Doc had no way to know if he really got through. If he did not, he would
Now where were we?”
were just about to tell me why you’re so chicken to call that girl, what’d you
say her name was?”
didn’t. Her name is Nikki. Nikki Cole.”
gonna call her? Or you gonna
wear your heart on your sleeve the rest of your life?”
don’t know. I gotta think about it.”
about it? What the hell is there to think about? Ya
pick up the phone, ya dial the number, she answers, ya pop the question!” Doc winced.
bad choice of words!”
don’t wanna seem too anxious. Besides I don’t even
have her number.” Louie reached into his pocket and removed a small piece of
paper from his wallet. He got up and laid it neatly on the corner of Doc’s desk
smoothing it out a little for effect.
the hell’s that?”
“Delancy 5 9000. Number to the switch board at the Federal
Building. You know, down on Church Street.”
You think I wasn’t gonna
look it up?”
Doc McKeowen. The original Romeo. Like the last day
before Prom Night when you were tryin’ ta get up the
guts ta ask Charlene Meeny
ta go with ya.”
Doc! The day before?”
like suspense. Besides, I already knew she didn’t have a date.” Doc tried to
during third period break, you came around the corner like a bat outta hell ‘cause you were late
for gym and slam! There goes Charlene Meany bouncing down the hall on her boney ass like a little blond basketball.”
I got the date, didn’t I?”
but you were shittin’ like a dog in a Chinese
restaurant when you asked her!”
I asked her!”
the poor little thing had to limp into the dance from the size of the bruise
suppose you saw pictures?”
ya asked her while she was still sittin’
on the floor! What were you doin’? Waitin’ ta see if she refused before you'd help her up?”
night? Isn’t that the same night Doris slapped the hell outta
you for gettin’ so…”
change the subject, councillor! From what you told me and what I saw through
that door Nikki looked pretty good to me. And you know me, I’m no judge of
women.” Louie walked over to the hot plate and poured two cups of coffee. “Besides,
Doris thinks it would be . . .”
Christ Mancino! Now I’m in the gossip columns?”
give them somethin’ ta gossip about, damn it! Call
her!” Louie coaxed. Doc picked up the piece of paper, and put it in his wallet.
call her!” Louie continued to stare. “I said I’ll call! Later! I gotta be uptown at eleven. I have to go convince Mrs.
Birnbaum her husband is a patriot, not a playboy.” Doc went over to the rack
and put on his coat. “Meanwhile you stay here till I get back. With your nose
in that Reg Book.” As he was halfway out the door, Doc turned back to Louie.
didn’t tell me anything about her personal life. She was defensive, but
pretended she didn’t know how to fix the jack plugs on her switch board. She
had pat answers to my questions, and was middle to late twenties.” As he spoke,
Doc counted out the points he was making by extending the fingers of his right
hand. “And she wore a charm bracelet with the name ‘Katie’ on it and a wedding
ring on a chain around her neck. How did I know she had a rough break? Figure
it out. See ya in a couple of hours.” Doc left. Louie
hung his head as the door slammed shut.
hate it when he does that shit!”