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The Broad in the Kimono by Paddy Kelly

No. words: 113600

Style: Action/Adventure - General, Historical Fiction - US History

Published: 5 / 2020

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The Broad in the Kimono

by Paddy Kelly

STORY DESCRIPTION

1947 - The Mob establishes the Flamingo casino creating the famous Vegas strip. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, controlled by a dodgy Harry Anslinger, is given massive funding to initiate the failed War on Drugs. Senators Thomas and Rankin start their communist witch hunt against a Hollywood where Jack Warner is at war with his writers as the long established Studio System begins to crumble.

All this while the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, featuring professional baseball's first black player, face off in the first televised World Series. And oh yeah, it’s a Presidential re-election year.

1947 - It was a great time to be alive. For some. But for Benjamin 'Benny' Joules' a promising young script writer who just signed a lucrative contract with Warner Brothers it could be better. Young Joules’ contract was abruptly cancelled when his body was found hanging in the closet of his Greenwich Village apartment.

With the newly available gizmo called ‘tele-vision’ Truman, Thomas, Rankin, Warner and others initiate a fight for control of the main stream media that reverberates until today.

In the last book of the Operation Underworld Trilogy, The Broad in the Kimono, a remarkable episode of déjà vu is captured showing today’s political turmoil is a mere repeat of what has gone before.

Specifically in the year 1947.

 

EXTRACT FOR
The Broad in the Kimono

(Paddy Kelly)


The Broad In The Kimono

INTRODUCTION

 

T

he political turmoil which now permeates The United States is by no means new. As embattled as the two political parties are, the divisiveness, lies and dirty politics we now witness daily has happened before in The Swamp called Washington D.C.

In the immediate aftermath of the Allies’ victory of WWII many saw their opportunity to cash in on the ‘big win’, not least of which were the politicians and members of organized crime.

The exuberation of the 1930’s New Deal spawned a new transition to a wartime production economy and the resultant production mentality required to win the war quickly transitioned the national zeitgeist into an unbridled, all out production-based Capitalism virtually overnight.

However, the exuberant ether of forced optimism brought on by FDR’s tackling of the Great Depression and WWII was followed by a late1940’s, post war let-down of the crushed social revolution the much needed economic reforms of the New Deal had spawned.

As one 1940’s movie character in a scene set in a bar espoused: “Yesterday it was kill Japs. Today it’s sell cars!”

Coupled with a post-war disillusionment the U.S. public, for the first time, began to seriously question the institutions they had previously taken for granted - institutions such as government, Hollywood, the popular press and higher education. Four spheres of influence which quickly realized they had unintentionally been handed unprecedented power to influence the population of the most powerful country in the world.

While the Ivy League universities crept towards neo-Marxism and the senate went off on safari with the communist witch hunts the half dozen major Hollywood studios sought to influence America with the introspective, politically critical Noir genre as well as the movies which have become to be called the ‘social justice’ films of the Thirties and Forties.

This era, punctuated by political irony, government backed censorship, bolstered at times, by outright lunacy, lasted well into the Sixties. Fear borne, of ignorance, leading to wide-spread political paranoia was heavily influenced by film and vice versa. It is no coincidence that this time period, 1941-1957, is the widely accepted life span of what has become known as Film Noir.

Starting with The Maltese Falcon in 1941 and ending in 1958 with A Touch of Evil, (with Marlene Dietrich and Charlton Heston playing Mexicans), what came to be known as Film Noir mixed with the ‘social message’ movies of the immediate pre and post war era to contribute to the turmoil of the contemporary American socio-political landscape.

We now have social media to play that role.

In 2003, in Kyoto, a leading environmentalist was asked by a reporter how scientists could hammer home the global warming crisis to politicians. The doctor’s answer was, ‘Get Spielberg to make a movie.’ A year later work began on The Day After Tomorrow, a disaster film which espoused the knock-on effects of continued global warming, whose producers, in a fine display of marketplace symbiosis, lost no time in borrowing heavily on Bush's denouncement of the Paris Climate Agreement to hype the film.

Pre-release hype alone practically guaranteed ticket sales of the project and not only helped Centropolis Entertainment et al break even, but in reality the film quadrupled the box office take of its allotted budget and in turn helped to launch the current wave of climate hysteria which in some quarters has achieved cult status.

Ergo the socio-economic power of film. 

Of the plethora of significant historical episodes in the chronicle of my series Building of The American Empire, one of the least well known is the on-going 1940’s struggle between a nearly all WASP congress and a nearly all Jewish Hollywood, led by a near single-mindedly determined studio head, for the control of film content and his quest for industry domination.   

On the other hand historical records testify to the fact that radical elements in the United States Senate have, in terms of film content, relentlessly fought to wrest control of cinema from the Hollywood studio moguls like Jack Warner, as far back as the Twenties. However, the crescendo of the battle reached its zenith in the late Forties, just after WWII. And the way out for Washington was to find someone on which to pin the blame.

Before J. Parnell Thomas, before John E. Rankin and before Richard M. Nixon and the other mis-guided senators who employed the terrorization of writers, artists and actors to establish and maintain their careers, there were a tiny group of men in sunny, Southern California who, who with the compliant aid of the popular press, wielded more power and influence over the American Public than the entire United States House and Senate combined.

However, as much damage as the 'Onorable Gentlemen’ from Washington and their cronies in the popular press perpetrated against the U.S. Constitution, they were not behind the genesis of the worst period in America's most overt battle for free speech until modern times and the failed P.C. movement of the last decade.

These men were William R. Wilkinson, J. Parnell Thomas and Eric Allen Johnston: creators of the Hollywood Blacklist.

Wilkinson not only single-handedly ignited Thomas and Johnston’s 'Hollywood Blacklist', but inadvertently helped finance his new business acquaintances from New York City; Charlie “Lucky” Luciano", Meyer “The Accountant” Lansky & Benny "Bugsy" Siegel, to usher in the most diabolical curse ever to invade the shores of America – The International Drug Cartel.

So just as Americans today struggle daily with dirty Washington politics, You Tube and Google censoring free speech and raise questions about film content, so too back in 1947 did Americans grapple with dirty politicians who continually skirted the law, out of touch with reality Hollywood elitism and a bias unethical press, we currently call the main stream media.

The circle of life continues.

 

 


 

PROLOGUE

 

I

n December of 1942 Charlie’ Lucky’ Luciano, the then defacto head of the New York crime families, was serving a 30-50 year sentence for a crime he may or may not have committed which, for anyone else would have carried a ten year sentence.

The politically ambitious New York D.A., Thomas E. Dewey, realized that the keys to the White House lay not in the ballot box but under the headlines of the nation’s newspapers and like dozens of politicians before him, promised America to eliminate organized crime. A promise he well knew he could never keep, particularly with the head of the F.B.I. consistently denying the existence of organized crime in the U.S.A. while on the hand accepting bribes from the organized crime leaders.

From an extremely impoverished Sicilian family who immigrated when he was nine years old Luciano persevered to rise and achieve two of the most significant contributions to organized crime.

First, he temporarily eliminated the random murder-revenge cycle instituted by his predecessors such as Alfonse Capone, Johnny Torrio, Dean O’Banion and Bugs Moran.

Then by banding the crime member heads as one and instituting the Commission, in front of which grievances could be aired and settled and all killing had to be approved, control was instituted and more energy devoted to ever expanding criminal activities with diminished public awareness thereby reducing police and political interference.

Luciano’s eventual plan, known to virtually no one save Meyer Lansky, until the end of the war, was to bring the most profitable commodity, heroin, to the most profit ridden land, America, together in a mega operation of such magnitude that even he failed to fully realize the eventual global impact it would have.

The testimony to that statement can be seen in the fact that today there is not a single village, town or city in the U.S without a significant drug problem.

Luciano’s big chance came in 1942 with the sinking of the T.L.S. Normandy in New York Harbor on the 9th of February and the institution of Operation Underworld.

At the onset of America’s entry into WWII Operation Underworld was a plan to recruit Mafiosi into the ranks of the sparsely staffed, poorly funded Office of Naval Intelligence in New York City to guard the waterfront.

Although Operation Mincemeat, the secret mission setting up the Allied invasion of Sicily two years later upon which the second book in this trilogy The Wolves of Calabria revolves around, was a British SOE operation and unrelated to Underworld, which was an Office of Strategic Services operation by the Americans, they did cross paths through Operation Husky the actual invasion of Sicily in July of 1943.

All three were unwittingly instrumental in leading to a joint Sicilian Mafia/New York based Syndicate operation to import massive quantities of drugs into America.

By July of 1943 the Allies were able to launch Operation Husky, the successful invasion and capture of the island of Sicily. It was here that the government met with the Mafia outside of New York on their own home turf.

In the interim year American movies had virtually vanished from most of the rest of the world.

When, in 1945, the end of the war seemed inevitable and the sea lanes were opening back up, Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano, Meyer Lansky in cooperation with Don Carlo The Bullfrog’ Vizzini had already begun to set up trade routes and U.S. based distribution centers for their outrageously profitable international drug business. They did this via many means to include setting up phony tomato caning operations and smuggling the heroin in as food shipments.

 By 1947 some of the political elite in Washington realized they could garner much political capital by continually focusing paranoia on the unknown but still dangerous Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano.

A political ATM from which politicians like Anslinger continued to make withdrawals well into 1962 when Luciano eventually died.

During the organized crime revelations, ensuing head hunts for crime leaders by the CIA, FBI & the FBN, Hollywood, while fighting off accusations of communism, were led by men like Jack Warner of Warner Brothers and Eric Johnston of the MPPA who struggled to keep their heads down and conceal their organized crime connections with individuals like Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and others.

This chapter of the story is told in The Broad in the Kimono, the last of the Operation Underworld Trilogy, the story relating some of the elements which have given rise to the circumstances modern Americans now find themselves brawling with.

 

gave rise to what is now known as . . . the International Drug Cartel.

 


CHAPTER I

 

 

34th Floor, the Artic Building

3rd Avenue and 24th Street

Manhattan, New York City

10:30, Thursday, May 8th, 1947

 

I

impeccably dressed in a grey flannel suit the heavy-set body, seemed to briefly float in mid-air before the falling motion set in.

His blue silk necktie fluttered upwards as he fell face-

First, floor after floor blurring past his descending form.

Thirty-four stories below, at street level the blue-grey haired Mrs. Epstein looked behind her as she backed her brand new, beige ’47 Chrysler convertible into the parking space and eased out of the busy Downtown traffic on 3rd Avenue. 

She shut down the engine, adjusted her arm load of shopping bags and climbed out of the car.

The screams of the passers-by around her suddenly arrested her attention as she fed several nickels into the parking meter. She turned just in time to see the body of the man impact the pavement a few yards behind her with a sickening thud.

Despite the mangled posture of the body, which appeared as though the man had been flailing on the way down, she recognized the blue tie she had selected just that morning for him to wear.

It was her husband, Mr. Epstein.

 

 

Earlier that morning Anthony Saul Epstein, who usually entered the well-appointed lobby in Lower Manhattan with a smile, instead just grunted to Larry the doorman when he came through the brass-plated revolving door before crossing the lobby’s spacious, marble floor and heading straight for the elevators.

Once upstairs he brushed past the janitor and entered his office, hung his hat and coat on the King Edward rack beside the door and went straight to his desk.

Twenty minutes later, as pandemonium ensued at street level, back up on the 34th floor the day maid knocked then let herself into Epstein’s outer office and began cleaning.

Hearing no answer when she knocked on the inner office door she let herself in and, as she reached for the wastebasket next to the desk, she spotted the open window then the note sticking up from the Capitol typing machine on his desk which slowly fluttered in the breeze from the open window.

 

My only hope in life was to improve the condition of an unfair economic system that held no promise to those without wealth to gain even a decent chance for the citizens of this civilization to survive, let alone live.

 

Although Epstein was a successful Mid-town businessman, on the strength of the cleaner’s testimony and that there was a suicide note, all pressured by the fact that there were over a half dozen bodies a day arriving at the city morgue, a cursory autopsy was all that was deemed necessary.

The Coroner stamped ‘Suicide’ on the outer folder and filed it under ‘E’.

 

 

Stevens Hotel

Michigan Avenue, Chicago

11:30, Friday, 16 May

 

Right about the time Anthony Epstein was achieving terminal velocity between floors 18 and 16 of the Artic Building above Manhattan, a small army of wait staff was preparing the Grand Ballroom on the ground floor of the Stevens Hotel, what was to become the Conrad Hilton, on Michigan Avenue.

The hall was designed to seat 1,800 but tonight, with no dinner scheduled, over 3,000 would be stuffed in across the oak parquet dance floor.

It was the 3rd Anniversary celebration of the Sons of Liberty, Chicago main branch.  

Established by a group of successful businessmen two years after America entered the war, The Sons were chaired by Joshua ‘Jake’ Steadman, sole owner of United Engineering and Construction.

At six foot two and weighing in at two hundred fifty pounds and no matter how much he primped, combed and dressed Steadman always looked as if he just stepped off the construction site.

Jake made his money in the late Thirties and early Forties and though most thought it to be in design and reconstruction of many of the Midwest’s factories in ’41 when the government was gearing up and retooling to get serious about the war effort and required massive amounts of manufactured goods in record time, it was actually in contract negotiations.

With a small nest egg accumulated during the Great Depression, he also had the where-with-all to bargain hard with the D.C. negotiators sent up from Washington to recruit industrial entrepreneurs, Jake wasn’t the kind of guy to let a little thing like a world war get in the way of making a quick few million bucks. Patriotism was okay for the other guy but it was at the altar of capitalism and profit that Steadman worshiped.

The mid-morning meet with his accountant to go over the second quarter take from his half dozen business ventures, told him he would likely break the 50 million mark by year’s end. Just the kind of ammo he needed to flaunt at the big gala tonight.

The S.O.L., now boasted over 5,000 full members backed by a couple of thousand auxiliary or associate members with a couple dozen volunteers constantly hovering around the periphery.

The Sons’ ethnocentric charter was unambiguous and unapologetic about their mandate. Among their alternative choices for titles was America for Americans, The Sons of Freedom and, a personal favorite of Jake Steadman’s, the United Sons of America. They had all the bases covered. All that was missing were the white hoods.

That Friday night’s function was strictly an after dinner affair, no reason to waste cash on feeding the masses the S.O.L. board reckoned, so the primary purpose of the get together, as could be deduced by one glance at the guest list, was to serve as the fledgling organization’s first real pitch at trying to wedge themselves into the upper echelon of American political society.

After all, if New York City, the financial capital of the nation was considered the backdoor into D.C. politics, Chicago was certainly a backdoor into NYC politics.

Among the invitees was the Mayor of Chicago, Martin Kennelly, Deputy Mayor Coughlin, Superintendent of the Chicago P.D., a cursory collection of judges and the primary target for the evening, the Seventh Congressional District Senator, Charles H. Pickham.

It was about an hour into the festivities when someone manned the mike and called on Steadman to address the troops. Situated right next to the stage Jake was Johnny-on-the-spot and as the applause died down he stepped up to the mike and following a few cursory greetings he launched straight into his spiel.

“Thank you. Thank you all for coming. Now, I don’t want to get too melodramatic, there’s still too much dinking time left in the evening.” Appreciable laughter rippled through the crowd. “We, Americans, foreign or natural born, bear an awesome responsibility to the rest of civilization in regards to the safe guarding of the freedoms and morals of western democracy.” A moderate round of applause interrupted. “As currently is being witnessed across the seas in Europe there are forces at work as well as all around the modern world that seek to make it clear that it is their expressed intent to usurp our efforts. And the efforts of others like us.

They will, they do, seek to do this through various not so surreptitious means. Control of the international market. Industrial infiltration of other countries. And worse and most damaging of all . . . by flooding our shores with foreign, immigrant labor!” His words were bolstered by the occasional here, here!

“We didn’t start that war-”

“NO! BUT WE DAMN WELL FINISHED IT!” Someone yelled out which prompted a general mix of laughter sprinkled with applause.

 

“That we did, that we did!” Steadman agreed. “We didn’t start that war, but we stood together to finish it.

Sometimes people’s ability to look ahead is obscured by the events of the moment. We, as good moral Americans have a responsibility, no a duty, to look ahead to build a better America. An America for all Americans.

And now we must stand together again. Together to stand against them! The forces that seek to transform our country into what the free world spent the last ten years fighting against. Indeed it is the very reason that myself, Frank Smith, James Fry and others founded the Sons of Liberty and the very reason we intend to take the organization national by the end of next year!”

More applause followed at the already well known news. Steadman’s future political ambitions were no secret but intended tonight to serve as an official public declaration.

“When do we put forth a candidate Jake?” A crowd member yelled out. The surprise announcement bolstered by the benign heckle garnered loud applause.

Steadman’s impulse was to yell back ‘I’m ready any time’, but instead he just waved and casually walked off stage.

Better to leave them wanting more! His internal dialogue shouted.

Stepping down from the stage, in-between handshakes and congrats, Steadman made his way over to the packed bar and elbowed a space in the corner next to the man he had quietly staked out earlier in the evening. Not so coincidently the spot was right next to Congressman Pickham.

“Glad you could make it Senator.” He signaled to one of the barmen to bring another round for himself and the senator. “What’d ya think of the speech?”

“You’ll make a fine politician Jake.”

“Whoa, let’s not put the cart before the horse I didn’t say I was gonna run fer nothing!”

“Yeah Jake, this is my first rodeo!”

“I didn’t say that either!” The congressman adjusted his position and smirked. “But, since you mentioned it, I am interested in where you stand.” Steadman pushed.

“On what, exactly, Jake?” Pickham reached for his drink but refused the cigar Steadman offered.

“On the state of the country. More specifically on the immigrant situation.”

“Well, we’re all immigrants, to one degree or another. Some of us got here before the others but that doesn’t make us-”

“I’m talking real specific like.” Steadman queried. The senator leaned in and lowered his voice.

“Like how specific?”

“Well, there’s quite a few folks of a certain . . . ethnic persuasion shall we say that, it’s come to light control quite a bit of the financial dealings in this country.” Jake took the senator’s bait and leaned in even closer speaking in a hushed tone. “Especially out in Hollywierd, if you know what I mean.”

“Like who for instance?”

“Well, without being too specific, the Jews.” Steadman specified.

“You talking about Hollywood?”

“Not just. Ya got Benny Siegel, Meyer Lansky Arni Rothstein, the guy that started it all.”

­“Started what, exactly?”

“You know, organized crime!”

“Let me ask you something Steadman. Guns on the table.” The big builder leaned back  on the bar and smiled.

“Okay, guns on the table Senator Pickham.”

Finally, it was pitch time.

“How is it of all the potential candidates for union president your man Morelli entered at the last minute, was the least known, the least financed and yet got elected by a 'landslide'?” 

Steadman shifted the thick Cubana cigar between his teeth and smiled.

“The construction game, Your Honor, is a lot like the political game.”

“Do tell?”

“Absolutely! In this game there are basically three kinds of people. Those who own the whores, those who pay the whores and those that are the whores. And, as you well know, Your Honor, it's not about who ya now.” He stood straight and tossed a few tens on the bar. “It's who ya blow! Drinks are on me. Look forward to our next meeting.” Steadman walked away.

Pickham shook his head/

“It’s Congressman! I’m not in the senate and damn sure no judge!” He finished his drink. “You fucking Neanderthal!” The congressman mumbled as he turned to leave.

 

 

Lincoln Park

Corner of Duncan Ave. and Route 440

Jersey City, New Jersey

17:10, Monday, 26 May

 

The sun was still bright and he’d have to wait another three or four hours until dark before he could make his move but he had to be reasonably sure the place was empty.

Doc McKeowen, draped in his brown leather bomber jacket and Negro League baseball cap, casually peered up and over the newspaper he held open as he sat on the park bench. The wide intersection of Route 440 and Duncan Avenue afforded a clear view of the entire exterior of the corner premises.

He watched as one by one the half dozen late model cars sporadically pulled out of the open parking lot catty cornered from where he sat in Lincoln Park.

Doc smirked as he glanced up and to his left as he saw the tall towers of the super structure of the Pulaski Skyway spanning the Hackensack River less than half a mile away. The Pulaski where a year ago he trapped and fought the crooked State Department agent Benson.

He glanced over to the side of the rectangular building as the sign painters began to break down their paints, rollers and two tiers of scaffolding stowing the gear in the back of their Dodge van. The wall sign was a little over half finished.

At just over six foot tall with dark hair, hazel eyes and a medium build, Mike ‘Doc’ McKeowen had been a swimmer in his youth, never ate or drank to excess, (well didn’t eat to excess anyway), even during the holidays and so was in as reasonable a shape as a forty year old bachelor could be. His idea of good fashion sense was to keep the dark fur collar of his brown, leather bomber jacket clean and to always have his N. L. baseball cap cocked back at just the correct angle.

A native New Yorker by birth, save for a couple of years on the NYPD following a 4F rejection by the Navy for a punctured ear drum, Doc’s life had been pretty mundane.

Following his divorce he founded his small P.I. firm and met his current girlfriend, Nikki Cole while on a case.

He glanced again over at the employee/customer parking lot of the property fronting the main warehouse building but he couldn’t see the back where he knew the executive parking area to be. He knew this from the previous day’s recon.

M&M Investigations had been hired by the head of security of an accounting firm, Steinberg Accounting, which also insured several clients who utilized Hudson & Delaware, a privately owned, bonded shipping firm, to ship their goods nationwide. Since the war’s end, H&D had expanded into overseas trade as well.

The accounting firm expected and budgeted for an increase in rates for overseas shipping at the end of the war but a month or so into the contract one of Steinberg’s bean counters noticed a disproportionate increase in domestic shipping rates after a number of clients started to complain about an unexplained rise in their shipping charges.

When H&D were approached about it they said they’d look into it. After six weeks with no response, H&D’s people began to dodge phone calls from Steinberg’s accounting department. That’s when Steinberg’s internal security people were notified. To avoid a conflict of interest claim if they initiated an investigation themselves, they called M&M Investigations to look into it. Doc took the case.

Weights of goods to be shipped were required to be stamped on the manifests which were usually taken off the federal weight certificates prior to shipping. A few pounds discrepancy more or less is no big deal on a truck or a ship, but on an aeroplane accurate weight comes down to the ounce. Doc immediately realized that the air shipment manifests were his best bet to start his investigation. Shipment manifests which were presumably kept in the front office.

H&D Shipping were headquartered on Duncan Avenue in Jersey City across the Hudson River from M&M’s Manhattan office. Doc made the trip over by ferry earlier that afternoon and had come to form an attack plan.

He checked his watch, grabbed his Army issue messenger’s shoulder bag and went up the block into a local bar. He ordered a drink and ducked into the men’s room.

Now dressed in casual but upscale khaki slacks and a light blue dress shirt with a dark blue neck tie, Doc pushed through the front door of the office in the front of the massive warehouse and storage facility and up to the room length service counter.

A thirty-something brunette sat off to one side squeezed into the far corner, at a small desk behind the long counter.

“Can I help you?” Head down, she kept working.

“Hi, good afternoon.” Doc removed his hat and brushed back the lick of hair that escaped the thick layer of Brylcream. “Is this Hudson & Delaware Shipping?”

“Yes.”

“Who do I talk to about shipping some freight to Italy?” Doc inquired.

“I can help you with that sir.” The brunette answered still not looking up from her tiny desk. She finished up what she was doing and stood to help Doc.

“Sorry we’re having the sign redone. More paper work. What is it exactly you’d like to ship Mr.-?”

Fiorelli, Giancomo Fiorelli. Olive oil. My family is in olive oil. We get the olives shipped in from a company in Sicily but they’re not yet licensed to ship processed goods back into this country.”

“Well Mr. Fiorelli, we can certainly help you there.”

She tore a page from a carbonated pad and slid it over to McKeowen. “If you’ll just fill out this form for us, we’ll have an agent get in touch with you in a couple of days with our shipping requirements and standard rates.”

“Super!” Doc donned a pair of horn rimmed glasses and took the pen and began to write. The receptionist stepped back over to her desk and Doc glanced up and behind the long service counter as he slowly wrote.

The cinder block wall separating the customer service area and the warehouse behind only rose about four feet from the wooden floor, from there up the rear wall was glass. He had an unobstructed view of the expansive warehouse behind reception. There was a small office to the side of where the secretary sat.

All manner of freight was stacked across the floor and he watched as a handful of workers shifted crates, barrels and cardboard boxes. He noticed the double sized rolling door in the far rear of the dock area.

“You doin’ okay?” She asked. Doc snapped back to the paper.

“It has a box here for estimated weight. I’m not exactly sure what to put. I don’t know how much my father wants to send in the first shipment.”

“Don’t worry about that. We’ll weigh it and price it for you.”

“Oh, that’s very thoughtful. What else do you need?” She stepped back up to Doc and perused the order sheet.

“This your company’s main number, Murray Hill 5-5121?”

“Yes, you can leave word with the secretary and we’ll get right back to you.”

“That’ll about do it then! Thank you Mr. Fiorelli, one of our agents will give you a call before the weekend.”

“Thank you Miss - .

Mornay, Betty Mornay.”

“Thank you Betty.”

 With a few hours to spare Doc decided to grab a beer and a sandwich at the place up the road where he changed but first he ambled around the side of the building which fronted the four lane State Route 440. Being certain no one noticed him he took a good look at the rear, fenced in area of the structure. A small fork lift scurried around the yard, some building material was thrown off to the side of the rear fence and there was a dog house tucked away in the far corner of the yard.

With no one around he rattled the chain link fence hard and watched as, from somewhere, a pair of Dobermans darted out into the yard barking loudly.

“SHIT!” Doc cursed as he turned away from the fence and started to head off down along the shoulder of Route 440.

“SHIT, SHIT!” He had stepped in a big pile of dog shit.

 

 

Approaching from the rear along the ten foot tall chain link fence it was just past ten thirty that night when McKeowen casually strolled back up to the rear of the H&D building.

The front of the building was far too well lit to attempt entry there.

Aside from the two marked parking spots, apparently for executive parking, the other side of the fence at the rear of the building was cleared away, probably for maneuverability of the forklift currently parked off to the far side of the yard.

With no lamp post in the corner where the building met the fence, light was sparse and so presented no problem. Doc scaled the chain link and quietly dropped down into the yard.

After only two steps McKeowen met his first two obstacles, Butch and Demon, the drooling, growing Dobermans.

He froze in place but moved slowly as he eased the small messenger’s shoulder bag to his back and removed a wax paper package from inside his bomber jacket. The low growling transitioned to sniffing as he removed the two pound and half Porterhouse steaks and brandished them to the dogs.

The dogs sat back in place and let off one bark each.

“Well trained little bastards, aren’t ya?” He tossed the steaks across the yard away from the rear door and the dogs bounded away. Doc bounded to the door.

The double dead bolt lock on the personnel door was no problem and Doc didn’t see any alarm tape on the doors’ glass panels. He was inside the warehouse in under a minute quietly closing the door behind him.

Quickly moving up between the stacks of freight to the front office he found the door from the freight area into the customer service area was dead bolted from the inside so he merely had to undo the bolt and the office door was unlocked.

Once inside the director’s office aside the secretary’s mini-desk he went to the four draw filing cabinet also unlocked and so had unfettered access to all the company’s files.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d swear they wanted me to break into this place!”

Having previously researched the names of three of Steinberg’s clients who had filed price hike complaints, he quickly located those files, double checked that the federal weight slips as well as the H&D weight records were in each and quickly laid them open out on the desk pulling out a small Land camera and snapping several pictures of each.

He then removed the film roll, pocketed it and stuffed the records into the small Army issue shoulder bag and prepared to head out.

Closing the door over behind himself he carefully started back out behind the counter towards the warehouse area when he was forced to duck down.

“Huh! Old Chinese proverb; if something’s too good to be true . . .”

The glare of headlights of a pick-up truck blared through the front window as it pulled into the parking lot outside the building. Doc crouched down, froze and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. He heard the slam of the truck’s door as the head lamps backlit a figure getting out of the truck. Seconds later a flashlight illuminated the customer service area through the picture window and drifted across the space.

SHIT! Doc cursed to himself. He noticed he had left the door between the customer service area back out to the freight dock open.

Maybe they won’t see it from there!

“HEY FRANKIE, SUMTHIN’ AIN’T RIGHT!” The fat security guard outside called back to the truck.

They saw it!

A second watchman got out of the truck as the first went to the front door and used his pass key. Doc did the only logical thing he could. He ran for it.

Quietly closing over the warehouse door and bolting it behind him he realized it would not look good, for himself or Steinberg if he were caught with the goods, especially off premises where he could be charged with robery. As soon as the door was bolted he unslung the shoulder strap around the bag and tossed it up into the ceiling rafters of the reception area above the door and ran like hell.

The two security guys were coming through the reception area door onto the freight dock just as McKeowen was carefully slipping out the back door into the back parking area.

The two Dobermans were roused from their dog shelter where they were fighting over the wax paper remnants and were nipping at Doc’s heels seconds later as he scrambled back up the fence.

“Fucking fair weather friends!”

He was able to make it down the outside of the chain link fence and out onto Route 440 as the two guards were running down through the freight dock and out onto the loading dock to the back parking area.

The two Dobermans chased them back into the warehouse but not before Doc overhead one of them yell.

“Go back around get the truck!”

McKeowen dodged the few cars and trucks racing up and down the state route and crossed over to the Duncan Avenue side of the road as he saw the Dodge pick-up flinging gravel from the front of the building and skidding out onto the frontage road outside the H&D building.

Apparently they hadn’t spotted him because the truck stopped at the intersection, unsure of which way to turn. McKeowen was also undecided about what to do next.

An open bed tractor trailer slowing to make the turn off 440 and up Duncan Avenue made the decision for him.  

As it swung wide to turn left he ran alongside it for concealment and grabbed onto the rear access ladder between the tractor and the rig and pulled himself up and into the space between the two.

The patrol van turned right at the intersection and drove up into the park. 

 A mile up Duncan Avenue Doc prepared to jump from the truck at the next red light but realized the tractor had New York plates. He leaned out and red the hand lettering on the passenger’s side door.

 

Broderick’s Fresh Seafood

Fulton Street Market

N.Y.C., N.Y.

 

“When one truck closes, another one opens!” Doc mumbled. He decided he could hang on for another fifteen minutes or so.

By the time the truck was through the Holland Tunnel and was in Manhattan he jumped off at the top of the exit ramp when the driver stopped for the red light on Canal Street.

Knowing his on again-off again girlfriend Nikki would be waiting for him he decided to find a phone booth and call her.

Nikki Cole and her young daughter Kate met Doc back in ’42 when she was working as a receptionist for Naval Intelligence Downtown in the Woolworth Building. McKeowen was looking into a fidelity case, which led him Downtown, they met and the rest is not yet history.

As a bonus prize Doc wound up with Nikki’s then work mate Shirley who he hired-on partly to make inroads with Nikki.

“You know what time it is? What are you up to? Nikki tentatively asked.

“Oh, not much. I couldn’t sleep, so I just rode around town a little.” He mumbled into the receiver.

You’re full of it McKeowen. Cole had an aversion to profanity and so never used it.

“Yes, I am.” He confessed.

You want to come over?

“I’d like that. I’m gonna stop by a diner first and get some grub. See you in about an hour. You need me to bring anything in?”

Just your body handsome.

“Deal!”

And maybe some crullers! The powdered kind.

“Crullers, the powdered kind, check!”

Glancing at his watch he saw it was just after one in the morning and headed off to get breakfast and consider what he had read of the H&D records. Ten minutes later he was at Manny’s Diner on Canal, ate then walked back to his office in Greenwich Village to develop the photos.

 

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