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Operation Underworld by Paddy Kelly

No. words: 113700

Style: Action/Adventure, Historical Fiction, Mainstream

Published: 3 / 2011

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      • “A fascinating and lesser-known part of Mafia and WWII history, this brilliantly-researched novel is quite an eye-opener!” - Shelly Marsden Irish World, London "Dock workers shout and swear coarsely. You can almost smell the creosote and tobacco smoke as they do while the impression of a New York metropolis coming into its own is particularly potent. As a narrator he never has us at a loss as to our location, and using something of a film maker's palate, he lets the streets and docksides of New York become a central character in their own right." - Hilary A. White, The Sunday Independent, “Like a sunken treasure ship this intriguing wartime story has now been well and truly excavated.” - Irish Daily Mail, London “I was a bit wary as I began reading, thinking the use of colloquial speech and vocabulary would make the book hard going. However I was wrong; instead it gives the book a distinctive flavour, alongside the descriptions of a bustling New York." - Annette Hart Reviews Online Some Reader Comments: “I felt compelled to write and tell you that once into the last fifty pages, on my way home one evening last week, I missed my train stop by two stations reading the chase scene at the end." Christina Rossi, Philadelphia, PA Just a quick "Thank you" for Operation Underworld. Being a girl, I'm usually not a fan of crime-related stuff, but I got this one off my boyfriend's shelf to read something during a trip - and boy, did the trip seem short!" - Irene, Rome, Italy "I have been a history enthusiast for many years, and was frankly bowled over by the historical accuracy of the novel, as well as the effectiveness of the device used to carry the story. Historical fiction so often tends to be either too dry to capture one's interest for long, or superficial fun to read, but at the expense of historical accuracy. With Operation Underworld, Mr. Kelly seems to have found the happy medium that balances both. Now of course, we are all anxiously awaiting his next historical novel." - Lt. Geoffrey Meade, U. S. N. San Antonio, Texas “I am greatly enjoying Operation Underworld. The visual and auditory image of the two guys in the hold of the ship striking the water valve in unison to the choral strains of the Anvil Chorus made me burst out laughing! That is such a great visual, in such a weird context! - Paul O’Connor, Dublin, Ireland 5 out of 5 (visitor)

Operation Underworld

by Paddy Kelly

STORY DESCRIPTION

February, 1942. Free China is lost, the Battle of Britain has been fought and Hitler dines in Paris. World War II is nearly three years old, however the United States resists involvement. With an invitation from the Imperial Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbor everything changes.

In her first ten months of the war nearly 500 American ships are lost. The retooling of Her factories is estimated to take at least a year, and even before it is completed, the men who work in those factories must become Marines, sailors and soldiers.

The U.S. Navy is behind the eight ball, big time. They need help. To compound their problems, the most famous luxury liner in the world, T. L. S. Normandie, has just been set alight and burned to the water-line in New York Harbor initiating wide spread hysteria in fear of German saboteurs. All originating from a misguided sense of desperation, and a well planned feign.

Meanwhile, “The Boss of Bosses”, Lucky Luciano at age 45, is serving a thirty to fifty year sentence in a maximum security prison in upstate New York.

In one of the most ironic decisions of the war, the Federal Government requests the founder of organized crime, Lucky Luciano, to join forces with America’s most secret service, Naval Intelligence. Luciano, has been sentenced to life in prison for a crime that warrants ten years, and is concurrently fighting deportation to an enemy nation where he will certainly be put to death, when he is asked to help the government who condemned him. In addition, he is told he must remain in prison with no chance for compensation or parole.

Mike ’Doc’ McKeowen, a New York P. I., leads us through the story.

Doc just wants to get his life back on track after his business partner ran off with all the top clients, and a long and painful divorce drained him of his house, his family and his dignity. Fate may have a plan for Doc, but he can’t figure out what the hell it is.

Whether you believe the link between the Federal Government and organized crime is a slender thread, or as Mario Puzo wrote, ’. . . contemporary America, where law and organized crime are one and the same.’, you will learn how the foundation of the international drug cartel was laid. You will come to appreciate the saying, ‘Due Facce della stessa Medaliglia’. Crime and politics, two sides of the same coin.

Titanic was an act of carelessness.
Lusitania was an act of war.
Normandie was an act of genius.


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Reviews

“A fascinating and lesser-known part of Mafia and WWII history, this brilliantly-researched novel is quite an eye-opener!” - Shelly Marsden Irish World, London "Dock workers shout and swear coarsely. You can almost smell the creosote and tobacco smoke as they do while the impression of a New York metropolis coming into its own is particularly potent. As a narrator he never has us at a loss as to our location, and using something of a film maker's palate, he lets the streets and docksides of New York become a central character in their own right." - Hilary A. White, The Sunday Independent, “Like a sunken treasure ship this intriguing wartime story has now been well and truly excavated.” - Irish Daily Mail, London “I was a bit wary as I began reading, thinking the use of colloquial speech and vocabulary would make the book hard going. However I was wrong; instead it gives the book a distinctive flavour, alongside the descriptions of a bustling New York." - Annette Hart Reviews Online Some Reader Comments: “I felt compelled to write and tell you that once into the last fifty pages, on my way home one evening last week, I missed my train stop by two stations reading the chase scene at the end." Christina Rossi, Philadelphia, PA Just a quick "Thank you" for Operation Underworld. Being a girl, I'm usually not a fan of crime-related stuff, but I got this one off my boyfriend's shelf to read something during a trip - and boy, did the trip seem short!" - Irene, Rome, Italy "I have been a history enthusiast for many years, and was frankly bowled over by the historical accuracy of the novel, as well as the effectiveness of the device used to carry the story. Historical fiction so often tends to be either too dry to capture one's interest for long, or superficial fun to read, but at the expense of historical accuracy. With Operation Underworld, Mr. Kelly seems to have found the happy medium that balances both. Now of course, we are all anxiously awaiting his next historical novel." - Lt. Geoffrey Meade, U. S. N. San Antonio, Texas “I am greatly enjoying Operation Underworld. The visual and auditory image of the two guys in the hold of the ship striking the water valve in unison to the choral strains of the Anvil Chorus made me burst out laughing! That is such a great visual, in such a weird context! - Paul O’Connor, Dublin, Ireland 5 out of 5 (visitor)

EXTRACT FOR
Operation Underworld

(Paddy Kelly)


Operation Underworld

INTRODUCTION

 

 

In the Spring of 1972 there was little doubt in my mind there was an organized, well planned conspiracy between the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and my mother.  I wanted to be a frogman so in the last week of basic training in San Diego I filled out all six requests for billets, (duty stations), and all six were to go and join the little party LBJ was babysitting over in Southeast Asia, after a short stop over at  the Underwater Demolition School in Coronado, California.  When I opened my orders they said I was going to the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey to learn how to be a weatherman.  Couldn't get much further away from “The Nam” then Lakehurst New Jersey, or so I thought until I told the Navy I wasn't gonna be a weather man, I wanted to be a frogman.   My next set of orders were to Reykjavik, Iceland. 

My suspicions of a conspiracy were confirmed. 

There was not a hell of a lot to do during the day in Lakehurst, New Jersey, much less in your off duty time, so after hours I started asking around about the Hindenburg disaster and I was eventually steered towards a guy who was on the airfield the day the famous zeppelin burned.  Human nature dictates that most people like to talk about their larger-than-life experiences, (which is probably why some of us write books), and over a period of weeks he put me on to several other members of this exclusive club, which is no doubt a hell of a lot more exclusive today, and they were all very congenial about discussing their experiences that day in May of 1937.

The vividness of their descriptions was riveting.  Although witnessed thirty five years prior to our interview, the emotional fervor of their stories was infectious.  In particular, the attention to detail, the variation of perspectives and the way they seemed to regress to that exact day and time, was enthralling. 

The ability to pass on to another person not just a story but the emotional intensity and mood of a given event is fascinating and, although my emotional barometer is sometimes as reliable as a politician giving sworn testimony, I was hooked.  Thereafter anywhere I’d travel, world-wide for the next 37 years, the immediate priority became seeking out individuals who had witnessed or participated in some significant historical event.  What happened around here and who saw it?   

It's a strange feeling now that all you have to do is go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDU2MWJwJDc, and you can actually watch it happen.

One of the more interesting of these stories was first told to me as a child by my mother and reiterated to me years later on Mott Street, in Little Italy, while I was working on a TV shoot with some people who had attended Luciano's funeral.  It was later related to me from people all along the West Side as well. 

It was the story of how, in February of 1942, a German U-Boat crept into New York Harbor and sank the world famous French luxury liner Normandie.  Later I would find there was no U-Boat.  There was however, a great story about a ship that sank.

So why write a novel about it?  Because, after two and a half years of investigation of this incident, a dramatic story evolved and, except for a short documentary, and a short chapter in a biography about Luciano, I have not been able to find anything else written on the secret military operation which grew out of this incident. 

An operation whereby, as incredible as it seems, the United States Government hired the Unione Siciliano, alias the Commission, (erroneously known as the Mafia), to work for them to patrol the New York City waterfront.  The “Docks”, the very wellspring from which the syndicate made their illegal livelihood and would eventually blossom into what would be become to be known as the International Drug Cartel.

Basically, the story takes place over a six week period in early 1942 and in order to appreciate this chain of events it is essential to have a feel for the atmosphere of the time in which it is set, which is why I offer the short historical background in the Prologue. 

If you lived through these times, I apologize if it is not related the way you remember it.  If you were not around in 1942, then I apologize for all the characters not wearing trench coats, Fedoras, living in black and white and leaning at Dutch Angles.  The characters in this story are representative of the Government, Organized Crime and The People of the times, the three corners of our narrative triangle.

 This story, the story of how the most critical arm of the U. S. government at the time, Naval Intelligence (whose New York branch curiously seemed to be comprised largely of lawyers), during war time gave the highest priority to and actively recruited the man who established organized crime, (a fact they were likely not sure of but at least strongly suspected), to work for them.

 A man who the left hand of the government, politics, had just a few years earlier enthusiastically touted as their #1 poster child on crime and incarcerated on questionable testimony for a period five times in excess of what the law proscribed. 

One familiar with the upper echelons of U. S. government shouldn't be too surprised by this I suppose, as any relationship with them is comparable to a bad marriage.  What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine.

The waterfront is essentially a fifth character in the story and was the most interesting perspective from which to tell it.  It was where I got my first real job in 1967 and the first place I actually watched, (from a safe distance), two men out to kill each other.  Thus the incident on the loading dock is true, although reset in '42.

The true parts are essentially everything to do with the government characters. 

The incidents concerning the naval officers are all taken from newspaper accounts, such as Admiral Adolphus Andrews comments when meeting with the press and incidents in the briefing room office, and interaction with the New York City D. A.'s office which is taken from period documents as well as post war interviews.  

The business between the New York City D. A.'s office, the Navy and the prison system is all factual, although, especially in '45 and '46, the events surrounding Lucky's release from prison would make an interesting study in American politics on their own.

All of the dialog in the White House is historically accurate, taken from Oval Office transcripts, although the 'shocking' discovery of Italian frogmen and mini-submarines, (a notion like jumping out of airplanes with silk sheets strapped to your back, the U. S military leaders initially rejected out of hand and then had to play catch-up with when the Nazis jumped into Crete), did not reach FDR at the same time as Enrico Fermi's telegram announcing that he had cracked the code of atomic power in Soldier's Field, Chicago.  The incidents were more than a year apart but never the less are accurate.

I could find no documented evidence that FDR knew about Operation Underworld; however, it is hard to imagine that an operation that high up the naval chain of command occurred without his knowledge or consent particularly when he kept a Navy captain as his official Adjutant, personal advisor and confidant. 

Additionally, much to his credit, FDR was quick to pick up on unconventional approaches to operations such as tactics from the departments of 'dirty tricks' of other nations as evidenced by the response telegram he dictates in Chapter Thirteen, taken from his personal collection at the National Archives.

The initial contact with Socks Lanza by the D. A. is accurate, save the actual wording of the conversation that night in the park along the Hudson, and is documented by individuals who had later contact with parties on both sides.   

Although based on real people, Doc, Louie, Nikki and Treasury Agent Johnson, (who, along with the “the little black book”, connect the reality of the story with the fictional elements), are fictional.  The  “Little Black Book”, containing the most intimate details of the operation actually existed but vanished sometime just near the end or just after the war when everybody from Truman to a Department of Corrections' secretary wanted to know who exactly was involved.  It was never traced or found.

Hoover was never fully briefed about what went on and did chase his tail trying to find out.  However, he had already established himself as a collector of information to be used to blackmail or exert leverage on people and so, despite what was said in public, he was never fully trusted in political circles, particularly by those not given to maniacal paranoias based on race, color, creed or national origin.

The incident concerning a young JFK being secretly taped in a hotel room making love to Inge Arvad, the Danish journalist, is all true and leaves little doubt about the bad blood between the Kennedys and J. Edgar.  One can only wonder how the little cop felt when FDR ordered JFK transferred to PT boats in the Pacific and Kennedy returned home a highly decorated war hero thanks to the PT109 incident. 

This in conjunction with a second unforeseen event, the death of JFK's older brother Joseph while on a secret mission to bomb a Nazi U2 base, would put him as the front runner of the Kennedys to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Thus the significance of Hoover's vindictiveness can possibly be seen as helping Kennedy get elected.  Speculation will probably linger for generations as to whether or not he helped him out of office.

The primary influence for telling this story is William Manchester, a consummate historian who understands and has taught me the significance of the inter-relation of historical facts and therefore nothing stands alone.  For example, our fathers were taught and learned important points in history such as the U.S.S. Maine being blown up by saboteurs, Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill to win the battle and the war, about the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and  how important it was to get the Communists out of Hollywood before they brainwashed the country.

The U.S.S Maine was not blown up by Spanish or Cuban saboteurs,  Teddy never charged up San Juan Hill, there is recently released documented evidence FDR knew about Pearl Harbor at least two weeks beforehand, and the Thomas-Rankin and Truman-McCarthy witch hunts and HUAC were about stopping the Writer's Guild of America from gaining inroads into screen credit and decent pay and had nothing to do with communists taking over Hollywood.

So because these and hundreds if not thousands of other events are still taught in the American school systems as fact, to some extent the victor does get to write the history, but sooner or later some nosy, educated writers like William Manchester and Gore Vidal or journalists like Woodward and Bernstein will happen along and piss off a bunch of people by finding out and telling the truth.

It is from the narration of the burning of the Hindenburg and the story of the Normandie that I came to understand the significance of knowing about those who came before us.  I came to understand that you are what you are because of Genetics.  You are where you are because of Geo-Politics.  However, you are who you are because of the Genetics of Geo-Politics, which is History.

I hope you enjoy this story.


 

PROLOGUE

 

“Never ever trust what your government tells you.”

- Bruce Springsteen, Born In The U.S.A. tour, 1984

 

 

As a scientist and historian it's sometimes hard to reconcile the concept of fate.  To be objective and thus well rounded you try to see history as a simultaneously occurring series of separate events, on countless different planes, all unfolding in different places at various tempos.  But when you come across a single event which took minutes to initiate but would inextricably bind the U. S. Navy, the FBI and the Mafia and eventually tens of thousands of lives for the duration of WWII and then some years after, it's hard not to lay down the pen, close the texts, pour a drink and go down to the beach to watch the sunset.

Even more captivating is that the plethora of historical ironies peppering this story were brought together by Albert Anastasia, a man who didn't finish primary school, possessed barely a modicum of intelligence and who's claim to fame was he murdered over 500 people as C.E.O. of Murder Incorporated. 

How did the most critical arm of the U. S. government in 1942, Naval Intelligence, (whose New York branch curiously seemed to be comprised largely of lawyers), give the highest priority to hiring the man who established organized crime in America?  A man who the left hand of the government, politics, enthusiastically touted as their #1 poster child for crime.

For a start and by way of setting the stage for the story, it should be understood that the period between the two world wars saw the birth and growth of several organizations in America the developments of which initiated a dynamic that would spawn a plethora of major historical events any one of which would not only supply material for a dozen novels and several films, but are still revealing stories today. 

Three of the most significant of these were the establishment of Organized Crime, the FBI and Naval Intelligence.  They all grew up, went to school and came of age in the late 1920's as separate entities however, like predators prowling an ever shrinking savanna, their collisions were inevitable. 

As is the case with most great stories the story of how and why the U. S. Navy came to hire Lucky Luciano and the Unione Siciliano in what was known as Operation Underworld unfolds in a great place, New York City, and involves several central figures aspiring to to greatness but only one of which sought notoriety, J. Edgar Hoover. 

As an added attraction the New York City District Attorney's office, headed by the infamous Thomas E. Dewey, unwittingly acted as catalyst.  

In February of 1942 one of the key players was in his sixth year of what was essentially two and a half life sentences convicted of a crime for which the law allowed ten.  To exacerbate the situation Salvatore Lucania, “Lucky” Luciano had, by technical legal guidelines, been framed by the testimony of others obtained under, in some cases, the threat of violence and rather thin circumstantial evidence.

The real life, dramatic irony extends even further when one considers that the man who engineered his trial, had him convicted and imprisoned was the very man whose life Luciano had saved less than a year before, New York District Attorney Thomas Dewey.

There's little doubt Luciano was guilty of multiple violations under the White Slavery Act, (a dramatic term for prostitution), but the entire United States legal machine were not enough to actually catch him with his hand in the till and so, in order to not look too stupid, they had to “bend” their own laws. 

 

Lucky, was a classic American rags-to-riches success story.  He was not only co-founder of the Unione Siciliano or National Crime Syndicate or the Commission, as it was known by its members, but organized and established what became the International Drug Cartel, built a casino based empire in Havana and Las Vegas and then, at a council in Cuba, gave the nod to kill the man who built it for him, Ben 'Bugsy' Siegal.  All of which, with the exception of organizing the Unione, he did well in prison or in exile.         Not bad for a kid from the slums of a fourth rate town in a third world country. 

As if to show he had a sense of humor Dewey made sure Luciano's indictment came at a time when he truly believed himself sufficiently insulated from the law to have any worries.  The multiple count indictment was handed down on April Fool's Day.

It also came at a time when the position of New York City District Attorney bore no small legacy.  The next step up was governor after which, if you had A, an adequate popularity quotation and B, adequate financial backing, (which was virtually guaranteed if you had A), the salutations on your mail thereafter would read: “Dear Mr. President”.  All compliments of the New York City based Tammany Hall leadership.  Such was the Yellow Brick Road of the times.

There can be little doubt about Thomas Dewey's politically driven actions against the likes of Waxey Gordon, Louie Lepke and  Dutch Schultz.  After all if a man wants to be President of the United States, essentially the head lawyer of the country, starting out as a prosecutor is a good place to be.  Starting out in New York in the 1930's is a better place and getting the big name gangsters, whatever it takes, is a shoe in.  Almost.  Dewey's political ambitions were assured if he could convict Schultz and just as he was about to pounce the Dutchman decided enough was enough and set up a hit on  D. A. Dewey the “Gang Buster”. 

Unfortunately for Shultz Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, founders of the Siciliano Unione, were adamant about the 'keeping a low profile' clause in their corporate agreement. 

So, a day before Dutch gave the okay to kill Dewey, Lucky gave the okay to kill Dutch.  Schultz was hit in a New York chop house, eating a steak, and it is widely held that this is where the myth of a condemned man's last meal, commonly steak, originated.

So, in 1936 New York City D. A. Dewey decided Luciano, despite having been arrested about twenty-five times and only jailed twice for short periods, was going down regardless of what was required to do it.  Bear in mind that Luciano was a hoodlum, but also bear in mind that his statement, “We never killed no one that didn't deserve it.” is, so far as anyone can determine, true.  This includes not only ordering the death of Dutch Schultz but sanctioning the assassination of one of his most ardently loyal followers and supporters, Albert Anastasia after he needlessly ordered the death of a an innocent bakery apprentice for insulting him.

Like the Unione, Naval Intelligence had recently been dealt its' worse blow since its' inception, namely Pearl Harbor.  It had been only two months since the bombing and, in a long laundry list of parallels with the Twin Towers attack, politicians were asking, “How did we not know this was coming?”, and flinging such helpful suggestions as,  “Somebody has to swing!” 

Interestingly, in 2004 documents were released to the news agencies by some historians in Britain showing that as a result of efforts by the British intelligence agencies, code breakers who had cracked the JN code were able to inform Churchill about plans for the attack as early as November of '41, over a month before it happened.  In turn, it was reported Churchill waited two weeks before informing FDR who, American historical documents adequately testify to, never informed the two commanders of the full extent of the probability of the attack.  In all likelihood, some speculate, motivated by America's failed economy being mired down for over a decade in the Great Depression.

 

The second central player, Lt. Cmdr Haffenden, (coincidentally carrying the same first name as Luciano), appears to have fallen into the Operation Underworld scenario by being in the right place at the right time.  As the officer in charge of the ports of New York he wasn't really privy to D.C.'s decisions but by all accounts was certainly the right man for the job.  With an outstanding record of  past intelligence exploits, a good sense of command and a “Can Do” attitude he threw himself into an operation which had little chance of any real success from the start, that is catching German spies.  To his credit, he so impressed and maintained the respect of Meyer Lansky, that Lansky not only kept his son away from racketeering but sent him to West Point.  Although we are not sure of the extent of Haffenden's influence, Lansky himself went straight not long after the war.

Rather than the serious game of spy counter spy originally envisioned with the inception of Operation Underworld, it turned into more of an expensive game of cops and robbers, mostly without the robbers.

German war records clearly indicate that generals had no intention of launching any serious attempts at espionage or sabotage in the Continental U. S. and pretty much viewed it as a waste of resources.  Records also indicate that the group of twelve German operatives sent over and landed by submarine on the shores of Long Island, were a write off and seen to be an experiment, forgive the pun, to test the waters.

In contrast, it wasn't as bad a time for J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.  Finally they would be given a chance to show what they could do, as long as it wasn't going toe to toe with the Commission, which according to them didn't exist.  Their resource allocation was drastically increased, as was their jurisdictional guidelines, and they were going to be allowed to catch spies.  Problem was they had a lot of catching up to do themselves and Hoover fantasized that it fell to him alone to see it done.

Much like Luciano, Hoover was able to exploit the emergency situation the war created to his advantage, however he did it by greatly increasing his public persona while Lucky did it by further receding into the shadows of secrecy.  Commander Haffenden saw it strictly as a matter of duty.  Interestingly, all three utilized government agencies, large amounts of cash and lots and lots of unwitting civilians.

Keep in mind this is only one small part of the historical picture of the time, but it's a damn interesting one by any standard.  There were other organizations with other spheres of influence, and Luciano’s direct influence in America was only from 1931 to 1946.  Although he was imprisoned in 1936 this merely caused him to restructure the way he did business.  Lt. Cmdr Haffenden was directly involved less than year and Hoover was never really allowed to be involved.

These are but a few of the primary elements contributing to the atmosphere in early February of 1942 and after the 1945 Armistice, each player left the table, cashed in his chips and went looking for the next game.  It's another story as to who won, who lost or who drew, but for that brief period in the Spring of '42, the path's of all concerned were unexpectedly and inextricably interwoven to form Operation Underworld.


 

‘When we are dealing with the Caucasian race, we have methods that will determine loyalty. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are in an entirely different field.’

 

California State Attorney General, Earl Warren in 1942, commenting on the imprisonment of 150,000 Japanese-American citizens.

 

 

‘Now they have created a Frank-in-steen monster and the chickens have come home to roost all over the country!’

 

Presidential candidate Governor George Wallace, 1968, commenting on the opposition.

 

 

‘Doodle Doodle Dee, Wubba Wubba Wubba.’

 

MTV’s Downtown Julie Brown, commenting on the current state of politics in America.

 


CHAPTER ONE

 

 

The New York City waterfront is an interesting place.  Anything can happen at most any time and in late January of 1942, despite its two and a half centuries of violent history, relative peace and calm prevailed, while half a world away free China was lost, the Battle of Britain had been fought, and Hitler was dining in Paris.  

The majority of men have always and will always allow themselves to be caught up in world events larger than themselves, and hopelessly swim against the tide while praying to their respective gods for a favorable outcome.  However, a select few have the where-with-fore to keep their heads and turn such events to their advantage.

One such man was in his sixth year of a fifty year sentence, without parole, convicted on contrived evidence and told he would eventually be deported to a nation whose leader had already issued a death warrant against him.

 

 

Clinton State Penitentiary, Dannemora, New York. Groundhog Day, 1942

 

The weathered, olive complexion of the visitor's face made him look older than his mid-forties.  Other than the guard, who now stood sentry against the wall in front of him, he was alone in the under lit, painted brick room. 

Sitting patiently at the far end of the long wooden table, hands on top in full view as the large, baked-enamel sign on the wall dictated, he was fitted in a dark blue, handmade suit complete with silk tie.  He glanced at the stone-faced guard who stared back with his best tough guy face.  After a fifteen minute wait, the rattling of locks on the dark green, steel doors progressively echoed louder and louder throughout the adjoining chambers, until the door leading into the visitors room creaked open, and two more men entered.

The pock-marked faced prisoner with dark hair and drooping right eyelid were the first to enter and the prisoner was escorted to a seat on the opposite side of the table by a second, older guard.  The visitor reached over the twelve inch high partition which bisected the thick oak top to shake hands with the dungaree clad man on the opposite side.

“Keep your hands away from the prisoner!”  Tough Guy guard yelled.  The visitor was unfazed and proceeded with his inquiry in a tone of genuine concern.

“How ya doin’, Charlie?”

“Ah . . .”  Charlie shrugged.  “It’s Dannemora, you know.  Fuckin’ Siberia.”

“Ya need anything?”  Both men were visibly relaxed.

“Yeah. Get me down state!”

“We’re workin’ on it, Charlie.  Anything else?”

“How’s it goin’ down town?”  He changed to a near whisper, and immediately both guards drifted closer to the table.  The men looked up from their seated positions, and then at each other.  With feigned disregard they resumed their conversation, only now in Italian.  The guards didn’t back away.

“Things ain’t lookin’ so good.  Especially with these two assholes standin’ here.”

“Ya think maybe they’re queer for each other?”  Neither of the men laughed at the comment, but the younger of the two guards became visibly annoyed, and started towards Lucky.  The elder guard raised an arm to stop him and the men once again resumed their conversation, however this time in an obscure dialect of Sicilian.

“Why?  What’s goin’ on?”  The guards drifted back towards the wall as Tough Guy grew increasingly irritated.

“The Camardos are gettin’ more independent, we’re losin’ more of Jersey.  Siegel says if they don’t let him send somebody over there to put a hit on Goering and Goebbles, he’s gonna do it himself.”

“That crazy Jew bastard!  Always with the gun!  What’s the story on working with the Navy people?”  A downward glance introduced his reply.

“They nixed it!”

“What?!  Why?!  What’s our guys in D. C. say?”  Charlie was surprised.

“To politically risky.  They don’t want no part of it.”

“Shit!  Did you remind them . . . ?”

“Yeah.”

“I was countin’ on that deal ta solidify our operations fer after the war.”

“Maybe get you down state while we’re at it.”

“Maybe.”  Luciano looked down at the table top.  “Maybe they can be persuaded.”  Charlie suggested.  The young guard could stand it no longer.  The senior sentry nodded at his younger colleague and both started towards the men.

“Times up!  Let’s go!”  Halfway through the door, Lucky called back over his shoulder.

“Send Albert A. up here next.”

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