Blood's a rover
Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover;
Breath’s a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey’s over
There’ll be time enough to sleep.
T H E N
Los Angeles, 2/24/64
SUDDENLY: The milk truck cut a sharp right turn and grazed the curb. The driver lost the wheel. He panic-popped the brakes. He induced a rear-end skid. A Wells Fargo armored car clipped the milk truck side/head-on.
Mark it now:
7:16 a.m. South L.A., 84th and Budlong. Residential darktown. Shit shacks with dirt front yards.
The jolt stalled out both vehicles. The milk truck driver hit the dash. The driver’s side door blew wide. The driver keeled and hit the sidewalk. He was a fortyish male Negro.
The armored car notched some hood dents. Three guards got out and scoped the damage. They were white men in tight khakis. They wore Sam Browne belts with buttoned pistol flaps.
They knelt beside the milk truck driver. The guy twitched and gasped. The dashboard bounce gouged his forehead. Blood dripped into his eyes.
Mark it now:
7:17 a.m. Winter overcast. This quiet street. No foot traffic. No car-crash hubbub yet.
The milk truck heaved. The radiator blew. Steam hissed and spread wide. The guards coughed and wiped their eyes. Three men got out of a ‘62 Ford parked two curb lengths back.
They wore masks. They wore gloves and crepe-soled shoes. They wore utility belts with gas bombs in pouches. They were long-sleeved and buttoned up. Their skin color was obscured.
Steam covered them. They walked up and pulled silencered pieces. The guards coughed. It supplied sound cover. The milk truck driver pulled a silencered piece and shot the nearest guard in the face.
The noise was a thud. The guard’s forehead exploded. The two other guards fumble-grabbed at their holsters. The masked men shot them in the back. They buckled and pitched foreword. The masked men shot them in the head point-blank. The thuds and skull crack muffle-echoed.
It’s 7:19 a.m. It’s still quiet. There’s no foot traffic and car-crash hubbub yet.
Noise now-two gunshots plus loud echoes. Muzzle flare, weird-shaped, blasts from the armored car’s gun slit.
The shots ricocheted off the pavement. The masked men and the milk truck driver threw themselves prone. They rolled toward the armored car. It blitzed firing range. Four more shots popped. Four plus two-one revolver load.
Masked Man #1 was tall and thin. Masked Man #2 was midsized. Masked Man #3 was heavyset. It’s 7:20 a.m. There’s still no foot traffic. This big blimp up in the sky trailed department-store banners.
Masked Man #1 stood up and crouched under the gun slit. He pulled a gas bomb from his pouch and yanked the top. Fumes sputtered. He stuffed the bomb in the gun slit. The guard inside shrieked and retched very loud. The back door crashed outward. The guard jumped and hit the pavement on his knees. He bled from the nose and the mouth. Masked Man #2 shot him twice in the head.
The milk truck driver put on a gas mask. The masked men put gas masks on over their face masks. Gas whooshed out the back door. Masked Man #1 popped gas bomb #2 and lobbed it inside.
The fumes flared and settled into acid mist-red, pink, transparent. A street hubbub started perking. There’s some window peeps, some open doors, some colored folks on their porches.
It’s 7:22 a.m. The fumes have dispersed. There’s no second guard inside.
Now they go in.
They fit tight. It was a cramped space. Cash bags and attachй cases were stacked in wall racks. Masked Man #1 made the count: sixteen bags and fourteen cases.
They grabbed. Masked Man #2 had a burlap bag stuffed down his pants. He pulled it out and held it open.
They grabbed. They stuffed the bag. One attachй case snapped open. They saw mounds of plastic-wrapped emeralds.
Masked Man #3 opened a cash bag. A C-note roll poked out. He tugged on the bank tab. Ink jets sprayed him and hit his mask holes. He got ink in his mouth and ink in his eyes.
He gasped, he spit ink, he rubbed his eyes and tripped out the door. He shit in his pants and stood around flailing. Masked Man #1 stepped clear of the door and shot him twice in the back.
It’s 7:24 a.m. Now there’s hubbub. It’s a jungle din confined to porches.
Masked Man #1 walked toward it. He pulled four gas bombs, popped the tops and lobbed them. He threw left and right. Fumes rose up red, pink and transparent. Acid sky, mini-storm front, rainbow. The porch fools whooped and coughed and ran inside their shacks.
The milk truck driver and Masked Man #2 stuffed four burlap bags tight. They got the full load: all thirty cash sacks and cases. They walked to the ‘62 Ford. Masked Man #1 opened the trunk. They dumped the bags in.
A breeze kicked up. Wind swirled the gas clouds into wild fusing colors. The milk truck driver and Masked Man #2 gawked through their goggles.
Masked Man #1 stepped in front of them. They got pissy-Say what?- don’t block the light show. Masked Man #1 shot them both in the face. Slugs blew up their goggle glass and gas-mask tubes and doused their lights in a second.
Mark it now:
7:27 a.m. Four dead guards, three dead heist men. Pink gas clouds. Acid fallout. Fumes turning shrubs gray-malignant.
Masked Man #1 opened the driver’s side door and reached under the seat. Right there: a blowtorch and a brown bag stuffed with scald-on-contact pellets. The pellets looked like a bird feed/jelly bean hybrid.
He worked slow.
He walked to Masked Man #3. He dropped pellets on his back and stuffed pellets in his mouth. He tapped his blowtorch and blazed the body. He walked to the milk truck driver and Masked Man #2. He dropped pellets on their backs and stuffed pellets in their mouths and blowtorched their bodies.
The sun was way up now. The gas fumes caught rays and made a small stretch of sky one big prism. Masked Man #1 drove away, southbound.
He got there first. He always did. He bootjacked niggertown robbery squawks off patrol frequencies. He packed his own multiband squawk box.
He parked by the armored car and the milk truck. He looked down the street. He saw some coons eyeballing the carnage. The air stung. His first guess: gas bombs and a faked collision.
The coons saw him. They evinced their standard “Oh shit” looks. He heard sirens. The overlap said six or seven units. Newton and 77th Street-two divisions rolling out. He had three minutes to look.
He saw the four dead guards. He saw two scorched dead men near the east curb back a few car lengths.
He ignored the guards. He checked out the burned men. They were deep-scorched down to crackle skin, with their clothes swirled in. His first guess: instant double cross. Let’s fuck up IDs on expendable partners.
The sirens whirred closer. A kid down the street waved at him. He bowed and waved back.
He had the gestalt already. Some shit you wait your whole life for. When it lands, you know.
He was a big man. He wore a tweed suit and a tartan bow tie. Little 14’s were stitched into the silk. He’d shot and killed fourteen armed robbers.
N O W
I window-peeped four years of our History. It was one long mobile stakeout and kick-the-door-in shakedown. I had a license to steal and a ticket to ride.
I followed people. I bugged and tapped and caught big events in ellipses. I remained unknown. My surveillance links the Then to the Now in a never-before-revealed manner. I was there. My reportage is buttressed by credible hearsay and insider tattle. Massive paper trails provide verification. This book derives from stolen public files and usurped private journals. It is the sum of personal adventure and forty years of scholarship. I am a literary executor and an agent provocateur. I did what I did and saw what I saw and learned my way through to the rest of the story.
Scripture-pure veracity and scandal-rag content. That conjunction gives it its sizzle. You carry the seed of belief within you already. You recall the time this narrative captures and sense conspiracy. I am here to tell you that it is all true and not at all what you think.
You will read with some reluctance and capitulate in the end. The following pages will force you to succumb.
I am going to tell you everything.
T H E N
June 14, 1968-September 11, 1968
Wayne Tedrow Jr.
(Las Vegas, 6/14/68)
He’d rigged a lab in his hotel suite. Beakers, vats and Bunsen burners filled up wall shelves. A three-burner hot plate juked small-batch conversions. He was cooking painkiller-grade product. He hadn’t cooked dope since Saigon.
A comp suite at the Stardust, vouchered by Carlos Marcello. Carlos knew that Janice had terminal cancer and that he had chemistry skills.
Wayne mixed morphine clay with ammonia. A two-minute heating loosened mica chips and silt. He boiled water to 182°. He added acetic anhydride and reduced the bond proportions. The boil sluiced out organic waste.
Prйcipitants next-the slow-cook process-diacetyl morph and sodium carbonate.
Wayne mixed, measured and ran two hot plates low. He glanced around the suite. The maid left a newspaper out. The headlines were all him.
Wayne Senior’s death by “heart attack.” James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan in stir.
His front-page ink. No mention of him. Carlos had chilled out Wayne Senior. Mr. Hoover chilled out the backwash on the King/Bobby hits.
Wayne watched diacetyl mass build. His blend would semi-anesthetize Janice. He was bucking for a big job with Howard Hughes. Hughes was addicted to pharmaceutical narcotics. He could cook him up a private blend and take it to his interview.
The mass settled into cubes and rose out of the liquid. Wayne saw photos of Ray and Sirhan on page two. He’d worked on the King hit. He’d worked it high up. Freddy Otash ran fall guy Ray for King and fall guy Sirhan for Bobby.
The phone rang. Wayne grabbed it. Scrambler clicks hit the line. It had to be a Fed safe phone and Dwight Holly.
“It’s me, Dwight.”
“Did you kill him?”
“ ‘Heart attack,’ shit. ‘Sudden stroke’ would have been better.”
Wayne coughed. “Carlos is handling it personally. He can frost out anything around here.”
“I do not want Mr. Hoover going into a tizzy over this.”
“It’s chilled. The question is, ‘What about the others?’ ”
Dwight said, “There’s always conspiracy talk. Bump off a public figure and that kind of shit tends to bubble. Freddy ran Ray covertly and Sirhan up front, but he lost weight and altered his appearance. All in all, I’d say we’re chilled on both of them.”
Wayne watched his dope cook. Dwight spieled more news. Freddy O. bought the Golden Cavern Casino. Pete Bondurant sold it to him.
“We’re chilled, Dwight. Tell me we’re chilled and convince me.”
Dwight laughed. “You sound a little raw, kid.”
“I’m stretched a bit thin, yeah. Patricide’s funny that way.”
Dwight yukked. The dope pots started boiling. Wayne doused the heat and looked at his desk photo.
It’s Janice Lukens Tedrow, lover/ex-stepmom. It’s ‘61. She’s twisting at the Dunes. She’s sans partner, she’s lost a shoe, a dress seam has ripped.
Dwight said, “Hey, are you there?”
“I’m glad to hear it. And I’m glad to hear we’re chilled on your end.”
Wayne stared at the picture. “My father was your friend. You’re going in pretty light with the judgment.”
“Shit, kid. He sent you to Dallas.”
Big D. November ‘63. He was there that Big Weekend. He caught the Big Moment and took this Big Ride.
He was a sergeant on Vegas PD. He was married. He had a chemistry degree. His father was a big Mormon fat cat. Wayne Senior was jungled up all over the nut Right. He did Klan ops for Mr. Hoover and Dwight Holly. He pushed high-line hate tracts. He rode the far-Right Zeitgeist and stayed in the know. He knew about the JFK hit. It was multi-faction: Cuban exiles, rogue CIA, mob. Senior bought Junior a ticket to ride.
Extradition job, with one caveat: kill the extraditee.
The PD suborned the assignment. A Negro pimp named Wendell Durfee shiwed a casino dealer. The man lived. It didn’t matter. The Casino Operators’ Council wanted Wendell clipped. Vegas cops got those jobs. They were choice gigs with big bonus money. They were tests. The PD wanted to gauge your balls. Wayne Senior had clout with the PD. He had JFK hit knowledge. Senior wanted Junior there for it. Wendell Durfee fled Vegas to Dallas. Senior doubted Junior’s balls. Senior thought Junior should kill an unarmed black man. Wayne flew to Dallas on 11/22/63.
He did not want to kill Wendell Durfee. He did not know about the JFK hit. He got paired up with an extradition partner. The cop’s name was Maynard Moore. He worked Dallas PD. He was a redneck psycho doing gofer jobs on the hit.
Wayne clashed with Maynard Moore and tried not to kill Wendell Durfee. Wayne blundered into the hit plot in post-hit free fall. He linked Jack Ruby to Moore and that right-wing merc Pete B. He saw Ruby clip Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.
He knew. He did not know that his father knew. It all went blooey that Sunday.
JFK was dead. Oswald was dead. He tracked down Wendell Durfee and told him to run. Maynard Moore interceded. Wayne killed Moore and let Durfee go. Pete B. interceded and let Wayne live.
Pete considered his own act of mercy prudent and Wayne’s act of mercy rash. Pete warned Wayne that Wendell Durfee might show up again.
Wayne returned to Vegas. Pete B. moved to Vegas for a Carlos Marcello gig. Pete followed up on Durfee and logged tips: he’s a rape-o shitbird and worse. It was January ‘64. Pete heard that Wendell Durfee had fled back to Vegas. He told Wayne. Wayne went after Wendell. Three colored dope fiends got in the way. Wayne killed them. Wendell Durfee raped and murdered Wayne’s wife, Lynette.
It was his very own free fall. It started in Dallas and spun all the way up to Now.
Wendell Durfee escaped. Wayne Senior and the PD worked to get Wayne a walk on the dope fiends. Mr. Hoover was amenable. Senior’s old chum Dwight Holly was not. Dwight was working for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics then. The dope fiends were pushing heroin and were targeted for prosecution. Dwight squawked to the U.S. attorney. Wayne Junior fucked up his investigation. He wanted to see Wayne Junior indicted and tried. The PD fabricated some evidence and snowed the grand jury. Wayne got a walk on the killings. It left him hollow. He quit the PD and entered The Life.
Soldier of fortune. Heroin runner. Assassin.
Lynette was dead. He vowed to find Wendell Durfee and kill him. Lynette was his best friend and sweetheart and the wall to shut out his love for his father’s second wife. Janice was older, she watched him grow up, she stayed with Senior for his money and clout. Janice returned Wayne’s love. The longing went both ways. It stayed there and plain grew.
Wayne fell in with Pete and his wife, Barb. Pete was tight with a mob lawyer named Ward Littell. Ward was ex-FBI and the point man for the JFK hit. He was working for Carlos Marcello and Howard Hughes and playing both ends back, front and sideways. Wayne had Pete and Ward as teachers. He learned The Life from them. He blew through their curriculum at a free-fall pace.
Pete was hopped up on the Cuban exile cause. Vietnam was getting hot. Howard Hughes was nurturing crazy plans to buy up Las Vegas. Wayne Senior got in with Hughes’ Mormon guard. Ward Littell developed a grudge against Senior. A rogue CIA man recruited Pete for a Saigon-to-Vegas dope funnel, profits to the Cuban cause, vouchsafed by Carlos Marcello. Pete needed a dope chemist and recruited Wayne. Ward’s hatred of Wayne Senior grew. Ward fucked with Senior. He informed Wayne that his father sent him to Dallas.
Wayne reeled and grabbed at air and barely stayed upright. Wayne fucked Janice in his father’s house and made sure that Wayne Senior saw it.
“The Life,” a noun. A haven for Mormon burnouts, rogue chemists, coon killers.
Wayne Senior divorced Janice. He beat her with a silver-tipped cane to offset the cost of the settlement. Janice limped from that day on and still played scratch golf. Ward Littell sold Howard Hughes Las Vegas at the mob’s inflated prices and began a sporadic love affair with Janice. Wayne Senior increased his pull with Howard Hughes and sucked up to former veep Dick Nixon. Dwight Holly left the Bureau of Narcotics and went back on the FBI. Mr. Hoover directed Dwight to disrupt Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Dwight deployed Wayne Senior in anti-Klan mail-fraud ops, a sop to sob sisters at Justice.
Wayne cooked heroin in Saigon and ran it through to Vegas. Wayne chased Wendell Durfee for four years. The country blew up with riots and a shitstorm of race hate. Dr. King trumped Mr. Hoover on all moral fronts and wore the old man down just by being. Mr. Hoover had tried everything. Mr. Hoover whined to Dwight that he had done all he could. Dwight understood the cue and recruited Wayne Senior. Wayne Senior wanted Wayne Junior to be in on it. Senior thought they needed a recruitment wedge. Dwight went out and found Wendell Durfee.
Wayne got a pseudo-anonymous tip. He found Wendell Durfee on L.A. skid row and killed him in March. It was a put-up job. Dwight gathered forensic evidence and coerced him into the hit plan. Wayne worked with his father, Dwight, Freddy Otash and pro shooter Bob Relyea.
Janice was diagnosed with last-stage cancer. Her beating injuries cloaked early detection of the disease. The Saigon dope deal factionalized and blew into chaos. On one side: mob ghouls and crazy Cuban exiles. On the other: Wayne, Pete and a French merc named Jean-Philippe Mesplede. April and May were pure free fall. The election hovered. King was dead. Carlos Marcello and the boys decided to clip Bobby Kennedy. Pete was coerced in. Freddy O. waltzed over from the King hit. Ward Littell was still working angles on Carlos and Howard Hughes. Ward had inherited an anti-mob file. He left it with Janice for safekeeping.
Wayne went to see Janice on June 4. The cancer had taken her strength and her curves and had rendered her slack. They made love a second time. She told him more about Ward’s file. He searched her apartment and found it. The file was very detailed. It specifically indicted Carlos and his New Orleans operation. Wayne sent it to Carlos, along with a note.
“Sir, my father was planning to extort you with this file. Sir, could we discuss that?”
Robert F. Kennedy was shot two hours later. Ward Littell killed himself. Howard Hughes offered Wayne Senior Ward’s job as mob fixer/liaison. His first assignment: purchase the loyalty of GOP front-runner Dick Nixon.
Carlos called Wayne and thanked him for the heads-up. Carlos said, “Let’s have dinner.”
Wayne decided to murder his father. Wayne decided that Janice should beat him dead with a golf club.
Carlos kept a mock-Roman suite at the Sands. A toga-clad geek played centurion and let Wayne in. The suite featured mock-Roman pillars and sack-of-Rome art. Price tags drooped from wall frames.
A buffet was laid out. The geek sat Wayne down at a lacquered table embossed with SPQR. Carlos walked in. He wore nubby silk shorts and a stained tuxedo shirt.
Wayne stood up. Carlos said, “Don’t.” Wayne sat down. The geek spooned food on two plates and vanished. Carlos poured wine from a screw-top bottle.
Wayne said, “It’s a pleasure, sir.”
“Don’t make like I don’t know you. You’re Pete and Ward’s guy, and you worked for me in Saigon. You know more about me than you should, plus all the shit in that file. I know your story, which is some fucking story compared to the other dickhead stories I heard lately.”
Wayne smiled. Carlos pulled two bobbing-head dolls from his pockets. One doll represented RFK. One doll represented Dr. King. Carlos smiled and snapped off their heads.
“Thank you, Carlos.”
“You’re looking for work, right? This ain’t about a handshake and a thank-you envelope.”
Wayne sipped wine. It was present-day liquor-store vintage.
“I want to assume Ward Littell’s role in your organization, along with the position in the Hughes organization that my father has just inherited from Ward. I have the skills and the connections to prove myself valuable, I’m prepared to favor you in all my dealings with Mr. Hughes, and I’m aware of the penalties you dispense for disloyalty.”
Carlos speared an anchovy. His fork slid. Olive oil hit his tux shirt.
“Where’s your father going to be throughout all of this?”
Wayne toppled the RFK doll. A plastic arm fell off. Carlos picked his nose.
“Okay, even if I’m fucking susceptible to favors and prone to like you, why should Howard Hughes go outside his own organization full of suck-asses he feels comfortable with to hire a fucked-up ex-cop who goes around shooting niggers for kicks?”
Wayne flinched. He gripped his wine glass and almost snapped the stem.
“Mr. Hughes is a xenophobic drug addict known to inject narcotics into a vein in his penis, and I can concoct-”
Carlos yukked and slapped the table. His wine glass capsized. Pepper chunks flew. Olive oil spritzed.
“-drugs that will stimulate and sedate him and diminish his mental capacities to the point that he will become that much more tractable in all his dealings with you. I also know that you have a very large envelope for Richard Nixon, should he be nominated. Mr. Hughes is putting in 20%, and I plan to raid my father’s cash reserve and get you another five million cold.”
The toga geek walked in. He brought a sponge and swabbed the mess presto-chango. Carlos snapped his fingers. The toga geek disappeared.
“I keep coming back to your father. What’s Wayne Tedrow Senior going to be doing while Wayne Tedrow Junior sticks him the big one where it hurts the most?”
Wayne pointed to the dolls and back up to heaven. Carlos cracked his knuckles.
“Okay, I’ll bite.”
Wayne raised his glass. “Thank you.”
Carlos raised his glass. “You get two fifty a year and points, and you jump on Ward’s old job straight off. I need you to oversee the buyouts of legitimate businesses started with Teamster Pension Fund loans, so we can launder it and funnel it into a slush fund to build these hotel-casinos somewhere in Central America or the Caribbean. You know what we’re looking for. We want some pliable, anti-Communist el jefe type who’ll do what we want and keep all the dissident hippie protest shit down to a dull roar. Sam G.’s running point now. We’ve got it narrowed down to Panama, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. That’s your main fucking job. You make it happen and you make your hophead pal keep buying our hotels, and you make sure we get to keep our inside guys, who just might help us out with some skim.”
Wayne said, “I’ll do it.”
Carlos said, “Daddy won’t see you coming.”
Wayne stood up too fast. His mock-Roman world swirled. Carlos stood up. His shirt was spattered working on soaked.
“I’ll see that you’re covered on it.”
Janice kept a mock-casbah suite at the Dunes. Wayne supplied round-the-clock nurses. Janice stuck to the hotel now.
The p.m.-shift nurse was on the terrace, smoking. The view was half light show, half desert haze. Janice was bundled up in bed, with the air conditioner blasting. Her system was schizy. She either half-froze or half-broiled.
Wayne sat with her. “There’s some golf on TV.”
“I think I’ve had all the golf I can take for a while.”
Wayne smiled. “Touchй.”
“The Hughes meeting. Isn’t that coming up?”
“In a few days.”
“He’ll hire you. He’ll figure you’re a Mormon, and that your father taught you some things.”
“Well, he did.”
Janice smiled. “Who are you meeting with? The Hughes man, I mean.”
“His name’s Farlan Brown.”
“I know him. His wife was the club champ at the Frontier, but I closed her out nine and eight the one time I played her.”
Wayne laughed. “Anything else?”
Janice laughed. It made her cough and sweat. She tossed off her covers. Her nightgown flew up. Wayne saw new slack spots and hollows.
He wiped her brow with his shirtsleeve. She nuzzled his arm and play-bit it. Wayne made a play Ouch! face.
“I was about to say that he drinks and chases women, like all good Mormons. There’s a trinity for men like that. Showgirls, cocktail waitresses and stews.”
The room was ice-cold. Simple talk had Janice soaked. She bit her lip. Her temples pulsed. She touched her stomach. Wayne tracked the circuit of pain.
Janice said, “Shit.”
Wayne opened his briefcase and prepped a spike. Janice held her arm out. Wayne found a vein, swabbed it and made a hand tourniquet. Needle and plunger, there now.
In one beat-
She tensed and lulled. Her eyelids fluttered. One yawn and out.
Wayne took her pulse. It tapped light and ran steady. Her arm weighed almost nil.
The LA. Times was open on the nightstand. It showed a photo triptych: JFK, RFK, Dr. King. Wayne folded them out of sight and watched Janice sleep.
(Los Angeles, 6/15/68)
Two bevies walked by the lot. The first group looked like shop girls. They wore Ivy League threads and modified bouffants. The second group was pure hippie. They wore patched-up jeans, peacenik shit and long straight hair that swirled.
They came and went. The wheelmen waved. The shop girls waved back. The hippie chicks flipped off the wheelmen. The wheelmen wolf-called.
The Shell Station lot, Beverly and Hayworth. Four pumps and a service bay/office. Three wheelmen sprawled in their sleds.
Bobby Gallard had a Rocket Olds. Phil Irwin had a 409 Chevy. Crutch had a ‘65 GTO. He was the rookie wheelman. He had the boss ride: 390, Hurst 4-speed, coon maroon paint.
Bobby and Phil were midday-blitzed on high-test vodka. Crutch was residual torqued on the girl show. He scanned the street for more walk-bys. Ziltch-just some old hebes loping to shul.
Back to the paper. Yawn-more jive on James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan. Snore-”America Grieves”/”Accused Assassin’s Lair.” Ray vibed pencilneck. Sirhan vibed towelhead. Hey, America, I got your grief swingin’.
Crutch flipped pages. He hit flyweights at the Forum and a grabber- Life magazine offers million scoots for Howard Hughes pix! A redhead walked by. Crutch waved at her. She scowled like he was a dog turd. Wheelmen emitted baaaad vibes. They were low-rent and indigenously fucked-up. They perched in the lot. They waited for work from skank private eyes and divorce lawyers. They tailed cheating spouses, kicked in doors and took photos of the fools balling. It was a high-risk, high-yuks job with female-skin potential. Crutch was new to it. He wanted to groove the job forever.
The paper called Howard Hughes a “billionaire recluse.” Crutch got a brainstorm. He could starve himself down to bones and shimmy up a heat shaft. Snap-one Polaroid and vamoose.
The lot dozed. Bobby Gallard skimmed beaver mags and slurped Smirnoff 100. Phil Irwin wiped his 409 with a chamois cloth. Phil worked tail jobs and stooge gigs for Freddy Otash. Freddy O. was a shakedown artist and freelance strongarm. He was ex-LAPD. He lost his PI’s license behind some horse-doping caper. Phil was his pet wheelman/lapdog.
The lot dozed. No work, no walk-by cooze, gas station ennui.
It was hot and humid. Crutch yawned and aimed the AC vent at his balls. It perked him up and got him head-tripping. Gas station blahs, adieu.
He was twenty-three. He got expelled from Hollywood High for candid-camera stunts in the girls gym. His old man lived in a Goodwill box outside Santa Anita. Crutch Senior panhandled, bet all day and ate pastrami burritos exclusive. His mom vanished on 6/18/55. Crutch was ten. She up and split and never returned. She sent him a Christmas card and a five-spot every year, different postmarks, no return address. He built his own missing person file. It filled up four big boxes. He killed time with it. He called around the country and ran PD checks, hospital checks, obit checks. He kicked off the quest in junior high school.
Nothing-Margaret Woodard Crutchfield was still stone gone.
The wheelman gig fell on his head. It happened like this:
He kept up with his high-school pal Buzz Duber. Buzz shared his passion for pad prowls. Soft prowls, like this:
Hancock Park. Big dark houses. Preppy girls’ lairs. Knock, knock. Nobody’s home? Good.
You enter undetectably, you carry a penlight, you dig some plush cribs. You walk through girls’ bedrooms and exit with lingerie sets.
He did it a few times with Buzz. He did it a lot by himself. Buzz’s dad was Clyde Duber. Clyde was a big-time PI. He did divorce jobs and got celebs out of the shit. He installed college kids in left-wing groups and got them to rat out subversion. The fuzz popped Crutch on a panty prowl. They snagged him with some black lace undies and a sandwich he glommed from Sally Compton’s fridge. Clyde bailed him out and got his record expunged. Clyde got him wheelman and chump surveillance gigs. Clyde said window-peeping was kosher, but nixed B amp;E. Clyde said, “Kid, I’ll pay you to peep.”
The lot dozed. Bobby Gallard spray-painted an iron cross on his Olds. Phil Irwin popped some yellow jackets with an Old Crow chaser. Crutch daydreamed per Howard Hughes. Brainstorm: assault his swank penthouse! Gain entry by grappling hook!
An unmarked cruiser pulled in. The lot revitalized. Crutch caught a flash of a red tartan tie and smelled pizza.
Beeline-Crutch followed Bobby and Phil. Scotty Bennett got out of the car and kicked blood in his legs. He was six-five. He weighed 230. He worked LAPD Robbery. His tie had 18’s stitched in the weave.
The backseat was stuffed with six-packs and pizza. Bobby and Phil jumped in and helped themselves. Crutch looked in the car and checked the dashboard. Still there: the crime-scene photos, all taped up and yellowed.
Scotty’s fixation: that big armored-car job. Winter ‘64. Still unsolved. Dead guards and scorched heist men-still unidentified. Looted cash bags and emeralds.
Scotty pointed to the photos. “Lest I forget.”
Crutch gulped. Scotty always loomed. He carried two.45’s and a beaver-tail sap on a thong. Bobby and Phil guzzled beer and snarfed pizza. They turned the backseat into a zoo trough. Crutch pointed to Scotty’s tie.
“You had 16’s last time.”
“Two male Negroes robbed a liquor store at 74th and Avalon. I just happened to be in the back, holding a Remington pump shotgun.”
Crutch laughed. “It’s the record, right? Fatal shootings in the line of duty?”
“That’s correct. I’m six up on my closest competitor.”
“What happened to him?”
“He was shot and killed by two male Negroes.”
“What happened to them?”
“They robbed a liquor store at Normandie and Slauson. I just happened to be in the back, holding a Remington pump shotgun.”
The air smelled like ripe cheese and sud spray. Scotty wrinkled his nose. Phil was hunkered down to nosh, legs on the pavement. His pants rode low. His ass crack was exposed. Scotty pulled him up by his waistband.
Phil went airborne. Phil got that “Save me” look that Scotty inspired. Phil came to earth feetfirst and snapped to attention. Bobby gulped and snapped to. Scotty winked at Crutch.
“I’m looking for two male Caucasians driving a powder blue ‘62 T-Bird with dark blue fender skirts. They’re clouting steak houses, they’re robbing cash receipts, they’re holding patrons hostage and forcing women to give them blow jobs. I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your eyes peeled.”
Crutch said, “Physical descriptions?”
Scotty smiled. “They wore masks. The female victims described them as being ‘normally endowed.’ ”
“Endowed”-huh?-Bobby and Phil slack-jawed it. Crutch smirked. Scotty grabbed the beer and pizza debris and fobbed it off on him. A sausage morsel hit Scotty’s suit coat. Phil trembled and flicked it off.
Scotty got in his car and peeled out eastbound. Crutch eyeballed a blonde at the gas pumps.
Phil said, “He thinks he’s tough, but I know I could take him.”
The lot re-dozed. Bobby landed a rope job. His pet Jew lawyer came by and fed him the gist. It’s a horny hubby-hooker parlay. The wife’s the client. Rent a hot-sheet room and find hubby at his favorite gin mill. Facilitate a chance meeting. Get me snapshots and film.
Buzz Duber cruised by. Crutch ran the Hughes deal by him. Buzz got a brainstorm. He said he knew this nigger midget. The guy played pygmies in jungle flicks. They could send him up to Howard Hughes’ lair in a room-service cart.
Freddy Otash cruised by. He’d lost some weight. He bragged up this low-roller hotel he’d bought in Vegas. He threw Phil a tail job. Phil drove off, half-blitzed.
Crutch and Buzz got dozy from too much beer and pizza. Crutch got doze blips of Dana Lund, softly window-lit.
A horn blared way too loud. Crutch opened his eyes. Shit-there’s Phil’s pet shyster, Chick Weiss.
With his kike-kayak Cadillac. With his frizzy-ass hairdo and his British fop suit. With his fucked-up Caribbean-art fixation.
Weiss said, “I got a fruit gig for you. The guy likes to brown well-hung Filipinos, and I got a mutant packing 10Ѕ inches. The wife wants a divorce, and who can blame her?”
The hubby had a fuck pad at the Ravenswood. Crutch brought a Rolleiflex with a flashbulb bar. Buzz wore door-kicker shoes.
The Mutant met them in the lobby. He had a door key. Crutch was miffed. He craved some kick-the-door-in action. They huddled. Crutch told the Mutant to get hubby in the sack pronto. Buzz told him to provide decent lighting. The Mutant told them to get his schvantz in the pix. He serviced spouses of both genders. He wanted more divorce work. He wanted his heavy-hung status proclaimed.
They cooked up a four-minute countdown. The Mutant skedaddled to apartment 311. Crutch futzed with the camera and secured it A-OK. Buzz ticked seconds off on a stopwatch.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,1-go.
They ran up the stairs. They cut down hallways and found 311. Buzz opened the door. Crutch hoisted the camera. They followed love grunts to a doorway and let fly.
It was all Greek. The Mutant poured hubby the pork with his monster meat in plain view. Crutch tripped the shutter. Pop pop pop pop-the bedroom went flashbulb-white blind. Hubby wailed the fruit-gig standard How Could You? blues. The Mutant pulled on his pants and went out the fire escape. Buzz saw a bag of weed on the dresser and swiped it. Crutch thought, This is the life.
Buzz said, “It had to be a yard long.”
Crutch said, “Under a foot. Remember, Chick Weiss gave us the measurement.”
Clyde Duber said, “We could use him again. Did you get his number?”
Buzz said, “We can find him through the Screen Actors Guild. He’s playing the sidekick on some TV show.”
Clyde Duber’s office, Beverly Hills. Knotty-pine walls, golf trophies and red leather. Dig the wall frieze:
It pertained to that big armored-car heist. Clyde grooved on it. The case was one big bug up his ass. There’s an ink-stained bill behind glass. There’s framed photos of blowtorched stiffs and loose emeralds. There’s Sergeant Scotty Bennett. He’s manhandling two male Negroes.
Clyde kept an amateur file on the case. It was his pet project. Scotty indulged him with knickknacks. Clyde loved Scotty’s sweat-room tapes. They featured male Negroes screaming.
Crutch said, “Freddy Otash bought some hotel in Vegas.”
Clyde poured a triple scotch. “Freddy’s a dipshit. Rumors are circulating, and that’s all I can say about that.”
Buzz said, “Tell Dad about the Hughes deal.”
Crutch scratched his balls. “Life magazine’s offering a million bucks for a photo of Howard Hughes. I think we can do it.”
Clyde made the jack-off sign. Kids-this white man’s burden. Kid wheelmen, kid infiltrators, kid stakeout geeks.
Buzz nudged Crutch. “You got plans tonight?”
“I thought I’d drive around.”
“Shit, you’re going to peep Chrissie Lund.”
Clyde said, “Who’s Chrissie Lund?”
“She’s USC frosh. She’s got Crutch all wired.”
Clyde sipped scotch. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Like 459 PC, breaking and entering.”
Crutch blushed and checked the wall frieze. Memo: buy some tartan bow ties and get a Scotty Bennett crew cut.
Buzz seltzer-spritzed his scotch. “Get us a decoy job, Dad. Send us in to some Commie group.”
“Nix that. You’re too green and you look too square. You’ve got to be able to talk Commie lifestyle shit to make those gigs work. You kids don’t know from social upheaval. All you kids know from is this college-girl gash you can’t get.”
Buzz laughed. Crutch blushed. Memo: study your file and prowl for Scotty’s blow-job freaks.
“Who commissions those infiltration jobs?”
Clyde kicked his chair back. “Right-wing nuts with gelt. They’re all doctors and kings. You’ve got Dr. Charles S. Toron, the Eugenics King. You’ve got Dr. Fred Hiltz, the Hate-Pamphlet King, and Dr. Wesley Swift, the Nazi-Bible King.”
Buzz said, “Dr. Fred’s a dentist. The other guys have mail-order degrees, like all those coon preachers.”
Clyde said, “Defrocked dentist. He got strung out on anesthetic cocaine and started fucking peoples’ teeth up.”
Crutch thought of Dana Lund. Memo: bring a soft-focus lens. Buzz whipped out that bag of weed. Clyde rolled his eyes-kids.
“That reminds me. Dr. Fred’s got a job for us. A woman stole some money from him and absconded.”
Buzz looked at Clyde. Crutch looked at Clyde. Both looks said Me. Clyde flipped a coin. Buzz called tails. The coin hit the floor heads.
Crutch had a flop at the Vivian Apartments. It was a walk-up dive just south of Paramount. Grips and stagehands lived there. Bit players turned lunchtime tricks in a jumbo mop closet. Crutch crammed all his shit into two rooms.
His file shit, his camera shit, his car shit, his bug-and-tap shit. Clyde taught him surveillance. He had phone cords and wire mounts up the ying-yang. He had a full run of Playboy magazine. He had Car Craft back to ‘52. His wallpaper was forty-one Playboy Playmates.
He settled in for the night. He updated his notes on his mother’s last known location. Christmas ‘67-Margaret Woodard Crutchfield writes from Des Moines. Every known records check-zero. Backtrack to ‘66-a Christmas card from Dubuque. Every in-between town, full records checks, zero.
Crutch got antsy. Buzz was who-knows-where, blitzed on who-knows-what. Buzz had this mean streak that he lacked. Buzz carried a fake cop’s badge and coerced head out of hookers. Nix that. Holding it in was better.
It was warm out. A summer storm brewed. Crutch took a drive. He circled up to Hollywood Boulevard and out to the Strip. He looked at people. The longhaired girls jazzed him and the longhaired guys rubbed him wrong. He trawled for that ‘62 Bird and Scotty’s blow-job bandits. He saw two fags in a ‘61 Bird and no more.
He drove east to Hancock Park. He cut his lights and perched at 2nd and Plymouth. That big Spanish house held him.
Window glow flickered, upstairs and down. He saw Chrissie in USC sweats-one glimpse and gone. He saw Dana tie her hair back in the kitchen.
Buzz didn’t get it. Nobody got it. That’s why he never told anyone. It wasn’t Chrissie Lund. It was always Dana Lund, and she was fifty-three years old.
(Washington, D.C., 6/16/68)
The restaurant was thick with them. Mr. Hoover ran a head count. Dwight watched his eyes click. Colored waiters, colored lobbyist, colored baseball ace. The old poof was frail. He slurped his soup palsy-style. He’d lost some beats, his brain still sparked, his circuits cranked on HATE.
Harvey’s Restaurant, midtown D.C., the big lunch rush. A big be-seen spot. Big eye-click action.
Mr. Hoover said, “Did Wayne Tedrow Jr. kill Wayne Tedrow Sr.?”
“Yes, Sir. He did.”
Dwight pushed his plate back. “Carlos Marcello bought off LVPD and the Clark County coroner. A blunt-force trauma homicide was ruled a heart attack.”
Mr. Hoover smiled. “Stroke would have affirmed the golf aspect.”
Dwight lit a cigarette. “I won’t ask for more details, Sir. I’ll commend your sources and move on.”
“Captain Bob Gilstrap and Lieutenant Buddy Fritsch viewed the crime scene. They were aware of the animus between Tedrow pиre and fils, and both officers are beholden to Mr. Marcello.”
“Mr. Marcello is a wonderful friend to the Nevada law-enforcement community, Sir. He sends lovely gift baskets at Christmas.”
Mr. Hoover beamed. “Really?”
“Yes, Sir. The false bottoms cover casino chips and hundred-dollar bills.”
Mr. Hoover glowed. “Did Junior take part in any recent Memphis operations that you might have heard about?”
Dwight winked. My lips are sealed. Mr. Hoover snagged a toast point and shooed off a waiter.
“You are an eloquent man, Dwight. You understand your audience and play to them inimitably.”
“I rise to the occasion of you, Sir. There’s no more to it than that.”
Spook action stage left. A spook waiter sucked up to the spook baseball cat. Mr. Hoover tuned the banter out and tuned in to the spooks. He was seventy-three. His breath reeked. His cuticles bled. He lived off digitalis and skin-pop amphetamine. A Dr. Feelgood supplied daily injections.
Click-he’s back again. Click-he’s back to you.
“Our other homicides. The gaudier and more scrutinized ones likely to inspire loose talk.”
Dwight stubbed out his cigarette. “Ray and Sirhan are psychopaths, Sir. Their statements confirm their paranoia, and the American public has come to expect grandstanding delusion in its assassins. There will be loose talk, but it will be replaced by public indifference over time.”
“And the Tedrows? Are we exposed there? Reassure me in your most bluff-hearty manner.”
Dwight said, “Senior’s death is in no way suspect. Yes, he ran Klan ops for us, but it’s never become public knowledge. Yes, he peddled hate pamphlets, but he was never as publicly voluble as our hate-pamphleteering chum, Fred Hiltz. Yes, he was slated to take over Ward Littell’s job for Howard Hughes, which might have created speculation. Yes, I think Junior will get the job now. No, I don’t think that any of it will serve to expose us in any significant way.”
Mr. Hoover speared his last toast point. His hand trembled. Some table-hopping pols eyeballed him.
“Power. Was that Junior’s motive?”
“I’ve known him all his life, Sir. I think ‘fully justified hatred’ describes it best.”
A spook preacher braced the pols. Yuks and backslaps circulated. The guy wore cowboy boots with his clerical suit. Dwight recognized him. He hosted telethons for some spook disease and espoused leftist shit.
Mr. Hoover said, “Prince Bobby and Martin Lucifer King have departed, leaving the morally impaired disconsolate and providing the sane with dear relief. Operation Black Rabbit did not achieve the results we had hoped for, and toxic clouds of black nationalism are quite evidently aswirl. I would like you to assess the Black Panther Party and the United Slaves, also known as ‘US,’ as potential targets for a disruption program. I am thinking of a full-scale Cointelpro. There are also two lesser known cabals in Los Angeles that may also require scrutiny. Mark their lurid names: The Black Tribe Alliance and Mau-Mau Liberation Front.”
Dwight got goose bumps. “I have an informant in L.A. I’ll fly out and talk to her.”
“Her, Dwight? Confidential Bureau informant number 4361?”
Dwight smiled. “Yes, Sir. We may be looking for an inside plant, and she knows every duplicitous left-winger in captivity.”
“All left-wingers should reside in captivity.”
“Stop by Las Vegas as well. Assess Wayne Tedrow Jr.’s mental health.”
“The Mau-Maus were an African cannibal sect with no valid grievance. They diddled baboons and ate their own young.”
“Yes, Sir. I know about them.”
“Your knowledge does not surprise me. You’re my obedient Yalie thug.”
He lived in hotel suites. Roving agents had Bureau-vouchered digs nationwide. He liked the Statler in L.A. and the Sheraton Chicago. The D.C. Mayflower was dud-ritz. The room service tanked, the pipes hissed, the bed creaked.
His study files and plane tickets were there on the desk. Mr. Hoover had them sent during lunch. Panthers/US/Mau-Mau/Tribe. Mr. Hoover wanted this. His L.A. flight left in two hours.
Dwight buffed his shoes, cleaned his gun and did doorway-bar chin-ups. Bullshit tasks quashed his nerves and kept him at one drink a night. It was chilled. RFK was all on Carlos. It was his wet dream. Sirhan Sirhan practically drooled. He’d never ID Otash credibly. Jimmy Ray got popped at the London airport. Extradition woe would extend. Jimmy would talk- that was certain. Otash ran him in circles. Jimmy’s story would play as cracker fantasia.
Pete would hold. Otash would hold. The lone-nut consensus would kick in. Mr. Hoover would short-shrift all divergent queries. The one wild card was the kid.
“I’ve known him all my life, Sir.”
And his daddy and my daddy and Indiana long gone.
His daddy was “Daddy” Holly, an upstart nativist and Klan huckster. Daddy Holly got rich selling Klan kitsch in the ‘20s Klan heyday. Daddy hatched his sons Dwight and Lyle out of wedlock and sent Louisa Dunn Chalfont back to Kentucky. Dwight and Lyle grew up in Klan kamp-grounds. Daddy taught them to spell all hard “C” words with a “K.” Daddy hated Jews, Papists and niggers and understood that the Klan was a shuck.
Daddy rose to Exalted Cyclops standing. Daddy sold kustom Klan robes, Klan kid’s klothes and kanine kouture. Daddy got rich. The ‘20s boom sustained him. A rape-suicide scenario derailed him. His Grand Dragon mentor assaulted a young woman on a train. She drank mercury and killed herself. The story got massive ink. Rabid censure swept the Klan out of favor. Klan-backed politicians were ousted en masse. Daddy looked for new opportunities and invested heavily in stocks. His wealth grew straight up to Black Tuesday.
Dwight was twelve then. Lyle was nine. They lost their big house in Peru, Indiana, and moved to Shitsville. Daddy started ignoring them. Daddy found a protйgй: a younger man named Wayne Tedrow. They dreamed up get-rich-quick schemes and hawked hate tracts. Dumbfuck Hoosiers dug the kaptioned kartoon texts and katkalls at Franklin Double-Cross Rosenfeld. Wayne Tedrow hatched a son with a local girl, circa ‘34. Wayne Junior was a brilliant kid with a chemistry bent. Dwight dug him as a kid brother/son from the get-go.
Daddy Holly crapped out in ‘39. Cirrhosis took him down. Wayne Senior raised Wayne Junior in Peru. He ditched his first wife and married a fast skirt named Janice Lukens. Dwight and Lyle worked dead-dog jobs and put themselves through college. Dwight went on to Yale Law School. Lyle went on to Stanford Law School. Wayne Senior moved his family to Nevada and got rich off hate and real estate. Dwight joined the marines, got commissioned and killed Japs on Saipan. Lyle joined the navy, got commissioned and killed Japs on boats. Dwight joined the FBI in ‘46. Lyle joined the Chicago PD in ‘47. They both kept in touch with the Tedrows.
Wayne Junior grew up studious and wild. He served with the 82nd Airborne in the mid to late ‘50s and got a chemistry degree. Dwight worked hot-desk Bureau jobs and developed a rapport with Mr. Hoover. He almost bellied up in early ‘57. Mr. Hoover allotted him a brief rest reprieve. Lyle quit the Chicago PD. Mr. Hoover gave him a full-time assignment.
Get next to Martin Luther King. Infiltrate and subvert the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Lyle did his best. Lyle failed. Lyle failed because he rather liked Martin Luther King and because Martin Luther King was unstoppable.
Wayne Junior joined the Las Vegas PD. Dwight transferred to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He worked the Southern Nevada Office and spent time with Wayne Senior. Wayne Junior’s life imploded in Dallas. A big coon hunt resulted. Wayne Junior waxed three shines that Dwight was set to prosecute. Yeah, he cared for the kid. But no passes for old friendships. You do not cross Agent Dwight C. Holly.
He went after Wayne Junior. Ward Littell and Pete Bondurant interceded. Wayne Junior waltzed on the spooks. Ward and Pete pulled strings for Dwight and forged a tenuous truce. Dwight was named chief investigator for the Southern Nevada Office. He didn’t stay long. The job bored him. Mr. Hoover lured him back to the FBI.
Lyle killed himself in August ‘65. It was slightly hinky. Ward Littell was embroiled with Lyle then. Ward spread grief wherever he went and sometimes turned minor grief fatal. Lyle Dunn Holly, dead at forty-five. A boozer, a gambler and a womanizer. A sweet-natured hump spread too thin.
Dr. King had Mr. Hoover spread wafer-thin. It was a fucking grizzly bear versus a Chihuahua. Dr. King was a stone Commie. Mr. Hoover was a stone Tory. Dr. King fucked women with gusto. Mr. Hoover collected antiques and vintage pornography. History welcomed Dr. King. History withdrew the welcome mat and put Mr. Hoover flat on his ass. He concocted Operation Black Rabbit and tried everything.
Bug jobs, tap jobs, black-bag jobs, shakedowns, poison-pen campaigns. Tail jobs. Newspaper slander. Innuendo, coercion, plants, cutouts, propaganda, psych warfare. Black Rabbit went on for three years. The key personnel had rabbit names. Dr. King was Red Rabbit. Dwight was Blue Rabbit. Lyle was White Rabbit for a spell. Red Rabbit had a fag adviser code-named Pink Rabbit. Wayne Senior was Father Rabbit. The operation was a rabid rabbit hutch and a dead-end cluster fuck. Dr. King soared as Mr. Hoover withered. Dr. King had his nigger-florid “I have a dream” shtick. Mr. Hoover told Dwight that he had a dream without ever stating the words. He stayed out in the dream ether. Blue Rabbit made the dream cohere in Memphis. Blue Rabbit watched the resultant riots live on TV. Blue Rabbit saw a little colored girl dead from a stray bullet.
Dwight did fifty chin-ups total. He made himself all sweat and muscle ache. He showered, dressed and packed. He got out his anonymous check-writing kit.
One postal money order and one envelope. $300 to Mr. George Diskant in Nyack, New York.
Dwight wrote the check, sealed the envelope and wiped it fingerprint-free.
The flight left Dulles late. Dwight ate salted nuts and read black-militant memoranda.
The Black Panthers. Cool name, cool mascot. Founded in ‘66. Ex-convict and aggrieved-spook membership. Lots of meetings, lots of whoop-de-doo, exponential growth assured. Cop-haters. Celebrity “Brothers” Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. “Off the Pigs!” rhetoric. Non-fatal cop snipings. A fatal shoot-out in Oakland, California- 10/28/67.
Huey Newton wounded. One policeman dead. Criminal proceedings pending.
The Panthers hated the United Slaves. It was jig factional jive. US had a catchy motto: “Wherever you are, US is.”
Fatal Shootout-4/6/68-two days post-Memphis. Oakland again-this honky-hater hot spot. The Panthers called it an ambush. The cops called it “tactical surveillance.” One Panther was killed. Eldridge Cleaver was wounded. Footnote: Brother Cleaver was a convicted rapist.
Dwight flipped pages. Most big-city PDs had files on the Panthers and Negro informants placed. Food drives, educational programs, black-culture rebop. Burgeoning numbers, hip cachet, minor newspaper clout.
An instinct: the Panthers are too well-known to full-on operate.
The Bureau ran a half-assed Cointelpro last summer. The goal: create Panther-versus-US dissension. Some San Diego agents circulated custom hate lit. The Panthers called US “chitlin chumps.” US called the Panthers “pork-chop niggers.”
An instinct: US was too well-known to full-on operate.
Note to Mr. Hoover: do not increase pressure on Panthers or US. Status-quo existing operations. Both groups will discredit themselves over time.
Dwight flipped pages. He hit sheets on the Black Tribe Alliance and Mau-Mau Liberation Front. They were garish, outlandish and distinctly criminal.
Darktown L.A. Rival storefront operations. Small membership stats in gradual ascent. Both groups: “Allegedly seeking to sell narcotics to finance their activities.”
No known informants placed. Nomenclature out of Amos ‘n Andy. “Lord High Commissioner,” “Propaganda Minister,” “Pan-African Ruler.” Rat jackets on the key players:
A geek with four dope busts. A faggot carhop with two armed-robbery jolts. A bunco artist/voodoo priest. A card shark with ninety-one arrests and a phone book-size rap sheet. A “politically motivated” rape-o. Arrivistes, opportunists, Black Panther manques. Buffoons prone to whimsy and carnage.
Dwight got goose bumps. Dwight fretted his law-school ring and read more pages.
More names, dates and locations. More details on BTA/MMLF brouhahas. A note from LAPD Sergeant Robert S. Bennett: “Per the armored-car robbery-homicides of 2/24/64, rumors of BTA amp; MMLF participation cannot be substantiated.”
Street-corner agitation. Fistfights, drunk-driving beefs, Mickey Mouse rousts. The faggot carhop pimped drag queens. The card shark pimped his wife to cover his gambling debts. The Pan-African Ruler owned a porno bookstore and keestered his neighbor’s pet goat.
His goose-bump count zoooomed. His nerves jumped. He ordered his one drink a night early. There, now-put your seat back and trip on Karen.
Confidential Bureau informant #4361-Karen (NMI) Sifakis. DOB 2/1/25, New York City. Fellow Yalie, history prof, Quaker-leftist subversive.
He brought her file with him. He loved the old surveillance pix and mug shots. There’s Karen in ‘49, at a Paul Robeson bash. There’s Karen outside Sing Sing-the Rosenbergs just got it. L.A., 3/12/61-Karen at a ban-the-bomb rally. His favorite: Karen composed in prayer as Berkeley cops bash heads all around her.
She taught history at UC Santa Barbara. Her husband was a lefty lawyer in Jew York. He rotated west two weeks per month. They quit fucking four million years ago. They stayed together for obscure Commie reasons and for the sake of their two-year-old daughter. Karen disdained violence. Karen built bombs, blew up monuments and always made sure that no human beings or watchdogs got hurt. She operated under the direct sanction of Special Agent Dwight C. Holly.
Quid pro quo. He let her destroy jingoist statuary. He pulled her activist chums out of the shit with some regularity. She ratted Reds who exceeded her low threshold for physical hurt. She was pregnant again now, at age forty-three. It was some kind of jack-off-in-a-jar/test-tube job that required hubby’s assistance. Karen Sifakis-Jesus Fucking Christ.
They met at Yale. It was fall ‘48. He was a rookie Fed. She was a Smith College/Yale trial coed. They had a two-hour pub chat. They killed a bottle of scotch and a pack of cigarettes and made everlasting impressions. He dug her looks. She dug his looks. He didn’t know it was mutual until three years back.
L.A., August ‘65. The Watts riot-crazy nigger shit ascendant. Mr. Hoover was aghast. He ordered file checks on all the college profs who signed pro-spook petitions. Dwight did a full week of file work. There’s Karen’s name. There’s Karen’s picture. Fuck-it’s that tall, red-haired Greek girl from Yale.
He did some research. He learned that Karen wrote her doctoral thesis on the Indiana Klan. Prominently mentioned: Walter “Daddy” Holly himself.
He conducted some interviews. He learned that some Indiana Klan klowns lynched Karen’s Greek immigrant granddad. It was 1922. Daddy Holly ran a klavern two counties south of the lynch site.
He did more research. He pulled Karen’s FBI file from the Central Records. He got her protest-march arrest records expunged in nine cities. He climbed a big limb to get her granddad some late justice.
One of the lynch guys had spawned a neo-Nazi grandson. Dwight tracked him to a county jail in Ohio. The guy was an evil sack of shit. Dwight got him moved to an all-nigger tier. The spooks gave him a come-to-God whipping.
He flew out to L.A. and knocked on Karen’s door. She recognized him seventeen years later. He told her what he’d done and that his father was Daddy Holly. She asked him why he did it. He told her that he wanted to give her something that no one else ever could.
She invited him in.
They developed an arrangement.
He’s black-bagged her house. He’s read her journal. She describes her fascist-toady lover tenderly.
She always tells him, “We’re too circumspect to self-immolate.” He always tells her, “We’re too tall and good-looking to lose.” Sometimes he snaps out of nightmares and finds himself coiled in her arms.
The flight got bumpy. The seat-belt warning flashed. Dwight jotted notes on a file card:
“BTA amp; MMLF best bets. Check various police agcy files amp; hate-mail subscriber lists (left-wing, anti-white mailings) for leads on possible plant (Wayne Sr.’s stash/Dr. Fred Hiltz).”
The bumps leveled off. The plane descended. There’s that big wide light. Jesus, L.A. looked good.
The bedroom was hot. The window unit went on the fritz and pushed stale air around. They’d sweated the sheets through to the mattress. Karen called it a “sauna fuck.” Dwight kissed her wet hair, sheened up all the more red.
The husband was back east. He had a name, but Dwight never said it. Dina was out at nursery school. They had three hours.
Karen rolled on her back. She was three months pregnant. She showed a little. Her litheness was filling out into curves.
She stretched. She grabbed the bed rails and arched off her back. Dwight put a hand on her belly and eased her down slow. She rolled into him. He hooked a leg over her and drew her in close.
“Are you sure it’s not mine?”
“Yes. It was a procedure, and you were nowhere near the receptacle.”
Dwight smiled. “It’s a girl.”
“Girls are less trouble. Any male being you create will mean problems for me. I’ll spend the rest of my career redacting his files and busting him out of jail.”
Karen lit a cigarette. “Dina will blow up Mount Rushmore. She’s starting to put out a vibe.”
“Dina will marry a Republican. You know how I know it? She always wants me to show her my badge.”
The window unit buckled. Icy air hit them. Karen shivered and nuzzled into him.
“A colleague of mine needs some help. He’s being assessed for tenure, but he was blacklisted from ‘51 to ‘54. The chairman of the tenure committee hates him, and he’s not above using that as a wedge.”
Dwight laughed. “I thought all college professors were high-minded Commies above shit like that.”
“I am, but they’re not.”
“I’ll misplace his file or do some redactions. Let me know what you need.”
Karen blew smoke rings. They hit the cold air and dispersed. Dwight took the cigarette and put it out.
“Smoking’s bad for pregnant women.”
“One a day, and only when we’re together.”
“I need some help.”
“I might be running a Cointelpro on some black-militant groups. I’ll find the plant on my own, but I might need help finding an informant.”
Karen kissed his neck and traced the knife scar on his shoulder.
“Why should I help you with something like that? Give me the rationale and explain how it conforms to our arrangement.”
Dwight put his head up against hers. Their eyes were close. That odd blue all dark-flecked-some goddamn Greek.
“Because they’re out to sell dope and cash in on social protest. Because they’re shitbirds who abuse women. Because they’ll get a lot of very impressionable young black men fired up to do crazy shit that will derail their fucking lives forever, and the overall social benefit that they’ll create from being in business will be down around zero.”
Karen kissed him. “All right. I’ll think about it.”
“I’m right on this one. You could help me out and do some good here.”
Karen chewed her lips. Dwight kissed her and stopped it. They went telepathic. Karen said their credo.
“I will not further comment on the usurious nature of our relationship, lest I indict myself as a fascist collaborator and run from you screaming.”
On cue, perfect timing, straight off a kiss. More than deadpan, less than droll.
Dwight went into a laugh fit. Karen clamped his mouth. He nipped her palm and made her stop it. She pointed to his clothes. His checkbook had dropped from his suit coat.
“Those anonymous checks. You’ve never told me why.”
“I’ve told you I send them.”
“You tell me just so much, and no more.”
“You’re the same way.”
“It’s how we stay safe together.”
Their faces were close. Karen leaned in and got their eyes closer.
“You’ve done something terribly wrong. I won’t ask, but you should know that I know.”
Dwight shut his eyes. Karen kissed them. Dwight said, “Do you love me?” Karen said, “I’ll think about it.”
(Las Vegas, 6/17/68)
The Sheriff’s blocked off Fremont. The low-roller casinos flew flags at half-mast. A lackluster motorcade slogged through.
Dig: a memorial parade for Wayne Tedrow Senior.
Noon in Vegas, 109° and climbing. City fathers in cowboy hats and broil-inducing suits. The mayor’s last-second brainstorm. Senior was a heavyweight. Let’s dispense respect.
The car procession crawled. The standing spectators sizzled and gaped, sun-stupefied. Some kitchen workers waved placards and booed. Wayne Senior ran their union and fucked them over with management side deals.
The LVPD sent an honor guard. Wayne stood on a platform with Buddy Fritsch and Bob Gilstrap. Buddy was nervous. He radiated I need a drink. He probably saw Wayne Senior’s body.
Snail trail-the cars moved bumper-lock slow. Tourists capered and waved chip cups and beers. Negro protestors lugged anti-cop signs. A subgroup taunted Wayne. He heard muffled chants of “Honky killer!”
Sonny Liston bopped up to the platform. A dumb shit yelled, “Ali kicked your ass!” Sonny flipped him off. It got some laughs. Sonny sucked on a half-pint of Everclear. Buddy and Bob shied away from him. Wayne stepped off the platform.
Sonny said, “Did you kill him?”
Wayne said, “Yes.”
Sonny said, “Good. He was a racist motherfucker. You a racist motherfucker, but you only kill niggers who deserve it.”
That stupe yelled, “Ali kicked your ass!” again. Sonny chucked his jug at him and chased him. The crowd geared up for some fun. A Caddy ragtop inched by. The backseat was packed with showgirls. They smiled, waved and caught themselves-oops, we’re supposed to look sad.
Wayne saw Carlos Marcello across the street. They exchanged smiles and waves. Wayne got jostled. The crowd swelled and pushed him into the platform. They looked pissed. Wayne saw why: Dwight Holly was shoving through with his badge out.
Wayne stepped over to a shady spot. It was semi-private. Dwight found him fast.
“Condolences for your father, but I’d have killed him, too, if I were you.”
“I appreciate the comment, but I’d like to cut the topic off there.”
“We go back, son. You shouldn’t mind some ribbing.”
“We share a history. You’d call it affectionate, I wouldn’t.”
Dwight lit a cigarette. “Tell me it’s chilled.”
“You mean tell Mr. Hoover.”
Dwight rolled his eyes. “Don’t nitpick me, Wayne. Tell me it’s chilled and I’ll pass the message along.”
“It’s chilled, Dwight. Tell me we’re chilled on Memphis and we’ll call it even.”
Dwight stepped in close. “We’ve got a little seepage there. I’ll tell you about it in a second, but you’ve got to hear the lecture first.”
Wayne weaved a tad. A protestor spotted him and did the clenched-fist thing. Dwight pulled him behind the platform.
“You’re juiced now. You’re in with Uncle Carlos and you may get in with Hughes. I’d be a piss-poor friend if I didn’t tell you to be careful.”
Wayne stepped in close. “ ‘Friend’? You fucking coerced me into Memphis.”
Dwight stepped closer. He bumped Wayne into a lightpost and pinned him there.
“Wendell Durfee came with a price, son. And don’t tell me that you didn’t want the job on some level.”
Wayne pushed Dwight back. Easy hands, don’t rile him. Dwight made nice and brushed off Wayne’s coat.
“Give me an update on Carlos. Something to keep the old poof happy.”
“It’s stale news. The Boys want to sell Hughes the rest of their hotels and keep their skim guys inside. Hughes wants a peaceful town. Someone has to fill Ward Littell’s shoes, and it’s me.”
“Senior was a racist! Junior is a killer!”-Wayne heard faint shouts.
“The envelope for Dick Nixon. Tell me about that.”
“How did you-”
“We’ve got his pad in Key Biscayne bugged. Nixon mentioned it to Bebe Rebozo.”
Wind blew bunting off the platform. The Senior/Junior chant grew.
“The Boys want to build some casinos in Central America or the Caribbean, and they want things slowed down at Justice. They’d like a pardon for Jimmy Hoffa by ‘71. They think Nixon will win the election and be amenable.”
Dwight nodded. “I’ll buy that, for now.”
“The ‘seepage’? Memphis? You were going to-”
“I’m trying to run down some hate-mail subscribers. I’d like to get a look at your father’s lists.”
Wayne shook his head. ‘Wo. I’m out of the hate business. Talk to Fred Hiltz.”
“Shit, Wayne. I’m not asking you for the world, I’m just asking for-”
“Seepage? Memphis? Come on, don’t string me out on that.”
Dwight reached for a cigarette. The pack was empty. He threw it into the crowd.
“The St. Louis SAC called me this morning. There’s talk coming out of the Grapevine Tavern.”
“I don’t follow you.”
“It’s a shitkicker joint. One of Jimmy Ray’s brothers owns a piece. I had it bugged. A bullshit rumor was circulating there, and Jimmy bought into it. A fifty-grand bounty on King. Otash lured Ray in off the rumor and worked him behind it.”
“Senior/racist, Junior/killer, Senior/rac-”
“Keep going. I didn’t work that part of the job.”
“Some rednecks found the bug. They figured out that it was FBI-issue, and now there’s talk that the hit was Bureau-adjunct.”
Wayne prickled. “Talk’s talk, Dwight. Rumors are rumors.”
“Yeah, but it’s a little too close to Jimmy and these crazy stories he’s telling.”
“Which means it might or might not go away, and if it doesn’t, we’ll have to do something about it.”
“ ‘We’ or you?”
Dwight grabbed his necktie. “Us, son. Wendell Durfee wasn’t for free.”
The IV drip had run out. The nurse was on the couch, sleeping. Janice fell asleep watching TV.
Wayne checked her pulse. It ran weak-normal. The p.m. news was on, with the sound low. A reporter did the standard King/Bobby number and segued to Nixon and Humphrey.
Upcoming conventions: Miami and Chicago. Two first-ballot nods assured. Potential protests at both convention sites. The Nixon-Humphrey poll status-now a dead heat.
Wayne watched Tricky Dick and Hearty Hubert strut and mug. He had Farlan Brown on tap. The Grapevine news torqued him. “Talk” and “Rumors” might mean witness trouble. Dwight wanted to see Wayne Senior’s mail lists. They were stashed in a bunker outside Vegas. Senior always called it his “Hate Hut.” A shitload of hate lit was stored there.
Janice stirred and winced. Wayne rigged a fresh IV bag. Nixon and Humphrey talked blahblah. Janice opened her eyes.
Wayne said, “Hi.”
Janice pointed to the TV. “They’re homely men. If I’m alive, I won’t know who to vote for.”
Wayne smiled. “You’ve always erred on the side of looks.”
“Yes. Which explains my bad luck with men.”
The bag started draining. The juice hit the tube. Wayne flicked the dial and regulated the flow. Janice shuddered. The juice hit her arm and fed her a slight burst of color.
She said, “Buddy Fritsch called today.”
“And he’s scared. He said there’ve been some rumors.”
Wayne turned the TV off. “About that night?”
“And Buddy said some neighbors have been talking. They said they saw a man and woman outside the house.”
Wayne took her hands. “We’re covered. You know who I know, and you know how these things get taken care of.”
Janice shook her head and pulled her hands free. She got some strength up. The bed slid. Wayne clamped her arm to keep the needle in.
“I’ll be gone soon, but I don’t want people to know that we did it.”
“We shouldn’t have done it. It was hateful and vindictive. It was wrong.”
Wayne flicked the dial. The bag puckered and fed the tube. Janice went out in an instant.
He took her pulse. It ran short of weak-normal.
Farlan Brown said, “I was sorry to hear about your father.”
“These things happen, sir. He had a bum ticker and indulged bad habits.”
“ ‘Bad habits’? A clean-living Mormon man like that?”
Wayne smiled. “Mormons drink and fuck more than the rest of the world combined, as I’m sure you know from personal experience.”
Brown slapped his knees. He was tall and faux-hayseed friendly. His Michael Caine glasses magnified bad eyes. His suite was done up mock-Tudor. The Hughes group had the top six floors of the D.I. The big guy reposed in the penthouse.
Brown said, “You’re a hot sketch, sir.”
“Just think of me as my father’s son. Give me the job, and I’ll take it from there.”
Brown lit a cigarette. “Tell me why I should give you the job, and convince me in under one minute.”
Wayne said, “Collusion.” Brown tapped his watch. Wayne shot his cuffs and displayed his gold Rolex. Wayne Senior taught him the trick.
“Howard Hughes is a delusional xйnophobe addicted to pharmaceutical narcotics and vitamin-laced blood transfusions. His employees refer to him as ‘Dracula.’ Mr. Hughes relies upon lucid men like you to mediate the world for him and to facilitate his dealings with the venal politicians and organized-crime figures who run the state of Nevada and, arguably, the whole country. I am Carlos Marcello’s liaison to the business community. I am a brilliant chemist who can cook up compounds that will zonk Dracula out of his fucking gourd. I will be Mr. Marcello’s bagman to Richard Nixon and hopefully to the Nixon presidential administration. Dracula is bribing Mr. Nixon to the tune of five million dollars, and I will raid my late father’s assets to match that amount. I will deliver it, along with Mr. Marcello’s fifteen million, to Mr. Nixon personally, at the GOP Convention. I am charged with overseeing the upcoming grand design of Mr. Marcello and his organized-crime cohorts, which is the building of lavish hotel-casinos in a friendly, dictator-run banana republic somewhere south of here, and I will guarantee you that Hughes Airways will have the exclusive rights to fly the suckers in. You should carefully consider me for the job, because you know who I know and what I know, and because you have the utilitarian common sense to know that I will make you look good at all junctures.”
Brown checked his watch. “Fifty-six seconds. You had the edge with Mr. Hughes going in, and now you’ve got the edge with me.”
“Why did I have the edge with Mr. Hughes?”
“Because you shot some burrhead dope fiends in 1964, and Mr. Hughes thinks you’d be a good man to scare the coloreds out of his hotels.”
Wayne said it soft. “I’m out of the hate business, sir. Please tell Mr. Hughes that I won’t be willing to do that, and please tell him that I’ll require an in-person meeting with him before you hire me.”
Brown said it soft. “Sir, you are drastically impaired at this moment.”
Wayne tossed four capsules in his lap and walked out of the room.
Two hours. Three tops.
He went back to his suite and stretched out. He pictured Dracula twirling around the rings of Saturn and moon-hopping Jupiter. Maybe he’s flying or crashing airplanes. Maybe he’s fucking Kate Hepburn on the back lot at RKO.
The phone rang. Wayne picked up. Brown cut him off at “Hello.”
“The job is yours. And Mr. Hughes will see you.”
(Los Angeles, 6/18/68)
“Clyde tells me you like looking for women.”
Bam-the Hate King’s first words. Bam-at the door, no handshake or introduction.
Crutch said, “Yes, sir. That’s true.”
Dr. Fred Hiltz laughed. “He said, ‘Looking of women,’ but I won’t press the point.”
The Hiltz hate hacienda-a big Spanish manse. Beverly Hills, prime footage, Jew neighbors galore. A jumbo sunken living room festooned with hate art.
Fine oils. The masters reconsidered. A van Gogh lynching. A Rembrandt gas-chamber tableaux. Matisse does Congolese atrocities. Paul Klee does Martin Luther King charbroiled.
Crutch scoped the walls. Man Ray did Bobby Kennedy dead on a slab. Picasso did Lady Bird Johnson muff-diving Anne Frank.
Crutch fought off a dizzy spell. Hiltz said, “I met a cooze at Lawry’s Prime Rib. Her name was Gretchen Farr. She shot me some trim and got me addicted. She stole fourteen grand from the bomb shelter in my back-yard. You find her, you get me back my money.”
Devil-horned kikes by Frederick Remington. Grant Wood does LBJ drawn and quartered.
“Description? Last known address? A photograph, if you’ve got one.”
Hiltz fast-walked Crutch out back. The bum’s rush: Raus! Mach schnell! They cut down long corridors. They dodged cats and cat boxes. JFK morgue pix were taped to the walls.
The yard featured a statue garden. A wetback hosed down a life-size Klan-klad Christ. Hiltz said, “I’ve got no pictures. Gretchen was photophobic. She’s a tall, stacked cooze with a slight Latin tinge. She was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, so I made her as kosher. I put Phil Irwin on her, but he went on a bender and blew me off. I tried to hire Freddy Otash, but he’s not taking skip jobs these days.”
The wetback hose-spritzed Hitler and Hermann Goering. Bird shit and dirt decomposed.
“What else can you tell me about her?”
“You’re not listening. I know buppkes. I lead with my schvantz and it cost me fourteen big ones. Get it?I’m hiring you, because you know how to find people, and I don’t.”
A cat scaled Mussolini and sat poised for birds. Hiltz quick-marched Crutch over to some underground steps and shoved him down them. They hit a steel-reinforced door. Hiltz unlocked it and tapped a light switch. Fluorescent bulbs lit a twelve-by-twelve hate hive.
Hate-tract wallpaper. Hate-niggers, hate-Jews, hate-Papists, hate-Japs, hate-Chinks, hate-spies, hate-Commies, hate-the-muthafuckin’ white oppressor. Hate placards stacked on the floor. Boxes full of Nazi armbands. Hate voodoo-doll pincushions: Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Pope Paul, Martin Luther Coon.
Hiltz grabbed a placard. A giant buck slave stabbed a cowering Jew merchant. The buck had a mammoth crotch bulge. The hebe had clawed feet and a rat tail. The banner read GENOCIDE IS THE SACRED MANDATE OF ALLAH!!!!!
“The schvartzes eat this shit up. You wouldn’t believe the market all this black-militant tsuris has created. I’ve got a whole sideline going. It’s shvoogie prison tracts, allegedly written by these radical shines in San Quentin. You know who really writes them? This kike nigger-lover guy I play golf with.”
Crutch sneezed. The hate hive reeked of mildew and cat piss. That dizzy spell revived.
“Gretchen Farr. Tell me what you talked about. Tell me what she told you about herself. Tell me-”
“We didn’t talk, we shtupped. We went soixante-neuf and did the beast with two backs. We did not waste appreciable time with discussion.”
“Sir, can you give me anything I can-”
Hiltz pulled the lid off a king-size clothes hamper. The inside was crammed full of C-notes. The tally had to veer toward a half mil.
“Here’s the enduring mystery, schmendrick. She only nailed me for fourteen G’s. I know, because I count my gelt every night. You want my opinion? Gretchen was subtle. The cunt ganef nailed me for what she thought I wouldn’t miss.”
Crutch looked in the hamper. Hiltz grabbed a bill and stuffed it in his shirt pocket.
“Lunch is on me. Find her, and I’ll get you a threesky with Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie. Believe me, I’ve got that kind of clout.”
Schvartzes, schvantz, shvoogies, the beast with two backs. A potential threesky. A time-clock gig for Clyde Duber Associates.
Crutch drove to the lot and braced Phil Irwin. Phil was huddled up with Chick Weiss, per some divorce job. Crutch took him aside and asked the standard skip-job questions. Phil was blurry on Gretchen Farr. No shit-Phil was blurry after 10:00 a.m. daily. Yeah, Dr. Fred hired him. Yeah, he called LAPD and Sheriff’s R amp;I and learned that the Farr snatch had no rap sheet. He chatted up the desk guy at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The desk guy refused to check his guest file. He went on a bender in T.J. then. He took a Rotary group down to catch the mule show. Dr. Fred fired him.
Crutch asked the big question: Is Dr. Fred a Yid? Phil said, “No, but all his ex-wives are Jewish.”
Scratch Phil. Next stop: the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Crutch drove there and got situated. He whipped his fake cop’s badge on a fruit bellhop and made a sound impression. The fruit bellhop fetched the fruit desk guy. The fruit desk guy looked askance at Crutch’s low-rent attire. Crutch told him he worked for Clyde Duber. The fruit desk guy dug on that. Clyde had panache and je ne sais quois. Okay, kid, let’s talk.
Crutch asked the standard skip-job questions. The fruit desk guy responded. He called Gretch Farr “dicey.” She rented bungalow #21 for three weeks. He wondered where she glommed the bread. She tricked with wealthy European and Latin guests of both genders. She paid cash for her flop and extra charges every morning. Gretch supplied one check-in referral: a phone drop called “Bev’s Switchboard.” It was a message pickup service for the fly-by-night crowd. Gretch was a quintessential fly-by-night chick.
That was it. The fruit desk guy sashayed off to fawn on some dowagers with poodles. Crutch hit the phone bank and called information. Bev’s Switchboard: 8814 Fountain, West Hollywood.
He drove there and got situated. The address was a storefront adjoining a quick-script pharmacy. All the wheelmen copped uppers there.
He parked. He combed his hair. He pinned his bogus badge to his coat front and chewed some Clorets. He practiced winking а la Scotty Bennett. Memo: buy some tartan bow ties.
He walked in. An old girl was working a for-real switchboard. The place was claustrophobic-twelve by fourteen tops. Crutch caught a whiff of bug spray.
The old girl noticed him. He made her belatedly. Blow-job Bev Shoftel. An L.A. legend. She dispensed snout to all the big stars back in the ‘30s.
She said, “The badge is a fake. I eat my Rice Krispies every morning, so I know from giveaways.”
Crutch said, “I’m a private investigator. I work for Clyde Duber.”
Bev unhooked her headset and fluffed out her hair. Dandruff flakes flew.
“I blew Clyde Duber before you were born. I blew Buzz Duber on his twelfth birthday, so don’t think you’re intimidating me.”
Crutch winked. His eyelid twitched and spasmed. Blow-job Bev whooped.
“The answer is no. Whatever you want, that’s what you’re getting.”
“Gretchen Farr. I heard she’s dicey, and I need a little peek at her caller file.”
Bev said, “Nyet. And don’t even think of asking for a header, ‘cause I’m sixty-three years old and out of the biz.”
“I could help you, babe. Believe me, I’ve got that kind of clout.”
Bev whooped anew. “The comedy hour’s over, babe. But you made me grin, so I’ll shoot you a freebie. I overheard Gretchie speaking Spanish on the phone.”
A call hit the switchboard. Bev popped on her headseat. Crutch said, “Please.” Bev said, “Scram.”
Blow jobs. Blow-job Bev blows Buzz and Clyde. Buzz coerces blow jobs now. Scotty’s blow-job thieves.
It was too much. Crutch churned with it. He couldn’t situate himself.
He hit the quick-script pharmacy and scored some Dexedrine. He popped four with coffee, de-churned and re-churned. He drove to his pad and skimmed a few Playboys. He bopped up to the roof and eyeballed a girl sunbathing. The dexies coaxed memories. There’s Dana Lund poolside, in a strapless one-piece. There’s Dana playing chaperone at a prep school bash.
Dana. Gretchen Farr. Hotel assignations. Gretchen swings with men and women.
Crutch got that oooooold feeling and grabbed his oooooold tools.
The pharmacy was closed. Ditto Bev’s Switchboard. A walkway led back to a rear parking lot. Clouds absorbed moonlight. The side door looked weak.
Crutch stuck a #4 pick in the keyhole. Two jiggles eased the main tumblers back. He pushed a #6 in. He twisted in unison. The lock button slid. The door snapped.
He let himself in and shut the door behind him. Bug-spray fumes made him sneeze. He got out his penlight and adjusted the beam to shine narrow. He saw a file cabinet up against the switchboard-outlet plugs.
Three drawers set on sliding runners. Marked: “A to G,” “H to P,” “Q to Z.” He pulled the handles. All three were locked.
He zeroed in on the “A to G” lock. He punched a #5 pick in back to the drill point. One push and pop-
“A to G.” Aaronson, Adams, Allworth. Some B’s, C’s and D’s. Echert, Ehrlich, Falmouth. There, Gretchen Farr.
Crutch held the penlight in his teeth and grabbed the folder two-handed. It was skinny. It held one page. He quick-skimmed it. The call log went back three weeks, to late May ‘68.
No address notes or personal stats on Gretch Farr herself. Just incoming calls listed.
Avco Jewelers, Santa Monica-four calls total. Six calls from foreign consulates: Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic. Huh? Whazzat?-this wild brew so far.
Three men first name-listed: “Lew,” “Al,” “Chuck.” A bunch of call-me-back calls to Gretchen-L.A.-prefix numbers all.
Du-32758/”Wouldn’t give name.” Sal/No-52808. He knew that name and number: Clyde’s actor pal.
Crutch got out his notepad and copied it all down. He got B amp;E sweaty. Bug-spray fumes tickled his nose. The fucking penlight hurt his teeth.
The Klondike Bar, 8th and La Brea. A Greek grail and a lavender lodestone for the limp-wristed set.
Crutch called Buzz from the outside pay phone. The sidewalk was a big K-Y cowboy cattle call. Crutch ran Du-32758 by Buzz and told him to check the reverse book. Buzz shagged the book, skimmed it and told Crutch “No sale.” Crutch told him to call P.C. Bell and request a bootleg-number trace.
The sidewalk action got too gamy. Crutch sat in his car and scoped the door. Sal’s Lincoln was back in the parking lot. Sal lived at the Klondike. He’d walk out sooner or later, with or sans the night’s quiff.
Sal Mineo. Paid informant for Clyde and Fred Otash. Two Oscar nominations and Skidsville. One trouble-prone fruit fly.
Crutch got re-situated. The dexies had him head-tripping. The Toho Theatre was just south. Hip couples were lined up for a doofus art flick. The girls had that long, straight hair. Every little head movement sent sparks aloft.
Someone drummed on his windshield. Crutch saw Sal Mineo-all spit-curled and tight-jeaned. He popped the door. Sal got in. He wore this look of wop-fruit enchantment.
Crutch pulled around the corner and re-parked. Sal said, “You could have come inside. You didn’t have to lurk all night.”
“I wasn’t lurking.”
“You always lurk.”
“Shit, man. I was waiting.”
“You were lurking.”
Crutch laughed. “Okay, I was lurking.”
Sal laughed. “Clyde wants something, right? You’d be lurking outside some chick’s window if you were on your own dime.”
Crutch gripped the wheel white-knuckled. Sal raised his hands-hey, no harm meant.
“Okay, I’ll start over. What can I help you and Clyde out with?”
“Gretchen Farr. She took one of Clyde’s clients for some money, and I know you know her.”
Sal lit a cigarette. “Sure, I know her. I know that she fucks strings of men and rabbits with their money routinely, but I don’t know how you traced her to me. If you explain that to me convincingly, I’ll tell you what you need to know.”
That pout, that greasy dago hair-Crutch balled his fists.
“I ran a phone check. You called her service two weeks ago.”
Sal cracked the window and de-smoked the car. Sal tucked up his knees and went doe-eyed.
“I’d say Gretchen Farr is an alias. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. I don’t have a line on her whereabouts, because she never tells people where she lives. As I said, she fucks strings of men, steals or borrows coin from them and disappears. I called her service because she called my service. We didn’t actually speak. I’ve steered her to men before, but she usually develops her own prospects. She’s veeeery careful, our Gretch. She always makes sure that her fuckees don’t truck in the same circles.”
Fuck gigs, fuck strings, fuckees-
Sal shook his head. “No. The most camera-shy girl this girl ever met.”
“The ‘fuckees.’ Give me some names.”
“No. I am truly drawing a blank, and Gretch paid me to steer her, and I promised I wouldn’t tell on her, cross-my-heart, hope-to-die.”
Crutch slapped the wheel. Crutch slapped the dashboard. Sal made with the doe eyes and never flinched.
“Feel better, sweetheart?”
Crutch flexed his hands. His fingers and palms stung. Sal twirled his spit curl and sighed.
Crutch said, “Why do you think Gretchen Farr is an alias?”
“She’s too spic-looking to be a Farr. She’s a Spanglo type if she’s anything.”
“And she doesn’t live in L.A.?”
“No, she just passes through, causes travail and moves on.”
“Known associates? Do you know anyone who knows her?”
Sal doe-eyed him. “You sound resigned, so I’ll give you a nibble. I set Gretchie up with a realtor named Arnie Moffett, who is a horrible man who used to pimp for Howard Hughes. He bought a string of Hughes’s old fuck-pad houses in the Hollywood Hills, so maybe Gretchie is staying in one of them.”
Crutch cracked his knuckles. His head hurt. He couldn’t get situated. His thoughts jumbled and veered.
Sal said, “I’m waiting for the day, sweetheart.”
“The day that you figure out you’re not at all tough.”
Those caller-log names: “Al,” “Lew” and “Chuck.” They might be Gretchen fuckees. They might re-situate him. They might seed brainstorms.
Crutch de-torqued the dexies with red devils and Old Crow. He slept and called the three guys in the a.m. He dropped Gretchen’s name. He spooked them. He set up meets at the Carolina Pines-three fuckee prospects one hour apart. He hit the Pines early and hogged a back booth. He scarfed pancakes and coffee and re-cleared his head.
Al showed on time. He was pissed. Shitbird, I’m married. You lured me here to grill me on some illicit snatch I promoted. Crutch badgered Al. Al revealed this:
He met Gretch at Trader Vic’s. They had some nooners at his place and her place. She had a crib in Beachwood Canyon. Don’t ask me where, I always went there half in the bag.
Gretchie said she had resources. She mentioned import-export gigs. She hit him up for five G’s. He considered the request. He almost bounced. Something deterred him.
She emitted this stealth vibe. He snuck a look at her purse. He saw four different passports. He declined to front her the bread.
Passports for what countries? Jesus, I don’t know. Known associates? People she talked about? Kid, we just fucked.
Crutch pledged silence and told Al to split. Al split. Lew showed up. He was pissed. Dickhead, I’m married. You lured me here to grill me on some illicit snatch I promoted. Crutch badgered Lew. Lew revealed this:
He met Gretchen at Stat’s Char-Broil. They got a thing going. He drilled her at the Miramar Hotel and at some pad up by Beachwood Canyon. She tapped him for five grand. She splitsvilled. He tried to find the canyon pad. He failed. He was blotto every time he was there. He couldn’t find the goddamn place.
Known associates? Passports? Topics of talk? Kid, you’re not getting me-we hardly yakked.
Crutch pledged silence and told Lew to split. Lew split. Chuck showed up. He was pissed. Dipshit, I’m married. You lured me here to grill me on some illicit snatch I promoted. Crutch badgered Chuck. Chuck revealed this:
He met Gretchie at the Westward Ho Steak House. He boned her at a house a mile east of Beachwood Canyon. It was a rental deal. Price tags were still stuck to the furniture-I should have known.
He lent Gretchie five G’s. She absconded on him. He called that Bev’s Switchboard place and tried to find her. Old Bev was a sphinx. She rebuffed him. He got a gift in the mail the next day.
A Polaroid pic: Chuck and Gretchie Farr fucking. Chuck got the point: desist or your frau receives this.
Chuck desisted. Chuck knew goose egg about passports and known associates. What did you talk about? Kid, we just screwed.
Crutch pledged silence. Chuck split. Crutch bugged his waitress for a pencil and paper. She brought them. Crutch drew and re-drew Gretchen Farr.
The fuckees gave him slightly different descriptions. An Anglo with spic blood? Sure, maybe, maybe not. Bev heard her talk Spanish. She got calls from three consulates: Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic. Latin countries. Spicfest ‘68. She’s wild, she’s dark-haired, she’s pale working on dark-go, pencil, go.
He drew Gretchie six ways. He gave her different hairstyles and made her smile and frown. He felt some wild spirit guiding him. His pencil broke. He got choked up and fucked-up when he saw where it all went.
He drew Gretchen Farr as Dana Lund, six times over. Gretchie was Dana writ dark.
Avco Jewelers was out at the beach. The window display featured high-line watches laid out on velvet blocks. Crutch perched under a striped awning. He was amped up. He was running on greasy pancakes and dope residue.
He walked in. A fussbudget type stood behind the counter, messing with some pearls. He sized Crutch up. Navy blazer and gray slacks-okay, you’ll do.
“I had a few questions, if you’d be so kind.”
“Certainly. Is there a piece you had in mind?”
“Piece” hit him weird. “Gretchen Farr”-he just blurted it.
The fussbudget fussed with his pearls. “And this pertains to?”
“It’s an inquiry.”
“I gathered that, but you seem too young to be a police detective.”
“I’m a private investigator.”
“Dubious, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.”
Crutch got heat-prickly. “Look, someone called her answering service from your number. I’m just trying to-”
The door chime rang. An old lady waltzed in, swaddling a Chihuahua. She vibed hot-prospect-hot-for-some-pearls.
The fussbudget whispered. “Miss Farr came in two weeks or so ago, while I was out. She left a message for me to call her, which I did. We exchanged phone calls. She wanted advice on the recutting of a number of valuable emeralds she had in her possession. I asked about the provenance of the stones. She had no answer ready for me, which I found odd.”
The old lady de-swaddled the Chihuahua. The cocksucker hit the ground yapping. The fussbudget stepped around the corner and swooned.
Buzz dubbed the Hiltz job “the case.” Crutch dubbed it “my case” in his head. Dr. Fred had the bread to wind up Clyde’s time clock. Cherchez la femme-the Hate King had the big bone for Gretchie. Buzz called P.C. Bell and bribed a drone to trace that bootleg number. So far, no make. Buzz tapped Clyde’s cop contacts for dope on la belle Farr. So far, no make. Arnie Moffett was their one lead outstanding. Buzz called it “hot.” Crutch called it “a scorcher.”
They stood on the roof at the Vivian and hashed it all out. It was twilight. It was hot. A late sun fuzzed the sky moss green. Buzz smoked a joint and talked a blue streak, all cars and cooze. Crutch messed with his telescope.
He caught an extra call at Paramount-slick dance-hall girls. He caught Lonnie Ecklund working on a ‘53 Merc. He saw some drunks weaving out of the Nickodell. He saw Sandy Danner sneaking a cigarette on her mom’s back porch. Lonnie/Sandy/Buzz/Crutch-Hollywood High, ‘62.
Dana Lund was out of range. Crutch swiveled the telescope west. He caught Barb Cathcart grilling hot dogs. She wore a tie-dyed top and a peace medallion. Her freckly cleavage showed. Barb sang with a group called The Loveseekers. They lost every Battle of the Bands that they played. Barb beaver-flashed him at Le Conte Junior High, spring ‘58. His world de-centralized then. Barb’s brother Bobby was a call boy. He allegedly possessed a fourteen-inch dick.
Emeralds, fuck pads, fuck lists, fuck logs, fuckees-
Buzz said, “You’re a bigger freak than I am.”
Crutch said, “Let’s lean on Arnie.”
Speedballs supplied oomph. Four dexies, two reds and firm jolts of Jim Beam. They levitated to the Miracle Mile. Crutch felt his eye sockets expand.
Moffett Realty was a hole-in-the-wall. It was right beside Ma Gordon’s Deli, the “Home of the Hebrew Hero.” The door was open. The lights were on. A skinny guy was kicked back at the one desk. He wore a red bowling shirt with a stitched-on ARNIE.
He was embroiled. He was staring into a swivel mirror, squeezing his blackheads. Crutch cleared his throat. Buzz cleared his throat. Arnie stayed transfixed.
Buzz said, “Uh, sir?” Crutch shushed him. Arnie said, “Frat boys, right? You want to rent one of my dumps for a kegger and lure in some gash.”
The room de-situated. Funny lights swirled. Crutch said, “We’re private detectives.”
Arnie stood up. Arnie grabbed his crotch and said, “Detect this.”
Crutch saw RED. RED room, RED room lights, RED world. He kicked Arnie in the balls. He jackknifed him. He rabbit-punched him. He threw him on the floor face-first. Arnie’s nose cracked. Blood spattered. Arnie flopped and flailed for his desk phone. Crutch pulled the cord out of the wall and threw the fucking phone across the room.
Buzz trembled. His lips did funny things. Crutch saw the piss stain on his jeans and smelled the shit in his shorts.
Arnie flailed. Blood pooled off his nosedive. Crutch put a foot on his neck and de-flailed him. Crutch said, “Gretchen Farr.”
Arnie gurgled. Buzz ran for the John, making like upchuck. Crutch threw down a handkerchief. Arnie rolled on his back, covered his nose and stanched the blood flow. Crutch pulled out his short dog. Arnie made a gimme sign and tilted his head. Crutch fed him little pops. Jim Beam, 100 proof.
Arnie sucked, gasped and coughed. Arnie dredged up savoir faire. Arnie said, “You evil little shit.”
Crutch squatted. He kept himself clear of the blood mess. He was all re-circuited while the room leaped and whirled.
“She’s a Commie. She’s some kind of left-wing transient with more names than half the world.”
“She heard I used to score snatch for Howard Hughes.”
Crutch said, “Keep going.” Arnie made the gimme sign. Crutch fed him three pops. Arnie sucked down blood-laced bourbon and took a big breath.
“She rented one of my pads. The Hollywood Hills, a half-ass little house. Two-week rental, in and out.”
“They’re skeeve pads. Fuck-film sets, keg-bust spots, short-term rentals.”
“Keep going, Arnie. The quicker you tell me, the quicker I’m gone.”
Blood soaked through the handkerchief. Arnie tossed it and wiped the excess spill on his pants. Buzz walked up, zipping his fly. He looked psychedelicized green.
Crutch said, “Give, Arnie.”
“Give what? She’s a Commie with some fucked-up agenda.”
“Okay, okay. She pumped me for dope on the Howard Hughes organization. She said she wanted to get next to a guy named Farlan Brown. I said I knew him. He’s this cunt man who plays Mormon to stay kosher with Hughes. When he passes through L.A., he always hits Dale’s Secret Harbor.”
TILT: Hughes, Gretchie, emeralds and that million-dollar-
“Dupe keys, Arnie. For the house Gretchen rented and all your other dives.”
Arnie nodded and stood up. Crutch steadied him. Arnie weaved for a full minute. Crutch dug his legs in and steadied himself. His Red World veered and swerved.
Buzz split to change clothes and hit Dale’s Secret Harbor. Crutch stayed swervy. He got the notion to re-brace Phil Irwin and run a driver’s license check. He stopped at a pay phone and called the DMV police line. He dropped Clyde Duber’s name and Gretchie’s approximate stats. Zero- just one eighty-two-year-old Gretchen Farr, up in Visalia. He called Dale’s Secret Harbor and paged Buzz. Buzz reported: Yeah, he asked around. He learned that Farlan Brown was a Hughes biggie. Hughes Airways was his main gig.
It was late. Crutch drove by the lot. Phil’s 409 was gone. Crutch got re-situated. His swerve was mutating to bad nerves and yawns. He tried Canter’s Deli, Linny’s Deli and Art’s Deli-Phil always late-nite noshed with Jew lawyer Chick Weiss.
Three stops, no Phil. He drove to Tommy Tucker’s Playroom, Washington and La Brea. Phil was a mud shark. He craved colored trim. The Playroom fronted a coon whorehouse. Phil might be there.
Yeah, he was. There’s his car by the back door. It’s parked. It’s rocking. There’s his white ass exposed in the backseat. There’s some fat dark legs spread wide.
It went on and on. Crutch parked and looked away. Phil and the spade chick supplied an “Oh, Baby” soundtrack. Crutch covered his ears at the crescendo. The spade chick climbed out of the car. She wore an Afro do and ran 220. She ambled back to the Playroom. Phil fell out of the car. He got up and homed in on Crutch’s GTO. Hey, I know that sled.
Crutch got out and stretched. Phil teetered up. His Dodger sweatsuit was all disheveled.
“Have you been tailing me?”
“Well, looking for you.”
“At 1:00 fucking a.m.?”
“Come on. Guys like us don’t keep regular hours.”
Phil lit a cigarette. It took four match swipes. He reeked of the spade chick’s perfume.
“We’ve got a job, right? We’ve got some work, and you went looking for me.”
Crutch shook his head. “No, it’s just a re-interview. I wanted you to run the Gretchen Farr gig by me again.”
Phil blew a weird-shaped smoke ring. “Okay, twenty bucks.”
“Right. I keestered Dr. Fred on the job, and I’ll spill the straight dope for twenty.”
Crutch pulled out his roll and forked over two tens. Phil flicked his cigarette at a ‘64 Olds. It smudged the nigger pink paint job.
“Okay, so I filed a couple of ‘no lead’ reports with Dr. Fred, chiefly because I didn’t feel like chasing this fly-by-night Gretchen twist all over hell-and-gone and because I got bought off the job.”
“By who? Who paid you?”
“It was a cash deal. Anonymous. A messenger service sent me the bread, and I ran a trace on the sender. Dig, it was the Hughes Tool Company. I thought, Jesus, that’s interesting, then I lost interest myself and went on that bender.”
Hughes again. Hughes man Farlan Brown. The Red World re-swerved.
Phil yawned. “That whole shot of time is fuzzy for me, but I’ve got this idea that I actually saw Gretchen Farr, somewhere up in the Hollywood Hills. She was with this older chick with a knife scar on her right arm. I’m also seeing a ‘66 Comet, maybe white… partial plate ADF2… Fuck, what do I know? I was stinko.”
The Hollywood DMV ran a records desk twenty-four hours. Cops could scoot by and do file checks at whim. Crutch dropped twenty clams and Clyde Duber’s name on the night clerk. The guy let him into the file room.
He had the year and model, plus partial-plate stats. That meant no quickie ID. Phil was a dipso. His memory was suspect. The Comet might be non-California registered. The registration cards were stuffed in large boxes. They were marked by county of origin and filed by the registree’s name. Start at L.A. County, F for Farr, go.
Crutch hauled boxes down and finger-walked through them. No Gretchen Farr/’66 Comet in L.A. County-let’s go on from there.
He worked. He pulled cards all night. He went county-to-county. He started at F for Farr and worked backward and forward. Gretch probably employed false names. Farr could be name sixteen or name forty-two. Dope dregs drizzled out of his system. He felt like one big ache and yawn. Cobwebs stuck to his hands. Mildew clogged up his head.
He saw dawn out the window. He got to Kern County. No F-for-Farr listing, let’s go to G and H. He hit a run of Hertz rent-a-cars, dispersed to offices statewide. He hit paydirt.
White ‘66 Comet, ADF-212. Registered out of Kern County and sent to L.A. County. Rented out of the Sunset-and-Vermont office.
Crutch pulled the card and ran outside to a pay phone. He called the Hertz number. He ID’d himself as Sergeant Robert S. Bennett, LAPD. The Hertz geek bought it. Scotty/Crutch laid out a spiel on the ‘66 Comet and Gretchen Farr-”What can you give me on that?”
The geek shuffled papers. The geek nixed Gretchen Farr-no surprise. Scotty/Crutch said, “Who’s had the car lately and who’s got the car now?” The geek said the Comet was due back at 10:00 tonight. Two-week rental. The rentee: a woman named Celia Reyes. Local address: the Beverly Hills Hotel. Driver’s license from the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean hot spot, the Swingin’ D.R.
Crutch parked outside the Hate Hacienda. Shrieky opera blasted from the backyard. He walked down the driveway. The gate was unlocked. Birds nested on the dictator statues. The music blared out the bomb-shelter door.
He walked over and popped down the steps. He made noise on purpose. Dr. Fred was at a draftsman’s desk, drawing a cartoon. Dig that crazy jigaboo with the watermelon head.
Dr. Fred wore a Klan robe and sandals. A Luger on a gun belt bunched up his sheet. The music was eаrsplitting loud.
He saw Crutch. He hit a desk switch and killed an aria mid-shriek. He quick-drew the Luger and did some gunslinger shtick.
“You’ve got brown eyes. Are you Jewish?”
“You’ve got brown eyes, too.”
“Yes, but I know I’m not Jewish.”
Crutch rubbed his ears-the shriek reverb lingered. Dr. Fred said, “You’ve got blood on your pants.”
“It was on your time card, sir.”
“You’re dying to tell me something. You want my opinion? I think you smell money.”
The shelter smelled: must, mildew, money for sure.
“Gretchen, Arnie Moffett and Farlan Brown. Tell me what you haven’t told me.”
“Why should I do that, schmendrick? You know what schmendrick means? It’s a synonym for schlemiel.”
“I’m trying to help you, sir. I’m just-”
“-a kid adventurer who fell into some shit with Clyde Duber. And now you’ve fallen into some shit with me. Clyde’s paying you six dollars an hour, but I’m going to split a full million with you.”
A squirrel sat on the steps. Dr. Fred aimed the Luger and plugged it. The shot sonic-boomed the shelter. The squirrel vaporized. Dr. Fred snagged the ejected shell in mid-twirl.
“I knew Gretchen was working me, but I didn’t think she’d steal from me. A snatch is a snatch, but a ganef’s a ganef.”
Crutch rubbed his ears. “There’s more to it than that.”
“Why do you say that? You’re a schmendrick. You’re Phil Irwin minus the snootful of juice.”
“Don’t shit a shitter, sir. I’m putting some names together, and they’re all going one place.”
Dr. Fred said, “Dracula.” Crutch went huh? Sonic-boom remnants banged his eardrums.
Dr. Fred re-holstered. “So, I got suspicious of Gretchie. So, I rifled her purse and found Arnie Moffett’s number. So, I called Arnie. So, Arnie was pliable. So, I paid him for the scoop on Gretchie. So, he told me that Gretchie was trying to get next to a Howard Hughes macher named Farlan Brown.”
Crutch said, “So?” A last boom-warble faded.
“So, I wanted to get next to Hughes. We’ve got the same racial sensibility, and I’ve got a purification plan he can bankroll. I had a rival named Wayne Tedrow Senior. Between the two of us, we had the hate-tract biz dicked. He just died, and his numbnuts kid Wayne Junior may be Dracula’s new point man. I want to get my hands on Senior’s hate-mail stash and get next to Dracula, and I’m thinking this Mormon hump Farlan Brown is the key. I’m too controversial to make the approach, but a kid loser like you could breeze in innocuous. Life magazine is offering a million bucks for a snapshot of Hughes, and a kid opportunist like you could get close.”
Tilt, swerve, veer and blood on his pants-Crutch said, “Yessir.”
(Las Vegas, 6/20/68)
Another hotel suite. Another bum room-service meal.
Mr. Hoover told him to stay perched in Vegas. The Wayne Senior snuff vexed him. He wanted Wayne Junior mollified and assessed. Thus the bullshit layover. Thus the time at LVPD. Thus the limp salad and gristly steak.
Dwight pushed his plate away. Food taxed him. It slowed him down and sapped the jolt he got off nicotine and coffee. The Chicago guys owned the Stardust. The FBI was allegedly anti-mob. They kept a vouchered suite there anyway. Mr. Hoover had no beef with organized crime. That was strictly Bobby K.’s bкte noire and downfall. Mr. Hoover hated Commies, jigs and lefty gadflies. Mr. Hoover probably loved limp salads and gristly steaks.
The fucking Stardust. Four thousand slot machines and velvet-flocked suites. The Chicago guys were hot to dump the joint on Howard Hughes. Count Dracula was hot to buy it. The guys would skim the Count blind.
And Wayne Tedrow Junior is facilitating it. Wayne’s fucking his dying stepmom. They killed Wayne Senior. Dwight and Senior went waaaaay back. Dwight grooved Junior as a wiiiiild piece of work. Now he’s out to get Junior a skate on Murder One.
It was 114° outside. The wall vents spritzed ice. Dwight got that hotel-captive feeling and paced the suite.
Shit kept crisscrossing. Buddy Fritsch was too nervous. The Vegas SAC said Junior-killed-Senior rumors were fouling the desert air. Mr. Hoover was losing it. Mr. Hoover still had it to some degree. Sirhan Sirhan was foaming at the mouth in L.A. Jimmy Ray was foaming and fighting extradition. The Grapevine Tavern issue was percolating. He saw an ATF teletype this morning. Mr. Hoover telexed it in a tizzy. ATF might put the Grapevine under surveillance. Cracker habituйs were moving dope and guns. Inter-agency grief. The Grapevine bug backfired and inspired conspiracy talk. Most conspiracy talk was dismissible. This might not be. It might require interdiction. Interdiction would not work with ATF hovering.
Proximity. Jimmy Ray’s loose talk. Loose talk at the Grapevine. Valid loose talk-Jimmy Ray’s brother owned a piece of the place.
His nerves were frayed. His sleep was thin. Memphis spiked through at 3:00 a.m. nightly. Car noise sounded like gunshots. Little bed aches felt like someone hitting him.
Dwight walked to the bedroom window. Hotel suites made him miss Karen. Hotel suites got him torqued for real bedrooms. He’d black-bagged Karen’s house a half dozen times. He wanted to stand still there with her absent. He wanted instinctive evidence that she had no other lovers. He found the quiet he was looking for and got his evidence confirmed. She tapped his D.C. suite once. He found some entry signs, rolled for prints and got two Karen Sifakis latents. She saw his anonymous check-writing kit. She read through his journal. He wrote “I fucking love her” just two days before.
They’ve told each other “I’ve prowled you” obliquely. He’s read her journal. She probably hides the pages she doesn’t want him to see. She’s pestered him about the checks. He might tell her one day.
Dwight poured his one drink a night early. Twilight came and went. The dark sky pulsed and clashed with all the Vegas neon.
January ‘57. Icy roads on the Merritt Parkway. He was working the New York City office. He was driving a Bureau car, blitzed. He was en route to a Cape Cod weekend with his girlfriend. He plowed a divider and hit an oncoming car. He killed the two teenaged daughters of Mr. and Mrs. George Diskant.
He suffered minor injuries. Mr. Hoover chilled all inquiries with the Connecticut State Police. He checked into a sanitarium near New Caanan. He segued from sobbing fits to long stints of silence. He stayed at Silver Hill for one month and four days. He got his nerves back and returned to work. He stayed away from women until Karen.
Dwight sipped his one drink slowly. The sky show started chafing him. He got out his black-militant file and read through it.
The second read confirmed the first. The Panthers and US-too known and too infiltrated. The Black Tribe Alliance and Mau-Mau Liberation Front-obscure, with big exposure potential.
Karen could find him an informant. He or she could be white or Negro. He or she could rat out both groups politically. The infiltrator had to be a male Negro. He could rat out all criminal actions justified politically.
Maybe a cop. Maybe an ex-cop. Maybe a cop or ex-cop with a dicey past. Again, that notion: check hate-mail subscriber lists.
Wayne Junior had access to Wayne Senior’s lists. Wayne Junior said he was out of the hate biz. Dr. Fred Hiltz was a Bureau informant. He was tight with that L.A. private eye Clyde Duber. Clyde was tight with the L.A. SAC.
A doorbell rang down the hallway. Dwight jumped out of his skin.
(Las Vegas, 6/20/68)
The Count chased pills with a red drink concoction. It looked like fruit juice and blood. He wore surgical scrubs and Kleenex-box shoes. His hair was long. His nails were claws. He wore a wool watch cap and a card dealer’s shade.
Wayne made eye contact. It was rough. Farlan Brown made eye contact. He had more practice. He emceed the interview.
The Desert Inn penthouse. Chez Dracula. A hospital room with big wall-to-wall TV sets. Three screens of news chat. Martyred legends. Accused assassins. Nixon versus Humphrey and flashed-on poll stats.
The sound murmured low. Wayne tuned it out. His chair abutted Drac’s bed. He smelled industrial-strength disinfectant.
Brown said, “Mr. Tedrow knows you have questions.”
Drac slipped on a surgical mask. His voice eked through.
“Sir, do you believe that a lone gunman shot President John F. Kennedy?”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
“Do you believe that a lone gunman shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy?”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
“Do you believe that a lone gunman shot the Reverend Martin Luther King?”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
Dracula sighed. “He’s a realist, Farlan. He’s a stout Mormon, and he’s not prone to whimsy.”
Brown folded his hands prayerlike. “You picked wisely, sir. Wayne has all the right skills and knows all the right people.”
Drac coughed. His mask puffed. Phlegm dripped down his chin.
“You know our Italian friends. Is that true?”
“It is, sir. I know Mr. Marcello and Mr. Giancana quite well.”
“They’ve sold me some wonderful hotel-casinos, and I intend to purchase several more.”
“They’ll be happy to sell them to you, sir. They welcome your presence in Las Vegas.”
“Las Vegas is a breeding ground for Negro bacteria. Negroes have high white-cell counts. You should never shake hands with them. They emit pus particles through their fingertips.”
Wayne deadpanned it. Seconds crawled. Brown smiled and stepped in.
“Wayne is matching your contribution to Mr. Nixon, sir.”
Drac nodded. “Slippery Dick. I lent his brother some money in ‘56. It came back and bit Dick on the ass. It might have thrown the election to Jack Kennedy.”
Wayne said, “I’ll deliver the envelope at the convention. Mr. Marcello wants to be sure he has the nomination cinched.”
Brown smiled. “I’m a delegate. Miami in August, my Lord.”
Drac said, “The Negroes will riot and will require mass sedation. Animal tranquilizer might be the ticket. Mr. Tedrow could oversee the manufacture of the formula and test the dosage out on some Negro derelicts already in custody.”
Wayne deadpanned it. Seconds slogged. Brown smiled and stepped in.
“Wayne has said that he’ll monitor the convention for us. That’s affirmative, isn’t it, Wayne?”
“It is. I’d be happy to look around and do what I can to protect our interests.”
Drac sipped his red drink. “It’s Chicago that concerns me. Youth factions are mobilizing to create mass dissension that will discredit the Democrats. Would you be willing to help them play a few tricks?”
“With pleasure, sir.”
“Hubert Humphrey is dough-faced and porcine. I would guess that he has a high white-cell count. He was born to lose presidential elections and die of leukemia.”
Wayne nodded. Brown nodded. A male nurse entered the room. He placed a piping-hot pizza pie on Drac’s bedside table. Brown shooed him off.
“Sir, did you read my memo? Our Italian friends are developing a hotel-casino plan for Central America or the Caribbean. Wayne will be overseeing it, and Hughes Air will have the exclusive charter rights.”
Drac sniffed the pizza. “Which countries?”
Wayne said, “Panama, Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic.”
“Good locations. Low cell-count zones all. Mr. Tedrow, will you confirm or refute a rumor I’ve been hearing? It’s been troubling me.”
Wayne smiled. The pizza pie bubbled. Drac said, “Was your father murdered?”
Brown squirmed a little. Wayne said, “Emphatically not, sir.”
(Los Angeles, 6/20/68)
The Hertz parking lot. 9:56 p.m. Brisk drop-off biz running late. The ‘66 Comet: due in four minutes or penalties would accrue.
Crutch sat in his GTO. He wore a tartan bow tie and a Scotty Bennett hairdo. He bought the tie and got the crew cut today. They celebrated his case and the Dr. Fred deal. They honored last night’s ass-kicking.
He held his zoom-lens Rolleiflex. He had Arnie Moffett dupe-key fob. The tie clashed with his polo shirt. The haircut clashed with current trend. L.A. guys wore their hair long. Fuck that shit-he and Scotty were avant-garde.
It was hot. He ran the AC and aimed the air at his balls. He talked to Buzz an hour back. Bad news: no trace on that bootleg number yet. Memo: Don’t tell Buzz or Clyde about the Dr. Fred deal. Get the Hughes pic and cut them in then.
Cars hit the lot: Buicks, Fords, Dodge Darts. People got out and schlepped their keys into the office. Countdown: 9:57, 9:58, 9:59. On time by seconds: that Comet, ADF-212.
It pulled in off Sunset eastbound. Steam whooshed out the hood slits. The radiator probably blew.
Two women got out. Crutch zoomed his lens and got them up close.
Gretchen Farr/Celia Reyes-tall and Latin-tinged. It had to be her. She was white, with that spic-pizzazz Something. She wore a tan shirt and flared jeans. She was stunning and stacked-statuesque. About thirty-two. Overmatched by her companion.
Maybe ten years older. More of all Somethings. Smaller, with a rolling-slouchy walk. Pale. Glasses. Near-black hair with gray streaks. Bare arms and a knife scar-Phil Irwin caught that.
They walked into the office. Crutch snapped photos. High-speed film- six frames walking in, six frames walking out.
They got into a ‘63 Fairlane. Crutch zoomed in ultra-close. Mud streaks on the license plate, no way to read numbers. Why switch cars? They’re vibing pros.
The car pulled out on Sunset westbound. Crutch tailed it. He drove one-handed. He leapfrogged. He changed lanes and let a cab get between them. The car cut north on Berendo, west on Franklin, north on Cheremoya. Crutch hit the turn too close and double-clutched too fast. He stalled out. The Fairlane sped away, northbound.
He kicked the engine, tapped the gas too fast and flooded the carbs. Easy now-don’t blow this. He waited a full minute. He checked out the addresses on Arnie’s key fob. Gretchen Farr’s ex-rental pad was one mile up the hill. Three more party pads were laced within a half-mile radius. The Gretchie pad was one of the four.
Easy now. Re-situate. Turn the key sloooooow.
He did it. The engine caught. He drove up into Beachwood Canyon and window-peeped en route. He saw loads of TV glare. He saw a pot party. He saw a flower-power chick doing the wah-watusi all by herself.
Snaky roads up the canyon. First address: 2250 Gladeview. There it is-a small Craftsman-style house.
Dark. No lights, no ‘63 Fairlane. Hit the other party pads-they drove up here for a reason.
The closest pad was six blocks southwest. Crutch drove there and idled at the curb. Shit-no lights, no Fairlane. He swung down to the next pad-four blocks due south. That’s it-a small stucco house. There’s window light and the sled in the driveway.
He parked curbside and walked over. The front window was curtained up. Dull light filtered through. He saw shapes moving. He cut down the driveway and eyeball-tracked them toward the back of the house. The side windows were cracked for air and uncurtained. He hunkered below the sills and followed shadows.
He heard muffled words. Word stew: “Tommy,” “grapevine,” “plant.” Shadows hit the fast window. The two women showed. They shared a look. They embraced and kissed.
Crutch blinked. It isn’t real-yes it is. The image held and burned.
Gretchen/Celia ran her hands under the knife-scar woman’s shirt. The knife-scar woman untied her hair and tossed it. Window light beamed off the gray streaks.
They stepped back toward the hallway. They became shadows again. Crutch blinked and walked window-to-window. He ducked low. He saw shadows melded, but no flesh-and-blood them.
He walked back to his car and waited. He couldn’t get re-situated. His breath and pulse kept re-circuiting.
They walked out a half hour later. They carried luggage to the Fairlane and placed it in the trunk. Moonlight gave him some detail. Gretchen/Celia looked dreamy. The knife-scar woman had kissed all her lipstick off.
They got in the car and drove away. It was late. There was no cover traffic. He couldn’t tail them. He just sat there and watched their lights disappear.
There was nothing he could do.
They just left him.
He knew he’d never sleep. He decided to keep moving. He drove by the other party pads and saw keg bashes starting up. It was a mйlange: hip kids, college kids and long hair all around. He drove back to the stucco place, picked a side-door lock and entered. He felt brazen. He turned the inside lights on.
The bedroom drew him first. The bed was warm. He touched the pillows and imagined their shapes on the sheets. He saw a single gray hair on the coverlet. He pressed his cheek to it and let it rest.
Something told him to go then. He left the house, got his car and just drove. He stayed up in the canyon. He did lazy figure eights all around the stucco pad. Time de-materialized. His beams hit a white Spanish house. The front door was wood-paneled and covered with strange markings. Something told him to get out and look.
He did it. He parked curbside and walked up. He ran his penlight over the door and studied the markings. Wild: geometric patterns etched in dark red.
Vertical lines down to the porch. A ripped-apart bird on the doormat.
You belong here. This could be yours.
Something told him the door would be open and to turn right inside. He did it. The living room was pitch-dark and musty. Plastic sheaths covered the furniture. He followed a metal-chalky smell to the kitchen. His breath went haywire. His hands shook. His penlight jerked. He steadied the beam with two hands and saw it.
The entrails in the sink. The severed arm/the missing hand/the brown skin, pure female. The geometric tattoo on the biceps. The deep gouge through and beside it. The crumbled green stones embedded bone-deep.
PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS IN KENNEDY CASE
ACCUSED ASSASSIN SIRHAN: “I’M A POLITICAL PRISONER”
BRITISH CUSTODY FOR KING SUSPECT RAY
FBI CALLS HIS CONSPIRACY TALK “FANCIFUL”
”ZIONIST GUARDS POISONED MY FOOD,” ACCUSED ASSASSIN SAYS
RAY’S EXTRADITION LIKELY
ACCUSED KING ASSASSIN DESCRIBES “WIDESPREAD CONSPIRACY
TO EXPLOIT ME”
FBI ASSURES PRESIDENT: KING ASSASSINATION WORK OF LONE GUNMAN
HOOVER TO AMERICAN LEGION: “RAY WAS THE LONE GUNMAN,
PURE AND SIMPLE”
NIXON-HUMPHREY RACE TIGHT
CONVENTION OFFICIALS PREDICT TROUBLE FROM “SUBVERSIVES
AND HIPPIE YOUTH”
NIXON VS. HUMPHREY-IT’S TIGHT
MIAMI AND CHICAGO GEAR UP FOR “CONVENTION HIJINX”
COLORFUL FREDDY O.
He’s been a Los Angeles policeman and a celebrity private eye, as well as a World War II marine drill instructor. The plucky Lebanese-American kid from small-town Massachusetts has lived more than nine lives in his 46 years, and now he’s starting out Life Number Ten as the owner-operator of the Golden Cavern Hotel-Casino.
Welcome to Las Vegas, Mr. Fred Otash!
He bought the Golden Cavern from “Big” Pete Bondurant, quite a colorful character himself, also a former L.A. cop, private eye and soldier of fortune. “Pete B. wanted to retire,” Otash told this reporter. “I picked up the Golden Cavern for a song, and that song is ‘Vegas Is My Lady.’ ”
Freddy O. has worn many hats in his lifetime. “That’s true,” he said. “And I’ve had a few hats knocked off my head.” When asked to explain, he replied, “I was run out of the LAPD unjustifiably. I got my Pi’s license and verified scandal stories for Confidential magazine, but Confidential went down behind libel suits. That rumor that I doped a racehorse named Wonder Boy?-100% false. Yeah, I lost my license behind it, but when Hollywood celebs are in a jam, they still yell, “Get me Otash!,” so I’m still the man to see in L.A.”
Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Charles “Chick” Weiss confirms Freddy O.’s statement. “Freddy’s the king of the L.A. private eyes, even though he lost his license and has gone into the hotel biz now. Listen, I do divorce work, and sometimes it’s not pretty. Freddy’s my liaison to the wheelman community, these hot-car guys who tail the cheating spouses to their extramarital rendezvous. He’s a battle-trained urban warrior, just the kind of guy to make it big in a high-stress burb like Las Vegas.”
“Howard Hughes can buy up all the big joints on the Strip and Glitter Gulch,” Otash told this reporter. “I’m here to play to the junket crowd and the working Joe who wants to have fun without losing his shirt. Don’t call my place a ‘carpet joint’ or a ‘low-roller joint,’ either. Call me the friend of the discerning gambler on a budget who appreciates a bang for his buck.”
Los Angeles private investigator Clyde Duber offers a dissenting view of Fred Otash, which he claims is not the minority one. “Freddy is strictly shakedown,” he said. “His only friend is the almighty dollar, so you might say that Vegas is the perfect place for him.”
Ouch! Tell me, Fred O., what do you say to that?
“Clyde’s just jealous,” Otash said with a grin. “He always played second banana to me, and it’s always rankled him. Yeah, I’m colorful, and I’ve got a few rough edges. You know my motto? ‘I’ll do anything short of murder, and I’ll work for anyone but Communists.’ How can you quibble with that?”
How indeed-and spoken like a true Las Vegan! So, once again, welcome to the Jewel of the Desert, Mr. Fred Otash!
Per our phone conversation and your preceding memo (Confidential 1-A memorandum #8506) requesting an update on rumors pertaining to the M. L. King homicide circulating at the Grapevine Tavern, St. Louis, the following may warrant your attention:
1.-Electronic surveillance equipment, perhaps of Bureau manufacture, was discovered on the premises at the Grapevine Tavern in early to mid-June of this year. Confidential Bureau informants frequenting the tavern have reported that the apparatus was discovered by
2.-The discovery of the apparatus has led to growing conjecture among the above mentioned. IE: that the apparatus was part of a monitoring process developed to lure accused King assassin
3.-This office had no part in installing electronic surveillance apparatus, if indeed it was Bureau-manufactured equipment that was discovered on the tavern premises. If some other Bureau field team installed the equipment, I did not know about it personally, nor was such equipment installed by any agent under my command.
4.-According to statements made by the above-referenced tavern habituйs, there was frequent discussion of a $50,000 “bounty” on King, allegedly to be paid by a cabal of wealthy segregationists to any “White Race Warrior” who would “buck LBJ’s liberal hegemony to off Martin Luther Coon.” This preposterous line of talk was frequently indulged by numerous tavern habituйs in the months preceding King’s death.
5.-The “FBI hit plot” rumors are growing in both virulence and frequency. Alarmingly, confidential sources within the St. Louis Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have informed me that the tavern will soon be placed under ATF surveillance, pertaining to evidence of gunrunning taking place on the tavern premises proper. The above-referenced tavern habituйs are not gunrunning suspects, but I find ATF’s proximity to the tavern disturbing, given the virulence and frequency of the anti-Bureau rumors amp;
Respectfully, SAC Wilton J. Laird, St. Louis Office/
STILL A BAFFLER: “THE BIG HEIST”
AND THE COP STILL OBSESSED
Tuesday, February 24, 1964. It was chilly in Los Angeles, with storm clouds hovering. The early morning silence was shattered by the collision of a milk truck and a Wells Fargo armored car carrying a multimillion-dollar cargo of U.S. currency and priceless emeralds. The quiet corner of 84th and Budlong streets became the scene of a holocaust, and within minutes four armed guards and two members of a daring robbery gang were dead-the latter obviously betrayed and shot by a fellow gang member-and the robbery-murder case has remained unsolved for four and a half years now.
“Not exactly,” Sergeant Robert S. “Scotty” Bennett stated at Piper’s Coffee Shop. “It’s been four years, five months and two days.”
One does not quibble with Sergeant Bennett on anything pertaining to the case he has worked on so hard and for so long. He has been the lead investigator since that bloody morning, and his determination to crack the case has become legend within the Los Angeles Police Department. The man, all six-foot-five of him, is a legend himself. He has killed 18 armed robbers in the line of duty and commemorates the LAPD record with small 18’s embroidered in the Scottish-plaid bow ties he always wears. When asked about those shootings, he replied, “When you let that buckshot go, there’s no taking it back.”
It’s a funny line with a harrowing truth behind it: detectives working the LAPD’s Headquarters Robbery Squad go up against armed-and-dangerous criminals routinely, and they are a determined breed of man proud to be wearing “211” tie bars, the number noting the California Penal Code designation for armed robbery. “The Heist,” as it’s known around the Robbery Division squadroom, is a near-constant topic of speculation, and Scotty Bennett addresses it with great relish. “It was planned down to a ‘T,’ ” he said. “The fake milk-truck collision was very forceful and potentially fatal, which obviously convinced the guards that it was real. The robbery gang knew what the armored car would be transporting, and we’ve never determined exactly how they got that information. More importantly, we’ve never determined whether the heist gang was comprised of white men or Negroes.”
Sergeant Bennett sipped coffee and continued. “The heist was conceived and executed boldly,” he said. “And I believe that the leader of the gang decided beforehand to kill his underlings at the scene and obscure their identities, and their races, by burning their bodies past recognition. All fine and good, but obscuring racial identification requires more than burning the surface of the skin, and the man first dosed the bodies with a chemical accelerant that greatly enhanced the tissue damage of the burning. We’ve never been able to identify the chemical that he used, which is another reason why the heist has remained such a baffler.”
Some other reasons?
“Well,” Sergeant Bennett said, “we know that many of the cash stacks stolen from the armored car were wrapped with ink-exploding bands, and ink spill was found at the crime scene. Also, ink-stained bills have surfaced periodically in south Los Angeles, so I’m convinced that there was at least a partial Negro component to the gang. Also, the origin of the emeralds remains undetermined. It was a very valuable cargo, and intermediaries for the consigner and the consignee signed secrecy waivers with Wells Fargo, which has impeded the investigation.”
And the persistent rumor that the emeralds hailed from Central America or the Caribbean?
Sergeant Bennett said, “Just that, a rumor. Entirely unsubstantiated.”
And the rumor that black-militant organizations plotted and executed the heist?
Scotty Bennett laughed heartily. “Why mince words? Black militants are grandstanders who always claim credit for their deeds. The Panthers and US are informant-infiltrated, and we would have picked up leads by now. We’ve got two rowdy militant groups causing woo-woo in L.A. now, the Black Tribe Alliance and the Mau-Mau Liberation Front, but for the life of me I can’t see them executing anything more complex than a liquor-store job or a purse snatch.”
And the leader of the gang? The ruthless mastermind who killed his own men at the scene?
Scotty Bennett laughed even more heartily. “Tell him this,” he said. “When I let that buckshot go, there’s no taking it back.”
The following states the design and goals of our
It is my firm belief that both the
1.-Both groups are rumored to be considering the sale of narcotics as a means to finance their activities, which might provide us with avenues to exploit their inherent criminality and publically underscore the point that criminal activity and subversive political activity are one and the same thing.
2.-We must find a high-caliber confidential informant who will ingratiate him or herself with one or both groups and report back with assiduously detailed briefs on their political activities. I believe that a female informant would be the most effective. A woman schooled in left-wing-revolutionary jargon would have a greater chance of eliciting confidences and inspiring indiscreet conversation and would most likely be better able to maneuver between the two (male-dominated) groups without creating rancor. Toward the end of recruitment, I have confidential Bureau informant #4361 assisting me.
3.-The linchpin of the incursion should be the placement of a male Negro infiltrator, mandated to uncover and report the criminal activities of the BTA and MMLF. Ideally, the infiltrator should have had police experience. Also ideally (but much more unlikely), he should possess a past history of racial animus for whites. Toward that possibility, I have requested a wide array of police agency personnel files and am currently seeking to secure a viewing of the hate-mail subscription lists of the late Wayne Tedrow Sr. and Bureau confidential informant Dr. Fred Hiltz. Wayne Tedrow Jr. has refused to grant me access to his father’s lists, but I will persist with him.
4.-Pending your consent, I would move to Los Angeles and establish a full-time temporary residence there, along with a cosmetically obscured front office for
I strongly believe that the
SA Dwight C. Holly
Per your preceding memo (Confidential 1-A memorandum #8518) requesting information on rumors pertaining to the 6/9/68 death of
B.-One source would seem to be an LVPD officer who allegedly saw
C.-A coroner’s assistant told our informant, “It wasn’t any heart attack, not with his head caved in like that.”
D.-Eyewitness neighbors of
Will forward all future data on this matter per Conf 1-A guidelines.
Marvin J. D. Waldrin, SAC, Las Vegas.
Per Conf. 1-A memo #8506: rumors of the “FBI bugging” amp; “FBI-mandated hit” on Rev. M. L. King are growing in both virulence and frequency, according to informally placed sources frequenting the Grapevine Tavern.
Wilton J. Laird, SAC, St. Louis.
Per #8518 amp; my 7/28/68 response, an addendum:
A-Sources outside LVPD amp; CCCO are now reporting “rife” amp; “widespread” rumors of homicide per the death of WAYNE TEDROW SR.
B-Confidential Bureau informants at the Las Vegas Sun report that the newspaper may be considering an inquiry, chiefly because of the “checkered past” of
Will forward all future data per Conf. 1-A guidelines.
Marvin D. Waldrin, SAC, Las Vegas.
JEH: Good morning, Dwight.
DH: Good morning, Sir.
JEH: Before you ask, the answer is yes. Expedite
DH: Thank you, Sir.
JEH: The title possesses a sublime jungle quality. As in “That brother John Edgar Hoover, he baaad.”
DH: You are baaad, Sir. And I might add “inimitably so.”
JEH: You might, and you should. And, on the topic of jungle artistry, I heard a very disquieting song on the radio this morning.
JEH: It was called “The Tighten Up.” A Negro ensemble named Archie Bell and the Drells performed it. The song carried the air of insurrection and sex. I’m sure that white liberals will find it authentic. I told the Los Angeles SAC to open a file on Mr. Bell and to determine the identity of his Drells.
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: Enough bonhomie. Dwight, I am very disturbed by the Wayne Senior and Grapevine Tavern chatter. I’ve been reading the applicable communiquйs, and I take this confluence of loose talk as both a personal insult and an affront to the Bureau. Wayne Senior was an FBI asset and James Earl Ray killed Martin Lucifer King without help from you, me, this agency, Wayne Senior, Wayne Junior, Fred Otash, the redneck sharpshooter Bob Relyea, or any other outside source. Do you understand me, Dwight?
DH: Yes, Sir. I do.
JEH: Make the rumors stop, Dwight.
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: Good day, Dwight.
DH: Good day, Sir.
Collins Avenue was wall-to-wall elephants. They wore GOP banners and flailed their trunks in the heat. A carny crew herded them with switches. They wore top hats dotted with Nixon buttons. One guy fed the beasts peanuts. One guy urged gawkers to cheer.
The noise was big. Wayne dodged sign-wavers. Nixon signs bobbed upside his face. He lugged two big steamer trunks. Nixon was at the Fontainebleau. He had to walk. He couldn’t drive. The elephant stampede shut traffic down.
The convention had just started. It was thick-aired and 94°. The air sealed an elephant-shit aroma. Wayne’s suit wilted. Wayne’s stomach queased.
More sign fools hit the sidewalk. Cuban chanters showed up-”Cas-tro out! Cas-tro out! Cas-tro out now!” They looked riot-ready. Wayne saw saps in their pockets. The Nixon chumps gave them some space.
The Fontainebleau loomed. Two big men spotted Wayne and cut through the crowd. They wore dark suits and earpieces. They carried walkie-talkies. The crowd caught the gist and let them through quick.
They made it over. They grabbed the trunks and whisked Wayne off in a VIP swirl. It was two minutes all topsy-turvy. They hit the hotel. A side door opened, kitchen help dispersed, an elevator appeared. They whooshed way up. They floated down a thick-carpet hallway and sent sparks off their shoes. The big guys bowed and vanished. A bigger guy opened a door and vanished double-time quick.
Wayne blinked. Zap-there’s ex-Veep Dick Nixon.
In topsy-turvy Technicolor. In chinos and a Ban-Lon shirt. In need of a 1:00 p.m. shave.
He said, “Hello, Mr. Tedrow.”
Wayne quashed a blink. Nixon walked up to him, hands in his pockets, no shake.
“I was sorry to hear about your father. He had become quite a good friend.”
Wayne nodded. “I appreciate the sentiment, Sir.”
“And the lovely Janice? How is she?”
“She’s dying, Sir. She’s quite ill with cancer.”
Nixon made a sad face. It flopped. No sale for Mr. Sincere.
“I’m very sorry to hear that. Please extend my best wishes.”
“Thank you, Sir. I will.”
Noise boomed outside. Wayne heard “Nix-on!” and elephant bleats.
“I won’t take up any more of your time, Sir.”
“No, but I’m sure you’d like some form of acknowledgment.”
“I’d like to pass it along, Sir. That’s true.”
“You want me to say that I’ll sing for my supper.”
Wayne looked away and scanned the suite. Presidential seals and knickknacks ran rampant. The ex-veep booked the Big Room preemptive.
Nixon said, “My Justice Department will not go proactive against your people. I understand that you have designs in Latin America or the Caribbean, and my policy for the country you pick will accommodate it. If the election appears tight, I’d appreciate some help at the polls.”
Wayne bowed. Nixon wrinkled his nose.
“My wife went for a walk this morning. She said the beach was covered with elephant shit.”
“It’ll be donkey shit in Chicago, Sir.”
“Hubert Humphrey is a dough-faced, appeasement-minded cocksucker. He is unfit to lead this country.”
“The hippies are mobilizing for Chicago.”
“They are, Sir. And I’ll be there to lend them a hand.”
Carlos had a condo on Biscayne Bay. Wayne had time to kill. He rent-a-car-cruised Miami.
A street map got him west of the elephants. He couldn’t dodge convention hoo-haw altogether. The city was infested.
Placard clowns everywhere. Pick your grievance: Vietnam, welfare, Cuban policy. Longhaired kids defamed Tricky Dick and mourned Dr. King. Fiesty Latins wanted “CASTRO OUT NOW!”
Five- and ten-car motorcades. Floats with children and dressed-up dogs. Inflated elephants leashed to car antennas. Fools with bullhorns spouting gobbledygook.
Red, white and blue balloons. A Nixon banner epidemic. Favorite-son banners-low numbers beside the ex-veep. A twelve-wheelchair nursing-home motorcade-old girls sapped by the heat.
Twelve Nixonites. Balloons and wheelchair bunting. Four old girls with oxygen masks. Four old girls smoking.
Janice was dying. He watched her fight to live and wish to die in in-and-out blips. He cooked dope for her. She lived for the IV drip and fought her way out of stupors. He cooked dope for Dracula. He’d had three more meets with Drac and Farlan Brown. Farlan was due at the convention. They’d scheduled a meet.
Drac wanted to own Clark County, Nevada. The Boys wanted to sell him their share at usurious rates. Feed the cash funnel. Scour the Teamster Pension Fund books for loan defaulters. Usurp their businesses. Grab them, sell them and feed the cash funnel. Castro kicked the Boys out of Cuba. Find a new Latin hot spot, entrench and rebuild.
More banners. More motorcades. Another wheelchair brigade- crippled Vietnam vets.
Wayne looked away and cut down a side street. He cooked heroin in Saigon. He saw the war waste lives. The anti-Castro cause vexed him. His weekend in Dallas launched that distrust.
Dwight kept calling him. A persistent Dwight Holly was a fucking full-court press. His big-brother act doubled the grief. Dwight said the Grapevine was still brewing. Dwight said Vegas was brewing up evil chitchat on Wayne Senior’s death. Dwight wanted to see Senior’s subscription lists. He kept refusing. Dwight kept up the press.
Wayne crossed a long causeway and hit surface streets. He thought he saw-
A tail car. A leapfrogger. A blue sedan sticking close and dropping back.
He made three right turns. He lane-weaved. He hit a two-lane street and eliminated tail cover. The blue sedan fell back, stuck close, fell back. He got blips of the driver: a big, fat-neck type.
There’s an alley-
Wayne cranked a left turn. The tail car braked, skidded and plowed some trash cans. Wayne crisscrossed two more alleyways and lost him.
It was a party. Sam Giancana called it a “buy Nixon” bash. Santo Trafficante laughed and shushed him. Carlos roasted a pig on the terrace. Droves of flunkies and call girls. Fools with noisemakers. Convention delegates with Italian surnames. Three bars and a mile-long buffet.
Wayne circulated. The condo was bigger than the Orange Bowl. He walked room-to-room and got lost twice. It was old home week. He saw a hood he popped for flimflam, circa ‘61. He saw a fruit actor he popped at a glory-hole stall. He saw a bevy of Vegas-transplant hookers.
Sam G. waltzed a woman by. Wayne caught “Celia” and “hola” instead of “hello.” Carlos waltzed by and tapped his watch. Wayne caught “den” and “five minutes.”
Wayne circulated. A commotion occurred. Flames shot off the terrace grill and ignited some curtains. A stooge put the blaze out with a seltzer spritzer and promoted a big round of applause.
A call girl walked Wayne to the den. Carlos, Sam and Santo were already ensconced. The walls were plywood-paneled. A photo frieze showed Carlos playing golf with Pope Pius.
The call girl split. Wayne sat down. Sam said, “Did he say ‘Thank you’?”
Wayne smiled. “No, but he called Hubert Humphrey a ‘dough-faced cocksucker.’ ”
Santo laughed. “He is absolutely correct there.”
Carlos said, “Humphrey can’t win. He takes the soft line on social chaos.”
Sam said, “He’s a pinko. He came out of the Farmer-Labor movement in Minnesota. They are 100% Red.”
Santo sipped Galliano. “Howard Hughes. Tell us the latest and greatest.”
Wayne said, “He wants to buy the Stardust and the Landmark. I assured him they’re for sale. Farlan Brown thinks he may be breaching anti-trust laws, which might push the purchases off until next year.”
Carlos sipped XO. “The cocksucking Justice Department.”
Santo sipped Galliano. “Yeah, but lame duck. And I have to say that our boy Dick will not let shit like that impede us.”
Sam sipped anisette. “The inside guys. That’s what concerns me. We have to keep our people on the premises.”
Wayne nodded. “Mr. Hughes agrees. I’ve convinced him that the transition will run much smoother that way.”
Carlos switched to Drambuie. “The Fund books. What’s going on there?”
“I want to buy out banks and loan companies, so they can earn marginal profits and double as laundry fronts. There’s a Negro-owned bank in Los Angeles that interests me. Hughes Air is in L.A., and we need a funnel close to the border.”
Sam shook his head. “I don’t like dealing with niggers.”
Carlos shook his head. “They’re impetuous and get agitated too easy.”
Santo shook his head. “They’ve been demoralized by welfare.”
Sam sipped anisette. “Which our boy Dick will put the skids to.”
Wayne prickled. His skin itched. His ears throbbed.
Santo said, “Wayne’s having an adverse reaction to this conversation.”
Sam said, “Wayne’s an open book in some ways.”
Santo sipped Galliano. “What’s the book? Jungle Bunnies I Have Slain?”
Carlos said, “Wayne’s a coon hunter from way back.”
Sam yukked. “So maybe therein lies the rub?”
Santo said, “What’s the ‘rub’? You sound like a faggot talking like that.”
Carlos looked at Wayne. Carlos raised his hands and eased his palms down-whoa, now, whoa, whoa.
Santo coughed. “Okay, let’s change the subject.”
Sam coughed. “Okay, how about politics? Me, I’m voting for Dick.”
Carlos coughed. “How about your scouting trip? Let’s hear about that.”
Sam switched to XO. “I been to all three places. To me, they’re apples and oranges. Panama’s got the fucking canal, Nicaragua’s got the fucking jungle, and the D.R.’s got the fucking island breeze. They all got right-wing guys with their hands out pulling the strings, which is the most important thing. My friend Celia’s from the D.R., so she’s been lobbying for it.”
Carlos made the jack-off sign. “Sam’s pussy-whipped.”
Santo made the jack-off sign. “Celia this, Celia that. Sam’s got heat-stroke from that island pussy.”
Sam flushed. Carlos raised his hands and eased his palms down- whoa, now, whoa, whoa.
Santo switched to Drambuie. “The front team. Let’s talk about that. Once we pick our spot, we’ll have to send some guys down.”
Wayne coughed. “I want to bring in Jean-Philippe Mesplede.”
Carlos gulped. Santo gulped. Sam gulped. Looks traveled three ways. Mesplede fucked Carlos on the Saigon “H” deal. He was a French-Corsican merc. He was an anti-Castro militant. He was in Dallas that weekend. He shot from the grassy knoll.
Sam sighed. “I’ll admit he’s a good choice, but we got problems with him.”
Santo said, “I heard he’s here in Miami. Wherever you got anti-Fidel shit, you got Jean-Philippe.”
Sam said, “Is this where we all say ‘Let bygones be bygones’?”
Carlos sipped Drambuie. “Three names keep popping into my head. A little birdie keeps telling me that Mesplede wants to clip them.”
Bob Relyea. Caspar Fuentes. Miguel Diaz Arredondo.
A redneck shooter and two Cuban exiles. Part of the Saigon cabal. Relyea sided with the Carlos faction and fucked over Wayne and Mesplede. Relyea joined the Memphis team and dropped Dr. King. Fuentes and Arredondo were anti-Wayne and anti-Mesplede. They plain disappeared last spring.
Santo sighed. “I’ll concede he’s a good choice.”
Sam sighed. “I know he speaks Spanish. ‘Let bygones by bygones’? I don’t know, you tell me.”
Wayne said, “I want him.”
Santo sipped Drambuie. “He’ll want to clip those guys.”
Carlos said, “It’s your call, Wayne.”
Wayne cruised Little Havana. It was all-night, bug-brigade hot. Bug swarms, bug bombardments. Bugs bigger than Rodan and Godzilla. Bugs hit his windshield. He tapped his wiper blades and mulched them to bug juice. Little Havana was HOT.
He cruised. He eyeballed the sidewalk action. Bodegas, fruit stands, vendors selling shaved-ice treats. Leaflet distribution. Pamphlet-packing punks in “Kill Fidel” T-shirts. Political offices: Alpha 66, Venceremos, the Battalion for April 17. He turned off Flagler Street and scoped out rows of houses. He checked his rearview mirror every few seconds. Yes-there’s that blue sedan again, leapfrogged two cars back.
He floored the gas, made four crazy turns and found a parking space on Flager. No blue sedan, okay.
Wayne went walking. His suit instantly rewilted. Street fools jostled him. He got weird looks-Joo ain’t Cubano, joo white. The sky exploded. Dig those lights! Wayne made the source: fireworks from the convention.
People stood and gawked. Papas held their kids up. A street-corner fistfight froze in mid-blow.
Wayne watched. A leaflet-distribution guy waved a little flag. Wayne glanced in a coffee-bar window and saw Jean-Philippe Mesplede.
The glance flew two ways. Mesplede stood and bowed. Le grenouille sauvage-habille tout en noir. Black shirt, black coat, black pants-le grand plus noir.
Wayne walked in. Jean-Philippe hugged him. Wayne felt at least three handguns under his clothes.
They sat down. Mesplede was halfway through a fifth of Pernod. A waiter brought a fresh glass.
“Зa va, Wayne?”
“Зa va bien, Jean-Philippe.”
“And your business in Miami?”
“Par example, s’il vous plaоt?”
“For instance, I was looking for you.”
Mesplede flexed his hands. His tattooed pit bulls grew snarls and erections. He was an ex-French para. He went back to the Algerian War and Dien Bieu Phu. He pushed heroin wherever he went.
They switched to French. They sipped Pernod. Fireworks lit windows all around them. They rehashed Vietnam and their ops deal. Mesplede cursed Carlos, le petit cochon. Wayne did a riff on strange bedfellows. Bygones as bygones. Carlos had work for them. Let me tell you.
Зa va, Wayne. Okay.
Wayne described the casino plan and laid out the territorial options. Mesplede riffed on the geopolitics of Panama, Nicaragua and the D.R. Trade and agriculture. Current despots out to quash dissent and Red countermovements. Wayne sipped Pernod and got a liqueur-language buzz. Mesplede routed the riff to Cuba. He remained committed to the Cause. LBJ, Nixon, Humphrey-Castroite cochons all. The election meant merde. The hands-off Cuba policy would continue. They sparred on that, un peu. Mesplede knew la Causa vexed Wayne. He hated dope peddling. Their ops stint turned him against it. Strange bedfellows-oui, oui.
They got to the yes-or-no stage. Mesplede said maybe. He had pressing business first. Wayne raised three fingers. Mesplede nodded. Wayne said that he’d spoken to Carlos. It’s my call now. I’ll let you kill two out of three.
The fireworks went out with a flourish. Wham-high noon at midnight. The window light died. Mesplede switched to English.
“Who is allowed to live?”
“I know why, but please inform me precisely.”
“He was in on a big job in April. He’s too close to some people I’m with.”
“You were there, too.”
Wayne prickled. “Yes, I was.”
Mesplede spit on the floor. “Shameful. A horrible blow to the American Negro. I sympathize with them, because I revere their jazz artistry.”
Prickles, heat bumps, heatstroke pend-
“You can take out Fuentes and Arredondo. That’s as far as I can let it go.”
Mesplede shrugged and bowed. “They may be here in Miami.”
“Let’s go find them.”
They took Wayne’s rent-a-car. Mesplede fouled it with French cigarettes. They drove. They got out and hit cocktail bars and all-nite bodegas. They dispensed cash tips and inquired about Fuentes and Arredondo. They got zero.
Wayne rode a buzz off the Pernod. He kept checking his rearview. He didn’t see the blue sedan. He thought he saw a tan coupe leapfrogging. It got close, fell back, got close. The driver: a crew-cut kid, early twenties.
It schizzed him. He took evasive turns and made Mesplede carsick. The tan coupe vanished. They circled back to Flagler and rewalked it. The storefront offices stayed open late. Cuban Freedom Action Committee, Cuban Freedom Caucus, Cuban Freedom Council. Mesplede loved it. He spoke Spanish and captivated a slew of late-night loafers. They bummed cigarettes. Mesplede pressed his case. He logged three tips total.
Tip #1: Fuentes and Arredondo booked to the Midwest. Tip #2: They might be heisting department stores. Tip #3: They might be heisting gas stations in Chicago.
It was 4:00 a.m. Mesplede fell asleep in the car. Wayne woke him up and dropped him at his rooming house. He drove back to his hotel, near woozy. Elephants and Dick Nixon. Cuba, tail cars, mob ghouls, bugs like Rod an.
He unlocked the door. The room light was on. The blue-sedan man was sitting in the one chair. He was holding a.38 Smith. A Nevada AG’s badge was pinned to his coat.
Wayne shut the door and leaned on it. The guy pointed to his gun bulge. Wayne tossed his.45 on the bed.
The guy said, “Chuck Woodrell.”
Wayne yawned. “Tell me what this is. I know, but tell me anyway.”
Woodrell yawned. “You and your stepmom killed your daddy. The AG knows it’s a homicide, and he’d like to prosecute. He’s aware that you work for Uncle Carlos and Mr. Hughes, and he still doesn’t care, because he’s a ballsy kind of guy. We’ve got a bloody print on Janice. Eight comparison points, so it’s a clincher. We don’t want to file on a dying woman, but business is business.”
Wayne rubbed his eyes. “How much?”
Woodrell yawned and stretched. “Why don’t you and Buddy Fritsch find me a suspect? That and fifty grand chills it.”
(Los Angeles, 8/6/68)
The drop-front came furnished: three rooms in Naugahyde and scuffed chenille. The air conditioners worked. The couch folded out to a bed. It was ample space. Dwight figured he could live there full-time.
Silver Lake. A Bureau-vouchered office suite at Sunset and Mohawk. A barber college, fruit bar and porno bookstore downstairs.
Karen lived a mile northwest. It was a good spot for spontaneous nooners. He listed the office as “Cove Enterprises.” It was fittingly bland. It winked at Karen’s crib at Baxter and Cove.
Dwight moved in. He placed his clothes in the closet and set up a hot plate and coffee gizmo. He wired two standard phone lines and a secure scrambler line. He unloaded his surveillance equipment. He locked a box of throwdown guns in the safe.
He was fucking dog-tired. He’d caught the redeye in from D.C. His seat was midget-size. His legs were jammed to his chest. His one drink and one pill got him one hour’s sleep full of nightmares.
Mr. Hoover okayed a wire transfer: sixty cold to a bank downtown. It was his six-month budget. Upkeep, informant fees and miscellaneous expenses. OPERATION BAAAAD BROTHER, on-go.
Dwight cranked the window units and produced that igloo effect. Aaaah, L.A. in August-hot, with no letup. He had three window views, all north-facing. Taco joints, cholos, smog in CinemaScope.
Mr. Hoover was riding him roughshod. The old poof was in a nitpicking frenzy. Rumors in stereo: the Grapevine and Wayne Junior. He told Mr. Hoover they were chilled. It was a flat lie and a time-buyer. ATF was circling the Grapevine. He sent Fred Otash to St. Louis to check it out. The Wayne Junior deal could blow in an instant. Wayne refused to kick loose Wayne Senior’s hate lists. Ditto Dr. Fred Hiltz.
Wayne said he was out of the hate biz. Dr. Fred wanted too much cash. Dwight stiffed a check-in call to the L.A. SAC last night. Jack Leahy ran mordant per Mr. Hoover, almost recklessly so. Jack called the old poof “Amphetamine Annie.” Dwight yukked and recalled their last phone chat. Mr. Hoover raged, pouted and pranced. Mr. Hoover ran two beats short of normal now. Mr. Hoover listed the Memphis personnel just to say I KNOW.
Dwight got the heebie-jeebies. The igloo got too cold.
Let’s check out Niggertown.
Malt-liquor signs marked the border. Menthol cigarettes followed. Schlitz, Colt.45, Nigports and Kools. Coon consumerism. Afro pride. Slick spades with white features and negroid hair.
Dwight drove south. His Fed sled drew scared looks and sneers. It was hot. Smog hovered low. Lots of baaaad brothers be out. Jive sessions and parking-lot crap games. Lots of hair nets. Lots of stingy-brim porkpies atop gassed hair. Lots of LAPD street rousts.
He drove by the Panther HQ. The outdoor mural soared. Two black cats disemboweled a bleeding pink pig. The pig wore a badge marked FASCIST OPPRESSOR. The backdrop was the Last Supper. Huey Newton played Jesus. Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale played key disciples. The other disciples wore “Free Huey” T-shirts.
The US HQ was close. The door guards wore lacquered shades and black berets. They flanked a hi-fi plopped down on the sidewalk. Gibberish sputtered. Bongos banged the beat. Dwight heard “Instill the White Insect with Insecticide.”
Enough. Dwight cut west. The Black Tribe Alliance had a storefront at 43rd and Vernon. Their door crest featured black fists, guns and white-pig cops with small peckers. The Mau-Mau Liberation Front-four blocks south. Cannibal wall art-white cops screaming in stew pots as black dudes seasoned and stirred.
Enough. It was Chairman Mao meets Minstrel Mike, spliced with Ramar of the Jungle. Dwight cut west. He passed the Peoples’ Bank of South Los Angeles. He recalled his file notes. It was allegedly a money-wash joint.
Karen was guest-lecturing at USC. He cruised by on a timing hunch and caught her class filing out. The kids were longhaired and unkempt. They saw his gray suit and belt gun and went eek. The lecture hall was big. Karen lingered by the dais. Dwight jumped onstage and created sound waves. Karen looked up and smiled.
They kissed over the dais. A few students caught it and went Huh? Karen held a photo slide up to the light. Dwight looked at it. It was Mr. Hoover, circa ‘52.
“Don’t tell me. You’re teaching the blacklist again.”
“Don’t tell me you think it was justified.”
“Don’t tell me I haven’t helped some of your Commie chums get their jobs back.”
“Don’t tell me I haven’t reciprocated with favors.”
Dwight smiled. “Is What’s-His-Name in town?”
“When does he leave?”
“Tomorrow night, then?”
“Yes, that sounds lovely.”
They sat on the stage and let their legs dangle. They were tall. Their feet scraped the floor. Karen pulled his cigarettes out and lit up.
“One a day, right?”
“Yes, and only when we’re together.”
“I’m not sure I believe you.”
“All right. Occasionally, after breakfast.”
Dwight touched her belly. “You’re showing more.”
Karen touched herself. “That’s Eleanora.”
“Suppose it’s a boy?”
“Then it’s What’s-His-Name or Dwight.”
“And you’re sure it’s not mine?”
“Sweetie, it’s not an immaculate conception, and you were nowhere near the receptacle.”
Dwight pulled his legs up and stretched out on the stage. He yawned. He got half-second dizzy.
Karen said, “How’s your sleep?”
“Any horrible Bureau-sanctioned deeds that you’d like to confess?”
“Not right now.”
Karen tossed her cigarette and stretched out beside him. He touched her hair. He counted the dark flecks in her eyes.
“Any new ones?”
“A person’s eyes change as they age. It’s perfectly normal, so you shouldn’t fret over it.”
“I fret over everything.”
Karen touched his hair. “I wasn’t accusing you. I was just commenting.”
Dwight moved closer. Their heads touched. He smelled almond shampoo.
“Find me that informant. A woman. I’ll operate her and my infiltrator, and I’ll keep them separate.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“You could do some good here. Both of these groups are uninfiltrated, which means they’ve got all kinds of latitude to pull bad shit.”
Karen burrowed in a little. “Quid pro quo?”
“There’s a rally here next week.”
“Against the war?”
“Don’t tell me. You’d like me to pull the photo-surveillance team.”
“Sure. I’ll call Jack Leahy.”
Karen rolled on her back and stretched. Dwight touched her belly. He thought he felt Eleanora kick.
He said, “Do you love me?”
Karen said, “I’ll think about it.”
They sat in the den. Dwight insisted. It was hate art-free. The rest of Hate House jangled him.
Dr. Fred said, “A hundred G’s. That and a little favor gets you a thorough perusal of all of my lists.”
Dwight yawned. “What’s the favor?”
“Help me find this woman. She dinged me for fourteen G’s and split-skied.”
Dwight shrugged. “Call Clyde Duber. He’ll set you up.”
“He did. I got this numbnuts kid working for me. He’s in Miami now, but I don’t know if he’s worth a shit. Come on, Dwight. The cash and one little favor.”
Dwight shook his head. “Ten cold and a pound of cocaine I’ve been holding. It’s superlative shit. You’ll have the time of your life, until it kills you.”
The phone rang. Dr. Fred picked up, mumbled and listened. Dwight heard scree-scree noise. It sounded like a Bureau patch call.
Dr. Fred nodded. Dwight grabbed the phone. The scree-screes faded to an Okie twang. The caller said, “Dwight, it’s Buddy Fritsch. I got me a cluster fuck here, and you better come.”
A puddle jumper got him into McCarran. He cabbed downtown to LVPD. Buddy was holed up in his office. He was half-tanked. He was pacing. Three cigarettes burned in one ashtray.
Dwight shut the door and locked it. Buddy quit pacing and noticed him.
“I got this AG’s man squeezing me. He’s got a print on Janice, and he’s rolling the dice. Okay, he offered me money, but I still can’t see no way out, except to hand up Wayne and-”
Dwight grabbed him. Dwight threw him over the desk and dumped a file cabinet on him. Dwight pulled the air conditioner off the wall and dropped it on his back. Dwight kicked him in the balls three times.
“You get me a freak to hand up for Wayne Senior, and you do it now.”
The wires, the pliers, the screwdrivers. The drills, the mounts, the baseboard dust. Butterfingers: sweaty hands on gnat-size devices.
The Eden Roc Hotel. Drill job: suite 1206 into suite 1207. Crutch worked with Freddy Turentine. Freddy was the “Bug King.” Freddy’s bug rйsumй astounded. Freddy was on loan to Clyde Duber Associates. Freddy usually worked for “Shakedown King” Fred Otash.
They drilled. 1206 was their listening post. Farlan Brown was due in 1207 shortly. Time clock: the Find Gretchen Farr gig was moving way into five figures.
They drilled. They bored through to 1207 and pushed wires in. Crutch picked the door lock. They got full-suite access. They miked up the bedroom lamp shades. They tapped the two phones. They Spackle-covered the wall wires and applied touch-up paint. They stuffed baffling in the bore-through holes and sanded the rough spots down smooth. They swept up all the baseboard dust and zoomed back to 1206.
Finger-cramping drudge work-four full hours. Crutch was grit-encrusted. His fingers hurt. He had Spackle dust in his ears, eyes and nasal nooks. He took a shower and cleaned up. Freddy went to his room to snooze. Crutch turned the living room TV on and put the sound low. The screen faced the bug-tap receiver. He grabbed a chair, hooked on headphones and listened to dead air next door.
The TV half-ass absorbed him. Nixon got the nod, first ballot, yawn/snore/soporific. Nixon emitted stupe vibes. He did that V-for-victory thing and looked like a rube robot. The news cut to riot footage. The Miami Congo blazed. It derived from a spook housing-project brouhaha. Spooks were stoning and sniping white motorists. Nigger mobs, arson, looting. Hot-weather action. Groovy footage.
Crutch yawned. He was running on six-week sleep deficit, all per HIS CASE.
MS case. Not Clyde or Buzz Duber’s. HIS side deal with Dr. Fred. HIS shot at the million-dollar Hughes deal. HIS side deal side deal: Gretchen Farr as Celia Reyes. Add the knife-scar woman. Add the house with the door markings and the body parts in the kitchen.
Farlan Brown was Miami-bound. Wayne Tedrow Jr. was here already. Junior had Senior’s hate-mail stash. Dr. Fred wanted it. Junior worked for Farlan Brown and Dracula Hughes. Dr. Fred wanted to sell Drac his racial-purity plan. Crazy shit-sure. But crazy shit with dollar signs attached.
He’s hoarded his secret knowledge. He’s held it back from Clyde, Buzz and Dr. Fred. They don’t know about Gretchen as Celia. They don’t know about the knife-scar woman or the Horror House on North Tamarind.
HIS CASE-now six weeks in.
His pad was file-crammed already. His mother’s file ate up most of his floor and shelf space. He rented a second file pad downtown. The Elm Hotel-twelve scoots a week. A piss-in-the-sink dive for rum-dum pensioners. He laid in some file boxes and reams of file paper. He’s on the job full-time.
Filework: lead file, car file, forensic file, file on 2216 North Tamarind.
He researched the Horror House. It was not an Arnie Moffett party-rental crib. It was near the Gretchen/Celia-rented house and the other party cribs. Proximity did not equal connection. Yeah, but-the weird thrust of that night made everything seem connected. It was like a dream state. Gretchen/Celia and the knife-scar woman kiss-and his world re-situates.
House research. Paydirt: the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce owned Horror House and used it for fund-raisers. It stood unoccupied since mid-’67. He snuck in again and rolled every goddamn room for prints. He got nothing but smudges and bullshit partials. The Chamber let him look at their fundraiser file. Groups were listed, guest lists were not. There was no way to know who had been in the house. The girl at the Chamber told him one blood-churning thing: sleazoid hippies broke in and squatted there sometimes. Question: what were Gretchen/Celia and the knife-scar woman still doing in the Moffett house? Easy answer: squatting rent-free after their real rent expired. Question: who bought Phil Irwin off the Find Gretchen gig? Possible answer: Farlan Brown, via Hughes Tool Co. Brown got wind of the gig. Brown wanted Gretchie un-fucked with. His motive? Who fucking knows?
House file to car file.
He bribed a clerk at Hertz Rent a Car. Gretchen/Celia returned the ‘66 Comet with the radiator blown. That mandated a no-rental stint. Thus, the Comet stayed untouched since the drop-off night. Crutch re-bribed the Hertz guy and got two hours alone with the Comet. He print-wiped and got one latent. He spent five weeks hand-checking female print cards at the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and LAPD. So far, no match.
Car file to forensic file.
Clyde had dirt on the county coroner, “Tojo” Tom Takahashi. Tojo Tom was a jailbait Johnny with a yen for young Jap cooze. Crutch leaned on him and told him to keep mum with Clyde on all this. Tojo Tom agreed. Crutch waltzed him into Horror House two nights after his first entry. They split a pint of Jim Beam and tamped down their nerves. They worked by Coleman lantern light. Crutch took photos. Tojo Tom examined and bagged the body parts and took blood and tissue samples. Crutch got pix of the tattoo on the arm and the geometric wall markings. Tojo Tom removed the crumbled green stones from the arm gouge and separately bagged them.
It took hours. The smell was foul. Crutch held the lantern while Tojo Tom brushed maggots off. Tojo Tom called it an “evisceration snuff.” The victim was a young Latin woman. He had her blood analyzed and called Crutch with the results. It was type O+, very common, no outstanding characteristics. He found odd powder fragments in the gouged tissue and had them analyzed. Very odd: there was no toxicology make. Crutch had a gemologist analyze the green stone fragments. Emeralds? No, just green glass.
Forensic file to tattoo file. Canvassing from there.
Crutch hit a total of forty-seven tattoo parlors in and around L.A. He showed his photo of the partial tattoo to endless tattoo freaks. So far, no make. Tattoo file to lead file. He hit LAPD and Sheriff’s R amp;I again. He checked mug books, teletypes and occurrence-field interrogation files for mentions of Gretchen/Celia and got zero. Cop files to INS files. He scanned photo sheets for every female immigrant from every Latin American country extant and got zero on Gretchen/Celia. He remembered Bev’s Switchboard. Gretchen/Celia got calls from three foreign consulates: Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic. He called all three and got three more zeros: no records of calls to Gretchen/Celia. Her Dominican driver’s license turned out to be a phony. The Dominican national DMV had no listing. That bootleg-number call to Bev’s Switchboard? No make on it yet.
$$$ to??? and back again-dollar signs, question marks and zeros.
The kiss. The shadows in and out of his vision. The knife-scar woman’s gray-streaked hair. She didn’t have a name. Gretchen/Celia had two. He wanted to know that woman’s name. He drew pictures of her and papered his walls with them. He gave her her own real features, not Dana Lund’s.
Their talk-”Grapevine,” “Tommy,” “plant”-what did it mean? He checked city directories nationwide. He found listings for 216 Grapevine restaurants, hotels, motels and bars. He didn’t know where he should start checking or if he should start checking or if it meant anything.
So, Gretchen/Celia fucked men and stole their money. “Al,” “Chuck,” “Lew,” Dr. Fred, Farlan Brown potentially. Sal Mineo spilled all that he knew. Gretchen/Celia was allegedly left-wing. What did that mean? She wanted to “get next to” Farlan Brown-say what? on that. The knife-scar woman-how did she play in? The dead woman in the Horror House-was she connected?
Crutch brain-looped and watched TV. He got nigger-riot visuals and headphone fuzz next door. Dead air-Farlan Brown’s suite was still still.
Avco Jewelers. Gretchen/Celia gets advice on re-cutting emeralds. The green glass shards in the dead woman’s arm.
Question marks, dollar signs-
He looped through Las Vegas six times. He spot-tailed Farlan Brown and Wayne Tedrow Jr. He saw them at the D.I. They took the private elevator up to Dracula’s lair. Brown has not seen Gretchen/Celia in Vegas. He’s sure of it. Maybe she never hooked up with him. Maybe she ripped him off in L.A. and split. He ran a Miami phone book/airline check on the names Gretchen Parr and Celia Reyes. He got zero Gretchens. He got nine Celias and ran driver’s license checks on them all. None of them were her.
He ran a Miami-airline check on Wayne Tedrow Jr. and hit positive. He ran a hotel check and located him at the Doral. He tailed Wayne Junior three times. Wayne Junior might have tail-spotted him. The Clark County D.A. passed a Vegas rumor on to Clyde Duber: Wayne Junior might have offed Wayne Senior in June.
It was all dizzying. It was re-situating, re-wire-all-your-circuits shit.
The tails went A-OK. Wayne Junior met a black-clad, foreign-looking guy twice. Crutch hit his rooming house and records-checked him. Jean-Philippe Mesplede, French merc, age forty-five. Mesplede and Wayne Junior combed Little Havana twice. Crutch followed up. The deal: they were looking for two Cuban men named Caspar Fuentes and Miguel Diaz Arredondo.
The nigger riot heated up. The TV screen almost throbbed. Spooks lobbed Molotov cocktails. Spooks chased honkies with two-by-fours. Crutch heard movement next door.
Yeah, it’s Farlan Brown’s voice. That’s him tipping the bellman. There’s the door again. The bellman’s gone. There’s phone-dial noise. Yawn-there’s Brown on the horn with his wife.
Blah, blah-the kids are fine, the dog has fleas, I love you, too. Hang-up noise. Door-opening noise. A young woman’s voice.
Yeah, dig it-
They negotiated-fifty for French, a yard for half and half. Brown took the latter. The bed was by the wall unit. Air hum drowned out most of the trick. The climax came in fuzzy.
Brown bragged post-coital: I’m a big cheese with Howard Hughes. The call girl said, “Is that so?” Brown blathered. I’m hip, I’m cool, I swing. I run Hughes Airways. I’ll be running Hughes charter flights to some rocking new mob resorts.
The call girl stifles a yawn. The bedsprings creak. A zipper threads. Bye, bye, baby-she’s out the door.
Brown got back on the horn. Crutch hit console buttons and activated the tap line. He got garbles and a dial tone. He heard a gruff “Hel-lo.”
Brown said, “Freddy, it’s Farlan.” A man said, “What’s happening, paisan?” Crutch made the voice: Shakedown Fred O.
He hit his tape feed. The spool turned. He got garbles and voices verbatim.
Brown:… Miami. You know, for the convention.
Otash: Nixon. Jesus, that fucking retread has got nine fucking lives.
Brown: This one’s a keeper. He’s going to win.
Otash: I’ve got a sports book at the Cavern. My guy’s calling the race even money.
Brown: I’ll take those odds.
Otash: Then place a bet, you cheap Mormon cocksucker.
Brown: A grand on Dick. For real, Freddy. I smell victory.
Otash: I smell you trying to Jew me down on a room rate. That’s it, right? Your old buddy Freddy’s an innkeeper now, so let’s put the boots to him.
Laughter-six seconds’ worth.
Brown:… Freddy, you’re a pistol.
Otash: I’ve got a pistol. I’m a well-hung American of Lebanese descent.
Laughter-nine seconds’ worth.
Brown: Okay. I need a big suite at the Cavern. It’s a party for some Democratic delegates, right before the convention. Booze and girls, Freddy. You know my MO.
Brown: August 23.
Otash: I’ll give you 308. It’s my private spot, so treat it nice or I’ll sic Dracula on you.
Brown: Wooo! I don’t want that!
Otash: You got that, you Mormon cocksucker.
Brown: Cocksuckee, you mean.
Otash: So, confirm or deny a rumor for me.
Otash: Tell true. Is Wayne Junior working for the Count?
Brown: He is. And high up at that.
Otash: Fucking Junior always lands on his feet.
Brown: Care to elaborate?
Otash: No comment.
Brown: On that note…
Otash: Yeah. See you on the 23. Thank you, fuck you, and good-bye.
Two hang-up clicks-Miami and Vegas. Crutch switched to the bug line. There: yawns, bed creaks, silence and snores.
He hit switches and shut down the feed lines. It was 1:14 a.m. His stomach growled. He’d surveilled his way through dinnertime and then some. He called Freddy Turentine’s room and roused Freddy. He said they had a bug job in Vegas-a hotel suite by August 22. Freddy said, “Remind me tomorrow,” and hung up.
The TV was still on. Nixon did the V-for-victory thing. What a geek. He always needed a shave.
Crutch yawned and got antsy concurrent. He popped four dexies and snagged his rent-a-car keys.
Wrong turns and U-turns de-situated him. The Doral was near the Eden Roc. Wayne Junior’s hotel-just two minutes out. One-way streets put him on a causeway. The bay water churned with confetti and floating Nixon signs. The exit markers confused him. Side streets sidetracked him. He smelled smoke. He heard gunfire. Neighborhoods devolved into shine shantytowns. He saw two spooks torch a ‘59 Plymouth.
The spooks saw him-Honky! Honky! Honky! Crutch gunned it and hung a Uey. The spooks chased his car. A tall spook lobbed a cinder block and hit his back window. The block decomposed. The window stayed intact. The spooks yelled spook-outrage slogans and spooked on back to the Plymouth.
Crutch got his bearings. He drove fast and steered clear of smoke stench and flames. The roving spook quotient upgraded to spook winos and porch loafers. He hit a spook-free zone and made it back to the causeway and Miami Beach proper. The detour got him finger-popping alive. He skimmed the radio and found a soul station. He grooved on Archie Bell and the Drells with “The Tighten Up.”
He parked outside the Doral. He eyeballed the door and played the soul station. The DJ talked pro-riot Commie shit with cool spook music mixed in. Wayne Tedrow Jr. walked out at 2:49 a.m. He shagged his rent-a-car. Crutch tailed him.
Convention traffic was still steady. Tail cover was good. Crutch hovered two car lengths back. Wayne Junior stuck to spook-free zones and booked to Little Havana. He swooped by Jean-Philippe Mesplede’s rooming house and picked up the Frogman. Crutch vibed it: another trawl for Caspar Fuentes and Miguel Diaz Arredondo.
Flagler Street hopped. The coffee bars were open late. A radio guy did man-in-the-street interviews. Arson outside the Cuban Freedom Council- some beaners burning a straw Fidel.
Mesplede and Wayne Junior did their thing. Crutch knew it now. They ditched the car, walked storefront-to-storefront and asked questions. Crutch stayed mobile. He slow-trawled Flagler and looked. Mesplede and Wayne Junior did a one-hour loop and re-mobilized. Traffic was thin. Crutch hovered four car lengths back.
Wayne Junior pulled to the curb and walked to a pay phone. Mesplede stayed in the car. Crutch hit the brakes and pulled over eight car lengths back.
He got out his binoculars and zoomed in. Wayne Junior fed quarters to the phone slot-long-distance, for sure. Crutch got in clooooose. Wayne Junior’s lips moved. Two seconds and halt-Wayne Junior just listened.
And trembled. And went pale. And hung up, walked back to the car and leaned in Mesplede’s window.
More lip movement. Crutch zoomed in trиs close. The talk looked panicky. Mesplede slid behind the wheel and pulled out, peeling rubber. Wayne Junior walked to a parked taxi cab and got in the back.
The cab pulled out. Crutch tailed it. Traffic was too sparse to get close. Crutch killed his headlights and cued on the cab’s taillights. They cut across this biiiiiig swath of Miami.
The terrain got rural. The roads got rough and swervy. The cab pulled ahead. Crutch turned his lights on just to see. Dirt roads swerved up to a rinky-dink airfield. Crutch saw a two-seater prop job on the runway.
He stopped the car. He couldn’t see the cab. He got out and squinted in the dark. He was discombobulated. He couldn’t see shit.
Floodlights snapped on. Crutch got glare-blinded. He blinked. He rubbed his eyes. He got some sight back. He saw Wayne Junior, standing by the airplane, looking straight at him.
(Las Vegas, 8/9/68)
Buddy Fritsch said, “I got us a suspect.”
His den was polar-cold. He served highballs and Fritos. Chuck Woodrell had the flu and kept sniffling. Dwight kept tugging at his law-school ring. Wayne was frazzled-that bumpy flight and thirty-six sleepless hours.
It was 9:00 p.m. Miami felt like a fever dream. His time zones were stretched disproportionate.
Fritsch passed around a mug-shot strip: three views of a male Negro. Sylvester “Pappy” Dawkins, age forty-eight. A lean man with a fuck-you demeanor. Inked on the back: burglary raps from ‘42 up.
Woodrell said, “Woooo, boy.”
Dwight said, “Hide the kiddies.”
Fritsch said, “He’s a residential burglar with rape-o tendencies. He was in custody near Barstow on the night Wayne Senior died, which don’t make no difference to us. He’s got no alibi for that night, and it’s a little two-man PD. I can buy both them boys off.”
The strip recirculated. Woodrell said, “Katy-bar-the-door.” Dwight said, “Electric chair, sweetheart.” Wayne shut his eyes and passed the strip back.
Fritsch slurped his highball. “Washoe County makes him for two burglary snuffs, so it ain’t like he’s a contributing member of society. He pulls B amp;Es all messed-up on goofballs, so he’ll make a piss-poor witness.”
Woodrell nibbled Fritos. “I like him. He’s five seconds out of the trees.”
Fritsch said, “I got a print transparency. We can roll it through a blood sample and pre-date it.”
Dwight rubbed his neck. “How much?”
Woodrell said, “Fifty on my end.”
Fritsch squirmed. “Uh… twenty for me? And I’ll take care of the Barstow boys out of that?”
Dwight nodded. “I’ll tap you-know-who. He wants to see this covered.”
Wayne said, “No.”
Fritsch froze mid-slurp. Woodrell froze mid-bite. Wayne said, “No more.”
Woodrell sighed. “This is just about the biggest favor you’ll ever get in this lifetime.”
Fritsch sighed. “Don’t be a Bolshevik, son.”
Woodrell laughed. “Mr. Sensitive. With the niggers he’s got on his rйsumй.”
Wayne looked at him. “Stop right there. Don’t make me take this any further.”
Woodrell flushed and got shaky-kneed. Fritsch said, “Sweet Jesus.” Dwight pointed to the two of them and the door. They caught the gist and walked out. Dwight stood up and hauled Wayne upright. Dwight grabbed his shirtfront and slapped him.
It stung. It raised blood dots. Wayne popped pain tears. It was a love tap by Dwight Holly standards.
“It’s for Janice. It’s for both of us and everything you’ve put your hands on. It’s for this fucked-up hole we’re both in.”
Wayne wiped his nose. Blood pooled in his mouth. His tears dried quick.
“This has to happen, so you let it happen, and you do not fold on me. I need that from you, and I may need you for the Grapevine. Otash went to St. Louis, we’ll need to talk to him about it, and we might have to go in at some point.”
His blood tasted funny. Dwight held him up. His legs were gone.
“I need you to stand in. I need your father’s mail lists, and if push comes to shove with the Grapevine, I want you there.”
Wayne nodded. Dwight let his hands go. Wayne weaved and stayed up.
The sheets were moist. Her gown was damp. Her pulse ran weak-steady. Wayne flicked the dial and fed dope to the tube.
Heroin. His compound. A morphine-base synthetic.
Janice unclenched. Wayne wiped her brow and toweled the sheets half-dry. The night nurse was sleeping in the living room. Janice was all sweat and chills.
Wayne took her hands. “There’s something that has to be done to give us some safety. When you hear about it, you’ll know. It wasn’t my idea, and there’s no way around it.”
Janice shut her eyes. Tears leaked. She pulled her hands free. They felt weightless, all veins and bone.
Wayne flicked the dial. Dope flowed bag to tube to vein. Janice went out, shuddering.
Her pulse was weak-normal. Wayne arranged her hair on the pillow. He grabbed the bedside phone and dialed Mesplede in Miami.
Three rings. A sleep-slapped “Oui?”
“Yes, of course. My American friend in duress.”
“Do something for me.”
“There was a kid tailing me in Miami. I don’t know what it’s about, but it’s trouble.”
“Yes? And your wish?”
“Early twenties, medium-sized, crew cut. He’s driving an Avis rent-a-car. The plate number is GQV-881.”
“Yes? And your wish?”
“Find out his business and clip him.”
The vault was twelve miles east of Vegas. Wayne Senior had dubbed it the “Fьhrer bunker.” It was a scrub-covered cement square sunk in a sand drift. It was straight out I-15.
Wayne brought a flashlight, a gas can and a Zippo lighter. The location was a mile off the interstate. The vault held copies of all Senior’s hate tracts and his subscriber lists.
Wayne parked on a turnaround near a Chevron station and walked into the desert. It was 106° at midnight. Sand sucked at his feet and slowed his walk to a trudge. It was slow slow motion. He thought about Dallas the whole time.
He got there. He pulled off scrub branches, unlocked the door and hauled hate lit out. Titles jumped off covers. He saw Miscegenation Generation and Jew Stew: A Recipe Book. He saw Pope Pontius: How Papists Rule the Jewnited Nations. He saw doctored pix of Dr. King and little Negro kids. He saw facsimile editions of vintage Klan kodebooks.
He stripped the shelves. He lugged paper and ink-smudged his arms black. He saw hate headlines. He saw pornographic hate cartoons. He saw lynching photos with gag captions.
He built a big hate pile. It stood eight feet high. He doused it with gasoline. He sparked the Zippo and put the flame down.
The pile flared straight up and out. The big black sky went red.
(Las Vegas, 8/10/68)
The sky went red to orange. Dwight stood by the service pumps and watched.
The blaze backlit the desert floor and the highway. He saw Wayne’s car on the turnaround. His tail-job-on-instinct got him this.
Two pump jockeys stood around, gawking. A hot wind blew smoke their way. Dwight walked to a pay phone, fed the slot quarters and dialed direct to L.A.
The smoke was thick with paper bits. Dwight felt the sting. Karen picked up immediately.
“You’re not supposed to call when he’s in town, goddamnit.”
Dwight said, “Talk slow to me. Just a minute, please.”
Karen said something back. He didn’t hear it. His eyes were all wet and fucked-up. He couldn’t tell if it was the smoke or his crazy love for Wayne.
Smoke and fire. The spooks refused to quit. Gunshots, sirens and a 4:00 a.m. light show.
Crutch pulled into the Avis lot. The clutch on his rent-a-car blew. The gears were stripped. The car lurched and lugged. He called ahead. The desk guy said, Screw the riot. You come right in.
Half-tracks rolled down Biscayne Boulevard. The governor called in the Guard. There’s a string of cop cars and a six-seater Jeep. Fuck, the driver’s smoking a joint.
Smoke and fire. Swamp heat. This orange sky edging toward mauve.
The car lurched and died by the gas pumps. Crutch got out and stretched. Heat and fumes smacked him. His head hurt. He’d been working the bug post full-time. He’d been up since God knows-
Someone/Something pushed him. He tumbled back in the car. His head hit the shift knob. His arms hit the dashboard. The Someone/ Something pinned him down. He/It was all black.
Then the knee on his back. Then the gun in his face. With the silencer barrel-threaded and the hammer half-back.
“Why are you surveilling Wayne Tedrow? Be honest. Evasion will decree an even more horrible death.”
The French accent. The Frogman. Frog couture all black.
“I repeat. Why were you surveilling Wayne Tedrow?”
Crutch tried to pray. The words hit his brain jumbled. His piss tubes swelled. He held it in. The weight on him helped. He remembered his lucky rabbit’s foot and obscure Lutheran Church lore.
His shit chute swelled. He held it in. The weight on him helped. He opened his mouth. He squeaked and got some sounds out. God or some unseen fucker fed him word soup. He saw his mother. He heard “Dr. Fred,” “Howard Hughes,” “Grapevine plant,” “million dollars.” He heard “Dead woman,” “missing woman,” “knife-scar woman,” “green stones.” He heard “Please don’t kill me” six billion times in six seconds.
He shut his eyes. His tear ducts swelled. He held it in. Biting his tongue helped. Six billion years went by in six seconds. He saw his mother and Dana Lund six billion times. He tried for prayers and dredged up hymns.
The weight eased up. He clenched his tubes, chutes and ducts and stayed dry. He smelled brandy. The scent touched his lips strong. He opened his mouth. He dipped his head and took the pour. His throat constricted. He opened wider and let it roll in. He opened his eyes and saw the Frogman.
“I have been prone to sympathetic lapses before. You must affirm my perception of your youthful willfulness and capacity for acquiescence.”
Crutch crawled into the passenger seat. His heartbeat kept multiplying. He was head-to-toe sweat. The Frogman stretched out in the driver’s seat. He nipped off the flask and passed it back. Crutch chugged brandy and looked out the window. There’s more smoke, sirens and riot cops- the spooks just won’t quit.
Mesplede said, “I may ask you to report information to me.”
Crutch nodded-yessir, yessir, yessir.
The flask went back and forth. A sync settled in. Their eyes stayed locked while the Frogman monologued. It was all CUBA. It was le grand putain Fidel Castro and the Cuban Freedom Cause. There was JFK’s Bay of Pigs betrayal. There was LBJ’s Commie appeasement. There was America’s sissified accommodation and the Caribbean as a Spreading Red Lake. There were brave men willing to die to quash the Red Tide.
The flask went back and forth. The oration continued. Crutch rode the world’s greatest buzz.
(Las Vegas, 8/10/68)
The night nurse took a break to play the slots downstairs. Wayne ran into her in the casino. She said, “You look ill-I’ll bring you something.”
He took the stairs up and burned off excess steam. He still smelled like charred paper. The suite was unlocked. He walked into Janice’s bedroom.
The lights were on. The IV pole and drip bag were down on the floor. The tube was still attached to Janice’s arm. The needle was half in, half out.
Two empty vials on the nightstand. Seconal and Dilaudid. A brief note: “Whatever your plan-please, not on my behalf.”
Wayne sat with her. Her nightgown was still damp. The picture blurred with ‘64. He came home and found Lynette. Wendell Durfee had come and gone. A winter storm leveled Vegas. He sat with Lynette and listened to the rain.
Janice died clutching the bedsheets. Wayne pried her fingers loose and folded them on her chest.
West Vegas hopped at 2:00 a.m. The bars were air-cooled. The shacks weren’t. Folks stayed out late to cool off.
Wayne cruised in. He passed the Wild Goose, the Colony Club and the Sugar Hill Lounge. Memory Lane. The ALLAH IS LORD signs. Night owls cooking bar-b-q in fifty-gallon drums. Streets named for presidents and designated by letters.
He had Pappy Dawkins’ address. It should be off Monroe and J. He scanned faces. Everybody was black. Parked cars with running headlights. Air-conditioned junkers. Beat the heat. Run the vents all night and sleep.
There’s the place: a fuchsia-colored cinder-block dump on plywood struts.
Wayne parked and walked up. The lights were on. The door was open. The front room was furnished with scavenged car seats. A dozen fans pushed air around.
Two Negro men sat there. They were side by side on Chevy leather. Pappy looked older than his mug shots. The other man ran fifty-plus and wore a clerical suit.
They noticed him. They made him. Wayne made their little blinks. The fans churned up a stink: cat piss and stale marijuana.
Wayne shut the door. The smell compounded. Pappy said, “Sergeant Wayne Tedrow Jr.”
Wayne coughed. “Not any longer.”
“You mean you ain’t with the po-lice or you the only Wayne Tedrow left?”
“Both of those.”
The other man said, “He wants something. You should let him get to it.”
Pappy twirled an ashtray. “Reverend Hazzard’s trying to reform me. He visits me once a month, whether I asks him to or not. I say to him, This white motherfucker here killed three brothers awhile back,’ he probably say, ‘Turn the other cheek.’ ”
Wayne spoke to Hazzard. “This won’t take but a minute.”
Pappy hurled the ashtray. It knocked a fan over. The breeze went haywire. Some nesting moths stirred.
“Reverend Hazzard believes you turn the other cheek, but I most emphasizedly do not, unless you wants to bend down and kiss the cheeks of my coal black ass.”
Hazzard touched Pappy’s arm. Pappy grabbed a stray shoe off the floor and hurled it. A fan capsized. A breeze hit the back wall. A Scotch-taped pic of Malcolm X flew.
“Reverend Hazzard says, ‘Forgiveness be next to godliness,’ but I most emphasizedly do not, unless you wants to start by apologizing for killing Leroy Williams and the Swasey brothers and any other extraneous niggers that you also might have killed along the way.”
Hazzard said, “Pappy, please.”
Wayne said, “Sir, I apologize.”
Pappy grabbed another shoe. “And that’s all you got to say?”
“No, there’s more.”
“Which includes what?”
Wayne’s legs fluttered. “Some cops are trying to hang a case on you. I don’t want to see it happen. I’ll get you some money, but you’ve got to get out of Vegas.”
Pappy whooped. “Leave all this? On your white motherfucking say-so?”
Hazzard said, “Pappy, let him talk.”
Pappy whooped falsetto. “Not until I’ve had my fun and extricated my pound of flesh, starting with, ‘Hey, Junior, you apologize again.’ ”
Wayne said, “Sir, I apologize.”
Whoop-”One more time now. I’m starting to enjoy this.”
Wayne shook his head no. His legs almost caved. Pappy threw the shoe at him. He stepped aside. Pappy reached in his pocket. Wayne threw himself on the floor.
Metal flashed. Wayne ate rug grit and pulled his ankle piece. Pappy fumbled a snub automatic. Reverend Hazzard froze. Pappy rolled off the car seat and aimed down at Wayne.
They fired simultaneous. The floor exploded by Wayne’s face. He aimed through plaster dust and squeezed the trigger slow. He hit Pappy mid-chest. Pappy spun and jerked the trigger. His hand spasmed. He sent shots every which way.
They hit the fans. Soft points-the blades diced and ricocheted them. Bullet shards became shrapnel pellets. They burst wide and tore out Hazzard’s throat. He gasped and pitched off the car seat. Wayne aimed up and squeezed slow. The shot hit Pappy mid-face. He fell backward. His head hit a whirring fan and sent red up and out.
(Las Vegas, 8/10/68)
The squadroom was dead. LVPD ran a light crew from midnight on. Four detectives caught city-wide squeals. They got paid to doze at their desks or shag ass.
They slept. Dwight couldn’t sleep. The desert fire still torqued him. He went by the Golden Cavern an hour back. Fred Otash was still up. They discussed his St. Louis trip. Freddy spent time at the Grapevine. The hit rumors: still escalating. The purveyors: six right-wing fucks. The ATF surveillance: intermittent, but sustained. The upshot: we can’t go in with ATF hovering. We hold for now.
Dwight yawned. Late-night squadrooms consoled him. They were cop still-life tableaux. The St. Louis SAC pledged a late-night teletype. Dwight chair-perched by the machine.
The squadroom was quiet. The cops dozed. The detention-cage winos snored. The teletype machine rattled. Dwight pulled a sheet out.
Terse and shitty news. Be advised: ATF has Grapevine Tavern under lockstep surveillance.
Dwight tore the sheet up and trash-canned it. A patrol cop ran in. He was a beanpole rookie type in a lather. He yelled his good news and woke the crew up.
Body count! Somebody nailed that hump Pappy Dawkins and some shine preacher!
The street was sealed. Dwight badged the perimeter cop and pulled right up to the tape. Inside it: three patrol cars, one coroner’s car and two dead jigs on gurneys.
Live jigs outside the tape: geeks in nightgowns, skivvies and pajamas. A fatso was snarfing chicken wings at 4 fucking a.m.
Two patrol cops by the house. Buddy Fritsch in civvies, looking justifiably freaked.
Dwight whistled long and shrill. Fritsch heard it and looked over. Dwight pointed to his Fed sled. Fritsch blew off the patrol cops and walked straight up.
Dwight opened the back door. Fritsch got in. He had the shakes. He pulled a hip flask and took two maintenance pops. Dwight got in and shut the door. Two tall men-their knees brushed.
“So, who do you think? I got me four eyewits. White man walks in, shots fired, white man walks out. He’s six-one, one eighty, pale, with dark hair. Sound like anyone we know?”
The flask booze smelled good-heavy-sweet bourbon. Fritsch took two more pops.
“Wayne blew his cork again. When that boy don’t know what to do, he just goes out and hunts niggers.”
Mumbo jumbo down the block. Dwight looked over. Fatso led some Zulus in a black-power cheer.
Fritsch sucked on his flask. “To boot, I got me a morgue call. Janice Tedrow took some pills and checked out.”
Dwight said, “How much?”
“No, siree. I’m sorry, but there ain’t no buyout on this one.”
“How much, Buddy? You, Woodrell, the AG and anyone else we need to square this.”
Fritsch shook his head. “Uh-uh. No sale. Your boy don’t get no walk on this one.”
Dwight tugged at his law-school ring. “Give me a figure. Be generous with yourself. I’ll get you the money and let you grease everyone else.”
Fritsch shook his head. “Uh-uh. No sale. Sorry, Wayne, but you killed two coons too many. This is 1968, son. ‘The times, they are a-changin’.’ ”
Dwight laughed. Fritsch laughed. Dwight said, “Pick a figure.”
“Uh-uh. No sale. This is one that you and Mr. Hoover can’t buy Junior out of.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure I’m sure. I am absolutely, positively goddamn sure that there’s no price tag on this one.”
“One last time, then. For the record.”
Fritsch jabbed Dwight’s chest. “For the record, no. For the record, you put some hurt on me a little while back, and that’s all the guff I’m taking from you. You may be Mr. Hoover’s number-one goon, but I am a ranking police officer and a decorated World War II vet, and I am not eating any more shit dispensed by some Hoosier hard-on who thinks he’s tough shit ‘cause he went to Yale.”
Dwight smiled and pointed to the flask. Fritsch smiled and passed it over. Dwight took a big pop and passed it back. Fritsch grinned and stretched. His suit coat gapped. Dwight pulled off his belt gun and stuffed it under the seat. Fritsch swallowed. His Adam’s apple bob-bob-bobbed.
Dwight pulled his Magnum, popped the cylinder and dumped five shells. Fritsch rolled his eyes-don’t shit a shitter. Dwight spun the cylinder and snapped it shut. Fritsch said, “You’re bluffing.”
Dwight put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The hammer hit an empty chamber.
“Fuck you. You bluff, I call. I am a ranking police officer, and this is my crime scene.”
Dwight put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The hammer hit an empty chamber. Buddy Fritsch shit his britches. Dwight caught the stench.
Dwight put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The hammer hit an empty chamber. Buddy Fritsch pissed his pants. Dwight watched the stain spread.
“Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you.”
Dwight put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The hammer hit an empty chamber. Buddy Fritsch sobbed.
Dwight said, “How much?” Fritsch kept sobbing. Dwight rolled down the window. He heard black-power chants and saw black fists raised.
Fritsch said, “Two hundred.”
Dwight said, “It’s yours.”
It required a proactive phone call. It recalled January ‘57. He left two dead on the Merritt Parkway. Mr. Hoover rescued him.
Dwight called from his hotel suite. He got two rings and “Yes?”
“It’s Dwight Holly, Sir.”
“Yes? And the most pressing emergency that you wish to discuss?”
“Wayne Tedrow killed two Negro men. I need a good deal of money to cover it, and I’d be grateful for your help.”
Mr. Hoover coughed. “And the amount?”
“Two hundred cold.”
“Is Junior in custody?”
“And where would he be?”
“I would guess Wayne Senior’s cabin in Lake Tahoe.”
“Does he usually repose there after he kills male Negroes?”
“Does he watch the Soul Train TV show for upbeat entertainment and to expiate his guilt?”
“I would guess that he brews up narcotic compounds for the purposes of sedation and sleep.”
Mr. Hoover worked for breath. “You haven’t called me in a very long time, Dwight. It was January ‘58, I believe.”
“You’re close, Sir. It was ‘57.”
“Are you questioning my memory, Dwight?”
“It was January of 1958. It was unseasonably warm that day on the Cross County Parkway.”
That night, icy roads, the Merritt-
“That’s right, Sir. I’d forgotten. It was so long ago.”
“I’ll wire the funds, Dwight. I’m as soft for you as you are for Junior.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“The Grapevine Tavern, Dwight. Outlandish talk is circulating. ATF cannot lockstep the location forever. That outrageous chatter will have to be muffled at some point.”
“I understand, Sir.”
“Good night, Dwight.”
He started to say “Good night, Sir.” Coughs and a hang-up click stopped him.
The kid had lost weight. His hair had thinned. Some fresh gray was there with the brown. He went fit to gaunt in a week.
The funeral home smelled like spearmint. Dwight caught embalming fluid as the underscent. Wayne sat beside Janice’s casket. The lid was closed. It was lustrous mahogany.
Dwight pulled a chair up. Wayne looked at him.
“Her golf clubs are in there.”
Dwight smiled. “She’d appreciate the touch.”
“I tried to warn him.”
“I figured it was that.”
“She was forty-six years, nine months and sixteen days old.”
“You’re a chemist. You’d know something like that.”
“You’re a lawyer. Tell me what this is about.”
Dwight said, “It’s chilled. I went to Mr. Hoover. If I went to Carlos, he’d have figured you’d lost it. Everyone will know sooner or later, so you’d better get back in the game.”
Wayne stood up and flanked the casket. He hovered and ran his fingers over the grain.
Dwight said, “We’ve still got the Grapevine.”
Wayne said, “I understand.”
(Los Angeles, 8/19/68)
Scotty Bennett said, “I like your tie and your hair.”
Crutch blushed. The tartan and the crew cut were his lucky charms. He got them the same day he saw Horror House. They prophesied all his magical shit.
Scotty loomed. They stood in the latent-prints room. Crutch was hand-checking print cards. He’d been at it two months.
“Run this by me again. You saw a girl at Woody’s Smorgasburger. She drank a 7UP and left her prints on a glass, and you’ve been trying to ascertain her identity ever since.”
Crutch blushed. “Right. I’ve been on a job for Clyde, and I’ve been ducking over here whenever I get a chance.”
Scotty roared-kid, you slay me. He tucked a ten-spot in Crutch’s pocket. He adjusted his tie and rubbed his crew cut.
“I’m forty-seven, you’re twenty-three. I’m a policeman, you’re not. Lose the tie and let your hair grow. You may get some.”
The ten-spot dangled there. Scotty said, “Call Laurel. Webster-64882. Tell her I said to be kind.”
Crutch re-blushed. Scotty winked and waltzed to the Robbery pen. Print cards jumped up and yelled Study me!
Back to work.
Lay out the photo blowup. Grab the magnifying glass. Lay out the next print card and notch comparison points. He had the rent-a-car print memorized. He knew every loop and whorl. He’d been through six zillion print cards since June 21.
He studied, he tossed cards, he yawned, he stretched, he blinked. Eyestrain goo pooled on his eyeballs. He hit a fast stretch-a card a minute and-
A fresh card. Familiar loops and whorls. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 comparison points-a courtroom-valid tally.
Crutch studied the card and the blowup. He wiped his eyes, he squinted, he looked. 11, 12, 13, 14-a perfect match.
He turned the card over. He read the stats:
“Klein, Joan Rosen/WF/DOB 10/31/26, New York City. 5'4", 120, brown eyes/dark brown amp; gray hair. Distinguishing marks: Knife scar on upper right arm.”
Her, she, that woman. She had a name: JOAN.
She was forty-one. She was born on Halloween. Her rap sheet looked like a partial. Crutch saw arrests and no convictions. Commie beefs. Alien and Sedition Act violations, back to ‘44. Two armed robbery busts-’51, ‘53-no D.R. numbers for conviction.
Commie beefs. Heists. No attached mug shots. Crutch ran to the photo lab-
His new file room was cramped already. File boxes, file stacks, the big wall graph. He had two pads in one city. He slept in them both. He kept his mother’s file at the Vivian Apartments. He kept his case file at the Elm Hotel. He kept hot-plate chow and shaving gear at both locations.
Crutch split to the Elm. The graph drew him first thing. He’d Scotch-taped masking paper up at eye level. He doodled on it. He drew lines and arrows and wrote daily progress and summary reports.
He got out his grease pen and found a fresh spot. He wrote “Joan” and circled it. He drew some arrows with black feathers and sharp little points, leading to:
“Farlan Brown leads going nowhere to (8/10/68) date. Brown meet at Golden Cavern (8/23/68). F.T. to wire suite.”
“Gretchen Farr/Celia Reyes: all records checks negative to (8/10/68) date.”
“ ‘Grapevine,’ Tommy’ amp; ‘plant’: what do they mean?”
“Tattoo ID, wall markings amp; powder on body parts: no make as of this (8/10/68) date.”
“Bootleg phone #: phone co. trace in progress.”
Crutch scanned the graph. Crutch drew arrows pointing to “Joan.” Crutch circled the name with big question marks.
He flopped on the bed. He studied the photo-lab pix. A single mug-shot strip. One full-face shot, two profiles. Joan Rosen Klein wearing a neck board.
The board numbers supplied a date: 7/12/63. He knew the booking-number prefix. It meant “detained for suspicion.” That probably meant a street roust or wrong-place-at-wrong-time grief. Joan was a Commie and a two-time robbery suspect-she’d attract heat.
She was thirty-six then. She looked the same now. She wore glasses. She smiled into flashbulb glare. That near-black hair with the gray streaks. That wide and harsh jawline. That composed set to her face.
Crutch shut his eyes, opened his eyes and studied the pictures again. He saw gray streaks that he’d missed the first bunch of times.
The bed was covered with library books. He’d checked them out post-Miami. They covered one topic: Cuba.
He kept in touch with Jean-Philippe Mesplede. The Frogman was his friend now. They talked long-distance, L.A. to Miami. The Frogman liked him. The Frogman thought he was a punk kid in over his head and refused to take his case seriously. Fuck him on that-let him think it. The Frogman thought it was just a thieving-girlfriend caper. Crutch held back the wild-ass dimensions.
Wayne Tedrow Jr. wanted Donald Linscott Crutchfield dead, but Jean-Philippe Mesplede relented. The Frogman called Wayne Junior “unstable and politically suspect.” Wayne Junior sustained right-wing alliances and suppressed his left-wing tendencies. Froggy could not commit murder for such a compromised man.
So Crutch got to live and work his case and magnetize all his magical shit.
Their phone calls were all Cuba. A gorgeous island. A tourist mecca. A paradise raped by the Reds. Jack Kennedy betrayed the Bay of Pigs invasion. LBJ appeased Castro. The next prez would ditto his rat-fink policies. The Frogman raged to ravage Reds and reclaim the Caribbean cornucopia. White sands. Swank casinos “nationalized” and turned to Third World troughs. Brown women in pink bikinis.
Crutch skimmed library books and ripped out key photos. Dig it: Fulgencio Batista draped all over Jane Russell. Dig it: the roof pool at the Capri. Dig it: peons pulling fat cats in rickshaws.
He taped the pix to the wall. He ripped out a pic of Fidel Castro fomenting. The Frogman called Castro “The Beard.” His facial hair harbored nests of Red lice.
Crutch taped the Castro pic to the wall and tossed his pocketknife at it. He nailed The Beard four times out of six. The picture started to shred.
The phone rang. Crutch jugged the receiver and caught it. He said, “Hola? Quк tal?” The caller went, “Huh?”
The knife fell off the wall. Fidel was now mucho tattered. The caller said, “It’s Larry from P.C. Bell. Buzz Duber said I should call you. I got a trace on that bootleg number.”
Crutch grabbed his scratch pad. “Shoot.”
“It’s a house on Carmina Perdido in Santa Barbara. The renter’s name is Sam Flood. That’s all I’ve got.”
It was plenty. “Sam Flood” was Sam Giancana’s squarejohn name. Clyde told him that. Sam G. called Gretchen/Celia at Bev’s Switchboard.
Larry blathered-Hey, fool, where’s my bread? Crutch hung up and wrote “Bootleg #/Giancana” on his wall graph.
The words vibrated. Crutch drew little question marks around them. He got the urge to draw Joan. He taped her mug-shot strip to the graph paper and cut loose with paper and pen.
He got her hardness and her softness in alternating portraits. He never got the full her in one take. He gave her different hairdos. He de-swirled and re-swirled the lovely gray streaks every time.
(Las Vegas, 8/19/68)
The service was brief. The minister rushed. Storm clouds meant rain any second. The eulogy featured heaven-golf course metaphors.
Janice Hartnett Lukens Tedrow: 1921-1968.
Carlos Marcello and Dwight Holly attended. Farlan Brown was there. Dracula sent five grand in flowers. Half the caddy crews from the Dunes and the Sands showed up.
Wayne stood at the back. The dry air started seeping. The cemetery was segregated. A road bisected the white and Negro sections. White diggers worked the white side. Negro diggers worked the Negro side. The Tedrow-service diggers were off-duty blackjack dealers. They wore red vests, bow ties and eyeshades. The rain threat made them fidget.
The heaven-golf course shtick was protracted. Wayne looked across the road. A large service was beginning. Limousines, a hearse, a flatbed truck filled with roses. Scores of black people in black.
Wayne walked over. The people paid him no-nevermind. He saw a sign affixed to an easel. It stated the date and the name of the decedent: the Reverend Cedric D. Hazzard.
The hearse was parked nearby. Four men removed a casket. A minister walked up and opened the passenger door. A Negro woman got out. The minister fawned over her. She put him off with small smiles and gestures.
She wore a black crepe dress, a pillbox hat and no veil. She glanced at the road and saw Wayne. They shared a look for one second.
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1ST BALLOT NOD FOR HUMPHREY PREDICTED
”EXPECT HIPPIE TROUBLE AT CONVENTION,” TOP CHICAGO COP TELLS ROTARY
”HIPPIES,” “YIPPIES,” “SCHMIPPIES”: BEAT COPS SAY THEY’RE PREPARED
GREAT GOLFER, GREAT LADY
Janice Tedrow was laid to rest at Wisteria Cemetery Monday morning. The flags at every country club in Las Vegas were lowered to half-staff in honor of the woman who was the Thunderbird ladies’ club champion 9 times, the Sands ladies’ club champion 6 times, the Riviera ladies’ club champion 14 times and the winner of the Clark County Polio Drive Scramble every year from 1954 on.
“Janice Tedrow played near-scratch golf even as she suffered from terminal cancer,” her physician, Dr. Steve Mandel, said. “That’s talent and willpower.” And when the mourning ranks at her funeral service swelled to the seams with local caddies, you know that they came because the woman was a true champion with the common touch.
Janice Lukens hailed from small-town Indiana. She married investor/real estate entrepreneur Wayne Tedrow in 1947 and soon made her way to the Queen City of the Desert, where she served on numerous charitable committees and played the meanest woman’s golf game the state of Nevada has ever seen. 1968 has been a tragic year for the Tedrow clan. Wayne Tedrow died of a heart attack in June, and now the 46-year-old Janice’s untimely death.
“God works in mysterious ways,” the Reverend G. Davis Kaltenborn told this reporter after the funeral service. “That’s why I chose golf as the central theme of my tribute. Life is an unpredictable trek toward an uncertain conclusion. I shared this insight with Mrs. Tedrow’s stepson after the service, and he told me he understood that very well.”
R.I.P., Janice. The starter at the Dunes told me you got six birdies the very last time you played golf on this earth. I see lots of sub-par rounds up there in the clouds for you, as well.
MURDER-SUICIDE SHOCKS NEGRO COMMUNITY
Sylvester “Pappy” Dawkins was 48 years old, a two-time convicted burglar and a reputed drug addict. The Reverend Cedric D. Hazzard was 52 years old and was the pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in North Las Vegas. A stalwart of the Negro community in the Queen City of the Desert, he was as respected as Pappy Dawkins was disdained.
Yet the two men were friends of sorts. They would often meet at Dawkins’ unkempt little house in West Las Vegas and talk until the wee hours about all manner of things. Now, in its grief, Las Vegas Negroes are wondering what the topic of conversation was right before it all went so terribly wrong on the night of August 10.
“We don’t really know what precipitated this horrible tragedy,” Lieutenant Byron Fritsch of the Las Vegas Police Department told reporters. “We only know that Pappy shot the Reverend Hazzard and then turned the gun on himself.”
Horrible tragedy indeed. For many members of the Reverend Hazzard’s congregation have movingly described their late pastor’s diligent efforts to bring the word of God to Pappy Dawkins and to help him restore his moral equilibrium. “Ced was just that kind of a guy,” Kenneth S. Wilson, a deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church, said. “Ask anyone who knew him.”
“My late husband was a brave and true man who led with his heart,” the Reverend Hazzard’s widow, Mary Beth, said. “He was committed to goodness and social justice.” Mrs. Hazzard, 44, is the lead steward for the Las Vegas Hotel Workers’ Union, and has spearheaded many charitable drives in the local Negro community. She is doubly bereft now. In December of 1963, her son Reginald, then 19, vanished and was never seen again. Reginald was a former straight-A student at Seminole High School and had won science-fair awards in chemistry. The trials of Job have visited themselves upon Mrs. Hazzard, but she remains optimistic. “Yes, my son is long missing and my husband is dead,” she said. “I considered Cedric’s mission to reform Pappy Dawkins to be rash and imprudent, however heartfelt, but he died in the act of dispensing compassion. I revere him for that. As for me, no, I will not succumb to defeat or despair. I have duties to discharge, and I will not be deterred.”
The Reverend Hazzard’s funeral drew over 300 mourners. An estimated $10,000 in floral tributes was received at Wisteria Cemetery. Mrs. Hazzard and members of the New Bethel congregation distributed them to patients at local hospitals.
The Reverend Cedric Douglass Hazzard: 1916-1968. Rest in peace.
HUGHES EYES STARDUST
WILL ANTI-TRUST LAWS THWART THE KING O’ THE STRIP?
BILLIONNAIRE RECLUSE TO CLARK COUNTY: “I WANT TO BUY
HUGHES SEEKS TO CONTINUE HOTEL-BUYING SPREE
Continue 24-hour surveillance of location, per all precedingly filed directives.
Thomas T. Wiltsie, Agent-in-Charge.
C.D., B.D., D.C.,
I got almost nil from yesterday’s wire at the Cavern. I’ll be frank: it was nothing but rich Mormons amp; hookers 8e chitchat about the Dem. conv. in Chicago. Farlan Brown was talking up his plans to be there (the Hughes org. is covering their pol. bets by sucking up to the Humphrey org). Nothing pert, to Dr. Hiltz amp; G Farr was discussed. I picked up a 1-way partial of Fred Otash talking on phone about a 8/30/68 meet with Wayne Tedrow amp; “perhaps others,” but that was it. All in all, a bust. D.C. will be in Chi. for conv., so he can follow up there. The bug is now deactivated, but is still in place. I’ll pull it when I get a shot at the suite vacated.
JEH: Good morning, Dwight.
DH: Good morning, Sir.
JEH: It’s been too long.
DH: I agree, Sir.
JEH: Wayne Tedrow Jr. Give me the upshot of his latest Congolese misadventure.
DH: It’s covered, Sir. The coroner’s inquest ruled homicide-suicide, and the papers have reported it as such.
JEH: I’m gratified. And the Grapevine Tavern? Is it still a Pandora’s box of anti-Bureau chatter?
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: And ATF? Are they still perching?
DH: For now, Sir.
JEH: They cannot perch forever.
DH: I’m aware of that, Sir.
JEH: Let’s discuss
DH: I’ve secured a copy of Fred Hiltz’s subscriber lists. I’m looking through them for leads on possible infiltrators.
JEH: And you paid him out of the cold funds I supplied you with to rescue Junior.
DH: Yes, Sir. Ten thousand cold and a pound of cocaine.
JEH: His poor sinuses. I shudder to think.
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: And you’re still looking for an informant? Preferably a woman?
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: And informant number 4361 is pondering referrals?
DH: She is, Sir.
JEH: Aaah, Dwight. Your wistful inflection on the word she speaks puerile volumes.
DH: Some things can’t be disguised, Sir.
JEH: The Klansman’s son and the Quaker pacifist. God himself must marvel at your pillow talk.
DH: It’s lively, Sir.
JEH: Am I ever discussed?
DH: Contentiously, Sir.
JEH: Does it perturb you that she might record your dubious liaison for posterity? Her curriculum vitae lists her as a daily journal keeper. She may well have jotted notes on her suppression-minded lover.
DH: I’ve black-bagged her, Sir. Her notes to date have been laudatory.
JEH: And rightly so, I’m sure.
DH: Thank you, Sir.
JEH: I’m slipping, Dwight. I know it, and I know that you know it. I am a boxer who has been in the ring for a very long time, but I remain dangerous because of and not in spite of it.
DH: I understand that fully, Sir.
JEH: Good day, Dwight.
DH: Good day, Sir.
August 25, 1968
I should be in Chicago. What’s-His-Name is passing through en route to Philadelphia and will be calling me with reports. It’s going to be bad; everyone knows it; everyone knows that Nixon v. Humphrey is no choice at all and that the war will continue regardless of the outcome in November. This entry and any other entries I may write during the convention will be ascribed here in my second journal, the one I hide at school and that Dwight must never see. It’s the names I might record. Mr. Hoover (and Dwight by extension) is file-happy and thinks that everyone in the movement knows everyone else and has thus colluded across a wide spectrum of political activity. Of course, that’s not true. Love affairs-usually brief and passionate and doomed by factional issues-may occur that pervasively, but not prosecutable political conspiracy. Paranoia defines the Right (although Dwight tends to eschew it and occasionally critiques it with sardonic humor) and the Left as well. Everyone knows everyone else and suspects everyone else and needs everyone else as well. Political agendas and personal agendas shift along those lines, which certainly defines the inimical worldviews, collusive agendas and deep comradeship of Dwight and me.
God, Dwight Chalfont Holly and “comrade” in a single sentence!
Chicago is going to be bad. Danny T. and Sid F. have called with advance news. They are Marxist Nixonites in their determination to fuck up Hubert Humphrey and elect the man who will instill greater repression and provide a clearer shot at revolution at some ambiguously perceived later point. Of course, lives will be shattered and lost in the process and only utilitarians like me (and dare I say it, D.H.) understand that purely destructive folly. Dwight can talk me into almost anything if he can convince me that it will divert destruction and death in the moment. Chicago feels like a widely willed moment of sincere outrage and horrible hatred that is politically and spiritually mandated beyond all utilitarian considerations, which is what scares me.
The convention-hall fence is topped with barbed wire and 5,000 riot troops have been flown in, with 5,000 more on call. W.H.N. (who secretly and ghoulishly loves weaponry) said that Maury W. saw boxes of rocket launchers being unloaded at O’Hare. There’s a taxi-cab strike in progress; a large bus drivers’ local stands ready to strike; the IBEW began striking on May 8 and thus telephone service within the city and environs is a complete mess. W.H.N. predicts a radical or radical-aligned (largely fool mischief-makers of the counterculture and fatuous Left) presence of 100,000 people. It is going to be bad because it’s overdue to be bad and the statement needs to be made at a horrible and horribly attention-getting cost, which makes the whole thing all the more complexly deplorable to me.
So I will pray for peace and feel Eleanora grow within me and make love with Dwight, who knows many of the things I do but cannot confront them because the moment of moral explication would drive him insane.
As always, I will marvel in the aftermath of my prayers and ponder how much or how little quantifiable good our odd comrade-ship of conflicting ideology gives to the world. Mutual benefit. It sounds viciously capitalistic, but it is wholly egalitarian within that compromised context.
Dwight needs an informant to work the BTA and MMLF. He’s got me half-convinced that both groups are viciously self-serving, ideologically unsound and destructive. Should I introduce him to Joan?
DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION SET TO CONVENE
PROTEST TROUBLE LOOMS IN WINDY CITY
TROOPS ARRIVE IN CHITOWN
TENSION SIMMERS AS PROTEST YOUTH MOBILIZES
Grapevine investigation to terminate 9/1/68. Discontinue all surveillance on that date. The U.S. attorney has deemed insufficient grounds to prosecute.
Thomas T. Wiltsie, Agent-in-Charge
(Los Angeles, 8/25/68)
Hate-mail subscribers, hate-meeting attendees, hate-cartoon devotees.
Rap-sheet lists, DMV lists, subversive-group lists.
The hate lit itself. Sample copies. All hate-the-white-man shit. Negro mailees cross-referenced back to all the fucking lists.
Dwight worked in the drop-front. He built paper piles from Dr. Fred’s stash and carbons from LAPD and the California DMV. Hate, hate, hate. Big paper piles-the Himalayas of Hate.
He’d been at it since his Vegas jaunt. He started with municipal PD intelligence files. He looked for male Negro cops with infiltration experience. He got no names. He went back to the subscriber lists then. He secured paper and culled paper and built shelves to rein paper in. It was a Negro name hunt. Find a male Negro hate bunny. Recruit him, coerce him, or entrap him-and teach him how to re-hate.
The glut of names was engulfing. The hate lit and hate pix supplied yuks. White men had small dicks, black men had big dicks, the dick-size diaspora defined black history. Jew doctors spread sickle-cell anemia. Audrey Hepburn had Jim Brown’s black baby. Lawrence Welk was really black. Count Basic was really white. John Glenn was the world’s first nigger astronaut.
Dwight name-hunted. A to Z and back again. Pebble-in-an-avalanche dreck. U, V, W, X, Y, Z and back to A.
Arthur Atkinson was a black Nazi. Willis Barrett subscribed to Honky Hunter magazine. Ricky Tom Belforth subscribed to Beg for It Black: White Wenches Wail for Real Men! Bistrip, Blair, Blake, Bledsoe-stop, what’s this?
Marshall E. Bowen/5652 South Denker, Los Angeles. Anti-Jew hate-tract subscriber, ‘65-’66.
The name hit familiar. Dwight hit the DMV lists and flipped to the fi’s. There: Marshall Edward Bowen/male Negro/5'11", 175, DOB 5/18/44. CDL# 08466. Former address: 8418 South Budlong. DMV file note: background check for admittance to the LAPD Academy, 3/11/67. Current address, bingo: 5652 South Denker again.
Anomaly. Incongruity. Anti-white hate-tract subscriber, potential L.A. cop.
Yes, and the name re-hit familiar.
Dwight hit the subversive-group list. Bingo #2: There’s Marshall E. Bowen again.
At Black Muslim meetings. At Black Snake Bund powwows. Oooooh, Baaaaad Brother!
Dwight called LAPD. He knew a guy in the Personnel Office. The guy kicked loose confidential stats on the QT. Dwight got him on the line and laid out Marshall Bowen. He applied to the Department in 3/67. Did he get on?
The guy said he’d check. Dwight held the line for six minutes. The guy came back on, all excited. Bingo #3: Marshall E. Bowen made it on LAPD.
Academy graduate, 6/67. Assigned to Wilshire Patrol. Still at Wilshire. Class-A fitness reports.
Marshall, you baaad.
You subscribed to hate lit. Fou went to Commie meetings. Brother, this be baaad behavior. They could kick yo black ass off LAPD.
Your background checkers fucked up and missed your hate history. Left-wing honky-haters are summarily excluded from LAPD.
You baaaaaaad. You exploitable, coercible and lose-yo-jobable. Yo black ass belongs to me.
Dwight called Freddy Otash in Vegas. Freddy was ex-LAPD. Freddy knew his LAPD shit.
The phone rang nine times. Otash picked up, brusque. “Who’s this?”
“It’s Dwight, Freddy.”
Otash said, “Oh, shit. Don’t tell me. The Grapevine.”
Dwight laughed. “ATF’s pulling out on the first. I think we’ll have to go in then.”
“And we’re meeting with Wayne on the thirtieth?”
“Right, and I think you and I should get together before then.”
Otash sighed. “Is Wayne ready for this?”
Dwight said, “I think so.”
“Jesus, Wayne Junior. You can’t count him in, you should never count him out.”
Dwight lit a cigarette. “I had a question about LAPD.”
“The background-check process. I’m looking at a colored kid named Marshall Bowen. He went to Commie meetings and got on LAPD last year. Tell me how that Commie shit could fall between the cracks.”
Otash yawned. “I know the Bowen kid. He was a plant for Clyde Duber. Clyde sheep-dipped him and put him in with some Red groups.”
Dwight said, “Freddy, you’re a white man.”
Otash said, “No, I’m not. I’m a fucking Lebanese.”
Marshall Bowen, you baaaaaad.
Clyde pointed to his wall frieze. Dwight tracked the pictures. They showcased that L.A. armored-car job. Burned bodies, inked bills, emeralds. A big cop mauling two Negroes.
Dwight sneezed. Clyde’s office was sub-polar. The easy chair induced pangs for sleep.
Clyde said, “That case. It’s a hobby of mine, and it’s how I met Marsh.”
“I know a little about it. Jack Leahy ran the Bureau’s end for ten seconds.”
“Right. It’s still unsolved, and ink-stained bills have been turning up in the ghetto ever since. Sometimes LAPD leans on the people passing the bills, just to keep their hand in. That’s what happened with Marsh. He innocently passes a double saw, and, oops, there’s Scotty Bennett.”
Dwight yawned. His ass was dragging. The goddamn chair was a sleep cloud.
“Don’t stop there.”
Clyde blew smoke rings. “So Scotty shagged Marsh and leaned on him, and Scotty B. leaning on you is a very unpretty sight. Marsh called a friend of his, who called me. I pulled Marsh out of the shit with Scotty, and I turned him out as an infiltrator. I put him into a half-dozen cockamamie pinko groups and colored groups, and Marsh was a damn good mole. He loves action, so he applies to LAPD, and he gets on over Scotty’s protests.”
Dwight yawned. “Tell me about his politics. He can’t be a lefty or a hate-honky type, or LAPD wouldn’t have taken him.”
Clyde chained cigarettes. “What politics? He’s a player. He lives for the game, and it’s all a game, and the only fuckers who don’t know It’s a game are these rich right-wing nuts who pay me to dip the moles. It’s a gold mine. I’m pulling in seventy-five G’s a year off Fred Hiltz and Charlie Toron.”
Dwight rubbed his eyes. “I just did some biz with Dr. Fred.”
“My guy Don Crutchfield’s tracking some Mormon hump for him in Chicago now.”
“Right-wing Mormon snatch hound who was dipping it to some snatch Fred was dipping it to. Jesus, don’t ask. It’s been going on all summer, and I’m thirty-two grand up on it alone.”
Dwight picked up the desk phone. Clyde nodded go ahead. Dwight called his LAPD Personnel guy. The guy still had Marsh Bowen’s file out. Dwight asked for his current duty schedule. The guy said Bowen was in Chicago, visiting his sick dad.
Clyde blew touch-the-sky smoke rings. Dwight put the phone down.
“He’s in Chicago, and I can’t get away. Can you have your guy Crutchfield put a spot tail on him? I want to get a handle on him before I make an approach.”
“Sure, but I wouldn’t mind knowing what all this is about.”
“Mr. Hoover wants to stir up some shit with the niggers.”
They ate dinner by the TV set. Pre-convention coverage covered the dial. It was a ghoul show. Mayor Daley looked cosmically pissed. Hubert Humphrey looked preemptively doomed. The camera cut to longhaired kids outside the hall. They looked malevolent. They catcalled flanks of riot cops. The cops looked like gargoyles perched.
Karen watched, all intent. Dwight picked at his food. Dina drew in a coloring book. She always drew choppers and police cars. It drove Karen batshit.
The footage droned. The ghoul chants sounded like Mixmasters on the fritz. The camera panned over boocoo Negroes. One woman wolfed french fries.
Wayne was in Tahoe, en route to Chicago. He was Mr. Trickster. Dracula and Farlan Brown were mischief-minded elves. Mr. Trickster was a trouper. The show must go on. He’d surmount his latest coon snafu and perform.
The footage droned. Dina colored in a smiling dog and drew fangs on him. Karen squeezed his knee and tried not to smoke.
A fat Negro eulogized Dr. King. The confab erupted. The lights went down for a slide show. King’s picture hit the screen. Dwight shut his eyes. His pulse raced. He took some deep breaths and tried to rewire. Karen leaned into him.
“You’ve been anxious lately.”
“My sleep’s in the shitter.”
“When you’re anxious, I’m anxious.”
Dwight opened his eyes. “Don’t be, all right?”
Karen smiled. “Tell me how I accomplish that.”
Dwight hit the remote-control button. The TV bipped off. Dina didn’t notice it. Karen ran her hand up his leg.
“I should be in Chicago.”
“I feel like blowing up some fascist statues.”
“Don’t let me stop you.”
“I may have an informant for you. There’s this woman named Joan.”
The Loop was hot. A choppy lake breeze goosed the thermometer. The cops wore helmets and short-sleeved shirts. They packed nightsticks and saps. The hippies wore deface-the-flag garb. They packed Coke bottles and rocks.
Potential fracas. Both groups spoiled for it. The night heat said GO- you know you want this.
Crutch watched. He clutched his grocery bag and stood out of range. His crew cut and square threads camouflaged him. The longhairs would ignore him. The fuzz would find him simpatico.
Shit fuck. Miami to this.
Face-off. The cops moved up two inches. The hippies moved up three. The gap shrank and got claustrophobic.
Crutch watched. Dexedrine and coffee had him psychedelicized. He’d been up thirty-six hours. He’d been running the listening post at the Ambassador East. Farlan Brown was hosting a party suite next door. Booze, girls and political rah-rah. Brown fucked the girls and greased the delegates. Brown promised them Hughes Air charters. Brown pressed them for details on Humphrey’s campaign travel, so Wayne Tedrow and company could fuck Hubert up.
The cops moved two inches. The hippies moved three. The gap shrank. The hate intensified.
Crutch watched. The face-off got him antsy. Clyde overbooked him. He had the listening-post gig and an adjunct job: tail this L.A. cop in town. Buzz was on that gig now.
The cops moved up. The hippies moved up. A fat freak yelled, “Pig!” The cops charged. The hippies faltered. A frizzy-haired guy chucked a rock. It bounced off a skinny cop’s helmet. The cops hit the line, nightsticks first. The hippies had no turnaround or hurling range. Mow-down: the cops trampled and kicked and nightstick-knocked heads on the pavement.
A car pulled up to the fracas. Something flared red. Two spades lobbed a flaming-dogshit bomb at the cops. It fell short. The bag broke and dung-scorched some trample-assed kids. The spades did that clenched-fist thing and peeled out.
Crutch ran back to the hotel and bopped to the listening post. He had a southbound view of car fires and flame glow off the lake. The bug-tap console faced the north wall. He heard fuck-suck sounds through the speakers. He put on headphones. He heard the fuck-suck sounds louder. This part of the Dr. Fred job was pure bullshit.
It ran up Clyde Duber’s time card. It yielded ziltch on Gretchen/Celia and Joan Rosen Klein. Clyde was juking that time card. Clyde told him not to brace Farlan Brown in person. All this jive was tangential to the women.
It was 1:00 a.m. Crutch noshed two cupcakes to downgrade his speed jolt. He placed Joan’s mug-shot strip on the console. He kept looking at Joan and seeing new things.
Ms case was dead-stalled. Sam Giancana or someone close called Gretchen/Celia. That was a big lead and a dead-staller. You don’t brace a heavy like Sam G.
He B amp;E’d Arnie Moffett’s realty office on his way to the airport. He found no further notes on Gretchen/Celia. He checked LAPD and Sheriff’s missing person files for notes on tattooed Latin chicks. He got zero there. He ran Joan Rosen Klein’s name and stats by cop contacts nationwide. Fourteen PDs, fourteen cops. Robbery-unit cops, subversive-squad cops, intelligence-squad cops. Nobody knew shit per Red Joan.
She might have a Fed file. That approach was dicey. He’d have to tap Clyde to tap his Fed contacts. Joan was all his for now. He held the lead as his exclusive.
The fuck-suck noise died out. Pay me, pay me noise replaced it. Crutch skimmed a library book. It was all about Cuba. Rebel raids, burning cane fields, the Bay of Pigs rout. He kept reading books. He kept calling the Frogman long-distance. Mesplede was still looking for exile turncoats Fuentes and Arredondo. They betrayed le sacrй la Causa. They were heist men. They might be clouting department stores in Des Moines or Duluth. The Frogman was his no-shit mentor. The Frogman worked with Wayne Tedrow, but stayed hinky on him. Froggy and Wayne were time-clocking for Count Dracula now. Their mandate: tricksterize at the convention and sodomize Hubert Humphrey’s fall campaign.
Freddy Turentine filed a report on the Golden Cavern bug op. It was a bust-just whores and Mormons. But, Fred T. heard Fred O. mention an 8/30 meet with Wayne Tedrow and “perhaps others.” That could be good. Wayne might say something or provide a lead on Dracula’s lair. One photo/one million bucks-Life magazine’s standing offer. The Frogman said he might request hot scoop on Wayne. Crutch said he’d provide it. Brainstorm: call Fred T. and tell him to keep the bug-tap gear in place.
The phone rang next door. Crutch switched to the tap-feed headphones. Static and voice garbles fuzzed up the line. He jiggled switches and got Farlan Brown.
“… Wayne, hi. Jesus, what time is it? I haven’t opened the curtains since Coolidge was in office.”
Wayne Tedrow: “It’s 1:20.”
Brown: “A.m. or p.m.?”
Tedrow: “Morning. I’m at O’Hare now. I’m waiting for that man I told you about. He’s flying in from Sioux Falls.”
Brown: “A French mercenary and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That’s a new one on me.”
Tedrow: “He’s trying to locate some long-lost chums.”
Brown: “He won’t find them in Chicago. All we’ve got here is class warfare.”
Tedrow: “The airport’s a mess. It’s nothing but hopped-up kids and reporters. It’s like one big staging ground.”
Brown: “Hubert’s fucked. Dick’s going to make hay out of this one.”
Buzz walked into the suite. Crutch waved to him.
Tedrow: “We’ll need to get some sleep. We’ll see you in five or six hours.”
Brown said something. Static ditzed the line. Crutch dumped the headphones.
Buzz said, “Bowen’s from hunger. He doesn’t drink or chase pussy. He may be the world’s most uptight jungle bunny. He goes to fucking museums and cheese shops.”
Crutch snarfed a cupcake. “I’ll take over now.”
“Take over what? It’s 1:30 a.m. Bowen’s home with daddy, and the whole fucking city’s going nuts.”
“You’re always restless.”
Crutch snarfed cupcake #4. “I’ll be back in five or six hours.”
Buzz checked his notebook. “This fucker is uptight. 11:16 p.m. He bypasses two rib joints and a topless bar called the Honey Bunny. Where does he go? To Mr. Sid’s All-Nite World of Books.”
Crutch yukked. Buzz dropped his head on his chest and went ZZZ-ZZZ-ZZZ. Something exploded outside. Crutch looked out the window and saw a cop car ablaze.
Late-night Chi-town hopped. Longhair legions roved. That lake breeze had their red flags swirling. Cops roved in flanking movements. It all looked synchronized. Mounted cops popped out of alleys. Their horses shit on the sidewalk. People threw things out of windows. Fruit and bric-a-brac rained down. It always missed the cops and the hippies. It felt like a general statement. You couldn’t tell who the targets were.
Crutch rent-a-carred through it. The traffic was sub-snail-paced. Fender benders abounded. Marshall Bowen’s daddy lived at 59th and Stony Island. It was middle-class colored-two-story houses up close to the street.
Clock in-2:41 a.m.
Crutch parked outside the house. One upstairs light was on. He put his Joan pix up on the dashboard and squinted at them.
He waited. He got a little squirrelly. His brain said Go while his body said Sleep. Marshall Bowen stepped out the door at 3:09.
He walked to the corner and hit a main drag. Crutch cut him ten seconds’ slack. He U-turned the car and made the intersection. Bowen was three storefronts down on the left.
Crutch idled the car and watched. Foot traffic was brisk. Bowen poked his head in cocktail-lounge doors and kept walking. Some cops were out, smoking and lounging. Some longhairs turned the far corner and saw them. Crutch got a good view of it.
Bowen looked in windows and dawdle-strolled. A longhair held up a Coke bottle. A longhair stuffed a rag into it and lit it. All the longhairs tripped on the flame. A longhair hurled the bottle straight at the fuzz.
It broke short of them. The explosion was a dud. The longhairs yelled “Off the Pigs!” jive and ran away, laughing. Marshall Bowen turned around-Hey, now, what’s this?
The cops charged him. He put his hands up-no, please. The cops hit him and pummeled him in one big blur.
Wayne stood in Farlan Brown’s bathroom. Mirrored walls threw his own image back. He looked all wrong. You’re too old, too thin, too trashed.
He grabbed a sink cup. He mixed airline scotch with opium chunks and a crumbled Valium. He stirred it with a toothbrush end and quick-guzzled it.
The effect hit him mid-body and worked its way up to his head. The required tingle occurred. He braced himself on the sink ledge and checked the mirrors. The required reversal occurred.
He walked into the living room. Drac’s elves were all there. Head count: Brown and Mesplede. Six strongarm guys for Sam Giancana and eight off-duty cops. On the floor, dead center: a big steamer trunk full of hurt.
The goons and cops sat mingled. Brown and Mesplede stood behind the wet bar. They sipped breakfast Bloody Marys topped by celery sticks. Mesplede had passed out French cigarettes. The whole suite was smoke-swirled.
Brown nodded-your show, Wayne.
“Amphetamines, hallucinogens and hashish. Get it to the kids and make sure there’s no reporters around when you do it. There’s some plant evidence. You’ve got subversive literature and bomb-making diagrams. There’s at least fifty Class-A felony pops in that trunk, every kid you pop will roll over on two dozen more, and you’ll all get back at the Democrats for having their show in your city.”
A few cops clapped. A few goons whistled. A cop passed Mesplede a file and mouthed the words “They’re here.” An obese goon cracked his knuckles.
Brown slapped his knees. Mesplede waved his celery stick.
Chemistry set-Wayne mixed a bedside cocktail. Nembutal and Jack Daniel’s-a pro chemist’s assuredly safe dose.
It went down warm and sat there. He stretched out to wait for the curtain. It was his sixteenth calculated dosage since West Las Vegas.
He’d stop soon. The compounds he cooked at Lake Tahoe would last him through next week. He was tapering his sleep jaunts off now. Tahoe topped out at twenty hours-plus. He kept up with Carlos and the Hughes group by scrambler phone. I’m recuperating in the woods. I’ve got a bum disk.
They bought it. They attributed his missing beats to illness. Dwight sealed the output on the killings. Word would seep over time. Two more dead shines-no one would care.
The curtain started spreading up. He saw the black woman dressed in black as the light slipped.
(Las Vegas, 8/26/68)
Freddy O. described the Grapevine gestalt.
It was a shitkicker joint with a north-woods ambience suffused with far-Right detail. Glowing Hamm’s beer signs. Polyester-flocked fir trees. Beaver pix taped above the urinals. Gun mags stacked everywhere. Racist-cartoon napkins-Sambo, stay out.
Dwight and Freddy floated in the Golden Cavern pool. The water was fjord-cold. They had the deep end to themselves. Freddy described the loose-talk gestalt.
It emanated from six lowlifes: Brundage, Kling, DeJohn, Currie, Pierce, Luce. They were stickup guys and pill pushers prone to right-wing hijinx. They were stone juicers and dope fiends. They stuck to themselves. They closed the Grapevine every night and stayed after hours to talk shit. They had keys to the joint. The proprietors trusted them to leave cash for their booze and lock up when they left. They were not ATF surveillance targets. That was good. ATF would not investigate their mass homicide.
A waiter brought Freddy a Cuba Libre and Dwight an iced tea. They floated and talked. Freddy said it’s a three-man job. Dwight said no, four. Wayne knows a French-Corsican merc. The guy sounds perfect. Let’s bring him in.
Freddy agreed. A zaftig blonde slinked by and provided diversion. Dwight slathered on more suntan oil. They discussed the meet on the thirtieth. We’ll have Wayne and the merc then. We’ll finalize.
Dwight said, “It has to be self-contained. Those six fools and nobody else. It’s late, they’re there alone, they’re talking crazy political woo-woo and it all explodes.”
Freddy said, “I agree. St. Louis PD comes in, works the crime scene, does the tests and says, That’s that.’ All the numbers match.”
Dwight said, “We’ll have to fire audibly. We want a barrage of overlapping shots to be heard and noted. We can’t use silencers, because they’ll leave tube fragments on the spent rounds.”
Freddy said, “I agree. They all carry pieces routinely, but we won’t have time to disarm them and kill them with their own guns. We’ll need to bring in weapons with a traceable St. Louis origin.”
Dwight said, “I agree, and that’s your job. You’re the St. Louis guy on this, so you 459 a few gun stores or pawnshops and steal some pieces the investigators can trace back. And revolvers, Freddy. I don’t want any automatics jamming up on us.”
Freddy sipped his Cuba Libre. “I agree. We pop them, we plant the guns they shot each other with, we pull their existing guns and move the bodies around to match the blood spill. That part of it is all crystal clear.”
Dwight sipped iced tea. “We’re in and out in under four minutes. You said they always blast the jukebox, right?”
“Right. The world’s worst Okie music, and loud.”
“That’s good. It’s partial cover on the shots, and the neighbors are used to racket at all hours. We goose the volume on our way out, which ups the chance that some local will stiff a noise-complaint call and some doofus patrol cops will respond and find the bodies.”
Freddy hovered under the diving board. “We need one more key detail.”
Dwight said, “Cocaine. They scored some pure shit and went nuts behind it. We leave some lines on the counter. We get Wayne to liquefy a portion of it. We get some small-gauge insulin needles and stryinges and boot them full of coke postmortem. We can inject them between their toes, and the marks will be too small to be noted at autopsy.”
Freddy said, “It’s tight and localized. It’s a categorizable white-trash multiple homicide for all fucking time, and it’s ‘case closed’ in twelve hours tops.”
Dwight nodded. “We’ll make it convincing. And don’t worry about Wayne, he’s solid.”
Freddy laughed. “We’re worried about him, but he’s the stone killer.”
Dwight laughed. “We’re just lucky the dipshits are white.”
A waiter walked a blinking phone up. Freddy got out of the pool and futzed with the cord and receiver. Dwight shut his eyes and tuned out the sun.
Freddy said, “It’s for you. Your guy Bowen’s in custody in Chicago.”
The Frogman slipped Crutch a hash brownie. Their driver was an on-duty cop. The riot-zone Chicago tour boded all-time blast.
It was Mesplede’s idea. He ran into Crutch in the lobby. Crutch was up for it. Bowen was in jail. Buzz was working the listening post. Observe History, sure.
Mesplede told him to steer clear of Wayne Tedrow-”You should be dead, mon ami.” Crutch agreed. Mesplede reasserted: “I may ask you for bug-tap dirt on Wayne someday.” Crutch re-agreed. History kept finding him: Miami, now this.
The red-flag boys. The no-bra girls. The cops with stubbed cigars. The nymph chicks tossing bouquets at National Guardsmen.
The cop driver swigged Old Crow. His cruiser was air-conditioned. They got the picture show devoid of night heat.
The street brawls. The hurled rock/nightstick action. The longhaired kids all bloodied. The kid minus one eye. The kid holding his teeth.
Mesplede said, “I will concede the war is unpopular. I will concede its protracted nature, but I will never concede its utter necessity.”
Crutch looked out the window. A hippie boy flipped him off. A hippie girl flashed her tits.
Mesplede said, “Donald, do you believe in a free Cuba?”
“Yeah, Boss. I do.”
“Do you believe that the perfidy of the Bay of Pigs demands a continued response?”
“Yeah, Boss. I do.”
“Do you believe that Fidel Castro must be overthrown, and that the fifth columnists who have supported his regime must suffer the severest of penalties?”
“You know I do, Boss.”
The cop driver brought a portable radio. Mesplede reached over the seat and hit the Play button. The cop-driver skimmed the dial and found a country station. A redneck tenor sang, “I love flags and corn liquor. Peaceniks and pot ain’t for me.”
Mesplede made an ugh face and flicked the dial. Discordant jazz- aaah, oui. Crutch made an ugh face. It sounded like a stripped-gear symphony. The hash brownie smacked his head. The outside colors shifted. Tendrils and double images appeared.
The cop driver turned onto a side street. The big-street action disappeared. Little one-story houses, all dark and sleepy.
Mesplede turned off the radio. The cop driver pulled over and stopped. Crutch was seeing single things as twos and threes. Mesplede got out and motioned Crutch to follow. Crutch got out and tested the sidewalk. The twos and threes returned to ones. The sidewalk firmed up his slack limbs.
He followed Mesplede. They walked up to the door of a dank little crib. Mesplede picked the lock. Crutch dug his prowess-two jiggles off a #4 pick.
They walked into the house. It was all dark. Air-cooler noise covered their footsteps. Crutch went straight to WOMEN in his head.
He followed Mesplede. The air-cooler hum increased. They hit a hall and walked down it. They stopped at a doorway. Mesplede hit a switch. Light hit two spic guys asleep in twin beds.
They stirred a little. One guy grumbled. Mesplede said, “Communists and Cuban traitors. Please kill them for me.”
The gear music flared. Colors flared and receded. Crutch felt something cold in his hand. Crutch saw the spies all tendriled up as twos and threes.
The other spic grumbled. Both spies opened their eyes and looked at the doorway. Both spies fumbled at their nightstands.
Crutch raised the gun and aimed. Single images cohered. He fired with his eyes shut. The clip kicked off full automatic. He sprayed the bed. He heard silencer thunks. He smelled the blood with his eyes closed. He opened his eyes and saw two men with no faces trying to scream.
The lockup was SRO. Radicals and freaks crammed up the tank space. The jail usually ran all jig. The riot had the race quotas flip-flopped.
A jailer led Dwight down the catwalk. He inspired lots of clenched fists and “Off the Pigs!” chat. The interview room was two doors down a perpendicular hallway. Marshall Bowen was waiting for him.
Not bad. Fit, thoughtful-looking. A good pseudo-firebrand.
The jailer left them alone. Dwight tossed a pack of cigarettes on the table. Bowen shook his head and slid his chair back.
Dwight turned the spare chair around and straddled it. The pose backfired. Bowen pulled his chair closer in.
“You’re not a lawyer. You’re a policeman.”
Dwight lit a cigarette. “I’m both.”
“That’s correct. My name is Dwight Holly, by the way.”
Bowen bowed mock-humble. “You’re with the Chicago office?”
“No. I’m a national field agent.”
“And you’re concerned that a Los Angeles policeman got severely beaten for no justifiable reason?”
Dwight smiled. “I see no visible injuries. ‘Severe’ is an exaggeration, and you know it. You also know that you can’t file suit against the Chicago PD and win, and if you do sue, you’ll severely damage your reputation within LAPD.”
Bowen smiled. “The booking officer saw my badge. If all this craziness hadn’t messed things up, I’d be out by now.”
Dwight tossed a bag of weed on the table. “Did he see this?”
Bowen balled his fists. Bowen smirked to say I get it. The reaction went levels deep.
“There’s a threat. That means there’s an offer coming.”
Dwight put out his cigarette. “Clyde Duber says hello.”
“So it’s an infiltration job?”
Dwight shook his head. “Answer some questions.”
“Tell me your reaction to all this craziness.”
“It inconvenienced me. I’m personally more than politically affronted.”
“And the raw deal the Negro people in this country have received? Can you describe your take on that?”
“I don’t think much about the Negro people. Do you?”
“I think about them more than I should.”
Bowen laughed. “And why is that?”
Dwight shook his head. “Black militancy. You must have some opinions.”
Bowen shrugged. “It’s understandable, it’s historically if not legally justified, it’s ambiguously commendable, it provides opportunities for dubious ideologues and criminal entrepreneurs.”
Dwight bowed. “Why did you become a policeman?”
“For the excitement.”
“Are you enjoying your duties at Wilshire Patrol?”
“I’m a little bored.”
“Who do you hate more? Hard-charging white cops like me or the worthless niggers who make up the bulk of your people and who you have always felt so fucking superior to?”
“It’s a toss-up.”
Dwight grabbed two chair slats and snapped them off clean. Bowen did not blink.
“I want to sheep-dip you. I want to create a scenario for your LAPD expulsion and put you into the Black Tribe Alliance and/or the Mau-Mau Liberation Front, in order to create political and criminal dissension. You will be required to work the assignment, under my direction, for any length of time that I choose. At the conclusion of the assignment, you will have the option of joining the FBI at a G-4 pay rate or of returning to the LAPD with a sergeantcy, in-grade pay status and a triple-A appraisal of promotability to lieutenant. A very wise Quaker woman once told me, Take note of what you are seeking, for it is seeking you.’ If you are looking for excitement, this job will provide all you can stand.”
Bowen said, “I’ll do it.”
Then he blinked, fluttered and flinched.
O’Hare was bad. Big arrival numbers, big departure numbers, big get-into-town/get-out-of-town volume. The terminals were refugee camps. The check-in lines and baggage lines were stay-all-day propositions. Tantrums flared. Epithets flew. Little shoves snowballed into fistfights.
News vendors made out. Everyone read the Trib. Dig the Lincoln Park riot. Dig the Grant Park riot upcoming. News pics captured mouths poised to scream.
Wayne read the Trib. Reporters and left-wing priests jostled him. They were baggage-line comrades. They’d spent two hours together. Let’s talk outrage-we’ll be here nine more.
The Trib, page six: “Radicals captured with bomb diagrams. Sedition charges discussed.”
Wayne balled the paper up and tossed it. A dykey nun with a peace-dove button scowled at him. He was trashed. The Golden Cavern meet was two days out. The Grapevine felt imminent.
Cabs dumped outgoing passengers and snagged incoming meat. Wayne glanced around. This one kid looked familiar-the dumb bow tie and crew cut.
Wayne made him. The Miami tail kid, looking raw now. He told Mesplede to clip him.
He didn’t see Wayne. The dykey nun got aggressive. She motioned two Negro nuns to cut in front of him.
Wayne let it go.
(Las Vegas, 8/29/68)
Butterfingers. The wires kept slipping and missing the holes. His hands were that trembly. His brain was that cooked.
Fred Turentine said, “You got the yips, son.”
Crutch tried to re-concentrate. Bug work: suite 307 at the Golden Cavern Hotel. The Otash/Tedrow meet was tomorrow. This was their final spot check.
He pushed wires up the lamp base and crimped them. The pliers slipped. The lamp jiggled and almost toppled. Fred T. went whoa, son.
He killed two men. He wasn’t quite straight with it. The Frogman was back in Miami now. He kept calling him. The phone just rang and rang. The dead spies were Commies and Cuban Cause traitors. They took lives and he took theirs, and that part didn’t hurt. The picture replay hurt. He was zorched then. The replay ran in VistaVision and Cinerama. His world was double-imaged. The pictures re-ran with double clarity and at half the speed.
Fred caught a loose wire and re-taped it. Crutch fumbled the toolbox.
He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t think about his case. He kept looking at the pictures of Joan.
(Los Angeles, 8/29/68)
The ceiling fan fluttered the sheets. The cool air gave them goose bumps. Dwight felt a contraction. He knew why- Eleanora just kicked.
Karen said, “I should be in Chicago. I shouldn’t be in a folding bed in an FBI drop-front.”
She was fuller now. Her nipples were bigger. Her hipbones had disappeared.
“It was bad. I’m glad you didn’t go.”
“What’s-His-Name was at Lincoln Park. He called it a ‘massacre.’ ”
Dwight grabbed his cigarettes. Karen looked tempted. Dwight put them back down.
“Don’t make me jealous, or I’ll hang a sedition case on him.”
Karen laughed. “Did it feel inevitable to you?”
“If you mean preordained and mutually agreed upon, yes.”
“You’re very religious, you know. You understand your personal responsibility to God, but you’re remiss and outright negligent in your secular practice.”
Dwight smiled. “I rely on you for these perceptions. And I quoted you to a man in Chicago two days ago.”
“How did you describe me?”
“As very wise.”
“Not as duplicitous and compromised in my affections?”
“We didn’t get that far.”
Karen kissed his shoulder. “Did you find your infiltrator?”
“Then something’s wrong.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You’re tense, but you’re trying not to appear tense. You always do little things with your hands when you’re trying to convince me that things are all right.”
Dwight flexed his hands. His law-school ring fit loose. He was missing meals and running on coffee.
“Okay, you’re right.”
“Is it some bad thing you’ve done or some bad thing you’re planning?”
Dwight gave Karen the look-case closed on that. She rolled onto her back and cupped his hands on the swell of Eleanora.
“I’ve got my infiltrator. He’s brilliantly good, but that’s all I can tell you right now.”
“All right. And now you need an informant.”
“Right. And you know that woman Joan.”
Karen stretched. “I’ll have to ask around. I don’t know her personally. Someone will have to find her for me.”
He felt a pulse on his hands. Soft-like Eleanora had moved more than kicked.
Karen reached for his cigarettes. Dwight grabbed them and threw them on the floor. Karen laughed and made her belly jiggle. Then Eleanora kicked.
Dwight said, “Do you love me?”
Karen said, “I’ll think about it.”
(Las Vegas, 8/29/68)
It was her. He knew it would be. He got the picture just to see her again.
It was a Nevada DMV photo. Mary Beth Hazzard sat posed for her driver’s license shot. She was born 6/4/24. She was ten years, one month and fourteen days older than him.
Wayne sat in his car, outside the DMV. He’d bribed a clerk for a copy of the woman’s driver file. License since 6/4/40. No moving violations. “Must wear corrective lenses to drive.”
He read that newspaper piece. He saw her at the funeral. The widow Hazzard. The missing son. I got your husband-
She ran the Hotel Workers’ Union. The union was fighting the Hotel Owners’ Council. The issue was segregation. Dracula owned a score of union-targeted hotels. Picketing was going down at a dozen locations. The LVPD was monitoring it.
Wayne looked at the picture. He couldn’t peel his eyes back. He liked the shape of her face and the flow of her hair.
(Las Vegas, 8/30/68)
The feed lines worked. The 307 to 308 wiring laid firm. Crutch bored a tiny spy hole through the wall yesterday. Sight and sound access, confirmed.
The console faced the connecting wall. Crutch settled in with his headphones. Fred T. was back in L.A. This gig was his solo.
The Frogman called him last night. Their talk calmed him down. Fuentes and Arredondo were rogue and Deep Red. The Chicago PD would short-shift their inquiry. The Frogman praised his balls and described a plan he was hatching.
Sabotage runs. Island hops with flamethrowers and C-4 explosives. Raids on Castro militia camps. Propaganda-leaflet runs. A heroin biz to finance the operation.
Froggy laid out the vile deeds of Fuentes and Arredondo. They were Red lice nesting in putain Fidel’s beard. Crutch started grooving on his Commo kills. He went to a seamstress and got little 2’s embroidered in his tartan bow tie.
The 308 door opened. Click/thump-that’s the sound. Crutch checked the spy hole. On time: Fred Otash and Wayne Tedrow.
They sat down. They chitchatted. They sat away from the lamp feed. Their voices were dim,
Click/thump-the door again. This time: a tall, gray-suited man. Crutch heard garbles and read lips. Fred O. and Wayne called the man Dwight.
The console-to-spy-hole cord was stretched taut. Crutch pulled up a chair and got adjusted. Note: re-spackle the spy hole tomorrow.
The doorbell rang. Fred O. opened up. Sacre Frog-there’s Jean-Philippe Mesplede.
Confluence. Clyde Duber’s word. It’s who you know and who you blow and how you’re all linked.
Wayne introduced Fred O. to the Frogman. They spewed some staticky talk. Fred O. introduced Dwight to the Frogman and spieled his last name as Holly.
Confluence. Dwight Holly knew Clyde. Dwight Holly tapped Clyde to tail Marsh Bowen in Chicago.
Crutch got situated. His headphones fit tight and the spy hole was there at eye level. The 308 crew pulled chairs up close to the lamp feed. Fred O. bopped to the wet bar and came back with highballs and chips. Dwight Holly declined the drink. The other guys dug in. Crutch got a vibe: this had nothing to do with his case.
Clock it-3:18 p.m. Roll the tape, live.
The guys settled in. Sentence fragments overlapped. Dwight and the Frogman lit cigarettes. Fred O. looked plump and sassy, back to his normal bulk. Wayne looked raggedy-ass and too thin.
Fred O. said, “Enough bullshit,” pitch-perfect headphone sound.
Dwight Holly said, “There’ll be six men. They always stay after hours. It’s always them and just them, and I don’t think they’ll vary the routine on the night we go in.”
Wayne said, “When?”
Fred O. said, “We’re set on my end. I’ve got the plant guns, Dwight’s got the dope. I think we can be in and out in five minutes.”
Dwight Holly said, “Four. The takedown will be easy. They’ll be blitzed and they’ll be surprised. It’s all about rigging the forensic. St. Louis PD has a shit crime lab, but I still want the wound spill and trajectories to make some kind of sense.”
Crutch started sweating. His earphones wetted up and produced crackle hiss. “Six men,” “plant guns,” “wound spill”-
Mesplede said, “ ‘Grapevine.’ That is an American colloquialism, correct? It means ‘a source of information.’ So, it is idiomatic. And in that manner, it becomes the name of a hoodlum’s meeting place.”
Fred O. yukked. Ditto Dwight. Wayne flinched. Crutch caught it late.
June 20. THAT NIGHT. Talk fragments-grapevine/Tommy/plant-Joan and Gretchen/Celia.
The headphones pooled sweat. Crutch whipped them off, wiped them dry and put them back on. He got four-way garbles, fuzz, bips, pops, line hiss. Sweat-clogged feeder lines, shit.
More bips and line hiss. Food noise-Fred O. and the Frogman snarfed chips. Crutch took the headphones off, shook them dry and put them back on. He pressed up to the spy hole. He squinted. He tried to read lips and gestures and sync them to hiss. He got squeaks, he got crackle, he got words here and there in the mix.
He heard “Memphis.” He saw Wayne twitch. He heard “patsy,” “King,” “Ray.” Dwight Holly and Wayne shared queasy looks. He heard food noise. He squinted harder. He breathed harder. He fogged up the spy hole. He lost a full minute to bip-bip-bips.
He heard “witness.”
He heard “grapevine” again.
HE STARTED TO GET IT.
Fred O. ran a monologue. His bass voice cut down line hiss. Crutch heard “Sirhan.” Crutch heard “Bobby K.” Fred O. mimed a shooting-bam, bam, you’re dead. Wayne and Dwight H. shared a trиs queasy look.
HE GOT MORE OF IT. His bladder almost blew. He clenched up, sucked up and kept it in.
The spy hole was fogged. The bug line was clogged. Fucking potato chip-chomping noise fucked it up worse. Crutch took the headphones off, shook them and put them back on. Crutch spit on the spy-hole glass and shirt-wiped it clean.
He got more sight. He got more sound. He saw the Frogman’s lips move. He heard incoherent yak-yak and “Dallas.” He heard Frenchy word cuisine, “Cuba,” “revenge.”
The sound died altogether. Crutch shook his head. The phones cleared and the bug line re-fed. He got hiss, snap, crackle, pop, buzz, fuzz, bips. He heard “Le grand putain Jack.” He saw Jean-Philippe Mesplede assume a rifleman’s pose.
And he pissed in his pants.
And he shit in his pants.
And he vomited and gasped.
He pulled off his headphones. He ran to the console, pulled the main wire and ripped Spackle out of the wall. He made a small through hole. It fed into 308, all wire-free. The Spackle blew back into his suite. He squinted and put his ear to the hole-God, please please please.
The meeting was done. The men stood at the door. Dwight Holly said, “One last thing.”
The other men nodded. Dwight Holly said, “No women. If there’s women there, we pull out.”
Fred O. nodded reluctant. Mesplede rolled his eyes. Wayne Tedrow clutched Dwight Holly’s wrist.
(St. Louis, 9/3/68)
Throwdown guns-check. Insulin needles-check. Liquid cocaine-check. One last mug shot-memorization look.
Brundage, Currie, Pierce. Kling, DeJohn, Luce.
They were all inside. They were all armed. They were all blitzed. They entered between 10:41 and 12:49. Dwight played inside man and observed them. He chatted up Pierce and laid some groundwork. I’m a Schenley’s sales rep. I do the deliveries. Sometimes they go late.
It was 3:10 now. They were still in there. Otash made a wax fit of the back-door lock yesterday. It was a clean walk-in. The Schenley’s man and his pals with booze. Hey, Tommy Pierce-long time no see.
They parked behind the Grapevine. They wore jeans and duck-blind windbreakers-Okie hunter gear. They had four Schenley’s boxes.
Dwight had a vented.45. Wayne had a.38 snub. Otash had a Colt Python. Mesplede had a long-barrel.32.
The van was stolen. Mesplede clouted it. They wore gloves for the ride over. Dwight felt calm. Otash and Mesplede looked calm. Wayne looked too calm-Dwight figured he was on something.
Music inside-hee-haw/hoedown shit. A country fiddle brayed and screeched.
Dwight tapped his watch. They got out of the van. Mesplede leaned in and dispensed the boxes. Otash walked over, unlocked the back door and left it ajar. A storeroom light was on. Dwight saw canned goods on shelves. High-pitched fiddle chords scraped.
Dwight tapped his watch-now.
They pulled out their guns and held them under the boxes. They clumped and made he-man grunts and nonchalantly walked in.
The storeroom led to the tavern proper. Their big-boot clomps and macho groans pre-announced them. The six fucks were sitting on two dumb leather sofas. They faced each other. A plank table was plopped down between them. It was covered with bottles, glasses and junk-food debris.
Dwight yelled, “Hey there, Tommy.” Heads turned their way. Dwight head-counted and got seven, not six.
An extra man. Fortyish and curly-haired. Interloper/sorry, pal/it’s just too late.
Looks traveled quick. Tommy Pierce cued the guys-this is okay. Dwight huffed and puffed over. Otash, Mesplede and Wayne were bunched behind him. It was a left-side, front-entry-wound, in-tight approach. The seven fucks just sat there. Dwight dropped the cue line: “Yeah, I know it’s late.”
Off that last syllab-
They dropped the boxes. They aimed and fired down. They emptied their guns at their pre-assigned targets, all body mass and face. The fucks just sat there. The shots swallowed them up. They pitched and jerked and bounced and stayed in their seats.
The noise was loud overlap and reverb. The cordite stink was bad and the barrel smoke was thick. The music went inaudible. Blood blew out their backs and pooled on the sofas in one continuous sweep.
Gurgles, belches, neck-wound coughs, shudders and gasps. Seven dead in one twitching sweep.
Dwight tapped his watch-go.
They put on rubber gloves.
They pulled belt-concealed guns off the dead men and paper-bagged them. Dwight checked out the seventh man. He was unarmed. Dwight went through his wallet. Fourteen bucks and a New York driver’s license: Thomas Frank Narduno, almost forty-six.
He put the wallet back. Wayne got out the liquid coke and syringes. Blood leaked on the floor. They all looked down and stepped way clear of the spill.
Dwight knocked over the table. The booze and food debris blended in with the spill.
Otash arranged the bodies: three on the floor, four on the sofas.
Mesplede planted the throwdown guns. Three in their hands, three near their bodies.
The blood spill expanded. They all kept looking down and stepping clear of it.
Dwight pulled off their shoes and socks.
Wayne injected them between their toes and cotton-swabbed the blood drips.
Otash pulled their socks back on. Mesplede relaced their shoes.
Fiddle music brayed and screeched. The walls absorbed the gunshot noise-Dwight knew it.
They stepped waaaaay back from the blood spill. Dwight framed the scene. Sofa springs exposed. Kling’s missing finger. Booze, cocaine, a group tantrum. Pierce’s coughed-out dentures. DeJohn’s shattered glasses.
Dwight tapped his watch-out. Wayne looked at him. Dwight couldn’t detect anything.
Otash grinned. Wayne poured powdered cocaine on the bar.
Mesplede grabbed some blood-free potato chips.
(Las Vegas, 9/6/68)
You look through him.
It subsumes the shock and diverts the titillation. It deflects the insanity. It was his sixth face-to-face meet with Dracula. Wayne just discovered the trick.
“It’s a pleasure to see you, sir.”
Drac said, “Humphrey is very far behind in the polls. The hippies and yippies did him in.”
Farlan Brown coughed. “Wayne and I were there, sir. We gave them quite an assist.”
The trick worked with Drac himself. Castle Drac details remained. The condom-wrapped doorknobs, the Kleenex-box piles, the wall pix of Jane Russell’s breasts.
Drac said, “On to November. Every Humphrey campaign stop must be a miniature Chicago. May I have your guarantee, Mr. Tedrow?”
“I’ll try, sir.”
Brown coughed. “Wayne’s being modest, sir. When he says, ‘I’ll try,’ he means ‘I’ll succeed.’ ”
Drac said, “Don’t cough again, Mr. Brown. You’re creating an unsanitary environment. If you cough again, I will terminate your employment and buy out your contract for five cents on the dollar.”
Brown got up and left the room, waving a handkerchief. Wayne looked through Drac. Fresh details: plates covered with leftover food. Bugs scattered on pizza-pie crusts.
“You’ve lost weight, Mr. Tedrow. Have you been ill?”
“I had extensive dental surgery, sir. I’ve been unable to eat solid food for three weeks.”
“Was the surgery performed under sanitary conditions?”
“How old are you?”
“I’m thirty-four, sir.”
“I’m sixty-one, sixty-two or sixty-three. I’ve sustained head injuries from my numerous airplane crashes and have lost some memories.”
Wayne smiled. “You were born in 1905, sir. You’re sixty-two years old.”
Drac coughed. “Did you look me up in the Farmer’s Almanac?”
“Encyclopedia Britannica, sir.”
“Did it state how many women I have fucked?”
“It omitted that detail, sir.”
“I have fucked countless women. Ava Gardner gave me both tertiary syphilis and the bubonic plague. Between my head injuries and those other maladies, I suffer constant pain. I am thus very grateful for your adroit skills as a chemist.”
Wayne faux-beamed. “I’m very pleased that you feel that way, sir.”
“Gain some weight, though. It pains me to look at a young man so gaunt.”
“I’m going back on solid food tomorrow, sir.”
Wayne leaned in and stared at Drac. The filmy eyes and chancre sores got him this time.
“Mr. Hughes, may I ask a favor of you?”
“Yes. I rarely grant favors, but I’ll permit you to ask.”
“Sir, I’d like you to reinstate the Hotel Workers’ Union at all your Las Vegas locations. I would also request that you brusquely tell the Hotel Owners’ Council that they should drop the implicitly enforced employment color line that they have long adhered to.”
Fresh details: tremors and puffs of dry spit.
“How firm a request is this?”
“It’s a polite request, sir.”
“Is it an ultimatum?”
“No, but it’s a vouchsafe on my future as your business intermediary and chemist.”
Drac shuddered. His jaw dropped. He had for-real fangs.
“Very well. I’ll grant your request.”
At least they were vicious. At least they were white.
It was his post-Grapevine mantra. He employed it along with opiate compounds. It got him through the flight back and the Hughes meet.
He was tapering off. He was sleeping better. Dwight called last night. St. Louis PD tagged the Grapevine their way.
Spontaneous combustion. Toxic booze/dope levels cited. A quickie coroner’s inquest stamped it case closed.
He was feeling better. His appetite was returning. The throbs and kinks all over his body were starting to abate.
Wayne cruised the Strip. It was dusk and too hot to live. He saw heat-dazed picketers outside the Dunes and the Sands. He saw picketers waving their signs outside the Frontier. Most were black, some were white, all were plain thrilled.
He parked and walked to the picket line. He caught snippets of a joyous gobbledygook.
The Hotel Council caved. It was sudden-who knows why-it allegedly came from Howard Hughes.
Wayne stood there. The picketers ignored him. An LVPD goon squad lounged at the curb. They wore helmets and twirled their nightsticks. They plain seethed. Buddy Fritsch kicked at scattered cigarette butts and seethed the worst.
The picketers whooped and leaped and tore the tops off their signs. Wayne saw Mary Beth Hazzard raise one fist.
Buddy Fritsch saw him and teetered on over. He reeked of afternoon vodka and breath mints.
“Hey, killer. Want to smoke a few jungle bunnies while you’re here?”
Wayne winked at him. Buddy winked back. The picketers looked over. They started nudging each other. Wayne smiled at Buddy and let the moment build.
“Times like this make me wish you were back on the ‘ole LVPD. We could use a coon kill-”
Wayne gut-punched him. Buddy gasped and folded and went green in the face. The other cops froze. The picketers froze. Wayne grabbed Buddy’s necktie, pulled him close and elbow-slammed his face. Wayne ripped his badge off his shirt and hurled it.
Buddy wobbled and stayed up. His face was all blood. Wayne let go of his tie. Buddy hit the pavement face-first. A bunch of the picketers cheered.
The cops stayed frozen. Wayne looked at the picketers. Mary Beth Hazzard stared dead at him. Wayne blew her a kiss.
(Los Angeles, 9/8/68)
Crutch Senior lived behind Santa Anita. He ruled a cardboard-box encampment. Winos and racetrack bums. Hooverville updated. Bet all day, booze all night. The California Lifestyle Supreme.
Crutch came with gifts: a good-bye C-note and a Reuben sandwich. Hey, Dad-I’m a dead man. I know all this top secret shit.
Fred Turentine called him yesterday. Fred Otash found some bug-tap debris in suite 307 and traced it back to him. Fred O. leaned on Fred T. Fred T. gave Crutch up for the bug job. Fred T. convinced Fred O. that he wasn’t there, it was only doofus Crutchfield. Fred T. showed Crutch his broken fingers. “Kid, I don’t know what you heard, but you better run.”
He read the St. Louis papers. Seven dead at the Grapevine. Tavern “Hoodlum brawl escalates.” He did some checking. James Earl Ray’s brother was part owner. Killers. His Frogman pal on the grassy knoll. Bug talk: Sirhan amp; King, Memphis amp; Dallas.
The campground was behind the parking lot. The geezers lived in stereo boxes rain-treated with shellac. A big tarp covered twenty-odd Magnavox Mansions. Empty bottles covered the common yard.
Crutch knocked on Crutch Senior’s box. Crutch Senior crawled out with a racing form and a short dog. Crutch gave him some room. Crutch Senior stood up, whipped it out and took a big piss. He aimed straight at Crutch’s shoes.
Crutch Senior squinted. “Donald, right?”
“The kid I had with Maggie Woodard.”
“I remember Maggie. She was from Bumfuck, Wisconsin.”
“Yeah, she’s the one.”
“She was a good lay.”
“Come on, Dad. That’s not nice.”
Crutch Senior re-zipped. He was fifty-four. He wore a sweat-soaked Beatle suit and a Beatle wig. He was half-dead from open-sore cancers.
“You’re in the shit and you need a touch. Sorry, but I’m tapped.”
Crutch displayed the C-note and Reuben. Crutch Senior grabbed the bill and ignored the sandwich. He killed the short dog and tossed it on the empty pile. He swung the racing form and swatted Crutch in the face.
“You never found Maggie. You told me you would, and you didn’t. I laid her the first time on Pearl Harbor day, and you never found her.”
He worked out the plan yesterday. It predicted the knock on his door and the death sentence. Yeah, he put it all together. But, it was all instinct. Bug sputter, squelch, static and some words mixed in. He knew. They knew he knew. Fred O. would tell the others. Wayne would be pissed at the Frogman. Froggy let him live. It would blow up from there.
It was too big and played too preposterous. Clyde wouldn’t believe him. Scotty Bennett wouldn’t believe him. He could go on The Joe Pyne Show and air his inside scoop from the Beef Box. Joe Pyne would scoff at him. Some left-wing Jews and paranoid hippies might believe him. The hebes would turn on him in a hot tick. He was pro-Cuban Freedom Cause. The hippies would scoff at his crew cut and Scotty Bennett tie. No hippie girls would shoot him some trim.
He put the fail-safes in place yesterday. He devised the plan off his one ray of hope. They didn’t know his bug gear was defective. They knew they talked assassination. They would not recall exactly what they said. They did not know how credible his testimony would play.
Crutch waited at the Vivian. The pad was near-empty. He moved his mother’s file and his personal shit to the Elm Hotel yesterday. His case file was there. Buzz knew the location. He’d find the files and pursue or not pursue all relevant leads.
He waited. He skimmed old Car Crafts and Playboys. He went to I. Magnin’s yesterday. He bought Dana Lund a beautiful cashmere sweater. He had it gift-wrapped and placed a valentine card in the box. He didn’t sign his name. He told Dana that he’d always loved her. He had to run now. He killed two men and knew some things that he shouldn’t.
Magnin’s delivered the gift. He parked across the street. He watched Dana open the box and read the card. The sweater delighted her. The note seemed to scare her. She looked around and slammed her door in a rush.
Joan Rosen Klein was out in the ether. He couldn’t get her a good-bye gift. It broke his fucking heart.
Crutch skimmed the November ‘67 Playboy. Kaya Christian smiled from the foldout. She was his aptly named sweetheart. He knew her from Trinity Lutheran Church a million years back.
The southbound view beckoned. Crutch walked to the window and looked out. He saw Sandy Banner’s house and Barb Cathcart’s house and Gail Miller on Lon Ecklund’s front porch.
All those shrubs that served as his perch spots. New shrubs blocking windows he’d peeped.
He leaned out the window. He caught smog in the air. He leaned too far. He started to drop. He heard noise behind him. A force slammed him down and pulled him back up.
He was on the floor. He was foot-pinned. He was blurry-eyed, half there and half not. He smelled oil on metal and knew they’d greased the door lock.
The half there expanded. The blur decreased. A full there came on. He saw Wayne Tedrow with a silencered gun and the Frogman holding a pillow. He clutched his Saint Christopher medal and prayed the Gloria Patria.
Their feet were dug in. The Frogman sweat-oozed nicotine. Wayne said, “You dipshit cocksucker.”
Froggy dropped the pillow on his head. Crutch thrashed it off and gulped in air to say it.
“I’ve got four tape copies, plus depositions. Four bank safe-deposit boxes. I show up in person, six-month intervals. They verify me at the sites with photo and fingerprint checks. If I don’t show, you know what.”
Wayne looked at Mesplede. Mesplede looked at Wayne. Wayne picked up the pillow and foot-mashed it down on his head. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t hear. No voices, no gunshot, no pain or white clouds. Breath spurts and heartbeats-dear God, am I dead?
Then light and air and the model airplane dangling from his ceiling. Then some breath. Then Wayne’s gun with the silencer untapped.
A red Fokker triplane. Historically cool. He built it and sniffed the glue the day JFK got whacked.
Crutch said, “I want in. I’ll take whatever you’ve got.”
(Los Angeles, 9/10/68)
“You were talking in your sleep.”
“What was I saying?”
“I thought I heard ‘at least’ and ‘vicious.’“
Dwight rubbed his neck. It always knotted at the same spot. He got a dream aftershock: Memphis and blood spray redux.
Karen sat up and leaned over him. She was sleep-puffed and lush. She crossed her legs and sat Indian-style. He scooted down and kissed her knees. He heard Dina one room over, talking to her stuffed frog.
“Tell me again, and convince me. My simple presence here is not screwing that little girl up forever.”
Karen took his hands. “Only if she grows up and joins the FBI.”
“There’s some left-wing parenthood thing going on here that eludes me.”
“She likes you more than she likes What’s-His-Name. Let it go at that.”
“I don’t understand the fucking world you live in.”
Karen kissed his fingers. “You understand it all too well. Your accommodations acknowledge my world and grant it an offhanded respect.”
Dwight reached for his cigarettes. Karen grabbed the pack and tossed it on the dresser.
“Don’t tempt me.”
“And explain yourself. Connect ‘at least’ and ‘vicious.’ ”
That knot again-Dwight kneaded and rubbed.
“A friend said it. The full quote was ‘At least they were vicious.’ ”
“Who was he referring to?”
“Mr. Hoover? The cops in Chicago?”
Dwight laughed. It made his neck throb. Karen tickled his legs and built on the laugh and made the hurt stop.
“All right, I’ll tell you. He was referring to a dissolute band of right-wing thugs.”
Karen grinned. “I like your friend. What’s his name?”
“Is he a cop?”
“He used to be.”
“Is he as tall and good-looking as you?”
Dwight grinned. “Emphatically not.”
Dina said good night to the frog. It came through the wall plain. Dwight knew she wanted them to hear it. Karen bowed and put her hand on her heart.
“I think I’ve got a line on Joan.”
“Quid pro quo, then. Blow up an extra monument and try not to get caught.”
Karen curled around him. Dwight pulled off her barrette and let her hair go. He said, “Do you love me?” She said, “I’ll think about it.”
(Las Vegas, 8/11/68)
The union folks congregated at Sills Tip-Top. Wayne studied their MO. She’d show there sooner or later. It took him four cruise-bys.
Sills was crowded-the lunch trade and no empty booths. It was up in shitsville North Vegas. The color line was blurred there. The joint was quasi-segregated. Whites ate on one side, blacks on the other.
Wayne walked in. Mary Beth Hazzard was over on the black side. She was sitting with four union friends. They were all black. Wayne recognized them from his picket-line show.
Two people noticed him. A man nudged Mary Beth. She noticed him and whispered all around the booth. The people got up and walked out. They passed Wayne en route. They lowered their eyes.
Wayne walked over and put his hand out. Her hand was firm and dry. He said, “Mrs. Hazzard.” She said, “Mr. Tedrow.” Her eyes clicked to the opposite seat. Wayne took the cue and sat down.
They looked at each other. It was still. It made the restaurant noise subside. People started looking at them. It was still. Eyes just clicked their way.
Mary Beth touched her coffee cup. “I read about your father. You have my condolences for your loss.”
The union folks had left their coffee cups and saucers behind. Wayne cleared a space for his hands.
“Thank you. My father treated union people horribly, so your condolences affirm your good manners very nicely.”
“I wasn’t fishing for compliments, Mr. Tedrow.”
“I know. I’m just hoping you’ll accept the one I gave you, and not consider it condescending.”
Mary Beth smiled. Wayne felt a million eyes click.
“And my condolences for your husband.”
“Condolences accepted. But in the spirit of candor, I’ll add that Cedric was recklessly fervent and had no business being alone with Pappy Dawkins at 2:00 a.m.”
Wayne glanced around for a waitress. Two waitresses caught it and looked away. A little black boy draped himself over his booth and stared at them. Two little white girls pointed.
“You’re very nervous, Mr. Tedrow. If you’re thinking of ordering coffee, you might want to reconsider.”
Wayne smiled. “And besides, they won’t serve me,”
“They will if you make a big-enough fuss.”
“Or put on a big-enough show.”
Mary Beth smiled. “Your show at the picket line was memorable. It begs the question of what you were trying to say, but I won’t press you on that.”
Wayne fidgeted. Mary Beth pushed her coffee cup over. Wayne warmed his hands on it.
“I want to thank you for your part in settling the strike, Mr. Tedrow. The rumor is that you convinced Mr. Hughes.”
Wayne said, “Yes, I did.”
“And your motive?”
“You mean, my motive given my history?”
Mary Beth touched the coffee cup. “I don’t judge your history as harshly as most black people around here would.”
Wayne touched the coffee cup. His hands almost touched hers. She left her hands there. He pulled his back.
“And why is that?”
“You killed those men while you were looking for Wendell Durfee, so you get a pass from me on that one.”
Peeple looked at them. A big fat black guy and a tall, skinny white guy flat-out fucking gawked.
“Why, Mrs. Hazzard?”
“Because Leroy Williams and the Swasey brothers supplied the dope that killed my sister. Because Wendell Durfee raped me on April 19, 1951, which makes me inclined to forgive your rash behavior and like you just fine.”
Wayne looked at his hands. They jerked and spun the coffee cup. Some coffee spilled on Mary Beth’s hands. She didn’t seem to notice. She kept her hands there.
“I read about your son. The missing-person part, I mean.”
“He was a brilliant boy. He knew a great deal about chemistry.”
“I’m a chemist.”
“Yes, I was told that.”
“Were you inquiring about me?”
“Yes, I was.”
Mary Beth pulled her hands back. “You’re pushing me. Don’t ask me to say things I’m not ready to.”
Wayne looked around the diner. The whole goddamn room was looking their way.
“You described your son in the past tense. Do you think he’s dead?”
Mary Beth shook her head. “There’s times I do, there’s times I don’t. Sometimes dead’s easier, sometimes it’s not.”
“Do you miss him?”
“Yes, I miss him terribly.”
Wayne said, “I’ll find him for you.”
September 12, 1968-January 20, 1969
1.-Both groups operate along near-identical lines. They employ storefront offices that serve as recruitment hubs, social clubs and gathering places for local Negroes and visiting radicals, thus photo surveillance may prove useful at some point. Both groups distribute anti-white, anti-Los Angeles Police Department literature and hate literature besmirching rival black-militant groups, most often vulgar pamphlets in the comic-book style. Both organizations recruit on campus at local high schools and junior high schools. Both organizations extort local merchants for food to deploy in their Feed the Kiddies programs and liquor for their weekly pay-to-attend “political mixers,” in reality drunken parties that often result in brawls. Both organizations have female followers-i.e., “groupies,” who act as prostitutes and donate most of their earnings to the “cause.” Both organizations are rumored to have “safe houses” where visiting radicals and members fleeing criminal proceedings are allowed to hide out. Unlike the
2.-Per the “leaders,” some key details:
3.-Known haunts of the
4.-As I detailed in my previous confidential telex, our infiltrator will be
SA Dwight C. Holly
(Los Angeles, 9/13/68)
Dwight read files. A radio spritzed the news. Nixon and Humphrey grubbed for votes and seesawed poll-wise. Jimmy Ray and Sirhan Sirhan fomented in custody. Local grief: two ski-masked coons robbed a Brentwood home of cash and jewels.
The drop-front was file-full. It was file-saturated and file-fucked. He needed four more cabinets. He was file-fucked dick-deep.
He read carbons from the ATF and St. Louis PD. Confirmed anew: the “Grapevine Tavern Slaughter,” case closed. One non sequitur: that surprise victim.
Thomas Frank Narduno, forty-five years old, out of New York. The odd man there. Bug devices found on his body.
Dwight checked Narduno’s FBI file. It was sketchy. Narduno traveled in lefty circles. He was a two-time robbery suspect: Ohio and New York. No arrests, no convictions. He vibed fringe fool or Red recidivist. His Grapevine connection was superfluous now.
He was relieved. Mr. Hoover was relieved. Mr. Hoover was still pissy underneath it. He kept rehashing Dwight’s rest cure. Silver Hill, ‘57. The old poof was three beats off now. He called it “Happy Hills, ‘58.” It didn’t matter. The old poof had a file on it-stashed, indexed and extortion-ready.
He had a file coming: Joan Rosen Klein, potential informant. Central Records was telexing it. The pages were heavily redacted. Fat ink strokes blotted names, dates and locations. Karen implied that Joan might be difficult. Forewarned is forearmed: see the file before you meet her.
Dwight yawned. His sleep was shot, his nerves were thin, nightmares revived as daytime vignettes. He raided a Bureau evidence room and copped some sedatives. They goosed his one drink a night and one pill a night only. It fucking helped.
The chief was late. Dwight schmoozed with Jack Leahy. Jack did Mr. Hoover shtick. The old girl was buying antiques with lover boy Lance. Jack was spot-on. He had the mince and the wrist action. It was risky shit. Jack was a tough read. He was half G-man, half Mort Sahl.
Dwight laughed. “Guerrilla humor. Funny shit at the Improv, risky shit at the L.A. office.”
Jack cleaned his glasses. “Twenty years and civil service. I’m snitch-proof.”
“I saw you do Hoover as Oscar Wilde when you were a rookie.”
“Then, I guess I’m just lucky.”
Dwight smiled. “Or you’ve got an agenda, or you’re just a fucking kamikaze.”
The office was cop-blah: gray walls and flags up the ying-yang. Reddin pre-announced himself with Aqua Velva fumes. He was a big guy. He slapped backs and crashed behind his desk.
“Jack, it’s been too long. Mr. Holly, I’ve been hearing about you for years.”
Jack lit a cigarette. “Dwight ‘the Enforcer’ Holly. A blunt man with a politically dubious girlfriend.”
Reddin yukked and waved faux wolfsbane. Jack winked. Dwight figured el jefe was good for five minutes.
“We want to sheep-dip one of your Negro officers, Chief. A young Wilshire Division patrolman named Marshall Bowen. My intention is to put him into the Black Tribe Alliance and/or the Mau-Mau Liberation Front. It’s a long-term Cointelpro aimed at discrediting the black-militant movement. I’ll be running it autonomously. Apologies in advance, but Mr. Hoover wants you bypassed on summary reports and memoranda.”
Reddin flushed. “I like to know what’s going on with my men.”
Dwight lit a cigarette. “Mr. Hoover insists, sir.”
Jack said, “He’ll be working out of my jurisdiction. This is a bit of a slap in the face.”
Reddin drummed his desk. “We’ve got plants in the Panthers and US. We share our intelligence with outside agencies when requested, which leads me to say I don’t like the one-way aspect of this.”
“Again, sir. Mr. Hoover insists.”
Jack went limp-waisted. “If Mr. Hoover insists, Mr. Hoover insists.”
Reddin smirked. “I’ve read Intel sheets on the BTA and MMLF. They’re buffoons.”
Dwight grinned. “We’ll paint them with a broad brush. The Panthers and US will get tarred, as well.”
Reddin lit a cigarette. “They’re all tar babies.”
Dwight laughed. Jack futzed with his ashtray. Reddin said, “All right. You’re saying it’s a publicized expulsion scenario, which will hopefully drench your boy in ghetto cachet.”
Dwight nodded. “Right, and I’m thinking it will derive from a preexisting personal feud between Officer Bowen and Sergeant Robert S. Bennett.”
Reddin rolled his eyes. “Oh, Jesus, Scotty.”
Jack said, “That psycho cocksucker.”
Reddin slapped his knees. “Jack doesn’t like Scotty. Scotty threw his weight around on that armored-car job we had a few years back, and it ruffled Jack’s feathers.”
Dwight put out his cigarette. “Give it up, Jack. You ran the Bureau’s end for a week.”
Reddin said, “With Scotty, a week can be an eternity.”
Jack rubbed his eyes. “Why Bennett and this Officer Bowen? What sort of ‘pre-existing feud’?”
Dwight rocked his chair back. “Some ink-stained bills from the armored-car job were circulating in the ghetto. Marsh Bowen innocently passed one, so Bennett leaned on him. Bowen got on LAPD over Bennett’s objections.”
Reddin said, “Jesus, Scotty and that case.”
Jack said, “All right, I’ll concede the viability of the context. The cast is great, and the script options are enticing.”
Dwight smiled. “Here’s the kicker. I don’t want Bennett informed. The scenario has to play out without his knowledge.”
The desk phone rang. Reddin took the call sotto voce. Jack said, “You’ll copy me. Right, Dwight? For old time’s sake?”
Dwight said, “No.”
Tail job-all Niggertown.
Dwight drove a rent-a-car. Scotty Bennett drove an unmarked cruiser. It was a comb-the-Congo caper. Scotty threw his weight around. He exuded white-oppressor panache.
The fucker was huge. The bow tie and crew cut were a swinging caveman touch. Dwight frogged four car lengths back. Scotty canvassed liquor stores and scrounged free booze. Scotty waved to hookers and tossed Tootsie Rolls to little colored kids. Scotty drove by the Panther HQ and zoomed up on the sidewalk. A spear-chukker clique ran inside.
Scotty hit a parking-lot crap game and shuck-and-jived with the brothers. Scotty logged ghetto scuttlebutt. Scotty dispensed chump change to winos. Scotty greased his snitches with ten-spots and pistol-whipped a freaky nigger hassling an old lady. Scotty donated a case of gin to the Mighty Redeemer Church. Scotty frisked an informant, found a hypo kit and beat his black ass with a beaver-tail sap.
Darktown sizzled. It was mid-September hot. The shines wore warm-weather plumage. Lots of tank tops, porkpies and purple newsboy caps. Listless layabouts lapping up Schlitz Malt Liquor.
Scotty cruised by the Peoples’ Bank of South Los Angeles. Dwight saw the prexy: Lionel Darius Thornton. Scotty drove by the BTA and MMLF fronts. The badass door guards wilted.
The hump sucked up fear and hate wholesale. He was a stone shit magnet.
The tour wound down at 4:00 p.m. Scotty hit the Harbor Freeway, the 101 and the Western Avenue exit. He double-parked outside a topless dive called the Rabbit’s Foot Club. Dwight single-parked and foot-tailed him in.
A stacked redhead gyrated onstage. Pensioners and hippie boys leered at her. Scotty bowed and waved. The redhead walked backstage. A stacked blonde replaced her.
Scotty walked backstage. Dwight walked back and lingered by some curtains. He heard small talk and an unmistakable blow job. He walked back to his rent-a-car and waited. Scotty split the Rabbit’s Foot Club nine minutes later. He shagged his cruiser and U-turned eastbound.
Dwight frogged him. Scotty took Hollywood Boulevard to Sunset to Alvarado south. Bam-east on 7th Street. Next stop-Vince amp; Paul’s Steak House, 7th and Union.
Scotty parked and walked in. Dwight cut him eight minutes’ slack. The bar was packed: wall-to-wall cops in civvies, juicing.
Dwight nursed a 7UP and tried to look un-coplike. Scotty glad-handed, raconteured and fondled a stacked brunette.
Scotty boozed. Scotty snarfed the free fried shrimp and rumaki. Scotty waltzed the brunette back to a storage room. Dwight lingered by the door. He heard small talk and an unmistakable blow job.
Dwight walked back to his rent-a-car and waited. Scotty exited Vince amp; Paul’s eighty-three minutes later. Dwight tailed him home to Pasadena. His family met him on the porch. Mrs. Scotty was a stacked blonde pushing fifty. Scotty had two teenaged sons and two teenaged daughters. The kids were trиs tall and looked just like Scotty.
“Do you hang out at Vince amp; Paul’s?”
“Black cops aren’t welcome there.”
“What happened to ‘Negro’?”
“It went out last year. ‘Black’ is more bold. It’s got that tell-it-like-it-is quality that my people revere.”
Dwight pushed his plate back. Ollie Hammond’s Steak House outclassed Vince amp; Paul’s. Their booth was secluded. Marsh Bowen picked at a salad.
“It’s Scotty Bennett’s hangout. Is that why you asked me?”
Dwight popped an antacid mint and lit a cigarette. His food had gone cold.
“I can read people, Mr. Holly. I know you’ve been mulling over Scotty.”
“Don’t fish for compliments. If I didn’t consider you smart and perceptive, you wouldn’t be here.”
“But you’re wondering how adaptable I am.”
“I’ll consider that a compliment and move on, then.”
Dwight tugged at his law-school ring. “The inked-cash thing. How brutal was he?”
Marsh toyed with his fork. “He asked me questions with exaggerated courtesy and hit me with a phone book when he disapproved of my answers.”
“Does he hate Negroes?”
“It’s ‘black,’ Mr. Holly.”
“Don’t correct me, Officer.”
No twitch or flinch. Spreading goose bumps and a forehead vein tapping.
“Does he hate Negroes?”
“More than you, but less volubly. And I’m sure he’s killed a few more than you have.”
Dwight flinched. “He seems to relish his time on the southside.”
“He does, yes. He’s ‘Mr. Scotty’ south of Washington Boulevard.”
“This decorously expressed hatred of his. Is he well known for it?”
Dwight cracked his knuckles. “Scotty’s the bait in your expulsion scenario. Tell me how you think we should play it.”
Marsh did a pantomime. He squinted through a viewfinder. He framed the shot. He spoke through a megaphone.
“Vince amp; Paul’s Steak House. The bar in full swing. Officer Marshall E. Bowen hits on Sergeant Robert S. Bennett’s torrid waitress girlfriend with the man himself right there.”
Dwight stuck his hand out. Marsh let it hang there. The moment built and fizzled. They both saw how dumb it looked. They laughed at the same time.
(Las Vegas, 9/14/68)
How suite it is.
His killer pals lived in hotel suites. Freddy O. had the Cavern. The Frogman had new Fontainebleau digs. Wayne Tedrow had this spread at the Stardust. Dwight Holly crashed in suites nationwide.
Crutch waited for Wayne T. His suite featured four rooms and a chemistry lab. His killer pals had college degrees. He got expelled from high school. He snapped that pic of Gail Miller’s bush and blitzed his shot at a higher education.
Crutch waited. The foyer was velvet-flocked and gilt-mirrored. Caustic fumes wafted from the next room. The Vegas paper sat on a table. Wayne made the headline, secondhand.
The LVPD hung a posthumous beef on a shine named Pappy Dawkins. Said beef: the Wayne Senior snuff. “Heart attack”-bullshit. It was a sop to appease the family.
His killer pals made headlines. His killer pals rigged headlines. The inside rumor: Wayne offed his old man.
Crutch leaned against the wall. The flocking made him sneeze. Wayne and Froggy let him live. Yeah, he bluffed them. Yeah, he built the fail-safes. But, he had to spill.
He’d spilled partial. He spilled that Dr. Fred Hiltz hired him. Go, kid- goose Farlan Brown and Count Dracula. It’s a thieving girlfriend gig. They grokked that part of it and believed him. He did not spill on Gretchen Farr as Celia Reyes or on Joan Rosen Klein. He did not reveal the foreign passports or Sam G.’s calls to Gretchen/Celia or the dead woman in Horror House.
Wayne opened the door and walked past him. No nod, fuck you, you’re this bug I don’t see. Crutch chased his shadow. A stink announced the chem lab. It was all vats and beakers on shelves.
Crutch hovered in the doorway. Wayne pressed a beaker up to his hairline. It was a Shit, I’ve got a headache thing.
“You wanted in. Okay, you’re in. If you do what Mesplede and I tell you to do, you may survive. If you lie to us or steal from us or double-deal us or withhold information from us, we will kill you and bluff our way out of the jeopardy that you placed us in.”
Crutch gulped. His Adam’s apple popped. He stretched out his tie. Let those little 2’s show.
“I’ve killed two men. I’m committed to the Cuban Freedom Cause.”
Wayne gave him This Look. “The ‘Cuban Freedom Cause’ is right-wing bullshit. Mesplede is a deluded firebrand, I am not, and I would advise you not to become one. If indeed you did kill two men, it was out of your kid desire to suck up to Mesplede or your fear that he would kill you if you disobeyed him. Don’t jerk my chain with your kid bullshit. Don’t give me a reason to kill you.”
Crutch said, “Okay.” He smirked like Scotty B. He willed his voice octaves deep.
Wayne said, “You work with Mesplede. Your job is to disrupt Hubert Humphrey’s campaign rallies, for three hundred dollars a week. Humphrey’s travel schedule is coming, so you talk to Clyde Duber, get a left-wing front list and find some politically motivated fools to help you out. You do not indulge your extracurricular kid activities on my time card. Do you understand me?”
Powder fumes swirled. The lab felt toxic. Crutch wiped his nose. Wayne laughed at him.
“I talked to Farlan Brown this morning. He’s willing to forgive you for any kid shit you might have pulled while you were working for Fred Hiltz. He told me to tell you that Gretchen Farr took him for $25,000, and you can keep half if you find her and make restitution. He told me that at one point he bribed an alcoholic chum of yours off the case with an anonymous payment, because he feared unfavorable publicity, but now that you’re working for me, you might as well stick with it, on a contingency basis.”
Crutch grinned. Wayne revived This Look. Crutch un-grinned quick.
Wayne swallowed three aspirin. “Brown told me to forward this information to you. He said he got suspicious of Gretchen once and went through her closet. He saw an airline stewardess’ uniform, with no airline designation and a name tag with the first name Janet. That’s all he told me, and now I’ll tell you. Do what you want with this, on your own time. Do not neglect your duties for me, and tell Dr. Fred and Clyde Duber that you’re withdrawing from this idiot ‘case’ as of now.”
Crutch held off a sneeze. Wayne said, “Get out of here. Common sense keeps telling me to kill you.”
“Work F.B.’s stewardess lead.”
“Giancana bootleg #-???”
“To date: no viable police paperwork on GF. Can’t ask Scotty B. about JRK’s (‘51 amp; ‘53) armed-robbery arrsts (no #s to indicate convictions) without alerting Clyde. Likewise, can’t request JRK Fed file. Per GF/CR: check nationwide birth recs or assume foreign parentage?”
“GF/CR amp; victim: check local PD Intelligence, Vice amp; missing person files while on campaign trip.”
Crutch drew on his wall graph. His head bounced-L.A. to Vegas and back in four hours. His nose still itched. Wayne dismissed him with “Good-bye, Dipshit.”
He needed more graph paper. He needed more file boxes. He might need a third file pad. Wayne warned him: do not withhold information. His case was high-risk now.
Crutch scanned the graph. Words swam. Through lines and clue nuggets cohered. He studied Joan’s mug shots. He pulled a floor lamp up and made her gray streaks glow.
He got out his sketch pad. He drew a facial likeness of Gretchen Farr/Celia Reyes. He added an airline stew’s outfit with the Janet name tag.
The Yellow Pages-there by the phone.
Airlines. Compile a list. Canvassing duty on tap.
Something was fucked. It was Beverly Hills, it was 2:00 p.m., it vibed major grief,
A bottleneck in Fat City. BHPD black amp; whites peeling out, lights and sirens. Two K-cars, two meat wagons, two news vans.
Crutch followed the cop cars. They peeled up through the biz district and hit the rare-air zone. The grief vibe intensified: more K-cars, choppers, cops with leashed bloodhounds. He cut west on Elevado. Traffic was dead-stalled. He saw a big bluesuit swarm outside Hate House.
He ditched his car and ran there. He dodged stalled cars and cut across front lawns. He sprinted down the neighbor’s driveway and monkey-climbed the fence. The bluesuit swarm expanded. There’s the statues and the bomb shelter and Dr. Fred. He’s on a blood-soaked gurney. He’s got shotgun pellets and scorched bone for a face.
The bluesuits saw him. He recognized some guys. Someone yelled, “Crutchfield, go to the station!”
Clyde was there. Ditto Phil Irwin. Ditto Phil and Clyde’s Jew lawyer, Chick Weiss.
The Detective Bureau hall was packed. BHPD murders ran one per decade. It was a roundup. The fuzz were hauling in Dr. Fred’s KAs.
Clyde said, “It’s just routine. They saw my name, Phil’s name and Crutch’s name in Dr. Fred’s appointment book.”
Chick said, “It’s got to be one of his ex-wives. He was married seven times. I did all his divorces. He was the biggest alimony defaulter on the planet.”
Phil said, “Live by the sword, die by the sword. I think it’s black militants. He wrote all these anti-coon tracts, so the coons waxed his hate-monger ass.”
Crutch flashed on Gretchen/Celia. Crutch flashed on Joan. Crutch flashed on the cash-stuffed clothes bin.
Clyde said, “Nix on the militants, but it plays like a shine caper. I talked to the watch commander. He thinks it’s that boogie heist team that robbed those people in Brentwood.”
Chick said, “I’m a boogie art connoisseur. I dig Caribbean statuary. That doesn’t mean I dig boogie 211 PC’s.”
Phil said, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
Clyde rolled his eyes. Chick said, “As your lawyer, my advice is don’t reveal shit. Dr. Fred was dirty in countless fucking ways. You don’t want guilt by association.”
The intercom buzzed: “Donald Crutchfield. Captain’s office, please.”
Crutch walked over. The door was ajar. He stepped inside. Dwight Holly was standing there.
Crutch shut the door. Confluence, Clyde’s word, it’s who you know and who you blow and how you’re all linked.
“People keep calling me that. I keep trying to show them otherwise.”
“It’s the bow tie with the polo shirt. It’s hard to see through to the real, dynamic you.”
Crutch leaned on the door. His chest throbbed. Bile crept up. He felt like he looked green. Dwight Holly tossed him an antacid mint. He caught it and popped it. Dwight Holly winked.
“Wayne explained the stalemate you created. I said, ‘Let’s kill him anyway,’ but softer minds prevailed. If you want to look for that woman who skimmed Farlan Brown, swell. Obey orders, you live. Disobey them, c’est la guerre.”
Crutch shut his eyes and saw Dr. Fred faceless. Triple-aught buckshot. Big game-stopping loads. He tasted blood in his mouth. He’d bit his gums raw.
Dwight Holly said, “Mr. Hoover wants this homicide short-shrifted. Some jigs pulled a robbery and it got out of hand. Dr. Fred was a Bureau informant, a hate peddler, a dope fiend and a compulsive pussy hound. It was a high-risk lifestyle, and the world will not mourn. Are you starting to see your role in this?”
Crutch opened his eyes. “He had a bomb shelter. There was a big hamper full of-”
“The shelter was ransacked and the money is gone. Some jigs pulled a robbery and it got out of hand. They’ll blow the money on dope, Cadillacs and mink coats for their bitches, they’ll continue pulling robberies until some white cops shoot and kill them. Now, are you starting to see your-”
“Don’t tell BHPD about the Gretchen Farr gig. Don’t mention Dracula or Farlan Brown. Lie. Dissemble. Prevaricate. Don’t bring up you, Wayne, Freddy O., Mesplede, or any other dipshit-killer friends you might have. Don’t embarrass your pansy boss, Mr. Hoover.”
Dwight Holly grinned. “I thought I detected a brain there.”
Crutch swallowed some blood. Dwight Holly tossed him another mint. It fell short and hit the floor.
“May I ask you a question about your tie and your haircut?”
“Do you have an unseemly crush on Sergeant Robert S. Bennett?”
Crutch said, “Fuck you.”
Dwight Holly roared.
(Las Vegas, 9/15/68)
Files, graphs, lists. His suite was a chem lab/paper mill.
Teamster Fund book loan defaulters. Deadbeats and stiffs. Transaction files and credit sheets. Debit-projection files and cost-analysis studies.
Wayne read files and jotted figures. He worked with a scratch pad and three different pens. His back hurt from hunkering down and his fingers hurt from writing. His eyes hurt from file reads and column-figure scans.
Let’s co-opt the Steve’s Kingburger chain in Akron, Ohio. Let’s buy a mall site in Leawood, Kansas. Let’s co-opt the Pizza Pit chain and wash casino skim through it. Let’s annex three low-life clubs in South L.A.: The Scorpio Lounge, Sultan Sam’s Sandbox and a dyke den named Rae’s Rugburn Room. Let’s grab the Peoples’ Bank of South Los Angeles, for its laundry potential. Let’s usurp Black Cat Cab. It’s an all-cash biz, it’s near the Peoples’ Bank, it’s close to the border and our foreign-casino sites.
Wayne put his pen down. He was wiped. He got off the dope that got him through West Vegas and the Grapevine. He got through his sobbing fits over Janice. He was getting fit again. He was getting impervious, because-
He was working.
He was mediating and colluding. He was working for Carlos Marcello and for and against Howard Hughes. Drac’s hotel spree was forestalled by Justice Department edict. Tricky Dick would put the skids to that, should he prevail at the polls. His dirty-tricks squad would lend support.
He was dispatching. Jean-Philippe Mesplede was set to scout casino-site countries. Mesplede was a mixed-bag grande plus. He was tireless and competent and prone to sentimental gaffes. He let the numbnuts kid live. The kid’s fail-safes were borderline sound. Borderlines were tenuous. He projected Dipshit’s life span as roughly six months.
The kid was a shit magnet. So was he. So was Dwight Holly.
Dwight called him yesterday. His news: the Fred Hiltz homicide. Mr. Hoover wanted it entombed. That was good: Drac and Farlan Brown might get offshoot publicity. He told Dwight his Don Crutchfield story. Dwight said, “Should I kill him?” Wayne said, “Not yet.”
He yawned and grabbed The. File. It ran four pages. Dwight pulled strings and shagged it for him.
LVPD-Clark County Sheriff’s: Missing Person Case #38992. Reginald James Hazzard/male Negro/DOB 10/17/44.
Scant and bleak. Pro forma: missing colored kids rated zilch.
Reginald Hazzard was a high school honors grad. He took college classes, worked in a car wash, kept his snout clean. The cops interviewed a few neighbors, learned zero, case closed.
The folder was unscuffed. The paper smelled new. It was an un-visited and un-mourned document.
He’d called Mary Beth three times. She never answered. He called at one-day intervals and let the phone ring twenty times.
He put the file down. He hesitated. He dialed her number again. He got four rings and her near-brusque hello.
“It’s Wayne Tedrow, Mrs. Hazzard.”
She near-laughed. “Well, it’s good to hear from you, but I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“Can we get coffee?”
“All right, but I’ll bring it.”
“That first rest stop on I-15. I shouldn’t be seen with you.”
The then to now blurred. This rest stop and the rest stop near Dallas. Sand drifts and scrub balls then. Desert grit now. Wendell D. in pimp threads. Similar rest-room huts blurred seamless.
Wayne pulled in. Mary Beth sat in a ‘62 Valiant. It was midday and crowded. She’d parked away from the other cars. Wayne leaped in her car. She smiled and slapped the steering wheel. The horn beeped. Wayne banged his knees on the dashboard.
“We’re not fugitives, you know.”
Wayne said, “You could make a case for it.”
She handed him a paper cup with a napkin attached. The bottom was seeping.
“I forgot to ask for cream and sugar.”
“Any way’s fine with me.”
“Are you always so accommodating?”
“No, I tend to be a bit peremptory.”
Mary Beth smiled. “I know. I saw Buddy Fritsch on Fremont Street yesterday. He was wearing a splint on his nose.”
Wayne held the cup two-handed. The coffee was too hot. He sipped it slow. It was pure busywork.
“My friends think you’re crazy.”
“What do you say to them?”
“That men who want things from you usually give you things or show you things, which is the same as telling you things flat out. I say, ‘Mr. Tedrow has something to tell me, and he doesn’t have the words, but he sure knows a gesture.’ ”
Wayne put his cup on the dashboard. It rocked and sat still. He turned toward Mary Beth and laced his hands over one knee.
“Tell me about your son.”
“He made me wish there were two or three more of him, which coming from a busy-making person like me says quite a bit.”
“That describes your feeling for him. I was thinking of your assessment of him as a young man.”
Mary Beth sipped coffee. “He was a reader and a chemistry dabbler. He went on binges with books and his chemistry sets. He was trying to figure out the world with his mind, which I respected.”
A car pulled up next to them. A white couple gawked. Wayne said, “And the police investigation?”
“About what you’d expect. It came and went in about half a day, so Cedric and I hired a private detective. His name was Morty Sidwell, and I think he did an adequate job. He checked death records and police and hospital records all over the country and became convinced that Reginald was still alive. We ran out of money after a while, so we had to let the whole thing go.”
The white people kept staring. Wayne kept looking over. Mary Beth said, “Let it go. I don’t think I can take another gesture from you.”
Wayne hitched his seat back. It freed up his legs. Mary Beth put her cup on the dashboard.
“President Kennedy was killed a few weeks before Reginald disappeared. He was very upset.”
The white people drove off. Dad did some double-clutch thing and kicked gravel their way.
“Do you remember where you were that weekend?”
Wayne looked at her. “I was in Dallas.”
“I was trying to find Wendell Durfee.”
“And I found him, and I let him go.”
More cars pulled in. It got claustrophobic. Wayne jittered up and broke a sweat. Mary Beth put her hand on his knee.
5.-Known Associates: •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• ••••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• ••••••••••• ••••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• ••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• •••••••••• ••••••••••
(Los Angeles, 9/19/68)
It’s her hair.
The gray streaks. No concessions for forty-one. Her bare arms to spotlight the knife scar. She vibed her age, she dressed mature, she eschewed kid aesthetics. The scar was sufficient Fuck You.
They lit cigarettes. Their booth was big and wraparound. Ollie Hammond’s was pre-lunch slow.
Joan Klein said, “You haven’t mentioned the pay.”
Dwight sipped coffee. “A thousand a month, cold. Spend a hundred a week getting next to our targets. Buy food for the Feed the Kiddies scams, so the brothers can allot more money for guns and dope.”
“And my duties beyond that?”
“Report in full, be discreet, don’t forward information that could only have come from you. Protect your informant status. Warn me in advance of potential violent crime and any specific talk of actions against police officers.”
Joan smiled. “Beyond the usual ‘kill the pigs’ chatter?”
Dwight smiled. “Specific pigs, tell me. Nebulous, honky-pig-motherfucker bullshit, I can do without.”
It’s her glasses.
The black frames, the loose fit, the dips down the bumps on her nose.
Dwight said, “You know Karen Sifakis.”
“I know of a woman named ‘Karen the Bombmaker.’ She knows people who know people who know me. You know all about cutouts, mail drops and dead-letter fronts.”
Heartburn-Dwight popped two mints. A persistent waiter hovered. Dwight glared him off.
“I’ve read your file.”
“I figured you had.”
“It’s threadbare and full of inconsistencies. I can’t tell if you’re a red-diaper peacenik or an armed-robber manquй.”
Joan blew smoke rings. “Assume both and there’ll be fewer surprises.”
Dwight stubbed out his cigarette. “No court filings, no paperwork. Four suspicion rousts, no DR numbers to indicate dispos-”
“Four robberies in cities undergoing labor strikes. Random roundups of Smith Act violators, names on Red Alert sheets, cops out for some fun.”
Dwight poured them fresh coffee. “Did you roll over on any of your comrades?”
“How long were you detained?”
“Were you physically threatened?”
“A cop in Dayton, Ohio, hit me with a phone book.”
“An injudicious comment about his mother.”
Dwight laughed. “And then?”
“They put me in a tank with some bull daggers. One girl was cute. I liked the kisses, but she moved a little too fast to suit me.”
She spoke precisely. New York lurked in her vowels. She shifted her voice patterns-a skilled dissembler’s trait.
Dwight said, “I’ve never rebuffed an amorous dyke in a holding tank.”
Joan said, “I stabbed her with a fork. The tines cut through her cheek and lodged in her upper palate.”
Dwight quashed a grin. Joan sipped coffee. She had a gaunt up-all-night look.
“How will we communicate?”
“Phone drops for now. Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. The pay phone at Silver Lake and Effie.”
“I have a teleph-”
“You’re being disingenuous, Miss Klein. I don’t want to know where you live, and I’ll find you when I need you.”
“Will you guarantee me no random detentions and no photo-surveillance hassles?”
Dwight shook his head. “No. If I ask that favor, the other L.A. agents will know you’re working for me. I’ve already flagged your file with a false listing. As of last week, you were creating woo-woo with some militant fucks at UC Davis.”
She didn’t smile. He wanted her to. Her smiles leveled her harshness.
“May I tell you what I won’t do?”
“I won’t inform on young people who come in for a lark and get out when things get ugly.”
“You’re assuming they’ll get ugly?”
“Yes, aren’t you?”
Dwight said, “Not like you might wish. I don’t foresee armed revolution in America, I don’t see street-corner punks like the BTA and MMLF as the vanguard of anything more than a few fistfights and pimp rousts.”
Joan smiled. Her harshness leveled up.
“Then why are you working so hard to suppress them?”
“Because they’re driven by criminal design, because I despise disorder, because Mr. Hoover told me to.”
“Because their antics will discredit the black-power movement at large. Because the better-known groups are more of a threat, but they’ve ingratiated themselves with the press. Because black militancy has achieved a degree of mainstream acceptance and you’re trying to take it back to the gutter.”
Dwight looked at her. She smiled for him. Her teeth were lipstick-smeared.
“I haven’t asked you why you’re doing this.”
“For the money? Because suppression never works in the end? Because I’ll find some people and shape their views in ways you’ll never be able to assess, and Mr. Hoover will be paying me to create revolution on an undetectable level that will never make its way into any file he can gloat over at 3:00 a.m., when warm milk, cookies and Seconal don’t work.”
Dwight smiled. “You’re very well informed.”
Joan smiled. “One of Mr. Hoover’s former housekeepers has a son in the Panthers. He’s a gifted cartoonist. He did four panels on Mr. Hoover at bedtime. He peruses surveillance photos of well-oiled young black men sunbathing, and Aunt Jemima has to knock before she brings in her goodies.”
Dwight slapped his knees. His elbows banged the table and dumped a glass. A waiter zoomed up and blotted the spill.
Joan said, “It wasn’t that funny.”
“I’ll disagree there.”
“You’re very impolitic.”
“Mr. Hoover and I share a history. Humor helps sometimes.”
“Tell me about it.”
Dwight shook his head. “Tell me about that scar on your arm and why you’re so proud of it.”
Joan shook her head. “I’m working on a new version. Something subtle and racist-inspired. Something the BTA and MMLF will groove on.”
“You could tell me the truth.”
“Utilitarian fictions are more my style.”
His stomach churned. Dwight chased two mints with coffee.
“Who redacted your file? Your ‘Known Associates’ section has been inked, so you must have informed Federally.”
Joan lit a cigarette. “I’ve informed, yes. I’ve never informed Federally, so there must be some names in there that some other Federal handler wanted deleted.”
Dwight said, “I’m not sure I buy that.”
“I don’t care what you buy, Mr. Holly. We’re both here to buy and sell, and I’m sure we’ll create repression and revolution in a fucked-up, but somehow complementary fashion.”
It was her smell. She was sweating. Her soap scent was gone. Her arm-holes were damp.
“I have a few specific questions, Miss Klein.”
“How will you get next to the BTA and MMLF?”
“I run a safe house. I’ve already made arrangements for the BTA to stash some guns there.”
“And you won’t tell me the address?”
Dwight said, “Here’s your first test. You borrow the guns, fire them into acoustical baffling and bring me the spent shells. You replace the guns, so that I have the spents to run comparisons on.”
Joan said, “No.”
Dwight said, “Then there’s no deal. Then I run a fifty-state detention sheet on you.”
She squeezed the table ledge. Her fingers throbbed. The whole table shook.
“I won’t reveal the location of the house, but I’ll get you the shells.”
“How do I know they’ll be the right ones?”
Joan smiled. “Because you trust me?”
Dwight placed a plastic-wrapped block of cocaine on the table. Powder puffed out a stretch hole.
“Make some Commie spooks as happy as you’ve just made me.”
Karen said, “I’ve never met her, but I’ve heard about the scar.”
They were in bed. Karen was showing full-on. Dwight put a hand on her belly. Eleanora kicked twice.
“It was that riot at the Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill. I think it was ‘49. Joan tangled with some Legionnaires.”
Dwight turned on the desk fan. The bedroom air churned and stayed warm.
Karen said, “I saw a news spot on Dr. Hiltz. Remember, you told me you knew him.”
Dwight nodded. “The Bureau bootjacked the investigation.”
“He was a paid informant.”
“Less effective, more volatile and capricious, less politically astute.”
Karen smiled. “That’s one of the sweetest things you’ve ever said to me.”
“You must love me, then.”
“Well, I’ll think about it.”
They fell toward each other and found the fit. Dwight drifted with that smell, that harsh smile, that gray hair.
HHH in ‘68! HHH in ‘68! HHH in ‘68!
The Twin Cities were Hubert turf. Scando types jammed the Berglund’s Bazaar lot. Four hundred hayseeds. A good midday toll.
Fifty hippies stirred up shit. They were Clyde Duber recruits. They jabbed horror placards high. Dig it: gooks on fire, napalmed kids and U.S. jets trailing ooze.
Cheers and jeers: HHH! and hippie hate. Peace doves and slant kids with flame-flecked hairdos.
Crutch and the Frogman watched. They glommed the protest punks off Clyde’s left-wing front list. They paid them with maryjane and ten-spots. They hosted a poster party last night. Froggy served pizza, beer and weed. Crutch was the art director. He cut up magazines and found some swinging fascist pix.
The rally droned on. The roar accelerated: HHH! HHH! HHH!
Security guys plowed a path to the bandstand. Humphrey and some fatso pols wobbled between them. Crutch yukked. Froggy grinned. Dig it: we slipped THC in your breakfast coffee.
Humphrey charged up the steps and caught his foot on the platform. A security geek rescued him. The veep got his legs. He had blissed-out eyes. His fly was down. His BVDs showed. Chuckles circulated. Hubert addressed the crowd. He slurred his words. He said something like, “My fellow Abyssinians.”
They had a two-bedroom suite in St. Paul. It was full-boat on Howard Hughes. Room service ran twenty-four hours. They noshed New York strips, stuffed mushrooms and peppermint ice cream. The Frogman served Pernod and THC-laced cookies. They always got zorched and talked CUBA.
Mesplede was a broken record. Yeah, but that record spun.
LBJ, Nixon, Hubert-sissified sob sisters all. Heroin. We sell it, we buy guns, we depose Fidel. It worked in Vietnam. Betrayals deep-sixed Tiger Kadre. They’d run a tighter Krew now. Froggy was Wayne Tedrow’s casino front man. He’d be cruising for the right right-wing country. Their sites would be Cuba-close.
We sell Big “H.” We hook an island clientele. We make gun money and run speedboat missions. We rape the coast and kill Reds.
Crutch said, “I want in.”
Froggy said, “My friend, I guarantee it.”
Crutch pointed to his bow tie. Froggy said, “Your numbers will increase, once we determine our casino-site location.”
Crutch swilled Pernod then. His peripheral vision fritzed. Froggy showed him his scalping knife. He’d scalped thirty-one Castroite fucks.
Travel lodging. He festooned the bedroom walls for his two-night stays. He kept his Joan Klein pix in his wallet. He taped up a big Cuba map and tossed darts at militia installations.
Crutch tossed and missed, tossed and hit. The surrounding walls got dart-dinged and pocked. He’d memorized most of the village names and all the roads into Havana. Memo: buy a scalping knife, just like Froggy’s.
Crutch stared at the Joan pix. His Pernod/cookie buzz had him seeing new things. He’d talked to Clyde. Clyde’s take: the Dr. Fred snuff did not play into the Gretchen Farr caper. The Feds usurped the inquiry. Jack Leahy was running it. Jack’s take: it’s that jig heist gang. They robbed that Brentwood house, they hit Dr. Fred next.
Crutch got panic pangs. Dwight Holly said, “Is there anything you’re not telling me?” Crutch lied and said, “No.” Nobody knows about Horror House. Nobody knows about Gretchen Farr as Celia Reyes or about Joan Rosen Klein. He clued Buzz Duber in to one lead: Farlan Brown’s airline-stew revelation. Buzz was working that lead in L.A. now. He was checking airline offices with Crutch’s sketch.
Pernod and THC. The bedroom walls wafting peach to magenta. Still no make on the dead woman’s tattoo. Still no make on the wall markings. He broke into Arnie Moffett’s office again, en route to the airport. He re-ransacked the house-rental files. He got more zero on Gretchen/Celia and Joan. He’d leaned on Arnie baaaaaaad. The cocksucker probably dumped their file post-beating.
His fuck-up-Hubert gig was now three cities in. He’d checked three local PD Intel and Robbery files. Zero-no mentions of Joan Rosen Klein.
Crutch dart-bombed the Bay of Pigs and Havana. His weird high got him all swelled up and misty. He taped the Joan pictures above his bed. The wall colors shifted-magenta to tropic sunrise.
Another shopping mall lot today. Last night’s news: “Exhausted Humphrey makes policy gaffes.” This gig was that gig re-psychedelicized. Froggy said he learned some shit in Chicago.
The crowd ran three hundred. They ran porky and Minnesota blond. They were noisy. They talked liberal rah-rah. HHH emoted on placard fronts. He tried to look studly. He failed. He looked like your pedophile coach.
Crutch and the Frogman stood beside the speaker’s platform. A cheer went up: He’s coming! He’s coming! He’s coming! Crutch saw Humphrey and some flunkies approaching, stage left. Four cops trailed them by four paces. Mesplede waved three fingers. Three moonlighting Teamsters waved back.
They opened canisters on the QT. They squatted on the QT. They poured liquid wax on the ground beside the platform. The shit was neutral-colored. It slithered and spread.
Four paces, three, two, one-
Humphrey and his flunkies slipped, slid and slalomed up the platform steps. Hubert did Frug and Wah-Watusi moves just to stay upright. The crowd yukked. Two cops pratfalled. The crowd re-yukked. A fat cat hugged Hubert. Hubert’s look said “What’s this shit?” The fat cat spoke into the microphone. More yuks leveled his spiel. Crutch signaled a guy by the platform. The guy toppled and mock-convulsed. The fucker was double-jointed. He kicked his arms and legs out at right angles. Alka-Seltzer foam dripped from his mouth.
Hubert fans yelled for help. Seizure Sid did his shtick. A fat babe jammed a frozen Mars bar over his tongue. Some chumps yelled, “Get a doctor!” and “Man down!” The crowd dispersed. Hubert fumed and tried to express compassion. The fat cat futzed with the platform mike. Reverb went screeeee.
Crutch signaled three groups in mid-crowd. Three fistfights broke out. The crowd re-dispersed. Two skinny nuns bopped the fighters with their PEACE NOW! signs.
Hubert stamped his feet. The cops flailed on liquid wax. Their fat jiggled. They looked like honky pigs in nigger hate cartoons. Hubert did that V-for-victory thing.
Froggy signaled a blonde in go-go boots and tight jeans. Crutch handed her a Nixon sign and boosted her up onstage. Froggy waved to three groups of men. They started whistling and chanting, “Take it off!”
Hubert stood there. The fat cat dry-popped Digitalis. Some fresh cops charged the fistfighters. The peacenik nuns got trampled. Cops charged the platform. Liquid wax sent them sprawling. The blonde waved her Nixon sign. The crowd went nuts. “TAKE IT OFF!” went epidemic. The blonde pulled off her shirt and bra and did the Swim, the Fish and the Mashed Potato topless. Crutch kicked on a hi-fi gizmo under the stage. Dig it: Archie Bell and the Drells with “The Tighten Up.”
A fuckload of cops charged the platform. Mesplede walked away. Crutch grabbed the discarded bra and sprinted.
Back to L.A.
Crutch killed time at the airport. The Frogman split to Miami on an earlier flight. The boarding gate featured a phone bank. Crutch called Clyde Duber Associates collect.
The secretary put Buzz on. Buzz said, “We got a lead.”
“What are you-”
“That picture you drew. I got a make. PSA Airways, the fourth place I hit. The personnel director said, ‘Bingo, that’s Janet Joyce Sherbourne, and she was one all-time no-goodnik.’ ”
Crutch got out his notepad. “Slow, now. Tell me the story.”
“It’s some story, and it hooks in to the Dominican Republic. Remember? Gretchen Farr got those answering-service calls from the Dominican consulate.”
Buzz knew that part. Buzz knew shit per Gretchen as Celia or Celia’s Dominican-
“Hey, are you there?”
“I’m here. Come on, tell-”
“Okay, the Sherbourne cooze was a bilingual stewardess. She worked the L.A. to Santo Domingo run exclusively, right up until that fucked-up little war in ‘65, when LBJ sent the marines in. Okay, so there’s a layover in Mexico City, and the Sherbourne cooze gets caught with a gun and a half-dozen fake passports. Okay, she fucking wiggles out of custody, and nobody knows how, and then she vanishes off the face of the earth. Now, here’s the good part, the part that is just so fucking perfectly Gretchie. It turns out that the cooze’s job application was a complete fake, her fucking address was some kind of Commie safe house, and her personnel file got snatched from the PSA office.”
Crutch let the phone drop. Buzz talked to dead air. Things went haywire. He saw Joan kiss Gretchen/Celia in slow motion.
The downtown library was near his file pad. The books were too big to steal. The Dominican Republic: maps, pix, history.
Memo: the D.R. was close to Cuba. Memo: the mob grooved the D.R. as a would-be gambling site.
Crutch lugged books over to a table. Dozing winos competed for space. He scoped out the map pages. He grokked the layout. The island of Hispaniola. The D.R. and Haiti on one slab of land. The Caribbean Sea, close to Cuba and Puerto Rico. Close to Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Dominican connection: all over his fucking case.
The D.R. bordered Haiti eastbound. The Massacre River formed the dividing line. Inlets dotted the coasts of both countries. All the city names were spooky spic and frog.
Crutch skimmed summary chapters. The race shit hit him quick. The Dominicans were light-skinned beaners. They grooved on their Spanish roots. Dark-skinned Dominicans were dйclassй. It was like the U.S.: white is all right!
Rafael Trujillo had long political legs. He ruled from ‘30 to ‘61. He quashed dissent. He oppressed Haitians and slaughtered the fuckers en masse. He was pro-U.S. and anti-Red. He fucked lots of women and tortured and suppressed his political rivals. A Commie group called the 6/14 Movement tried to oust his ass in ‘59. Their “revolution” went pfft. Trujillo went schizo and veered out of line. He was sacking the country too overtly. JFK and the CIA thought he might go Red. The CIA whacked him in ‘61. The Frogman allegedly assisted. A less garish despot named Juan Bosch took over. “Free elections” and all the standard spic-reform bullshit. It looked like Bosch was veering Red. LBJ sent some marines in and nipped that shit in the bud. The current despot was a pint-size punk named Joaquin Balaguer. The D.R. was nothing but coups, revolts, plots, intrigue, slaughter.
Crutch hit a section on Haiti. Woooo!-baaad nigger juju! French-speaking spooks. Dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier-Godzilla to Trujillo’s Rodan. More oppression, coups, revolts, plots, intrigue, slaughter. Voodoo-oh, yeah!
Voodoo rites, voodoo rituals, voodoo curses, voodoo priests. Mind-blowing voodoo liquor and voodoo herbs. American spooks ate fried chicken. Haitian spooks fucked chickens and drank their hot blood.
Crutch flipped pages. This voodoo shit was a gas. He hit a photo section. Spooks were capering and bopping around in chicken-feather hats. Woooo, then there’s this-
This photo. This light-skinned Negro guy. This weird tattoo on his right arm.
Geometric patterns. Crosshatched. Like the tattoo on the dead woman in Horror House-
(Las Vegas, 9/26/68)
The Boys sported golf shorts with high black socks. They wore their cleated golf shoes indoors.
Carlos set the trend. It was his mock-Roman suite. He paced and punctured the carpets. Sam G. had dull cleats. He did minor damage. Santo T. had sharp cleats. His spikes raped the rugs.
Wayne stood by a covered easel. The Boys sat with 10:00 a.m. Kahlъas. Carlos twirled a five-iron. Wayne caught the Wayne Senior subtext.
Sam said, “We’ve got a 10:40 tee time.”
Santo said, “Carlos, put the club down. Do not drag Wayne through memory lane in a way that might tend to torment him.”
Carlos said, “I have no such intention. I’m just loosening up my fibular bones.”
Sam said, “Have two more drinks. You’ll leave your swing on the driving range and a grand a hole in my pocket.”
Santo said, “Chop, chop, Wayne. You’ve got this tendency to perch, like there’s a dark cloud over your head at all times.”
Sam said, “There is. As much as I admire his rough edges, Wayne is a shit magnet.”
Carlos twirled his club. “Go, Wayne. We came to listen.”
Wayne cleared his throat. “The fall is going our way. Nixon’s ahead in the polls, our dirty-tricks squad is doing good work, Mr. Hughes is pleased with his hotel purchases and is waiting for Mr. Nixon’s Justice Department to loosen up a few anti-trust statutes, so that he can buy some more. Jean-Philippe Mesplede is ready to start scouting casino sites, so we’re on-go there.”
Sam said, “My friend Celia keeps lobbying for the D.R. She’s relentless on the topic.”
Carlos said, “Sam’s relentless on the topic of that island-bred snatch.”
Santo said, “Sam’s relentlessly pussy-whipped. It’s a disease of the weak mind and spirit.”
Sam grabbed his crotch. “I got your disease hanging ten inches.”
Wayne undraped the easel. The graph was cross-columned. It listed buyout businesses linked to profit projections.
“Three supermarket chains, all in the Midwest, all owned by the in-laws of made men and Teamster stewards. We purchase at five cents on the dollar and sell the land to mall developers. I think we’ll realize fifteen million in profit.”
Sam clapped. Santo clapped. Carlos twirled his golf club.
Wayne said, “The Peoples’ Bank of South Los Angeles. They’re way in arrears, but I think we should let them continue to operate, while we take a greatly enhanced profit percentage. One, it’s a money-laundering front. Two, they can launder our money. Three, Lionel Thornton, the president, is mobbed up all over the map, and I think we can control him. Four, it’s close to the hub for the Hughes flights to our casino sites, so we can fly cash straight in, unimpeded.”
Carlos said, “I like it.”
Santo said, “I like it, but I don’t like the jungle-bunny aspect.”
Sam said, “I like it, with a proviso. We keep Wayne off the premises, so he don’t shoot all the customers.”
Wayne flushed. Santo and Sam laughed. Carlos twirled his golf club.
Wayne tapped the easel. “Two more South L.A. businesses, with on-site illegal gambling that we can take at least 50% of, while resuming ownership of both enterprises. The first one is a nightclub named Sultan Sam’s Sandbox. The second is a lesbian bar named Rae’s Rugburn Room.”
Sam yukked. Santo yukked with “nigger something” mixed in. Carlos poked him with the golf club. Santo shut up.
Wayne picked up a pointer and tapped the column lines. A toga fool brought in three fresh Kahlъas. The Boys imbibed. Carlos poked the toga fool with the golf club. The toga fool vamoosed.
The booze smell made Wayne queasy. Sweat pooled on his shirt.
“Black Cat Cab. South L.A., as well. Tiger Kab served us handsomely in Miami and Vegas, and Pete B. sold the Vegas end to Milt Chargin last summer. We’ll use it for cash flow, cook the books and launder low-end skim through it. I think I can talk Milt into coming to L.A. to run the place. Beyond that, I’ve got a friend on the Feds who’s running a Cointelpro in the area, and we’ll have Milt log tips and feed them to him, which will keep Mr. Hoover on our side.”
Sam said, “I know your friend.”
Santo shuddered. “Dwight ‘the Enforcer’ Holly.”
Carlos sipped Kahlua. “A man with coon-hunter credentials of his own.”
Sam said, “Yeah, which is not to say that he’s in Wayne’s league.”
Santo sipped Kahlua. “Nobody’s in Wayne’s league.”
Carlos said, “Dwight’s a white man.”
Sam sipped Kahlua. “So’s Milt Chargin, for a fucking Jew.”
Carlos sipped Kahlua. “Milt’s an amateur comedian. He’ll be hobknobbing with the shines and having a high old time.”
Sam said, “Milt told me a good one. ‘What do you call a naked nigger sitting alone in a tree?’ ”
Santo sipped Kahlua. “So tell us the punch line, dickhead.”
Sam said, “The branch manager.”
Carlos twirled his golf club. “What’s the matter, Wayne? You’re not laughing.”
Morty Sidwell had an office at 2nd and Fremont. He did bail bonds, divorce, missing persons. LVPD considered him kosher.
Wayne drove over. He was tracking Reginald Hazzard part-time now. A cop pal ran a fifty-state dead-body check. It hit negative. Ditto for arrest reports. Ditto for male Negro John Does, late ‘63.
Reginald was bookish. Mary Beth told him that. Wayne combed the checkout files of all the Vegas libraries. 6am-the kid checked out twenty-nine books in fall ‘63.
Advanced-chemistry texts. Books on left-wing political theory. Odd books on Haitian voodoo herbs.
Sidwell’s office was above a topless joint. Wayne parked out back and took the exterior stairs. The club noise was brutal. Amplifier hum shook the walls. Bass thumps pulsed the floorboards.
Morty was sprawled on the couch. The office was hot. Morty wore a washcloth on his forehead. He saw Wayne and went oy vey. The walls featured Morty-and-friends art. There’s Morty with Dino, Morty with Lawrence Welk, Morty with the late JFK.
Wayne straddled a chair. Reverb wobbled the slats. It was a social-protest song with a sexy dance beat.
Morty adjusted his washcloth. “Earplugs don’t help, so I tried acoustical baffling. The owner and I settled on a compromise. Once a week, he sends one of the girls up. I get a sponge bath and a header. It’s beneficial to my overall health.”
Wayne said, “My name is-”
“I know who you are. Your daddy hired me to run a schvartze bongo player out of town in ‘58. He was a one-hit wonder. ‘Bongo in the Congo’ and no more. He was shtupping your stepmom, Janice, at the Golden Gorge Motel.”
Wayne laughed. Morty said, “Condolences, though. I know they both passed away last summer.”
Wayne shut his eyes and popped two aspirin. The chair slats rattled. The floorboards jumped.
Morty said, “Normally, I’d say ‘How’s tricks,’ but with you I know they’re always tricky. This tempts me to say, ‘What do you want?’ ”
Wayne opened his eyes. “Reginald Hazzard. It was almost five years ago. The kid disappeared, the parents hired you to find him.”
Morty yawned. “Yeah, I remember. Nice colored folks. Cedric and Mary Beth. Cedric got offed by a shvoogie hump named Pappy Dawkins. It’s a real load of joy you’re bringing me, I got to say.”
“What happened with the investigation?”
“It went nowhere and my clients ran out of money. I ran some DB checks and told them that, to the best of my knowledge, the kid was still alive. That’s it, over and out.”
Tick, tick, tick-his old cop shit detector.
Wayne said, “There’s more.”
Morty said, “Nix.”
“There’s more, you know there’s more, I know it, I’m not leaving until you tell me.”
Morty pulled the washcloth over his eyes and held up three fingers. Wayne dropped three C-notes on his chest. The amplifier hum accelerated. The JFK picture shook.
Morty said, “The Hazzard kid hitchhiked out of Vegas. I’m talking like Christmas ‘63 or into the new year. He gets popped for vag at some little pissant shitkicker town on the California border, and don’t ask me the name, because there’s a zillion little bumfuck towns like that and I really can’t remember. Sooo, Reggie’s got a gun on him. Sooo, the cops book him for vag and a gun charge and beat the piss out of him. Soooo, this white woman shows up and bails him out, and Reggie and the white woman abscond, never to be seen again. It was a cash bail and a fake ID, and the case went cold and Cedric and Mary Beth ran out of coin. I told Cedric this, but he said, ‘Don’t you tell Mary Beth, ‘cause all of this would just kill her.’ ”
Wayne said, “More details.” Morty held up two fingers. Wayne dropped two yards on his chest.
Morty chewed a hangnail. “Soooo, it’s a fucked-up little redneck PD. They don’t keep records. The cops come and go and run wetback fruit-picking crews on the side. They live to drink home brew and beat up beaners and coloreds, and whatever paperwork they had got lost, misplaced or stolen. Those cops comprised a grim experience for me, and that’s all the news that’s fit to print.”
Wayne stood up. “Did you get a description of the white woman?”
“That I can give you. She was supposedly pale and in her late thirties, she wore glasses, had long dark hair with gray streaks, and a cop said something about a bad scar on one of her arms.”
(Los Angeles, 10/1/68)
Marsh Bowen worked. He owned Vince amp; Paul’s. The white cops’ bar done got BAAAAAAAAD BROTHERED.
Marsh was seven nights in. He spawned racial tsuris with soulful aplomb. The white cops knew he was a cop. That got him in. That did not excuse his black-power stud behavior.
Marsh with the muscle-man tank top. Marsh with the modest Afro. Marsh all over the white chicks-but no hard moves yet.
It was his seventh night. He perched near the bar and played tourist from Des Moines. No cops recognized him. Who’s that big goofball? He sure likes this place. He wears sandals and high-water pants.
Hate was building. Dwight tracked it. Who dot bell-bottomed Mandingo? Scotty Bennett showed up every night. Scotty boozed, Scotty eyeballed Marsh, Scotty acted covetous and puerile. Scotty radar-tracked Marsh and his barmaid girlfriend every spare moment.
Dwight picked at a cheese puff. Marsh chatted up two cop-groupie stews. He shagged hors d’oeuvres off their plates and sipped their drinks uninvited. The girls looooved it.
Dwight watched. The Marsh Bowen gestalt intensified. Marsh was a preener and a player. Marsh might be duplicitous. Marsh should be preemptively spot-tailed. Tail-job prospect: that half-smart Crutchfield kid.
Dwight yawned. His stomach growled back. Food fucked with his mental momentum. Niggertown was seething. Jack Leahy fed him gossip. All this militant shit gored the LAPD’s gonads. Off-duty cops were indulging klantics. Station-house tune-ups. Panthers waylaid and shit-kicked. Trumped-up dope busts, trumped-up drunk rousts, trumped-up warrant checks and-
A woman walked into the bar. Dwight saw gray streaks and glasses and clenched up. It kept happening. Wisps, blips-and it’s never Her.
Marsh walked toward Scotty’s girlfriend. He touched his chin-the signal/it’s now. Scotty was eye-locked: back and forth, his babe/the buck slave.
Dwight got up and stood closer. Marsh swooped on the girlfriend. There, he’s nuzzling her neck. There, he’s licking her ear. There, he’s tugging her earring with his too-bright teeth.
Scotty ran up behind him and grabbed his hair. Scotty kidney-punched him, two-handed. Marsh doubled over and spun around with an arm bar raised. He caught Scotty moving in. The jolt knocked him into the bar. Scotty grabbed his neck and sucked air in. He kicked out. He missed Marsh. He flailed at the bar top and grabbed a steak knife. Marsh stepped directly in front of him. Marsh smashed his nose with one flat palm and sent blood pluming. Dwight heard bones break. Scotty dropped the knife, wiped his eyes and came at Marsh biting. A dozen white cops got to him first.
October 16, 1968
I’ve tasted Scotty Bennett’s blood now. It was a much-belated revenge for the whipping Scotty put on me in April of 1966, a year before I joined the LAPD. I provoked that beating by passing several ink-stained bills from the robbery, and I provoked this beating of Scotty and my subsequent beating by his LAPD comrades under the flag of Special Agent Dwight C. Holly. On both occasions I assumed the dual roles of victim and provocateur. Two events, with two and a half years between them. The defining event of the robbery-murders, now four years and eight months in the past. Two confrontations fueled by one motive: I want to solve the robbery-murder case anonymously and keep the remaining cache of money and emeralds for myself.
I have never told a soul about my intention and have deliberately delayed the commitment of writing a journal. I was awaiting the fortuitous moment where my quest might appear truly feasible. That moment is now. I could have described my immersions in left-wing organizations for Clyde Duber, where I learned the acting skills, dissembling skills and poise that brought me to this point, but I’m pleased that I did not indulge that level of self-congratulation. I’ve always enjoyed being an underestimated black man, and now I’m a locally famous and somewhat over-praised and over-scrutinized black man. This is the adventure that I want to describe and dissect as I live it; this current confluence of events is surely the one story I have to tell.
I was severely beaten by somewhere between twelve and sixteen of my brother LAPD officers and spent four days at Central Receiving Hospital. My broken nose, facial lacerations and asymmetrically bent ears have enhanced my rather bland good looks and have added to my incipient black-militant cachet. I have Mr. Holly to thank for that. Mr. Holly sensed my gameness and willingness to play, and I will reward him with hard work and a very commanding performance as I pursue my own goals within the context of this operation.
The local newspapers, radio and television picked up the story of the horrible fracas between a black and a white policeman at a “convivial watering hole frequented by LAPD personnel.” Mr. Holly served as the unseen publicity director for this event. The LAPD launched an internal investigation, and-of course-all the eyewitnesses lied, stating that I sexually accosted the barmaid and attacked Sergeant Robert S. Bennett proactively. Scotty got a broken nose and one week’s “compassionate leave”; I was bound over for an interdepartmental trial board-i.e., a kangaroo court. Mr. Holly hired me a jabbery and flamboyant black lawyer reminiscent of Algonquin J. Calhoun of Amos ‘n Andy fame. The lawyer spouted more racially charged malapropisms than the worst mail-order black preacher ever to bang a pulpit for power and profit. I was hosannaed as the “Black Jesus”; Scotty Bennett was excoriated as the “White Judas Iscariot.” I was, of course, summarily fired from the Los Angeles Police Department. Mr. Holly later told me that the lawyer was a defrocked minister with a sinecure as a public defender in Visalia County. Gorgeous black-and-white collusion: white judges and prosecutors hire this man to assure the convictions of black clients they need to get off the streets.
I then became an oracle of racial bias, memorizing the blindingly articulate scripts that Mr. Holly wrote for me, withering critiques of institutional racism and the authoritarian mind-set- full of indignation, social rigor and righteous fury, all penned by a white lawyer cop with roots in the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Holly read me through the scripts, well in advance of my speaking them. I was astonished and almost swoony. Mr. Holly is a big, handsome man and a powerful public speaker. I got the uncanny feeling that he actually believed the words he wrote as he was speaking them.
Mr. Holly is a very difficult man to decipher. He understands racial bias and says “jungle bunny” routinely.
I was invited to a fund-raising party for Senator Hubert H. Humphrey at a big home in Beverly Hills. Mr. Holly told me to go, so I did. I was quite the center of attention, until some movie stars arrived and eclipsed me. Natalie Wood made a fuss over my facial wounds and slipped me her phone number; Harry Belafonte shook my hand; numerous liberals boo-hooed the recent passing of Senator Kennedy and Dr. King. People looked to me for expressions of political outrage. I had none to give them, because I now require Mr. Holly’s script-writing services in order to sound properly enraged. I will soon be a wonderfully apostatized black-militant convert, because a Klansman’s son will fuel my anger with his radical perceptions, leaving me to wonder at their origins and marvel at the man himself all over again.
Mr. Holly gave me $8,000 in cold FBI funds and told me to move farther south into the “Congo.” I should start frequenting the “jig joints” where my “soul brothers” congregate, to see what kind of “shine action” I draw.
Mr. Holly calls me a “shit magnet,” and I think he’s rather suspicious of me. I’d like to indulge “the Bent” right now, but I can’t. Mr. Holly might be having me spot-tailed. I have to keep my personal pleasures on hold until I feel more secure in my role.
I have an entirely new life now. My mother is dead; my father is elderly and living in Chicago. I have no real friends and my relationship with Mr. Holly is mutually usurious. I now have a dauntless and implacable enemy in Scotty Bennett. I’m sure that I know more about Scotty than Scotty knows about me. I have read the sanitized official reports on the eighteen armed robbers Scotty has killed in the line of duty. They were all black men. They were all summarily executed, per the unspoken LAPD mandate that armed robbers must die. The policeman in me condones this sanction; there is a large body of empirical data that states that most armed robbers take innocent lives and must be preemptively interdicted. It is the ghoulishly cherry-picked “male Negro” armed robbers that makes Scotty so unique. Other hard-charging Robbery cops have a middling “equal-opportunity” mйlange of white and Mexican kills. Not our Scotty. Oh no.
Last August 5, two University Division officers shot it out with four Black Panthers. The officers survived, but the Panthers did not. Two days later, Chief Reddin sent Scotty down to the Panther headquarters with pizza, beer and a pound of confiscated marijuana. Scotty was, by all accounts, courtly. The Panthers welcomed him with apprehension and seemed befuddled by his gifts. Scotty advised them not to shoot at Los Angeles policemen again. Should they do so, reprisals would be instantaneous and brutal. For every L.A. cop shot at, wounded or killed, LAPD would kill six Black Panthers.
Scotty walked out then. He did not take questions or linger for a slice of pizza and an ice-cold brew.
My admiration and hatred of Scotty Bennett run roughly equal. He was there on February 24, 1964. He has no idea that I was there, too.
I was nineteen. I had graduated Dorsey High School two years earlier and was living with my parents at 84th and Budlong. The sky was the first thing I saw. There were weird prisms of color and a gas stench in the air. I stood on the roof of my house and saw streams of police cars approaching. The siren noise was near deafening. I saw a crashed-up armored car and a milk truck and dark shapes emitting fumes on the ground. I saw a very tall man in a tweed suit and bow tie drive up and survey the scene.
My father made me abandon my perch. Three dozen policemen roped off the street. Rumors soon flooded the neighborhood: the dead robbers were white; the dead robbers were black; the bodies were scorched past recognition and were racially unidentifiable. The absence of the robbers’ vehicle meant that at least one man got away.
Two men got away. I know this as fact. Scotty Bennett may know it, as well. I cannot prove Scotty’s knowledge. I simply sense it.
LAPD was out in brutal force. Scotty was running viciously indiscriminate roundups of local “suspects” at 77th Street Station. The local citizenry was outraged. I was outraged. I went roaming the alleyways behind my house, a kid looking for adventure, coveting my proximity to history. That is when I saw the second man.
He was hiding behind a row of trash cans. He was young, in his teens or early twenties, and he was black. His face was chemically scalded, but extra precautionary gauzing, a mouthpiece and a bulletproof vest had saved his life. I took the man to an elderly doctor neighbor; he was in shock and refused to discuss the robbery-killings at all. The doctor treated the man’s burns, fed him morphine and let him rest. Scotty continued to steamroll his investigation. Detained and released “suspects” came home bruised and pissing blood. The doctor decided not to turn the wounded man over. He had saved the man’s life and could not now condone physical abuse that might well result in his death.
The man left the doctor’s house after two days of care and never divulged his identity. He left the doctor with $80,000 in ink-stained cash. The doctor deposited it in the Peoples’ Bank of South Los Angeles and told the manager, Lionel Thornton, to leak it back to the community in charity donations, if it could be done safely, with no harm to the recipients. Thornton somehow found a way to partially obscure the ink markings; the bills surfaced sporadically in southside Los Angeles. Scotty Bennett tracked that money assiduously. He detained and leaned on the innocent people passing the bills in his unique and uniquely persistent manner. The case remained unsolved. The racial identity of the heist gang’s leader and the other dead heist men has never been determined. Scotty had become obsessed with the case, and so had I.
The doctor died in ‘65. The ink-stained bills continued to circulate through southside L.A. I maneuvered my way into a menial job at the Peoples’ Bank, learned nothing substantive and quit. Scotty Bennett fascinated me. I wanted to test my courage by going up against him and to see if he would reveal information within the brutal context of a back-room interrogation. I had pilfered a stack of ink-stained twenties from the bank and began passing them. Scotty found me, toot sweet.
The room was ten by ten feet and walled with soundproof baffling to keep screams at a dull roar. I protested my innocence. Scotty was genial when he wasn’t beating me. He deployed a phone book and a rubber hose; he loosened my teeth and decimated my kidneys. I stoically asserted my innocence. Scotty revealed no inside knowledge of the case. I refused to scream. After two hours, I got my pro forma phone call. I called a friend; the friend called his friend Clyde Duber; Clyde made some calls of his own and got me out.
Clyde liked me. Clyde had his own fixation on “the Case.” It’s a hobby for him, no more. It’s a consuming quest for Scotty and me.
I entered Clyde’s kid-private-eye world and began infiltrating left-wing groups for his rich and richly paranoiac right-wing clients. I became a fine actor, prevaricator, dissembler, spy and snitch. I learned how to improvise, extrapolate and work off of Clyde’s rough scripts. I have never had a role as demanding as the one Dwight Holly has prepared for me, and I have never had a scriptwriter as brilliant as Mr. Holly.
I joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1967. Scotty tried to quash my appointment and failed. “The Case” remains unsolved. I remain determined. I’m convinced that the answer resides in southside L.A. I choose to believe a persistent ghetto legend: here and there, black folks in trouble receive a single, very valuable emerald anonymously in the mail.
I think Scotty knows more about the events of 3/24/64 than the rest of the LAPD combined. I think he wants the money and the lovely green stones for himself. I view
(Los Angeles, 10/18/68)
Marsh Bowen’s pad, 54th and Denker, lace-curtain Niggertown.
It was Night #6. Dwight Holly hired him, through Clyde Duber. Clyde was unsure of Big Dwight’s motive. Maybe Bowen vibed comsymp or security risk.
Bowen’s sled was out front. He drove a ‘62 Dodge. Candy-ass wheels. Bowen was a nosebleed. He went to doofus parties and played Zulu chief. Bowen fucked with Scotty Bennett and got sacked off LAPD. It got him clout with loser liberals and showbiz Jews.
Crutch yawned. He’d clocked in at midnight. It was 2:06 now. He tilted the car seat back and scoped his dashboard frieze. He got the idea from Scotty.
Scotty had his heist pix all taped up. Crutch rigged his own version. There’s Joan, there’s a groovy D.R. beach, there’s voodoo-vile spooks in Haiti.
The Bowen job torqued him and distracted him. It diverted work on his case and his dirty-tricks gig with Mesplede. Bowen was half-ass tail-savvy. It was like he sensed a car frogging him.
Crutch played the radio low. The tunes vexed him. It was all peacenik pap and jungle jive. Brainstorm: rig Bowen’s car with a voice box and night-light.
He got out his toolbox, squatted down and ran over. He took a corkscrew and popped a hole in the left taillight. He taped a 9-volt battery voice box under the right wheel well and flipped the dial to Frequency 3. He ran back to his car and got out the receiver. Click-there’s Channel 3 and current ambient sounds.
Crutch re-settled and re-zoned his head. He shined his penlight on the Joan pix. He had the knack now. He knew how to make those gray streaks glow.
Bowen walked out and got in his car. Night owl-2:42 a.m.
He pulled out. Crutch long-distance frogged him. That taillight hole supplied range and direction.
They drove. Crutch hovered six car lengths back. Coontown hopped. Bowen slow-cruised all-night rib cribs and bars locking up. LAPD was out BIG. Sidewalk dice games vaporized as The Man passed. Bowen drove by two black-power storefronts-BTA and MMLF. You be window-shoppin’? What be wrong wid you?
Street noise bopped off Channel 3. The jungle be late-nite loud. Bowen U-turned and shagged ass westbound on Slauson and northbound on Crenshaw.
Now, it’s more white. Now, it’s more civilized. Channel 3 is amping down. He’s heading west on Pico, north on Queen Anne Place, right by the park.
Bowen bumped the curb and took the center walkway. Fuck-no way to frog close.
Crutch doused his lights and perched at the east curbside. The park was all wet grass, shrubs and trees. He eyeball-tracked the taillight hole and saw Bowen slow-weaving.
The light went off. The car sounds died. Crickets chirped on Channel 3.
Silence. Bowen’s car door opening and closing. It’s dark. It’s all audio now.
More silence. Then two male voices. Then zippers snag and belt buckles rattle and all these scary moans.
JEH: Good morning, Dwight.
DH: Good morning, Sir.
JEH: Do you feel like some campaign chat? The swing states appear close, but our boy Dick seems to be surging.
DH: I think he’ll win, Sir.
JEH: He applied to the Bureau in 1939. I saw his application photo and thought, That young lawyer did not shave closely this morning.
DH: And you altered the course of American history in the process, Sir.
JEH: I alter the course of American history every day, Dwight.
DH: You certainly do, Sir.
JEH: Update me on the shenanigans of our murderous French bonbon J. P. Mesplede and Clyde Duber’s upstart charge Crutchfield.
DH: They’re effective in a gadfly way, Sir. They’re due in Miami next, and I’m sure Mesplede will not be able to resist the lure of that pissant island 90 miles offshore.
JEH: You consider the Cuban Cause to be entirely moribund and existentially futile, don’t you, Dwight?
DH: Yes, Sir. I do.
JEH: I most assuredly do not. Castro has been in power since 1926, and he is a worse tyrant than his predecessors Chaing Kai-shek and Cardinal Mindszenty.
DH: Uh, yes, Sir.
JEH: You sound dubious, Dwight. You do not normally falter during our snappy repartee.
DH: I’m fine, Sir.
JEH: You subsist on coffee and cigarettes. They have dulled your memory for established historical facts.
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: Would another rest cure at Silver Hill suit you? You might recall the first one. I pulled you off the Dillinger case in ‘34. You were drunk and killed those Negro tourists from Indiana.
DH: Uh, yes, Sir.
JEH: “Uh” twice in one conversation? I think you do require a rest cure of some sort.
DH: I’m fine, Sir.
JEH: Moving along, then. Please update me on the Dr. Fred Hiltz case.
DH: It’s covered, Sir. Jack Leahy is overseeing the investigation for the Beverly Hills PD. There’s no way the Bureau will be embarrassed.
JEH: I think the robber-killers are black militants on a rampage. They may well be consorts of a criminal cartel called Archie Bell and the Drells.
DH: I don’t think so, Sir. Archie Bell and the Drells are a musical ensemble, and Jack Leahy thinks-
JEH: Jack Leahy is a duplicitous agent with a seditious sense of humor reminiscent of the late heroin addict/comedian, Lenny Bruce. I track cocktail-party chitchat, you know. When I went in for my gallbladder operation, Jack Leahy told a Chicago agent that I was having a hysterectomy. This was in 1908, and I remember it well.
DH: So do I, Sir.
JEH: I know you do. You were working the Cleveland Office, then.
DH: Yes, Sir.
DH: My infiltrator and informant are both in place, Sir. I’m sure they’ll be approached soon. I don’t think my infiltrator is entirely trustworthy, so I’ve had Don Crutchfield spot-tailing him. Bowen’s done nothing irregular, so I’m pulling the tail as of tonight.
JEH: Ah, young Crutchfield. Clyde Duber’s most persistently voyeuristic foundling.
DH: He is that, Sir.
JEH: And Wayne Junior? Persistently homicidal and racially unlucky? How is he faring?
DH: I’m seeing him tomorrow, Sir. I would guess that he’s grappled with this most recent mishap and has moved on.
JEH: We must all move on. Persistence and tenacity cure all one’s ills in the end.
DH: Yes, Sir.
JEH: Good day, Dwight.
DH: Good day, Sir.
(Las Vegas, 10/20/68)
She looked through you and saw you anyway. She made you look back.
He told her his Morty Sidwell story. He stressed the redneck jail, the bailout, the scarred woman. Reginald’s gun charge. Reginald’s books. Her son’s troika: chemistry, left-wing texts, Haitian voodoo herbs.
They perched at the rest stop. They sat in Wayne’s car for more legroom. Mary Beth brought sandwiches and coffee. It was pouring. The rain covered them-nobody shot them cheap looks.
Mary Beth said, “What will you do now?”
“Keep going. Build a file. Learn what I can about this secondary life your son had.”
“You wanted to say ‘secret life.’ ”
“Yes, I did.”
“Because you’ve got one yourself?”
Wayne sipped coffee. The cup burned his hands. Mary Beth got it fires-of-hell hot.
“I was reading you the whole time. The entire story was news to you.”
“We’ve never discussed your occupation. You talked to Howard Hughes and broke the color line, but I don’t know what you do the rest of the time.”
A gust hit them. The car swayed. Mary Beth grabbed the dashboard bar.
Wayne said, “I facilitate things for Mr. Hughes and some gentlemen with similar interests. I spend a fair amount of my time with police officers and political operatives.”
Mary Beth sighed. “ ‘Secret life’ is a euphemism. I’m seeing a secret world here.”
“I can’t tell you much more than that.”
“You deal with people I’d disapprove of. Let’s leave it there.”
Wayne messed with the defroster. It was a jumpy-hands task. The car got too cold or too hot. Mary Beth hit the Off slide and held his hand there.
“Three of our loved ones died. The man who killed my husband was posthumously indicted for killing your father.”
Wayne slid his hand back. Mary Beth pinned it there.
“We never discuss it. You always bring up Reginald. You haven’t allowed me to mourn, and you haven’t done much mourning yourself.”
Wayne coughed. Mary Beth laced their fingers up. His legs fluttered.
“I don’t want us to live with all these dead people. We’ve had too much of that. I’ll be spending some time in southside L.A. soon, and I’ll be putting out some feelers on your son. He’s nineteen, he’s armed, he gets popped at a town on the Nevada-California border. My instincts are telling me LA”
Hailstones hit the car. Wayne jumped. Mary Beth said, “Why are you so afraid of me?”
Dwight said, “Hoover’s slipping. The old girl is in precipitous fucking decline. He’ll be shacking up with Liberace by this time next year.”
Wayne smiled. “You could retire and go into corporate law.”
Dwight smiled. “You could retire and teach basic chem at BYU.”
The Dunes lounge was mock-soothing. The mock-oasis look cohered. Mock sand drifts, mock camels at a chlorinated spring.
Wayne said, “The Dr. Fred job. What’s the status on that?”
Dwight tiki-torched a cigarette. “The same jigs robbed a house in Newport Beach. No fatalities, but the same glove prints and identical fibers at the scene. I think they saw Dr. Fred’s anti-spook shit. Things just escalated from there.”
Wayne sipped club soda. “I could use some help on the L.A. end of my business. The Peoples’ Bank and Black Cat Cab have defaulted their Teamster loans, so we’re taking them over. I think Black Cat would be a good informant hub for you. I was thinking you could get Mr. Hoover to frost potential trouble there.”
Dwight stood up. He was losing weight. His belt gun drooped to one side.
Wayne said, “No racial slurs around me, Dwight. I’d very much appreciate it.”
“Sure, kid. I’m not out to hurt you.”
Home was the Stardust. He had his living suite/chem lab upstairs. He’d need to rig a missing person file space soon. He ate in the downstairs coffee shop most evenings. It brought back Janice and his night-watch cop days.
Wayne worked on a cheeseburger. The coffee shop was integrated now. He coerced Dracula into compliance. Drac was devolving а la Mr. Hoover. Call it dope and longtime lunacy accruing. Farlan Brown confirmed the prognosis. LBJ thwarted Drac’s Vegas designs. Tricky Dick would comply. Farlan passed along gossip: the Count just suborned some key Humphrey aides. It covered him, poll-wise.
The burger was overcooked. The black folks two booths over got rude service.
Mesplede and Crutchfield were tricksterizing in Miami. Sam G.’s lawyers were buying out the defaulting market chain. He called the boss at Black Cat Cab this morning. A buyout chat was set for next week.
A black family walked in. Two white waitresses vanished. The hostess pretended they weren’t there.
Wayne walked up to his suite. The door was ajar. He pulled his ankle piece and eased the door open.
The living room lights were on. Mary Beth was on the couch. She wore a lovely beige dress.
“Ghetto skills and union connections. I bribed a chambermaid.”
Wayne reholstered. Mary Beth said, “Your laboratory smells more toxic than Reginald’s ever did.”
Wayne shut the door and pulled a chair up. Their knees were close. He slid the chair back. Mary Beth moved closer in.
“Why do you carry a gun?”
“I wish I didn’t have to.”
Mary Beth opened her purse. “I got something very strange in the mail today. It was sent anonymously. The oddest thing. It was wrapped in a newspaper clipping about my husband and Pappy Dawkins.”
The names burned for a second. Wayne held on her eyes. Mary Beth pulled out a wad of newspaper and unwrapped it. A green stone was tucked in the middle. It looked like an emerald.
It sparkled and glittered. Wayne stared at it. He leaned in to look closer. Mary Beth put her face up to his.
“We can’t hold hands outside or do public things. I don’t want to know about the bad things you do.”
They were close. He lost her eyes getting closer. She touched his lids and shut them for him. Their noses bumped as she brought him in for the kiss.
(Los Angeles, 10/22/68)
The sartorial arm of
Dwight slipped Marsh three C-notes. “New threads. I want to see you with that Eldridge Cleaver look. You be steppin’ out o shadows like fuckin’ Dracula to announce yo wicked intent.”
Marsh palmed the money. They idled outside the observatory. A telescope bank looked south. L.A. was smoggy and harshly lit. Griffith Park broiled.
“You’re a fine mimic, Mr. Holly.”
“Your people make it easy.”
“I’ll take that as a personal complim-”
“Here’s the compliment you’ve been so persistently anxious to receive. You have acquitted yourself brilliantly to this point, chiefly because your altercation with Scotty Bennett had mo muthafuckin’ soul than I ever could have hoped for, and as such you are the heroic black man of the L.A. ghetto moment, which allots us a very short interval for you to be recruited by the BTA and/or the MMLF. You cannot join up, Officer. Your actions must draw them to you or you will arouse an undue level of suspicion. You’re an actor, Officer. You have the actor’s instinctive need to ingratiate, so you require stern direction to shape your performance. I doubt that you possess a moral core, so let me bypass the idea of that sort of compass to guide you. You must appear bold and exercise great caution. You must judiciously rat out your new friends and benefactors and make sure that there are other snitch suspects for the information you have proffered. Use your discretion pertaining to any lowdown you might have on major crime pending. No homicide, no armed robbery, no sex shit on women or children. And do not give your former brethren in the LAPD a context in which to kick yo black ass, because they most assuredly will.”
Marsh swiveled a telescope and looked southbound. He always made his face blank and rode out confrontations. He always did offhand shit to hide his fear.
Dwight jerked the telescope. The eyepiece banged Marsh. He regrouped and went instant blank-faced.
“Here’s your target list. Get next to Ezzard Donnell Jones, Benny Boles, Leander Jackson, J. T. McCarver, Jomo Kenyatta Clarkson and Claude Torrance. Call me every fourth day at the phone drop until I find you a cutout. Start hanging out at Black Cat Cab and Sultan Sam’s Sandbox, start attending the Friday night crap game at the barbershop on 58th and Florence.”
Marsh smiled. It verged on a simper. I’m above all this.
“Is there anything else?”
“Yes, there is.”
“And that is?”
“It’s this. You’re undoubtedly the luckiest nigger on God’s green earth:”
“Because you’re my director?”
“Because you’re too publicly notable for Scotty Bennett to kill.”
Joan handed him the shells. Six spents with baffling treads attached. She drove a ‘61 Karmann Ghia. The plates looked counterfeit. The headliner was trashed from poor upkeep or backseat fucking.
The Elysian Park cutoff. Near the LAPD Academy. A sweet view and an implied threat.
Dwight said, “How do I know they’re the right shells?”
“Because you trust me?”
It was chilly now. Joan wore long sleeves. Her knife scar was covered. Dwight missed the stimuli.
“You were on it faster than I thought you’d be.”
Joan lit a cigarette. “I thought you’d appreciate that.”
“I’m sleeping with Ezzard Jones’ girlfriend. She’s skeptical of the BTA. You’ll hear all about it.”
A spring-loaded sap was jammed between the front seats. The back-seat was packed with leftist screeds. He smelled Joan’s shampoo and stale marijuana.
Joan said, “I consigned the cocaine to Leander Jackson. He’s a lovely Haitian man with an unseemly fixation on voodoo. He sold a few grams already. I gave my share to the MMLF’s breakfast program. Claude Torrance was grateful. He’s invited me to a series of fund-raising parties.”
Dwight smiled. “There’ll be brawls.”
“You’ll be groped, in a demeaning fashion.”
“I count on it.”
“I’ll stab the man who gropes me, with female witnesses present. They’ll groove on me and tell me stories about the men. It’s an MMLF party. Leander’s beholden to me now. He’ll be pissed when he hears I’ve been associating with the MMLF, but he won’t cut me loose, because he’ll dig the stabbing story and I’ll be the only female hanger-on who can score dope.”
Dwight grabbed his cigarettes. The pack was empty. Joan lit one of hers and passed it to him. Dwight smelled her hand cream.
She wore black boots. Her dress buttoned down to the hemline. The car was hot. Sweat pooled at the neckline.
Dwight said, “Who else have you informed for?”
Joan said, “I’m not telling you.”
“Why is your file so heavily redacted?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Were those simply pro forma roundups, or were you at one time an armed-robbery suspect?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Give me the names of some known associates. I won’t move on them. I’m just trying to get a handle on your history.”
“Under no circumstances.”
Dwight popped two aspirin. Joan pushed her seat back and rested her legs on the window ledge. An ankle bracelet rode up her calf, over the boot top. A little red flag on a gold chain.
Dwight smiled. Joan smiled. They blew lousy smoke rings and fumed up the car. Two LAPD sleds zoomed by. Black dudes were cuffed in the backseats.
Joan said, “There’s a gym teacher at Manual Arts High School. His name is Berkowitz. He’s a pedophile. I think you should reprimand him.”
“Is this related to our operation?”
“I’d like more of an explanation.”
“People tell me things that require me to respond. In part, that’s why I’m working for you. I’m hoping you’ll be amenable.”
Dwight said, “I’ll take care of it.”
Joan said, “I’d like to see proof.”
Dwight nodded. Joan drew her legs up and banged the horn by mistake. The noise was startling. They both laughed.
They met at a coffee cave on Hillhurst. It was near Karen’s pad and the drop-front. It featured a kid’s play alcove. Dwight dug it. It made him feel quasi-married.
Dina lounged in the alcove. Kids brought their stuffed animals. Karen kvetched her fate as the world’s oldest mother. Dwight chewed gum. He quit smoking around Karen. It tempted her. He didn’t want to mess up Eleanora.
Karen held her belly. She looked incongruous-this lean woman with this big bulge.
Dwight crumbled two aspirin and dropped them in his coffee. A new approach to stress headaches. Jack Leahy explained it. Vascular constriction, blah blah.
Karen said, “Nixon’s going to win. He won’t institute instant repression or do much of anything, which will infuriate my comrades fucking up the Humphrey campaign.”
“It’s all a little too convoluted for me.”
Karen nibbled a sweet roll. “It’s entirely understandable to you, which means that something’s on your mind, or you wouldn’t be making such blandly disingenuous comments.”
Dwight laughed. “My infiltrator is running cocky. I’m going to have to knock him down a notch or two.”
Karen crossed herself. Hybrid faith. The Greek Orthodox girl gone Quaker. A waiter brought fresh coffee. Dwight crumbled fresh aspirin.
“Why’s Joan’s file so heavily redacted?”
“I don’t know. Have you asked her?”
“She won’t tell me.”
“Then let it go.”
“Her entire KA section has been blacked out.”
“Then some handler in her past did her a favor.”
“She said she’d never informed Federally before. There’s things she won’t tell me, something about-”
Karen knocked over his coffee cup. His hands got doused. His aspirin tin went flying.
“You’re tweaked on that woman. I know you. I’ve been reading you for months. Every instinct I have tells me that you’ve done some very bad shit lately, even by your fucked-up fascist stand-”
Dwight heard Dina crying. She’d heard Karen yell. Dina kicked at a mound of toys and ran from the other children. Karen chased after her.
Hubert Humphrey deployed pidgin Spanish. Bilingual pols urged him on. The crowd was half white, half spic and all non-plussed. They were heat-wilted. The parking lot was sun-smacked and Hubert was a noon snooze. They craved cold beer and some yuks.
Mesplede stood mid-crowd. Crutch stood at the rear. They waved to the driver of a tarp-covered truck.
The truck pulled up to the edge of the parking lot. Crutch cued the driver. Three, two, one-the invasion force rolls out.
Two dozen out-of-work actors. More Clyde Duber plants. “Guerrilla Troupe” hambones done up as Fidel.
The beard, the boots, the green fatigues, the fat cigars-
“Fidel loves Hubert! Fidel loves Hubert! Hubert loves Fidel!”
Hubert stood there with his thumb up his ass. Eight Nixon-shirt guys jumped out of the truck and dispensed free beers. The Fidels circulated and passed out free cigars. The crowd went nuts. Crutch and Mesplede howled.
CUBA, CUBA, CUBA-Froggy talked it trilingual and trиs grande non-stop. Crutch kept thinking D.R. They rent-a-carred through Little Havana. They shared a reefer. Froggy kept saying “Cessna” and “coast run.” Crutch kept seeing that photo in the library book.
The voodoo guy. The tattoo. The pattern like the dead chick in Horror House.
Mesplede passed the reefer back. Crutch took a last hit and ate the roach. They hit Flagler Street. The exile storefronts flew Cuban flags. Straw Castros hung from lightposts. Kids ran up and stuck pocket-knives in.
Crutch kept it zipped. He’d been talking D.R. like Froggy talked Cuba. “Keep it zipped.” Dwight Holly told him that. He obeyed, so far. Marsh Bowen was a fruit. He kept that zipped. He bombed by Miami-Dade PD last night. He did file checks on Gretchen/Celia and Joan Rosen Klein. Froggy asked him where he went. He kept it zipped.
He was learning. His killer pals would respect that.
They drove to a rinky-dink airfield outside Miami. The crew was all Cuban. They were all diced and sliced from sugarcane work. Mesplede signed some papers and rented a two-seater plane. They took off and torched a joint at three thousand-plus feet.
Crutch got scared. The altitude cross-wired his high to acid-trip dimensions. He kept seeing people who weren’t there. His mom did the Twist with Dana Lund. Blow-job Bev Shoftel blew Sal Mineo.
They flew low over Little Havana. Mesplede hit a lever and cut five thousand Nixon signs loose. Kids plucked them out of the air and flipped the plane off. Misplede dipsy-doodled south. They flew over a string of bridgeways and keys. Mesplede served Dexedrine chased with hash-spiked schnapps. Dig those brown cubes floating in white liquid.
Crutch imbibed. The cocktail re-cohered him. They flew out over the Caribbean. They passed two refugee rafts and dumped Nixon signs on them. The cocktail kept Crutch un-airsick. Mesplede pointed behind the seats. Crutch saw a Tommy gun with a hundred-round drum. He popped a bullet out. The tip had been dumdum-gouged and stuffed with rat poison.
Crutch got flutters. The cocktail had him anesthetized short of real fear. This big brown shape loomed. Froggy grinned at him. Crutch blinked. Now the shape’s a pancake-flat island.
Froggy pushed the stick and brought them in low. They skimmed waves and water-bumped their wheels. Crutch saw the beach and some brownshirt spies ringed by sandbags. The spies were hunched over a.50-caliber machine gun. The thing had a vented barrel, feeder belts and a 360 swivel.
Froggy diversion-dipped and dove straight at them. The spies fired over, under and wide. Froggy came in ultra-low. The spies swiveled, re-swiveled and sent off panic shots. The noise was like typewriter clack meets the A-bomb.
Crutch rested the Tommy gun on his window ledge. Froggy got see-their-eyes low. Crutch head-counted eight. They were ducking and trying to swivel their machine gun in tight.
Crutch fired. He saw two heads explode. He saw one guy’s ribs blow out of his chest and blood-blast a sandbag. Froggy cut through some low trees. Fronds buffeted the airplane and blocked their frontal view. Crutch fired behind him. Stitch shots, very precise. He got four guys standing together. He saw a tall guy’s glasses shatter as his head pitched off.
Froggy pulled the stick back. Crutch saw Cuba upside down and held in his cookies. They flew backward over the ocean. He saw his eight new kills and that guy’s head rolling toward the surf line.
He didn’t remember the flight back or the ride to the hotel. He woke up in his bed. Mesplede was still asleep. He walked down to the restaurant and sat outside. He ordered pancakes and a Bloody Mary and kept it all down. He re-wired his head and grooved the awe of it. He killed two Cuban Reds in Chicago. He’d just killed eight more. Two plus eight was ten. He was moving toward Scotty Bennett’s toll.
A shade tree loomed over his table. Lovers had carved initials and honeymoon dates on it. Crutch got out his pocketknife and stabbed in “D.C.” and “10.”
He walked back upstairs. His bedroom door was open. Mesplede was sitting on the bed. His briefcase had been pried open. The summary report on his case was out in plain view. Mesplede was on page 43.
Froggy had his gun out. Crutch gulped and brain-stalled for some lies. Froggy said, “You’ve withheld information twice. Your fixation on the Dominican Republic was a non sequitur that aroused my suspicion, so now you must tell me everything.”
So he did.
He started with the Dr. Fred/thieving girlfriend caper. He layered in Farlan Brown, Gretchen/Celia and Joan. Add Horror House. Add all his futile cop work. Add Celia’s Dominican roots and Haiti. Add the dead woman’s tattoo and the tattoo on the voodoo guy in the picture book.
Mesplede pulled out Crutch’s pocket atlas. It was open to the Caribbean page. He said, “Our agendas merge.” He drew a straight line between the D.R. and Cuba.
(Los Angeles, 10/25/68)
Black Cat Cab featured black velvet walls and a black-history tribute. The time line spanned the Black Jesus to the Black LBJ. The flocked-on icons were peeling. The air conditioning ran twenty-four hours and messed with the motif. The boss weighed 428 pounds. The hut was stalactite-cold, per his orders.
Cordell “Junior” Jefferson: entrepreneur, Teamster-loan defaulter.
Wayne said, “The Boys are calling in their paper, Mr. Jefferson. There’s some good news within that context.”
Jefferson squirmed in his chair. It was triple-wide. The room ran 50°. He was sweating.
“You’re tellin’ me I’m about two months behind, so I gots to take this?”
Wayne shivered. “You’re three years behind, sir. Three years, but my news is not all bad.”
Jefferson spooned ice cream from a half-gallon drum. Some Panther types walked through the hut and evil-eyed Wayne. A big white man followed them. He radiated Cop. He wore a gray suit and a plaid bow tie.
Jefferson waved his spoon. “What’s all this motherfuckin’ good news you talkin’ about, while you tryin’ to pull the motherfuckin’ rug out from under me?”
Wayne opened his briefcase and tossed ten grand in Jefferson’s lap. Jefferson fondled it, smelled it and rubbed his face on it.
He snapped the rubber band holding it. He squeezed it into the world’s fattest flash roll.
Wayne said, “You hold the deed on the biz. We bring in a white guy named Milt Chargin to help you run things, you help some cop friends of mine out with information and dry-clean some cash, for which you get 7% of the action.”
“Suppose I says no?”
“Sir, you’re smarter than that.”
Jefferson ate ice cream and ruffled the roll. Wayne checked out the wall icons. He recognized the Black FDR and nobody else. A man with a triple-wide Afro walked in. He sneered at Wayne and went to the switchboard. Wayne pulled out a snapshot of Reginald Hazzard and flashed it at Fats. Fats shook his head no.
The Afro man tossed Fats a fresh tub of ice cream. Fats said, “Big Boy Cab is crowding my business. If my business is our business, then I could use some of your help.”
Mary Beth was asleep. The covers were up over her back. One leg was exposed.
Wayne watched her. She always fell asleep before he did. She kissed him and burrowed off by herself and gave him something to see.
He pulled a chair up to the bed and touched her knee. He waited. He liked to see her turn her head on the pillow.
The lab phone rang. Wayne got up and ran for it. He grabbed the call two rings in.
“It’s Dwight, Wayne.”
“Yes, and at midnight.”
“I’ve got a chemistry question.”
“Can redacted file paper be stripped to expose the typed words underneath?”
Wayne leaned on a shelf. It was crammed with heroin components.
“Maybe. I’ll try, if you get me some C-4 explosive.”
(Los Angeles, 10/26/68)
Darktown-85th and Central. An Afro-pride strip. A night club, a hair salon, a mosque. Street loafers at 2:14 a.m.
Among them: Jomo Kenyatta Clarkson.
Male negro, age thirty-nine. MMLF stalwart. Black Cat Cab dispatcher. “Propaganda Minister.” Hate-lit scribe. Suspected rapist/armed robber.
Jomo’s jiving with three male Negroes. They’re slurping peach liqueur and smoking Kool cigarettes. They just had their hair frizzed at Sister Simba’s shop.
Dwight was three stories up and directly across Central. The building was empty. He climbed the fire stairs and crouched behind a signboard. He held binoculars and a Poloroid pic.
The photo was Joan’s proof. He waylaid the pedophile gym teacher and did some sap work. Joan’s revenge or Joan’s deterrent. He didn’t care-it was the Joan Zone. Stray women were starting to look Joan-like. She was always Joan. She was never Confidential Informant #1189.
Dwight looked southbound. There’s Marsh Bowen on his mandated late-night stroll. Dwight looked northbound. There’s unit 4-Adam-29, slow-cruising.
Two white cops. Scotty Bennett idolaters. A C-note apiece.
The cops sniff the Afro-pride strip. Jomo and the Jivehounds hide their jug. The cops cruise on. The jug reappears. Jomo and the Jigmeisters re-jungle-ize.
The cops see the lone male Negro. Shit, it’s Marsh Bowen. That’s a good roust.
The cops U-turn and pull over. The Afro-pride strip perks up. Party! Party! Let’s groove social outrage and hate up The Man!
Sister Simba’s empties out. Likewise the Scorpio Lounge. Jomo and the Junkyardogs electrify. Their Brillo-pad hairdos sizzle.
The cops exit their car. Marsh walks on by. One cop whistles, one cop yells, “Get back here.” The spectators start making pig sounds.
Dwight’s view was good. His soundtrack was bad. It was pig-snorted past comprehension.
Marsh walked back. Dwight saw the cops spread-search him and frisk him. He thought he heard “nigger” and “Scotty Bennett sends regards.” He heard overlapping oinks, snorts and bleats. The cops emptied out Marsh’s pockets. The cops goofed on his Afro comb. The spectators started chanting “Go, brother!” One cop shoved Marsh and jabbed at his chest. One cop yelled in his ear. The spectators cranked up their pig act. The verbal cop sprayed spit and goosed the volume. Dwight heard “nigger,” “traitor,” “nigger motherfucker” and “faggot.”
Marsh lost it. He headlocked the verbal cop and ran him into a streetlight. The spectators clapped and Go, brothered. The pig noise went hi-fi. The verbal cop spun Marsh around and flipped him up on the patrol car. The other cop pulled his baton and started banging his head and his kneecaps. Marsh took a BAAAAAAD BROTHER beating. Jomo and the Junglejivers saw the whole thing.
(Los Angeles, 10/28/68)
Two dozen cabs. All bumper-locked, in rows. All with the Big Boy logo: a dinge in a fez like that dictator dude Sukarno.
The dispatch hut was off-site. The lot was half a city block. An all-night guard patrolled the premises. He always drank his dinner at Sultan Sam’s Sandbox. Froggy slipped two yellowjackets into his last scotch. The guy was snoozing in a Dumpster behind Sultan Sam’s now.
Wayne and Froggy called the shots. Crutch did the shitwork and took orders.
Wayne molded the C-4 and placed it in the wheel wells. Froggy set up the detonator. Crutch rigged the cords cab-to-cab.
The setup took hours. They worked from midnight to 4:00 a.m. Crutch got cramps from squatting down and duck-walking. They all sweated bad and carried towels to get some dryness. The C-4 looked like Play-Doh and smelled like burned oil. The cords abraded your hands.
All done-4:11 a.m.
They walked out to the street and toweled off. Wayne looked grim, per always. The Frogman was smiling. Crutch felt prom-date swoony.
Wayne pushed the plunger. The fucking cabs exploded and jumped off the ground. The noise was immense. A dozen shades of red and pink erupted. Glass blew across the sky.
NIXON-HUMPHREY RACE TIGHT
Ex-VEEP HOLDS LEAD IN KEY STATES
NIXON VS. HUMPHREY: POTENTIAL SQUEAKER?
PRANKSTERS DISRUPT HUMPHREY RALLIES;
AIDES ACCUSE NIXON CAMPAIGN
MURDER OF HATE MERCHANT STILL UNSOLVED
The victim himself called his palatial Beverly Hills home “the House That Hate Built,” so it’s no surprise to many that Dr. Fred T. Hiltz, 53, former dentist, former golf professional and alleged FBI informant, should come to a horrible end in that very place itself.
On September 14 of this year, Dr. Hiltz was shotgunned in his backyard bomb shelter, and the crime has remained unsolved. There are suspects: a robbery gang who held wealthy families hostage in Brentwood and Newport Beach. But some local journalists and many assassination buffs take issue with that. Dr. Hiltz was a well-known purveyor of viciously worded hate pamphlets that attacked Caucasians as well as racial minorities, was rumored to have a backyard hidey-hole stuffed with cash, had been married numerous times and allegedly indulged in scores of liaisons with provocative women. Beverly Hills Police Captain Mike Gustodas told reporters, “Dr. Hiltz had volatile relationships, was in a dirty business and cut our work out for us, that’s for sure.”
Yet, it’s the Los Angeles FBI Office that’s doing the bulk of the work on the Hiltz investigation, and that fact is what so intrigues certain journalists and conspiracy theorists. Captain Gustodas had no answer to address that issue; he simply stated that the FBI had usurped BHPD’s case for “national security reasons.”
John Leahy, Special-Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Office, told reporters, “Yes, it’s a politically sensitive case, and there is a national security aspect, albeit a minor one. I’m not at liberty to divulge the details just yet, but there will be a full recounting when and if this agency makes an arrest.”
An especially persistent rumor is that Dr. Hiltz was murdered by members of a black-militant group, as a political statement. SAC Leahy had no time for that theory. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “No black-militant groups have claimed credit, and I also think that the danger of black militancy has been grossly overreported by the press.”
Meanwhile, the Hiltz investigation continues.
NIXON-HUMPHREY RACE DOWN TO WIRE
NIXON, HUMPHREY IN LAST BARNSTORMING EFFORT
November 4, 1968
Nixon’s going to win. Humphrey is saddled with the attenuated onslaught of LBJ’s war and the American people want a credible dialogue on the end of the war suffused with reactionary pap that will make them feel good about leaving (and, in fact, losing) the war, and Nixon is telling them exactly what they want to hear. Chicago was a disaster, not because it secured Nixon’s victory, but because it made the Left appear rancorous, petty, vicious, divisive and buffoonish. The sin of self-indulgence. I must take note of my self-indulgent tendencies, and I should begin by classifying them as misconduct and thus drawing a clear moral line to interdict their practice.
Dina has started asking me the inevitable bright-little-girl questions about Dwight and W.H.N. and my relationship to the two men. Of course, I cannot tell her that W.H.N. and I are politically compatible, but not comrades, and we have never had a fully passionate relationship, but are friends in certain shared ideals and the business of parenthood. W.H.N. knows about Dwight, but never mentions him; the prescient and too-worldly Dina never mentions Dwight to W.H.N. because she knows it would hurt him and because she understands that it might adversely affect my relationship with Dwight. Dina will become a compartmentalizer (as I am) and may/will inherit my penchant for dramatic and dubious men. Dina likes Dwight more than she likes her father, because he is fierce with the world, but very soft with her, because he carries a gun, because I am demonstrative with Dwight in a way that I am not with her father and it makes her feel properly loved as a child and thus feel safe. And-brilliant girl-she understands something that I just figured out: that Dwight and I truly are comrades.
It’s our lovers’ passion and the tender barter of our antithetical roles and ideals. It’s that we both want something (beyond each other) very deep and pure, and that I have a language for it, while he does not.
I keep thinking of troikas. Dwight, my largely absent husband and I are one. And, I now form the spark point of Dwight and Joan Klein. I’m not jealous, but Dwight is powerfully compelled by her. I have been less than truthful about my relationship with Joan, because I did not know how much of Joan’s various real and rumored histories I should reveal to a man who is, at day’s end, a police officer and a right-wing thug. Dwight told me early on: informants and operators withhold information to ensure their own safety and the safety of those close to them. That idea guides me in my lies by omission. Joan was an FBI informant at one time, but I don’t know her operator’s name or if he redacted her file. I have known Joan deeply for many years. Politically, I do not trust her any more than I trust Dwight.
I’m somewhat worried about Dwight. He’s losing weight, is sleeping ever-more poorly and mumbles in his sleep. I keep jokingly asking him if I can blow up Mount Rushmore and he keeps half-jokingly telling me, “Yes.” He’s giving me too much latitude. Is it out of guilt? I keep thinking there must be some immeasurably horrible deed weighing on him that I must never know about, lest it destroy my love for him or make me love him that much more. I wonder how old Dina (and Ella inside me) will be when they discover that truth of women and men.
Dwight and I have our barters. I wonder what form Dwight’s barters will take with Joan. Our shared world is humanly unquantifiable and ideologically confused. Which one of them is capable of implementing the most recognizable harm or good?
November 5, 1968
It was my second beating at the hands of my former-and future, once this operation has concluded-LAPD brethren. I fared better at my first one, for Mr. Holly’s script had prepared me. Mr. Holly failed to witness this second encounter, and my wounds will have healed by the next time we meet face-to-face. I may or may not tell him of the incident, critique my spontaneous performance and request that he not discipline the officers involved. I may or may not tell him that the incident resulted in my making some wonderful new friends.
My unlikely rescuer was Jomo Kenyatta Clarkson, Propaganda Minister for the preposterously named Mau-Mau Liberation Front, along with his friends Shondell and Bobby. Jomo is garrulous and recognizably psychopathic and continues to break the world’s land speed record for use of the word “motherfucker” in a single sentence. His arms bear self-inflicted machete scars as a tribute to the real Jomo Kenyatta’s slaughter of British settlers in Kenya, circa 1947. Jomo and friends took me to Morningside Hospital, where a friendly white doctor, who treated Jomo for his most recent gun-shot wound, treated my wounds and injected me with Demerol. The injection dulled my pain, lifted my spirits and allowed me to stop replaying the words “Scotty Bennett sends regards” in a near-continuous loop. I wanted to go home and rest then. Jomo wouldn’t hear of it. He decided we should go pub-crawling.
We visited a series of after-hours clubs. I met numerous black males in the all-black attire that Mr. Holly has urged me to purchase, found it fetching on them, but decided that it wasn’t really my style. I witnessed a live lesbia