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OTHER BOOKS BY FRANK HICKEY The Honey Drippers Leroy Starched Collars Peeny Bubba and Jerry In Articulo Mortis All of Frank Hickey’s books are available through his publisher, Lulu Publishing, at: http://www.lulu.com/hickey
JUICY FRANK HICKEY © 2007 5 .
Any resemblance is entirely accidental and unintentional. St. Street names. does exist and is fondly remembered by this writer.AUTHOR’S NOTE Events and persons depicted herein are wholly fictitious. 6 . Thanks are due to many friends and family. Louis. Missouri. public and private buildings and such are used herein without regard for accuracy – or whether in fact they even exist. of course.
‘He was forty before he knew there was something called white wine.’ 7 .
PART ONE 9 .
who died with her that terrible day just a few short years ago. a valentine she would have drawn for Mona. If Michiko were alive today she’d be in full time grade school. or any other holiday. I tried to escape my demons by just giving up. I’d simply lost it. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day. but it didn’t help. her mother. I can visualize her coming out of school. A close friend there. and a separate valentine just for me. I roamed the streets day and night. skipping. and every friend I had. 1960 – Valentine’s Day. mumbling to myself. I did.*** Today is the 14th of February. with that beaming smile of hers. My friends coaxed me to take a long trip – go back to Ireland. I do it every day – and I always will. for me to remember them both. It took the St. I went off the deep end with guilt – and all the other emotions further reinforced my guilt. over a year to identify the perpetrators and all the persons in any way involved. holding forth her latest art creation – more likely two of them. Louis police department. 11 . Me – I was absolutely no help to them. a Japanese detective whom I had worked with in years past during the American Occupation of Japan after World War II. Their almost simultaneous deaths that day back then are as vivid in my mind as if they occurred just yesterday. helped me get my head back on straight even as he was coping with the recent death of his wife of many years. the country where Mona and I had adopted Michiko. I swung between the darkest suicidal planning to the wildest fantasies of revenge. I tried going back to Japan. her daddy. The only thing I learned was that there were many other people with sufferings just as severe as mine. the calm and green of the birthplace of my parents.
Misty Laine. All the others involved were already dead except for one. The major events in my life seem to all be associated with the number of times I’ve ridden in one of those big red Packards. I don’t know if anybody rode with him.As I sit here watching the dust devils dance in the sunlight streaming in the window I can hear the familiar sound of an approaching siren of a city ambulance. The second time was when I rode in the same ambulance as Michiko after the explosion and fire. shot him on the spot. I couldn’t ride with Mona who was in another ambulance that had departed our house a few minutes earlier. One of my friends. Slats gave me a complete and full deathbed confession. The patient was Robert “Slats” Slattery. Both lights of my life were extinguished in the span of just a few minutes that late afternoon. Although he implicated all the other parties involved and completely cleaned the slate all the way back to the Deckard affair. He went straight to the morgue. rode in the ambulance with me to the hospital. I still wake up with nightmares of the noise and heat from the roaring fire as the ambulance door was slammed behind me. Another friend. I got no sense of personal satisfaction out of it. spent her few remaining days propped up in a wheelchair drooling into her lap after being gunned down 12 . Detective Vince Pallazola. The third and last ambulance ride I took was this past winter. The real brains of the gang and the last to go. The growling wail will peak shortly and then fade away as it goes on to city hospital. Deckard didn’t get an ambulance ride. My first ambulance ride was when I was shot by disgraced Assistant Chief of Police Paul Deckard in a downtown nightclub. “Slick” Jones. Slats was DOA when we arrived at City Hospital. When Slats realized he was going to die soon he made sure nobody would survive to beat the rap.
Their modest estate devolved to me and my older brother. He opened a small neighborhood saloon in “Kerry Patch” the north St. Most of his customers and he knew each other from their youth back in County Kerry. Since he was under a vow of poverty we agreed to split the estate so that he took all cash. Louis. I believe in the minds of everybody who had ever had contact with her during the small reign of terror she afflicted upon us. I’m still alive. good looking wheelerdealer. I wonder why as I sit here playing with paper clips and contemplating what to do with the rest of my life. She had. which he promptly surrendered to his superiors. who is a priest. including the building it is in. My mother was an Irish immigrant who spent her life. I took the saloon. She was probably correct. either rattling her rosary beads or telling me that I was never going to amount to anything. The growl and wail of those ambulance sirens bring the memories flooding back. to nothing but a fistful of dust. made up his mind to support his family the tried and true Irish way. 13 . *** I was born and raised in St. none pleasant in any sense of the word. Louis neighborhood I grew up in. and a little cash. her remains were cremated by the city. No one cared to step forward and claim any family relationship to her. Driscoll’s saloon on the corner of Jefferson and Cass avenues is a classic turn of the century watering hole. Jamie. Both of my parents passed away while I was in Europe in the army during World War II. at least as I recall her. in the space of just a few months. In my case such retribution did nothing to restore those loved ones I had lost. “the old sod”. My father.by Slattery. gone from a high flying. also an Irish immigrant. Fittingly.
October 1945 to be more exact. have one of those ruddy pink Irish complexions that won’t hold a suntan no matter how hard I try. very big. about six foot five and three hundred and twenty pounds. aka a nasty divorce. I’m still at my old pre-war fighting weight of about one sixty. on the other hand. Mona and I had just married after I’d recovered from the Deckard wounds and I was still feeling guilty because I’d messed up her cabaret singing career with the shootout in the club where she was working. a classy nightclub in an upscale neighborhood. I must point out that there is a third anchor in my life. catering mostly to Negro clientele.P. Slick is black. I also own another saloon. is the same John Paul ‘Slick’ Jones who rode in the ambulance with me after Deckard plugged me.s but in different places. and big. We even had a dog for chrissakes. He had been injured in 14 . *** Slick and I go way back.I’ve done nothing to change it or the flat above it on the second floor – which is where I live now. a guy who owns two saloons and who doesn’t go to church. Anyplace else would just cause me to remember how nice the house was that Mona and I lived in with our Michiko. Last time I measured I stood five nine. I. ‘Slick’ is my closest friend. I got lucky and bought the original owner out when he ran into some bad luck. especially right now. I thought buying a nightclub with a grand piano would give Mona a chance to resume her professional career again. My friends have given up trying to coax me to move somewhere else into more palatial digs. very black. The owner of this thriving firm. none of which is fat. Slick and I had both been in Europe in the army. Both M. Lest people think I’m only a two dimensional person. Saint Louis Bail Bonds in the sixteen hundred block of Olive street.
it ain’t very hard. almost entirely because Slick and a few other folks took a chance and trusted him.I. We first met each other when we were loaded into a G. If anybody wants to find me. just sitting here in Slick’s office. New Jersey awaiting shipping orders when the war ended in Europe. Trying the old bullshit routine on Wilbur just doesn’t work. Valentine’s Day though. Louis. When we took our discharges in 1947 I convinced Slick he could do well in civilian life in St. was at Camp Kilmer. the Yokohama Criminal Investigation Detachment. I’m told that I’m slowly recovering from my grief. one of Slick’s projects. like today. Within days we found ourselves working as partners in one of the army’s first racially integrated units. truck headed to Yokohama. I had been sent home from England for pop’s funeral and then was shipped out of Fort Ord. He had been one of Slick’s earliest clients and has never gotten over the fact that he is on the street now instead of in the joint. has turned out to be a steady reliable office manager for Slick. Our troopships arrived in Tokyo Bay just days after the Japanese surrender. Anyway I spend my time. He makes sure they all know their court dates and how much they still owe Slick on their account. *** Wilbur Foshee. after being patched up. While we were at sea the Japanese surrendered. Always will be.Italy and. mostly. At least now I can face people and carry on some sort of intelligent conversation again. As he talked on the phone at his desk up front he 15 . His troopship of European theater replacements was diverted through the Panama canal to the Pacific theater. in either one of my saloons or. Wilbur has the added advantage of knowing almost all of Slick’s current clients. and all the other holidays. Most importantly he can sense when any one of them is getting itchy feet. they’re murder. California.
a two button single breasted model with a starched white shirt. As always. When Slick opened this office location at 1600 Olive after he and I had been firebombed out of an earlier office we shared. They enjoyed helping another Irishman out. Pop knew every Irishman on the city payroll and enjoyed asking them for a little help. My other activities are similar to what my father had excelled at – smoothing out bureaucratic kinks at City Hall for friends in need of a little hand holding. Today he was wearing a dark gray pinstripe suit. we agreed that one small room in the rear of this otherwise bare storefront would be reserved for me. That decision was more a convenience for Slick and me to stay close rather than a necessity. I am most comfortable strolling around the corridors of City Hall with my various little chores scratched out on the back of an envelope. The two saloons pretty much run themselves. The 1600 Olive street address is handy though. As he carefully put the hat down on an empty chair he shot me a quick glance and spoke. That role came to me as part of the package of taking over his old saloon. I found soon enough that it didn’t lend itself well to formalities. ‘Wilbur? Anything hot for me?’ 16 . A pocketful of Dutch Masters and a few tickets to the next wrestling matches can get a lot accomplished.turned back toward me and flipped his eyebrows at the rear door. I don’t really need an office to entertain clientele. gold cufflinks and a light blue and navy striped necktie with matching pocket hankie. I can just trot out the door and through a couple of crosswalks to City Hall at 1200 Market. A very light gray homburg graced his shining pate. With the city courts and jail right next door it is very convenient for Slick as well. As Wilbur turned back to his phone I heard Slick’s key scratching in the back door. he looked like a million bucks. or my stuff.
Thanks. ‘What the hell you sitting in here for? It’s a nice day outside. It’s old and not very wide. ‘You’re driving. Vandeventer avenue. The street right here is only a few blocks removed from the earliest settlement of the town. Howsabout some ribs? Or maybe something else. shuffled through them and leaned in the doorframe to my room.’ So we went back out the rear door and got into Slick’s Buick parked there in the alley. 17 .’ ‘I got nothing going on – thought you might wanta go get some chow. Slick’s Buick is a tipoff that he is inside or close by. Secondly.’ ‘Good. What you hungry for?’ ‘Ribs sound good. Before I enlisted I really enjoyed pounding this beat. The clock was just a bit past one o’clock when we started to park at the curb in front of Heaven – the Home of Adam’s Rib. Parking on the street in front is hazardous for several reasons. Sometimes he prefers to keep a low profile. then another right on Market and headed west to my old beat. boss.’ ‘Okay. One – automobiles trying to pass streetcars on the right could scrape parked cars. Coupla phone calls – I put ‘em on your desk theah.’ He pulled a right coming out of the alley. Your call on where to eat.’ He picked up the phone call tickets.‘Nuthin.
’ He ignored my wisecrack and just continued up Vandeventer to Chouteau. At Little Sicily’s we can eat in shirtsleeves.’ ‘Whassamatter?’ ‘I can’t eat ribs in these clothes. Les’ go somewhere else.’ ‘Sure. You mind?’ ‘Naw. This is a new suit and tie.’ ‘Yeah.’ 18 . Just a little more suntanned than all the other Sicilians in there. west on Chouteau and then north on Kingshighway cutting across the eastern boundary of The Hill. As we skirted the lower edge of the Italian enclave I said. ‘I guess we coulda just pulled in anywhere here on The Hill – if we wanted Italian.‘Shit. Adam’s damn sauce’ll eat a hole right through this shirt. I’ll look just like one of the neighborhood natives. but a lotta those places would expect me to keep my suit and tie on.’ It was almost one thirty when we parked at Kingshighway and Delmar. How about we get some Italian? You can wear a bib at Little Sicily’s. It really was a pretty day as Slick had pointedly noted to my attention earlier. ‘I’m leaving my coat and tie in the backseat. Everybody else in there’ll have one on too. Gonna put the cufflinks in my pocket so I can roll up the sleeves. Sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Jesus. This ain’ no good.’ ‘That’ll work.
’ ‘Amen to that. with the red 19 . He be my brothah. The guy behind the counter looked vaguely familiar. Why don’t you take your coat off. too. They gonna spot that mick face of yours right off. partner. Slick pushed one of his super sized fingers against the steamed up glass. just so they don’t cut our rations.’ ‘Hell with ‘em. He eyeballed me and Slick kinda funny. I think.’ This from Slick with an innocent look as he clocked the selections under the glass. ‘Slick? You don’t think people gonna laugh at you? Middle of February and here you are waltzing around like it’s July.’ He pushed the door open and barreled in ahead of me and headed straight for the steam counter. if Slick had pushed ahead of me and we might have a little argument over who he should wait on first. too?’ I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah. Open the car door – lemme toss my coat in there. I decided I’d keep my mouth shut and see where this went. ‘Whut’s this heah? Yeah.’ ‘Now you talking. but don’t expect to fool anybody in here.’ ‘That’s okay. With Slick what you saw was what you got. I was tieless and wearing a blue blazer – didn’t feel all suited up like he must have. I’m hungry. ‘You gentlemen together?’ ‘Yessuh. brother.I had to laugh at him. He was wondering. ‘You’re right.
I poked Slick in the arm.’ Slick was watching me out of the corner of his eye. ‘Guido. huh? Not eating yo’ food – yo poor brothuh gotta help clean yo’ plate.’ As the steaming plates were put up on top of the counter for us to lift down and place on our trays Slick let 20 . ‘Sonny? Mama said you ain’t supposed to be eating stuff like that. The counter guy was swiveling his head around looking for help. A guy in a chef’s hat was sticking his nose out the kitchen door. He wasn’t Italian and wasn’t prepared to answer questions from the customers. I’ll eat both of ‘em. as much as he could. you right – an’ you gonna snitch on me if I don’. Is that just plain ole spaghetti? What?’ He knew damned well what it was. He leaned over the counter.’ Then he scowled at me.’ ‘Yeah. Cavalry coming in from the rear!’ The desperate counterman turned to him.’ ‘Give him the frigging lasagna. I thought I’d better step in and lend a hand.sauce. man here sez he can’t eat nuthin with red sauce. and told the guy ‘Gimme the goddamn lasagna – and give my little brothuh here the spaghetti and meatballs. I didn’t know how much longer I could maintain a straight face. ain’t you?’ I smirked a little for the benefit of the nearby customers who were wondering whether they might better move to another table or expect to take sides here. ‘Oh oh. I ain’ buying you any goddamn cheesecake either – yo’ don’ clean your plate. ‘How you gonna explain that to mama. din’t she? Said you should eat more green stuff.
as he’d threatened to do a few minutes earlier. just the spare tire. too? Go up there and tell the guy you want two cheesecakes – and a coupla black coffees. When the guy looked over at our table all the plates were now in front of Slick. How’s your lasagna?’ ‘What? You wanna eat that. Caught him trying to pop a Chevy car trunk about one in the morning.go with one more volley. ‘Guess I was hungrier than I thought. It looked like he’d either dined alone or had been compelled to eat mine as well as his. ‘That counterman – know who he is?’ ‘No. ain’t it? Think he remembers you?’ ‘Naw.’ ‘Small world. As I put the cheesecake plates down on our table I spoke. A few minutes later I found I’d slurped up the whole plate of spaghetti in nothing flat. Strange. but I think I busted him as a teenager back before the War. He ain’ hardly housebroke yet. I doubt it.’ 21 .’ I did. ‘Better gimme a bunch of bibs.’ Actually I didn’t think I was all that hungry. didn’t want to steal the whole car. Slick knew I had been off my feed ever since Mona and Michiko had died. His show was more for my benefit than for the rest of the people in the restaurant.’ ‘Looks like maybe he’s a drinker. Looks like he’s had more than a few bumps in the road since then. Should I?’ ‘I guess not. too.
After all he’s got his own jug back there – homemade wine right outta his own backyard here. it didn’t take much to get going.’ ‘What’s all this stuff you hear about bootlegging then? I never did understand alla that – even though I was making pickups and deliveries when I was a kid. don’t they?’ ‘Yeah. The federal laws simply succeeded in creating a whole new industry.’ ‘The making of wine for personal consumption was totally unaffected. It got to be a joke. Then when the distillers had to close down – the public demand. was still there – so. I know out in California the booze flowed like water.’ ‘These Italian folks on The Hill – they all like to make their own wine. good booze that had come up by boat from Mexico. of the existing saloons simply switched the main entrance to a back door. He’ll give a guy a job if he can stay off the sauce until after work.’ ‘How old you think you were then. Old Guido Rogelio back there in the kitchen. They’d been growing grapes and making their own wine in their basements as long as they been here – just like they did back in the old country.’ ‘Yeah. from folks who didn’t make their own wine. Many. I was sent to pick up a load. Prohibition didn’t interrupt things there at all.‘Could be. Before that the distilleries had everything nailed down tight. Only thing the government did was worry that the tax stamps were properly paid for and nobody was watering or switching what was already tax stamped. Slick?’ 22 . and bring it back – alla the way from the beach below San Diego to Los Angeles – pocketful of money – no license to drive – no coppers to stop me. if not most.
Sold the car in Juarez and walked across the bridge back into the States. They’d spot smoke and crawl in close and sniff. my friend.’ ‘Yeah. Ain’t never looked back. Saw a Recruiting Station right there a block from the town plaza – lied about my age.’ ‘Yeah. the story I heard was that the federal revenue agents. Wasn’t shaving yet. and I ain’t never been sorry either.‘Shit. I know that.’ Get a search warrant every time. always worded the same ‘detected the unmistakable odor of fermenting mash.’ ‘So you just flat stole the car you were using and drove away?’ ‘Hard to believe. If I hadn’t been so big I think they mighta thrown me out. especially in the big cities in the north. would prowl the back country roads down south sniffing for the smell of fermenting mash. I drove that sonovabitch all the way to El Paso – good deal of it south of the border. ain’t it? Yeah.’ ‘Maybe it was different – the bootlegging I mean – in other places. like you said before – when we were back in Japan – if you’d stayed out in California you might not have lived to have many birthdays. Folks were playing rough out there – kid like you woulda been expendable.’ 23 . Then they’d run back to town. but the recruiters in there figured they would gamble on me. I dunno – probably fourteen or so. the revenooers. go into a judge with a sworn affidavit for a search warrant. Next thing I knew they had me and a couple of other recruits packed off to Fort Sam Houston in San Antone. Did you ever hear how come bootleggers moved their stills from barns out in the country into the cities?’ ‘Well.
you’re getting ready to tell me what they did?’ ‘Right. Somehow or other the feds managed to overcome the search warrant affidavit problem after a while. the bootleggers now – they weren’t all just hillbillies anymore. so somebody devised a battering ram . They were well organized – city businessmen. with just a little landing right in front of the door at the top.‘Sounded good – not many judges probably really knew. So they started moving their operations into the big cities. bakery. or cared to know. They figured they needed as much surprise as they could get. ‘ ‘Battering ram?’ ‘Yeah. church. The stairs were always pretty narrow. They took a railroad tie and pounded spikes into each side of it – then they’d rush up the stairs with it and slam through the door – which was usually pretty flimsy.’ ‘So. . The yeasty smell from the bakery was a lot like the yeasty odor from the stills and that screwed up the Feds’ search warrant affidavits.’ ‘Right. the best locations were usually upstairs directly over a bakery. None of that laying in the weeds with a pair of binoculars anymore. you might say. It pissed them off about the fermenting mash smell thing.’ ‘Yeah. I’ll bet it was a helluva lot harder to maintain a surveillance on a busy location like a street corner. but they found they couldn’t creep up on a cramped second floor flat like they used to do coming up on a barn.’ 24 .’ ‘So. . what the hell fermenting mash was supposed to smell like. et cetera all interfering with their observing.
The lunch crowd was long gone. It was a constant battle of wits between the government agents and the bootleggers. ‘Any change there?’ ‘Naw.’ ‘She’s really that scared of us screwing up again? Maybe getting hurt?’ 25 . ‘I talked with Velma and Jaypee last night. I don’t think he would have been interested in expanding. ‘fraid not. Right?’ ‘Right. Each of us waited for the other to start the personal conversation.’ ‘Some day – maybe we’ll ask him. Finally Slick did. We decided to be civilized about it all.’ I asked.’ ‘So – the bad guys started bricking up behind the door. This little business he’s got is pretty good just like it is. I don’t know that had anything to do with it. but the grand experiment with Prohibition was one big flop.’ ‘And the government agents couldn’t turn their battering ram to the side because there wasn’t enough room. I can’t change – and neither can she.’ ‘Old Guido back there – probably didn’t much care – had his own grapevines anyway.‘Uh huh.’ We sat for a while longer over several cups of coffee and cigarettes.’ ‘Yeah. put another door in the side wall next to the landing.
I can remember . When I didn’t have an answer for that he pressed on. . ‘You sleeping any better?’ ‘Sorta. ‘So whatcha doing – going back to the corridors of City Hall? Slapping backs and trading bullshit there again? Huh?’ 26 . ‘Would you disagree with her?’ That shut me up. I guess it’ll gradually get better. He and I were predestined to step in shit – anywhere and often judging by our performance to date. That’s what everybody is telling me anyway.’ ‘I think they’re right. doncha?’ ‘Hell yes.He gave me that stare of his. I know you. ‘You go right for the jugular.’ He grinned at me. . Only Slick would dare do this to me and not risk a knuckle sandwich. ‘Still smell that thing I bet – when you wake up in the night?’ I had to laugh. fer chrissakes. He was right – and so was Velma. ‘ ‘Don’t start that crap about me and the honey dripper again. You doing anything yourself – to help? Or just sitting staring out the window when an ambulance goes by?’ He’d apparently been coming up the alley a while ago when I was sitting there listening to the passing ambulance. pal.
‘A little.’ ‘Aha. Folks are afraid to ask me for much – not like it used to be. Asshole defendant is demanding a jury trial. He local?’ ‘Naw. ‘Ever hear of James Randolph Barclay?’ ‘Don’t think so.’ 27 . Who’s he?’ ‘James Randolph Barclay is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. Never heard of him. This guy wants to challenge the system.’ ‘Hmm. just don’t give up. exhaled a cloud of blue smoke and asked. able to commute into the big city if he needs to.’ ‘It’ll get better. The police and courts keep a lid on those things because of the potential for further harm to the child victims. Lemme change the subject.’ ‘Yeah. under subpoena to testify as an expert in a nasty child molestation case. not like most other clowns who do that. I think he did what was expected – of him.’ ‘I haven’t heard of any molestation cases around town here. Thinks he’s smart. This one just blossomed out into the open air this morning. Lives on a little farm in Connecticut. What?’ He snapped his Zippo on another Camel. Not like before – but I’ve been back a few times. Most of ‘em are anxious to cop a quick plea.’ ‘You wouldn’t. Retired from his psychiatry practice is what I heard.’ ‘Okay.
partner or not. on my part. I figured I’d best keep my mouth shut.’ I left a buck on the table and waved to the counterman.’ When we got back to his car we found a parking ticket on his windshield.’ ‘Well. Got a limp wave of a spatula back. The good doctor ought to make an interesting witness. ‘Looks okay. ‘Better get there on your own. my friend. lemme get these cufflinks put back in and I’m ready to be seen on the street. I ain’t doing anything else. huh?’ ‘Yeah. is why James Randolph Barclay is being brought to our fair city by Judge Wild Bill Glennon. you survived. maybe somebody’ll teach him different. am I?’ I knew this was something well thought out in advance by Slick. The beat copper was nowhere to be seen. I don’t see any spots. I didn’t think it would be too smart.‘Well.’ ‘Which.’ ‘Hell. ‘Just thought you might want to sit in the back row. to dismiss his suggestion. He’d never have brought it up unless he had a good reason and. 28 . Slick pulled his bib off and inspected his shirtfront.’ ‘Right. Yeah. Don’t think we want anybody seeing us together and then asking questions about what we’re doing.’ Slick was watching my reaction as he spoke. Good thing.
we’re in a hurry but I thought you might need this. I think we’ll find him taking his ease somewhere close by after all the exertion of lifting your wiper blade. I noticed he didn’t want to lean over all the way and breathe on me. ‘Yeah. ‘Doncha know this corner is part of my old Tenth district? What’s the copper’s name on this thing?’ He pulled out into the traffic as I scanned to the bottom line. dumbest shit in the world. Ed.’ I nodded toward the door of the saloon and stuck the ticket and a package of gum in his hand.’ ‘Whaddaya gonna do?’ ‘Drive around the block.’ I rolled down the window as I reached into my pocket. ‘Sonovabitch just cadged a coupla quick belts.’ As we came back around onto Delmar from the east I spotted Moorehead as he was exiting Grady’s saloon.’ He squinted in at us. Howya doing?’ ‘Lissen. He’d get lost if he had to help an old lady cross the intersection and then have to find his way back alone. Hi Dan. 29 . I bet.’ ‘Pull into the curb – right in front of him. Dan Driscoll here – long time no see.After we got in the car I reached over and pulled the ticket from his hand. ‘Hey Ed. Slick put the car in gear as soon as I punched his leg with my left hand. ‘This is Eddie Moorehead.
’ 30 . I think your balls are growing back.’ ‘I think he gets our message. I’ll be inside the front door watching for you. sir. then just walking over to the courthouse. along with freezing drizzle.’ “Good. we can do it. for your kind assistance. This is Dan. Anytime. my man.’ *** The unseasonably sunny weather of Valentine’s Day didn’t last long. After I took a look out the window I figured it was better to have some portal to portal transport instead. ‘Yeah?’ ‘Mal. Think you can navigate the ice this morning and get me down to the courthouse?’ ‘Sure. ‘He’s just put the ticket in his pocket and started unwrapping the gum. amigo. Dan. Might take us a little longer but.’ ‘Anytime. didn’t it?’ ‘Dan. glad to hear you there. Thank you. I had considered taking the Jefferson streetcar and transferring to Olive. yeah.Slick watched in the rear view mirror as we pulled away. I phoned the booth up on Grand Avenue and waited for Murph to answer. you gonna be just fine. A surprise cold front descended on the city overnight. Yeah. Worked pretty good while he still had booze breath.
more importantly on where the hell to park when I get downtown.’ ‘Okay.’ 31 .On days like this my decision to no longer cope with owning an automobile anymore makes a lot of sense. ‘Some poor bastard musta taken a header there on the steps. Murph showed up in less than ten minutes. ‘Goddammit. Murph noticed it first.’ ‘Yeah. I ain’t going nowhere until they open this up again. As we came down east on Market from Union Station the traffic seemed to have slowed down to a crawl as we neared the courthouse area. I’ll walk the rest of the way. or getting it repaired – and.’ We made pretty good time considering that the streetcar tracks were especially slippery. I gotta remember to get that damned leak fixed. Mal.’ ‘Looks like he might have a broken leg – lookit that foot sticking out funny there. As I ducked out the front door of the saloon I got a collarful of rain water from the leaky gutter over the door. It looked like there was a pedestrian down on the sidewalk at the foot of the steep steps up into the courthouse. With a friend like Malachi Murphy on tap I don’t worry about servicing the damn thing. You might wanna come back and get in and go back home. I tellya what. ‘Looks like we got an ambulance clogging things up there. don’t it?’ Peering through the windshield I could see that he was correct. Let me out here. There were a few idiots out spinning their wheels but most drivers were being careful.
He wasn’t going anywhere. Finally they got him on the stretcher. was attempting to help the ambulance chauffeur slide the stretcher under the guy without killing him. got good traction and headed to 12th street.It was slippery as hell when I got out of the cab. too. The guy on the ground was a neatly dressed older white man. ‘Wait! My briefcase and luggage – where is it?’ The copper went back through the crowd to the foot of the steps and retrieved a good looking briefcase and a small piece of luggage. The guy on the ground was trying to help them. A copper. Can you make sure it gets to wherever I’m headed?’ ‘Will do. They were about to slam the door when the guy raised up. He eased the ambulance out from the curb. He looked like he was about to pass out again as they lifted him into the ambulance. The bystanders were beginning to participate with their advice on how best to do it.’ The driver slammed the big back door shut and climbed in the front. Everybody was standing stiff legged as though this would keep them from going down. They were having trouble. took a right turn for City hospital and opened up with his siren. I pussyfooted to the sidewalk and eased my way through the crowd that had gathered. He was conscious but obviously in a lot of pain. Murph was right. Better get going. probably there as a witness today in court. Didn’t look like any of the lawyers I knew. 32 . sandwiched in where he was. ‘This it?’ “Yes.
’ ‘Looked like he busted the hell outta his leg. He ain’t going anywhere for a while.’ I watched as he gingerly climbed the steps and disappeared inside. Lissen – I gotta get inside to testify.As the crowd dispersed the copper was standing there looking like he was heading out of town with his luggage in one hand and briefcase in the other.’ ‘Thanks. How about we go visit the sick at City hospital?’ 33 . but – yeah – I’ll do it. Think you could take these things of his and get them over to City hospital for him?’ ‘Sure. See you around then. It felt nice and warm when I got inside. Dan?’ ‘No. ‘Guess I’ll skip watching any expert testimony today. ‘Hey. ‘Going back home.’ I waddled back up the icy sidewalk to Murphy’s cab. then hit a spot of ice and came back down ass over teakettle all the way to the bottom. didn’t it?’ ‘Yeah. What the hell happened here?’ ‘Aw. Doubt if he’ll be able to wear his own pajamas for a while. He needed to get inside and in to court – fast. Poor bastard got all the way to the top of the steps. Dan Driscoll – right?’ ‘Yeah.
glad he made the switch from psychology to law. just to show myself and see how Pete Conrad the new bartendermanager was doing who had replaced Carl Warnecke. Sez he’s feeling real good about getting back into school.I. Anything you need?’ Pete Conrad had some prior experience as a club manager so I felt pretty good about being able to help Carl Warnecke get back in school – where he belonged. ‘Pete.’ ‘Great. Bill. Mal. ‘No. You hear the latest about Carl?’ ‘Guess not. I’d gone out to the Club on Maryland. Apparently the law professors have a bit more respect for him – ‘cause he dropped out to support his pregnant wife. The sun was out and although on the chilly side. After that he and wifey can go back to making babies. Now if he can just hang in there until he gets his shingle.‘Anybody we know?’ ‘I don’t have a clue. howsit going? ‘Fine. everything’s cool here.’ 34 . What’s he up to?’ ‘He phoned yesterday – real proud of himself. What can I get you?’ ‘Just a bit of tap water on the rocks. But who cares?’ *** It was two days later – mid afternoon. it was dry – no more ice. then figured out a way to get back in even without the G. boss.
You musta helped this guy out somehow. It felt strange that the guy I intended to monitor in court two days earlier is the same guy I’m going to visit now. ‘He say what his name was. Got a nickel in the register there for the phone?’ I took his nickel and walked to the phone booth back by the restrooms. he say. Barclay. Right before you walked in – Schultzie phoned from your other place. almost forgot. Herm?’ ‘Ja. How you doing?’ ‘That some kinda trick question?’ He was hurting. If he left a number.‘Oh. My guess was correct. just keep it there until I get back. ‘Doctor Barclay? Dan Driscoll.’ ‘I think I know who that might be. ja. Herman. He was. Doktor Barclay.’ So I headed from Maryland directly down to City hospital. I walked in. however.’ ‘Okay. lucid and obviously unaccustomed to not being in control of things around him. It was the guy who had fallen down the courthouse steps. *** He didn’t look quite the same as I poked my head into the double room. The other patient was outta it. 35 . Said some guy was trying to locate you. My man was in the far bed – with a hip cast plus bandages on his head. That was apparent from his face. Thanks.
Somebody suggested I might want to sit in the courtroom and listen to your performance.’ “Lots of folks here know you – by your reputation. Important papers and such in there. Mr. I guess that qualifies me for some sort of celebrity status. ‘Well.’ ‘How’d you figure out who I was?’ ‘I was concerned about losing my briefcase and that piece of luggage. judges. Driscoll. Mr. I have been treated here in this same hospital for gunshot wounds. I had heard you were coming to town to testify in our courts.’ ‘Afraid you were slightly misinformed.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yes. Louis. I came here to observe some proceedings. too – right?’ ‘You have been doing your homework. I had no such high motivation to be here. They tell me you spend a lot of your time down around City Hall ‘doing things’ – I believe that was how they described it – yes.‘You didn’t need to make a personal call on me here. Actually I’m in the midst of writing a book.’ ‘Also a one time policeman here in St. As soon as I was awake enough after this monstrous cast was put on me – I started asking questions. ‘doing things’ for people. Driscoll. I just wanted to thank you for your help the other day. maybe 36 . attorneys. possibly to interview some court personnel.’ ‘Well. Turns out you are a bit of a local celebrity – that right?’ I gave him my best Irish grin.
‘Doctor. Nobody came in the room to run me off. would you be offended if I suggested you might want to transfer out of this public facility into something more comfortable?’ He leaned his head back on the pillow and cocked an eye on me. when I’m not there. but thanks for asking.’ ‘Doc.review some court documentation – try to gather material for my writing. I’m a loner you might say. uh – do you mind if I call you by your first name. so I stayed. ‘What are we talking about here. Dan? What are you suggesting’ more comfortable’ – what does that mean?’ 37 . maybe even better. Nobody back anywhere worrying about me. I’ve done my share of that as well. ‘You have no place else to go? You sit here with me when you could be out making money somewhere else. He dozed off a bit from time to time.’ So we talked back and forth a while. do you need me to notify any family or business associates.’ ‘Well.’ He grimaced a little as he sought to find the best position to get into. ‘My saloons work well.’ I finally said what had been roiling around in my mind ever since I stepped into the room. anybody back where you came from?’ ‘No. ‘Probably going to be a while before I’m released here and able to visit any of your establishments.’ I laughed at that.’ ‘That sounds more interesting than just being an expert witness.
to the Samuels Clinic. What are my alternatives – with this cast?’ ‘There is a small private hospital here in town.’ That night a private white Cadillac ambulance. You know how it works. forever indebted to us – in his eyes anyway. Who is the doctor? What kind of cases does he handle there?’ So I told him. You know how he is. but it is old and overcrowded. swiftly transferred the patient Barclay. This is a fine facility. I know what you are going through. The doctor who owns and operates it is a close friend. *** ‘Dr. do I? You’re a doctor.’ ‘Yes. I’ve been there myself – after I had been shot.’ 38 .‘I’ve been here as a patient. Apparently I met his threshold requirements. He smiled when I’d finished.’ He was watching closely as I made my pitch. No strings attached. Wayne was glad to do it?’ ‘Oh yeah. I don’t need to be specific about that. ‘Long term’ here means less timely responses to your requests. I do. with two uniformed attendants. If you like I’d be happy to arrange for your transfer there. I’m sure you would be much more comfortable there until that large cast can be removed and replaced with something else. ‘Okay. and his personal effects including briefcase and one piece of luggage. ‘Maybe I should change the focus of my book. Go ahead. Your Doctor Wayne Samuels sounds like an interesting fellow.
’ ‘Wait’ll that asshole gets in the pen. I’m sorry I gave you the wrong scoop on him.’ ‘Serve him right. Lissen. I coped with it by drinking a lot of coffee and shooting the shit with everybody and anybody. of course. Christmas is over and now it’s just a matter of grinding through the gray and gloomy days of February and March – sometimes even April.’ ‘Two and two sometimes makes five – don’t it?’ ‘The molestation case went down with a plea anyway. I guess I’d better get up there for a visit – extend our thanks in person and check on Barclay while I’m there. won’t it?’ *** I hate this time of year.’ ‘No need to tell me that. I was in my old saloon every day and some nights I’d hang around in there. Seriously. Just a lot of last minute blustering from the defendant.’ ‘Yeah. If the classification folks don’t get him safely isolated he’ll find out what big league molestation really is.‘Yeah. I think some of the court clerks got their gossip wires crossed. don’t ever disillusion him. I liked to hit the club on Maryland Avenue most Saturday nights to listen to some good jazz. he’s a helluva good friend to have. They had a molester coming up in one court and Barclay was apparently just going to visit another judge. Since I lived on the second floor. trying to get the prosecution to back off a bit. I was in to Slick’s shop almost every day. I called and sweet talked Stormy 39 . Didn’t work. Whoever made the decision to place Lent in these months knew how to make you feel bad.
Haven’t seen you in a while. What probably helped most during that period was the unexpected friendship that developed between me and Doctor Barclay. I’d make the rounds there as well. that he has an unorthodox practice which caters to well to do patients. ‘Great. The ‘business’ at City hall was gradually coming back so. How about yourself?’ He laughed. how are you?’ ‘Fine. He is respected in the professional community and respected in the lay community. He has long been accused of also treating the occasional gunshot patient whom. let’s visit a bit. the authorities believe. as I’ve probably already said. should have been directed to one of our city’s public institutions.’ Wayne Samuels. I let a few days pass after his transfer from City hospital to the Samuels Clinic and then went there with the intent of thanking Wayne Samuels for his generosity. a good one. Barclay to me. Dan. Good for business – and for me. Stormy has that effect on you when you got the blues. weather permitting. Doc. ‘I appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending Dr. Come on in. He has acknowledged to me that he has done abortions for some of our town’s ladies best known for their frequent mention in the local newspapers’ society columns for their lavish entertainment soirees.’ 40 . makes no bones about the fact that he is a surgeon. as always. When I arrived Wayne Samuels was standing in the foyer as though he was expecting me. ‘Dan.Knight into coming in there several weekends. All of it was helping me regain my equilibrium. some of whom are most concerned about their privacy especially if the ailment being treated is of an embarrassing nature.
’ 41 . His reputation for patient confidentiality would have been destroyed if ‘somebody’ spotted ‘somebody else’ there. Dan. It’s early on. that he doesn’t have family back up east all worried about him. I suppose. and he’s still got that load of plaster from his armpit to his ankle.’ ‘They do an admirable job there. too. ‘So. This clinic was so cozy you felt like if you bumped into somebody else here you’d think you were in the wrong place. That gave him the added luxury of manipulating his schedule so there was never going to be the risk of overcrowding. Most of Wayne Samuels’ clientele was non-emergency. he doing okay?’ ‘Yes. Every day is better than yesterday. do we?’ I had to smile. It’s good that he is retired. its good. elective surgery stuff. He’s going to be a good patient. Here we don’t have that problem of overcrowding. of course.’ ‘Other patients can be a problem.’ ‘You better tip him off about our ‘grande dames’ here in town – lotsa widows would love to hook a guy like him.’ ‘Well. It’s just when you’re dealing with volume you have to cut the corners on the little things. Wayne Samuels was not into working with crowds.‘I came here today to thank you for accepting him as a patient. Frankly. I’m looking forward to having his company here – have some intelligent conversations about our shared profession. A guy with his credentials shouldn’t be consigned to a warehouse like City hospital.
Can you wait a few days? Then give me a call first. You’re a gentleman and a scholar. When he’s more mobile I’m guessing he’ll want a phone and a typewriter first thing.’ ‘I’ll tell him you were here. In addition to the leg problems. Okay?’ ‘Thanks. We all know. or anything? Although I guess he’d have everything he needs in that luggage he was carrying.’ *** ‘Hey Wilbur! What the hell is going on here?’ ‘You mean the dirty dishes. I’m flexible. doc. he got a pretty good clout on his head.’ ‘I think that’s right. I’ll give him the benefit of some of my personal experiences with that.’ ‘Think he’s up to having any visitors yet?’ ‘Uh. He’s still hurting.’ ‘Aw shucks.‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Good idea. I’ve got him on some heavy duty sedation right now. You want me to get anything for him? Razor. boss?’ ‘Damn right. boss. you came at a bad time. too.’ ‘All? What’s that supposed to mean?’ 42 .’ ‘Sure. I thought we had a rule here – about eating and stinking up the place. I know. I’ll check around and see if I can find a good portable for him.
We rightly don’ know what to do.’ ‘Oh Jesus. theah’s a little dog been coming aroun’ in the alley. boss. might want to eat some leftovahs.’ 43 .’ ‘Him?’ ‘Yeah – the little dog.‘Well. yeah.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘And some of the guys say they been seeing it. That right?’ ‘Well. Don’ look too strong – or healthy. damn – it’s cold out there – an’ . . Here we go. . boss.’ ‘Where you getting leftovahs – leftovahs on a plate?’ ‘Man. too – further up the block. okay?’ ‘Well.’ ‘Don’t gimme that darkie shit. you trying to coax it to come inside here. Let’s hear it – all of it.’ ‘So. We thought maybe it be hungry. alla us – we worried about him. You gonna make me get sumbody else in a lotta trouble.’ ‘So?’ ‘Well. Just start from the top.
‘Well, boss, the plates – they coming from the diner up the street. One of our boys washes dishes there.’ ‘Yeah. That’d be Floyd.’ ‘Right. Floyd Jackson. You got his bond for a lotta stuff. He be a good client . . .’ ‘Alright. So Floyd’s giving you leftovers on a plate from the diner.’ ‘Right. So I put ‘em out in the back fo’ the dog.’ ‘Why you do that?’ ‘Say what?’ ‘I say: Why you do that? Why don’t Floyd feed the dog hisself?’ ‘Diner closes at night, ain’ nobody there aftuh midnight. Here, we’re open alla the time – all night.’ ‘So, who cares? The dog – he eating outside.’ ‘Well, ah – thas’ the problem, boss.’ ‘Ah. Finally. You gonna tell me.’ ‘Yeah, boss. See we figgered maybe if we put food out in the same place every night – then maybe the dog wouldn’t be so scared of people – you know?’ ‘As a matter of fact, Wilbur – No, I don’t know what the hell difference it makes. Who cares? If the dog eats and is still scared of people. What difference does it make?’
‘Well, boss. We ain’ sure, but we think – the dog he blind mebbe.’ ‘Ah shit.’ *** The coming of spring was a struggle. Hints of fair weather overwhelmed with that gray drizzly shit that seemed able to penetrate boots and field jackets right to the bone. Slick and Wilbur – and all of their jokers – had built a doghouse of sorts out in the back. Had it all padded with old blankets and such, hoping to entice the stray into bunking there overnight. No luck. ‘The mutt ain’t going for it, huh?’ ‘Naw. He’s really been spooked, I guess. If he don’t settle down he gonna be hit by a car.’ ‘Well, shit.’ ‘Worst part of it is that the damned cats are coming from all over.’ ‘You mean we got stray cats? Here in downtown?’ ‘Betcher ass, man.’ ‘Why doncha quit putting the food out for a day or two?’ ‘Why’s that?’ ‘Maybe I’ll try something different.’ ‘Worth a shot.’ 45
‘He ever come around in the daylight?’ ‘I dunno. Ask Wilbur.’ *** Doctor Barclay was faring pretty well under the hands of Wayne Samuels. ‘Hey, doc. Got you a new cast there, eh?’ ‘Oh, hi Dan. Yeah. What do you think? Look any better?’ ‘Oh yeah. Lot lighter too, right?’ ‘You can say that again. Wayne says I’ll be able to get in the shower – do all sortsa stuff again.’ ‘No skiing down courthouse steps though, right?’ ‘You can put your money on that one, Dan.’ So, we talked for a while just sitting in the second floor sunroom, the same room where Slick and I had spent quite a few hours with Stormy Knight when we were desperate for leads to who wanted to take down her and Vince Pallazola. That was a tough one – Stormy Knight, a black club songstress and Vin Pallazola, the pride of The Hill and night shift commander of the Second Police District there, gunned down together in a drive by shooting. Two of the unlikeliest to be out on a date together shot at by a nut or nuts unknown. When you’re up against the criminal mind, don’t expect things to be logical. ‘So, you think you’ll be able to get back to work on your book while you’re laid up here?’ 46
‘Sure. Just feeling kinda lazy right now – no deadlines to meet. I give it a lot of thought, so time is not being wasted.’ ‘Good. Like I told you – don’t be bashful. If you need any help, running errands for you – whatever. Just say the word.’ ‘I will, Thank you. Now, you tell me – how are things going?’ So we talked a lot more. We talked about my loss of Mona and Michiko – about Slick’s loss of Velma and Jaypee – about how the two of us had just about decided we maybe made a big mistake in leaving the comforting arms of the Army to try to make it as civilians. ‘What do you think are the odds, Dan, of Velma coming back to Slick?’ ‘Frankly, Doc, I’d say pretty close to zero.’ ‘Probably right. From what you’ve been telling me, even though you guys are not licensed private investigators and have no legal authority, the two of you continue to get all tangled up in things that begin quite innocently and then explode in your faces – time and time again.’ ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ ‘Your buddy, Slick, has a remote chance of reclaiming his marriage but only if he does a total change of character, which you would agree is highly unlikely. Correct?’ ‘That’s right. He’s a good businessman, does well with the bail bonds business. When he gets into the ‘off the books’ stuff – usually with me – that’s when the poop hits the fan.’ 47
.’ ‘Yet. right?’ ‘Yes. I guess so.’ ‘Don’t throw those ‘but’s in the conversation. Michiko.’ ‘And you – you own two successful saloons. you and Slick still feel the temptation to continue to do so? Right?’ ‘Yes.‘So. Dan – isn’t it just possible that everytime you and Slick do get burned so badly that it all started out with some seemingly innocent request from a friend – to lend a hand to them? To go ‘off the books’ a little to get that done?’ ‘Well. It’s true. making plenty of money for you – all legal and above board.’ ‘Like hell ‘guess so’! You know good and well that if you had stuck to just pulling pints in your father’s saloon that Mona and Michiko would probably still be alive today. half cocked some might say. Mona. yeah. something that the two of you feel you can ‘handle’?’ ‘Yes. you know then what the basic problem is?’ ‘Yes. that’s true. both lost their lives because of these activities on your part. Also I have my pop’s old business. and your little girl. of doing favors for people. when some crisis appears on the horizon. We both do. but .’ ‘Aha. Right?’ 48 . Ask yourself. in spite of the fact that your wife. isn’t it. if you want to call it that. . that you two tend to jump at opportunities to go off.
too. ‘Yeah. If you’d both stayed in the army – from what you’ve told me about some of your crazy exploits in Yokohama – you each would have probably gotten into official trouble there.’ ‘I’ll yield to you on that point. You’re the psychiatrist here. I know Slick knocked himself out to stay in the army after he’d been wounded in Italy.’ *** ‘So. Dan. No farting around. What should I do?’ ‘Or maybe – not do?’ ‘Yeah – not do. but I would never have met and married Mona and she and I would never have adopted Michiko.He was beginning to get under my skin more than a little so I shot right back at him. He ain’t just your garden 49 .’ ‘Hey. too?’ ‘Yes. I’d have felt like hell if I got him in any trouble in Japan after all that he’d gone through. It’s doubtful either of you could successfully change your spots. I need some help here. Doc. He socked me right between the eyes. I do.’ ‘Dan? Are you listening to yourself? You guys are never totally blindsided when you go into these ventures. I know what you are saying is true. you think I ought to go visit with Barclay. I’m just totally screwed up.’ ‘I think we both sensed that. I agree. He’s good. but simply put – you two guys were born to be poison. told me he really put the heat on an army doctor to certify that he was eligible to return to duty. You see that? You know ahead of time – yet you blunder in anyway.
’ ‘Why’s that?’ ‘Aw.’ ‘Won’t hurt.’ ‘She didn’t tell you what kinda gift you should send. I talked with Velma and Jaypee last night.. okay?’ ‘Right. Bossman. although since we’re officially divorced she don’t owe me a damn thing – except if it pertains to Jaypee. ‘Well. St. if he can work a miracle on you.D. a psychiatric specialist. too. He’s sharp. I’m not sure but I think she’s ready to waltz down the aisle again. ‘I’m feeling bad. but I’m sure she’ll notify me – won’t want me claiming she did something behind my back. Think he speaks several languages. then I guess I might give him a visit. He doesn’t charge.’ ‘I think I better do it. but old man winter wasn’t too cooperative. we didn’t do nuthin’ about that stray dog I’d been feeding. He bores right in on you with plain English.’ ‘Lemme know if I can do anything.’ 50 . or anything?’ ‘Naw.’ *** The spring struggled.variety psychologist. Patrick’s Day and Easter were in the offing. He’s an M. You don’t get away with bullshit. holds umpteen degrees from universities here and outside the country.
City food inspectors won’t allow that. What kinda dog is this? Big – little? What?’ ‘If yo’ looking fo’ a pedigree – fuggedaboutit. You just work something out with Floyd. Maybe we ought to rethink our position. We made a mistake cutting off the food you were putting out there. shitty dirty fur.’ ‘Shit. Get him inside. not too big – skinny as hell – and dirty – real dirty.‘Yeah. at least he ain’t been run over – yet.’ ‘Well. boss.’ ‘Sounds good. lay around and get fat. He shut up and come hide under my desk. Wonder what ever happened to him?’ ‘Floyd says the dog gave up on us – he back up the street in the alley behind the diner.’ ‘You want me to bring the dog down here?’ ‘Yeah. Le’s do it.’ *** 51 . all matted up bad. He’s a mutt. feed him something – then Danny or I’ll take him to a vet and get him cleaned up. You and alla these othuh niggahs coming and going here – probably scare the hell outta the dog. I’ll override Danny.’ ‘They can’t let him come inside the diner. Le’s quit farting around with the food traps in the alley.’ ‘Um. If he’s a biter or a bad barker then we gonna have a problem giving him back to Floyd?’ ‘Naw. After that he’s gonna have to learn to be an inside dog.
to Vic Trahan. .’ ‘I guess by the time the war ended the people there had eaten everything but their shoes. the same vet where I’d taken the blindman’s dog I’d ‘inherited’ – back in happier days. Ain’t never gonna forget that damn night when we raided the Sakura Port dancehall.’ ‘Damn right – and I remember how that damned cold drizzle felt when we were out in it all the time there. stray or otherwise?’ ‘You’re right. This another one that followed you home?’ ‘Naw. Those shoes he was wearing – might as well have been barefoot. I’ll never forget Renji Takasu trying to run in the rain chasing those clowns of Monkeyman’s. We figured he was gonna either die or get run over if somebody didn’t do something. No cats either come to think of it. how you wanna work this with Bozo the dog? He oughta be glad to get outta the rain too. So . Dan.Floyd and the folks up at the diner were glad to see Wilbur volunteer to take the dog off their hands.’ 52 . ‘What is it about stray dogs?’ ‘I’ll tellya. .’ ‘So. He’s a homeless stray been hanging around the alleys downtown. ‘Hi.’ *** We took him up on Newstead. partner. Back when we were in Japan – didja ever notice – no dogs. Took all of us most of the next day to dry out and get warm again. In this crappy weather everybody was feeling guilty.
He’s undernourished and is going to need some work to get him back in proper trim but fundamentally he is in good health. At least that’s what everybody tells me. wasn’t he?’ ‘Blindman had himself a fine animal there. nothing special. let me tell you what we’re looking at here on the table. he sure isn’t the specimen that German Shepherd was that you brought in here last time. then raised up.‘Well. I can treat that to prevent any infection. 53 . I’m sorry. Jeez. I’m not sure whether the sight in it will be affected or not. ‘Well.’ ‘That’s okay. You know that he died – along with my wife and daughter when our house was firebombed. I don’t think the dog or my wife or my daughter had even an instant before they were completely overcome by the blast. Dan – I’d forgotten about that.’ The vet worked on in an awkward silence for a while.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘Yeah.’ He elicited a weak wag from our patient as he rubbed his neck. that was some dog. That dog got lucky when you agreed to take him when the blindman died. He’s reached maturity so there will be no more growth. I’d suggest an immediate grooming session. Judging by his teeth and other parameters I’d say he’s maybe six or seven years old. ‘This guy is a mixed breed of some sort.’ ‘I don’t think I’ll agree with you on the dog getting lucky. He does have some damage to one eye – I think he came in second in a fight with some alley cat.
I‘ve seen the size of the needles you vets use.get rid of all the varmints living on him right now. I’m awfully sorry about that. you want to hop up here and let me check you too?’ ‘Get outta here. With a handful of steady rides like me he does just fine financially.’ I looked at Murph. Then he should be dewormed and given his shots. Doc. ‘Mal? Doncha think we oughta leave the mutt here for a coupla days?’ Malachi Murphy had volunteered to bring me and the dog to the vet’s office. Murph is just not your regular garden variety cabbie.’ ‘I think this gang of ours at the office can handle that. He seems friendly enough so I’d hazard a guess that he’ll be a loyal companion and probably very trainable. Then. I seriously doubt that any other cabbie in town would have let us put one foot – or paw – in his ‘clean’ cab.’ ‘Good. Probably work out well where not much is demanded of him except his friendship. as long as you’re here. 54 .’ ‘Don’t sound too bad. Thanks. let me apologize for my unthinking handling of the loss of your family and the other family pet.’ ‘As I said – no problem.’ ‘No problem – and again. He owns his vehicle and he operates independently. Don’t see that he’s interested in looking for fights or barking his head off all the time. does it?’ ‘No.
’ ‘Ooh. *** ‘Anything much happening?’ ‘Yeah. Dan. Dan. Just so I got somebody in the backseat with him whenever we bring him home.’ ‘So. dumb shits. I can see Slick.’ ‘Ah.’ ‘Bet he didn’t waste any time. Slick get back yet?’ ‘Naw.’ ‘Yeah. that don’t sound too good. you know?’ So we left the mutt there and headed back downtown in Mal’s cab. Said the press was there wanting a story and the poleece 55 . Bunch of innocent folks coulda got hurt. ‘Yeah. just waded right in and busted a couple of heads.‘Sure. can’t you?’ ‘Yeah – all calm and quiet. Some young cop. All he had to do then was slap some cuffs on the clowns. I ain’t too good with animals. maybe talking up some new business – then hears the commotion . no problem. A couple of Slick’s finest decided they’d do a ‘Custer’s last stand’ imitation over at the courthouse. . Somebody phoned me here to tell me about it. I think the young cop was actually relieved Slick was right there. and Slick stepped in and put a quick stop to it before it got outta control. . Slugged a bailiff and they say after that all hell broke loose.’ Wilbur shook his head. there to testify.
’ His suit coat looked like it might be torn.were holding Slick for a bit until they could write alla their reports.’ *** I settled in at my desk and figured I’d just wait for Slick to show up. ‘Where the hell is Renji when you need him.’ He looked at both of us. His trousers were rumpled. In a word. ‘You see the damage those two clowns did to my clothes? Good thing that young copper was there. as he looked around the office. huh?’ I had to laugh. with some considerable effort. spread his hands wide from his massive frame and spoke. ‘You mean you couldn’t handle two little pissants on your own? Wilbur sez folks saying you had to be helped by some young poleece officer. he looked like he’d been in a fight. I was so goddamn mad I woulda killed both of ‘em. Wilbur tried to look busy on the phone as we heard Slick coming in the back door. He can do without business like that. He restrained himself.’ ‘Hope Slick don’t rush outta there without asking the court to revoke their bonds – get himself off the hook on any responsibility for delivering those clowns back to court. ‘What started it all?’ 56 . His shirt was open at the collar.’ ‘I sho he gonna do that.
I got one hand loose and popped my guy a good lick and dropped him. Just a few minutes there and my goddamn clothes ruined. I’d guess that. We each got a couple fistfuls of ass and pants but the guys kept swinging and yelling.‘Whoever was trying to get everybody lined up for the docket call seated them down next to each other in the jury box. Some other folks turned up with handcuffs and we got everybody sorted out pretty quick.’ ‘So. he looked around and then eyeballed me – said ‘Mr. they’d pose a risk to the community. The bailiff. he probably locked himself in chambers. At first it was just mouthing off. I also pointed out that they had demonstrated their lack of respect for the court and that I believed. He agreed. Nobody knew that these two clowns had both been screwing the same girl before they got arrested. We saw what was happening and jumped in. Nobody paid any attention. When he finally came out. even if he released them on a higher bond. probably the same guy that seated them there tried to break it up and got knocked on his ass for his trouble. Bondsman? Do you have any business you’d like to bring before the court before we start the docket?’ He could tell from my appearance that I’d probably be holding the paper on one or both of our clowns.’ ‘Judge on the bench when it happened?’ ‘Hell no. I was just coming in the courtroom door. The young copper right behind me. Separate charges.’ 57 . You know? Anyway they started in on each other right away. About the same time the copper was getting on top of his side of the show. Then one of ‘em said somethin’ – the other guy takes a swing – and all hell broke loose. if anything. different arrest dates. what you tell him?’ ‘I told him that I wanted bond on both to be revoked immediately.
yeah. At Jefferson and Cass it was. the place was packed with neighborhood Irishmen.’ ‘Yeah. boss. bought a bag of about 25 lbs. Had to stand around there in the hall while the cops gathered the facts for their reports.’ ‘What do you want to bet you’ll get pretty good advertising in the papers?’ ‘Yeah. as they say.’ *** We made it to St. The King’s Lads did a pretty good job of interspersing an occasional ‘Oh Danny Boy’ in with their regular repertoire. my longtime bartender. Word gonna spread out theah.‘And?’ ‘Remanded. They knew how to 58 . Patrick’s Day and lucked out on the weather. They weren’t interested in dyed popcorn or little green flags. even if only for that one day. some green paper napkins and some little green flags for everybody’s lapel. At the club on Maryland we were rather calm. of green popcorn. I’m still pissed though about messing my clothes up. Nobody arrested. Other than Herman Schultz. No bond.’ ‘Probably a good thing they did their stupid imitation in public – in a courtroom. That may or may not be good. Me standing there with my ass hanging out a rip in my pants. Then a couple newsies turned up and I had to go through the drill again with them. an entirely different ballgame. depending on whether or not you’re a serious beer drinker and are Irish. You the man.
Murph. but he knew that if he ever needed any help from me. aye. I’ll ride with you. We had a fair number of Irish coppers pop in the back door. all he had to do was say so. Wilbur had been correct. I wasn’t there at the time so. We never ran any statistics on it but it did seem to me that Slick’s bond business was now servicing a significant number of white clients. I liked seeing that. Some with names like Falsetti. Schultzie gave them an odd eyeball as he pushed free mugs of suds in front of them. When the dog was ready we had to decide how to pick him up. I didn’t see it but somebody said we had a streetcar parked in the middle of the street outside while the motorman was in the saloon. much to everybody’s surprise.’ *** Slick and Futterman had restored Slick to his sartorial elegance once more. Slick was getting lots of pats on the back for taking down those two idiots at the courthouse. Nobody was arrested there either. ‘Twas worth it. I didn’t interfere. which they did – to a fare thee well. Maybe on the way back we might stop and buy some dog food and stuff for him. and the like had to put on their Irish face.’ 59 .commemorate this holiday. or offer any advice. Slick spoke up. Bauer. *** The mutt turned out to look fairly presentable after Doc Trahan was all finished with him. Murph insisted that somebody needed to ride with the dog in the back seat of the cab. Everybody departed at closing time and headed home where the ‘lady of the house’ was waiting to burn their ears. ‘Twas. ‘C’mon.
As I may have previously reported we have an empty lot next door here on Olive. Slick and Murph came back with the dog and a bunch of stuff for him. A building had once stood there but was apparently destroyed in a fire.I. his head hung low with the damaged eye now permanently closed. the guy also left a couple of bald tires there for the horses ‘to play with’. ‘POPEYE!’ ‘Yeah. Slick. the folks who run the little Chinese laundry.’ Wilbur. We gotta come up with a name for him. from time to time.’ We fixed up his bed in the room that was supposed to be my office. Believe it or not. “Lissen. He stood there with a sorrowful look on his face thinking he’d already done something wrong. and I. Mebbe the dog can have some fun with the horses there. The site was scraped clean and is used on occasion by a guy who is trying to start a carriage rides business. perfect. keep filled with water for the horses to drink. Anyway. blanket we’d cut up into smaller pieces. he leaves the horses and a bale of hay on the lot for a few days. There is a wash tub back there that the Chinese couple next door on the other side of the lot. He has two old horses he’d bought from a dairy and. okay? And – now everybody please put the lid down! Don’t want him slurping outta the commode. all looked at the dog.’ 60 . Murph. Plus he probably still wasn’t used to being so clean. a box affair with an old G. His tail drooped. let’s keep his food and water bowls in the crapper. too. ‘First thing.
James Barclay have developed a professional and personal relationship that 61 . any animals. Barclay.’ ‘Well. think we need an assignment sheet for who takes him for a walk – and when?’ ‘Why not? Give the customers here something to do. I guess. schedules.’ *** Slick got his ‘Dear John’ letter a little after Easter.’ ‘You got an amen on that.’ Wilbur spoke. Wayne Samuels and Dr. Then we screw it up. but it still smarts a little don’t it?’ ‘Mostly because of what you and I did – not her.’ ‘Slick? Why is it? Everything we do – no matter how simple – turns into a major project. alla that shit. Let’s buy a collar and a leash before we start or that damn dog might decide to run back to the alleys. after I get past this letter. Might be afraid. When you gonna go talk to Dr.’ ‘Just talent for it. lists. my friend. ‘Some of these guys – they ain’t been too friendly with dogs. the psychiatrist?’ ‘In a day or two. ‘No surprise.’ *** Dr.’ ‘Yeah. fix up a sign-in sheet for those who do want to volunteer.‘Okay.
His age. Barclay has made significant progress. to visit some more with him. You gotta prove your point to his satisfaction or you lose the argument.both are enjoying very much. Fascinating guy. Samuels were.’ ‘Oh. He approaches subjects as a scientist. I had been an occasional visitor at the clinic.’ ‘Much better for him being here. No. He is out of the big cast so his mobility has improved significantly. too – rather than moldering away in a City facility somewhere. I have come to feel that Samuels and Barclay are both the type of friends I would like to keep. according to Wayne Samuels. he and I sit and have a few belts to loosen up our tongues and then have a dialogue every night. not a big booster of blind faith. or anybody with his brains. I could never have let that happen to him.’ *** I decided it would help me to have another sitdown with Barclay. If pressed by Barclay I guess I’d have to admit that some of my visits which were ostensibly to visit Dr. 62 . would have driven him crazy. in fact. Not yet. they enjoy bouncing ‘what ifs’ off each other. is also a factor to be taken into consideration. I think I know Wayne pretty well but Barclay – not so. Two sharp minds. He’s a real challenge to my intellect. He senses that but apparently sees no need to challenge me on it. ‘You getting to know the old doc pretty well. Wayne?’ ‘Oh yeah. We sit for hours and discuss all the world’s problems. however.
yeah. I know. Either never get married and continue my life as I have done to date. About all I can do is warn you to think first – before you leap.’ ‘Dan.’ ‘That’s correct.’ ‘I know. in my mind.’ ‘Yeah. gotta move ahead. since we’ve crossed paths here – how do you feel? Do you think anything has changed in your outlook?’ ‘No doubt about it.’ ‘And?’ ‘And – if I want to have a normal family life again – THEN I’m going to have to cease and desist on the goofy stuff. to a fundamental decision you are someday going to have to make. You have made progress. I couldn’t have said that better myself – ‘goofy stuff’ . your mastery of the psychiatric language is amazing. Me and Slick – always seem ready to jump into anything the least bit adventurous. admit to yourself that it could blow up in your face – again.’ ‘Yeah. But how do you feel about it now?’ ‘Guilty.’ ‘That translates. You’ve shown me that the root of my failures have been in the stupid stunts I’ve pulled.’ 63 . Bottom line: I sacrificed my wife and daughter because of it. all kidding aside. doc. That’s perfect terminology for that.’ ‘Aw shucks. always will – but you’ve shown me that I cannot undo my past mistakes. If you go into something.‘Dan.
Don’t know how he’ll behave when he sees the new neighbors. Apples and carrots – big favorites. I’m going to be leaving Bonnie and Clyde in the lot for a while. They take handouts.’ So we got the doggie thing all worked out. We just adopted the mutt here.’ *** The guy with the two horses next door came in one day to introduce himself. they’d love it.’ ‘Think you’re up to that? A total change of lifestyle.’ ‘That’s fine.’ ‘How they feel about dogs?’ ‘They’re used to getting yapped at all their lives. We noticed 64 . The old Chinese couple live in back of their laundry. The three of ‘em will probably all be over lapping out of the water tub together before you know it. too.’ ‘We just wanted to make sure.’ ‘Won’t be a problem. ‘Just thought I’d check in with you folks. Maybe never. if you decide to marry again – then?’ ‘Give it up. No problem.‘Or. Think it would be okay if we lean over the fence and pet ‘em?’ ‘Sure.’ ‘Not yet.
I think Barclay was trying to get me to admit that I never had a family. but he nice dog. In other words. Barclay. ‘I think that doc has us pegged. I don’t know.A. They nodded bashfully and smiled as the dog stopped for a bit of petting. Only difference is that your family was entirely wiped out in the explosion.that they enjoyed the horses as occasional neighbors. Said if I don’t plan on a ‘normal’ family life then just keep up the bullshit routine of periodically getting myself screwed up. maybe shot or killed. Like ear scratch. Told me they were the same as yours.’ ‘Yeah. My family has been removed from me by court order.’ ‘Pretty damn discouraging. The old man scratched one of the bent ears and said ‘He no pekingnese. ain’t it?’ ‘Well. If I want to marry again – then I damn well better abandon all the hotdogging shit we’ve been doing in the past. *** Slick finally bit the bullet and scheduled a couple of sessions with Dr. up the alley in the evening when the old folks were taking the evening breeze there.’ So Popeye added two more conquests. I stole some pimp’s car and money 65 . I don’t remember ever having any son-mother feelings toward any of the whores there in L. if I don’t care – and it won’t hurt anybody else – then do whatever I damn well please. I figured that whenever he was ready he’d give me a report. on his new leash. He give you what your options are?’ ‘Yeah. so Wilbur made a point of walking Popeye.
father. Neither did you!’ ‘Right.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Fame? That’s horseshit. . You know me. all the trappings.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah. .’ ‘No guessing about it. Barclay’s analysis shining down on us – where we made our first big mistake. you’re right there – I guess. brother thing – altogether different from you. lying about my age even. with the bright light of Dr. We didn’t make the necessary adjustments in our thinking as to how to earn the money and fame – just as plain civilians.and ran away. So for me – the army was the closest thing to what you might call a family – for me. and it was a joint one. punching a time clock. I can see that. Were you satisfied to just sit on your ass on a barstool and make your money? Hell No! Was I satisfied to just make money off of the bail bonds business? Hell No!’ ‘Well.’ 66 . I had the mother. all the way to Fort Sam Houston in Texas to enlist. was when you and I decided to leave the army in Japan and go for it as civilians. Neither one of us is going to spend the rest of our lives like all the rest of the people around here – going to church. but it came with the territory. I know you. We both come back here and immediately start trying to be successful civilians – businessmen. working a forty hour job. my friend.’ ‘What was wrong with that?’ ‘Simple.’ ‘As I see it. family men. I never cared about fame.
I don’t feel any better but at least now I know not to hurt anybody else anymore. No more starry eyed romances.’ ‘Except when you’re knocking heads over there at the courthouse?’ ‘Well. ‘Barclay’s right.‘Yeah . I’m going to change my style.’ *** Popeye made quick friends with Bonnie and Clyde next door. not evaluating the risks. I’m sorry if I ran all over you there about what you did .’ ‘Salright.’ ‘Well. .’ We sat silently. all of it. 67 . Their yard was completely fenced so it was safe to put Popeye down in there without a leash or anything.’ ‘Yeah. . I’m going to go it alone – never be responsible ever again for anything like what I did to Mona and Michiko. True. Both of us knew that what Slick had just articulated was right on the money. That’s business. .’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah. In your case – Mona and Michiko paid the ultimate penalties. not thinking. Doctor Barclay had pegged us both – right outta the box – just a couple of hotdogs. . What I’m saying is that we didn’t approach civilian life that way – so we paid the penalties. that’s different. just blunder on. I ain’t saying we couldn’t force ourselves to do that.’ ‘Me too.
just about at death’s door. do we?’ *** I kept busy with the two saloons. All his clients were comfortable with him. I pretty much let the ‘fixing business’ at City Hall just slide into oblivion. He still could win top honors in the ugly contests. *** As Dr. Slick was busy. much more than I had in the past. Playing keep away with the little guy. It’s not too unpleasant when you listen to the ring of the cash registers. He was businesslike with them and didn’t make any distinctions among his clientele. 68 . He was like Will Rogers .Never met a man he didn’t like. Barclay continued his recovery. was able to bounce back.We put one of his rawhide bones in there. Whites felt good about asking Slick to cover their bonds. It was really something to see – how a scruffy mongrel mutt. Wilbur had him figured out. Most folks eventually figured out that they could do the same thing themselves as they used to ask me to do for them. The horses enjoyed picking it up in their teeth and trotting around the yard. like the true professional that he seemed to be. but his heart was sure as hell in the right place. ‘I guess we ain’t got us a watchdog heah. The bonding business by now had become color-blind. He and Wayne Samuels had hit it off well which facilitated the recovery considerably. he chafed at his inability to counsel with psychiatric patients even though he had told us that he had pretty much abandoned his fulltime practice up in New York.
We’re a match made in heaven. ain’t it?’ Wayne Samuels reached in the bag.’ 69 .’ ‘And Driscoll is the littlest blarney machine here in town. ‘How many bottles you got in here anyway?’ ‘Four was about all we could squeeze in there and still pick it up without the handle falling off. don’t you? Isn’t he just blowing a wee bit of smoke?’ Slick answered for us. .’ The four of us were having a good time. Have you.‘He and I both share the same views on politics. Slick Jones is the biggest and meanest . religion and scotch. you got the premier smoke blower of all time sitting here right next to me. Ain’t that right. Wayne?’ ‘Naw.’ “You two know Wayne well enough. Wayne?’ ‘He’s telling the truth. ‘Doc. Jim. ‘Where’d you guys pick up this bag? Haven’t seen one as old as that since Disraeli was a pup. pretty scuffed up.’ ‘Dan? You let Slick malign you like that?’ ‘What am I going to do? He’ll beat me up if I disagree with him. Our professional disciplines will never intersect. it’s him. then called to cancel it when Slick and I showed up at the clinic with a doctor’s bag filled with ‘medicine’. . Wayne Samuels had made sure there was a table in the back for us in the hotel’s club. If anybody can spot a smoke blower.
I leaned forward to hear what Barclay was going to say. Barclay was feeling pretty good because Wayne Samuels had made sure he mended under first class conditions. and it’s true – I have counseled informally with some of the ladies who frequent his offices. Now I feel obligated. This was good booze and there was nothing else here to soak it up when it hit the stomach. to offer him a place to roost. So 70 . However. Barclay was better able to control his expressions. on their behalf you understand. ‘All jokes aside. Dan. that would be a problem here – if he did that. Reminds me of the sort of practice I’ve had back east. Samuels. Barclay spoke.The occasion was nothing special. ‘If I may respond?’ ‘Yes. of course. were rapidly becoming shitfaced. ‘So. I’ve been treated royally here. Slick and I were feeling pretty good after our sessions with Barclay.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yes. dare we ask – what gives here?’ ‘Well. The old shrink here is about well enough to load on a plane and send packing back to the Big Apple. I looked over at Slick.’ Slick and I. Louis. thanks to Dr. It seems that some of my surgery patients have developed professional relationships with him. Wayne Samuels was feeling good because he had succeeded in enticing Barclay to put down some roots here in St. He seemed preoccupied with his Zippo lighter. What can I do?’ He ducked his head into his glass to conceal the grin. I think.
We did our level best to bury those soldiers that we’d brought in the bag.when the subject came up about my leaving. . If Wayne has a candidate and gives me a call. I’m going to keep my license up to date back home but my primary location will be here.’ I couldn’t help but note the comparison of his future plans with the manner in which he and Wayne Samuels had deftly maneuvered Slick and me into counseling. I’m not going to go into this like a young doctor fresh out of school. when you did that pratfall on the courthouse steps. .’ ‘Well. we thought you were a goner. then we’ll go from there. No sir.’ ‘That’s true. let’s just say we reached a quick mutual agreement.’ ‘Itsa wonder some lawyer didn’t just jump in that ambulance. Slick. I didn’t want to take any of it home. ain’t it?’ ‘Who wants to sue the City? No deep pocket there to make a quick settlement offer. ‘Boy.’ ‘Yes. good. A couple of pros. doc.’ ‘This place of Wayne’s can kinda grow on you – you know? Like a country club in here.’ ‘I didn’t feel so goddamned perky myself when Dan came to visit me that first time at City Hospital. well .’ 71 .
‘I guess we better head for the barn. When he thinks you’re feeling sorry for yourself. If you ever need my help. We’re as close as your phone. ‘Wouldn’t have wasted this butt back then.’ Wayne responded. gents. Wayne.‘Yeah. We all walked behind Barclay’s wheelchair and got him settled in for the night. sneaky.’ It went on like that for several hours. he offers you an ice water enema. ‘Enjoyed ourselves. like a police station. whaddaya think?’ Wayne Samuels phoned Murph to bring his cab around while Slick and I prettied up in the restroom. Dan. Doc?’ ‘No. would we?’ 72 . ‘I’ll give him a big Amen on that – same goes for me. When we finally decided that we’d all had enough and still had tomorrow to face Slick got up. Let’s stay in touch. ‘We never close. doctors. my boy. you can call Wayne – or call me direct. he just makes sure my supper tray doesn’t quite measure up. with the rear door open. ‘Is that our rickshaw. Sneaky. Slick looked at me. He do that to you.’ Murph was standing by the cab. No little vase of flowers – maybe the vegetable is a cold puree of turnips. partner?’ I laughed as Slick slowly field stripped his cigarette. Very much.’ Barclay raised his head from the pillow.
‘What are you hearing from Detroit? Anything?’ ‘Yeah. funny lights on the walls. You know – the guy that says ‘I can do it. I’m feeling pretty good nowadays. I hope not. *** One day a week or so later Slick came in my room. ‘Wanna go eat?’ ‘Yeah. I’m starving. I asked.’ We were in a Chinese place that looked like it had been there forever. *** ‘Think Barclay’s treatments last long?’ ‘Like giving up cigarettes maybe. ‘Well. They’re going for a June wedding. In fact I think it was there back during Prohibition.’ Six months ago if I’d said that I was starving you wouldn’t have believed it.Malachi Murph let us doze in the backseat as he quietly maneuvered through the late night traffic. 73 . High backed uncomfortable booths. I’ve quit smoking a hundred times’. sounds like all the flowers and stuff that goes with it. I don’t remember getting in bed that night.’ ‘Me too. Food was adequate but couldn’t compete with what we had been served back in Yokohama at Wei Ai Ei’s Golden Dragon. Obviously.
.’ He laughed. ‘Matter of fact I am.’ ‘He’s something. No grudges to hold.I’m alerted to the date so I can deduce that I should not consider coming up there then to visit with Jaypee. ‘You feeling pretty frisky there aincha?’ I grinned.’ ‘Yeah – good at that.’ I didn’t know what to say because I wasn’t sure how he was feeling about a trip back down the aisle himself.’ He glared across the table – the ten pound glare. ‘You can say that again. ‘Knowing her – she’d rip the new guy a new asshole if he messed up taking Jaypee into the family picture. You don’t even realize he’s treating you. can you?’ ‘Naw. I believe the new guy is a young black doctor – so maybe she’ll get lucky this time around. so I just worked on trying to stab a prawn with a chopstick. though. naw. I’ll work with her on the visitation thing.’ ‘Knowing her – she’d rip . ain’t he?’ ‘Smart man – knows how to blend in the science with the bullshit. . All I care about is that the new guy hits it off with Jaypee.’ ‘Can’t really fault her on that. I think old Doc Barclay’s magic elixir is doing the trick.’ 74 . He brought me outta my funk in nothing flat.
’ ‘The horses around much?’ 75 . He looking good now. ‘In spades – for me.’ He grinned. At least I think I’ll be able to. He just gobble it up. morning.‘I still feel guilty as hell about Mona and Michiko but now I understand why – and now I can function in the present and the future.’ *** Wilbur had a list of two pages – guys who wanted a turn at taking care of Popeye. this dog – he getting too much to eat?’ ‘I dunno. Nobody deserves me – bad news.’ ‘Better keep an eye on the guys. afternoon. Damn dog ain’t smart enough to say ‘No’. The dog was loving it. He so damn skinny when we first got him – hard to tell. Somebody else was responsible for food and water.’ ‘Me too. We don’t want ‘em bringing in food from outside.’ ‘I think the old chinaman been slipping him some stuff.’ ‘Oh boy. ‘Hey. They even had a latrine detail to clean up the poop on the sidewalk. It’s pretty clear to me that married life is not for me. evenings. They had a regular walk schedule.’ ‘I think I can say the same for myself.
In the early evening – if they in there – I think they ain’t ready to settle down for the night – old Clyde looks around for that old tire – picks it up in his teeth and carries it around.’ ‘I be damned.’ ‘Wonder how old they are?’ ‘How can you tell? They look pretty good to me.’ ‘I see Larry got a roof on poles put up. but she turned her ass to him – kept the tire up front where he couldn’t run aroun’ and grab it back. has some other place for them.‘They come and go.’ ‘Old Clyde – he like to play around more than Bonnie.’ ‘Yeah. She acted like she wasn’t interested – then bam! – grabbed that tire right outta his mouth. his name is Larry Schwartz. So. Those horses are smart enough to get under there when it’s raining – or when the sun gets too hot. but I ain’t gonna go look in their mouth and count how many teeth they missing. One night he was waving it around – nose to nose with Bonnie.’ ‘What Clyde do?’ ‘Clyde wanted to get the tire back.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah. I think that guy. he probably cares enough to look out for them. too – just uses this yard as a place to leave them for short periods.’ ‘Naw.’ 76 .’ ‘Yo’ kidding.
’ ‘I’m all ears. . Yeah. it might be something the police can handle. Thought you might gimme your feelings about it.’ ‘Oh. ‘I got some bad feelings about this one.‘The ole Chinaman he like to come outta his shop and lean on the fence – talk to ‘em – give ‘em a sugar lump.’ ‘What we talking about?’ ‘Well. Ain’t nobody don’t like a horse. ‘This might be nothing – I dunno. partner.’ ‘Oh shit.’ *** ‘Hey bud.’ *** So then he told me. Then again.’ ‘What we talking about?’ ‘Something we might want to studiously avoid – not like we used to do before.’ Slick pulled up a chair and leaned back to push the door of my office closed.’ ‘I been hearing things – on the street – over at the courthouse.’ 77 . . le’s talk.
’ ‘I know. why they don’t seem to consider alcoholism as a disease – just some kind of ‘bad habit’ thing? Don’t make sense. though.’ ‘Ramifications? What the hell you talking about? Every job we’ve ever taken on had ramifications. so they kinda shut up. but not like this. Ever wonder.‘Think ole Doc Barclay might get on your ass if you play around with whatever it is?’ ‘Yeah. Lotsa folks in this town seem to think that cancer is something only bad people get – like syphilis or something.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah.’ 78 . Same thing about lotsa stuff. but more than that.’ ‘Since when did the size of a problem slow you – or me – down?’ ‘This thing has ramifications. ‘I been overhearing folks talking – never pay much attention to what I overhear in a courthouse hallway. But after a while I noticed they get kinda fishy eyed when they see I might be listening. figured it was best to let him bring this out at his own pace. and finally spoke.’ I sat for a bit. act like maybe they’re talking about something embarrassing – you know. Can’t bring themselves to discuss it as a legitimate disease. I’m afraid this could be a blockbuster. He shook his head – like he was clearing it of cobwebs.
I hear folks talking – at the courthouse – I can’t butt in and say ‘What you all talking about?’ – so I just pick up bits and pieces. from saying I got a four out of my two and twos. That’d make it easier. You’re dancing all around but not saying anything. You’re getting there. I don’t have a big word for it. Roscoe’s. very far. Okay?’ ‘Go ahead. So then I notice the same kind of conversations going on in other parts of town. the bottom line is that the black community – at least as best I can tell so far – is concerned about some sort of out of town threat coming into town.’ ‘Yeah – Adam’s Rib.’ ‘And these bits and pieces are starting to make some sense?’ ‘They are – but I’m far. it don’t.’ ‘Well. those kinds of places where almost everybody is black and they start letting their guard down and talking. screwing up the black community – that sort of thing. Lemme just kind of lay it out.’ ‘Come on.‘No.’ ‘Right. What the hell are you trying to say?’ ‘Aw. Bear in mind now. but I still don’t know what the hell we’re talking about here.’ ‘Like I say. when I say ‘other parts of town’ I’m limiting myself to the black neighborhoods.’ 79 .’ ‘Bugging you? Right?’ ‘Right.
’ ‘Aw shit. A few suggested even that anything that could clean up the black community should be welcomed by the city. ‘I heard this indirectly – came to me through a guy who sings in the churches and synagogues. Bunch of drunken Irishmen didn’t know anything – and didn’t much care about anything that affected the black community. the least little perceived advantage one group has over another is taken as proof positive that ‘we’ are better than ‘them’. sounds like you’re gonna either have to act like a member of the black community and ask some folks to tell you what has them all stirred up – or – follow Doc Barclay’s advice and just keep your nose out of it. Seemed like their memories were rather short – only been a few years since they were on the outside looking in.‘That’s pretty damned vague. Could be the government. I talked a bit with some of the regulars at my club. no matter how slight. too. I guess.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘I already been asked for my advice. hoping to be accepted here. could be anything. You don’t have any idea – yet – as to who or what the threat is?’ ‘Not yet.’ *** I fished around a little at the saloon. partner.’ 80 .’ ‘So. It was there that I might have stumbled on something from one of the musicians.’ ‘Can’t.
yeah.‘Does both?’ ‘Oh yeah. Black musicians – black church? Ah . .’ ‘I don’t see the connection. I was pretty busy and I felt sure that he was busting his ass on the bail bonds business and then adding to that a lot of time spent trolling his black neighborhood sources about the gossip thing. Come to the little neighborhood church and hear all the out of town talent thing?’ ‘That’s what it sounds like. what this Irish tenor-Jewish cantor have to say?’ ‘He has a lot of black musician friends.’ ‘Aha.’ ‘Damn. gets together and jams with them on weekends. Anyway he says they – the black musicians – are talking a lot about some big move – coming in from out of town – somewhere south of here – planning on taking over an established black church here. this black out of town church group is looking to infiltrating up here by using the drawing power of their musicians. We both seemed to be going in different directions. So.’ *** I didn’t see Slick for several days. . this guy enjoys singing. He can sing at a catholic wedding and then go to a temple or synagogue and perform there without a problem. We 81 . Don’t know how he does it – doesn’t understand the words of what he is singing but he just goes for the sound.?’ “As best they could figure it out. No. Learn something new every day. he’d sing in the black churches too but they seem overloaded with talent of their own.
’ So I told Slick what little I had learned about the black church music thing. etc.finally managed to meet on a Sunday morning – at the Cass Avenue saloon.’ ‘Don’t get all twisted up in your underwear now. ‘Yeah. Keep your cool.’ ‘Wonder why?’ 82 . wanted my moustache trimmed up and old Roscoe said he’d been asked to see if I’d agree to meet with one of the preachers tomorrow. . Slick. Louis blue laws require saloons to be closed on Sunday mornings. I think that’s what it’s going to turn out to be. maybe later on. I just got a bad feeling – these folks are giving out bad vibrations about this thing. ‘Why don’t we open the windows and maybe the back door? Let a little fresh air in here – damn place stinks of stale beer and cheap cigars.’ If it sounds like they got a genuine problem and actually do need my help – well . we’ll see. This place is permanently stunk up. let a little air in but it won’t get rid of the smell in here.’ ‘You gonna do it?’ ‘Yeah. You want something to drink – maybe some coffee?’ ‘Naw. Yeah. I was at Roscoe’s barber shop yesterday.’ ‘Yeah. St. like I said at the start – if it’s a bullshit thing then I’ll politely decline ‘too busy. I know. You don’t have to agree to anything tomorrow.’ ‘Ah.
’ ‘About what?’ ‘The smell in this place. Not a single word exchanged between us about Slick’s Monday meeting.’ ‘Best that you wait until after the meeting with the preacher. Tha’s good. Mom and Pop opened the place probably a few years before that.’ ‘You get about a B-Plus on the fly strips. We sat there until sunset. How many years this place been in the Driscoll family?’ ‘Well. as soon as they scraped up enough money to pay a month’s rent and buy the first keg of beer. Asking premature questions of the gossipmongers won’t get you very close to actual facts. though.‘I dunno. Took a hell of a long time for them to eventually buy the building.’ It was a pleasant Sunday so we got in Slick’s car and drove over to the old 1904 World’s Fair Fairgrounds on Natural Bridge to watch all the young dudes work out their sports fantasies. please – and I think you’re right. I dunno. Do the arithmetic. yeah.’ ‘And how many thousand cigar butts been ground out on the floor when they missed the spittoons?’ ‘Don’t even try to calculate all the spilled beer.’ ‘Can I get you that Coke now?’ ‘Yes. 83 . I’m fifty. Sounds like they’re reading a lot more threat into it – whatever the hell ‘it’ is.’ ‘Right.
He got sumthin wrong wit his mouth. it comes out sounding like ‘Juiciest Poindextuh’ or like that. I like to kid myself I don’t hang over the edges of a stool too much. hell. jes talk funny.’ Slick had talked with Roscoe and told him he would meet with the preacher. especially a preacher’s name. This is just fine. We all laugh about it and jes’ call him ‘Juicy’ Poindexter. that ain’t nice making fun of people’s names. He talk a little funny. This is just for me to listen to what the man got to say. ‘I told him. no.’ ‘Aw.’ She winked and gave me that deep down laugh of hers. 84 . thanking the gods that be for not having a loud jukebox in the saloon downstairs. I’d take a run out to Maryland Avenue maybe twice a week. One rainy Saturday night I was roosting at the end of the bar in the club when Stormy Knight ended her last set. that this single meeting was not to be taken as any kind of commitment that he would do anything further.*** ‘Poindexter? “Juicy” Poindextah?’ ‘Wilbur. lady – unless you want a table?’ ‘No.’ *** I just kept muddling along – staying in the flat upstairs on Cass. He insisted. When he try to say Lucius Poindextuh. The crowd was kinda light because of the rain. Nothing much going on around City Hall but I’d do a walk through there every week or so. try to catch at least one evening when the entertainment was going on. ‘C’mon and pull up a stool here. He a good man. however. Old preacher Poindexter.
Stormy. All old folks. Heavy duty stuff. at this moment I don’t.’ ‘Yeah. Used to be all we ever heard about places like that was who died for the last funeral. You hearing something about Reverend Poindexter’s church. Otherwise.’ We sat for a bit and just schmoozed.‘You sound like you’re feeling pretty good. slid a glass of ice and a bottle of Seven Up in front of her.’ Pete Conrad. She poured half a glass and downed it. Maybe then we’ll be able to get a handle on it. Dan. Stormy.’ 85 . Slick is supposed to meet with Poindexter sometime soon. Then she hit me with a question. from what little I know – or hear – I think it might be something strange.’ ‘I am. I don’t understand what a little old Negro church – been there forever – is suddenly the cause of so much whispering.’ ‘Well. it was just old biddies gossiping about whose daughter got pregnant. too?’ ‘Yes I am. ‘What’s Slick up to. without being asked. ‘Gotta keep the old pipes cooled down. You know anymore than that?’ ‘No. then poured the rest in the glass and pushed the bottle back to Pete. Dan? I’m hearing things on the tom-toms out there – sound a little strange.’ ‘This stuff sounds like something different. I am – for an old bat.
Those old gals are really in a dither. listen too much to the old ladies’ gossip. Seems like he got himself involved in some kind of little scam – might be perfectly legitimate – but after he got involved.’ ‘So you drew a blank?’ ‘Sure sounded like it. or ‘Juicy’. You sure Mistuh Murphy won’t mind going a little outta his way to drop me?’ ‘Mal Murphy is the most agreeable Irishman in this town. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from Slick. listening to all these old ladies in the beauty parlor – you’d think it was the devil himself coming to town for Armageddon. One thing led to another – first thing you know almost everybody black in this town are girding up for a big takeover of Poindexter’s church. but. I have to say. I think. sweets. then he started having second thoughts. the barber.’ ‘Hey. Juicy Poindexter – I met him and grilled him pretty good. Can we give you a lift anywhere?’ ‘Thought you’d nevah ask. the preacher?’ ‘I guess I could make that plural.’ *** ‘Old fart!’ ‘Who you talking about? Roscoe. Grab your purse.‘I ain’t much for going to church – you probably figgered that out already. My guess is that there’s nothing to it – something fairly innocent getting embellished every time it is retold. That’ll save me cab fare. Roscoe was just passing it on. No problem.’ 86 . Murph’s cab is waiting outside. Both of ‘em. I’m about to head for the barn.
peeling paint.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well. leaky roof. so I didn’t ask. I pretty much guessed that. but he knows enough bible stuff to put on a pretty good sermon every Sunday – and he’s got the funeral stuff down pat. so busy he was thinking maybe he needed to look around for a – his words: ‘an associate 87 .‘So – what’s the real story?’ ‘You have to understand most black churches have roots that go pretty deep.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah. He probably isn’t the best educated man of the cloth.’ ‘Ah.’ ‘What he do?’ ‘He said he was at a meeting of some southern preachers – all black – and each one was trying to outdo the other. likes to hear himself talk and this time he put his foot in his mouth real good. but it appears that he also has a big mouth. You name it. Juicy Poindexter has been leading his small flock for many years. but I didn’t figure I needed to know that.’ ‘Put his size elevens in his mouth?’ ‘He thinks he did. I’d guess that this was over a few bottles of Sweet Lucy. yeah. Most of ‘em have been and remain dirt poor. cracked linoleum floors.’ ‘Yeah. Said he was bragging about how busy his church was. Don’t make much money but he’s got job security you might say. burned out lightbulbs.
That about it?’ ‘In a nutshell.’ ‘But?’ ‘Yep. The other guy sez ‘You can’t do that to me.’ ‘The plot is thickening.pastor’. sorry ‘bout that – phone the guy back and make some excuses? Cut him off before he leaves Oklahoma. I’ve already cut all my ties here. Poindexter at this point lost his memory and said something stupid?’ ‘Like. I gotta get out of here.’ ‘He thought about that. Next thing he knows after he gets back home – forgot all about the conference by then – he gets a phone call – long distance. Never thought anybody in the group was paying too much attention. Just let me come for a few weeks.’ ‘Can’t he eat a little crow – uh. ‘why don’t you just come up to St.’ 88 .’ ‘Caller claimed he was down in Oklahoma somewhere caring for a flock of God’s chillun there – wanted to discuss the reverend Poindexter’s mention of his need for an associate pastor. I didn’t want to tell you but I got a teenager pregnant. Louis for a while?’ – huh?’ ‘So Juicy is now experiencing some severe regret pains? Gonna be found out as a fraud who barely has enough business at his church to keep himself outta the poorhouse.’ ‘Lemme guess. I’ve gotta leave town. Then put in a call.
Ain’t any of your responsibility. I still feel like shit. Now he has all the folks here all bent out of shape. They like the old status quo – don’t want any young ‘Reverend Stud’ coming in and messing things up.’ ‘Yeah. did you?’ 89 . . Not very sophisticated. I know.’ ‘Yeah. right.‘So. Right?’ ‘Yeah. sounds like you didn’t pay attention to all Doctor Barclay’s advice.’ ‘So. Poindexter caved in. maybe even shove it where the sun don’t shine? Just anything to restore Juicy’s old status quo?’ ‘Exactly. Proud of you.’ ‘Good for you. I told him I don’t take on other people’s errors anymore. just good at thumping his bible and posturing around.’ ‘What you tell him?’ ‘You’ll be proud of me. Somebody told me he was forty before he knew there was something called white wine. They ain’t got the money to cover my fees anyway. .’ ‘He thinks you’re some kind of miracle worker? Extract his foot outta his mouth.’ ‘Well. who cares? Guys like him are a dime a dozen. BUT – if this outtatown hotshot shows up here and turns out that he’s a problem that the reverend ‘Juicy’ can’t handle on his own. I think the old fart is really stupid when it comes to most things. well .
’ ‘Bullshit. I can tell. My turn to save your black ass. how much you charge for a phone consultation?’ Barclay laughed.’ ‘Thanks. We went to a quiet little spot I know. Driscoll’s club on Maryland.’ ‘Good. this is the watering hole Wayne’s been telling me all about? Nice – classy looking.’ 90 . ‘Hey doc. doc. ‘So. Okay?’ ‘No problem. You’re gonna keep thinking about it. Just because I don’t agree with the way you’re thinking – don’t cut me off.’ I have to admit it – it’s hard not to put your full faith in a doctor who enjoys a drink. I believe I owe you one anyway. bud. Glad I brought you here instead of my other place. ‘You can’t be that hard up.’ *** Might not be a bad idea to talk this thing over with folks who got some brains.‘All I’m saying is if the new preacher comes in here and starts stuff that goes beyond just Poindexter – then I’ll think about it some more. Why don’t you come around and pick me up about three or so? We can go somewhere quiet and have a little of mother’s milk. Let Slick do his thing with it. but at least I could maybe be a little better prepared to back him up if – in fact – the shit somehow does hit the fan.
the window. Sometimes I take note of the pleasant smell as somebody fires up a cigarette. I noticed that the good doctor Barclay was not a smoker. doc? We got better hootch here if you’d like. ‘This fine enough for your taste. Go right ahead. The place was virtually empty now but later on the pace would quicken. Doc. brought us a bowl of ice and a small pitcher of water along with four glasses and a just opened bottle of Teacher’s Scotch. and the path to the restrooms. Maybe a little ice and water on the side?’ We settled in. no. except when they’re in there bending their elbows. ‘This is fine. Pete.‘Yeah. the bartender.’ ‘Know the feeling. what do you favor? A little Teacher’s maybe?’ ‘Sounds fine. I haven’t gotten to that level – yet. doc?’ ‘Oh yeah.’ I lit a Camel and left my pack and lighter sit in front of me. but I’m past the craving. Finally came to my senses when it got to a two pack a day habit. I understand that place is what you might call a ‘workingman’s saloon’. Pete. Maybe a nice single malt?’ 91 . I’d have one in the ashtray and be lighting up another one. Will it bother you if I smoke?’ ‘No. ‘You ever smoke.’ Pete Conrad let us get settled in at a corner table away from the bar. right?’ ‘I don’t know how hard they work.
‘This will be fine. right?’ ‘Just in broad general terms. He’s a little worried about it – partly because of his image as a black businessman. I poured the same for myself. It may turn out to be nothing.’ ‘Probably because it could develop in any number of ways at this stage. or understand. is the possible scope of this. as yet to develop.’ ‘I think that’s it. shouting and such – intended solely to separate the so-called true believers from their hard earned money. Dan. It bugs him a little that he can’t analyze it and therefore can’t come up with how to deal with it. plus his and my reputation for fixing problems. Storefront fraud – bible thumping.’ He poured himself two fingers and passed the bottle to me. Just fine. what their thinking is.’ ‘That I can understand.’ ‘Yes. problem – for want of a better word. I gather that’s about all he knows at this stage.’ 92 .’ ‘Fair amount of that going around – all the time. Lots of unknowns. Depends on the players.’ ‘Our experience in dealing with problems that involved religion have so far been pretty straightforward. or will be. ‘I guess you’ve got the general picture on Slick’s current dilemma. It sounds like what he doesn’t yet know.
doc?’ ‘Why? Because they are always looking for something better than they have – or could have if they worked at it. They do well.’ ‘Why do people fall for it. Only the human. doc? Is it just me or are there really a lot of fraudulent and corrupt practitioners out there?’ ‘I’m inclined to say that is a correct statement. presumably because he was given the ability to engage in rational thought – only he is the one creature looking for miracles so he won’t have to work at survival. It’s always better if you don’t have to work to get it. too – by and large – birds migrate. Whatever ‘it’ is. am I right?’ ‘Yeah – or maybe into somebody’s knickers. White sepulchres I believe they’re called.’ ‘That’s just another form of currency. They just bust their asses pecking away everyday – just like the almighty intended. cows. My point is that the rest of the animal kingdom make do with what they have.’ The human being is the only creature on earth unwilling to take the hand he’s been dealt by the almighty. who have to have their miracles? Who have to pray? Who have to put their money in the basket? Hell No. ain’t it. whatever. Dan?’ He laughed and topped off our glasses. You know any birds. sparrows perfectly content to peck in the horse manure out in the street. horse.’ 93 . dogs eat out of garbage cans. ‘What is it about religion. dogs.’ ‘Who also seem to somehow be getting into somebody’s pocket or purse.‘Then we’ve had the occasional ‘pillar of the community’ type.
‘People just gullible? ‘Not entirely. doc. There’s a certain bit of showmanship.’ ‘So. if old Rev. or these statues that mysteriously weep. the more attraction it seems to those gullible souls out there. if you’ll permit my irreverence. Do you see any reason why he should have to take any overt action to support Poindexter if the 94 . Right?’ ‘Correct. for instance.’ ‘Who must be ‘sold’ sufficiently before they pull out the checkbook. the image of Jesus in the screendoor. If this is all we know at this point. Although in many cases. inexplicable and ununderstandable it is. The more outlandish and bizarre the perceived remedy is – consider voodoo. if they want to ‘believe’ hard enough – then they’ll believe anything. Poindexter. to selling the claptrap and mumbo jumbo to the unwashed masses. it seems the more farfetched. No matter how far fetched.’ ‘I guess a lot depends on how the alleged miracle cure or whatever is presented?’ ‘Of course.’ ‘So. One of ‘em is going to have to yield to the other especially if there is a wide disparity in their respective salesmanship skills. aka ‘Juicy’. that is true. then a new guy coming in would be a threat to Juicy’s job security?’ ‘Hard to keep such a small playing field level for two competitors. As I said. what’s the concern Slick should have?’ ‘None. is not the slickest salesman in the world.
Dan. boss. You got me to the bottom line in less than half a bottle.’ 95 . ‘Looks like you got yourself a good barkeep there. if I may anticipate you. He brought us fresh glassware. checking on the sticky fingered help.’ I laughed.’ ‘Lemme push you a bit more. Your question is. ‘You gents need anything else?’ ‘Yeah. ice and water.newcomer is better qualified? Whatever the hell ‘qualified’ means. Dan. . is how far does the new guy dare go?’ ‘Really.’ ‘You’re beginning to put a little more spin on the ball here. turns out to be a better preacher. maybe younger with some appeal to the fair sex.’ ‘I been lucky. I noticed my cigarettes were almost gone. mingles well in public .’ Barclay waited until Pete had moved away. .’ ‘I say. Lot of club owners spend all their time counting dimes and quarters in the register. You’re good.’ ‘What if the new guy also comes up with some new twists on how to run things? Fund raising. I gave a nod to Pete. Would you mind getting me a pack of Camels outta the machine?’ ‘No problem. Pete. it’s more ‘at what point does Slick cease being a mere onlooker’ and is obligated to take that overt action you alluded to. that sorta thing. let the best man win. What if the new guy does come in.?’ ‘So. gets better haircuts. Dan.
I’d hazard that there may not even be a checkbook involved. Not affiliated with any particular denomination. So your buddy. I know. could be found out. Secondly. All the income generated probably goes to the reverend Poindexter who pays the bills and then himself. businesses.‘That isn’t limited to saloons.’ ‘So. if such did in fact exist. . Dan. the new guy might be equally dexterous.’ ‘Probably not.’ ‘Right.’ ‘Yeah. ah . by the way. what’s the name of the church?’ ‘I think it’s called the Ezekiel Tabernacle of Faith – something like that. His own prior sticky fingers. Good possibility of conflict right there. Probably everywhere. take the ladies of the church on a chartered bus to the museum.’ ‘So Poindexter could see himself on a two pronged financial dilemma. Slick. Discontinue the long time habits – watermelon feasts and such – raise the hoity-toity level a bit. That sorta thing. I’d guess its revenue is rather modest – no percentage to be passed up the line to corporate headquarters type of thing.’ ‘No. if he’s going to monitor things at that little church.’ ‘Oh?’ 96 .’ ‘Then the new guy might also want to just do things differently to further distinguish himself from old man Poindexter. Probably almost entirely done in cash. you name it. . churches.
The sorta thing where the new guy disappears overnight. you have so little faith in human nature. under wraps.’ ‘Argh. Any other world problems you’d care to explore?’ *** ‘Is it my imagination or is this place getting crowded?’ 97 . of greater concern to everybody affected. either right out in the wide open or.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘You sure you ain’t Irish.’ ‘I can see that.’ ‘And Slick – if he is going to investigate this thing – is going to have to be aware of the degree of the new guy’s ambition. doc? That blarney of yours sure sounds familiar. If he’s intent on maximizing his role at The Ezekiel Tabernacle of Faith then there is no limit to what he might do.’ ‘Dan. you shock me.’ ‘I got a bad feeling that this is the way it could develop. The more innovative the new guy is the more outdated Poindexter becomes.’ ‘That’s because it could all have occurred to you without any help from me. I just happen to get going pretty good whenever somebody is lobbing me those easy underhand pitches like you’ve been doing – and keeping my vocal chords well oiled here as well. yeah. Think about it.‘Yeah.
right?’ ‘Right. I can see that. but I don’t like ‘em feeling we’re all that close.‘You ain’t imagining it.’ Like the Poindexter thing. Send ‘em back up to the pool hall. I walked into his room and pushed the door shut after Wilbur had gotten the loafers to move along.’ ‘They’ve performed well all the previous times you – and I – needed a little black bag work. Wilbur. not just Poindexter – then we just work out something vague on the phone and wait to hear later on that something happened. We ain’t got the room. ‘Sounds like you been doing a little planning. I guess you’re right. I think you better put the word out for these clowns to not be hanging around here. boss. Need to keep them at arms’ length. plus we’re trying to run a business.’ ‘Deniability again. They unnerstand.’ ‘Yeah. didn’t they?’ ‘Yeah. I’ll send ‘em away.’ 98 . god help us – if I’m reduced to calling on those clowns for help. Popeye – he gotta lotta friends. Just they ain’t got nothing else to do but wait for their turn to walk the dog – whatever.’ ‘Yeah. boss. Think you can handle that?’ ‘Sure. Never know when we might need their help on something else. If we do need them – on anything.’ ‘Thanks.
’ ‘Yeah – might want to draft you as the new choir director. Lot of ‘em are nothing but charlatans.’ ‘Har har. I’m trying to stay out of it.’ *** I made a lunch date with Vince Pallazola – Lieutenant Pallazola. Got any idea when this new guy might show up?’ ‘Naw. commander of the SLPD Flying Squad.’ ‘Well.’ ‘I agree. after talking with him – for what it’s worth – I’d say this Poindexter thing is going to turn out to be all about money.’ ‘Can’t say I disagree with that. and I’m not asking either. No need for my nose stuck in there.‘Right. I don’t think he’s too impressed with the concept of organized religion. we’ll soon enough find out. The folks who have been supporting Poindexter and his little church for years might suddenly find that this new guy is going to be drilling down much deeper – can’t do things fancy unless you got the money. I been talking some with Doctor Barclay. We go way back – back to before the War when we 99 .’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah – thinks the goofy bastards in the street – unwashed masses he called ‘em – are too eager to let themselves be enchanted with the glitz and glitter put out by a lot of preachers.’ ‘Well.
It’s all just nickel and dime stuff anyway. ‘Vin. I owe Vin my life. Sal.’ Sal beamed.’ 100 . ‘We’re in your hands. We agreed to meet at a small Italian family restaurant.both started in the late ‘30s as probationary patrolmen for the SLPD. We don’t know yet. Why? You on to something?’ ‘I was afraid you were going to say that. let me ask you a question. He’d go back in the kitchen now and bust his butt to bring out the best of the best for us. Although our paths diverged long ago. He now heads a small elite squad of detectives that is multi-talented and has a mandate to cherry pick its workload. just bust ‘em in the act. those paths have likewise intersected many times since. Yeah. It was Pallazola who brought down Paul Deckard after Deckard had plugged me. If something turns up we usually just let the District Specials handle it. Whatever you’re eating today is good enough for us. Vin just made his day. unless you’re talking about the Negro population here. As we took our seats Vin simply handed the menus back to Salvatore. What kind of Bunco squad does the department have?’ ‘We don’t have enough of that crap to worry about. Slick is coming on to something about to fester and bust – if the rumor mill is correct. Although Mama Napolitano recently died her original recipes live on – her two sons have promised to never change any of them so long as the family restaurant exists. a place that until just a few years ago featured ‘Mama’ as a daily fixture. No undercover stuff. one of the brother-owners.
‘Enjoy. I’ll let you know if I get anything solid.‘Well. Enjoy. As you well know my Flying Squad is all white. – Ah. At this point I don’t want to have everybody working a wild goose chase. Look at this.’ ‘Sounds good. it might be nothing. Dan. We’d have to get the black Specials involved. maybe you ought to tell Slick to tip off the Negro Specials in whatever districts this thing is in – or going to be in.’ ‘Well. Sal. You guys got enough to do. medallions of veal – on a Wednesday lunch?’ Salvatore Napolitano just grinned. you shouldn’t have.’ *** 101 . my friends.
PART TWO 103 .
‘Reverend Poindexter? This is Robert Smith.’ *** He did as instructed and rode an overnight Greyhound bus from Tulsa to St. Then grimly hung up the phone. When you arrive in St.’ ‘Okay. okay.’ Okay.’ ‘I was planning on taking the train out of Tulsa. ‘Old fart told me to take the bus or the streetcar.*** ‘Take the bus. you notice anything about Popeye?’ 105 . Louis. I’ve just arrived from Tulsa. He carried just a single suitcase.’ ‘No.’ *** ‘Slick. I guess. You’ll do this my way – period. an overnight lower berth. picked up the suitcase and turned away from the phone.’ ‘Too ostentatious. With the luggage on the floor between his feet he dialed the payphone.’ He listened. No guessing. Louis you need to look like you’ll fit in with them. Take the bus. Downtown here right now at the Greyhound station. Yes sir. He was stiff and sore from sitting upright all night. a bible prominently packed on top of the few white shirts.
he a smart puppy. I laughed along with them. He one fine animal – ole Popeye. Ask Slick about the time he never bothered to button up his fly when he came outta the binjo.’ Wilbur by now was an old hand at our feints and jabs. he spilling so damn much. Yeah. to his credit. ‘Don’t nobody notice ole Popeye here under my chair alla the time? He know who got the bag of burgahs in the desk drawer. he’s right ‘bout that. too. He ain’t picky. ask him ‘bout that one. Yeah. never strayed too far from the truth. ‘Wilbur. but have you ever noticed when I come in here – he gets up from wherever he is and comes and lays down next to me. Wilbur.’ 106 . he’s right.’ ‘Maybe that’s cause you always smell of food – got spills all down yo’ lap. I bet. He can’t see worth shit with only one eye and I don’t know how good that one is. Biggest damn woman I ever saw – I thought – then I saw the five o’clock shadow and when ‘she’ talked it sounded like a factory whistle on a foggy night. Wilbur! Did I evah tell you about Driscoll heah back in Japan? Wonder the army didn’t go bankrupt. Oh yeah. No Sir. We had had more than our share of good times back in Japan – and Slick.’ I couldn’t help myself. I know that. I was so damned anxious to get out of there I didn’t stop to button my pants until I was a block away.‘Yeah.’ ‘He likes anything.’ ‘No.’ ‘He like ketchup on his French fries.’ ‘Yeah. that dawg. He smiled. He wag his tail for any little bite you give him. That guy could nail me every time.
107 . “Yeah. not a worry in the world. not interested in providing any entertainment. women don’t much like the looks of the guys hanging around outside. All shucking and jiving.’ ‘Yeah. when you got some time lemme tell you about the time Slick ‘thumped around’ a little and got a quick confession outta a crusty old white first sergeant. like a buncha peacocks.’ ‘Probably got some of ‘em on our books right now.‘Like some girls I used to know. can’t say I have. Naw. excuse the interruptions. ‘Calvin. maybe thump around a little?’ I interrupted. You were saying?’ ‘Well. those guys ain’t got the price of a drink in their pockets but they still hang around there. Ever been in there Slick?’ ‘No. it’s just a comfortable kinda place. You recommending it?’ ‘Naw. Calvin. Wouldn’t want you getting mad at me. Oh yeah.’ ‘Laziest bastards in the world – right there on that sidewalk. Club manager there said he was sorry he hadn’t sold tickets. Why you bring that place up? You think I need to put in an appearance there. Slick is a first-class club thumper. I been scouting around looking to see if we got any good card games developing so I visit around. Calvin.’ *** ‘The Dynaflow Lounge – where the ‘shiftless’ folks all hang out.’ Slick didn’t even look my way.
this guy is using the old soft sell.Sometimes they fool you.’ ‘Ole ‘Juicy’ Poindexter probably told him to get out and hit the bricks. Anyway the gang that hang around the Dynaflow there they was all shooting the shit when I walked in. Why didn’t he just say ‘John Doe’ right up front?’ 108 .’ ‘Oh?’ Calvin regained control of the conversation with ‘No.’ ‘Wilbur. going around to the neighborhood businesses trying to get himself acquainted. Yeah. nothing like that – sez he just wants to get out. Not asking for money. right?’ ‘That’s about it. Slick. Seems there’s a new preacher in town.’ ‘Right – and told everybody to be sure and call him if they need anything.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘Yeah. suddenly somebody got himself some money and looking to be the next fool to lose it to me in a card game. I don’t think they call them deputies. Make himself useful. shake a few hands and meet the folks in the neighborhood. They said he introduced himself as Robert Smith.’ ‘Sure. Not very original. Calvin?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Probably Juice’s new deputy.’ ‘You get his name.
well known to traveling businessmen – and the locals – for the so-called ‘Men’s Club’. Doctor Barclay has one brewing up here in this part of town. a spot with a good bar. fine.’ Wonder what this is all about? *** The Plaza Hotel is a long time downtown hotel.‘From what the Dynaflow crowd said – they think this guy is here to stay. How’s it going down there?’ ‘Fine.’ ‘Right. Around seven maybe?’ ‘See you there at seven.’ ‘Sounds good to me. Where would you like to meet?’ ‘Probably somewhere away from this neighborhood. Didn’t come across as wanting to be a number two – for anybody. We thought you and Slick might be amenable to having a few drinks this evening.’ ‘Glad to hear that actually. too. Wayne Samuels here. What do you think about the Plaza Men’s Club?’ ‘Sounds like you don’t want any loud music. ain’t he?’ *** ‘Hello?’ ‘Hi. Dan. 109 .’ ‘Ole ‘Juice’ – he in trouble. doc. Got a few cyclones brewing in the lesser latitudes here – as usual. I’ll alert Slick.
Want me to start a tab on a room number. Okay?’ ‘Gotcha. Those remaining drinkers might well spend the evening there. ‘Jim. ‘Yeah. Not a place to take a date because there is no entertainment. no. gentlemen?’ ‘A tab. Slick and I took a semi-circular booth that could hold six in a pinch.’ Barclay gave her his best grin. At seven o’clock the local office worker crowd had thinned out some.’ ‘Name’s Susie. The guys that have to go home for supper with the old lady had all wobbled out the door.competent staff. and stout drinks. Before we could order our first round Barclay and Samuels were coming in the door and headed our way.’ We shot the breeze over a couple of rounds. Then Wayne Samuels opened the door for Barclay. yes. why don’t you give them the lowdown on what’s just come up?’ 110 . The waitress stood aside and let us settle in before taking our orders. Likker is quicker – than beer. Slick and I brought them up to date on the potential problem we were nursing in the black community. ‘Looks like a Scotch drinkers convention – you guys. Business deals go down here at all hours. I’ll be here all evening. The four of us would fit in there well tonight. For the four of us it looked like a good fit. On a room.
yes. ‘Okay. not wanting to interrupt the flow of Barclay’s oration. Nobody suggested going to get anything to eat. Let’s have one more round.’ It was a little after ten when we broke up.’ Wayne Samuels smiled ‘If we both get shitfaced then we’ll deny everything. Barclay and Samuels hailed a cab. It was a pleasant night. the ashtray was full and Susie the waitress was keeping an eye on us from her station in the middle of the bar. I noticed Barclay had graduated from crutches to a stout cane.’ So Doctor Barclay had the floor while we sat and listened.Doctor Barclay took a healthy drink and leaned forward. You guys learned it by osmosis – okay?’ Slick nodded. Know what I mean?’ ‘Same as the priest in confession. right?’ ‘Basically. If you have any questions after we leave. that’ll work. As we passed the Central Library on Olive Slick spoke first. will insert himself in the conversation. ‘Sometimes that’s the best way – like when Moses’ mama came home with the baby ‘I just found him in the bulrushes. Slick and I decided to walk back to the office. just let me know. No need for you guys to comment now – unless you want to. if I start to stray I expect my good friend. ‘Think we can do anything?’ 111 . ‘I’ve got a bit of a problem here in how much I can disclose because of the doctor – patient privilege thing. Wayne here.’ Sure. Anyway. When he finished we noticed that our glasses were empty.
do that. Anything big come in later on I’ll give you a call. we’re going out the back door.’ In another two blocks we were at Slick’s bail bonds shop. wants to stay where the lights ain’ so bright I guess. Well.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah. Where’s Popeye?’ ‘The dog? He’s been bunking in the back room. Make sure things are all locked up. this was Slick’s baby. Charles. In a few minutes the door was unlocked by a Wilbur clone. Helluva burden they got with that doctor-patient thing. I stood back as he rattled his keys on the glass in the front door. I’m sure those two guys would never have come to us if they didn’t think we could. Okay?’ *** 112 .’ ‘They were both pretty stiff upper lipped weren’t they?’ ‘Rightly so.‘I dunno. We sure as hell need to give it some thought. Although my name was still on the window. and if they hadn’t decided they didn’t have any other options. Anything I need to know before I get in my car out back and leave?’ ‘No.’ ‘Fine. quiet night boss. ‘Thanks.
Each of us working the mental angles separately until we could sit down and thrash out some sort of plan agreeable to both of us.’ ‘Well.’ ‘That’s stupid is what it is. And why do they call them oyster crackers?’ 113 . Let’s go find a Chili Parlor.’ ‘So? On Fridays they can get a chili fix if they don’t have meat in it? Just turtle?’ ‘That’s right. some catholic folks here in St.As we usually do. Howzabout some Honest to God chili?’ ‘Sounds good. And since you know so much about chili – why don’t you explain to me why they always give you those damn little round crackers with chili. we let things slide for a while.’ ‘I take it that means you want real meat – beef – in your chili?’ ‘That’s right. *** ‘Wanna go eat?’ ‘Yeah. You want regular beef chili – or maybe you want turtle meat chili?’ ‘Turtle meat? Who the hell would want turtle meat in their chili? Never heard of that. Who makes these damned rules anyway? Somebody ain’t got enough to do but sit around and dream up new rules? Sheesh. then they’re seafood. Louis have convinced themselves that since turtles come outta the sea.
not much.’ ‘None of Wilbur’s crew much into running.’ ‘That’s to be expected.’ ‘Yeah.’ 114 . Everybody’s kinda goosey about him right now.’ ‘Gonna mess up a lot of those folks who been preaching all that gloom and doom about him.’ ‘Well. No competition. The new guy is roaming around trying to look busy. Not getting a very big reception anywhere.“You sure you want chili?’ *** ‘You hearing anything?’ ‘You mean on Poindexter?’ ‘Yeah. Better than just walking on a leash. everybody just liked each other. Lets him do a little running. ‘Good for him to get in the yard there with ‘em. Maybe he might never turn into anything other than what he seems to be right now.’ ‘What’s Juice doing?’ ‘Same as always – which is as little as possible. He’s one lazy old bastard.’ *** Popeye and the two horses next door had turned out to be perfect for each other.
We need to find something for you to work on. If there’s something cooking we’ll hear about it. I can see ‘em trotting along with a fifth in each hand.’ *** Calvin and Slick took to more or less regular after hours driving tours through the black neighborhoods.’ ‘Maybe they could do neighborhood deliveries for small liquor stores. but the minute I start nosing around about Poindexter – or his new assistant – the tom-toms will go crazy. Danny boy. Just let it come natural. ‘I ain’t ready to get out and start asking questions. Next thing you know they all go home 115 .‘Say what?’ ‘I meant for pleasure. So far they were limiting themselves to just eyeballing the street corners and talking with each other in the car. but he was getting antsy about it. Slick was still trying to keep a low profile on the Poindexter rumors case. Think you might want to write that idea down. I know when they been up to something they can jump over buildings in a single bound. You understand? Only reason for me to stop and visit is if I’m running down a skipper. Calvin.’ ‘I’m inclined to think there may be nothing there – just a bunch of old ladies in the beauty parlor – all start squawking at once.’ ‘Right.’ ‘If we could harness that energy of theirs we could open a messenger business and take over from Western Union – all those white kids on bicycles be outta work. Slick?’ ‘You got too much time on your hands. Everybody buys that. boss.
long as I can. ‘Hi theah. Ain’t that Daryl over there – in front of the drugstore? Call him over here.and report the latest gospel they heard just a few hours ago. Daryl. you gonna stay outta trouble for a while – what?’ ‘Long as I can. ole Roscoe is pretty starved for conversation at his barber shop anyway. you standing around here wondering ‘bout that girl over in East St. Mistuh Slick – Calvin. man – come heah. aincha?’ Daryl looked in at Slick and grinned a little. I need to get a job – sumthin’ – you know?’ ‘Yeah. you do. man.’ ‘Slow down. How you all been?’ ‘We be fine. Tell yo’ mama I was asking about her. Louis. If we don’t hear from you. Mistuh Slick. Tellya what. So the minute something new comes up – he’ll take it. okay?’ 116 . staying back with my momma.’ ‘Yeah.’ Daryl pushed off of the wall and strolled over and looked into the Buick. man. We might turn up something for you. wildfire. ‘Mistuh Slick – first thing I did when I got off the bus – put a nickel in the phone and checked. then I’m gonna have Calvin hassle yo’ ass.’ ‘Daryl! Hey. No questions asked.’ ‘So. We gotta move on now but keep in touch with Calvin here.’ ‘Daryl. Calvin. I dunno where. Like wildfire. How long you been back?’ ‘Just got home a couple days ago. She gone.
If anything gets started I’m sure we’ll hear about it. As we rode in Slick’s Buick out Lindell toward the park I felt a pang.’ ‘Got any ideas about Doctor Barclay’s patient?’ ‘Maybe so. Ain’t neither one of ‘em got a porter. Slick was making plenty money on the clowns who kept stepping in the grease. Feel like going for a drive?’ *** The weather was very nice this time of year.’ *** Things were pretty quiet around town. Calvin looked at Slick. I cruised the City Hall just to keep in touch with my many friends in the local bureaucracy. Winter was behind us and summer hadn’t yet arrived. you doing anything on Poindexter?’ ‘Nah.Slick slid the car into gear and pulled away from the curb. When we got there the house was in flames and my wife and daughter were both dead. ‘Slick. 117 . I figure there are enough other people sniffing around. boss?’ ‘Maybe. Daryl went back to leaning against the wall. It was a day just like this when Gallagher and Lasker had driven me home – under motorcycle escort – through Forest Park and out Hampton. Dan’s got two saloons. ‘You got something in mind.
Slick looked sideways at me. “You okay?’ ‘Yeah. I’m okay. I was just thinking of the day Mona and Michiko were killed. Haven’t been back in the park since then.’ ‘Rather go somewhere else?’ ‘No, no. This is fine. Why don’t we park somewhere – maybe the bottom of Art Hill – or over behind the birdcage. I don’t care, really. Anywhere it’ll be quiet.’ He opted for the parking lot of the Muni opera. Plenty of space, nobody to interrupt us here in midday. We sat for a few minutes and just let the tranquility of Forest Park take over. ‘What’s your take on Barclay’s patient?’ ‘Well, from what he said that night down at the Plaza bar it sounds like she is probably a longtime patient of Wayne Samuels – probably broached her concern to Wayne – maybe just a little – and he referred her to Barclay, the shrink.’ ‘I agree. So Barclay only knows her from that referral and whatever number of sessions he has had with her. Might be just one.’ ‘I got the impression, though, that he was fairly comfortable with the information he was able to disclose to us.’ ‘Which might, or might not, be the total picture.’ ‘Correct.’
‘Tell me if this matches your impression. The lady and her husband are elderly, very well off financially. No mention of any children – or nearby relatives for that matter.’ ‘Right.’ Their lifestyle borders on the opulent – due to the old man’s past success in business.’ ‘Right.’ ‘Now, at his advanced age pop takes less of an active interest in the business, although the income continues to roll in.’ ‘That’s right.’ ‘So everything should be rosy, correct?’ ‘Correct. BUT – apparently that is not so.’ ‘Because?’ ‘Because somebody has seen fit to let old pop know that his – and his wife’s – health and lifestyle could be severely altered – unless . . . ?’ ‘Yeah. Unless.’ ‘So the usual questions come to mind.’ ‘Right. Eliminating family since there apparently are none – that leaves business people – or strangers.’ ‘Business people – could be present or former employees – could be competitors – could be aggrieved former customers.’ 119
‘Aggrieved – I like that. Could be former vendors, too. Right?’ ‘Right.’ ‘Could be total strangers, too. If the old man’s business reputation was very well known, it could be that he’s just been selected as a target solely because of the depth of his pocket.’ ‘You know what?’ ‘What?’ ‘We don’t know shit – that’s what.’ ‘I couldn’t have put it better myself. Barclay’s either going to have to get us more specifics or accept the fact that we ain’t miracle workers.’ ‘Aw, I hate that. I’ve kinda become accustomed to that reputation of being a miracle worker.’ ‘Don’t kid yourself, partner. Lotsa folks got us pegged. They’re just too polite to say so.’ ‘Especially to our face, right?’ ‘Right.’ ‘Where’d this old guy make his millions, I wonder?’ ‘Diamonds. Barclay mentioned he’d been a diamond merchant.’ ‘Oh boy. I missed that.’
‘Yeah, it was back when he and I went to the can – that’s when he said it.’ ‘Shit. I was hoping we just had a liquor store owner – sumthin’ simple.’ ‘Ain’t nothing simple anymore, pal – nothing.’ *** ‘I hear Reverend Smith is getting the ladies organized.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah. Encouraging any and alla the ladies to step forward and join the choir.’ ‘I thought they already had a choir.’ ‘They do – did, but he wants them and the church to get a little more recognition – been telling the ladies that they gotta lotta talent already, just need to do a little fine tuning – sez it will help the church’s image here in town.’ ‘Sounds okay to me – course I ain’t a candidate.’ ‘Thank the Lord for that.’ ‘Right. So what kinda reaction he getting?’ ‘He’s crafty. The ladies are going for it. He’s talking about trying to get somebody around town to donate a better piano. The one they got must be pretty bad, only plays loud. All outta tune.’ ‘Oughta be plenty of used pianos around in better tune than that one.’ 121
He’s a longtime widower. don’t it?’ ‘Lord works in wondrous ways. Too much trouble to get up outta that rockin’ chair.’ *** 122 . Where’s ole Juice fit in to all this new stuff?’ ‘He’s fine with it.‘Right. long time widows too.’ ‘Sounds like Juice got himself a pretty soft assignment. then they might invite him inside to stay a while and gossip with ‘em. Just sit around on their porches and watch the young folks go by. ain’t he?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘That rascal. Probably pick up one traded in to one of the piano stores. No more worry about who gonna show up at church with the biggest hat. These are really old biddies.’ ‘Sounds like the man is on a roll. Except maybe when Juice come by.’ ‘Not interested in signing up for the new choir?’ ‘Naw.’ ‘That oughta be an easy sell to the ladies. what else he been up to?’ ‘He’s talkin’ about getting all the choir – the ones who make the cut – all dolled up in some kinda robes.’ ‘Right. Don’ know shit about music. Spends a lotta his time now just going around the neighborhood visiting with the old ladies.’ ‘So. too old to go to church. too.
’ 123 . You got a minute?’ ‘Sure. . I’ll be honest with you. We decided we were probably going to have to ask you to spell it out for us. M story about the old lady caught him off guard. ‘Hey. He gave me hell when we got out of there.’ ‘All that crap about the rich old lady patient – total crap. ‘ I waited a beat to let it sink in.‘Dan? This is Jim Barclay.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Oh? That’s news to me.’ ‘Well. What you talking about?’ ‘That story I told you guys at the Plaza that night – total bullshit. I did have something else I wanted to solicit some help on. doc.’ ‘I did wonder about the look on Wayne’s face as you were talking.’ ‘No problem. . Good man that he is. then I copped a plea myself. anytime you want to talk – Slick or I – or both of us – we’re here. What’s up?’ ‘I owe you and Slick an apology. doc. a lot more. No problem. We talked it over and just couldn’t get a grip on it ourselves. he didn’t jump me about it until we had some privacy. but – believe it or not – I got cold feet just as I started to talk.’ ‘Yeah. I’m sorry .
I hope I’m not offending you. This time it’s the truth – the whole truth. It’s that I have to get my brain kicked into gear so that I will have sufficient self confidence in whatever I bring to you. I’ll be in touch. doc – over a long period of time. I’m still sorting it out.’ ‘Okay. ‘ ‘Paper cups?’ 124 . I was premature in thinking I could come to you and Slick.’ ‘Fire away. . . it does. It’s not that I don’t have total and complete faith in you and Slick.’ ‘Thanks.‘Well after observing the professional demeanor of you two that night – I’m comfortable now in asking for help whenever I might need it – if you’re still willing. Dan.’ ‘It’s a personal problem – one for me. . Does that make any sense?’ ‘Yes. He’s been going around putting out little paper cups . Here’s the deal. When I get a better handle on exactly what it is – and what kind of help I’ll need – then I’ll be in touch. .’ ‘Whyzat?’ ‘The new preacher. ‘ ‘If it’s possible – we’ll always listen.’ *** ‘Everybody’s pissed off alla the sudden. I’ve suffered from that malady – as you well know.
originally intended as a tip.’ ‘Oh. is he?’ ‘Either that or just plain don’t give a damn – take advantage of well established patterns. It was right next to the shoe shine stand – fer chrissakes. don’t give a shit about the impact his changes to those established patterns will have on the folks who had been dependent on the take they got from those tips. that do make a difference. He didn’t much ask permission – just said something like ‘okay if I just leave this?’ and then he was outta the door before they could say anything.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Guy ain’t too considerate though.’ ‘Sounds like a good idea to me. but you ain’t having to live offa your tips.’ ‘Yeah. actually they’re large paper coffee cups leaving ‘em where people will see ‘em – and put money in ‘em – for the church. Then one showed up over at Roscoe’s barber shop. next to the waitresses’ station. He put one on the counter at Ernie’s Black and Tan Club – right where the hat check girl always used to have her little saucer.’ ‘Uh oh. then he planted another one on the bar.’ ‘Yeah. I can see where putting ‘em down in the wrong place would cause a lot of money. Crayon message on it ‘Ezekiel Tabernacle – Thank You’ – supposed to make you feel guilty if you got change to put back in your pocket.’ 125 .’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Exactly.‘Yeah. would be diverted into his little church cup thing.
No reason for us to push. Barclay’ll think we’re going behind his back. When he’s ready – if he’s ever ready – then we’ll find out what his problem is.’ *** 126 .‘Better check the blindman. I hate that. See if the preacher put one of his paper cups down next to the old man’s pencils for sale.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘You’re right. I think he embarrassed himself telling us that big phony story about the old couple.’ ‘Yeah. leave that to us. makes you think he must have one helluva story that he needs to unload.’ ‘Hope he doesn’t do anything stupid.’ *** ‘Think maybe we oughta check with Doc Wayne?’ ‘Man. doncha?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Juice brought him in – let Juice handle the problem – that’s what everybody’s saying.’ ‘Feel kinda sorry for him. We’re the stupid experts.’ ‘Might have just been the scotch talking. Maybe he was ready to unload with the truth – then – at the last minute – couldn’t do it – stuck there in the booth – us with all our attention directed at him – he had to tell us something.
Go to the bank every day.’ ‘Radiator and hoses all cracked and leaky as hell. The Poindexter saga was sagging too. pretty soon you and me – we’re gonna have to take up golf or something. Slick. This day in day out same day every day shit – is boring. Damn thing heated up when you just looked at it.’ ‘Correct me if I’m wrong. just haul in the money. Barclay seemed less his usual outgoing self. or was. California?’ ‘Yeah. Said he wanted that four door convertible for the front spot on his used car lot. pretty much avoided any contacts with us where the conversation might get around to whatever the hell his problem is. ain’t it?’ ‘Didja ever think – when we left Japan – that we could say anything like that?’ ‘Naw. ‘Goddamn.We waited. Load up with water bottles and hit the road at night.’ ‘Then Jocko Reardon took it from us in a trade-in. We’d park in the shade somewhere every day. Remember that used 1935 Ford phaeton you bought out there in Fairfield. but didn’t we just drive at night to get here – just to keep that thing a little cooler?’ ‘That’s right. Boring as hell. I remember.’ ‘Yeah. I wonder who he coulda sold it to?’ 127 .’ ‘That was a surprise. Yeah.
‘Probably some kids.’ ‘Me too – especially those days when we could go out and kick a little ass. we’re the only people he can ask to get him straightened out. Mistuh Dan. weren’t they?’ ‘Yeah – still miss ‘em though. those were different days. Nobody challenged us.’ ‘Bullshit.’ 128 .’ *** ‘Pete Conrad and Stormy Knight been calling for you. Um um. doncha think?’ ‘Oh yeah – built like a brick outhouse.’ ‘The last of the Lone Rangers – that’s us. make the world spin in the right direction.’ ‘Well.’ ‘I don’t think we can do that anymore. We got away with a helluva lot back then.’ ‘Uh oh. Think they want my permission to run off and get married?’ ‘If Miz Stormy was about twenty years youngah and Mistuh Pete there – if he was about twenty years older – then that might work. my friend. Different ballgame nowadays.’ ‘Best we can do now – just sit around and wait for somebody to get himself so fucked up.’ ‘Helluva looker when she was young.
Where you gonna be tonight?’ ‘I’ll be at the Black and Tan. my boy.’ ‘Oh boy. Dan. You called?’ ‘Yeah. . Go ahead. Is it urgent?’ ‘Not unless somebody dies before you and Slick get it all fixed.‘Guess I’ll give Pete a call first. You got a minute?’ ‘Sure. One of the doctors been in . I got one other call to make. boss.’ ‘Okay. . ‘ ‘Gimme an hour or so.’ ‘That thing about Reverend Juice? I think I got some bad news for you and Slick.’ *** ‘Stormy? How’s my gal?’ ‘Fine.’ 129 . Thanks for returning my call.’ ‘Trouble?’ ‘Not exactly. I might have something else crowding my front burner right now. Think maybe you better come out here.’ *** ‘Peter.
’ ‘You’re right. I just don’t want Ernie’s customers to get worried that I’m in there because of something they did – or might be thinking of doing. Either Slick or I will see you there. ‘I gotta get back downtown. I enjoy the jazz just as much as anybody. 130 .’ ‘I know. Okay?’ ‘Sounds good. so I won’t stay here long. Dan. They still think I’m the poleece.’ *** I had Murph run me out to the club and asked him to wait for me. When I walked in the front door there was one couple off to the side. Dan. And Dan?’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘Just ‘cause you’re white don’t mean you can’t come in the Black and Tan. Stormy. Probably two married people – not married to each other. girl – when you grow up.‘Sounds good. You gonna be a great singer. I’ll be right here at the curb. a lotta them remember when I walked that beat there. You know. I’m looking forward to listening to you.’ ‘For a white boy – you a real rascal.’ ‘No problem. I’ll tell Ernie to keep an eye out – maybe have a small table in the back for you. Murph.’ It was about four o’clock so the crowd hadn’t yet started heading into the club.’ ‘Sounds good.
. ‘ ‘But what? Which one was it?’ ‘It was the outta town guy – the one who broke his leg. I remembered.’ ‘That’s what he drank last time here. . but . what’s going on?’ ‘I’m sorry to call you like that but I didn’t think I should ignore it. he was just shitty-faced drunk and sloppy looking . No sir. .’ ‘What was he drinking?’ ‘Teacher’s straight with ice and water on the side. needed a shave and looked worried – not the same as the first time he came here with you. . ‘Hi.’ ‘What?’ ‘One of those two doctor friends of yours – came in here about one thirty. from up East.’ ‘Yeah – Barclay. At first I thought it was just a lookalike thing. so I kept my mouth shut and just served him.’ ‘That’s the one. wasn’t it?’ ‘Yessir. ‘ ‘Barclay? You sure it was him?’ ‘I’m positive.I took a stool at the far end of the bar so Pete and I could talk. So anyway he was looking bad. Like I said at first I wasn’t sure. This time he 131 . At first I wasn’t sure.
he didn’t have much to say. less than two blocks away so getting here would not have been a problem. I’ll have to check with Wayne Samuels.’ ‘If he shows up again – you want me to call you?’ ‘Right away. my friend. where he was staying. You did good calling right away. Now. I held back – let him start the conversation. he had a little stagger – like any drunk. Just – when he downed his last shot and was getting up offa his stool.’ ‘Well. right away. I gotta get downtown and – I think – get some more bad news. then I’ll follow. he gathered up his bills off the bar and mumbled something – kinda sounded like he ‘wouldn’t be back this way anymore’ – that’s what it sounded like. like I said. you know? But he was also limping a little – like one of his legs was hurting. He was struggling with some demons inside – you could tell. I think we got trouble brewing. not really.’ ‘Anyway. best to not push. Pete. As soon as I know what’s going on I’ll give you a buzz.’ ‘Shit.looked like he really needed that whiskey. I decided against just 132 . You know?’ ‘Yeah.’ *** As Murph and I headed back down to Slick’s place I mulled over what Pete had said. he’s been staying over on Lindell.’ ‘That’s him. no doubt about it. Did he have much to say?’ ‘No. How’d he look when he walked?’ ‘’Well.
Then they mouthed off some more to the officers in the car and got theah asses hauled into the district station. Dan?’ ‘No. ‘Heard from Slick lately. So. I needed that as much as he did. When we got to the Olive address Slick’s car was nowhere to be seen when I looked up the alley. Slick’s over there waiting to see if they get a bond that he’ll be willing to cover. He’s ovah at the courthouse signing up some new business. Insteada keeping their mouths shut they got inna argument with the othuh driver. I think – had a stupid car accident. Turned out theah was a lookout on file for both of ‘em. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.’ ‘Ain’t that what I just said?’ 133 . I asked Mal to drop me at the front door.’ ‘Meaning do they have enough cash to pay him to take them on. Couple studs the poleece been looking for – grocery store burglars. Seemed they went a little too far so the othuh guy flagged down a poleece car driving by. ‘Think you’ll need me anymore tonight.walking into Wayne Samuels’ Clinic for fear of bumping into Barclay and not knowing how to handle it. It seemed like it would be better to talk privately with Wayne on the phone. I think Slick and I will work the night together. Wilbur?’ ‘Yeah. thanks Mal. He stood and wagged his tail as I waited until Wilbur got off the phone.’ *** I went inside and waited for Popeye to get off his dead ass and come to me for a little petting.
Seems they were pretty well known as grocery store burglars. Now – what the hell is going on with Barclay? What kind of troubles does he have to cause him to be out prowling the streets – on a gimpy leg – needing a shave and generally looking like shit warmed over? – What.‘As soon as he turns up – point him at me. ‘Goddammit! Talk about goofy assholes. might be. I put my feet up on the desk. does Wayne Samuels know about this? – Should I phone him? – Now? – or wait? Slick should be getting away from court any minute. I’d like him to be here whenever I talk with Wayne. Those dumb bastards – start an argument with a couple of coppers just about ready to go off their day shift. Slick took another look at me. Am I supposed to throw you a bone or sumthin?’ Popeye just stood there wagging and drooling. Wilbur – before he gets on the phone. ‘What’s going on? You look like Futterman’s cat just crapped in your hat. We need to talk.’ ‘Might be that bad. Cops been wanting to catch up with ‘em for a long time. if anything.’ Popeye and I went into my office. Just as I made that decision I heard his key in the lock on the backdoor. Then the clerk there ran their names and found two lookouts. We both stood up about the same time. The dog read my signal and laid down next to the desk with a big sigh.’ 134 . Slick. – And what the hell are you two standing there for – tongues hanging out. Pissed ‘em off enough – in public – that they hauled their sorry black asses into the station house. Popeye heard it too.
’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Barclay? What’s going on with him?’ So I told him what I had just learned this afternoon after the call I’d gotten from Pete Conrad. that sounds like maybe that shit Barclay was spreading before – down there at the Plaza that night – was maybe just the beginning of something. it sounds to me like whatever it is – it’s ripe. We still got the meet with Stormy for tonight.‘What? Something about that thing we got set up with Stormy tonight? What?’ ‘No. Pete said he was really shitfaced – said he wouldn’t be coming around there again. Maybe something was just starting to ripen then and he – like he said – wasn’t yet ready to activate us.’ ‘Could be. What do you think about checking with Doc Wayne?’ ‘I wanted to wait for you to get back. Sure sounds like whatever it is – it’s ripe now. ‘Damn. I think he had some idea – maybe he already knew everything then – just wasn’t prepared to take us into his confidence. This is about Barclay. *** 135 . No we’re on for that. will you?’ So I dialed Wayne Samuels private line.’ ‘That’s the way I figure it. I figured that for about ten o’clock at Ernie Caldwell’s place. Stick close here. Yeah.’ ‘Probably gonna turn out pretty smelly. Yeah. man. too. I’m gonna call him right now. Maybe not.
‘Hi, can you talk?’ ‘Yes, I’m glad you called. I was about ready to breach my ethics code and phone you myself.’ ‘What’s going on? Do you know? He turned up early this afternoon over at the club on Maryland.’ ‘I’m not too surprised to hear that. With the nice weather I’ve been encouraging him to get out for short walks – a couple blocks in any direction. Just told him to be careful of traffic.’ ‘Well, he did that alright, but by the time he got to the club he was pretty drunk. Pete, my bartender, said he looked like he’d missed a shave this morning. Kinda shocked Pete because he remembered him as pretty vigorous looking when we took him there before, even though he had been injured not too long before that.’ ‘Yes, I think there has been a rather quick downward slide lately. I am in a somewhat awkward position here. I have been his treating physician as far as the physical ailments are concerned. I have welcomed his staying on here – on a personal level. I’ve encouraged his accepting a few casual psych referrals, just something to keep his mind sharp. I have studiously avoided sticking my nose into his past, but I have noticed of late he is just not the same jovial guy he used to be. I attributed that to some bad news that has come to him. Unfortunately I don’t have the foggiest idea what that could be – and I can’t ask. The best I can do is continue to observe.’ ‘Well, doc, I’ll leave it to you. I know you’ll do everything within your power for him.’ ‘I will, Dan.’
‘Do you think he’ll be back to your place this evening?’ ‘I certainly hope so. If he doesn’t show up I’ll call you immediately. If any calls come for him I’ll take numbers and share that with you.’ ‘Okay, thanks. Slick and I are going to see Stormy Knight later on. Want me to mention that we talked?’ ‘Tell her to break a leg and come back here for some TLC.’ ‘Gotcha.’ *** Slick and I sat around mulling over the developing mystery of the good doctor James Randolph Barclay. We had a few hours still on the clock before we’d go get something to eat, and we didn’t want to get to Ernie Caldwell’s Black and Tan until late in the evening. ‘I can’t figure it out.’ ‘Me neither.’ ‘It’s like trying to grab – and hang on to – a fistful of smoke.’ ‘Guy comes to town – first thing he does – falls on his ass on the ice. Ain’t nobody – ‘cept if you’re a professional acrobat – busts his leg and cracks his skull.’ ‘Nothing preplanned about that.’ ‘So then we get involved because he almost lost his briefcase and luggage when they loaded him in the ambulance.’ 137
‘Yeah. So, being good guys – like we are – we make sure the briefcase and luggage catch up with him at City hospital.’ ‘Then one thing leads to another – we fix it so he can be transferred to Wayne Samuels’ Clinic.’ ‘Right, and the two of them hit it off pretty good.’ ‘Turns out Barclay is a retired psychiatrist from the New York area, no family, nothing much to do up east – so he heads out here to research writing some kind of book.’ ‘Hold it right there. Everything we’ve just gone over so far sounds pretty plausible. This writing a book thing sounds a bit smelly, I think.’ ‘Yeah, there could be all sorts of other reasons for him to come to St. Louis. Let’s mark down Judge Glennon to be asked about the Barclay plan to visit his court.’ ‘Glennon might know more.’ ‘Anyway, back to what we think we know – Barclay recovers satisfactorily at Wayne’s place, and while doing so, begins to dabble a little again in psychiatry.’ ‘That he did. Socked it to both of us – right between the eyes as to what our hang-ups were.’ ‘He did that – and enjoyed it. Obviously he’s had considerable success in the past judging by the techniques he used on us.’ ‘No mumbo-jumbo big words shit – just told us to get our heads outta our asses and in the sunshine again and be honest with ourselves.’ 138
‘Can’t fault him on that bluntness. No sir.’ ‘And – he has shown himself to be no slouch in the liquor department either.’ ‘Really belted down those straight Teacher’s shots, just a little water and ice handy on the side. Just one of the guys, yeah.’ ‘But then – it seems like something happened – maybe something in his past – anyway something we don’t know – he’s seen wandering the streets, needing a shave – no longer able to hold his liquor or to know when to stop – talking about ‘not being around anymore’ – strange change in behavior.’ ‘Yeah, and you know what?’ ‘What?’ ‘We don’t know shit.’ ‘Well, ain’t that a damned surprise.’ ‘And Wayne Samuels apparently doesn’t know anymore than we do.’ ‘Well, if he doesn’t come back to Wayne’s place tonight I think we’d better think about getting Vin and his squad involved.’ ‘Agreed. This doesn’t strike me as a normal drunk – if there is such a thing – you know what I mean? A guy with a drinking habit that he has had under control – then he suddenly goes off the deep end.’ I think you’re right. Even if he has an alcoholic streak that he’s been suppressing, something else has 139
A lot of the crowd that had come in early had by now cleared out. We entered together. Thank you. Slick. right?’ ‘Ah.’ ‘I figured by now most everybody in town has figured that out.’ ‘That’s alright.’ *** We got to the Black and Tan shortly before the last show of the evening. Slick gave a little wink to the hatcheck girl and led the way to the bar. You gonna buy the first round. Ernie came back in and walked up behind us about the same time the bartender got loose and headed down toward us. Ernie spotted Slick’s twenty and spoke to the bartender.’ ‘Yeah. but it don’t cost us nothing to reinforce their thinking. 140 . I shoulda known.’ ‘I take that as a compliment.occurred recently to provoke him to alter the in-charge behavior he’s exhibited as long as we’ve known him. Let’s sit up here so Ernie and everybody can see us together. Might as well let all these niggahs in here know that we’re partners. The bartender was having a little trouble getting away from a slobbering drunk at the other end of the bar. With us – they gonna get a deal – two for one.’ He laughed and put a twenty dollar bill on the bar sticking halfway out from under his ashtray. ‘Grab a stool. Ernie Caldwell and one of his bouncers eased the guy off his stool and gently walked him to the door and out to the sidewalk.
‘Glad to see you brought our old buddy. ‘Mistuh Dan. Officer Driscoll. overcome many obstacles. She’s a woman comfortable with herself and a joy to know.‘These fellows are friends of the proprietor. do we?’ 141 . Give ‘em whatever they want. and doubt that I ever will know. and has used what beauty and singing skills with which she was naturally endowed to her best advantage. She is one of the most self confident women I have ever encountered. It comes from way down deep. Undoubtedly raised poor. I am so glad that you came tonight. ‘Hey young lady. I wonder how big her date is? Then she laughed. Slick. She’d slipped in there while Ernie was giving us the glad hand. We don’ see enough of each other. any woman with a laugh like hers. It was Stormy Knight.’ He wrapped thick arms around our shoulders and stuck his head between us. For just an instant a thought entered my head. They money – it ain’t no good tonight. You sure know how to scare a guy – sneaking up on his blind side like that. 5 and quite a bit of soft flesh. with you tonight.’ She laughed again.’ Slick and I each tried to swivel around a bit but Ernie’s bulk pretty much prevented any movement except to the side. When I tried to tip a little to my left I found myself enveloped in a cloud of Chanel No. I don’t know. She probably would have been lucky to have gotten as far as the fifth grade. and she doesn’t hold it back. she has pulled herself up over her many years.
Dan dear. So he and I each help each other. after you and Vin Pallazola were shot at the Blue Note I was afraid we’d never hear you sing again either. kiddo. I hope you’re gradually getting a little better?’ ‘I am. She was one fine lady. Stormy. Mona and I pounded out a lotta songs on that piano. Listen. you got a lot of friends in this town. I remember when you bought that piano for Mona – so she’d start singing again – and then you talked me into going out there. Dan. I hope you both know. maybe I need to book you more out on Maryland. even if it was only for a little while.’ ‘Those were happy days. Remember when you had that grand opening party?’ ‘Oh yeah – and you and Mona sang that duet!’ ‘St.’ 142 .’ ‘Good.‘Well. Velma left him you know. I did too. take you away from this evil gin mill environment. I know.’ ‘Well. we need to talk. Mona really enjoyed that. You were lucky to have had her. Slick and I will be waiting for you at the end of the show. We got a fancy white baby grand out there.’ ‘Oh yeah.’ ‘Well. She and I had little Michiko – on top of the world we were. Anything you want me to sing for you tonight?’ ‘Anything you want – it’ll sound great.’ ‘Yeah. Louis Blues – oh yeah.’ ‘Well. It ain’t easy. I better go backstage and powder my nose. but I got Slick.
Don’t want the coppers pounding on the door after closing time.She slid off the stool and wended her way backstage. We coaxed more than a few encores from her until the bartender began flicking the lights. Dan. *** I woke up early the next morning. I’m sorry to call so early but . I yelled down the stairs to him. ‘If that’s urgent. Louis where the three of us sat in an all-night coffee shop while Stormy shared all the latest on the Poindexter church thing. Not yet ripe for picking.’ ‘Ja. .’ We both laughed as the house lights dimmed and a drum roll began. ‘ 143 . *** Stormy was in good voice that night. . I could hear Herman Schultz downstairs in the saloon as he answered the phone. this is Wayne Samuels. It was beginning to shape up into something but we agreed it was best to let it come along on its own. I’ll be right down. Hurry up!’ I took the phone from him and he went back to cracking ice in the cooler. We drove across the bridge to East St. man. ‘Hello?’ ‘Dan. ‘Some guys get all the luck. The guy on the next stool looked at me and winked.
Right away.’ ‘Thanks.’ *** Slick was pretty tied up at the courthouse all morning. I was up.’ ‘I’d do that.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Oh. you haven’t seen him or heard from him since what? Yesterday morning?’ ‘That’s right. I’m not sure about that.’ ‘That’s fine. he was okay.’ ‘Yeah. I didn’t see him when he left but I presume that.’ ‘So. Wilbur got one of the loiterers from the pool hall to take a note over and put it in Slick’s hand. I’ll phone you within thirty minutes. What’s happening?’ “As you can probably guess – our man did not come in last night. Pete the bartender said that later in the day he looked like he hadn’t shaved. This was not 144 . This is quicker.‘That’s okay. Would you call me right after that? I think it’s going to be time to call Vin Pallazola and his guys. I didn’t know that. at that point.’ ‘You think it would be alright if I went through his room? See if he left anything – or took all his stuff.’ ‘I didn’t want to call Slick’s place and have to relay messages to you.’ ‘I agree.
’ “I just saw Gallagher over here.’ 145 .’ I took the phone. which could or could not have been Barclay.’ ‘Might not hurt to get your bartender out on Maryland to touch base with competitors in the area. ‘Wayne says it looks like Barclay’s missing. you ought to come down in Kerry Patch – see what life is like in the real world of drunken old farts. lawyers and others who frequented the courthouse actually had no way to keep in contact with their offices except by using the payphones to call in. from what you told me they stand on the sidewalk in the morning waiting for your place to open. It was taboo for anybody to give out the payphone numbers for callbacks. too.’ *** Pete Conrad turned up several sightings. Slick got the message and phoned in just a few minutes. won’t hurt.’ ‘Yeah. I’ll put a call into Pallazola. ‘What’s going on.uncommon practice since bail bondsmen. ‘I didn’t realize there could be so many old farts out needing a shave and cruising the saloons. Wilbur?’ ‘Hold on.’ ‘Good idea. boss. Dan needs to talk to you. Want me to tell him?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Pete.
What. psychiatrist – right? Got you and Slick straightened out over a couple bottles of cheap scotch.’ ‘Keep your eyes and ears open. Pete. I know that little ditty.’ ‘You thinking some kinda Missing Person report?’ 146 . . ‘Gallagher sez he ran into Slick at the courthouse. pray tell. Something going on?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Into the mouth – over the gums – lookout stomach – here she comes! Yeah. . Anyway – he’s disappeared. Um um.’ *** Vin Pallazola returned my call later in the afternoon. You may not want to take it on – it’s kinda early – and we don’t really have much handle on it ourselves. It’s a sight to see that first shot go down. Vin. is ‘IT’?’ ‘Remember the old doctor guy from New York? Fell on the courthouse steps on the ice – then we put him in with Wayne Samuels .‘That’s true.’ ‘Will do. He’s the guy. ‘ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well that tells me a helluva lot. He may not be far away.’ ‘That’s the guy.
Vin.’ ‘Yeah.‘I don’t know.’ ‘They can pass the word to the Specials in the districts too. No particular extra work involved for anybody but if they stumble on something – well.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘But he said he was still sorting it out – whatever ‘it’ was – and when he knew what he was talking about then he’d get back in touch. said it was just bullshit. .’ ‘I think we’re gonna need a little more than that. I’ll have Gallagher and Gene Lasker go out and visit a little with Dr. When he was last seen – out at the club – he was just drunk.’ ‘Thanks.’ ‘Tellya what. . Samuels – see if they can bring up any thing in his memory. looking bad. Dan. Louis Metropolitan Police 147 . Reason we’re concerned though is that – a couple weeks ago he started to set me and Slick up to ‘fix a problem’ for him.’ ‘I know. Then he pulled the plug on that. my friend. That was yesterday. ‘ ‘I owe you.’ ‘Kinda early to start looking for a drunk.’ *** Vincent (‘Vin’ or ‘Vinnie’) Pallazola has risen through the ranks of the St. Irish.’ ‘I’ll just put it on your tab. I know.
Ruddy complexion. From the rear he had the skinny build of a teenager. He and his partner were among the best in the department. It is unique because it has unlimited jurisdiction over any and all types of criminal activities. when both of them and me were all just lowly beat patrolmen.’ ‘Pull up a chair and light up. unruly reddish brown hair. It was only from the front that his age was apparent. Lemme hang up my coat. It is unique because it has a total complement of Pallazola. was a long time copper. which is why O’Neill detailed them to work with Pallazola. presently in command of a temporary unit established by Chief Harry O’Neill. O’Neill and Pallazola once worked together. partnered as Specials out of the Central District. I just walked in. pockmarked face.’ ‘What’s that all about? Slick and I didn’t have much chance to talk. and a perpetual scowl. They have a close relationship developed since the pre-WWII late 30s. It reports directly to the Chief. ‘Ran into Dan’s buddy at the courthouse.’ 148 . ‘Gallagher? You out there?’ ‘Yeah. The squad’s charter authorizes them to call upon the Specials in any of the department’s districts in Pallazola’s sole discretion. like Pallazola.’ ‘Yeah.’ Gallagher. Tommy Gallagher and Gene Lasker.Department to the rank of lieutenant. Pallazola’s unit defies typical organization charts. The latter two being Tenth District Specials detailed to work in Pallazola’s ‘Flying Squad’. Dan phoned me a while ago.
’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘The New York guy and Samuels apparently shared some mutual interests – like their love of cheap scotch – sit around up there and shoot the shit at night I guess.’ ‘That’s right.‘Remember that day last winter when the old clown did a swan dive down the icy courthouse steps?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can’t blame him for that. Dan felt sorry for him and put a call in to Wayne Samuels – got Wayne to have the guy transferred uptown to his private clinic. Musta got pretty cozy – the outtatown clown decided maybe he’d just stay in our fair city. Valentine’s Day. Anyway these two would get together with Slick and Dan and put the hootch away from time to time.’ ‘Uh huh. can you?’ 149 . picked up the old fart’s briefcase and followed the ambulance to City hospital.’ ‘That’s our Dan. Seems that the guy identified himself to Dan as a retired psychiatrist from the New York area. Dan says as the guy mended he started off the cuff counseling with an occasional Samuels patient.’ ‘While you’re here getting your tubes tied – why don’t you visit with my in-house shrink kinda thing?’ ‘That’s what it sounds like. broke the hell outta his leg if I remember right.’ ‘Well. ain’t it?’ ‘Yeah. Dan was there when it happened.
’ ‘Sounds good. showed up at Dan’s club on Maryland pretty much drunk as a skunk in the middle of the afternoon.’ 150 . Lotta people pretty pissed off about those damn things.’ ‘Okay. Why don’t you start with doctor Samuels – see if you can learn anything there. Then put the guy’s description out to the district Specials.’ ‘Wonder how they’re doing on the piano thing. to make a long story short over the past few days the guy’s behavior has gone down the dumper. Dan will understand. we can do that.’ ‘So everybody kinda worried about this old fart?’ ‘Yeah.‘Well. I’d close it down pretty fast unless you stumble on something right up front. Gene’s off somewhere on his own at the moment.’ ‘Umm. why don’t I just tackle Samuels on my own.’ *** ‘I didn’t see any of those paper cups at the Black and Tan the other night. I’m sure his ears were burning though. I told Dan there ain’t enough there to make it a legitimate missing person case but maybe you and Gene could give it a quick look.’ ‘Then didn’t show up back at Samuels’ place to go beddy bye. Keep me posted.’ ‘Good.’ ‘Sure. You think ole Juicy got the word?’ ‘Not sure.
Culver Circle – got about six or seven really fine old houses there.’ ‘Maybe.’ *** 151 . . he may look and act like the village idiot a lot.’ ‘That old Juice Poindexter. I called old Napoleon Calhoun. You coulda got a bargain. ‘ ‘Yeah. had him sell it for me – split it with her. but don’t lay your purse down near him. Juice promise her the key to paradise?’ ‘Probably. husband died – piano just sitting there. the notary public. too – a little more in our price bracket. so we bought that other place we were in. lives on the dead-end street. Velma and I looked at ‘em – couldn’t afford ‘em. Culver Circle .’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘You and Velma – you still own it?’ ‘Naw. We didn’t wanna wait though. Seems like one of Juice’s old widow ladies used to teach piano in her home there – got arthritis real bad.‘Somebody said they found an old lady.’ ‘Anyway – you were saying about the piano?’ ‘Oh yeah. It was nice. Anyway – she donating her piano to the Ezekiel Tabernacle of Faith.’ ‘Lotsa rich white folks bailed outta there in a hurry when the color of nearby blocks began to change. Yeah. .’ ‘So.
Dan gave us a call about the missing doctor – Barclay is it?’ ‘Yes. You treated Barclay then – for a while?’ ‘Actually he was a patient of mine here in the Clinic – and then he and I agreed that he could stay on here as. that is – fell and broke his leg.’ ‘Oh no. well. right?’ ‘That’s right. you’re a friend of Dan Driscoll.’ 152 . I wonder if you have a minute?’ ‘Yes. Nothing.’ ‘That’s what we heard.‘Doctor Samuels? This is Detective Gallagher. the reason I’m phoning is something concerning Dan. If you’d prefer I could drive out to your office – talk this over face to face.’ ‘No note or anything left behind?’ ‘No. Dan brought him to my attention after he – Barclay. a boarder. you might say. James Randolph Barclay. I had been encouraging outside exercise to rebuild his leg strength – and he just never came back that evening. I think I know what your call is about. he just went out for his usual walk.’ ‘Then he just disappeared the other day?’ ‘I guess that’s as good a way as any to express it. Yes. In fact.’ ‘Yes. On the phone is fine.
’ ‘Correct me if I’m wrong here – there is nothing more you can add to help me out. Then he suddenly phoned Dan and apologized – said it was all made up – that he was sorry – that he did have something personal he was trying to work out – that if and when he figured it out he’d then call on them if needed. well . With him right here on the premises.’ ‘Pretty vague alright. Dan and Slick couldn’t make head or tail of it. He was a psychiatrist and every once in a while one of my patients would seem to be in need of some counseling.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yes. .‘Any verbalization prior to that – anything to indicate he had any kind of problems?’ ‘No. . Entirely a matter of convenience. Neither of us interested in formalizing anything. ‘ ‘Sounds like an informal sort of relationship you two professionals had. .’ ‘So. Your answers to my 153 . It didn’t ring any of my chimes as to which of my surgical patients it could have been. yes.’ ‘That’s an apt description. That’s not all that unusual. sorry. Sorry. what happened with this long winded thing you started to describe?’ ‘Oh. . Once a few weeks back he seemed to be playing mental games with Dan and Slick – gave them this long winded story about his counseling with one of my female patients. The story didn’t make much sense.’ ‘Yes. He had a sharp mind. it is.
I know of nothing else. And his last residence up there – according to what he had told you – was in the Greenwich. He seemed quite competent in his counseling of Dan and Slick. such as medical licenses and such.questions constitute everything you know about what might have prompted his disappearance?’ ‘That’s a correct statement. It never entered my head to doubt his claims. training. Let me ask – did you make any inquiries of professional organizations.’ ‘And he held himself forth to you as a widower – no children mentioned?’ 154 .’ ‘Okay.’ ‘While he was at your clinic did he ever display. Connecticut area?’ ‘That’s true. any documents. I never would have suspected there was any reason to do that. anything like that up in the New York area? Anything to confirm that his education. Never saw a thing.’ ‘Okay. No. It could have just been somewhere in the New York City area. confirming his identity and/or background?’ ‘No. I might have assumed it was in Manhattan proper. or did you have any other opportunity to observe. please. he claimed that he was retired from a psychiatric practice he had in New York City?’ ‘Don’t hold me to that. As I understand it.’ ‘Understood. experience were as he claimed them to be?’ ‘No.
you gotta couple calls heah. ‘ ‘That I can do with confidence.‘Also true. He lef’ a bit ago.’ ‘Oh yeah? About what?’ 155 . He be at his funeral home this afternoon – then he be at the club tonight. said he be out at the Maryland club.’ *** ‘Vin? I believe it’s time for us to talk. Miz Stormy – she be home ‘til aroun’ five. marks. Wilbur. Sounds like he won’t be moving around for a while. I’ll call these other folks first. tattoos and warts – and even whether or not he was circumcised. I’ll even have his blood type for you. That’s been helpful to me. Thanks. Has Dan been around?’ ‘Yessuh.’ ‘Okay. One more thing – ‘Yes?’ ‘I need you to give me the best possible physical description of him you can – right down to scars. Hold on. Mistuh Ernie Caldwell.’ ‘Thanks. Mistuh Roscoe at the barber shop.’ ‘Okay.’ *** ‘Boss. I looked at that old frame of his hundreds of times.’ ‘Okay. Let me pull my patient record on him.
whoopee. ‘ ‘Will you knock off the shit. I told Driscoll there’s not enough to justify formally opening anything. It might – as I tried to say earlier – might be already solved.’ ‘Well. you know?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well.‘My promotion. but . kind sir?’ ‘I’m waiting with bated breath. I know.’ ‘Is there another way. .’ ‘The missing psychiatrist case?’ ‘Not a case. far be it for me to comment on any halitosis you might have. You got something to change that official posture?’ ‘Maybe. what’s so damned great about your performance? Which I’m sure you’re just about to describe for me in excruciating detail.’ ‘Do tell?’ ‘Yessir.’ ‘Well. yet. Usually we don’t give out promotions too freely except in unusual cases – such as when an officer takes a bullet to protect a fellow officer – or dives through the ice in the river to rescue some forlorn waif – that sorta thing. as briefly as possible. why I should be listening to your plaintive pleas for a promotion.’ 156 . . I have just solved an interstate case without getting outta my goddamn chair. yeah. please? Tell me.
Louis?’ ‘I think our ‘Doctor James Randolph Barclay’ recently associated with the clinic of Wayne Samuels. what’s all this shit that’s been going on here in St. sir. . still maintaining a lively Park Avenue. No need to respond.D. James Randolph Barclay. that is just . bully for you. is – to put it bluntly – one big fraud!’ ‘Well. The good Mrs. .’ ‘I’ll be a brief as possible.‘Oh?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well. I found the good doctor.’ ‘If I may proceed. Where was he? Down at Father Dempsey’s with the winos?’ ‘Nope. according to an unimpeachable source. He is still. shit. sir?’ ‘Of course. ‘ ‘That was a rhetorical question.’ ‘What? Well I’ll be goddamned!’ ‘Right. Barclay advised me that her husband was away from the area for a few days. M. It seems that he serves in various 157 . psychiatric practice. silk stocking I believe would be a good term for it. Ain’t that just dandy?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘So. I’m sure you have much more to report.
sorry.advisory positions Washington. .’ ‘You’re enjoying yourself. However she further advised that her husband.’ ‘That’s my feeling too. She and I agreed it would be best for her to notify her husband at his Washington D. C.’ ‘Which could explain the bullshit story he spun for them – wanted to see how they respond when something sniffy is dragged across their path. awards. aincha?’ ‘Damn right. the genuine doctor.’ to our federal government in ‘So. experience out the whazoo . . ‘ ‘Hold it. Whazoo? Her word?’ ‘No.’ ‘Yeah. C. feeling sorry for himself. hotel and tell him to phone this office at the earliest. right there. various degrees. I was going to pass the description to all the districts but right now we could only call the guy John Doe.’ 158 . Got carried away . I don’t think Wayne Samuels had a clue but Dan and Slick might have started sticking their noses in places he’d rather not have explored. you couldn’t talk to him directly?’ ‘Correct. He was probably cleaning his pipes in the local saloons one last time. D. has been plagued for many years by a former acquaintance/patient – she wasn’t exactly sure which – who assumed hubby’s identification for various nefarious purposes – which – no doubt – greatly pisses off the honorable doctor who has busted his butt to acquire education. A phony can’t risk staying too long in any one place. before heading to the airport to move on to some other locality.
’ ‘Maybe that’s cause there ain’t nothing there. Vin?’ 159 . It’s the old washerwomen shit. that’s about it. et cetera’ – Nuthin new.’ ‘That’s what I’m thinking. Barclay – who wearily explained that he’s getting a little tired of this shit. eh?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘What about crimes he might have committed elsewhere.’ ‘Not surprising. Apparently this John Doe delights in assuming the Barclay role. Until then I got other things to do. ‘Sumbudy said that sumbudy said that sumbudy said. or at least of any significance.‘Sniffy?’ *** Slick made contact with Ernie Caldwell. Roscoe the barber and Stormy. I wasn’t all that interested with his plight once I determined that we had no crime committed here for us to investigate.’ ‘Nobody had any big new leads?’ ‘Naw. my good friend. Barclay – the real Dr.’ *** ‘Gallagher took a long distance call from Dr. Dan. ‘That all was pretty close to a total waste of time. If something new – and interesting – turns up – that’s fine. I’m not gonna worry about it.
’ *** ‘The new reverend has asked Stormy if she would join the choir. We’d never have known about this guy if Tom hadn’t decided to make that long distance call for directory assistance. I suggested he might want to give Wayne Samuels a call – discuss it doctor to doctor.’ ‘Why not? He’s good. Too many restrictions and responsibilities. deserves a promo. Naw. he’s comfortable where he is. ain’t that something?’ ‘Yeah. I’m closing this thing out. we owe him a drink or two. too. He’s been needling me to use that to justify promoting him.‘So far as Barclay knew the guy never crossed that line.’ ‘Naw. thanks – and be sure and give Tommy Gallagher a pat on the head.’ ‘That I will tell him. Tell him that. He said he would.’ ‘Well. To be perfectly honest I doubt that he’d enjoy going back into uniform just to get a promotion. wanting 160 .’ ‘You’re shitting me. Don’t compliment him on that.’ ‘Jeez. Mosta those old fart preachers want the choir just fulla old bags with screechy voices. guy sounds like he’s a bit more broadminded than his predecessor. He told her there ain’t nothing wrong with her singing in saloons.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Well.’ ‘I need working stiffs – not boss material.
’ *** “Dan? Wayne Samuels here.’ ‘Hi Doc. confession every Saturday. Amen. He enjoyed a good conversation.’ 161 . I loved her – I guess – but. We both ran into a lotta noncoms like that. Actually it’s gotten a bit dull if you really want to know. ‘I’m in the choir – you ain’t’ that small minded shit.to be better than some of the other folks. went to every funeral in the parish – then pounded the shit out of my head for every little thing I did – or didn’t do.’ ‘Amen. I miss that gasbag. it wasn’t easy. didn’t we?’ ‘They must be compelled to make up for their deficiencies by over-emphasizing something they are good at – like praying.’ ‘Or beating you over the head – whether you’re a kid or a recruit. She was just a mean nasty old lady.’ ‘Folks like that.’ ‘Hate to talk bad about old ladies but I tellya – I know for a fact – my mother was just like that. I tellya. generally – in my humble opinion anyway – are like that because not very deep down inside themselves they know they ain’t got a helluva lot to offer the world. Mass every morning. What’s going on up there?’ ‘Same old stuff.’ ‘Or singing in the choir. white or colored. brother.
didn’t he? Never seemed hesitant to speak his mind – on most every issue. The real Dr.’ ‘So whenever the guy turns up somewhere the real Barclay follows up on him. it’s evolved into a cat and mouse game – almost friendly. He’s been tracking this guy for years.’ ‘He zeroed right in on you and Slick. reputation and professional standing.’ ‘Yeah.’ 162 .’ ‘So what’s this call all about? Anything we can do for you?’ ‘Possibly. the real Barclay’s. Barclay long ago as an identity he could successfully assume.‘Yeah. I invited him to come to St. just didn’t have the paper on the wall. Barclay and I have been in touch long distance.’ ‘Jeeze. Apparently the guy fixated on Dr. about this guy harming his. Never been able to get anything prosecutable – and nothing done that harmed Barclay’s reputation or his pocketbook – so far. naturally.’ ‘Had the skills. Louis anytime – said we’d be glad to give him everything we know.’ ‘I guess so.’ ‘I’ll be damned.’ ‘So. did he?’ ‘Apparently not. The doctor is concerned. he did seem to have an outgoing personality. Too bad. I guess. didn’t he? That alone sold me on his counseling skills.
’ *** ‘You all hear about the new piano – for the church?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Ah. He’s hopeful that somewhere he might get a lead on the track the guy is on – get there ahead of him and have a long overdue face to face confrontation.’ ‘I ain’t sure I wanna hear this. Wilbur?’ ‘Reverend Smith – he the new guy – he needed some young guys to do the heavy lifting. Sumbudy volunteered that there’s always a bunch of young outta work guys hanging around the Chat and Chew – right?’ ‘They was all in the pool hall this time.‘You think he’ll come?’ ‘Yes. ‘ 163 .’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘I thought so. It turned out bad.’ ‘Same guys – just in a different place. I’ll let you know if he takes up my invitation. He couldn’t find anybody to lend him a truck so .’ ‘Lemme guess. boss. .’ ‘That might be something to see. . he hired a bunch of ‘em?’ ‘Yeah he did. what about it.’ ‘So. I see.
didn’t he?’ ‘Well. anyway – what happened with the piano?’ ‘They got it outta the house okay – lotsa grunting.’ ‘No suh!. Horse was beginning to get jittery.’ ‘Omigod. he wanna get away. Anybody start clanking aroun’ his rear end theah. sweating. He pretty skittish. he . I hear the piano got to tinkling a lot but nuthin broke offa it. Leroy was holding his head down.’ ‘Leroy? Jesus!’ 164 . When they set the rags on fire in the backa that wagon.‘Don’ tell me. . boss. that horse – he didn’t look around to see if they had a fire truck there on standby. They didn’t break the piano. pushing and shoving.’ ‘Those dumb bastards gonna be the death of that horse.’ ‘Yeah. .’ ‘It coulda been worse.’ ‘How’d they manage to avoid that?’ ‘They couldn’t get the piano up into the wagon. Damn horse smarter than mosta them.’ ‘Can’t blame him for that. Scooterboogle?’ ‘An’ his horse and wagon. He did try to get away. That old horse.’ ‘So?’ ‘They got as far as the curb wit’ it.
’ ‘Tha’s right. .’ ‘So. the horse and Leroy up front twisting aroun’ an’ everything.’ 165 . ‘ ‘But what?’ ‘Well. If sumthin goin’ on – Leroy wanna be a part of it. . He saw what was happening and told the gang to just get the piano back into the house. but . They making so damn much noise grunting and cussing back there. the guys in the back with the piano – they didn’t have any ropes or any stuff to hoist the piano up high enough to get it into the bed of the wagon. the church still only got its old broken down piano.’ ‘So? He couldn’t hold the horse still – what?’ ‘Naw. can they?’ ‘No suh! Leroy – he right in theah with all the rest of ‘em. you know Leroy. They didn’t want him getting in everybody’s way around the piano so somebody told him to hold the horse still.’ ‘So. they just quietly give up?’ ‘Not so quiet. Leroy was doing okay with the horse.’ ‘Yeah. Well. no suh. He may be a mental case but ain’ nobody can say Leroy is a lazy nigger.‘Well. Then he told Scooterboogle to get the horse and wagon outta there. finally the reverend – somebody musta run and call him to come – anyway he showed up. At least the horse couldn’t run away.
The piano thing. could prove to be a major embarrassment. Barclay about maybe coming here.’ ‘I think he understands that. I dunno. He needed somebody to front for him in dealing with these ladies. lemme know.’ *** The Reverend Robert Smith discreetly decided to cut his losses.’ ‘If he can figure out a way to bottle it. As I’ve said before there is nothing criminal – to our knowledge – that would warrant the department’s involvement. if pursued any further with the current crew.’ ‘Yeah. Instead he would play it safe by concentrating attention on the choir candidates’ capabilities. he’s welcome to come. What’s happening?’ ‘Not much. just thought I’d check in and let you know that Wayne Samuels has been talking to Dr. He had a fair number of the female church members signed up to try out.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Oh? Why’s he want to spend his money coming here?’ ‘We think he’s a bit pissed about this clown and isn’t too sure of our competence. If he selected one of their 166 . Maybe a trip here will just help him get a rotten taste outta his mouth. Anyway he’ll be coming some time soon. I don’t have anything beyond that. maybe.*** ‘Vin? This is Dan.
Long time. I needed to get out of Tulsa. He had already made a reservation at Tremont House. Where you been hiding?’ ‘Around. Let’s go there first. He met the overnight Greyhound bus from Tulsa the following Monday morning.’ ‘You back in St. I’ve got a room for you at a hotel near the church.’ ‘It’s good to see you. a small local black hotel on Franklin Avenue. He solved that quandary rather neatly with one phone call – long distance to Tulsa. ‘Me too. Robert.’ *** ‘Dan? Hi. Then maybe go get you something to eat. Is there someplace I can freshen up?’ ‘Not here in the bus station. That sound okay?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Fine. Louis now?’ 167 .number the remaining members might well get their noses shoved a little out of shape. so I slept for a while. *** ‘How was the trip. Robert.’ He smiled. hon?’ ‘Not too bad. man. That sounds good. Mostly just getting myself accustomed to a life of leisure. Howya doing?’ ‘Hey. Half empty bus. Thanks for calling me up here. This is ‘No Nose’.
. Whatever the hell normal means.’ ‘Yeah. . blew up our house.D.’ ‘Yeah. Is that right?’ ‘Yes. Nothing big. Yeah we do a little off the record stuff sometimes.’ ‘No. but it’s been a while now. you not working?’ ‘Nothing official. that’s Slick Jones. too?’ ‘Just about as bad. Some things seem different. I’m sorry. Up in Detroit now getting ready to remarry a doctor. His wife ran off with their little boy. .’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Aw.‘Yeah.’ ‘So. That’s about it. . Everybody’s normal is different I think. He told me you and that black guy you were in the army with . partner. No. right?’ ‘Beer money.’ ‘Oh? His family get killed. that’s right. it is. I got the pension you know. My old C. Both our families destroyed by something we took on .’ ‘Yeah.’ 168 .I. you know. Not much though. I had a hard time getting past it. Some seem the same as before. Joe. I know. I was talking with Gallagher. I been making the rounds again. it’s alright. I shouldn’t have brought it up. Killed in an arson.’ ‘Somebody told me your wife and little girl died. I’m getting back to normal.
Why doncha stop by? Name’s on the window.’ ‘Hope Slick and I get to meet him. You want maybe for Malachi to provide the cab for you?’ ‘Maybe not. that’s tough shit. Bye. Lissen. I’m going to meet him at Lambert field. Dr. man. You know what I mean?’ ‘Sure.’ ‘Sounds good.’ *** ‘Dan? Wayne here. We don’t know this guy. Slick and I move around a lot. He might not like special handling. Barclay’s coming in next Monday. I’ll do it.’ ‘Sounds good.’ *** ‘Stormy sez she met the preacher’s girlfriend at the beauty shop.’ ‘That’s what Gallagher was saying.’ ‘Yeah. we got an office in the 1600 block of Olive.‘Aw. I’ll make a reservation for him at the Spencer hotel across the street here.’ ‘You will. He specifically asked if we could kind of walk him through the fake Barclay’s ‘visit’ here.’ ‘Okay. We’ll hang loose. Just let us know.’ 169 .’ ‘Maybe call ahead.
’ ‘Well.‘Oh yeah? What she think of her?’ ‘Stormy said she thought the gal was okay. So when Juicy opened the door for Smith to come up to St. Louis he jumped at the chance to get away to a bigger city.’ 170 . Said the lady wants to fit in. No baggage. but Stormy does have a good head on her shoulders and I think this young thing spotted that right away.’ ‘He had to leave Naomi behind though because Juice had got it in his head that Smith was a bachelor. Both didn’t feel like they had a good fit in black Tulsa.’ ‘Aha.’ ‘The gal – her name by the way is Naomi Tyler – told Stormy that she and the rev go back a ways.’ ‘Wonder how she singled Stormy out?’ ‘I think somebody fingered Stormy for her.’ ‘Stormy said they went out for coffee together when they left the beauty shop – sat around and got a little better acquainted. I dunno if Stormy could fix that.’ ‘That’s right. worried that since the church members are mostly old that she’ll have trouble.’ ‘That’s good.’ ‘That makes sense. After all she ain’t no spring chicken herself and she ain’t exactly what you’d say ‘active in the church’ politics.
it looks like this Robert Smith might just be an alright guy. That coulda been a major disaster if Scooterboogle.’ ‘Nipped the piano thing in the bud.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah. and alla the other clowns had actually managed to get that old lady’s piano up into the wagon. That won’t be easy. he did screw up on the paper coffee cup thing.’ ‘Wonder who paid for the coffee?’ ‘My money’s on Stormy. too. fixed that pronto though. anyway. Million chances after that to damage or destroy the damned thing. Leroy.’ ‘Which is why she introduced herself to Stormy.’ *** 171 . He was smart to short circuit that effort as quick as he did. Naomi Tyler.‘Sounds like Poindexter been burned in the past maybe by church ladies?’ ‘Could be. trying like hell to make a mark without making waves.’ ‘Nothing wrong with him trying to get the ladies in the choir a little better organized – might even sound better. is probably gonna have to gain acceptance with those ladies.’ ‘Well. Old fart probably got all kinda skeletons in his closet.’ ‘Well. So his lady friend.
If you did I wasn’t paying attention. always got to run home to momma. living with mom. the broken nose. then managed to get a transfer back into the Tenth.‘Did I tellya about this old copper who phoned here the other day?’ ‘No.’ ‘No Nose? Oh. so he took retirement and went away for a while. He’s doing better now and has come back here to live. Dan. Polack I think.’ ‘So now he’s back in town and phones you?’ ‘Me and a lotta old friends. His name is Novak – Joe ‘No Nose’ Novak.’ ‘You Irish guys. The department doctors worked on his head as long as they could.’ ‘Anyway he shot an innocent citizen by mistake one night trying to break up a burglary. No progress.’ ‘With momma?’ 172 . He was a pretty good amateur boxer too – had a broken nose that could scare puppies and make babies cry. What about him?’ ‘He and I worked out of the Tenth District together before The War. so he wound up back home.’ ‘Wife dumped him while he was in the navy. Some time after I left for the army he enlisted in the Navy. When he was discharged he went back on the force and was assigned to a beat in the Third District for a while.’ ‘This guy is not Irish.’ ‘Uh huh. yeah.
Robert Smith made a point of being a regular weekly customer at Roscoe’s. If you wanted to know about anybody. particularly for persons in positions such as his. left the house to him. ain’t we?’ ‘That’s what I was thinking.‘No.’ ‘Well. No heavy duty stuff though – maybe just some stakeouts or tail jobs. Roscoe Turner was a fixture in the community. He quickly learned that the premier location for black men to have their hair ‘processed’ or to have any other tonsorial work done was Roscoe’s Barber Shop.’ ‘Make sure I get to meet him. So he’s living at the same address as before. He knew everybody. His mission there was not to ask questions about black folks in the community. a discreet inquiry with Roscoe would. his mother died. who also worked in the Tenth with both of us. Robert Smith. or about their business. more often than not. be very fruitful. Gallagher says the guy has gotten rid of his ghosts – might be able to do some work for us. was a definite asset to that community. 173 . He knew everybody’s business. His intent was to plant with Roscoe Turner the impression that he.’ *** The Reverend Robert Smith knew how important appearances were. we are a bit shorthanded on the white side here. I also touched base with Tommy Gallagher.’ ‘You expect him to come by here some day?’ ‘Actually I encouraged him to do that.
’ 174 .’ ‘Well. We can let yo’ process go until next week. rev.’ ‘Ha. Mistuh Roscoe? And maybe. Mistuh Roscoe. In my business.‘Good morning.’ ‘That’s right. What’s it gonna be this morning?’ ‘Can you give me a little trim in the back. we got a few of those. Yessuh. that’s good. no suh. I think I done that.’ ‘So – how is that business going – at the church? Ole Juice – he helping yo’ fit in any?’ ‘He be fine. I was afraid he might not want to let go – you know?’ ‘No. what do you think? Maybe a little work on the moustache. Yeah. we sho’ do.’ ‘Sounds fine.’ ‘Yo keep doing whatevah yo’ been doing about shaving.’ ‘That’s good. Best way to get along with them is to nevah try anything new – unless they think it was their idea. He don’t wanna work much anymore. gotta look good. oh yeah. Yessuh. I think yo’ got yoself a birdnest on the ground theah – you handle it right. Yo’ skin – yo’ don’ want a lotta razor bumps. Then you okay. Yo’ unnerstan’?’ ‘I maybe just broke that rule. He gettin’ old. I ain’ so much worried ‘bout him as I worry ‘bout some of these old ladies been in the church maybe since it was built.
the reason I ain’ sure is because. well. although that might be far down the road. but I ain’ sure.’ ‘Uh huh. I had her take a Greyhound bus from Tulsa. That’s where I got to know her better. Sorta.’ ‘Yo’ don’ need to answer me. I can’t lie about it.’ ‘Well. She’s got a beautiful voice.’ ‘Uh oh. I think. Is this young lady heah yet?’ ‘Yessuh. Louis to help me. I don’ think they were married. I helped some othuh preacher get her away. She don’ know it. I ain’ nevah said anything to her. Yo’ in trouble. Yes.’ ‘Help you?’ ‘Yessuh.‘Howzat?’ ‘I asked a lady – actually a young woman – to come to St. she was beat up pretty good by this fella she was living with there in Tulsa. but yo’ sweet on this lady?’ ‘Uh.’ 175 . She got a little job in a sandwich shop and started coming to a church there. So she nevuh went back with that fella. I told her I thought she’s really be god for our choir heah.’ ‘She single?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Son.
Yo’ don’ bought yoself a peck of trouble. Yessuh. . No suh. ain’ it?’ ‘It is. Am I right?’ ‘Right. It’s the old biddies that gonna eat yo’ lunch. No suh!’ ‘So. You know this town. What you say I should do? Go down to Greyhound and leave? What?’ ‘My boy. yeah?’ 176 . yessuh. You know this church. help with the choir – you know. We all would slap yo’ back on that. Can’t these old ladies be a . So – when I got up here and saw the situation – well. but the gal is young. tha’s bad. Ain’ no man in this town gonna fault yo’ fo’ going aftuh a pretty little thing – like this gal apparently is.’ ‘Son. Yo’ evah heah of flowers and candy?’ ‘Uh. These ole gals here they ain’ gonna refer to what the Lawd says. I did tell her that. But. I bet yo’ told her she would know more music and sing better than anybody else here. The bible is only useful in certain instances – when folks want it to be. They gonna go by what They say is right and wrong. yo’ trouble is that – numbah one – yo’ done promised this girl yo’ could work a miracle of some sort by putting her in the choir. I bet yo’ already don’ that. . what can I do? I can’t hardly send the girl back to Tulsa. I thought maybe I could bring her up here.’ ‘Well. You know these ladies. Tha’s a little different. But .‘And I didn’t know it at first. yo’ been leading too sheltered a life.little more christian about accepting a newcomer?’ ‘Boy. They jes ain’ gonna let yo’ come in here and mess aroun’ with theah little empire. No suh. but I later found that she has a beautiful voice.
Now they’re going to have a late breakfast at the hotel. Said he picked up Doctor Barclay last night at the airport – got him settled in at the hotel okay. Then. Old ‘Juice’.’ ‘I’ll do it. He got everyone those ole biddies thinking she is first on his list. he said. You coming on the scene while he still on the ground. Yo’ got no choice.’ 177 . Advice is free.’ ‘The courthouse? What for?’ ‘Well. he may spit all ovah yo’ when he talking.’ ‘That how ole man Poindextuh run things?’ ‘Amen. yo’ gonna hafta sweet talk those ole ladies until they can say that whatevah is gonna happen about the choir – an’ for that mattah the whole church – that it is their idea. Haircut – six bits.’ ‘Das alright. they’re going down to the courthouse. brothuh. Thank you.‘Well. ain’t that where the big drama all got started? The phony Barclay doing his pratfall down the courthouse steps. but he is slick as new linoleum. reverend – you can’t do it yoself.’ ‘You think he’d be willing to help me?’ ‘Yo’ sho as hell – ‘scuse me ‘bout that.’ *** ‘Doc Samuels phoned. Yo’ go with yo’ hat in yo’ hand and yo’ ask Poindexter to introduce yo’ and yo’ lady friend to the ladies of the church. Amen.
‘ ‘Ah. .’ Judge Glennon sat back down and glanced out into the courtroom. You’re out on Lindell. your honor. am I correct?’ 178 .‘Yeah. that’s right. My name is Wayne Samuels. ‘What’s this all about?’ ‘The gentlemen asked if they might have a few words with you – about an incident here at the courthouse some months back. I guess.’ The bailiff stood aside holding one half of the swinging gate open for the two to step forward. ‘Why don’t you gentlemen approach the bench and tell me what’s on your mind. the bailiff reached up to him and handed him two business cards. your honor. ‘Thank you. as and when he’d like us to meet with him?’ ‘I think they’ll just walk across the grass here when they finish up there. So. Think he’d like Adam White’s ribs?’ ‘If he don’t then he can just get on the next stagecoach outta town. .’ *** As Judge Bill Glennon gaveled his morning session to a close. There were only two people left in the spectator benches. I’m a local doctor here in town . Did he say anything about if. That name sounds familiar. Wayne Samuels spoke first. maybe we better put off lunch?’ ‘Yeah.
May I introduce Doctor James Randolph Barclay?’ ‘Why does that name also sound familiar to me?’ ‘Your honor.‘That’s right.’ ‘That’s fine. ‘Well. I’d offer you coffee but all my staff is gone on their lunch breaks. diplomas and photos of Glennon in the company of numerous political figures. you may recall a slip and fall accident here on the courthouse steps? Back on Valentine’s Day. unlike the austerity of his courtroom.’ He settled into the chair behind the desk. please?’ The doctors trailed Judge Glennon into his small but rather impressive chambers. Would you gentlemen join me in chambers.’ ‘Ah. please lock the courtroom door and take your lunch break. The walls were adorned with an array of awards. sir. the spitting images of Dad. ‘Please take a seat. The desk and credenza were graced with photos of a smiling Glennon. a nice looking blonde wife and two red headed. what can I tell you? Or what can you tell me?’ Wayne Samuels glanced at Barclay and then proceeded. He removed his robe and placed it on a hanger taken from the back of what turned out to be the door to a small private restroom. from New York. We’ve only a bit ago gotten up from our breakfast. We’ll reconvene at one thirty. yes. freckled boys. ‘This past February 14th the gentleman who fell on your icy courthouse steps was taken to City hospital and 179 . yes. Mister Bailiff. This other gentleman is also a doctor.
’ 180 . That was it. didn’t he contact my staff some time prior to that and inquire about observing some of the more or less typical hearings? Something about research for a book.’ As the two stood to leave Wayne Samuels spoke.later transferred to my clinic out on Lindell. I’m not all that keen on being the subject matter for people who write. be they news media or serious researchers. If he had shown up previously I’m sure then I would have gotten more information from him about his purported book. possibly at other prior times. ‘That’s going to be our next stop.’ Doctor Barclay gave the judge a grim smile and nodded. Is there anything further you can tell us? Did you have any other contact with him?’ ‘No. a psychiatrist .’ ‘Yes sir. your honor. ‘I was hoping he would have exposed himself more here in St. Louis. That jibes with our information. I’m sorry I can’t help you out. He had identified himself as James Randolph Barclay. The judge acknowledged Barclay’s disappointment with a nod. . One phone request to my clerk – which is not all that unusual.’ ‘I think I remember that. Yes.’ Doctor Barclay spoke. . ‘What about City Hospital? There must be some paper trail there.’ ‘Not with me at least. When he never showed up in the courtroom it had no impact on the docket.
I’m sure that is so. doesn’t it?’ ‘Yes. Yes.’ ‘Yes. doctor. that does make one feel good after slaving away. when the table was cleared where I sat lo and behold – there was a perfect semi-circle of green peas in front of me. You’re very perceptive. and on my other side was a prominent federal judge. I thought I’d done fairly well holding up my end of the conversation with these two distinguished gentlemen.’ ‘Please do. When it was time for the awards and speeches yet to be made from the head table. Heady company for a 23 year old.’ ‘Ah. I’d been awarded the Order of the Coif for some legal research and writing I’d done. Nobody said a word – but I sat – mortified – throughout the rest of the program. Seemed I’d spilled them in my nervousness at conversing. but let me tell you a funny story associated with that photograph.’ ‘Anyway. I was sitting next to a Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court. the waiters quietly removed the china and silverware from each of the tables.’ ‘It appears that you were seated in the midst of some much older gentlemen. ‘That one’s me when I graduated from law school. When things concluded 181 .’ ‘It was taken at a lavish banquet where all the awardees were assigned seats at tables with at least one bigshot at each table. Perhaps to receive some award for your student performance?’ ‘That’s true. I think that facilitates things for the dishwashers back in the kitchen.Glennon noticed Barclay viewing some photographs on the wall.
Oh no. Take our word for it. It might behoove us down here to be a bit more careful.I beat a hasty exit. ‘No. You made a wise choice.’ Glennon extended his hand to both and remarked. Doctor Samuels?’ ‘It is that. To this day I believe I avoid contact with either of those gentlemen you see flanking me in that photo. ‘Whenever you get to the bottom of it. ‘We will be back in touch. can we pass on lunch? I think Dr. I’d appreciate hearing from you. isn’t that so. because we do not intend to quit until we’ve run this fellow to ground. your honor. you wouldn’t like that – putting your hands where the sun has never been.’ ‘Happens to us all at one time or another.’ *** 182 . Judge.’ Glennon grinned. Some days I feel like I’m just spinning a revolving door. Thanks.maybe we can all dine together somewhere quiet. Thank you again. I’ll call you later .’ Both laughed and Wayne answered. ‘It pays for the groceries and rent. Maybe I should have gone to medical school. Barclay and I would like to run out to City Hospital – see if they can pull any records from the archives. We know how busy you are here. We appreciate you’re taking time to visit with us.’ When they got out in the hallway Samuels sought out the nearest payphone. ‘Slick. Thank you again for your courtesy.’ Barclay nodded.
‘This is where he would have entered the hospital system – transported in an identical city ambulance. Since both viewers were qualified physicians they had no difficulty in deciphering the medical jargon and abbreviations. Let’s go find the Records room and see what we can learn. M. ‘Did he list any residence?’ ‘Apparently he had no driver’s license or other identification on him.D. no problem in quickly locating the record.’ ‘That’s true. I know what you’re doing – and. appearing in that record. They just entered ‘New York City’ – probably he verbalized that for them. Don’t try to gloss over it. That could be the same one. but you could have easily let me founder on my own.There was a slight mist falling when they exited the cab at the City Hospital Emergency Room. again – Thank you. Barclay spoke. I do appreciate it. as Wayne promised. okay?’ As they traversed the corridors dodging gurneys.’ 183 . while I’m thinking about it let me say that you are going well above and beyond any duty here. confused walking wounded and harried staff. A red Packard ambulance had just backed up to the double doors. No reason they shouldn’t produce the records for me. there was. ‘Wayne. Jim.’ ‘Forget it. They took the brown folder from the clerk and settled in at a small table easily observable by the clerk. After all I’m the physician who signed him out of here.’ Since the date of admission was known and the patient’s name – as well as Wayne Samuels.
184 . D. Maudeen.’ ‘Agh. that’s M. L. E. No phone shown.’ ‘Sounds like a widow or spinster. All nice single family homes. E. yes. A. sorry. U. 5 Sutherland.’ ‘So do I. R. N. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I recognize that street name. He probably didn’t know what it was. T. Is that really a name and local street address there?’ ‘Certainly is. H.’ ‘Got it. A. Barksdale. S. Write this down – Maudeen. making eye contact to further assure him that nothing was amiss.’ Street address is 4925. U. doesn’t it?’ ‘If she exists. 2. S. double E. D. Says she’s a sister. L. K. that’s 4. A.’ They carefully returned the file to the clerk. D. Last name Barksdale.‘What about next of kin?’ ‘Do you Brits say ‘Bingo’ or is it ‘By Jove’?’ ‘Don’t quote me but I’d go for a ‘Hot Damn’ right now. B.’ ‘What’s the relationship? Is that shown?’ ‘Oh. 9. A.’ ‘Any phone number?’ ‘Nope. N. I hope you’re wrong. R. nice neighborhood.
’ ‘You have anything else you can switch into? I’m thinking we could go casual tonight – phone Driscoll and Jones – go somewhere quiet where we can spend some time and go over everything we have. 4925 Sutherland. better skilled and equipped to handle potential confrontations. No. To tell you the truth – when we found that address on – what was it – Southland? .’ ‘Righto. Well. This wool suit feels a little damp from that mist earlier this afternoon. I was concerned you might feel we – two amateurs – should thunder right out there. I’d like to check on what’s going on in my shop. young man. It was mid-afternoon and they had completely forgotten about lunch.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘Happens a lot. I think. don’t it. I’d lost the name and address of the relative who was supposed to pay my bill.’ 185 . doctor?’ When they exited the hospital the sun had come out. from what I’ve been told by you – we are at the point where we should turn things over to people. Maybe I read too much. take a little nap. that sort of thing that always seem to occur in mysteries. See what they have to offer.’ ‘I’ll endorse that. that’s fine. such as Jones and Driscoll. Let’s rendezvous with them somewhere tonight. ‘Jim. You’re absolutely right. too. Wayne.’ ‘Sutherland. . foot races.’ ‘Yes. .’ ‘No. how do you feel about going back to the hotel? Maybe freshen up.‘Thank you very much.
That thing around your neck – what do you call that?’ ‘That’s called a cravat.’ ‘No. That one has to be earned in his majesty’s military.‘Righto? You don’t really talk that way.’ ‘Well. Suffice it to say.’ ‘Maybe we won’t go there. I’ll send you a few when I get back home. Wayne.’ ‘Sounds great already.’ ‘I’m impressed. I tellya. your costume department has pretty well dazzled me. dear friend. ‘No. Casual dress.’ ‘Next thing you’ll tell me – if I have the gall to ask – is that you’re skilled with all sorts of strange military weapons. please. Jim. do you?’ Barclay laughed. I’ve got a drawer full of them. Very good for impressing patients.’ 186 . sorry. sometimes exposes one to all sorts of unexpected opportunities to broaden one’s experience. my friend. I’ll see you sometime after sundown then.’ ‘You’ll phone my room and tell me when to be ready?’ ‘I will. a career in the British military as an officer.’ ‘Can you get me a little rosebud thing like in your lapel? I like that. I just felt that perhaps I needed to act the part for you. a doctor.
‘He and Popeye just went out da back door there for a little walk. ‘He wants to sit on a bench over there on the grass?’ 187 .’ It was a pretty day. very English salute to the departing cab. Wilbur. Slick decided to wait for Calvin Moore out on the front sidewalk. ‘This gonna be one of them mornings?’ ‘Let Wilbur go first. Calvin was pointing down the block and across the street. Last call. *** Slick got back from court early the next morning. Our other stuff can wait until later – maybe go somewhere for lunch?’ ‘Sounds good.’ Slick looked around for Dan. Wilbur and Dan were both waiting for him. boss. Sounds like sumbudy done throwed the peanut buttah in the fan. He then turned. whatcha got?’ ‘Calvin phoned coupla times. not too hot. a few scattered clouds. clicked his heels and popped a very smart.’ ‘Where is he?’ ‘He heading in right now. smiled and nodded at the speechless hotel doorman as he entered the lobby.He stepped back from the cab. He spotted Calvin coming down the street from 17th. said he’d just come heah and wait on you.
’ ‘Juice? That dumb old fart?’ ‘That dumb shit of his is a front. but he ain’t stupid either. say that again. What?’ ‘He’s been visiting and sweet talking the old widows on Culver Circle. He ain’t so smart.’ ‘Yeah. ‘Don’t want to sound all mysterious boss. . If what he has in the works goes through – well.’ 188 . but I thought maybe you wouldn’t want anybody to share in this – for a while. that’s true. . lemme just say it’s gonna distract everybody’s attention from everything else going on.’ ‘What’s he doing? Give it to me in plain English.They waited for a streetcar and several automobiles to pass before crossing the street.’ ‘Let’s hear what you got.’ ‘Well. Seems he goes to the barber shop every week. the new preacher told this to Roscoe.’ ‘I think Juice Poindexter is trying to pull off something big. He and Roscoe talk to each other a lot. We all knew that.’ ‘Roscoe got big ears – and a big mouth. Neither spoke until they were on a bench in the middle of the grassy plat across the street from the Central Library.’ ‘Taking the title on old ladies’ houses.’ ‘Uh.
Then he got worried that the old ladies in the church would not accept her – especially if she got involved with the choir. Naomi. When you gonna get to the last chapter here?’ ‘Juice asked old lady Cashion .’ ‘Sounds good so far. did they?’ ‘Naw. Put on a little socializing show kinda thing?’ ‘Exactly. .’ ‘That goddamn choir project of his gonna blow up in his face.that was gonna donate her piano?’ ‘That’s right. .’ ‘Never did get that piano outta there. Damn thing back in the house collecting dust. to visit old lady Cashion – have a little tea party thing. . Juice knew he had to overcome that old lady’s bad feelings about how they all had screwed up moving the piano . and his girlfriend. So. Anyway. and Smith.’ ‘That’s the lady – husband was a dentist .‘Right.’ ‘And?’ ‘Roscoe told him to get Juice to introduce the new preacher and his girlfriend to the old bags – do it in such a way that they didn’t feel threatened – you know?’ ‘Yeah. the preacher got his girlfriend to come up to town from Tulsa.’ ‘He sensed that and asked Roscoe for advice. anyway he arranged for himself.’ 189 . . the new guy.
Naw.’ ‘Juice did what?’ ‘This is according to Roscoe. Cashion took a liking to the girl.’ ‘What rights does Juice have to ‘let’ anybody do anything?’ ‘Unless he ‘owns’ the property. . Naomi Tyler and Miz Cashion got that one nailed down. you understand – he got it from the preacher Smith.’ ‘Uh oh. . etc. Miz. it turns out Naomi Tyler is good on the piano.’ ‘Shit. He got it from his girlfriend. first thing you know.’ 190 . that stuff. The plot thickens. After they left and had gotten rid of Juicy Poindexter the girl told the boyfriend that Miz Cashion had confided in her that Juice was ‘just so nice. are sharing the piano bench and entertaining Juice and Smith. even asked her if she could play the piano.’ ‘Are you getting to the bottom line here?’ ‘I just wanted you to know that the hostility problem from all the old ladies – that’s a goner.’ ‘According to the reports I’ve gotten. water bill. all they had to do was pay their taxes and phone. it went well.‘Sounds nice and civilized.’ something about ‘letting ‘em live in their houses the rest of their lives.’ ‘Yeah. knows a lotta church songs. So she and the old lady. here’s what I been trying to tellya . Well. looking after the old widows.
“You think this is really it? The big thing we all been waiting for?’ ‘Naw.‘Boss. I’d bet that old sonovabitch has sweet talked one or more. coppers.’ ‘That’s all it could be. He just sit on ‘em. We sat at a small table up near the front. sweet potatoes and mustard greens. them old ladies into deeding their houses to him. This is something entirely different. As I sawed away at the tough beef I asked. At one o’clock the crowd had pretty well dissipated. Quantity reigned over quality.’ *** Slick and I decided on lunch at a Greek steam table place on Chouteau near Compton. This sure don’t sound like that. He’s a helluva lot younger than any of those old biddies. The first tips we got were all pointing at somebody like this Smith guy rolling into town and taking over Juice’s little church.’ ‘Goddammit. I took roast beef and gravy with mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage. How’s the ham?’ 191 .’ ‘Yeah. those are my sentiments entirely. Slick went with ham. Alla those houses fully paid for. frequented mostly by workingmen from the railroad roundhouse nearby.’ ‘Yeah. or alla. I gotta talk this over with Dan. truck drivers and others in a hurry for a quick filling lunch at a low price. At least that’s what I think. Make sure Roscoe zips his lip. He can afford to wait. let ‘em die off one by one – then he own the whole damn block.
it sounds that way. . it sounds like Juice might have cooked up something to take advantage of the old widows living in Culver Circle?’ ‘Well. What are we gonna do if I turn up a positive hit or two there?’ ‘I believe we’d better be sure what we got. and it musta just slipped out as they were leaving.’ ‘That’s good. ‘ ‘Which is?’ ‘Scare the beejeesus outta Juice. So.’ ‘Pretty slim alright. .’ ‘So nobody asked Miz Cashion to elaborate?’ ‘No. first of all.’ 192 .’ ‘That’s easy. Then work up our patented Plan B . who got it from Smith. Calvin got it from Roscoe. I’ll do that this afternoon. this stuff really gives your jaws a workout. Then I think maybe you could get some of your sources at City Hall to run Juice’s name – and Miz Cashion’s name through the files in the Recorder of Deeds office.‘Dry as hell. What are you thinking?’ ‘First – I told Calvin to tell Roscoe to stuff a sock in that big mouth of his. but at least they don’t hide it under that motor oil they call gravy in this place.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah.
.’ ‘You remember that redneck first sergeant in the Hit and Run in Yokohama. Sonovabitch thought he could just lay low and let the clock run out until he was retired – with honors. I forgot about Renji.’ ‘Yeah. right?’ ‘Right. I did it. doncha?’ ‘Won’t ever forget it. He was there when the guy came in?’ ‘Yeah. . I pushed him in that hospital room where the two little kids were laying.’ I’ll never forget those words. I do recall that – with pleasure. .’ ‘Renji give him the evil eye?’ ‘Sure did. We each took an arm and waltzed him outta the NCO club and down the street into that Japanese hospital.’ ‘Oh yeah. Let him get a good look at Renji . . Called him ‘plick’. I thought he was gonna puke – the smell in there was so bad.’ ‘Bullshit.’ ‘Maybe shouldn’t use such tough tactics on ole Juice – might give him a heart attack. ‘ ‘Two blackest niggers in Japan. let him look at the damage he’d done. Remember Ben Williams and I .‘I always did like Plan B – watching some bastard try to push toothpaste back in the tube. When we got out on the sidewalk. That smarmy sonovabitch. He didn’t want to go in. first thing he said was ‘You made your point. leading the praying and the singing every Sunday then working the 193 .
’ 194 . I gotta gut feeling that this is gonna turn out exactly like we think once I check those records. I was looking for a red faced guy with a big belly. big white moustache and a loud voice. now – what do you think about this Barclay thing?’ ‘I enjoyed his company last night – him and Wayne. No bullshit.’ ‘I imagine. that sorta shit. When he spoke he made sense.’ ‘No.’ ‘That was apparent. that he’s pretty fed up with this imposter. Small build.’ ‘Agreed. Especially if the guy is not English. I’m on standby if you need any backup. He’d get all uppity if you were involved. I tellya one thing – if he pass out – I ain’t gonna give him any mouth to mouth. This guy didn’t need to have a big voice. from the way he talked. you’re right.’ ‘He didn’t look like what I expected.weekdays to rob some ole widow ladies. spoke regular English just like us. No sirree!’ ‘Well.’ ‘Thanks. too. So my guess is that you’ll want to use all black folks to do the deed – whatever the deed is that you decide to inflict on Juice?’ ‘Yeah. very cultured. I’d certainly say that his grammar was one hundred percent correct. I wouldn’t go that far. addressing us as ‘blokes’.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Me neither.
’ ‘How do you spell ‘suckers’?’ ‘Got that right. Something where the guy could have observed Barclay and picked up his traits and characteristics. maybe find some nice housewife willing to talk a little. He can maybe push a few neighborhood doorbells.’ ‘And us. probably careful to never go too far. we’ll learn that later on.‘Well. I figured maybe it was a working relationship at least. all look like – what do you think about getting ahold of ‘No Nose’ Novak? Do a little surveillance – see what develops?’ ‘That’s all we got to work with – the address on Sutherland.’ ‘Sounds like the number he played on Wayne Samuels. Doc Barclay doesn’t want to leave town without some success. you and me. falsified the education.’ ‘No Nose is pretty savvy.’ ‘Me too.’ ‘How’d he describe it? Something like ‘fashioned out of the whole cloth’?’ ‘Yeah. Listen.’ 195 . I guess he meant that the guy simply took the name. since he knows what Samuels. I was surprised to hear him say that he has never met this guy face to face.’ ‘Worth a shot. or to get in so deep that he had to produce any documents.
you just take it – don’t respond with any opinions of your own. You just trimmed it day before yesterday. Unnerstan?’ ‘Yeah. When we’re finished with him he’ll think he’s Scooterboogle’s horse – with his ass on fire. don’t it?’ *** Calvin put it to Roscoe – in no uncertain terms – to keep the gossip about Poindexter’s real estate wheeling and dealing to himself. Just take it in and then get aholda me. of course. A slip of the tongue could mess up what might be a really big mess we got on our hands.’ ‘Roscoe. Calvin. If anybody volunteers any more information to you.’ ‘You wanna do something about that moustache befo’ you leave?’ ‘Hey. we just don’t know yet.’ ‘Ah.‘Maybe we can scare the crap outta this guy.’ ‘Oh? I did? I forgot.’ ‘Really think so? I allus figgered Juice was a small time crook.’ ‘Be nice. I can handle that.’ ‘I mean it. ‘Of course. Roscoe.’ ‘Good. wouldn’t it? You realize we don’t even know his name – yet?’ ‘Yet.’ 196 . Sounds like fun.
*** I had put a phone call in to No Nose Novak before going to the Recorder of Deeds office. Don’t even know this bastard’s correct name. ‘So. Suppose I take a run through that neighborhood – just scope things out – get a feel for it?’ ‘That’s the way I’d do it. it could turn out that way as soon as you go there. yeah.’ So I filled him in on the Barclay case. How’s it going?’ ‘Fine.’ ‘Just wanted to ask you if you’d care to do a little street work for us?’ ‘Hell.’ ‘I’ll give you a call. Dan. I need a little fresh air. Dan Driscoll here. Joe. or it could go off in another direction. Just have that address and the name he alleged as a sister living there when he was admitted to City Hospital. ‘Hi. fine.’ ‘Right.’ ‘I know.’ 197 . all you’ve got there to give me is this address on Sutherland?’ ‘That’s it. So.’ ‘That could be phony too. everything we had. aside from that.
‘Holy Shit!’ ‘Rich. Lucius Poindexter. too.’ ‘Oh. .’ *** It took me only a little over an hour to run the Poindexter name through the Grantee index of the Recorder of Deeds. right. When I got back to the office.’ ‘Think you hit on something?’ ‘Yeah. our client is here from out of town.’ When I finished I. Wilbur and Popeye were holding the fort. Jesus!’ ‘Maybe you oughta copy the volume and page number for each hit you got before you give me back the Grantee Index. Slick been around?’ 198 . or seller. ‘Hi Wilbur. appeared – some as Grantee. maybe I better take a look in the grantor indices. Joe. . . had amassed a sheaf of papers. the clerk. If we can come up with something pretty quick so he can go back home. with the help of Rich Corrigan. a goddamned mess. Thanks. each of which contained the salient information taken for each and every transaction in which the name.‘One thing.others as Grantor. or buyer . ‘ ‘Understood.
You don’ mess aroun’ wit Mistuh Slick. He held several phone message slips out to me while he talked on the phone. was looking a mite harried. He took outta here like he had a firecracker up his ass – said he probably wouldn’t be back until morning.’ 199 . I coulda used a couple more phones and arms to answer ‘em. ‘Busy night?’ ‘Real quiet at first.’ *** The following morning I headed straight to the office. sho does. Not if’n his money is involved. Dan. but then about five thirty this morning all hell broke loose. Then get cleaned up and go to docket call just like he do every mornin’.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Slick likes to nail ‘em while they’re in the saddle. maybe?’ ‘Yessah. That man. Po’ Popeye. Mostly he catches ‘em before they get too far – like this one today. You watch. he got some kinda reputation. Wilbur’s night relief.’ ‘Sounds like one of the customers deciding to fly the coop. No suh. oh yeah.‘Yes. don’t he?’ ‘Makes believers outta ‘em. he’ll haul that sorry niggah’s ass in before daylight. I betcha that clown shacked up somewhere getting a little action before he run down to the Greyhound station. when you hear from him – tell him I’m looking for him. Be a lotta whispering in the courtroom. I don’t think he slept much with all the noise. Charles.
‘Slick catch his skipper?’ ‘Oh yeah.’ ‘Any of these messages for me?’ ‘Oh. said you’d know what it was about. Two of ‘em here from a guy I know. he’ll like that. Why don’t you take Popeye for a walk before Wilbur gets here.’ ‘Ah. Mistuh Dan. thanks. too. Charles. Dan. yeah. been sitting on my ass at the desk all night. I shoulda wrote yo’ name or Mistuh Slick’s name on each of ‘em.’ ‘Okay. Got the guy wit’ his pants down. No problem. I need to stretch my legs. Like always he knew which whorehouse to check. Like I said they all seemed to come at once.’ ‘Sounds good. He didn’t want to leave any message.’ ‘Yeah. Popeye. We might need ‘em from the way you talked about last night.’ ‘Thanks. thanks boss. been expecting his call. Looks like most of ‘em are about bonds.’ 200 . Thought you’d like to know what I got so far on Sutherland. Yeah. I’ll cover the phones for you. No big problem.’ *** ‘Joe? Dan.’ ‘You might stop and buy a bag of doughnuts.’ ‘Okay. retuning your call.
sil vous plait. Maudeen Barksdale does live there?’ ‘Not exactly. Usual clues – mail in the box.‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘So. all those blocks down there have a cross alley like that so the regular alleys don’t dump down into Kingshighway traffic.’ ‘Well.’ 201 .’ ‘No Nose – you do have a way with words. I think I screwed myself outta a big fee from you. I whizzed by the house a couple times from different angles about six last night.’ ‘Thought I’d run into a brickwall with the next door neighbor – incidentally there is only one – next door neighbor.’ ‘You mean that name was a fake?’ ‘Au contraire.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Well. Still daylight. handbills on the porch. Lemme hear it. I worked the neighborhood – just a bit. So. the lady.’ ‘Yeah. The rest of the land all the way down to Kingshighway belongs to a catholic church. No barking dog inside. but I felt pretty sure there was no one at home.’ ‘Aha. Passed myself off as an insurance company representative checking on an old policy in the name of Maudeen Barksdale. Forty Nine Twenty Five abuts a cross alley.
Maudeen Barksdale and brother. that’s one strike. is Mary Cullen. nice Irish lady. while I petted Fido she gave me the whole nine yards. Edwin. So I went back and sat in the car for a few minutes. you took the words right outta my mouth.’ ‘Exactly. Edwin.’ ‘Yeah. Anyway. and all the rest of his estate.‘Right. House been in the Barksdale family for many years. Turns out this old lady was probably watching from behind the curtains when I was rebuffed at 4929.’ ‘And you – the big dog lover – stepped outta your car. ‘ ‘Dan.’ ‘Yeah. was left in a family trust which supports Edwin and little sister. When he died the house. She bought the insurance story right off. Maudeen. Originally built by Jerome Barksdale – a wealthy guy who made his fortune in real estate and other investments. Then another old biddie came out of a house across the street – gonna walk little Fido after supper. She made no 202 .’ ‘So that was shit – about her being responsible for his bill at City Hospital.’ ‘Alright. was happy to turn her over to folks better qualified than he to care for her. are the owners at twenty-five.’ ‘Sounds like it. could see a crime committed and slam the door with the victim dying on her sidewalk. her name incidentally lest I forget. is now a ward of the State of Missouri. . incidentally. . My dog lady. seems she’s non-compos mentis so loving brother. Maudeen. Anyway an old bag next door was one of those ’I don’t want to get involved’ people.
You outdid my fondest ‘Well. too. you and me both.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yes. No. I’ve got some good news for you.’ ‘Yeah. He’s apparently comfortably well off – house free and clear – sister no longer around – money coming in from the family trust to keep him afloat to do whatever he wants. what the hell else did you expect? After all.’ 203 . too? Mine had opinions about damn near everything. She can only pass on her opinions from what she observes behind those lace curtains of hers. I have some urgent information for him. Miz Cullen have any idea where he goes?’ ‘Naw.’ *** ‘Doctor Barclay? Dan Driscoll here. A lot has been happening in the last twenty four hours. I learned from the best.’ ‘Goddamn.’ ‘Sounds like my mother. expectations.bones about not caring much for Edwin – said he was a worthless lout – never worked an honest day in his life – dropped out of school early on – apparently planned all his life to get by on whatever dear old dad left him. Mary Cullen is not one of Edwin’s fans.’ Joe. I may have to interrupt this if Slick shows up. wherever he wants. I couldn’t get anything good on that.’ ‘You.
We’ll be in touch – hopefully while you’re still around here.’ ‘If you don’t mind – would you let me be the one to pass this information on to Wayne Samuels? I’d like to share my good feelings with him. be in the city at the moment.’ I was waiting inside the front door. Popeye next to me. 204 .’ ‘Sounds good. I won’t slow you down with questions. All I can say is that there was no one at the house.’ ‘We’ve checked out that address on Sutherland and got lucky – very lucky. and there has been no activity there this morning. Popeye and his escort came in the back door. I don’t know how to thank you. We can talk about that later. ‘Mistuh Slick heading across the plaza right now. that’s what we keep telling folks. If this Edwin Barksdale returns home I’d like your guidance on how I could best confront him.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yes. Unless you suggest otherwise I’d like to stay in town here for another few days.’ ‘Well. Fire when ready. He may. Let me just add – we have a source in the neighborhood who will advise us the instant he returns. The man we’re talking about is Edwin Barksdale – that’s B-A-R-K-S-D-A-L-E. Dan. or may not.‘Well.’ ‘You folks are miracle workers.’ As I hung up the phone.
I uncovered the biggest goddamned mess at City Hall – Poindexter in trouble up to his eyeballs – and don’t know it – yet!’ “Why don’t that surprise me. No Nose has enlisted the help of a nosy neighbor to phone us the instant he shows up.’ ‘So we going out there to brace him?’ ‘Nope. Neighbor says he’s a worthless shit. he’s drooling a little less than you. Got the name and the whole family history on our fake Barclay.’ ‘Let’s stick a little closer here than usual – agreed? If No Nose’s lady phones we might want to have the cavalry all saddled up and ready. drinking other people’s booze. living offa money left by a rich father. I guess. He ain’t home.’ ‘So who is this faker?’ ‘Name is Edwin Barksdale. The guy has done no harm to me – unless you count a bruised ego for falling for his line of bullshit. aincha?’ ‘Hell yes. Tell me all about it. More important – No Nose did a real number out there on Sutherland.’ ‘You enjoying this. What’s on your mind?’ ‘Nice of you to ask. He’s tickled silly.‘Which one am I supposed to pat on the head first? Popeye.’ ‘Probably out play acting somewhere.’ ‘Naw. I 205 . you gotta wait. I just got off the phone after calling Barclay at the hotel.
’ ‘Yeah. too.’ 206 . I agree he’ll feel a lot better leaving town and knowing that he’s rid of his shadow. We gonna have to back in slow – look like we moving in the other direction. I don’t know if we can undo what he’s done.would like to rack him up though on behalf of the real Barclay. me – and the public records in City Hall. ‘Man.’ ‘Maybe they’d be the best place to start?’ ‘Let’s get some kinda plan put together first. and Roscoe – they the only ones who know about it. his girlfriend. like letting a cat into the henhouse. Reverend Smith. Even if those old gals got no heirs to pass their stuff down to. we got Calvin. get all the old ladies and their friends all cackling and screaming.’ ‘I’m not sure we’re gonna have a quick answer for this one.’ ‘So far.’ ‘Yeah. Anybody nosy enough to can go in there and find the whole story. that stiff upper lip shit is okay. it still doesn’t smell very good when they get flim-flamed by a preacher – somebody they should be able to trust.’ *** We ate lunch out of paper bags – hamburgers and lukewarm coffee – while I told him the story about Poindexter’s real estate wheeling and dealing. that stinks.’ ‘Except for you.’ ‘Juice and Napoleon Calhoun – they know. but it can give a man ulcers. Don’t tip off anybody.
carrying his briefcase and a small satchel. Thought I’d drive down Sutherland from the other direction. My lady friend across the street there – she just called. walk down to the lady’s house and check in with her – then back to the car.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘He come back?’ ‘Yeah. Novak came out of a house across the street and strolled down the street.’ ‘That’s great. It’s No Nose – Novak. 207 . it’s getting even better. a considerable distance from the Barksdale place.’ ‘What are you driving?’ ‘Black Ford – ‘55 two door. Seeya in a bit.‘Right. Where are you right now?’ ‘I’m heading there now.’ ‘Well. Just came walking up the street from the bus stop down on Kingshighway.’ ‘We’ll come up behind you.’ ‘Dan! Come on Novak’s got the call. He opened our rear door and climbed in.’ *** ‘Hi Slick. howya doing? Dan told me ‘bout that fine piece of work you did for us.’ *** As we pulled into the curb up the street.
files and such upstairs – someplace he can work during the night. My gut says he keeps the first floor pretty much like it was left by his folks – dining room nobody uses. As soon as we know you’re in – then we’ll either come in the back – or. Basement door under the back porch also permits access to the yard and alley.’ 208 .’ ‘Been in there about an hour now?’ ‘Right. more likely he’ll open the door to a stranger.’ ‘Good point. ‘Ain’t nobody but him gonna argue about whether or not the entry was invited.’ Slick interrupted.’ ‘Agreed.’ ‘Tell me what you think here. Probably got his own little hidey hole. If he opens the door – I’ll be in there. One of us cover the back.’ ‘Be nice to get inside – see what he’s got. Novak. ‘He don’t know No Nose here.‘Lady says he usually uses only the front door. if we have to – run around to the front. although there is a kitchen door that opens into the yard and then out into the alley. Less to scare the guy.’ ‘Living there alone. to take the front. right?’ ‘Right.’ Novak spoke from the back. that sorta thing.’ ‘Okay. The other two take the front door approach. I think it would be best for him.
I ducked across the small backyard and ascended the short steps to the small porch at the rear door. No Nose? You wanna do a quick check of upstairs and the basement while the two of us work on him?’ ‘Sure.’ Slick drove down to the Kingshighway corner and made a right turn. We imply that we now know all kindsa shit about him and his little game. Before we leave we might wanna check it out. The doorbell 209 .’ ‘What time is it?’ ‘Just one thirty. We rolled the windows down and cut the ignition. If we get halfway lucky we’ll turn his spigot just right and he’ll start blurting stuff out. what we gonna have to say to him once we’re inside?’ ‘That’s easy. Now. too. ‘I’ll wait a few minutes until you guys get in place.’ ‘Let’s go.’ ‘All this is fine. The gate to the alley was latched but otherwise unlocked and opened easily. Novak got out.’ Slick drove around the block and parked the vehicle in the alley against the Barksdale garage. Slick slipped down to the basement door below. Before we leave though one of you might want to redo it.‘Place has a nice basement. I might miss something that will ring a bell with either of you.’ ‘Sounds as good as anything else we got.
Why don’t you tell us the story.’ 210 . No opportunity for Barksdale to make a dash for it. yes. ‘I guess you guys will want to come upstairs into the living room?’ Slick responded. Let Novak in the front door. we let Barksdale sweat a little. ‘You guys are scary as hell – you know that?’ ‘We have been told that from time to time. You are just so full of surprises – we wouldn’t know where to start. why don’t you go first.’ Novak came down the stairs after a quick once over of the second floor situation. We’re right behind you. sir. As we took seats in the living room. I braced himself for Barksdale’s bulk to burst forth from the kitchen. I followed. ‘Hello there.’ ‘Mistuh B. He finally spoke. ‘Dan. head down.’ Slick had deftly maneuvered Barksdale into a position between the two of us. He gave a slight nod to me. There was the scratching of a flimsy screendoor beneath the rear steps. Are you the lady of the house?’ By the time I got down to the level below Barksdale was walking. in front of Slick.could clearly be heard ringing. Barksdale spoke. – we don’t know what we’re looking for. Nothing happened. ‘I don’t keep any firearms – if that’s what you’re looking for. There was the sound of the rapid shuffling of footsteps inside. Then I could hear Slick below. I then went up the stairs.
I came back downstairs. In fifteen minutes the Buick slid to a stop at the courthouse steps.‘Where do you want me to start?’ ‘Before you start.’ ‘The courthouse? What are you taking me to the courthouse for?’ ‘Just shut up. After searching him we put him in the backseat of Slick’s Buick. As he arose from the couch Slick looked around.’ ‘You don’t even visit her do you?’ Barksdale didn’t respond.’ Slick and Novak shot quick eyeballs at each other. let me warn you. Save us all a lotta time. ‘Look familiar. Neither had any more idea than Barksdale did that I had used the upstairs phone. don’t it?’ 211 . sandwiched between me and No Nose. We’ve done our homework on you. ‘You play the piano?’ ‘No. You’ll have your chance in just a few minutes to tell it to the judge. ‘Let’s go. Wouldn’t want you accidentally falling down any stairs again now – would we?’ While Barksdale was composing himself and trying to think how to put the best face on a very bad situation. They’re waiting for us at the courthouse. Nobody’s touched that thing since my sister left here. So don’t try to lie.
’ Barksdale looked like he was about to faint. Everyone will please exit the courtroom with the exception of the bailiff. Five minutes later Barksdale was sitting in the front row of benches bracketed by Slick Jones and No Nose. ‘You ready? ‘Yessir. assumed his seat. He looked to the front row. I went ahead into the courtroom of the honorable William Glennon and walked directly to the bailiff. Five minutes. Barksdale – and approach the bench. ‘Please stand when you address the court. ‘Are you Edwin Barksdale.’ The judge gaveled for attention of the few people in the courtroom. Barksdale. The judge had just finished a minor ex-parte hearing.’ With that he left the courtroom and entered his chambers. Mr. Glennon addressed him. Do you understand what I’m saying?’ 212 .No response. I was scouting out the rear door of the courtroom. Mr. He glanced at me. Mr. no reporter to make any record. ‘All Rise!’ Glennon. Bailiff show him where to stand. still robed. sir?’ Barksdale in a barely audible voice responded in the affirmative. I want you to understand that this is off the record – a little chat shall we say between you and me. ‘The court is going to be taking up a private matter. you’ll notice we have no court staff present.
yes. Mr.’ ‘Fine. Barksdale for clearing that little matter up for us. Now. I’ll also advise you that you are not under arrest – at this time – so if you choose to leave here at any time you are free to do so. I did do that. Is that not correct. I do. I am not. your honor.’ ‘Fine. Do you understand that?’ ‘Yessir. You recall phoning this court back in January of this year and arranging to visit and observe activities in this court?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And is it not also correct that you identified yourself during that phone call as a doctor James Randolph Barclay?’ ‘Uh.’ ‘Uh. Mr.’ ‘Alright. let’s get down to brass tacks here. are you?’ ‘No sir.’ 213 .‘Yessir. You also will recollect that you informed my clerk that the purpose of that visit was to gather material for a book you were contemplating writing. Barksdale. Edwin Barksdale – you are not Doctor James Randolph Barclay.’ ‘That is correct.’ ‘Let me put it to you bluntly.’ ‘Well. thank you Mr.
I don’t mean any real harm. for folks like us. did you say you ‘guess not’?’ ‘Uh. who have labored a lifetime to establish our credentials – to have people like you – yes. I – I’m sorry. It’s kinda fun to . if you are not Doctor James Randolph Barclay then you could not have been contemplating the writing of any book under that name could you?’ ‘No sir. . in other words not requiring any guessing on your part?’ ‘No. the real William Glennon.’ 214 . or me. ‘ ‘Fun? You think it’s fun for a real person.’ ‘So. dio you think it is fun. I was not contemplating the writing of any book under the name of James Randolph Barclay. Mr.‘So. like you – adopt our sacred identities so easily.’ ‘Excuse me. No. I’m sorry judge. judge.’ ‘Is there some reason you can offer to the court here today why your answer to that question cannot be more certain. I just do these things.’ ‘And that would be?’ ‘I. as you call it. such as the real doctor Barclay.’ ‘No sir. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. . Barksdale. would it be fair to presume that you had some other purpose in mind requiring a visit to my courtroom?’ ‘Yes. I guess not.
your honor. No.’ ‘Any merit badges.’ ‘Nothing. from the Boy Scouts? Anything at all? Help me here – Mister Barksdale. How far did you go in school?’ ‘Tenth grade.’ Judge Glennon paused.’ ‘Sorry.’ The room was silent. I’m sorry. Mister Barksdale. sir. anything.’ ‘Any trade schools.’ ‘That’s what I thought. Barksdale stood – alone – before the bench. Judge Glennon let him stand there and sweat for a full minute under the bright lights. rearranged his robes and let it all sink in. sir. Not good at all. yes – easy to say.’ ‘Any honors or awards of any kind conferred through past employments?’ ‘None.‘Sorry doesn’t cut it in this court. The question remains what are you sorry for? For what you have done? Or for having been caught?’ ‘Uh. ‘How’s it feel to be unmasked – Mister Barksdale?’ ‘Not good. other education of any sort?’ ‘No sir. 215 . Very sorry.
’ 216 .’ ‘Turn around Mister Barksdale. . ever even met the real Doctor James Randolph Barclay?’ ‘No. I just read a magazine article about him.’ ‘Have you ever even met any person whom you have imitated?’ ‘No sir. . sir. then stop. It was always exciting – like I said – fun .’ ‘Sorry. I’ve only done it three or four times. your honor. do you realize you sound just like a firebug – just for ‘the thrill’ of it. So it would be very embarrassing. yes. like you said earlier. .‘Have you. sir. . I passed myself off to him as Doctor Barclay. Before doctor Barclay the ones I did where celebrities of sorts. yessir. I’d use their name a few times. I guess.’ ‘Sir. ‘ ‘Is that how you get started on these charades of yours?’ ‘Yes your honor. I’d feel bad because I was caught. I admired him so after reading that . Never ever used their names to make any money – like I said it was just for the thrill . Do you recognize anybody in the back row there?’ ‘Ah. . . That one gentleman is Doctor Wayne Samuels. uh. I don’t know who that is with him. I.’ ‘If any of those people could be found today – how do you think you would handle that?’ ‘Very awkward.
your honor. He has. written books. It ain’t over yet. Not by a long shot. Barclay holds a number of advanced degrees. Then I am ORDERING you to appear in this courtroom tomorrow morning no later than Eleven o’clock and to bring with you ALL notes. that you are smart enough to realize that choosing that path might bring much more dire consequences. Understand. terminate it at any time. Mister Barksdale. Right about now you are probably thinking that you’ve muddled through this and the worst is over. sir. is Doctor James Randolph Barclay. He has served with distinction in the British military. ‘Turn around and face the bench. I understand. dead or fictitious.D. that you may have amassed or created that have any relevance whatsoever to the assumption. whether living. He has earned numerous awards both in this country and throughout Europe. Correct?’ ‘Yes. Dr. of New York City. I’m totally embarrassed.’ 217 .’ ‘Well. papers and other records. if you choose. As I said at the beginning – this little session has been off the record.‘That very scholarly looking gentleman. Mister Barksdale?’ ‘Yes. Do you think you can face him and tell him you did no dishonor to his name? To his reputation? That this ‘harmless’ action of yours was somehow alright?’ Barksdale had begun to weep. of any sort and in any form. however. M. Mister Barksdale. Are you reading me there.’ ‘Fine. your honor. I believe. of the identity of any individual person. in whole or in part and whether actually done or not. You can. in fact. sir? ‘Yessir.
‘Is that broad enough? Is there anything you will conveniently be able to conceal because of my poor choice of word here?’ ‘No sir. I think you’ve covered everything I have. I’ll bring everything I have, I will sir.’ ‘Alright. After you satisfy me that you no longer possess any records, real or false, that could aid and abet your penchant for identity theft and after I have you destroy them in such a manner and before such witnesses as are necessary to assure that we have restored you to your prior identity – and only your identity – we will then schedule another session for you. That will be ‘One on One’ with me. You get my drift, sir?’ ‘Yes, your honor.’ ‘Fine. I understand you are a man of independent means, thanks to the hard work and forethought of your late father, am I correct on that point?’ ‘You are, sir.’ ‘In that case I am going to consider – mind you, ‘consider’ is the most I will commit to now. I will consider designating you as an Amicus Curiae, a friend of the court, to accept such specific assignments from the court – with no recompense involved – to research and otherwise work on special projects that might assist the Court in the discharge of its functions and responsibilities.’ ‘Thank you, your honor.’ ‘Such assignments shall never be permitted to become in any manner political work. I want it absolutely clear that the Court needs competent assistance in areas such as juvenile justice, rehabilitation and such – important matters which now must be slighted. If you can, in any 218
way, contribute in these assignments it might well also assist you in acquiring the self respect and self confidence you have apparently lacked which may or may not - we don’t really know, do we - have contributed to the circumstances in which you find yourself before this court today. If there is nothing else, this hearing is adjourned.’ He stood and banged the gavel. ‘Mister Driscoll? Mister Jones? In my chambers, please.’ *** No Nose was waiting in the corridor when the two exited the courtroom. ‘You guys won’t believe it.’ ‘What now?’ ‘The two doctors and Barksdale went through the obligatory handshakes, pats on the back, et cetera, et cetera alla that stuff . . .’ ‘Didn’t miss much there, did we?’ ‘Naw, but here’s the kicker. Barksdale asked – and they agreed – if he could take them – and us – to dinner tonight.’ ‘Yer kidding.’ ‘No, I’m not – and furthermore, Barclay said he wasn’t leaving town until he sat down and got dirty in a platter of barbecued ribs.’ ‘Well, I’ll be goddamned. *** 219
It wasn’t until late the following afternoon that Slick and I were able to get together at the office. ‘How’d your day go – so far?’ “So far – so good. Glennon’s bailiff nailed me about one o’clock – gave me a couple of grocery bags full of Barksdale shit. Said the boss had directed Barksdale to leave the bags with the bailiff and then proceed directly to police headquarters. Seems the good judge wants this guy on file – mugshot and prints.’ ‘Sounds like a good move. What are we supposed to do with these bags of shit?’ ‘Destroy the contents – BUT – only after we have gone through all of it with a fine tooth comb. The judge wants to be sure that any person that Barksdale had ever researched be identified. I guess if he thinks those people should be notified then he’ll take care of that.’ ‘Or instruct us to.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘What’s it look like about Barksdale’s courtroom duties?’ ‘I think that’s all up in the air. Judge mainly wanted to get a handle on things, then sort ‘em out later. Incidentally, how did he get involved in this thing so damn fast?’ ‘While you and No Nose were leaning on Barksdale downstairs I went upstairs and phoned the courtroom. Got lucky, the judge was in chambers and took my call.’ ‘Worked out nice.’ 220
‘Yeah. I was glad he invited us back in chambers after he’d done Barksdale’s laundry. That was icing on the cake.’ ‘You have time this morning to follow up on it?’ ‘Sure did. Rich Corrigan in the Recorder’s office knew exactly what I was talking about. Gave me several examples of non-profit trusts.’ ‘You think we should do like the judge suggested? Make Juice and Napoleon Calhoun redo all those deeds – convert all the old ladies’ properties into a trust?’ ‘Yeah, have the tabernacle be the owner-trustee, et cetera – BUT I think it would look a helluva lot better if the folks in that church had a hand in the establishment of the trust.’ ‘Amen on that. We can let the new preacher take the lead on it. Just slip him the samples we got from the Recorder’s office.’ ‘Don’t mean we still can’t kick Juice’s ass first though, does it?’ ‘Napoleon’s, too. Two dumb bastards need to be wised up more than a little bit. We don’t need to publicly embarrass them - just scare the holy shit out of ‘em both.’ ‘Right. Juice is going to have to be motivated to sign all new deeds.’ ‘The hint of jail is a mighty motivator, ain’t it?’ ‘Is Barclay still in town?’ ‘Yeah, he’s got a flight out tomorrow. Wanna get together with him and Wayne tonight?’ 221
‘So.‘Yeah. Occasionally somebody would put some coins in the jukebox but it was mostly a bar crowd kind of night.’ ‘I noticed you and Barksdale doing quite a bit of talking last night at Adam’s place. Cheers.’ ‘Take more than a free plate of ribs for that. shall I say. friend. but perhaps he thought it would afford him an opportunity to somehow make amends – gain our good graces. It was midweek so the crowd as light.’ *** The four of us took a table in the back of Driscoll’s club on Maryland. It will be good to get back to my regular routines but I can’t deny this visit here was something to be long remembered. I wasn’t sure how to handle such proximity with a man who only a few hours earlier had.’ ‘Certainly a shock to all of us.’ 222 . This time we had a bona fide expert pick a good single malt for us. We started out with scotch. doc. not been a candidate for addition to my Christmas card list. might not have time tomorrow to go to the airport. You anxious to leave our fair city?’ ‘Mixed emotions on that. I believe.’ ‘Likewise.’ ‘Well.’ ‘I felt the dinner invitation was a bit of a strain. That surprised me. I let him bring the conversational ball to me. Wayne.
driven you might say to this rather bizarre fantasy life he was following.’ ‘Righto?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Hmm. Barksdale’s syndrome is less common. but it afforded me an opportunity to observe him up close for several hours – one on one – and to probe a bit with a few questions. You’ve all encountered them. The net effect. in my mind.’ ‘Precisely what I would have written on his chart if I’d been treating him.’ ‘Sounds like a big goofy marshmallow. he was more concerned with pleasing himself than with pleasing other people. in spite of his bonhommie and bravado. with much time on his hands – no demands on him from other people – a virtual loner – would daydream about what his obituary would .’ ‘Righto. Many insecure people try to please others in order to be thanked. I’d venture to say that he is the type of person. he seemed to have a facility for pissing people off. If there is a positive to be seen there it is that he did what he did for personal ego gratification.‘True. consciously or not. He is basically a very insecure personality.’ ‘Hadn’t considered that.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Yes. Hmm.’ 223 . never motivated to harm anyone financially – or physically. was that Edwin Barksdale would probably not fare well on any standardized intelligence tests.or should – be.
’ ‘May I change the subject. I’ll have to give some time to that on the plane ride. by the parents.’ ‘Of course. would he?’ 224 . Mousy sister. No. Adam wouldn’t much like adjectives such as that though. doctor?’ ‘Of course. really. Mr. Judge Glennon might overload him.’ ‘So – bottom line – you feel that Judge Glennon’s plan to have him do some sort of so-called research for the court really won’t change Barksdale all that much?’ ‘No. Hence the bizarre fantasies. Truly memorable.’ ‘Wow. overly.‘Now that’s real fantasizing. In that case he could regress. that he can perform. Nobody paying any attention to him. a chance to prove to himself and others. If he garners thanks and appreciation as a result. I doubt she’ll believe me – I know if someone tried to describe that experience to me before last night – well. I’d have a bit of trouble with it.’ ‘I’d like to know how you will explain to your lovely wife when you get back home – your impressions and recollections of last night’s repast at Adam’s Rib?’ ‘Ha.’ ‘Not unheard of. let me relinquish the soapbox. All I can say is that I doubt I’ll forget it very soon. then he might well be motivated to continue on that challenging path. He was a virtual loner – has been all his life. Delightful. I believe Glennon’s plan might just be what Barksdale needs. It could just turn out that he has never been put in a position to have to please others – only boy in the family – probably indulged.
‘He’s like a little kid. you cannot argue with his results. I do. Judge Glennon was satisfied with the results reported to him by Slick and Dan.’ ‘Like to go back there tonight?’ ‘Oh my God – No! I need tonight to recover. The unscripted fall. just let us know. He could care less for compliments.’ ‘Well. sincerely. He had Barksdale on a rather short leash. reporting in to court weekly for various task assignments. subsequent hospitalization and the charade thereafter had not been a part of his plan.‘Adam is in a world of his own. Barksdale had clippings about many celebrities. We’ll see. give him more opportunity to make and justify recommendations. each time being required to submit a written report of his previous week’s efforts. He also had drafted a false identity very loosely based on what he had read about Doctor Barclay.’ ‘Anything we can do. appreciate you’re seeing to it that I experienced that. He cooks the way he likes. That’s what makes his place so great. In about six months I might adjust his role a bit. as he’d acknowledged in court.’ *** 225 . Judge. Lights up with a big smile whenever anybody compliments him. His handwritten plans indicated he was simply going to pass himself off at the courthouse as a visiting author.’ *** The bag search proved to be mostly a big zero. not the way anybody else tells him to.
’ ‘Neither do I. don’t you?’ ‘Yes.Slick set up a private meeting with Reverend Smith in the parking lot of a custard stand on north Kingshighway that catered to white kids from nearby schools.’ ‘And you told Roscoe?’ ‘Yes I did. looks fine. They probably think we’re a couple of black detectives.’ ‘I thought this was about as far as we could get from the neighborhood. Mistuh Slick. you like this custard stuff?’ ‘Not really.’ ‘Hope they don’t ask to see any badges. The lady just said something to Naomi as we were leaving.’ ‘I don’t think we need to worry. Listen.’ ‘You’re making it sound kinda bad here.’ ‘Yeah. but it sure rang my chimes. You think that was a mistake?’ ‘Could be. I guess I do. you already know that Poindexter’s been up to something shady with the widow Cashion’s house. but right now Roscoe is keeping his mouth shut and his ears open. I don’t think she thought there is anything wrong. Uh.’ 226 . Maybe we can just sit here and talk until somebody runs us off.’ ‘Don’t worry about it.
but . My partner ran Poindexter’s name through the city hall records. . has them continuing.’ ‘I think maybe I could use a custard.’ ‘That is indeed a problem’ ‘Do you have any ideas – at all?’ ‘Well. I wouldn’t have engaged in all this secret meeting stuff here.’ When Smith climbed back in the car a few minutes later. . then what?’ ‘Can we do anything? I don’t know how we could tell those nice old ladies what has happened. . .‘Rev. Can I get you one?’ ‘Go ahead. to pay all the regular things like taxes and utilities.?’ ‘Yes. he found that every one of those old widow ladies on Culver Circle had signed a deed transferring her house and lot to Poindexter. I’ll wait. When they die. now would I. if I just wanted to spoil your day. It is. 227 .’ ‘Well.’ ‘But when they die?’ ‘Yes. Slick took a bite of custard and continued. We think Poindexter probably sold them some malarkey. of course. Those old dears don’t own their own houses any more. Truly.’ ‘You mean . I don’t know how to tell the members of the church. Know what he found?’ ‘I’m afraid to ask.
Smith sighed.’ ‘Well. however. with the help of the documents you’ve mentioned I think that could be done. It would be better if it was done from inside your church. if we took action.’ ‘Take my word for it.‘We’ve done some research. He is just a very bull-headed person. not interested in hearing about any mistakes or errors he might have made.’ *** Much happened after that.’ So Slick led Smith by the hand through the process of setting up a non-profit trust in the church and then having Poindexter execute deeds on the various properties transferring ownership to the trust. 228 . I don’t think he will sign those papers.’ ‘I wouldn’t know what to do – don’t think we got any members who would know either. reverend Robert Smith searched out competent legal counsel in the black community and had most of the necessary paperwork drafted and in hand before approaching Lucius Poindexter. It would not look good. He lined up five prominent black gentlemen with long time affiliations with the church. No sir. However from my experience with reverend Poindexter to date – I don’t think he will cooperate. He’ll sign. let me explain. They promptly agreed to serve as trustees and signed the Trust Declaration. ‘That I understand. Armed with copies of non-profit charitable trust documents purchased from the public records of the city.
The driver of the truck which delivered the piano claimed ignorance as to the point of origin. All were pleased to learn that their informal arrangement with reverend Poindexter had been properly and legally formalized. They pledged their full support to the charitable goals of the trust. et cetera.After their first organizational meeting the trustees ‘invited’ Lucius Poindexter to join them. Lucius Poindexter came out of retirement to preside at the wedding ceremony. Word spread rapidly throughout the membership. The trust documents provided that as any occupant widow died then that particular piece of property would be put on the market with it being further provided that the proceeds of the sale would then be invested in conservative investments. Persons who previously never volunteered for anything began to step forward to do what they could to maintain the properties and generally support the church. When Robert Smith popped the question to Naomi Tyler. Interest in the choir peaked. the distinct possibility having been brought to his attention about the possibility of the Internal Revenue Service becoming concerned about his sudden acquisition of wealth. A Baldwin upright piano (very similar to the one Slick spotted in the Barksdale home) was anonymously donated. When the last widow died then that particular home would be made available exclusively as the family residence of whoever was minister of the church at that time. He signed each of the deed documents placed before him and promptly excused himself. The trustees visited each of the Culver Circle widows and advised them fully of the provisions of the trust. the income from which would be utilized solely to support the charitable efforts of the trust. He was confronted with the reality of the situation. RoscoeTurner escorted the bride 229 .
He now has an interest in ultimately getting a college degree. Ernie Caldwell provided a black Cadillac limousine from his funeral home. Barksdale lived up to his expectations. During the preparations for the wedding somehow a bouquet got sent – anonymously – to Mary Cullen. Bonnie and Clyde have been retired to a small farm outside town. Judge Glennon became the envy of his fellow judges.E. Wilbur and the guys think there is a stray momma cat. Novak now has a small but thriving one-man investigations firm. He has been interviewed by several prestigious firms. very pregnant. Louis to visit his Dad. Slick and Velma are cooperating on finding the best flights for him so there will be no plane changes. No Nose and Wayne Samuels worked out a deal for Novak’s nose to be straightened – as much as possible. up the alley somewhere and maybe looking for a handout now and then. The choir performed. Cullen declined to speculate as to her admirer’s ID.to be down the aisle. Slick’s son has become old enough to fly unescorted to St.D. 230 . The guy with the two horses gave up – just not enough business. Carl Warnecke has completed law school and passed the state licensing examination with high grades. Popeye got sick and we had to have him put down. Her nosy neighbor at 4929 Sutherland was beside herself because Mrs. catering to local lawyers in need of very limited and quick work – usually during the midst of trial. Nobody is interested in looking for a replacement – at least for a while. worked hard on and got his G.
separating wannabe gamblers from their money. I find myself still subconsciously stopping whatever I’m doing when I hear the distant wail of the siren on one of those big red Packard ambulances. Stormy Knight’s lifestyle remains much the same as always. He’s the calm in the center of our storms. 231 . He is readily available whenever Slick needs some help on the streets.Calvin Moore continues to ply his trade. Slick and I continue to maintain our close relationship with Wayne Samuels. Herman Schultz and the regulars at Driscoll’s Saloon remain unchanged by the world swirling around outside their remote little island. She would like to help with the church choir but her lack of any formal musical training precludes her serving in any teaching position.
M.V.D. ‘Slick’ Jones Robert ‘Slats’ Slattery Misty Laine Wilbur Foshee Adam White Velma Jones ‘Jaypee’ Jones William Glennon James Randolph Barclay M.D. Stormy Knight The King’s Lads Floyd Jackson Renji Takasu ‘Monkeyman’ Matsumoto Popeye. Old Chinese couple Larry Schwartz Lucius ‘Juicy’ Poindexter Salvatore Napolitano Robert Smith Earlene Smith Daryl Charles Jocko Reardon 232 Tom Gallagher Gene Lasker Napoleon Calhoun Harry O’Neill Edwin Barksdale Ernie Caldwell Maudeen Barksdale Eleanor Cashion Naomi Tyler ‘No Nose’ Novak ‘Scooterboogle’ Leroy Roscoe Turner Calvin Moore Ben Williams Rich Corrigan Jerome Barksdale Mary Cullen . Ed Moorehead Malachi Murphy Pete Conrad Carl Warnecke Herman Schultz Wayne Samuels M. the dog Victor Trahan D.IN THE APPROXIMATE ORDER OF APPEARANCE: Dan Driscoll Mona Driscoll Michiko Driscoll Paul Deckard Vincent Palazzola John P.
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