The Lieutenant – Chapter 29


The Lieutenant – Chapter 29

To read previous chapters of “Death by Parking,” Click Here


Paul Manning was sitting in First Class on his flight from London to L.A. Everything seemed to have gone well, if stressed, on the U.K. part of the con to take down William Francis Smith and his old lieutenant from Korea, Larry Cosner.


As he settled in, he glanced at his seatmate and was surprised to see his old buddy, Bogie, fastening his seat belt. Paul knew that the famous actor was a figment of his imagination, but after he discovered that Maryann Leyman, the money behind the Wilshire Boulevard project, talked to Bogie, too, he began to wonder. The actor never said a word but was able to communicate. Paul ordered him a drink and settled back to review the bidding.


He had been hired by a developer who was building a high rise on the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. Things weren’t going quite right, and he had discovered that William Francis Smith, a “fixer” in L.A. politics and Cosner, the owner of C-Park, were deep in the financial underpinnings of the project.


Parking operators were often hired early in the lives of projects like this as the owner depended on them to help design the garage and deal with the complexities of the parking facility. How Cosner was hired wasn’t quite clear. But between him and Smith, they seemed to be deeply entrenched in the funding of the project.


Paul had determined they were attempting to take over the bank providing funds for the high rise. His goal was to stop that takeover and bankrupt Smith and Cosner.


With the help of his cousin, Rickey — a “carny” from the Magic Castle and a world-class con artist — Paul and his crew had put together a con to “sell” an English merchant bank to Smith and Cosner. The goal was to convince Smith and Cosner that the bank existed (it didn’t) and then get them to transfer virtually all their money into offshore accounts.


They had been in London because S and C wanted to see the home office of the nonexistent bank. Rickey and his group of cons had put together a bank in Los Angeles. However, setting one up in the U.K. was slightly more complicated. They pulled it off by the skin of their teeth and were now heading back to L.A. to close the deal.


There was a complication that could disrupt the entire operation. Paul was not supposed to have been in the U.K., but he just couldn’t stay away and headed for dinner at Simpsons on the Strand, just as Smith, Cosner, and his handlers — Veronica and Josh — were finishing their first course at the famous eatery.


Josh headed Paul off at the door while Veronica distracted Smith by sticking her tongue in his ear. She had developed a relationship with him, but this took it to a whole new level. Suddenly she found his hand on her thigh. This was part of the con that she hadn’t bargained for. She was able to put him off, but Smith had high hopes for the relationship. Veronica was good, but was she good enough to keep Smith in line?


As Paul considered all this, he remembered what got him into this in the first place. It was a night in the “ville” and he and his squad mates were relaxing in a bar when Lieutenant Cosner came in. He walked up to a girl at the bar, grabbed her, and forced her, screaming, into the back room. Suddenly the screaming stopped. Paul wanted to intervene, but his friends stopped him. There was a war on. You didn’t interfere with officers.


When he discovered that Cosner was involved in this caper, he began to find a way to take him down, personally and financially. And less than a week after the plane landed at LAX, he would be able to look his old Lieutenant in the eye and remind him of that night in Korea.


He glanced over and Bogie’s drink was gone, and so was he. “Typical,” he thought. “Drink and run.” He was probably heading back to Maryann’s house. She had mentioned that she and Bogie were an item.


They had decided to take the night off and recover from jet lag. Veronica and Josh had Smith and Cosner in hand and were feeding them statistical data on the bank. The goal was to keep them so inundated with data that they would stay focused on the target, the takeover of a mid-size English merchant bank.


Veronica had told Smith that she was “seeing” Josh and had to keep it that way until the deal closed so she could keep feeding inside information to Smith. She thought that would keep him in line.


They were all staying at the Century Plaza hotel in Century City, just up the street from the offices Rickey had rented for the L.A. location of the merchant bank. Veronica and Josh had adjoining rooms. Smith and Cosner were on a different floor.


Veronica had just gone to bed when the door to her suite opened and Smith, well oiled, came in. He wasn’t willing to wait.


Veronica attempted to get him to leave but he persisted. She screamed. Josh came running in from the next room and decked Smith with a well-placed right cross.


They carried Smith back to his room and put him to bed.


After Paul’s gun shots in Trafalgar Square, Cosner’s jumping on the phone with a banker from Hong Kong, Smith’s attempt to poison Paul, and that pully dropping 20 stories just missing Paul, what else could possibly go wrong?


Obviously, a team meeting was in order and fast. Smith would only be out so long. Who knew what he would remember from his pass at Veronica and Josh’s right cross.


To be continued

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn, Editor Emeritus
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