Death by Parking - Chapter 12 - I take a Bribe
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I thought I would have at least a day or so to sniff around S and L and the various players I had met since they hired me. As I walked up to my car in the underground garage, I realized I had underestimated the opposition.
What did I owe S and L, or that big bank down town?
Dandy Giovianni, a hit man for the mob, was leaning against my car. He had his arms crossed, his legs set, and unlike when I first met him in my office, there wasn’t a relaxed muscle in his body. This guy was here to play.
I wasn’t going to be able to talk myself out of this one. I didn’t break stride. I walked up to Dandy and kicked him has hard as I could smack dab between his legs. He dropped like a sack of wet cement, grabbed himself, and started moaning.
I searched him, took his gun and a rather interesting knife, and then stepped back to allow him to catch his breath, as soon as he could find it. I usually fought ‘fair.’ But after Bill Vose of the LAPD had filled me in on Giovianni and his proclivities, I didn’t think ‘fair’ was in his vocabulary. It took 10 minutes for him to reach the point where he could speak.
“What the hell did you do that for? I was just here to deliver a message.”
I shook my head. “Dandy, Dandy, Dandy. I have a message for you too. Consider it delivered. Now, please move so I can get in my car.
“Hold it a second, Manning. There is no need for all this. I like you, you’ve got style, and a hell of a kick. Obviously, I have underestimated you.” He slowly got his feet and carefully moved away from my car. He was in considerable pain.
“My principals want to make you an offer. Leave this S and L project alone. This whole thing is bigger than either of us. Look in the envelope in my inside pocket.”
I did and there was cash, a lot of cash. My estimate was that it was at least 25K. I held the envelope and waited for him to continue.
“That’s yours if you just go away. Frankly I don’t care what you do, just keep the money and I’ll tell my boss that I delivered the message.”
I actually considered it for a few minutes. What did I owe S and L, or that big bank down town? On the other hand, I did like what I did for a living, and accepting that envelope would realistically end my career, such as it was.
I could just keep the cash and continue the investigation. Giovanni and his crew would be angry, but probably not much angrier than they are now. No matter what I did, I would be looking over my shoulder. However, if I kept the money, they would be off my back until they realized that I was still on the case, so I would have a day or so to do my job. Everyone would be happy.
I put the money in my jacket, hopped in my car, and drove away, $25,000 richer than I was 10 minutes before.
I drove to Jack McKinney’s office. It was a small place just off Sunset. He obviously didn’t feel it important to invest in fancy digs to impress clients. He was in.
“Hi Manning, have a seat. I figured you would be around today. Our hostess last night mentioned that she put a bug in your ear. She also provided some motivation, in the form of a nice retainer. I’m all yours.”
“Well, Jack. Things have gotten a lot more interesting. I have just been threatened by what I understand is the mob. One Dandy Giovianni to be exact.” His eyes got large but he said nothing.
“I’m curious how an enforcer for the mob got involved in all of this. If it is really a hustle to bring down S and L and a major bank, it seems to me to be a little out of the league of our friends from Sicily by way of Jersey and Vegas.”
“You are right about that, Paul. How can I help.”
“I would like to find out just who is threatening me. Plus, I left Giovianni in a position that he won’t have much of love life for a few weeks. I can’t spend my time looking over my shoulder. Can you put a loose tail on me both for protection and to see just who is following me? Maybe we can trace it backwards. In the meantime can you call in some of your markers and see if there is any rumble on the street about what’s going on at S and L and a big bank downtown? That will leave me free to operate. I need to find out more about what is going on at S and L and with my old friend Frank Cosner, when he’s not beating up young girls in the back room of some bar in Korea.”
“I’ve got just the person to put on you, and you’ll never know she’s there.”
“She? Are you sure about this?”
“Black belt in Karate, crack shot, smart as a whip, and I trust her with my life. She’s my daughter and partner in this business. You’ll be fine.”
“If you say so.”
It was nearing noon and I was hungry. I drove to Musso and Franks, parked in the rear, and entered through the back door. I walked past the kitchen, signaled the maître d guarding the front entrance and went to my table in the bar.
The mahogany walls, ceiling, and booths gave the place a richness that belied the working man’s prices on the menu. I sat down and the waiter brought my Coke. The 25K was weighing heavily in my pocket. Bogie just looked at me and shook his head.
“Get over it. I deserve a piece of the pie like everyone else. You know Sam Spade would have kept the money. Right?” He just smiled and took a sip of the whisky that arrived at his place.
“Come on, man. Those tough guys looked out for number one. It’s time I wised up and looked out for me. After all, I’m still going to do my job for S and L. Whether I kept the money or not, Giovianni would not be happy. If I’m going to take a risk having a mob hit man on my tail, I might as well be paid for it.”
Bogie just nodded. What the hell did that mean?
My club sandwich came, but I had lost my appetite. I left some money on the table and headed out. I ran directly into a woman getting off a bar stool. I apologized, she apologized. She smiled. I smiled. She stepped aside, I stepped aside.
“If we are going to dance, we might as well know each other’s name.” I am a smoothie. “I’m Paul Manning.”
“I’m Mary Ellen McKinney, nice to meet you.”
I smiled and let her pass. I had enough complications in my life right now.
I headed out the door and as I reached for the knob, the penny dropped. I turned around and she was gone. Could she have been…?
Next on my list was William Francis Smith. He seemed easy to talk to at Maryann’s party last night. Plus, I had an entrée… I could drop Betty Beeson’s name. Maybe he would react positively thinking I might put a good word for him in his quest to buy her parking company. His office was in a high rise downtown.
I walked in like I owned the place and told the receptionist who I was. She made the call and told me to go right in. This was easier than I thought.
The office was the size of my house. You could land an airplane on his desk. There was a fireplace in one corner and a grouping of chairs around it. Smith was sitting in one. I couldn’t quite see who was in the other. I walked over and Smith got up and put out his hand.
“Good to see you again, Manning. You know Frank Cosner, don’t you?”
To be continued.....
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