Death by Parking - Chapter 21 - We Go to a Party
It was two days before the party at Maryann Leyman’s home. This was the first big test of our group. All the players would be present and we had to convince Smith that we were a small British merchant bank that could either invest in his operation, or if he had the funds, be available for purchase. And we had to do this while at the same time convincing him that we weren’t really interested in him or his money. If you are confused, you aren’t alone.
I had no idea how my conman uncle Rickie and his crew was going to pull this off. He told me just to sit back and watch it unfold. I was concerned.
I got into this because I wanted to wreak vengeance on my old lieutenant from Korea. Cosner had mistreated a woman in a bar and gotten away with it. The screams from the back room had haunted me, and I felt guilty that my friends prevented me from helping her. When I accidentally ran into Cosner at S and L Development where I had been hired to sort out some of their problems, I saw an opportunity to get to Cosner.
As I began to peel back the onion, I found that the issue was more complex than had been originally described to me. The bank (Mary Ellen McKinney ‘s husband’s) was on the hook to fund S and L’s new project on Wilshire Boulevard. If the project was successful, the bank would profit, but if it wasn’t, it would go into receivership. It seemed that Smith and his group were behind troubles on the construction site. I needed to figure out a way to take Smith down, and that brought my Uncle Rickie on to the scene.
We had rented office space in a high rise downtown and turned it into a branch of the UK merchant bank, Smythe and Co. Rickie called a meeting of all the players so we could be sure our stories were straight. I’m not sure where he found his supporting cast, but the star was definitely St. John Smythe, CEO of the bank. Buy the way, I was told his name was pronounced singin’ Smythe.
Smythe took control of the meeting from the first word.
“Our goal is to get Smith so excited about the prospect of buying Smythe and Co. that he can’t help himself. We will do this by ignoring him and getting him to plead with us for a deal. We will then hold him off until the last moment and then and only then, proceed with the deal. We want to get every penny he has, plus everything that Cosner has, too.
“We will start some rumors at the party about the potential sale of Smythe and Co and let him overhear them. When he asks about it, we will ignore or deny them. As CEO I will look down my rather prominent nose at him and give him the feeling we aren’t really interested in him at all. He will come crawling to Veronica and Josh and they will proceed to complicate his life.”
He looked over at V and J. “You know what to do?” They nodded.
“In the meantime, the rest of you will work the room, dropping a hint here and there, always within earshot of one of Smith’s henchmen. We particularly want to reach Cosner. He needs to be primed so when Smith asks for his money, he will be ready and willing. Any questions?”
The room was silent – they were ready. They decamped to an office where Rickie had set up a wardrobe operation and picked up their duds for the party. They not only had to play the part, they had to ‘look’ it too.
Maryann Leyman’s home was lit up like a Christmas tree when we arrived. We made sure that our ‘gang’ came in small groups, and didn’t arrive all at once. We wanted Veronica, Josh, and St. John Smythe to arrive last. Let Smith worry a bit.
Smith and Cosner came together. Since my last run in with Smith, it was felt I should stay in the background. I nursed a single malt and leaned against the wall in the corner of the ballroom. I could see everyone and everything from there.
Smith was wearing a tux with all the trimmings. He sat himself up for St. John Smythe’s opening line. It would only go downhill for him from there.
Even though everything seemed to be going as planned, it didn’t ‘feel’ quite right. Something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I saw it. Dandy Giovanni, Smith’s enforcer, walked in the door. He was obviously packing and looking for someone. That someone was me. I glanced over at the bar and saw Bogie standing there, shaking his head. He was telling me not to get in Giovanni’s face. Sorry old friend, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to clean his clock one last time. Plus, I needed to get him out of the way.
I started to work my way across the room when I felt some steel in my ribs. One of Smith’s other gunsels put a gun in my back and whispered in my ear. “An old friend wants to meet with you. Outside on the terrace.” I saw Giovanni glance my way, smile, and head outside. Bogie just shook his head.
Everything was going to blow up in our faces if I didn’t neutralize Giovanni quietly and quickly, however that wasn’t going to be easy with a gun in my back. First I needed to get the home field advantage then figure out what to do.
We went outside. Smith and Cosner were there. The last time I had seen them I ended up drugged and in the gutter. I had to change the script here while leaving Smith room to operate with Smythe and Co.
I looked over Smith’s shoulder and saw a shadow. I recognized the woman. She was my bodyguard. For once I was glad she was here. If she could take out the gunsel it might even up the odds.
She nodded her head. She knew what to do. She moved around to get behind the ape holding the gun on me. Just has she started to make her move, someone came out from behind a bush and grabbed her. Suddenly the odds changed, and not in the right way.