1947 Noir – Chapter 15 – Eddie’s Kidnapping

Because this chapter contains ethnic slurs, don’t set your hair on fire.
1947 Noir – Chapter 15 – Eddie’s Kidnapping

Several weeks have gone by and Christmas is approaching. They’re averaging 2 or 3 removals a week. Business isn’t great, but okay. There are no rumors from the police about the two missing ‘love bird’ cops. They believe the lovebirds took their ill gotten gains and left the country.

There has been a constant rumbling about the missing money from some of the street level thugs. Dee and Edward have been approached concerning the missing money at least once a week.

They always reply with the same answer; “We don’t have any missing money.”

Dee reads every newspaper edition everyday. Edward always purchases them from the local newsstand a half block away while she prepares dinner. This Wednesday evening is going to be terribly different.

He leaves the apartment with his usual $2. He always gives Tony, the newsstand owner a dollar and change from the papers as a tip.

This evening after paying Tony, the two men chat for a few moments about the upcoming baseball season. When they finish, Edward starts walking back to the apartment reading the headlines on one of the papers.

Not 50 feet from the newsstand, a car pulls up, three men jump out, grab Edward and throw him in the backseat of the car. They reenter and drive off in a hurry.

Tony sees all this transpire. He lowers the overhead newsstand door and walks as fast as he can to Dee and Edward’s apartment. He’s ringing the doorbell like a man on a mission, because he is.

Dee finally comes downstairs. When she opens the door; “I thought you were Eddy pulling some stupid prank.”

She sticks her head out the door and looks towards Tony’s stand; “Where’s Eddy?”

Now breathing heavily; “I gave him his newspapers like always. We talked a little baseball and then he left for home. He didn’t get maybe fifty feet when a car pulled up. Three thugs jumped out, grabbed Eddy, threw him in the back seat and drove off like a bat out of hell.”

“Do you know where they took him?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I came here to tell you. He dropped his newspapers on the ground when they grabbed him. I left the stand and came here as fast as I could.”

Trying to control herself; “Do you know who the thugs are?”

“No. I think they’re young and must be new because I never heard their voices before.”

“Were they white, black, Asian, Hispanic?”

“They could be white I think. I couldn’t see them well enough to tell.”

She grabs the little man by his shirt. While shaking him, she lets loose with a tirade; “How do you not know what color they are! What the fu** is wrong with you that you don’t know?”

The frightened mousy man is almost in tears; “Eddy is my friend. I would tell you if I could, but I’m legally blind. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.”

After realizing her mistake, she releases the man; “I’m sorry. I forgot about your eyes. Thanks for telling me. I need to make some phone calls fast.”

“Go make your phone calls and don’t worry about me. We all make mistakes now and then.”

“I promise I’ll make this up to you.”

“I didn’t come here looking for anything. Eddy is my friend and I had to find someone to help him. My stand don’t have a phone, so I came here as fast as I can.”

“Thank you.”

She shuts the door, then it’s back upstairs two and three steps at a time. She calls Alex.

In a panic; “Alex it’s Dee. Some thugs grabbed Eddy off the street. … He was at Tony’s newspaper stand down the street buying newspapers as usual. They got him while coming back home. … Just few yards from the newspaper stand. … Tony’s legally blind so he couldn’t see clear enough to ID them. … He thinks they’re white, but he’s not sure.”

“I’m sending Big Mike over to your place for protection in case they come for you.”

“I’m fine. I have Eddy’s forty five automatic and the thirty two you gave him. No one’s getting in.”

“Okay. This sounds like some punks went rogue. Let me make some calls. We’ll have Edward back before breakfast.”

“You think so?”

“Nothing goes on in Kansas City without at least one of the organizations knowing about it, so sit tight. We’ll get him back. I’m sending Big Mike over to be with you anyway.”

While Alex Morris is making calls to the other crime organizations, the thugs brought Edward to a warehouse in the Blue Valley Industrial section of the city. His feet, body and arms are tied to a chair.

“We know you got rid of those cops who were ripping off some of the dope dealers. Where’s the money the cops had?”

“What cops? I don’t have any police money. The only money I have is a couple of bucks in my pocket.”

Edward receives a punch to the head, then one to the rib cage followed.

“Is that the best you can do? My old man hit me harder than that when he was drunk and could barely stand, much less swing.”

Another punch to the head, then another to his body followed.

“When I was in Marine boot camp, my drill instructor hit me harder than that with his left fist. And he was right handed; pussy.”

His beating went on and on. When he passed out, they doused him with water and continued. He was beaten so bad, they couldn’t understand what he was saying because he’s deliberately mumbling.

There are four thugs taking turns beating and questioning him. Finally one of them hit’s home.

“Maybe we should grab that jungle bunny bitch you’re shacked up with. I’ve never fu**ed a spade before. I always wanted to know what a coon is like. How about the rest of you? Do any of you want to find out what a good looking porch monkey is like? I mean she’s on the light side so there has to be some white in there.”

The others are chuckling while agreeing. Edward spits out the blood from his mouth.

Barely understandable; “I’ll tell you where the money is. Just give me some water.”

The thug in charge tosses water on Edward’s face.

“Where’s the money from those cops asshole?”

Edward spit’s again; “Have one of your lackeys stick his hand up your ass and pull it out.” and smiles.”

The lead thug hit Edward so hard, he knocked the chair over while another thug was holding it.

Moments later; “Okay already. I’ll talk.”

“It seems even a tough marine has a breaking point and gives up. So, where’s the money?”

“Edward spits out some more blood; “Have your lackeys get closer.”

“Why?”

“I want all of you to here me.”

They all gather close; “Can all of you here me?”

“Yeah. We can hear you.”

“Good. My wife is none of those hateful things you inbred rednecks called her. Maybe if every one of your mommies weren’t your daddies daughters or sisters, you wouldn’t be so fu**ing ignorant.”

The main thug hit Edward again. This time knocking the chair over backward.”

When they picked him up; “What do you have to say now spade lover? Or would it be shine lover?”

After he spits out blood and saliva; “None of you are going to leave here alive. I’m going to cut every one of your fu**ing throats and watch each of you die.”

The four thugs when on a beating rampage. Edward is knocked out cold. It took several douses of water to revive him.

Finally; “Okay already. Here’s the truth. We had to borrow the money from Alex Morris to buy our building, truck and car. You can ask Big Mike. He knows that’s true.

We had to do enough jobs to get the money to pay Alex the forty five hundred back. Don’t you think if we had money, it would take us several weeks to pay him off?”

One mousy looking guy; “Virgil, he may be right. Maybe we should call Big Mike and ask.”

“Part of the money we used to pay Alex off was from Miss Jade. I’m sure all of you know who she is.”

“She’s the chink cunt who oversees all the slant eyed gangs. We heard she likes you almost as much as Alex does.”

Another of the thugs; “We know you’re in good with the spics and the darkie burr heads too. Even the dago wops like you.”

Spitting again; “We don’t care what color, race, religion hires us. We do our jobs because money talks.”

Leader thug Virgil; “One last time mister tough ex marine, where’s the money?”

“Once a marine, always a marine. I didn’t have the money before and I still don’t have it you fu**ing inbred.”

“Then I’m going to put a bullet in your head.”

Another of the deep thinkers; “Then we’re going to take your black bitch in trade. Oh don’t worry. She’ll be joining you as soon as we’re done with her.”

“After we’ve taken our turns with her, chump.”

There’s a knock on the front door; “Frank, go see who it is.”

Seconds later there’s a knock on the back door; “Ray, see who’s at the back door.”

Now there’s banging on the overhead door; “Shit! Did someone book a fu**ing convention here? Danny, open the overhead and tell whoever it is to go away.”

Turning to face Edward; “You just got a short reprieve tough guy.”

Virgil the leader turns to look in the different directions to see each of his men walking with several heavily armed others. Frank has his head cocked to one side. It’s because there’s another man holding a gun to the side of his head.

Ray looks terrified. Virgil sees another group with guns coming towards him with one of them holding a gun in Ray’s left ear.

Danny has his hands up while walking in front of another group carrying guns.

When all four thugs who kidnapped Edward are together, Virgil sees he’s extremely out maned and out gunned.

A Hispanic man tells his men; “Take their guns.”

Then he tells Virgil; “Cut him loose.”

“And if I don’t?”

The man smiled, turned to his men and spoke in Spanish. Three of his people grabbed Ray and pulled him maybe 20 feet away. One stood on each side holding Ray at arms distance. A third man stood directly behind him.

“Your man’s life is now in your control. Release Edward now.”

“I know he has the money I want. Go fu** yourself spic.”

The man turns; “Carlos, cortarle la garganta.” (cut his throat).

Suddenly, Ray is lying on the floor, gurgling while holding his throat in a pool of blood. He stops moving moments later.

Turing to face Virgil; “I’m giving you another choice. Are you going to release Edward?”

“Not until I get what I came for because I know he has it.”

“You sure are careless with your friends lives. Mister Chen here represents Miss Jade. She has a strong interest in the man you and your crew have been torturing.”

“Who cares about some old chink bitch? I don’t”

“That is unfortunate for your man.”

Danny screams; “Cut Eddy loose!”

The unidentified Hispanic man turns; “Mister Chen, enjoy.”

In a flash, the Asian man draws a huge knife and runs it through Danny’s Adam’s Apple and out the back of his neck. As he fell, Mister Chen held the knife so it’s removed while the man fell. Then cleaned the knife by wiping it on the body.

“Now I believe you know how serious we are. Release Edward or forfeit your last man’s life.

“Virgil for gods sake! I didn’t come along with you for this shit. I’m cutting him loose!”

Frank moves to Edward and tries to untie him. Suddenly Frank’s head jerks up and sideways while a crack could be heard. Everyone is looking on with smiles on their faces as the see a huge pair of hands letting go of the now deceased. The body falls to the floor.

Looking beyond Edward; “Hello Big Mike. I’m glad you could finally make it. We’ve been dragging this out waiting for you. I have other things to do tonight. I would have killed this asshole, but because you asked, I saved him for you.”

“It’s good to see you Santiago and thank you. I appreciate you waiting for me. So what’s it been, a couple of years since we seen each other?”

“Yeah, how time slips by.”

Virgil starts to run for a door. He doesn’t make it 20 feet before he’s stopped and dragged back.

Edward is still bleeding and tied to the chair. Barely audible; “I can’t see, but I know it’s you Mike. If we could get past the welcoming each other festivities, I really need to pee.”

While one of Santiago’s men is cutting Edward loose, Big Mike looks down at him; “Damn Eddy, you look like shit. Don’t worry about having to pee. It looks like you pissed yourself already. Let’s get you out of here.”

Looking up with his one ever so partly open eye; “Could you see your way to throwing some water on me. Maybe find a rag and clean me up a little. If I look as bad as I feel, I don’t want to get Dee upset seeing me like this.”

“Your left eye is swollen shut. Your right eye don’t look much better. You look like you went fifteen rounds with Joe Louis and forgot to lift your arms.”

Edward coughs up more blood. Then gasps again for breath; “I don’t mean to be an ungrateful pain in the ass, but it’s really hard to breathe. Could you please help me up?”

“Don’t worry buddy. I’ll take care of everything.”

Mike tries to stand Edward up from the chair. Mumbling; “I can’t seem to make my legs work. Damn; they hurt like hell. ”

He looks down to see Edward has been stabbed in the thighs. He turns to Santiago; “Could a couple of your men bring Edward to our hospital? I’ll be there later. I have some unfinished business here with our soon to be departed tough guy Virgil.”

Mister Chen tells Mike; “Miss Jade insists we take good care of Edward. We will take him to our hospital.”

He speaks in some Asian language while waving his hands instructing his men. Four of them lift and carry Edward out to their car and leave.

A smiling Mike looks at the frightened Virgil; “Tie this soon to be dead man to the chair. I’m going to give you tough guy what you gave Edward; but there will be one difference.

The moment you’re begging for me to make your death quick, I’ll slash your wrists so you can spend the last thirty minutes of your life thinking about what you did to a man with powerful friends.”

Santiago’s men gag and tie Virgil to the chair. He wipes off the knife Virgil used to stab Edward and tries to hand it to Mike; “You’re going to need this. He used this on Edward.”

“Hang onto it for a few moments. I need two of you to hold the chair. I don’t want this asshole hitting the floor and getting knocked out.”

Mike pulls out a pair of leather gloves from his pockets and puts them on. After what has to be the most brutal several minute beating anyone has ever seen, Mike takes the knife, stabs Virgil several times in each thigh.

When he stops, Santiago sees the look on Mike’s face. He’s looking at Virgil with the rage of a madman.

“Mike, stop. He’s passed out.”

One of Santiago’s men throws some water on Virgil to wake him up.

Mike forcefully grabs Virgil’s hair and places the knife under the man’s chin; “I’m going to slowly shove this up through the bottom of your mouth, through your tongue and into your fu**ing brain.”

Santiago calmly; “Don’t do that Mike. You made this dead man a promise. You’ll kill him too fast that way. You want him to suffer for a while don’t you?”

Mike is sweating and breathing heavy. After a couple of moments, he lowers the knife while letting go of Virgil’s hair.

Santiago’s men who were holding the chair Virgil’s tied to, let go and backed up.

“Yeah, I did make this asshole a promise.”

He slices the man’s wrists.

Virgil is trying to scream in pain through the gag. The only sounds heard are his muffled crying.

“Your time is literally running out. Judging by your size, maybe twenty minutes before you bleed out.”

He turns to Santiago; “Now comes the real hard part.”

“If that wasn’t the hard part, what is?”

“I have to tell Dee what happened to Eddy and bring her to the hospital.”

Santiago smiles; “You’re a better man than me Gunga Din.”

“To tell you the truth, I’m scared. She can be pretty high strung.”

“So who’s going to clean this up?”

“The Gaminara organization is coming with a couple gallons of gasoline. They’ll be here any moment to pick up the bodies. These assholes were trying to impress Vincent Gaminara, thinking he would add them to his organization. They’ll be found in their burned out car.”

One of Santiago’s men asks; “What if asshole here isn’t dead yet?”

Mike turns and has a huge smile on his face while looking at Virgil; “You better pray to your god you die before they put you in the car with your friends.”

“Good. That bunch is not worth doing anything special for. I have their wallets and anything else that can identify them. They’ll be ashes in a garbage can within the hour.”

Virgil is still half moaning and half crying.

Big Mike turns; “Santiago my friend, stay safe. Let’s get together and have dinner sometime soon.”

“The last time you were over at my place for dinner, Maria worked her butt off making enough dinner for you and Alice. Especially you.”

“Alice and I will take Maria and you to any restaurant you want.”

“That sounds better. Take care of yourself my big ugly friend.”

The men shook hands and as they were leaving, a car pulled up. Four men exit. Two were removing gasoline cans and setting them on the ground. The entered the building to pick up Virgil and the three bodies.

Mike drove to Dee and Edward’s apartment to find her bouncing off the walls; “Where is he? Alex said Eddy would be home for breakfast.”

In a somber tone; “There’s been a little complication.”

Now hyper; “What happened? Where is he? Is he alright?”

Trying to calm her down; “Edward is alive and in good hands. He is one tough marine.”

“Don’t fu** with me Mike!”

“Eddy was picked up be four thugs. They tortured him because they thought he has the missing cop money. They were trying to make him say he had the money and tell them where it is. He never told them anything.”

She falls onto a kitchen chair. “How is he? Where is he?”

“He’s at our hospital. They’re going to take good care of him.”

“I want to see him.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why? I want to see him now!”

Mike gets a stupid streak; “Maybe leave him heal for a few days. If you go now, I don’t think you’re going to like what you see.”

She reaches for her car keys and wallet; “I’ll go by myself. Lock the doors on your way out.”

“I should have kept my mouth shut. Come on, I’ll take you. In your state of mind, you’ll get into a wreck.”

While in the car; “That man is more to me than you can dream.”

“The first time I seen you two together, I knew you two were meant for each other.”

“I love that man beyond measure and reason.”

“Just you wait and see. He’ll be alright. I know it.”

When they arrive at the hospital, Mike’s brother Carl answers the door; “Hello brother. I heard you were involved with the guy the Asians brought in. He looks like Joe Louis tried to beat him to death.”

“Be quiet. That’s Edward Gibson, Dee’s husband.”

“Oh shit! I’m sorry Dee. He’s such a bloody fu**ing mess and so banged up, I didn’t recognize him. Don’t worry. The doc thinks he’s going to be okay.”

“The Doc thinks? Where’s my Eddy? I need to see him!”

“He’s in the trauma exam room with the Doc along with Nurses Sada and Barrett. It’s been real quiet so everyone else took the night off.”

Dee runs down a hall to find the three medical people examining an almost completely nude Edward on an exam table.

She stops in the doorway; “Why is he naked?”

“His clothes are covered in sweat, urine and blood. We needed to cut everything away for x-rays and to see where the blood came from. The important stuff is undamaged and covered with a surgical towel.”

Dee sees a bag of blood and two bags of clear liquid flowing into her husband intravenously. There’s also a suction tube in his mouth.

“Why are there bags of stuff connected to him? Why are those tubes in his mouth?”

Hiroshi explains; “He lost a lot of blood and he’s dehydrated. Because he’s been so badly beaten, the tubes in his mouth are helping him breath and remove any fluid so he don’t choke.

He’s really doing good. Other than all the bruising to his upper chest and face, nothing is broken. Oh, there’s several deep puncture wounds to his legs and he has a concussion. Luckily the leg wounds missed the arteries.

He doesn’t seem to have any internal bleeding so far that we could find. Most of the abuse was to his head, chest and thighs. His left eye is swollen shut. His right one is only partly open.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“We have to keep him awake for now. He can hear you; but he has to be in so much pain, I don’t think he’ll understand you.”

Dee approaches, grabs his right hand and leans over. His face is so swollen and battered, she can barely recognize her husband.

She speaks in his ear; “It’s me honey, I’m here. I’ll stay with you until you’re well enough to come home.”

He squeezes her hand. She sees a tear coming from his almost swollen shut right eye. He mumbles an almost inaudible; “Sorry.”

Big Mike approaches; “He’s upset Dee.”

She turns with fury in her eyes; “Of course he’s upset you asshole! He was almost beaten to death!”

“No, that’s not all of it. When I got to where they had him, he asked me to clean him up before you would see him. Eddy didn’t want you to see him the way he looks.”

She starts crying; “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take this out on you.”

He escorts her out of the room and holds her while she has a good cry.

When she composes herself; “Is whoever did this going to get away with it? I want their heads on a platter!”

“No. The four assholes who did this are now in a burning car. When they’re found, they’ll be listed as four thugs with no ID’s who were on the wrong side of a gang war.”

“I would have loved to reign terror on those mother fu**ers.”

Smiling; “Three of them died suddenly. The leader who’s responsible for this; well let’s say he got what he dished out and then some. He had time to think about what he did before he died.”

“Good. Do we know what gang they were with?”

“No Gang. Only four thugs trying to make an impression.”

Hiroshi came in; “I gave him something for the pain. You need to leave and go home. The doctor is going need some time to stitch him up and make sure there’s no other injuries.”

“No. I want to say with him because he needs me.”

“Because of his injuries, we gave him a strong sedative to make him sleep. Have Mike take you home so you can get some rest, then come back in the morning. Eddy will be in a room where you can be with him. You’re not doing yourself or anyone any good being here.”

Her eyes go wide; “What if he dies and I’m not here?”

“Eddy’s tough, he’s not going to die. Come back tomorrow morning. Everything should be disconnected from him and the swelling will have started to go down. You’ll see him cleaned up and on the mend.”

Mike puts his hand out; “Come on. There’s nothing you’re going to do here. I’ll drive you home and you can come back tomorrow.”

“Thanks. I’ve got such a pounding headache, I only want to lay down.”

As their walking to the car; “Bring Eddy some clothes tomorrow. He’s gonna need them and they might make him feel better.”

A while later when Dee enters the apartment, images of Edward sitting at the kitchen table smiling started flashing before her. Between her anger and helpless feeling, the little food she had in her stomach is now on the kitchen floor.

1947 Noir – 14

1947 Noir – Chapter 14 – Doctor’s Satchel

It’s almost late morning the next day and they both meet at the bathroom door; “How did you manage bathroom time with six other women living here?”

“Other than the occasional: Can I go first? It was rather orderly. So can I go first?”

“Please go. I’ll stand here gritting my teeth with my legs crossed doing the pee pee dance to hold it.”

“I’ve never had this much drama when I was living with my uncles. They always let me go first.”

“I’m kidding, take your time. Just don’t die in there.”

Less than a minute later; “Your turn.”

“Thank you.”

After Edward leaves the bathroom, there’s someone knocking on the apartment door.

“Ed? Didn’t you lock the downstairs door before we came up this morning?”

“I know I did. That has to be …”

Wearing only his boxer shorts, he opens the door; “Big Mike. It’s always good to see you, but what brings you here?”

“All the locks in this building are being changed today.”

“Okay. Not to be rude, but why are you here?”

“You weren’t here for the last few days. Because you’re here today, Alex wants to take both of you out to lunch. There’s a couple of things he needs to discuss with both of you.”

“Did we do something wrong?”

“Na. It’s nothing like that. Alex only wants to ask both of you some questions. Anyway, he found this Jewish Deli that has the best corned beef and pastrami sandwich in the world. Or at least in Kansas City. If he says it’s the best, who am I to disagree.”

“Okay. Give us a few minutes to get ready.”

“I already called the locksmith for you. He’s one of our business partners. He should be here before we leave. You’ll have to pay him when we get back. He should be finished by then.”

Dee has joined Edward and gives Mike the evil eye; “Don’t look at me that way. You don’t know how may people may have keys to the building. Alex and I want both of you to stay safe.”

“Oh alright. Will we have the only keys?”

“Yes. That way both of you will be safe. Alex and I don’t need or want keys to anything here. Just in case you understand. We don’t need or want any physical or legal connections to you two.”

“We understand, thank you. We’ll meet you downstairs.”

45 minutes later, the group of 4 is seated inside of a out of the way deli. It’s in the lower lever of an apartment building. Alex has ordered 4 lean corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, 4 orders of french fries along with 4 cups of coffee.

While they’re waiting for the food, Alex starts; “Questions have arisen concerning your latest job and I presume honeymoon. Because of who the people asking questions are, I agreed to talk to both of you about their concerns.”

“Ask away. The cleanup went exactly according to plan. So what’s their concerns?”

“How much cash did you recover from those two?”

“I remember our crew saying something about what a tight wad the guy was. They said he only had four dollars and some change on him.”

Dee answers; “The woman had three dollars and some change. That was it.”

“Did you or your people find anything else in the way of cash?”

“Nothing other than our cash payment of four thousand dollars and expense money in a brown paper bag on the front seat of the man’s car. I took two packs of ten’s for our expenses, but that was it.”

Dee is a little frustrated; “What’s this all about? Are we being accused of ripping someone off? Are we targets of revenge?”

At that moment, their food and coffees are being delivered. After the server leaves; “Nothing of the sort. Let’s have these while they’re warm. I hope nobody minds because I ordered everything on fresh onion rolls. There’s yellow and Dijon mustard on the table.”

Dee is upset; “I want to know what’s going on here.”

“There’s too many people too close by us. I’ll tell you everything when we’re not going to be overheard.”

After the food has been consumed, most of the close by patrons have left. Alex continues the conversation; “How did the job go?”

“Perfect down to the last detail, other than the return bus trips taking forever.”

“Did you find any large sums of money in either of the cars?”

“Nope. Only the money we were paid. We wore gloves and left the cars at the airport. So what’s going on?”

“As you know, those two were cops. Like almost every other cop, they were taking weekly twenty and fifty dollar bribes to look the other way. It’s the cost of our doing business.”

“That’s normal everywhere.”

“Over the last six months, they became greedy. They started ripping off drug dealers and selling the products to out of town organizations. Myself and others in our business were becoming more unhappy with those two by the week. But being police, what could we do? Nothing.”

Dee asks; “So who put the hit on them?”

“There’s a select few in the department who learned of an internal affairs investigation that would have brought those two down and put a spotlight on the whole department. Those select few orchestrated and had the hits carried out.”

Dee sets her coffee cup down; “Oh shit. No wonder the unmarked car.”

Edward asks; “So what’s the word on the street concerning those two?”

“The other organizations know you two must have eliminated the bodies. Nobody is concerned with that. Now they’re looking for the money those two ripped off.

Many think it’s hidden somewhere local because it’s obvious they didn’t spend it. They lived in small average houses and you know what kind of cars they drove. Smith’s wife is a grocery store clerk. Babcock’s husband unloads trucks at a meat packer. Their bank accounts are nothing special.”

“Any word on what the police think?”

Alex smiles; “Because of the brochures found in the cars at the airport and they bought two tickets to San Diego, they think the couple eloped and went to Guyana, South America because English is widely spoken there. I heard most everyone in the department knew they were an item.”

“Do any of the other organizations know how much money is missing?”

“Some are guessing between ten and twenty thousand. Could be a hundred thousand. Nobody will admit to how much they were ripped off for.”

Dee lets out; “Holey shit!”

“Now with those two gone, it’s business as usual. Some think they must have hid the money somewhere.”

“Do they think we have it?”

“Some are wondering that very question. My associates can sometimes be a greedy bunch. If the missing money were to be found, there would be a fight. Who gets how much and why one should get more than the other. I sure as hell don’t want to get involved in that shit storm. Depending on the amount, it could get deadly real fast.”

“I can understand why. Six organizations arguing over the money might cause a sudden and major increase in our business.”

“I see why you married Dee. She’s a beautiful woman and smart. She knows that is exactly what would happen.”
“Thank you. I’m trying my best.”

“I know that. One last thing. I understand the late Detective Smith didn’t trust banks. He remembered his mother telling him about the bank failures as a child during the great depression. Because of this, he kept the ill-gotten money in some type of case or satchel.

Now if that satchel of money were to show up, the squabbling could start a gang war none of us need. Am I making myself clear on this?”

He stares at Dee and Edward with all the seriousness in the world in his eyes for several moments before leaning back in his chair.

Edward responds; “Clear as glass. We can tell you with all honesty, the only money we seen was our payment in a brown paper bag. That was it.”

The server arrives with the meal check.

Alex tells her; “I would like to order two more of these great sandwiches to go please.”

He reaches into his pocket and gives the woman two twenty dollar bills; “This should take care of the check and keep the change for your great service.”

The woman has a smile from ear to ear; “Oh my god! Thank you Mister Morris.”

After she steps away; “Mike, these are for dinner tonight. One for you and one for Alice. Am I understood?”

“Yes boss.”

“Thank you. When I see her, I’m going to ask how she enjoyed tonight’s dinner. Am I clear?”
“Crystal clear boss.”

Turning to Edward; “About a month ago, I bought Alice and Mike rib dinners. Mike ate almost both of them. I think Alice told me she had a couple of ribs and maybe half a potato.”

“They were really good ribs. I couldn’t help myself.”

“Anyway, onto another unpleasant matter concerning you two. I have a considerable sum invested in your business. The building, the truck and car. My lawyers and accounts tell me I need to account for the sale of those assets. This is to make sure of a one hundred percent legal separation between us”

Edward asks; “What are you trying to tell us?”

Dee answers; “We need to pay for the building, truck and car to remove any connections between the two of us and him.”

“Like I said before. She’s a damn smart woman. I told you thirty five hundred for the building. Add in the car and the truck, I feel five thousand dollars would be a fair price.”

Dee smiles; “We can arrange that. Business has been good and we have the cash. If you would have asked for more, I would have asked for terms. Business has been good, but not that good. We still have overhead.”

“Okay, you twisted my arm. Forty five hundred cash and it’s a deal.”

“Thank you. When Mike drops us off, it’ll take me a couple of minutes to get him the money. It’s in our apartment.”

“Do you want a receipt?”

Edward answers; “No. We have the titles for the truck and car. We also have the title and deed for the building. Everything is in our business name. No receipt is needed.”

“Mister Morris, we’ve known each other for years. You gave me my first job out of college. Even though it was working for scumbag Chuck.”

“It paid you quite well.”

“Ten dollars a day, seven days a week, no taxes, free room and board, and a relatively easy job. I could never have hoped to make even half that anywhere else. That’s why I trust you Mister Morris. You have never done me wrong.”

“Give me your hands.”

She reaches over the table where Alex gently grasps them; “If I was only twenty plus years younger when I met you, and society was less judgmental … Ah, we’ll never know. That’s also the reason I didn’t hire you as an accountant.”

“Because I’m a colored woman?”

“Because you were so young and innocent, I didn’t want you tarnished by my business. Doing my bookkeeping would have put you in harms way. And call me Alex.”

He releases her hands; “So everything is good. The case or satchel and it’s contents will never be seen anywhere again. Are we clear on this?”

Dee and Edward answer; “We’re clear.”

“We don’t need any gang wars. Mike; here comes your dinners. Don’t eat your wife’s. She’ll probably make two meals from hers.”

“I won’t eat hers boss.”

“Now bring my guests home and pick up the money. I’ll see you back at the office when you’re done.”

Everyone left the restaurant and briefly chatted outside. Alex entered his car and drove off while everyone walks to Mike’s car.

While driving to the warehouse; “I talked to your man Larry while you were on your trip. He told me the others never seen the doctor’s satchel. I told him it could be fatal if he were to have seen a satchel removed from one of of those cars.”

“What did he say?”

“He smiled and said: What satchel? The two suitcases were opened. The contents dumped in the garbage cans. The suitcase name tags were removed and burned with the bodies also.”

Mike looks in the mirror where he sees Dee and Edward with blank stairs on their faces.

“What’s wrong with you two? I thought you’d be talking up a storm right about now.”

“After the bus rides from hell that took what seemed like forever, we’re all talked out.”

“Ah you’ll be home in a couple minutes. You can start doing what married people do when they come back from a long trip.”

“We were about to start doing that this morning before you knocked on our door.”

“I mean you’re going to pay the locksmith, turn on the radio and relax.”

Dee turns to Edward with panic; “How much money do you have?”

“Why?”

“We only have about forty six hundred and we still need to pay the locksmith.”

Edward smiles; “Remember that money Mike gave us? I put it away just in case he wants it back or some other emergency.”

From the driver’s seat; “I’ll never ask for that money back.”

Dee smiles; “Mike, you saved us once again. You’re the best.”

When everyone arrives in the apartment, Dee starts walking around, removing every heater vent cover and taking out packets of money. Edward has removed money from the freezer and is now removing the back of the radio where he pulls out more bills.

With Mike smiling while looking on; “You two are something else.”

Edward smiles; “You can’t be too careful.”

“Did you check the bread box and cookie jar?”

“Thanks! I forgot the bread box. We only keep cookies in the cookie jar.”

Mike asks; “Hey, do you still make those peanut butter cookies?”

“Yes I do. I also still make the chocolate chip cookies you used to clean me out of every time you came by.”

He starts chuckling; “Yeah, the ladies used to get pissed off because I took most of them.”

“When I made them, I had to make several batches. As soon as a batch would cool, the women would split the cookies between themselves and wrap them in waxed paper.”

“Why would they do that? The cookie jar was always right there on the counter. They could just help themselves.”

“They would hoard them from each other and you. They also used them to trade for things. Two peanut Butter cookies for a Chocolate Chip cookie. Only two of them liked oatmeal cookies. They also used the cookies as poker chips. I’ll be glad when the government stops rationing chocolate.”

Edward announces; “Let’s sit at the table so Dee can count the money.”

A couple minutes later, she’s handing Mike the cash; “Forty five hundred cash. Please recount it.”

“I was counting it as you were. It’s all there.”

Edward passes a paper bag to Mike. After he puts the money in the bag; “I see you still have some cash left, good.”

“It’s the five hundred you gave us.”

There’s a knock on the door, it’s the locksmith; “I’m here to replace every lock in the building. I’ll start here if you don’t mind. Then I’ll go downstairs.”

“That’s fine.

“Do you want to pay me when I’m finished or should I leave you the bill?”

“We’ll pay you when your done. By the way, what happens to people who don’t pay?”

“I take all my locks back. Then every few days, I remove all the new locks they had installed by someone else.”

“Wow. We’ll pay you in cash when you’re finished.”

“I looked around the building before I came up here. It will be a hundred and twenty five dollars total.”

“Thank you.”

The man and his toolbox started on the apartment front door. Mike said his goodbyes and left. Dee and Edward went downstairs to the office where he moved the counsel radio to access the floor trap door.

When he opens it, he sees the folded paper bag from the last job. He lifts the bag and gave it to Dee. She counts the cash; “Larry paid everyone including himself. The rest is here.”

“I knew we could trust Larry.”

Edward reaches in, removes the doctors satchel and walks to the desk. Breaks the lock, opens the case and sees a couple of bar towels; “That cop was stealing bar towels too?”

With Dee looking on, he removes two towels; “Holey shit! You better count this. I’ve never even seen this much money in my life.”

Dee is cool and calm counting the cash. A couple minutes later; “Those two were doing some serious business ripping off drug dealers.”

“How serious?”

“Thirty one thousand, four hundred and fifteen dollars and ninety two cents. I have no idea where the ninety two cents came from. I thought dealers only dealt in paper money.”

“Oh shit. What should we do with all that?”

“Oh sweetheart, it’s a good thing I’m an accountant. We hide it and don’t touch it. It’ll be part of our nest egg for our retirement.”

“Don’t you want to spend it? Or at least some of it?”

“No. We need to be smart. If we start spending more than we earn, the IRS will be on us like white on rice. We’ll keep it somewhere safe, like a safe deposit box at the bank.”

“Why not just keep it here? You know, close by for comfort.”

“No. What if the building catches fire? What if the building floods because of a water pipe break? What if some asshole breaks in trying to find cash?”

“So that’s why Chuck had that open safe in the corner downstairs.”

With a smile; “You really are way smarter than the average husband. That’s exactly why I wouldn’t let Larry and the others take it for scrap. The combination part is broken. The safe won’t lock. You can shut the door, but one twist of the handle opens it.”

“What did Chuck store in there? His movies?”

“He use to put his potato chips and other junk food in there. He would eat all day. He also kept other worthless junk in there.”

“No wonder he was so fat. He never stopped eating.”

“It wasn’t often he stopped eating. Now on to this. Put the money and bar rags back in the satchel. Then put the bag back in the floor and push the radio back. After the locksmith is done, we can go to the bank, get a safe deposit box and put the money in there.”

“Oh I’m so lucky to be married to a smart college graduate who happens to be the prettiest woman anywhere.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere husband.”

“Oh I like that. While we’re waiting for the locksmith, I have a question. Why don’t you do both your uncles books?”

“My uncles are self made men. Or at least they think they are. When Harold finished high school, his first job was as a dish washer in the restaurant he now owns. He has his long time girlfriend doing his books. She also helps manage the restaurant when he and Marcus aren’t around. I don’t get in the way he does things.”

“Then what about Herbert?”

“Herbert couldn’t find a job when he graduated high school. While walking by a real estate office, some white man standing in the doorway asked Herbert if he was looking for a job.

The guy bought real estate at auction. He would fix it up a little and sell it later. Herbert was the cleanup guy and he used to attend auctions with the man.

One day a funeral parlor and related graveyard came up for bankruptcy auction. Now what white man is going to bid on a bankrupt, negro owned funeral parlor and negro graveyard? That’s not gonna happen.

Herbert asked the man he was working for if he could borrow a hundred dollars to bid on it. The man bid a hundred dollars, everyone there laughed. He won with the hundred dollar bid and had Uncle Herbert sign the papers.”

“Wow! Did the man say why?”

“The said his grandfather was part of the underground railroad smuggling slaves to the north. He wanted to do something his grandfather would be proud of. He even sent Herbert to funeral director and mortician schools.”

“You’re family is so damn lucky in so many ways.”

“Not as lucky as I am to find the man I would have never guessed in a million years would be the man I would marry.”

Edward is smiling; “It’s a shame they took out all the beds from the back.”

She smiles; “I’d get on my knees and take care of you, but the locksmith might come in. That would be rather embarrassing. A kiss will have to do until he leaves.”

After the kiss, Edward is smiling as he tells Dee; “Your kisses remind me every time how much I’m in love with you. And everyone said we wouldn’t last.”

“Who said that? I’m gonna straighten them out right now!”

“I’m kidding my love. Nobody said anything except wishing us well.”

The love of his life smiles; “I wish that damn locksmith would get finished already. I’m a woman who needs attention from her husband.”

“What things do you need me to do my love?”

With a sly grin; “Oh you’ll find out two minutes after the locksmith leaves. I’ll give you a hint. I replaced the bed sheets earlier.”

“Oh my!”