I was in the cage as the customer handed me a bag. I counted the contents of the bag- it was the amount I was expecting- three million bucks. I thanked him, handed him the receipt, and watched him go and sit down to watch the race. The room only had about 10 other people in it besides myself.
His horse lost, of course. As he ran towards the cage, men crashed through the doors, and fired a few shots in the air. He stopped running, and looked at the gunmen. A large man in a comically double breasted suit walked through the main entrance to the illegal OTB parlor we were in.
"Brady," the man said, looking straight at me. I got out from the cage and approached him, acting quite scared. "This is the last time you and your apes are going to run games in my territory without my permission."
He nodded to a man standing next to him, who took out a sawn-off shot gun and shot me in the gut. I went down, flying back against a table, which broke as I landed on it.
"Who are you?" the idiot customer asked him. Seriously, if you were in the same room as a man who just shot someone dead, would you ask him stupid questions?
"Joey," he said, "Joey Merlino."
The customer looked sick, and I didn't blame him. He had heard of the Boss. Everyone in Philly has.
"Get the fuck out of here, and don't you fucking squeal to the coppers, or I am going to take care of you. You follow?"
The customer ran out the front door so fast, I swear he almost tripped.
I got up from the table, and dabbed at the 'blood' on my face with a handkerchief.
"You did good, Jack," I told 'Merlino', "Real good."
"Ok, everybody," I yelled, "Break down. I want this place closed in two hours. Lets move it."
God what a sap. It was like taking candy from a baby. Anyone who thinks that Mafia bosses go strutting into hits with their goons wearing double breasted suits. Dear god. What a lop-ear.
The room became a bustle of activity, as the grifters in the room started to busy themselves ripping apart the erstwhile OTB room. It was a lot of work to do this shit, but hey.
"Everybody, when you are done, come down to pick up your cut at Nick's," I told them all, and then started to walk towards the back door. Just as I was about the close the back door, the front door crashed open.
As the door shut, I heard the cry of "POLICE!"
I ran down the alley to my 2009 C350 Sport, threw the bag of money into the back seat, got in, started it, shifted into first, and dropped the clutch. I was out of the alley before the contingent of cops sent to guard the back entrance could block my path. They did see me, unfortunately.
I did some skidding turns, a Philly Cop Impala right on my tail. It lost me not far from Market Street. Why the Philly police used Impala's I'd never know. They were no match for anything on the road.
As soon as I dodged into an alley, I got out of the car, slung the bag over my shoulder, and ran out of the alley. It was unlikely they would recognize me personally, but ... better safe then sorry.
I walked into the lobby of the Lowe's Hotel Philadelphia, and got into an elevator. I went up to the room I had checked into yesterday, and stripped off my clothing. I then called Tim, and found out that everyone who had been there had been arrested, confirming my worst fears.
I changed clothing, shaved off my mustache, washed the grey dye out of my hair, and changed to shoes without elevators. They were looking for a mustachioed guy in his early 60s, with grey hair, 6' 2" tall. Now I was in my 30s, had blonde hair, no mustache, and was 5'11". Have fun finding me now.
I took the money and put it into a suitcase, and walked across the street to the bank. I deposited the money bag into a safe deposit box, and then walked to the Gallery at Market Street, then to Market Street Station, where I grabbed a train for 30th Street Station.
There, I talked to the agent and got a Roomette on that afternoon's Crescent to New Orleans, and from there to Los Angeles. Oh, and I used my real name, too. Orville Horrowitz. Orrie. Or some called me the Horror. But Orrie will do for you.
When the Crescent was called, I got on board and into my roomette, closed the door, and waited until Baltimore to show myself again. Dear god what a cluster fuck. I listened on the news. The assholes had ratted me out. They hadn't ratted out the box, but they did rat out me. They were looking for Benny Siegel, a man fitting my description. Fortunately, I was neither Benny Siegel, nor fit his description.
Of course, that didn't mean one was home free. It was possible- unlikely, but possible- that I had left fingerprints somewhere that they'd look. But, uh, doubtful.
I went to the dining car where I was seated next to a female in her teens or so, and an older couple. The older couple were from the sleepers, while the teen was a coach passenger getting really bugged by the dining car prices. I flipped a twenty at her, and she looked at me oddly.
I said, "No obligations, just eat." She smiled her thanks.
There was a lot of talk in that car about the con ring that had been broken up that afternoon, and its missing ringleader. I joined in, while trying not to show any outward signs of the fact that internally I was trying not to laugh.
Although it went a little wrong, you see, I was the one who clued in the police. You can't con an honest man, for truth. But ... conmen aren't honest men. Easy to con. Because the bag might be in the box, but the money ... that was in a Amtrak Express package headed for Los Angeles. It wasn't even with me- I assumed it would be sent out on the overnight regional tonight to Washington, where it would take the Capitol to Chicago and the Chief to Los Angeles, where it would probably beat me there.
The couple across from us didn't like me and they didn't like the girl. I'm not sure why. But as soon as they gobbled down their meals, they left the car.
"How can I repay you for dinner?" the girl asked me.
"How about I buy you a drink in the lounge car?" I asked her.
We went into the lounge car, where I bought her a Pepsi, and got myself a triple scotch on the rocks.
We sat and talked for a while. While she reminded me a little of someone I knew, she was really quite cute. She was a really hot italianate little number. Light Mediterranean skin, black hair, and passionate eyes.
After we talked until the whee small hours of the night, I invited her back to my room.
As we entered the sleeping car, though, she clunked me in the back of the head, and bound me. We were in the vestibule, and she opened the door.
"Joey Merlino sends his regards," she said, "He didn't appreciate the racket you pulled and getting his name involved."
I suddenly knew who she was. She was Bonnie "The Black Widow" Fiorello, one of Merlino's hired thugs. She grabbed me and roughly threw me off the train just as we passed a road crossing. My body hit the ground hard, spinning around through the dirt beside the track. I blacked out.
To my amazement I woke up in a bed. Not a hospital bed, a bed in someone's house. I didn't have any broken bones, amazingly enough. I would bet that Bonnie would be somewhat embarrassed back home if it became apparent that not only was I not killed, I wasn't even that badly hurt.
In a few minutes, a woman walked in. A girl, really. Southern Belle comes to mind. If they wore tight jeans and a blue tank top, anyway. Oh my god.
"You're awake, I reckon," she said.
"Do you now?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said, "I do. Do you recollect why you been thrown from the train?"
"Thrown from the train?" I asked.
"Yeah, I dem der saw you thrown from that train."
"Someone doesn't like me," I said.
"I know, as any fool can plainly see," she said.
"Who, what, when, where, why, and how?" I asked.
"Mabel, saved you from the train, near Spartanberg, Why not?, and easily."
"I see." Although I didn't.
We sat and talked for several hours, and in that time, she fell in love with me. Its my natural charm, I think. There is a reason why I do pretty well conning people out of there money, you see.
"I need money to get out of here," I said to her, "I need your help."
"How can I help?" she said.
I took my fake Rolex off my wrist, and said, "I need to convince a restaurant owner to pay me a lot of money for this. All you have to do is..."
I explained to her her role in this.
I went into the restaurant carrying some money, wearing shabby clothes.
I ordered a huge meal, and upon finishing it, I found, to my shock, that I didn't quite have enough money. I offered the owner my watch as collateral. He took it.
I left to go get the "money", and Mabel went into action, taking a look at the watch I had given him and going gaga about how a solid gold Rolex was worth $20,000. Just as I had told her to, and had her agree to buy it from him for $23,500, because she thought it was stunning. She left him her number.
I came back in and the restaurant owner, as predicted- you can't cheat an honest man- offered me $12,000 because he had fallen in love with it. After talking him up to $15,000, he wrote me a check that I immediately deposited. Sucker.
I took Mabel's car and hit the road. I drove into Atlanta, where I left the car sitting in the middle of the city with the keys in the ignition. Fuck that shit.
I had to get to Los Angeles, because that is where the money was going to be sent, but I didn't dare get seen arriving there by train, and I dare not arrive there by airport, either. I sat and thought. It was logical to assume that Merlino thought I was dead- I had fallen off a train going nearly 80 mph. But I also assumed that the word was out that I was a natural hit.
I wasn't worried about the LA Bunco squad. I'd never fucked around in LA, so they'd have no reason to care that I was there. The LAPD was not known for its cooperation with the Feds. And besides, I had the Philly mob after me, and by extension, the Cosa Nostra in general.
I went and got the check cashed by a check cashing service. They took 30%, but hey, I got it cashed. I either needed to get back on the train, or get a fake identity, which was hard to do for barely $12k, but it could be done enough to pass airport muster.
I couldn't take the train, because if Merlino knew I was the Horror, he'd be watching the trains just to make sure I was really dead. My travel primarily by train was one of the things I was known for.