hey sent him to Dallas to kill a nigger pimp named Wendell Durfee. He wasn't sure he could do it.
The Casino Operator's Council flew him. They supplied first-class fare. They tapped their slush fund. They greased him. They fed him six cold.
Nobody said it:
Kill that coon. Do it good. Take our hit fee.
The flight ran smooth. A stew served drinks. She saw his gun. She played up. She asked dumb questions.
He said he worked Vegas PD. He ran the intel squad. He built files and logged information.
She loved it. She swooned.
"Hon, what you doin' in Dallas?"
He told her.
A Negro shivved a twenty-one dealer. The dealer lost an eye. The Negro booked to Big D. She loved it. She brought him highballs. He omitted details.
The dealer provoked the attack. The council issued the contract--death for ADW Two.
T he preflight pep talk. Lieutenant Buddy Fritsch:
"I don't have to tell you what we expect, son. And I don't have to add that your father expects it, too."
The stew played geisha girl. The stew fluffed her beehive.
"What's your name?"
She whooped. "You just have to be Junior!"
He looked through her. He doodled. He yawned.
She fawned. She just loooooved his daddy. He flew with her oodles. She knew he was a Mormon wheel. She'd looove to know more.
Wayne laid out Wayne Senior.
He ran a kitchen-help union. He rigged low pay. He had coin. He had pull. He pushed right-wing tracts. He hobnobbed with fat cats. He knew J. Edgar Hoover.
The pilot hit the intercom. Dallas--on time.
The stew fluffed her hair. "I'll bet you're staying at the Adolphus."
Wayne cinched his seatbelt. "What makes you say that?"
"Well, your daddy told me he always stays there."
"I'm staying there. Nobody consulted me, but that's where they've got me booked."
The stew hunkered down. Her skirt slid. Her garter-belt gapped.
"Your daddy told me they've got a nice little restaurant right there in the hotel, and, well..."
The plane hit rough air. Wayne caught it low. He broke a sweat. He shut his eyes. He saw Wendell Durfee.
The stew touched him. Wayne opened his eyes.
He saw her hickeys. He saw her bad teeth. He smelled her shampoo
"You were looking a little scared there, Wayne Junior."
"Junior" tore it.
"Leave me alone. I'm not what you want, and I don't cheat on my wife."
They touched down. Wayne got off first. Wayne stamped blood back into his legs.
He walked to the terminal. Schoolgirls blocked the gate. One girl cried. One girl fucked with prayer beads.
He stepped around them. He followed baggage signs. People walked past him. They looked sucker-punched.
Red eyes. Boohoo. Women with Kleenex.
Wayne stopped at baggage-claim. Kids whizzed by. They shot cap pistols. They laughed.
A man walked up--Joe Redneck--tall and fat. He wore a Stetson. He wore big boots. He wore a mother-of-pearl .45.
"If you're Sergeant Tedrow, I'm Officer Maynard D. Moore of the Dallas Police Department."
They shook hands. Moore chewed tobacco. Moore wore cheap cologne. A woman walked by--boo-hoo-hoo--one big red nose.
Wayne said, "What's wrong?"
Moore smiled. "Some kook shot the President."
Most shops closed early. State flags flew low. Some folks flew rebel flags upright.
Moore drove Wayne in. Moore had a plan: Run by the hotel/get you set in/find us that jigaboo.
John F. Kennedy--dead.
His wife's crush. His stepmom's fixation. JFK got Janice wet. Janice told Wayne Senior. Janice paid. Janice limped. Janice showed off the welts on her thighs.
Dead was dead. He couldn't grab it. He fumbled the rebounds.
Moore chewed Red Man. Moore shot juice out his window. Gunshots overlapped. Joyous shit in the boonies.
Moore said, "Some people ain't so sad."
Wayne shrugged. They passed a billboard--JFK and the UN.
"You sure ain't sayin' much. I got to say that so far, you ain't the most lively extradition partner I ever had."
A gun went off. Close. Wayne grabbed his holster.
"Whoo! You got a case of the yips, boy!"
Wayne futzed with his necktie. "I just want to get this over with."
Moore ran a red light. "In good time. I don't doubt that Mr. Durfee'll be sayin’ hi to our fallen hero before too long."
Wayne rolled up his window. Wayne trapped in Moore's cologne.
Moore said, "I been to Lost Wages quite a few times. In fact, I owe a big marker at the Dunes this very moment."
Wayne shrugged. They passed a bus bench. A colored girl sobbed.
"I heard of your daddy, too. I heard he's quite the boy in Nevada."
A truck ran a red. The driver waved a beer and revolver.
"Lots of people know my father. They all tell me they know him, and it gets old pretty quick."
Moore smiled. "Hey, I think I detect a pulse there."
Motorcade confetti. A window sign: Big D loves Jack & Jackie.
"I heard about you, too. I heard you got leanings your daddy don't much care for."
"Let's try nigger lover. Let's try you chauffeur Sonny Liston around when he comes to Vegas, 'cause the PD's afraid he'll get himself in trouble with liquor and white women, and you like him, but you don't like the nice Italian folks who keep your little town clean."
The car hit a pothole. Wayne hit the dash.
Moore stared at Wayne. Wayne stared back. They held the stare. Moore ran a red. Wayne blinked first.
Moore winked. "We're gonna have big fun this weekend."
The lobby was swank. The carpets ran thick. Men snagged their boot heels.
People pointed outside--look look look--the motorcade passed the hotel. JFK drove by. JFK waved. JFK bought it close by.
People talked. Strangers braced strangers. The men wore western suits. The women dressed faux-Jackie.
Check-ins swamped the desk. Moore ad-libbed. Moore walked Wayne to the bar.
SRO--big barside numbers.
A TV sat on a table. A barman goosed the sound. Moore shoved up to a phone booth. Wayne scoped the TV out.
Folks jabbered. The men wore hats. Everyone wore boots and high heels. Wayne stood on his toes. Wayne popped over hat brims.
The picture jumped and settled in. Sound-static and confusion. Cops. A thin punk. Words: "Oswald"/"weapon"/"Red sympath--"
A guy waved a rifle. Newsmen pressed in. A camera panned. There's the punk. He's showing fear and contusions.
The noise was bad. The smoke was thick. Wayne lost his legs.
A man raised a toast. "Oughta give Oswald a--"
Wayne stood down. A woman jostled him--wet cheeks and runny mascara.
Wayne walked to the phone booth. Moore had the door cracked.
He said, "Guy, listen now."
He said, "Wet-nursing some kid on some bullshit extradition--
"Bullshit" tore it.
Wayne jabbed Moore. Moore swung around. His pant legs hiked up.
Fuck--knives in his boot tops. Brass knucks in one sock.
Wayne said, "Wendell Durfee, remember?"
Moore stood up. Moore got magnetized. Wayne tracked his eyes.
He caught the TV. He caught a caption. He caught a still-shot: "Slain Officer J. D. Tippit."
Moore stared. Moore trembled. Moore shook.
Wayne said, "Wendell Durf--"
Moore shoved him. Moore ran outside.
The council booked him a biggg suite. A bellboy supplied history. JFK loved the suite. JFK fucked women there. Ava Gardner blew him on the terrace.
Two sitting rooms. Two bedrooms. Three TV's. Slush funds. Six cold. Kill that rigger, boy.
Wayne toured the suite. History lives. JFK loved Dallas quail.
He turned the TV's on. He tuned in three channels. He caught the show three ways. He walked between sets. He nailed the story.
The punk was Lee Harvey Oswald. The punk shot JFK and Tippit. Tippit worked Dallas PD. DPD was tight-knit. Moore probably knew him.
Oswald was pro-Red. Oswald loved Fidel. Oswald worked at a schoolbook plant. Oswald clipped the Prez on his lunch break.
DPD had him. Their HQ teemed. Cops. Reporters. Camera-hogs all.
Wayne flopped on a couch. Wayne shut his eyes. Wayne saw Wendell Durfee. Wayne opened his eyes. Wayne saw Lee Oswald.
He killed the sound. He pulled his wallet pix.
There's his mother--back in Peru, Indiana.
She left Wayne Senior. Late '47. Wayne Senior hit her. He broke bones sometimes.
She asked Wayne who he loved most. He said, "My dad." She slapped him. She cried. She apologized.
The slap tore it. He went with Wayne Senior.
He called his mother--May '54--he called en route to the Army. She said, "Don't fight in silly wars." She said, "Don't hate like Wayne Senior."
He cut her off. Binding/permanent/4-ever.
There's his stepmom:
Wayne Senior ditched Wayne's mom. Wayne Senior wooed Janice. Wayne Senior brought Wayne along. Wayne was thirteen. Wayne was horny. Wayne dug on Janice.
Janice Lukens Tedrow made rooms tilt. She played indolent wife. She played scratch golf. She played A-club tennis.
Wayne Senior feared her spark. She watched Wayne grow up. She torched reciprocal. She left her doors open. She invited looks. Wayne Senior knew it. Wayne Senior didn't care.
There's his wife:
Lynette Sproul Tedrow. Perched in his lap. Grad night at Brigham Young.
He's shell-shocked. He got his chem degree--BYU/'59--summa cum laude. He craved action. He joined Vegas PD. Fuck summa cum laude.
He met Lynette in Little Rock. Fall '57. Central High desegregates. Rednecks. Colored kids. The Eighty-Second Airborne.
Some white boys prowl. Some white boys snatch a colored boy's sandwich. Lynette hands him hers. The white boys attack. Corporal Wayne Tedrow Jr. counters.
He beats them down. He spears one fuck. The fuck screams, "Mommy!"
Lynette hits on Wayne. She's seventeen. He's twenty-three. He's got some college.
They fucked on a golf course. Sprinklers doused them. He told Janice all.
She said, "You and Lynette peaked early. And you probably liked the fight as much as the sex."
Janice knew him. Janice had the home-court advantage.
Wayne looked out a window. TV crews roamed. News vans double-parked. He walked through the suite. He turned off the TV's. Three Oswalds vanished.
He pulled his file. All carbons: LVPD/Dallas County Sheriff's.
Durfee, Wendell (NMI). Male Negro/DOB 6427/Clark County, Nevada. 6'4’’/155.
Pander beefs--3/44 up. "Well-known dice-game habitue." No busts outside Vegas and Dallas.
"Known to drive Cadillacs."
"Known to wear flamboyant attire."
"Known to have fathered 13 children out of wedlock."
"Known to pander Negro women, white women, male homosexuals & Mexican transvestites."
Twenty-two pimp busts. Fourteen convictions. Nine child-support liens. Five bail jumps.
Cop notes: Wendell's smart/Wendell's dumb/Wendell cut that cat at Binion's.
The cat was mobbed-up. The cat shanked Wendell first. The council set policy. The LVPD enforced it.
"Known Dallas County Associates":
Marvin Duquesne Settle/male Negro/Texas State custody.
Fenton "Duke" Price/male Negro/Texas State custody.
Alfonzo John Jefferson/male Negro/4219 Wilmington Road/Dallas, 8, TX. UGambling partner of Wendell Durfee."
County Probation: (Stat. 92.04 TX St. Code) 9/14/6–9/14/65. Employed: Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant. Note: "Subject to make fine payments for term of probation, i.e.: every 3rd Friday (Dr. Pepper payday) County Prob Off."
Donnell George Lundy/male Negro/Texas State custody.
Manuel "Bobo" Herrara/male Mexican/Texas State cust--
The phone rang. Wayne grabbed it.
"lt's me, son. Your new best buddy."
Wayne grabbed his holster. "Where are you?"
"Right now I'm no place worth bein'. But you meet me at eight o'clock."
"The Carousel Club. You be there, and we'll find us that burrhead."
Wayne hung up. Wayne got butterflies.
Wendell, I don't want to kill you.
There's the limo. It's on the runway. It's late-model FBI black.
The plane taxied up. It passed Air Force One. Marines flanked the tail-hatch. The pilot cut the engine. The plane fishtailed. The ramp popped and dropped.
Littell got out. His ears popped. His legs uncramped.
They worked fast. They rigged his flight plan. They flew him two-seat non-deluxe.
Mr. Hoover called him--D.C. to L.A.
He said, "The President was shot and killed. I want you to fly to Dallas and monitor the investigation."
The hit occurred at 12:30. It was 4:10 now. Mr. Hoover called at 12:40. Mr. Hoover got the news and called fast.
Littell ran. The limo driver popped the door. The backseat was stuffy. The windows were smoked. Love Field was all monochrome.
Stick figures. Baggage crews. Newsmen and charter planes.
The driver pulled out. Littell saw a box on the seat. He opened it. He emptied it out.
One special agent's shield. One FBI photo ID-card. One Bureau-issue
His old photo. His old gun.
He gave them up in '60. Mr. Hoover forced him out. He had cover tools now--new and old--he had cosmetic reinstatement.
Mr. Hoover stashed said tools. In Dallas. Mr. Hoover predicted the hit.
He knew the locale. He sensed the time frame. He was passively complicit. He sensed Littell's involvement. He sensed Littell's need to quash talk.
Littell looked out his window. The tint made funhouse distortions. Clouds imploded. Buildings weaved. People blipped.
He brought a radio. He played it flying in. He got the basic stats:
One suspect caught--a kid--a sheep-dipped leftist. Guy Banister dipped him. The kid killed a cop. Two cops were set to kill him. Phase Two went bad. The second cop botched his assignment.
Littell holstered up. Littell studied his ID.
Cop/lawyer then. Mob lawyer now. Hoover foe to Hoover ally. A one-man law firm with three clients:
Howard Hughes/Jimmy Hoffa/Carlos Marcello.
He called Carlos. Ten A.M. L.A. time. Carlos was happy. Carlos beat Bobby K's deportation bill.
Bobby tried Carlos in New Orleans. Carlos owned New Orleans. Carlos was jury-proof there.
The jury acquits Carlos. Bobby sulks. Jack dies one hour on.
The streets were dead. Windows zipped by. Ten thousand TV's glowed.
It was his show.
He developed the plan. Pete Bondurant helped. Carlos okayed it and went with Guy Banister's crew. Guy embellished his plan. Guy revised it. Guy botched it.
Pete was in Dallas. Pete just got married. Pete was at the Adolphus Hotel. Guy B. was here. Guy B. was somewhere close.
Littell counted windows. All tint-distorted. Smudges and blurs. His thoughts blew wide. His thoughts cohered:
Talk to Pete. Kill Oswald. Ensure a one-shooter consensus.
The limo hit downtown Dallas. Littell pinned on his shield.
There's Dealey Plaza. The PD building's close. Look for:
The book building/a Hertz sign/Greek columns.
The columns. The sign. Mourners at Houston and Elm. A hot dog vendor. Nuns sobbing.
Littell shut his eyes. The driver turned right. The driver pulled down a ramp. The driver stopped hard and fast. The back windows slid down.
Somebody coughed. Somebody said, "Mr. Littell?"
Littell opened his eyes. Littell saw a basement garage. There's a kiddy Fed standing there. He's all uptight.
"Sir, I'm Special Agent Burdick, and...well, the ASAC said you should come straight up and see the witnesses."
Littell grabbed his briefcase. The gun chafed his hip. He got out. He stretched. He cleaned his glasses.
Burdick stuck close. Burdick rode him tight. They walked to a freight lift. Burdick pushed 3.
"Sir, I have to say it's a madhouse. We've got people saying two shooters, three, four, they can't even agree where the shots--"
"Did you isolate them?"
"Who's interviewing them?"
The boy stuttered. The boy gulped.
"Which agencies, son?"
"Well, we've got us, DPD, the Sheriff's, and I--"
The door opened. Noise boomed in. The squadroom was packed.
Littell looked around. Burdick got antsy. Littell ignored him.
The witnesses were antsy. The witnesses wore name tags. The witnesses perched on one bench.
Thirty-odd people: Talking. Fretting. Contaminating facts.
Back-wall cubicles. Cops and civilians--holed up in interview slots. Flustered cops and civilians in shock.
Forty desks. Forty phones. Forty cops talking loud. Odd badges on suitcoats. Wastebaskets dumped. Inter-agency chaos and--
"Sir, can we--"
Littell walked over. Littell checked the bench. The wits squirmed. The wits smoked. Full ashtrays jumped.
I saw this/l saw that/his head went pop! A talkathon--bad work--pure mass-witness slop.
Littell looked for standouts. Solid-types/credible wits.
He stood back. He framed the bench. He saw a woman: Dark hair/handsome/thirty-five-plus.
She sat still. She stayed calm. She watched an exit-door. She saw Littell. She looked away. She never blinked.
Burdick walked a phone up. Burdick mimed "Him. " Littell grabbed the phone. The cord stretched taut.
Mr. Hoover said, "Be concise."
Littell cupped his free ear. The room noise half died.
"The preliminary stage of the investigation has been ineptly executed. That's all I'm certain of at this point."
"I'm not surprised and I'm not disappointed, and I'm thoroughly convinced that Oswald acted without assistance. Your job is to cull the names of potentially embarrassing witnesses who might contradict that thesis."
Littell said, "Yes, sir."
Burdick held up a clipboard. Note slips were clamped in. A witness log/clamped witness statements/drivers' licenses attached.
The phone went dead. Burdick grabbed it. Littell grabbed the clipboard. It bulged. The clip wobbled.
He skimmed the slips.
Two-line statements. Confiscated DL's. Detainment insurance. Ambiguous data: 3/4/5/6 shots/1/2/3 directions.
The stockade fence. The book building. The triple underpass. Head-on shots. Missed shots. Shots from behind.
Littell checked DL pix.
Wit #6: Shots at Houston and Elm. Wit #9: Shots off the freeway. The calm woman: 2 shots/2 directions. Her stats: Arden Smith/West Mockingbird Lane.
The smoke was bad. Littell stepped back. The smoke made him sneeze. He bumped a desk. He dropped the log. He walked to the interview slots.
Burdick tailed him. The room noise doubled. Littell checked the slots.
Shoddy work--no tape machines/no stenos.
He checked slot #1. A thin cop braced a thin kid. The kid laughed. What a gas. My dad voted for Nixon.
Littell checked slot #2. A fat cop braced a fat man.
The cop said, "Mr. Bowers, I'm not disputing what you told me."
Mr. Bowers wore a railroad cap. Mr. Bowers squirmed.
"For the tenth time then, so I can go home. I was up in the tower behind that fence on the knoll. I saw two cars cruising around there about...shit...a half hour before the shooting, and two men standing right at the edge of the fence, and then just as I heard the shots, I saw a flash of light from that very spot."
The cop doodled. Mr. Bowers tapped a cigarette. Littell studied him. Littell got queasy.
He didn't know the shooter plan. He did know credible wits. Bowers was intractably firm. Bowers was good.
Burdick tapped Littell. Littell swung around. Littell knocked him back.
Burdick stepped back. "Well, I was just thinking that DPD pulled these three guys, bums or something, out of a railroad car behind the fence, about a half hour after the shooting. We've got them in the tank."
Littell went more queasy.
Littell said, "Show me."
Burdick walked point. They passed the slots. They passed a coffee-break room. Hallways crossed. They veered left. They hit a mesh-front pen.
An intercom popped: "Agent Burdick. Front desk, please."
Burdick said, "I should catch that."
Littell nodded. Burdick fidgeted. Burdick took off from a crouch. Littell grabbed the mesh. The flight was bad. Littell squinted hard
Littell said, "Show me."
Burdick walked point. They passed the slots. They passed a coffeebreak room. Hallways crossed. They veered left. They hit a mesh-front pen.
An intercom popped: "Agent Burdick. Front desk, please."
Burdick said, "I should catch that."
Littell nodded. Burdick fidgeted. Burdick took off from a crouch. Littell grabbed the mesh. The light was bad. Littell squinted hard.
He saw two bums. He saw Chuck Rogers.
Chuck was Pete's man. Wet-arts/CIA. Chuck was tight with Guy B.
Rogers saw Littell. The bums ignored him. Rogers smiled. Littell touched his shield. Rogers mimed a rifle shot.
He moved his lips. He went "Pow!"
He walked down the hall. He turned right. He hit a bisecting hall. He made the turn. He saw a side-door.
He pushed it open. He saw fire-steps and rungs. Across the hall: A men's room and a door marked "Jailer."
The men's room door opened. Mr. Bowers walked out. He stretched. He zipped his fly. He settled his nuts.
He saw Littell. He squinted. He keyed on his shield.
"Well, I'm glad I ran into you, 'cause there's something I forgot to tell the other guy."
Littell smiled. "I'll pass it along."
Bowers scratched his neck. "Okay, then. You tell him I saw some cop. rousting these hoboes out of a hay car, and one of them looked like one of the guys I saw by the fence."
Littell pulled his notebook.
He scribbled. He smeared some ink. His hand shook. The book shook.
Bowers said, "I sure feel sorry for Jackie."
Littell smiled. Bowers smiled. Bowers tipped his cap. He jiggled some coins. He ambled. He walked away sloooooow.
Littell watched his back.
Bowers ambled. Bowers turned right. Bowers hit the main hall. Littell flexed his hands. Littell caught his breath.
He worked the Jailer door. He jiggled the knob. He forced it.
The door popped. Littell stepped in.
A 12-by-12 space--dead empty. A desk/a chair/a key-rack.
Paperwork--tacked to a corkboard:
Vagrant sheets--"Doyle"/"Paolino"/"Abrahams"--no mug shots attached.
Call it: Rogers packed fake ID. Rogers booked in with it.
One key on the rack--cell-size/thick brass.
Littell grabbed the sheets. Littell pocketed them. Littell grabbed the key. He gulped. He walked out brazen. He walked to the pen.
He unlocked the door. Rogers primed the bums. He pumped them up. He went "Ssshh now." He gave a pep-talk.
We got ourselves a savior--just do what I say.
The bums huddled. The bums stepped out. The bums hugged the wall.
He hit the main hall. He faced the squad room. He blocked the view. He signaled Rogers. He pointed. The fire-door--go.
He heard footsteps. The bums squealed. The bums giggled loud. The fire-door creaked. A bum yelled, "Hallelullah!" The fire-door slammed.
Littell caught a breeze. His sweat froze. His pulse went haywire.
He walked to the squad room. His legs fluttered and dipped. He grazed desks. He bumped walls. He bumped into cops.
The wit bench was smoked in. Twenty cigarettes plumed. Arden Smith was gone.
Littell looked around. Littell scanned desks. Littell saw the wit log.
He grabbed it. He checked statements and DL's. Arden Smith's package--gone.
He checked the slots. He checked the halls. He checked the main window.
There's Arden Smith. She's on the street. She's walking fast. She's walking away.
She crossed Houston. Cars swerved by her. She made Dealey Plaza.
He lost her. Jack's mourners shadowed her up.
The bridal suite. The fuck pad supreme. Gilt wallpaper. Cupids. Pink rugs and chairs. A fake-fur bedspread--baby-ass pink.
Pete watched Barb sleep.
Her legs slid. She kicked wide. She thrashed the sheets.
Barbara Jane Lindscott Jahelka Bondurant.
He got her back early. He sealed up the suite. He closed out the news. She'll wake up. She'll get the news. She'll know.
I fucked Jack in '62. It was lackluster and brief. You bugged some rooms. You got his voice. You taped it. The shakedown failed. Your pals regrouped. You killed Jack instead.
Pete moved his chair. Pete got fresh views. Barb tossed. Her hair swirled.
She didn't love Jack. She serviced Jack. She co-signed extortion. She wouldn't co-sign death.
Jack should be dead. Guy's boy ditto. Chuck Rogers had a plane stashed. The crew should be out.
Barb twitched. Pete fought a headache. Pete popped aspirin and scotch.
He got bad headaches--chronic--they started with the Jack squeeze. The squeeze failed. He stole some Mob heroin. A CIA man helped.
Kemper Cathcart Boyd.
They were tres tight. They were mobbed-up. They shared spit with Sam G. They worked for Carlos M. They worked for Santo Trafficante. They all hated Commies. They all loved Cuba. They all hated the Beard.
Money and turf--dual agendas. Let's pluck the Beard. Let's repluck our casinos.
Santo and Sam played both ends. They sucked up to Castro. They all bought "H" off Brother Raul. Carlos stayed pure. Carlos did not fuck la Causa.
Pete and Boyd stole the dope. Sam and Santo nailed them. Pete got the word. They did biz with Fidel.
Carlos stayed neutral. Biz was biz. Outfit laws overruled causes.
They all hated Bobby. They all hated Jack. Jack fucked them at Pigs. Jack raided Cuban exile camps. Jack nuzzled the Beard.
Bobby deported Carlos. Bobby fucked with the Outfit tres large. Carlos hated Jack and Bobby--molto bravissimo.
Ward Littell hated them. Ward smuggled Carlos back. Ward played factotum. Ward ran his deportation case.
Ward said, Let's clip Jack. Carlos liked it. Carlos talked to Santo and Sam.
They liked it.
Santo and Sam had plans. They said let's clip Pete and Boyd. We want our dope back. We want revenge.
Ward talked to Sam and Carlos. Ward pressed Pete’s case. They quashed said clip plan.
We let you live. You owe us. Now whack Jack the K.
Guy Banister was working up a hit plan. His plan resembled Littell's. Hit plans were running epidemic. Jack pissed off mucho hotheads. The cocksucker was doomed.
Guy had pull. Guy knew Carlos. Guy knew Cuban exiles. Guy knew fat cats with coin. Guy dipped a geek in sheep shit. Guy preempted Ward's plan.
He pitched it to Carlos. Carlos okayed it. Carlos scotched Ward's plan. Shit went sideways. Personnel shifted. Some Pete and Ward guys joined Guy's crew.
Glitches glitched--last-minute--Pete and Boyd un-glitched them.
Santo and Sam hated Boyd. They reissued their death decree. Kemper Boyd--mort sans doute.
Barb stirred. Pete held his breath. The aspirin hit. His headache fizzled.
Santo and Sam let him live. Carlos liked him. He loved la Causal The Boys had plans. He might fit in.
He worked for Howard Hughes--'52 to '60. He pimped for him. He scored his dope. He did his strongarm work.
Ward Littell lawyered for Hughes. Hughes wanted to buy up Las Vegas. Hughes craved the Vegas Strip. Hughes craved all the hotel-casinos.
Hughes had a buyout plan. Said plan would take years. The Boys had a plan too:
Let's sell Las Vegas. Let's bilk Howard Hughes. We'll keep our work crews. We'll skim Hughes blind. We'll still own Las Vegas.
Carlos owned Ward. Ward's job to be: Broker the deal and tailor it our way.
The Boys owned Pete. The Boys implied:
Go to Vegas. Work with Ward. Pre-pave the Hughes deal. You know muscle work. You know heroin. We might rescind our no-dope-rule. We might let you push to the spooks.
We might not kill you. We might not kill your Twist queen
Barb left her gowns out. Blue spangles and green. Two shows tonite. His wife and her ex-hubby's trio.
A sad room. Sad Barb. Let's send one up to Jack.
Hit news preceded the hit. Outfit guys talked. Outfit guys knew. Hesh Ryskind checked into the Adolphus. Hesh had cancer. Hesh came to gloat
Hesh watched the motorcade. Hesh died at 1:00 p.m. Hesh kicked with Jack concurrent.
Pete touched the bed. Pink sheets met red hair--one loud color clash.
The doorbell chimed--the B-flat "Eyes of Texas." Barb slept through it. Pete walked over. Pete cracked the door.
Fuck--there's Guy Banister.
Guy popped sweat. Guy was sixty-plus. Guy had heart attacks.
Pete stepped outside. Pete shut the door. Guy waved a highball glass.
"Come on. I rented a room down the hall."
Pete followed him over. The floor rugs sent sparks up. Guy unlocked his door and bolted them in.
He grabbed a jug--Old Crow bond--Pete snatched it quick
"Tell me they're both dead, and this isn't about some fuck-up."
Guy twirled his glass. "King John the First is dead, but my boy killed a cop and got arrested."
The floor dipped. Pete dug his legs in.
"The cop who was supposed to kill him?"
Guy eyeballed the jug. Pete tossed it back.
"That's right, Tippit. My boy pulled a piece and popped him out in Oak Cliff."
"Does your boy know your name?"
Guy uncorked the jug. "No, I worked him through a cut-out."
Pete slapped the wall. Plaster chips flew. Guy spilled some booze.
"But your boy knows the cut-out's name. The cut-out knows your name, and your boy'll name names sooner or later. Is that a fucking accurate assessment?"
Guy poured a drink. His hand shook. Pete straddled a chair. His headache retorqued. He lit a cigarette. His hand shook.
"We have to kill him."
Guy blotted the spill. "Tippit had a back-up man, but he wanted to go alone. It was a two-man job, so we're paying the price now."
Pete squeezed the chairback. The slats shimmied. One slat sheared loose.
"Don't tell me what we should have done. Tell me how we get to your boy."
Guy sat on the bed. Guy stretched out comfy.
"I gave the job to Tippit's back-up."
Pete said, "And?"
"And he's got access to the jail, and he's mean enough for the job, and he owes some casino markers, which means he's in hock to the Outfit."
Pete said, "There's more. You're trying to sell me a bill of goods."
"Well, shit, what?"
"Well, he's a tough nut, and he doesn't want to do it, and he's stuck on a liaison job with some Vegas cop."
Pete cracked his knuckles. "We'll convince him."
"I don't know. He's a tough nut."
Pete flipped his cigarette. It hit Guy clean. He yipped. He snuffed it out. He burned his pillow.
Pete coughed. "You're the first one Carlos will clip if your boy talks."
A TV kicked on--one room down. The walls leeched sound: "Nation mourns"/"valiant first lady."
Guy said, "I'm scared."
"That's your first fucking sensible comment."
"We got him, though. We made the world spin."
The old fuck glowed. Sweats and shitty grins.
"Tell me the rest of it."
"What about a toast to the fallen--"
"What about Rogers and the pro shooter?"
Guy coughed. "Okay, first things first. Mr. Hoover flew Littell in as soon as he heard, and I saw him over at DPD. The cops got Rogers on a sweep, but Littell let him out and misplaced the paperwork. He was carrying fake ID, so I think we're clear there."
"The pro. Did he get out?"
"Heads up on that. He got down to McAllen and walked across the border. He left a message at my place in New Orleans, and I called him and got the all-clear."
"What about Rog--"
"He's at a motel in Fort Worth. Littell said the witnesses are confused and telling different stories, and Mr. Hoover's hell-bent to prove that it was all my boy. Littell said we've only got one guy to worry about."
Pete said, "Keep going. Don't make me work so hard."
"Okay, then. Littell said a railroad man put a half-ass ID on Rogers, so it's my considered opinion that we should clip him."
Pete shook his head. "It's too close to the hit. You want him to go back to work like nothing happened."
"Then you throw some fear into him."
"No. Let the backup do it. Have him pull a cop number."
That TV blared--"Nation grieves"/"sole killer."
Guy folded his arms. "There's one more thing."
"Okay, then. I talked to the pro. He thinks there's a chance that Jack Ruby put it together."
Ruby: Bagman/pimp/Littell's old snitch/strip-club entrepre--
"l had the crew at a safe-house up in Oklahoma. Rogers called Ruby and arranged for some entertainment. The pro said he showed up with two girls and some flunky, and they saw the rifles out back and--wait now--don't get your tits in a twist--I told the backup to brace Ruby and see what he knows."
The room dipped. Crash dimensions. Pete rode out the drop.
Guy said, "We might have to clip them."
Pete said, "No."
Guy reflowed. Guy previewed Heart Attack 3.
"No? The big man says 'no'? The big man says 'no,' like he doesn't know the Boys are talking, and they're saying he's lost his taste for the Life?"
Pete stood up. Pete cracked his thumbs. Pete flexed his hands. Pete grabbed the chair slats. Pete pulled. Pete ripped the chair to sticks.
Guy pissed his britches. Guy fucking plotzed. The stain spread. His crotch seeped. He doused the sheets.
Pete walked out. The hall dipped. The walls balanced him. He walked back to his suite. He stopped ten feet short. He heard his TV.
He heard Barb sob. He heard Barb throw chairs at a wall.
Excerpted from The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Copyright © 2001 by James Ellroy. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.