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Nothing Less of Evil

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It coulda happened this way...Editor

Nothing Less of Evil

by Steve Olley

The first time Robert Kennedy met Jimmy Hoffa they almost came to blows.

It happened in Detroit back in the summer of 1956, when Kennedy was Chief Counsel on the McLennan Committee and Hoffa was Vice President of the Teamsters Union. Kennedy showed up at the Detroit offices of Teamsters Local 299, with Pierre Salinger and Carmine Bellino. They turned up with official warrants to search the premises.

Hoffa was in a meeting with his shop stewards, when Kennedy began hammering on the door. A gruff voice cursed loudly, a chair pushed back, and then a thickset tough looking guy in his forties opened the door. Three men stood before him, led by a young guy in a crumpled white suit

“What the hell do you want?” Hoffa said. “I'm in a meeting with my stewards."

"It'll have to wait," said the guy in the white suit. "We're coming in right now."

Kennedy moved forward.

"Like hell you are!" said Hoffa, standing his ground.

Kennedy tried to push by the stocky guy before him, but Hoffa pushed him back out into the hall. Kennedy came straight back at him, and again Hoffa pushed him back. When they came together a third time, both men looked ready for a fight. But it was not to be; another man appeared behind Hoffa and said in a calm voice:

"What's the problem, Jimmy?"

“This guy’s the problem, George.”

George stepped forward.

"I'm George Fitzgerald; I'm an attorney, what's the problem?"

The young guy pulled a document out of his inside pocket.

"I'm Robert Kennedy. I'm Chief Counsel for the McClellan Committee, this is a subpoena. I want all your books, records and other papers."

Fitzgerald began to look at the document. The McClellan, officially known as the Senate Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor - Management Field, had been set up by the Senate to look into the alleged illegal activities in the Union Movement. It was better known as the Rackets Committee.

Kennedy and the two other men began to move into the office, the young guy in the white suit began yanking open the drawers in the filing cabinets. Jimmy shoved him away and banged the drawers shut.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" roared Jimmy.

Kennedy turned back to Fitzgerald.

"Who the hell is this? Tell him we've got a subpoena; we've got a right to take away all your books, records and other documents."

"That gentleman," said Fitzgerald, "is the Vice-President of the Union, Jimmy Hoffa, and this subpoena isn't worth the paper it's printed on. It's no good."

"What do you mean, it's no good?"

"This subpoena is too broad. It has to be more explicit; it has to explain just what it is you want and why. So exactly what is it you're looking for, Mr. Kennedy?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"I'm trying to find something."

"What?"

"Evidence."

"Evidence of what?"

"Of your criminal activities and your dealings with the Mafia."

Fitzgerald laughed.

"I think," he said, "that you should get out of here."

Kennedy sized up the situation and his eyes focused in on Hoffa. The two men locked eyes, staring hard, and neither backing down. Then Hoffa winked and Kennedy looked away.

"We'll see you in court," he said and then left.

"What the hell was that all about?" one of the stewards wanted to know.

"Nothing," said Jimmy. "Nothing at all."

He couldn't have been more wrong.

This was the beginning of it all; the first in a series of events that eventually led to both men’s demise. Robert Kennedy shot to death at the Democratic convention in 1968, killed by the mob some said, on orders perhaps of Jimmy Hoffa himself; and then Hoffa, seven years later, suddenly disappears off the face of the planet, and is probably buried somewhere beneath it. Some say he got too full of himself, some say he was a relic of the past, an embarrassment to an organization that was changing its image.

Not long after that first meeting, Hoffa was called before the Senate Committee. It was headed by Senator John L. McClellan. Other members included John F. Kennedy, and his younger brother, Robert Kennedy had been appointed Counsel for the Committee. Its main target was The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and it launched a thorough investigation into the believed criminal activities committed by the union's organization. Their first success was the Union President, Dave Beck, who was charged and convicted of tax fraud. Now the Committee's attention was turned to the Vice-President, and the obvious successor to Beck, the man from Detroit, Jimmy Hoffa.

The committee tried everything to get Jimmy Hoffa. To those watching it was clear that this was a battle of wills, a personal fight between Hoffa and Robert Kennedy. But whatever he tried, Kennedy couldn't seem to find any concrete evidence that would convict Hoffa.

#

In March 1957, far from the main arena in Washington, at the house of Joey Mitchell, a union official working out of Detroit, silence had finally fallen over the neighborhood. Mitchell had come home late. There'd been the usual shouts and arguments coming from inside the house, slammed doors and crying, but now things seemed to have settled down.

Joey's young wife, Jenny, left her husband sleeping in bed; the liquor on his breath, the make-up on his shirt, indication of his wayward habits. They'd only been married for two years, but things had never gone well. She went into the bathroom and looked at her fat lip and the bruised eye and anger grew inside her.

Nobody had ever hit her before, not till Joey. The few friends she'd confided in didn't seem to think it was such a big deal. She knew her father would have beaten Joey if he'd been around to know, but one year ago he'd been killed in a car crash. Plus if her dad had touched Joey, Joey's friends at the union would have helped him out. Once her dad was gone, it was as if Joey thought it was open season. She stood there looking into the mirror and wished her dad was still alive, and wished she'd never met Joey Mitchell. Everything was wrong.

It slowly dawned on her that she had nothing left; that this life that she was living wasn't worth waking up for. But Jenny was tough, she wasn't about to end it all. Instead it was how she was living this life that she would end.

She quickly dressed and went downstairs, went out to the garage, climbed into her car and started it up, but then sat there thinking. She opened her purse and counted her money. Twelve dollars wouldn't get her too far.

She went back in the house, listened for movement from upstairs, but there was nothing. She went into Joey's study. On the wall above the desk was a framed photograph of Joey standing with Dave Beck and Jimmy Hoffa. She took it down from the wall and exposed the hidden safe. She knew the combination; she'd watched him open it enough times.

Inside there were two piles of cash, and a small notebook full of scribbled accounts and loose receipts. She took it all, rushed out to the car and drove away before she changed her mind, before commonsense stopped her from doing this very dangerous thing; for leaving her husband was one thing, but taking money that didn't belong to her or Joey was another; and the people who the money belonged to would not be pleased, not pleased at all. But what choice did she have? She needed money, and now she needed to disappear.

Sooner or later, she knew, they'd come looking for her, but not till the morning, not till Joey woke up. She drove south out of the city along old US 6 towards Cleveland, but she wasn't going to Cleveland, she was going to Toledo. At Toledo she drove to the train station. From there she could head south to Columbus, east to Cleveland, or west to Chicago. She bought a ticket for Chicago. The reason being that the Chicago train was the next train, but also it departed at almost exactly the same time as the train north to Detroit; and that was the train she got on board, back the way she'd come, back to Detroit.

When she got back to Detroit, she took a cab to the bus station and caught a bus north to Bay City, where she arrived just as the city was beginning to wake up. She hid out at a diner for a few hours, then went across the street to the large Albion Hotel and booked in under the name of Miss Spenser.

#

When the phone rang, Joey thought, hoped, that it was Jenny. It wasn't.

"Hey Joey, this is Len."

"Hey."

"He needs you."

"Okay."

"You know the trouble they're having with those laundries?"

"Yeah."

"He needs you to meet the owner, a guy named Ellis. He'll give you something. You just make sure you put it in the right account."

"Yeah."

"Is everything okay, Joey?"

"No. It's Jenny. She's gone."

"I told you to go easy with her. I ain't surprised she left you."

"It's worse than that."

"What?"

"She cleaned out the money from the safe before she left."

"That don't sit too well, Joey."

"Don't worry I'll get it back, but that's not all she took.'

"Joey?"

"Well, here's the thing. I ain't so good at keeping track, and I don't want to get it wrong and put things in the wrong account. So I keep track of it."

"What do you mean?"

"I write it down in a little notebook, so that I don't forget what goes where. I keep it in my safe along with the money. I figured it would be okay if I kept it there."

"My God, Joey!"

"She took it with her. Jenny took the book."

"Shit! Do you know what you've done? How can you be such a moron? Wait there I'm coming over."

"What about Ellis?"
"Forget Ellis, Joey. Goddamn it. Do you know what you've done?"

#

Steve Brown was a private detective, working out of two rooms on the third floor of a small office building on the edge of downtown Chicago. He worked out of the front office, and lived in the back room. It had been a tough day, grinding out a living on 2 bit cases that even a monkey could have solved. But Steve Brown didn't care, just as long as he could afford to keep company with Jack Daniels.

It was six o'clock; he'd locked the door, left his paperwork sitting on the desk and slipped into the back room. He took off his tie, poured himself a glass full, sat back on the sofa and turned on the television, the only luxury that still remained from his life previous to November 7th 1956, the only thing left that his wife and he had bought together. It had been one of the last things they did together before her appointment with Craig Steffler and his little shooting spree down at the convenience store on the corner. The one that left the owner Benny Moran and Lisa Brown dead from single gunshot wounds, before police ripped Steffler in two with a hail of bullets.

It had been four months now and Steve Brown had managed to return to some sort of normality, if you could call what he had now normal. Two months ago he'd given up the apartment, there didn't seem to be any point in keeping it. He got rid of everything, except the television; and when he sat in front of it, sometimes he didn't feel so alone. He sat watching the NBC newscast and the latest round in the Hoffa/Kennedy bout from Washington.

Kennedy said: - Did you say, "That S.O. B., I'll break his back."?

Hoffa replied: - Who?

Kennedy: - You.

Hoffa: - Say it to who?

Kennedy: - To anyone?

Hoffa: - Figure of speech…I don't even know what I was talking about and I don't know what you're talking about.

Kennedy: - Uh…Mr. Hoffa, all I'm trying to find out, I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'm trying to find out whose back you were going to break.

Hoffa: - Figure of speech…figure of speech.

#

At about the same time, Len got the call from Washington.

"Any news, Lenny?"

"Yeah. We just got word from one of our guys down in Toledo. They found her car at the train station there."

"She took a train?"

"The guy in the ticket office remembered her - good looking girl, blonde, black eye, fat lip."

"WHAT!"

"Yeah. Seems Joey coped her one, maybe that's why she ran."

"Goddamn that Joey."

"I think he was boozed up. They said in the club that he'd been fooling around with one of the girls."

There was silence on the other end of the line. Then the voice said, "Where did she get a ticket too?"

"Chicago."

"Right, get hold of Glimco in Chicago."

"I'll do that."

"And Lenny."

"Yes Boss."

"Tell Glimco to use whatever he needs; our guys, independents, whatever. We need to find her, Lenny."

"Yes Boss."

"And Lenny. Take some time to explain to Mitchell the importance of family."

"I will."

#

Eddie Mars was given the east side of downtown Chicago. Glimco told him how important it was to find her. He told him to use whoever he needed, pay whatever.

"All we have to do is tell Detroit where she is. It's a family thing, Eddie, a dispute between husband and wife; we're just helping out."

If all he had to do was find her, then there was only one person that Eddie knew who could find her for them. It had been a few years now, but Eddie had seen lights on in Steve Brown's office, so he was sure he was still around. Steve Brown had helped Eddie dig up the dirt on Jeff Harding, the boss of the Harding Grocery chain. Having that information on a person like Harding certainly made it easier to negotiate a deal with him.

#

Depending on whom you believed, John Cye Cheasty was a lawyer working for Mr. Hoffa, or was an investigator employed by Robert Kennedy. Either way, when Hoffa met Cheasty and Cheasty passed over McClellan Committee documents, Hoffa was unaware that their meeting was being photographed by the F.B.I.

On March 13th 1957, after one of these meetings, Hoffa returned to the Dupont Plaza Hotel in Washington, where he was staying, and was about to get on the elevator when he was approached by five men.

"F.B.I.," one of them said.

"Big deal," Hoffa said. "What do you want from me?"

"You're under arrest."

"Under arrest for what?"

"Just come along with us."

Hoffa started to get mad.

"Like hell I will. I'm going up to my room to make a phone call. Then I'll go with you."

The five men closed in on him.

"Hold it," said Hoffa. "Don't try to roust me. If you want trouble you can have a whole lot of it. Most of these people here in the lobby are my people. You guys make a fuss and we're gonna have one hell of a big fight."

The agents backed off. Hoffa called his lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, and then went with the F.B.I.

As they drove to the precinct headquarters, an F.B.I. agent said to Hoffa, "You know we've got you dead to rights."

"You're full of shit," said Hoffa.

"You'd better tell us the whole story."

"Listen. You go play your games of cops and robbers but don't get cute with me. I don't have a damned thing to say to you. My lawyer will do the talking."

When they got to the station house Robert Kennedy and his loyal wife, Ethel, were there, along with a whole gang of news guys.

"We finally got you, Hoffa," said Kennedy.

"You haven't got a goddamn thing."

Hoffa was photographed, fingerprinted and booked on bribery and conspiracy charges in the Cheasty case.

Kennedy announced the details to the press and said, "If I don't convict Jimmy Hoffa in this case, I will personally jump off the Capitol Dome."

#

Eddie Mars found Steve Brown early next morning, unshaven, hair messy, sitting in his office staring at the clock.

"Man you look like you could use breakfast."

"Sounds good to me, Eddie; what you got for me?"

"I'll tell you over breakfast."

The two men stepped across the road to a diner, where Eddie got a coffee and watched Steve demolish bacon and eggs and three pieces of toast; and after he washed it all down with a cup of black coffee, Eddie noticed the light come back on in Steve's eyes.

Eddie filled Steve in on the search for Jenny Mitchell.

"What makes you think she's here in Chicago?"

"We found her car at the Toledo rail station. The clerk there said she bought a ticket for Chicago."

"Why do you need to find her?"

"It's personal, a misunderstanding between husband and wife. He's worried about her; she's been having some depression problems. So we said we'd help out our friends in Detroit."

Steve didn't believe Eddie for a moment. But it sounded more interesting than anything he'd done in a long time, and Mars said that there was no restriction on expenses, so Steve accepted.

The first thing that had struck him was that perhaps Eddie and his pals from the Teamsters had been too quick to assume that she had come to Chicago, so Steve packed a bag and headed to Toledo.

#

Edward Bennett Williams had a private meeting with James Hoffa, and assured him that they would win their case. Williams was an excellent lawyer, an orator who could convince a jury that his client was an innocent misunderstood individual; whether he was or not. When Williams looked at the evidence that Kennedy and the prosecution had against Jimmy Hoffa he laughed.

"This'll be like taking candy from a baby, Jimmy, candy from a baby."

They both laughed.

What the case boiled down to in the end would be one man's word against another. But there was a book somewhere, a small notebook that contained entries and receipts, names and figures; a book full of evidence that would be so damning to those named inside, that if it ever reached prosecution hands, not even a lawyer like Edward Bennett Williams would be able to save the defendant.

#

Steve Brown drove his car to Toledo. It was good to get out of the city for a while. What struck Steve the most was the horizon. In the city, his horizon was the tenements across the street, and the sun set at least an hour before it began to get dark. But out here the world was flat and the sky was large; a man could feel exposed in this emptiness, for there was nowhere to hide, no city to lose oneself in, just a few clapboard farmhouses in a land that was dazzling white with the snow. Yet this altered awareness, this different perspective of the world, let you see things a little differently, let you believe that there was more than one way to live a life.

He reached Toledo around dusk, and went straight to the station. The clerk who had sold Jenny Mitchell the ticket had just come on duty. Joey showed the clerk Jenny's picture and the clerk told him what he had told Lenny before, that she'd got a ticket for Chicago. He also told Steve that Jenny had a black eye and a fat lip, and that confirmed Steve's suspicions. But he also knew that this girl would have realized that they would have come looking for her, and this trail of breadcrumbs that she'd left them to Chicago was a little too obvious. Of course she could have thought that Chicago was a big enough city to lose herself in, but Steve had a hunch that that wasn't the case here. She could have gone in any direction from here, not just Chicago, but towards Cleveland or south to Columbus.

"Did you see her get on the Chicago train?"

"No, but after the train had gone the platform was empty. Why wouldn't she have got on it? She bought the ticket for Chicago. It stands to reason, doesn't it?"

"Does that train make any stops?"

"No, straight through to Chicago."

"And that's as far as it goes?"

"Yeah, terminates at La Salle Street in Chicago."

"So she was there on the platform, then the Chicago train came along and after it left the platform was empty."

"Yes, that's right. I didn't see her get on because the Express to Detroit blocked my view."

"The Detroit train?"

"Yeah! It leaves here the same time as the train to Chicago."

"Thanks."

Steve went back to the car. It was clear to him now. Head back the way you came, it was the last thing they would think of. He bought himself some dinner, filled up with gas, and then headed for Detroit.

As he drove he began to think what he would have done in her situation. Yes, the heat would have been off in Detroit, they would be looking for her elsewhere, but it was still not a safe place to hide out; somebody might see her by accident. No, if he was her he would have kept going. He worked out what time she would have arrived in Detroit. It would have been still early; not too many people about.

He drove to the station in Detroit, out by the Ambassador Bridge, but nobody remembered seeing her buy a ticket from there. Perhaps she had ended her journey there, or maybe she'd rented a car - no, too much information needed for that. What about buses?

Steve headed downtown over to the bus station on Howard Street. It was busy, and it took him a while, but eventually he got what he was after. A blonde wearing sunglasses that early in the morning, may have disguised her bruised eye, but it brought attention to her nonetheless. She'd bought a ticket for Bay City.

#

When Jenny opened the bag and counted the money, she became very frightened. $17,500 was a lot of money, her husband’s friends at the union were not going to be pleased about losing that.

The ice had brought down the swelling on her lip, and make-up had managed to make her black eye not look so dramatic, so that she had felt brave enough to venture out and eat her meals at the diner across the street. There was an older waitress there called, Ann, who had befriended her, and Jenny really could use a friend just about now.

She hadn't really given her new life too much thought. What was she going to do, settle here?  She knew it would be a long time before they stopped looking for her. What if she sent the money back? She knew they'd still look for her, but maybe not so hard. Maybe Ann could help her get a job at the diner, and then she wouldn't need the money.

When she got to the diner, she sat in a cubicle and Ann came over. She poured Jenny a cup of coffee.

"Hi Sugar! What will it be tonight?"

"Oh! I don't know. I guess I'll take the eggs."

"Say honey, I thought you said you didn't know anybody here in Bay City?"

"I don't."

"Well there was a guy here earlier asking about you."

Jenny's heart stopped beating.

"Did you tell him anything?"

"I told him that you'd been in."

"Did you tell him where I was staying?"
"I couldn't, Sugar, because I don't know where you're staying. He seemed like a

nice guy. Hey are you alright?"

Jenny left a few notes on the table and scrambled out of the diner and back across the street. She didn't wait for the elevator, but ran up the stairs and along the corridor. She unlocked the door to her room and rushed inside. She was panting heavily. It was then that she realized that the light was on. She turned around and there he was. He was sat in a chair waiting.

"Hi Jenny," he said.

Jenny began to make for the door.

"No, no," said Steve, and he got out of the chair and shut the door, locked it and took the key. "Don't be in a hurry to leave, Jenny, we've only just met."

"How did you get here?"

"I bribed the maid to let me in. I told her that I was your brother and I wanted to

surprise you."

"Who are you? I don't recognize you? Are you from Detroit?"

"No, Jenny, I'm from Chicago. My name's Steve Brown, I'm a private investigator. It seemed that your little trick with the trains convinced them, they think you're in the windy city."

"How did you…"

"You mean how did I find you? Well let's say I used to be one of your better detectives."

"Used to be?"
"I had my moments, but that was a few years ago. Perhaps some of that old magic's come back."

"What are you going to do?"

"Well I'm working for an old acquaintance of mine in Chicago, a guy by the name of Eddie Mars works for a guy named Joey Glimco. Ring any bells for you. I guess not. Well I guess I should call Eddie and give him the good news. But I'm beginning to suspect that he asked me to find you under false pretences."

"What do you mean?"

"He said that your husband was looking for you and that he's worried for your safety, but looking at that eye I would say that he isn't too concerned about your health. What I'm saying is that there seems to be more here than I was told about. And I'm not the kind of guy who likes being played for a fool. Know what I mean?"

"Listen, Mister."

"Steve, call me Steve."

"Whatever, but listen up; the only reason that they're trying to find me is because…Well, yeah, I did run out on my husband, but I was dumb enough to take some things with me that didn't belong to me. So how about I give you those things and you give them back."

"Sure, I can do that, but you know they'll want to talk to you, and I'll have to tell them where I found you."

"I guess you're right." She walked over to her purse.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

"Cigarettes," she said. She pulled out a pack, put one in her mouth, and began to fish inside for her light, but instead of matches she pulled out a gun and pointed it at Steve Brown.

"Easy," he said to her.

"Shut up. Listen tough guy, I don't want the money or that stupid book. I don't want a husband who beats up on me. All I want is a life of my own. So here's how it's going to go. I'm going to leave this room, and I'm going to disappear."

"They'll find you again."

"Maybe not if I give them the money and the book back."
"What book?"

"Whatever. I don't care. I'm going."

Suddenly Steve jumped toward her and grabbed the gun from her hand. He quickly emptied it and threw it on the bed.

"What book?" he asked again.

She started to cry and her whole body went limp. Steve helped her over to the bed and she lay down and buried her face in the pillow and her cries seemed to shake her whole body.

Her resignation was so complete that Steve sat on the bed beside her, just as he had done when his wife, Lisa, had heard that her father had died. And when Jenny curled up into a ball, the memory was complete. He reached out his hand and laid it on her shoulder.

"It's okay," he said. "It's okay."

Nobody had shown her any comfort since her father had died. With one touch, Steve's hand broke through her hard shell, and there was nothing she could do about it. She sat up and buried her head into Steve's shoulder and cried softly. He could feel the sadness in her, trembling in the sobs she cried. She wasn't Lisa. But he couldn't deny how protective he suddenly felt.

He put his arm around her and soothed her. After a while she raised her head and looked up at him and gave him a weak smile. He gave her his handkerchief. She dried her eyes, and they sat there in silence for a while.

Then Jenny got up and found the money and the book and showed them to Steve. He whistled when he saw the large amount of money. It would take a hard working man at least 6 or 7 years to earn that amount of money. He then looked at the small notebook. It was full of names and dates and dollar amounts. When he read the names and saw the amounts, the hairs on the back of his neck rose.

#

During the jury selection, the prosecution didn't pay too much attention to the individuals the defense refused or accepted. It wasn't till later on that they began to suspect what Edward Bennett Williams was up to. Williams had as an assistant, a black woman named Martha Jefferson. It just so happened that her boyfriend at the time was a black man called, Joe Louis, the former heavyweight champion of the world. And it just so happened that he came by the courthouse to see her, and also met and shook hands with Bennett Williams and Jimmy Hoffa.

Kennedy later said that Williams was trying to influence the jury, which included eight black jurors. He said that this was the reason the jury returned a verdict of "Not Guilty". That was the story that Kennedy gave the press and the press repeated in their newspapers. There were others, however; who said that the prosecution lost the case because of a lack of professionalism that was needed in order to convict someone like Jimmy Hoffa. The trouble of course was that Kennedy and his staff lacked the hard evidence that would give their case strength against lawyers such as Bennett Williams.

As a postscript to this trial, Jimmy Hoffa, in remembering Robert Kennedy's promise to jump off the Capitol Dome if he lost the case, sent Kennedy a parachute, and a one word note, that in big letters said, "Jump!"

#

Back in Bay City, Steve closed the notebook. He was pale.

"Who exactly is your husband and what does he do?"

Jenny told him.

Steve went over to the window and looked down the street. There were two trucks covered in lights rumbling slowly through the town, crunching through the low gears; and Steve realized just exactly how dangerous it would be to get involved with her. The safest thing to do was to give her up to them, but even then how would they know that he hadn't seen the names inside that book. Could they take the risk that he wouldn't tell somebody? But in the end it was Lisa who convinced him. If she had been there she would have helped this woman without question.

It was late but the diner was still open, so they went across the road for coffee and something to eat. They took her booth and spoke covertly.

When he told her that he would not give her up, she could not disguise the smile that worked its way around the sadness of her face. They were in it together now.

It seemed to him that giving the money and the book back was not a solution. They were enemies of the tiger and he wouldn't rest till he had them. There was only one solution: they had to hunt the tiger. They had the weapon, now all they had to do was find the right place to use it.

Surprisingly once they had decided on their course of action, their fears seemed to be replaced with determination. They ate their meals and drank their coffee, feeding off each other’s enthusiasm. Steve had a contact, a journalist, an old friend who probably knew someone connected with the McClellan Committee.

Neither of them heard the big rig pull up outside, or the trucker come into the diner and take a seat at the counter. And as they got up to leave, neither of them saw the way he looked at Jenny.

Back at the hotel, after they spoke for a bit longer, Steve said that he was going to go down to his car to get his address book out of the glove compartment. He went down the staircase, and as he reached the lobby he saw two men walk into the elevator. They didn't see him but he noticed them and one of them seemed familiar. He got out to the car, opened the glove compartment, and as he leaned over he noticed the big rig parked across the street, up beside the diner, and he remembered seeing the guy at the counter; the strange look in his eye. He left the address book, closed the glove compartment, and popped the trunk. Under a blanket was a shotgun. He loaded it and then raced back inside the hotel.

There was no one in the lobby. He ran up the stairs two at a time till he reached their floor. He took a quick glance down the hall. It was empty. He stepped lightly down to their door and listened. It was quiet. He stood for a moment trying to control his breathing. Then kicked open the door and dove into the room.

The trucker had Jenny in an arm lock and a hand over her mouth. The other guy was sat in the chair. He had a gun in his hand. He fired. Missed. Steve rolled and fired the shotgun into the man's belly.

Jenny bit the trucker's hand. He let her go, but reached for a gun tucked into his belt, as he jumped towards the door. Steve emptied the other barrel. The pellets tore through the trucker's legs, and he screamed in pain.

"Quick," yelled Steve.

Jenny grabbed the money and the book. She climbed over the wounded trucker and raced down the hall. Steve looked at the guy in the chair; lifeless eyes, blood splatter up the walls, a quick memory of Lisa lying on the floor of Benny Moran's convenience store. Then Steve turned and raced out of there.

They drove south towards Flint. Neither of them said anything. There were hardly any cars on the road, just trucks, trucks everywhere; their lights blazing in Steve's face.

At Flint he called his journalist friend in Chicago. He was annoyed at being woken up, but once Steve explained what had happened he soon lost his anger. The friend told them to wait by the phone and he'd call back. They waited for a long twenty minutes, then the phone rang.

"I phoned my contact, and he's arranged for you to meet with these two agents from the F.B.I."

"Where do we meet?"

"Grand Rapids. There's an airfield to the south of the city. It's used for light planes and crop sprayers. It'll be closed now, but they'll meet you there."

They filled up with gas and then headed west towards Grand Rapids. They spoke now, not about what happened or about what was going to happen, but about the ones they had lost. How there was a union in shared grief; how they both seemed to understand just how the other felt. And as they reached the outskirts of Grand Rapids they both agreed that the worst part about losing someone close to you was loneliness; and that perhaps together they could help with that. They saw the sign for the airfield and turned off the highway, and drove down a laneway to a dark building that stood beside a couple of large hangers. There were two men leaning against their car that was parked outside the building. Jenny reached across and squeezed Steve's hand and he smiled at her.

One of the two men lit a cigarette, the flame illuminating his face hidden in the shadow of his fedora. He stepped forward towards them.

"Are you Steve Brown?"

"Yeah and you are?"

The man held out his I.D. Steve read the name in the beam from the car headlights.

"I'm Federal Agent Collis and this is my partner, Ted Lucas. We understand you have a book that contains incriminating evidence in regard to the McClellan hearings."

Jenny gave the F.B.I. men the money and the little book. Collis opened the book and looked inside.

"There are names in that book that might surprise you," said Steve.

The man nodded his head.

"What now?" said Jenny.
"Well the only way they'll stop looking for you, is if they think you're dead."

"Disappear you mean?"

"Yeah, something like that."

Steve and Jenny climbed into the back of the large F.B.I. car. The sun was just beginning to rise, and Steve looked at the wide horizon. A small farmhouse stood out all alone in a field of snow. In the distance, the sun rose through a black line of bleak looking trees, up into a sky that was large and blue. Steve took Jenny's hand, looked at her contented face, and smiled.

#

The Jack Paar Show was the first late-night television talk show. Bobby Kennedy appeared as a guest. The Chief Counsel of the Senate Rackets Committee, better known as the McClellan Committee, spoke about Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters. His grainy black and white image was broadcast all across America. He said:

"All of our lives are too intricately interwoven with this union to sit passively by and allow the Teamsters, under Mr. Hoffa's leadership, to create such a superpower in this country - a power greater than the people and greater than the government. Unless something is done, this country is not going to be controlled by the people, but is going to be controlled by Johnny Dio and Jimmy Hoffa and Tony `Ducks' Corallo."

#

On the local Michigan Radio News: "Grand Rapids Police announced that two bodies had been found in a burnt out car. It was a man and a woman. The fire was so strong however; that it has been impossible to identify the bodies. Yet from information found at the scene, Police believe they are the bodies of Steve Brown and Jenny Mitchell. Two people who Bay City Police had been searching for after a shooting spree at the Albion Hotel in Bay City last night, in which one man was killed and another seriously injured. Police investigations at the scene of the burnt out car are continuing, but as yet they have not come to any conclusions about the case."

#

Two men stood a little apart from the crowd of onlookers that were watching the police as they worked in and around the burnt out car.

Ted Lucas said, "What about the notebook?"

"What about it?" said Agent Collis.

"Are we going to pass it on to the Kennedy's?"

"No," said Collis. "Those micks can go fuck themselves."

©2011

 

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