A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2018
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored
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Concetta was ushered into his office in less than a half hour. “Sal,
I need a couple of reliable hard men who really know their way around.
Mine got nabbed by the Feds going after Mic in Boston. There is more work
to do in Boston now. Can you do that for me?”
“Sure, Mr. Ryan. How soon do you need them?”
“Right now, if that’s possible,” Ryan replied. “However, I’ll settle
for as soon as you can arrange it, Sal. And, I want them ready for some
Late that afternoon two men, recruited by Concetta entered Ryan’s office.
At first Ryan couldn’t figure out who they were. They could be a couple
of college boys; tall and thin, Brooks Brothers look and a swagger that
told him they are not to be fooled with.
“Sal Concetta suggested we come see you,” The one on the left said.
Also, that you needed some urgent errands taken care of in Boston. We’ve
worked in L.A., Los Vegas, Houston and Chicago. Will you be requiring
“No, Sal is the only reference I need. If he says you are good I believe
him. Then, on the other hand, he wouldn’t dare send me anyone who couldn’t
do the job I need doing.”
“And just what is the job you need doing?” the other man asked with
a barely perceptible Spanish accent.
“You will have to find a guy in Boston named Michael Mitchell and
bring him back to me. If he gives you any grief or tries to do a runner,
put him in Boston harbor and I’ll just write him off. He was at the
Cambridge Arms but I’m sure they have moved him by now. I had two men
arrested by the FBI just as they were about to grab Mitchell there.
I hope you have some contacts in Boston. I don’t want this to take too
“We will make some calls to Boston tonight and be on our way first
thing in the morning,” the first man said. “But first let’s talk about
our contract and what this will cost you.”
“Start talking then”
“We want forty-thousand dollars each; from which we pay all expenses
and any payments to others we deem necessary to complete the contract.”
Ryan’s face started to flush and get redder and redder as his anger
grew. He bolted from his chair and pounded on the desk.
“Are you mugs crazy or what? That’s twice the going rate. I’ll take
care of it myself before I’d pay that much. What the hell makes you
think you are better than anyone else? I know guys who will trigger
a man for five-hundred, and do it cleanly and efficiently.” He sat back
down and filled and lit a carved skull Meerschaum.
“Is that your final word, Mr. Ryan?” the second man asked after waiting
for Ryan to settle down.
“I’ll give you ten each – and that’s final.”
The two men stood, wished Ryan a good afternoon and walked out the door.
“Get Sal again,” Ryan yelled into the intercom to his secretary. “Tell
him I want to see him first thing in the morning, and I don’t care if
it is Saturday.”
The next day in Albany:
Harlan Abby entered the library to meet Smyth shortly after 1:00 P.M.
and reserved a study room for the meeting with Smyth.
“A Mr. Smyth will be joining me in about an hour. Please escort him
to my study room,” he told the man in charge of the rooms. He sat at
a high, counter looking like a guard, at the entrance to the hall leading
to the study rooms.
Abby settled in at the study table and took out his notes. He decided
the night before on controlling the meeting and just what he wanted to
say. He decided to study the notes one more time. The attendant let Smyth
into the room at precisely 2:00 pm and he sat opposite Abby.
“I’m not sure I want the pipe” Abby said. “I’m finding out it has
too much history and notoriety. If word got out I have the pipe, it
would be money thrown away. To save my butt it would have to be relinquished
to the authorities.”
Smyth replied, “I can understand that but there is no one I can think
of who can enjoy it as much as you. I would really like to see you have
it. As for anyone finding out you have it, that is next to impossible.
The pipe was in too many hands to be traced to you.”
“I’ll admit, it is a remote possibility and yet still possible. What
is your asking price?”
“It was a million-five. However, I’ll cut it to seven-hundred thousand
rather than prolong the sale by having to go through the process of
arranging an auction.”
Abby’s heart started pounding at the thought of having the pipe and
forgot about his prepared notes.
“Let me see the photographs and tell me all you know about it,” Abby
Smyth opened a briefcase and handed Abby an envelope containing several
angles of the gourd in eight-by-ten photos.
“It really doesn’t look like much does it.” He commented after studying
“No, it actually doesn’t. But consider the historic importance of
it and the light it shined on the cultivation of tobacco in areas never
considered before its finding. You can be the only one in the world
to have that evidence.”
“I understand that -- like having the first Turkish Meerschaum ever
carved. It will take me several days to accumulate that much cash. How
will we make the exchange?”
“I’ll call you a week from today to see how you made out geting the
cash. If you seceded, I will deliver the pipe to your home Sunday afternoon.”
Smyth returned the photos to his briefcase, stood and said, “Until
next week, then,” and abruptly left the room.
Sal Concetta entered Ryan’s office earlier that day with fear in his
heart. Under no circumstances did he want to get on Ryan’s bad side.
“Gees, Sal. I don’t want to knock off a king or anything. Those guys
you sent me wanted way too much for a simple job. And they are too damn
cocky for my liking. Can’t you do better?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Ryan. I just wanted you to be satisfied with the results.
Those two are the best team I know about,” Concetta replied while he
stood wringing his hands behind his back.
“I understand, Sal. I was going to ask you to get me another team
but decided to go to Boston myself and talk to Mic. That is if I can
even find him. Now I want you to make some calls to your truckers in
Boston you know are cozy with any cops. See if you can find out anything
about Mitchell. If he is being true to form, he hangs around pubs where
they play darts. Also, the cops might have him holed-up in a safehouse
or hotel. I’ll repay anything they cash lay-out to the cops and take
care of their time. Get back to me in a few days.”
Boston – Monday:
Harry Malison’s desk held a pile of Telex pages containing transcriptions
of the conversation between Abby and Smyth at their meeting Saturday.
Malison read the transcript upon entering his office and then turned to
a stack of pink telephone messages from Albany, New York City and Boston.
All asking what the next step will be.
“Get hold of the police chief, Scott Wadsworth and Inspector Karl
von Ropp,” Malison instructed his secretary. “See if they are all free
for a meeting tomorrow morning. If so, set it up for ten o’clock. Tell
them it is very important, that Smyth is on the move. Let me know if
any need a time other than ten. Impress on them that it must be tomorrow.
First, put me through to the Albany office.”
It only took two rings and Malison was immediately connected to the
Agent in Charge. “I want a very tight surveillance on Smyth. If absolutely
necessary, have the police detain him on some charge or the other, but
not for too long. Make sure he doesn’t stray out of town. I want to know
immediately if Smyth meets with anyone and when he plans to deliver the
pipe to Harlan Abby. The office will know where to reach me at any time.
I have a feeling this case is coming to a head soon.”
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Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield,
Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean
War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is
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