The Fixer From Boston – Chapter Seven

The Fixer From Boston – Chapter Seven

Monday 6th April 1925 – Atlantic City Bound:

10:00am – Sailing to Portland and onto Atlantic City

We all set sail for Portland on “The Beauregarde” and arrived on Monday 6th April 1925.

Morello and MaGee take Solomon up on his truck driving offer.

Ed and MacNifey take “The Beaureagrade” directly to Boston with Joseph Linsey and the extra guns.

Morello and MaGee meet Joel Fox and David Fox in Portland – Solomon’s heavy hitters are there to oversee the hooch run.

Joel Fox
David Fox

The plan is that we make a dummy run in a truck full of bottled water. Tommy guns are illegal as are silencers in the 1920s.

Sad to hear news of Joseph Linsey and we make a toast, here’s mud in your eye.

David and Joel Fox invites my self and Vincenzo for a quiet drink at drug store.  Want to know about a ‘dame’! Thinks Joseph Linsey was seeing someone.

We offer to find out about her for gratis, don’t want Solly to know  as no real proof. Not trying to get one over on Joseph Linsey. Smart guys.

They are also sure that Mort and Co weren’t anything to do with Gastin Mob.

We’re to report back via Solomon’s private line any road blocks or anything untoward as advance scouts. Along route 95.

Set off AM on Wednesday 8th April.

Wednesday 8th April 1925 – Boston by Road:

09:00am – Holy Water for Boston

Not as green as Irish sounding. Pull over and check the truck in case we’re being double crossed. It’s water.

Just outside Portsmouth we are pulled over by ununiformed heavily armed BAR’s – military weaponary. G-Men and we spot Wild Bill (Wild Bill Donovan) is leading this one. He recognises me.

We exchange banter I  I say I’m running a mission for the church. He laughs.

He has a general warrant to search all vehicles on the highway??

I bet him $100 that it’s clean a charitable donation.

Tell him he needs to see a shrink etc etc. He knows who I know and threatens me. If I catch you blah di blah.

Get to Portsmouth and call Pemberton Law Firm to contact Solly to send another decoy and about Wild Bill’s roving roadblocks.

We stop at “Pete’s Roadhouse” which is also a speakeasy, diner and tea room. We laugh as we entertain….at Ed and Mcnifey on the boat…having fun together.

Because of 3 hour delay truck arrives on Thursday 9th April. While “The Beauregarde” stops at Portsmouth to let off Joseph Linsey who is going to go incognito to Canada to sail to Europe. They also arrive

You gone and you stay gone Mr Joseph Linsey.

“The Beauregard” into dock to fit Elder Eign properly.

We go to First Boston Bank and take out $100k in gold but leave her half and mail back her key as agreed.  We open safe deposit box there too.

Go to meet Solomon.

Before we go in Berkely says this whole operation is a leaky boat’…don’t forget Wallace had a guy in the telegram office, after Amelia had chatted him up, that’s how she got her info.

Tell Solly to use a different  code. Give him face to face.

Solomon pays us $14k plus expenses. We leave with no mention of Peter Sloane.

Monday 13th April 1925 – Boston to Atlantic City:

09:00am – Sailing to Atlantic City

We decide to head to Atlantic City first. Spend a couple of days in Boston catching up with chores and leave on Saturday the 11th April. We arrive in  Atlantic City on Monday 13th April.

Atlantic City - Longport - Part One
Atlantic City – Longport – Part One
Atlantic City - Ventnor - Part Two
Atlantic City – Ventnor – Part Two
Atlantic City - Chelsea - Part Three
Atlantic City – Chelsea – Part Three
Atlantic City - City - Part Four
Atlantic City – City – Part Four
Atlantic City New Jersey - Full
Atlantic City New Jersey – Full
Atlantic City - Wards and Townships
Atlantic City – Wards and Townships

Plan is to moor away from town. Scope “Gentlemen Loser Club”. Buy a boat and lure whoever it is down to the boat and take em out to sea.

Book nice Hotel for 3 days. This side oftown is all about casinos and high end. Play at gambling, womanising etc.

Moor in Gardiner Basin.

“The Gentlemen Loser” is a very high end with casino, a back room for booze and girls. But high end clientele keep away the bulls. We go in looking smart with lightweight weapons, I have stiletoe knife and .38, knuckles and lady .32 (Ed),  .32 McNifey + knuckleduster knife, we have large handkerchiefs etc for disguise. .38 Morello and sap.

We walk there taking in all the sights and sounds.

Inside a lady smoking a cigarette on balcony above us clocks handsome Morello. He notices her jewellery which might or not be fake. She goes to join us.

Elizabeth Prendergast
Elizabeth Prendergast

We have a table reserved in “Pacific Lounge” – a booth. Arrive 7.30PM so we can get a view of reserved table. We ordered fortified tea. Try and observe what else is going on.

McNifey notices two guys pretending not to notice us.

Elizabeth Prendergast joins us, she’s daughter of proprietor, Neville Prendegast. She tells us that they arrived in 1780, after the “War of Independence!” (a British term for the Revolution – weird).

As she passes the “Reserved Table” there is a man in a turban sat there…she seems to shudder as she walks past.  He appears to be from sub-continent. Morello takes a sneaky peak and notices a ring with a small Glass Eye symbol on it.

Two guys on the table opposite, One of the guys WASPish (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) is caught looking at us via his mirrored cigarette holder. The other guy looks Mediterranean or South American.

We’re real men and so order big steaks – rare!

A light skinned Eurasian man joins turban man. They appear to talk in a foreign language. I spot that he’s packing heat. When he leaves he is followed by the South American guy.

Ask about the Maharaja, Elizabeth Prendergast says he’s son of a Nawab… from Bahawalpur!? Wealthy.

She gives Morello her card.

Atlantic City Skyline
Atlantic City Skyline

We leave and head back. Notice being followed. Morello (make hide) and I back track. We get behind him and get him in alley. He is posh English, Howard Simpson.  Not phased by us and has no weapon but tells us he’s working for Maharaja as his security. Intrigued because we were sat in booth next to him.

Tell him we’re from New York City and don’t appreciate the attention.

He’s definitely not what he seems and Ed ain’t buying the tenderfoot story. Ed wanted to punch him in the face.

Too limey to be limey.

No one follows us to Hotel. Ed thinks they’re onto us. I’m not so sure.

Roulette table was rigged.

Tuesday 14th April 1925 – Site Seeing in Atlantic City:

09:00am – Atlantic City Murders

Ed and Vinny look for a boat. Nothing fancy. Spend morning looking.

Atlantic City Docks
Atlantic City Docks

Vinny also organises date in the afternoon with Elizabeth Prendergast.

Billy and I go to check cuttings at  “The Press Of Atlantic City”. Indian Royal arrives in Atlantic City on Sunday March 1st. Son of one of India’s richest moguls. Suite at Gentelmans Loser Club.

Mr Neville Prendergast  met him and has 4 in entourage:

  1. Cook (?)
  2. Man Servant (?)
  3. Security 1 (Howard Simpson)
  4. Security 2 (South American Guy)

Thursday 26th March, Ms Elizabeth Prendergast was assaulted in her place of work. I don’t care how rich he is no one does that to me.

Nothing in next editions. Story by Cory Willis reporter of “The Press Of Atlantic City”. the other newspaper is called “The Atlantic City Weekly”.

Crime section –series of murders in dock area – 7 victims, half throttled and drowned in dock. Between:

Saturday January 10th 1925 and Friday 10th April 1925.

Atlantic City - Boardwalk
Atlantic City – Boardwalk

Sergeant Mullholland is stumped but says he has leads. His story is there Mobsters killing Mobsters!! 6 out of towners, one from Atlantic City and all men. Nothing to worry about, it safe to go swimming.

One witness aboard Polynesian (Sailed Away) now can’t be reached.

1st Man drowns Near Waterway

Saturday January 10th 1925 –written by Harold Grange

Police have identified the body found close to The Waterway in Brighton Avenue was that of Mr. Ray Chapman 34, of New York City.

At this stage Police do not suspect foul play. It was thought to be an unfortunate accident as Mr. Chapman was found with all of his possessions. Nor were there were any signs of defensive wounds.

Police are appealing for witnesses. If you saw or heard anything relating to this case please call Atlantic City PD. Ask for Sgt Mulholland.

2nd Body Washes up on Beach

Saturday January 24th 1925 – written by Harold Grange

Body found near Steeplechase Pier was Mr James Conzelman of Pleasantville, New Jersey. There had been a heavy storm the previous night and it was believed that he was washed out to sea whilst walking on the beach.

3rd Drowning in Recent Weeks

Sunday 8th February 1925 – written by Guy Smith.

Carl Masters, 25 of Boston MA, was found washed up on the beach near Sovereign Avenue. No foul play is suspected.  Family members are being informed.

Death Certificate – Carl Masters

4th Body Beneath fishing Pier found by Anglers

Wednesday 11th March 1925 – written by Guy Smith.

Two Anglers, Sam and Mike Carlsson, found a body under the Fishing Pier near City Hall. The body was later identified as that of Lavern Guyon 28 of NYC.

5th Body Found on Inside Thoroughfare

Saturday 14th March 1925 – written by Harold Grange

Joe Dilweg 22, a resident of Atlantic City was found floating in the Inside Thoroughfare just east of Ventnor Heights. The body may have been as long as one week in the water.

6th Drowning of the Year

Friday 27th March 1925 – written by Guy Smith.

The body of Cal Hubbard, 26, of Jersey City was found floating in the sea off Abesecon Inlet by a fisherman. Authorities believe he must have fallen overboard and been carried in to shore by the tide.

7th Death as Waters of Atlantic City claim yet another life.

10th April 1925 – written by Harold Grange

George Trafton 36 of Providence, RI , was drowned. His body was located on a small mudflat on The Waterway, just north of Brighton Avenue just after dawn.

Atlantic City - Murder Sites
Atlantic City – Murder Sites

Another story – Gold prices subdued in Atlantic City, Pawn brokers etc say city is awash in Gold Dust.

Pawn Shop
Pawn Shop

Elizabeth Prendergast’s (Liz) story – Nawab punched her in eye and threatened her father.

None of the girls will go near him. Reckon he gets girls bussed in somehow.

Not met the Eurasian man before. Sealed telegrams are sent to his room. Perhaps search bins?

His meals are all prepared by his cook, they have some cooking equipment and were given Extinguishers and a couple of Buckets?

She refuses kind offer of Vincenzo’s room for the night reputation and all that.

Pawn shop – Gold – bags of Gold Dust- ground down from nuggets?  being brought in by all kinds of folks.  Don’t know who is actually brining it in. McNifey figures that gold dust is easy to divide. Gold started to come into this pawn shop from February.

22:20pm – Atlantic City Following The Clues

This Atlantic City caper should have been easy street, a sweet piece of candy for me and the boys to get our teeth into. Instead, we’ve gotta a plate of spaghetti to unravel – and by Christ do I hate I-Talian food.

Something don’t fit here…make that nothing don’t fit. Seven bodies get washed up all over the City, 22k gold dust washing up everywhere else, angry Indian princes throwing their weight about, fishy gold necklaces, riddles in a foreign language, a freak show fish man and a whole heap of fat nothings.

It’s time for the Fixers to go to work.

McNifey and I head over to the morgue to see if the Coroner can give us some juice on the corpses.

Death Certificate – Carl Masters

But us Harps, we do things a bit different, after all we get to get our lips on that old Blarney Stone and that’s a gift that don’t leave you.

MaGee: “Eh McNifey?”

MacNifey: “Sure thing Boss.”

MaGee: “See, it’s like this Billy. One day me and The Ghost walk into a Jew bakers over in Roxbury, you know for some of them fine poppy seed bagels, packed with the salt beef stuff, yah know?”

MacNifey: “Sure Boss, they sure taste like the cat’s meow…..wish I was chowin’ down on one right now!”

MaGee: “Well, Morello being Morello, he decides he’s gotta glaum some, just to prove he can, and he’s got three in his holster before the egg behind the jump even gets hinkey to it. I swear Billy; he goes all Wop on me, making out like he’s got the Hope Diamond on board.”

MaGee: “So I whispers, hey, Vinny, that’s just plain thievery, a yegg move that’ll end you up under glass! I bet you a sawbuck that I can do that the honest way and get the same result!”

MaGee: “I got him like a fish now…ya follow?”

MacNifey: “Er, yeah, sure thing.”

MaGee: “So’s I calls the Kike owner over….Sir, I want to show you a magic trick.”

He buckles and I’ve got em both now, hooked. I politely ask for a bagel, which he passes me and I proceed to eat it all up, licking my fingers for good measure. I then ask for two more and do the same routine with each one, stringing it out. We’ve even got a little crowd of Jew dames around us now too, all kinda clucking and cooing like they do.

So the owner’s looking a bit starry now.

Dinner Owner: “O ver iss zhis magic trick zen?”

He demands, a bit grumpily. So I point to Morello and say,

MaGee: “Hey, just take a look in his pockets!”

MaGee: ‘Ahhhahahhahaha!’

I fake laugh, until I start wheezing.

McNifey, kinda half-heartedly snorts too, but he gets my point. We do things differently and that is what keeps us ahead of the pack. It’s what kept us alive in Bellau Wood. Never do the obvious.

I figure the Carl Masters, the third victim, is our best shot, given as how he was a Bostonian and all.

We work the caper like the pros we are. Flashing the corpse inspector some papers and spinning a sob story about the John Doe’s bereaved family. Yadda Mac Yadda doodle. He buys our spiel but I can read that he’s a bit troubled by something. McNifey smells it too.

MacNifey: “So is there something you’re not telling us?”

Billy gently stirs.

MacNifey: “Something maybe the family don’t need to hear?”

Coroner: “Erm, well I don’t quite know how to put this.”

The Coroner mumbles,

Coroner: “It’s all very odd, he was found drowned at high tidemark like he’d been washed up. Sea Water in his lungs, and what looked like rope marks with knots, maybe ligatures, around his neck and thorax. But there were no other obvious signs of being in sea water.”

He pauses and looks at our puppy dog pleading eyes.

Coroner: “Look, I’ll show you the photographs, but you mustn’t let Sgt Mullholland know, ok?”

We nod like we mean it.

He pulls a manila jacket from out of a tall, worn wooden cabinet and deals a dozen or so dead man’s portraits across his desk. McNifey leafs through them, slowly, methodically searching for clues. I look on, feeling McNifey’s growing unease. He pushes a head and neck shot over my way. I can see the rope marks are pretty clear, but I’m more taken by the rictus grin this Joe is giving the camera – he looks terrified.

MaGee: “So, you think Mr Carl Masters could have been hung before being drowned?”

Coroner: “We’re really not sure, but..but…”

His sentence trails off.

I change the subject and ask about any personal effects, catching McNifey’s eye as I do so. He looks shocked to the core; catching my gaze and throwing it back with a wild shake of his head. I’ve missed something!

Carl Masters has some rather too nice rags and expensive accessories including a Davey’s leather breast wallet that still has $100 bucks of spinach intact. So this certainly ain’t no cheap stick up job. But he is most definitely 24k wise and possibly made. The big question is who’d he upset enough to get a lump of hemp wrapped around his pipes?

By the time we head out into the pale spring twilight and start sucking on our Stogies, McNifey is fit to burst.

MacNifey: “Goddam it Boss…didn’t you eyeball it?”

Billy stammers,

MacNifey: “That weren’t no rope marks on his pipes….they were like scars and welts from webbed and clawed mitts….I swear to hell one of those fish guys croaked Carl Masters!”

We walk back to our Hotel, brains fizzing like we’ve both taken a jolt in the chair.

Then it drops like a sweet natural 7 on the craps table! Carl Master is Carlo Masterratti! He works out for the Lombardi crew. A young guy getting himself a tough rep and on the up and up with the Italians. So why’d he get to travel all the way down from Boston to Atlantic City. We just ain’t buying a 350 mile vacation trip. A business trip more likely…. but was he buying or selling?

Do his crew know? Does The King know?

I gather the boys together for some good old head banging on all these washed up schmucks. There’s got to be a link, a pattern, something to unravel this crazy enigma, something to do with goddam Fish Men (Deep Ones) – if McNifey’s hasn’t gone screwy on us.
Ed pulls out a scale map of Atlantic City and we begin to plot a course of death….

#1. Chapman from NYC Found January 10th near The Waterway Brighton Ave. There was a full moon on January 9th

#2. Conzelman from Pleasantville NJ found January 24th by Steeplechase Pier. Dark of the moon January 24th

# 3. Carl Masters, Boston MA February 8th. Full moon February 8th

#4. Guyon also of NYC found March 11th near Fishing Pier near City Hall. Full Moon March 10th

#5. Dilweg a local cat from Atlantic City found March 14th by Inside Thoroughfare, Ventnor Heights. If he wasn’t found straight away then March 10th Full Moon fits the pattern

#6. Hubbard, Jersey City March 27th near Abesecon Inlet. Dark of the Moon 24th March.

#7. Trafton. Providence RI which is where Wiseacre is from – a coincidence? Found April 10th on the shoreline by Brighton Ave. Full Moon Aprril 8th.

This Full Moon – Dark Moon story might just have legs. The locations have duck feet.

We need to get a handle on who and what these guys were and to whom. I send a coded telegram to Pops and Solomon.

Over at the Press of Atlantic City and Atlantic City Press McNifey and Morello get to work digging up leads and speaking to journalists. No surprises that the stories have been doctored on the say so of Sgt Mullholland and the mayor’s Office in a potato fisted attempt to protect tourism. I could rip my guts laughing at that bullshit …don’t they know the general rubelic just love a horror show, just ask Max Schrek…the guy’s made a fortune playing that bloodsucking vampire!

Eventually Morello strikes gold dust: In the local news section a minor paragraph reads:

“On afternoon of Jan 9th John Elvers of Penn Ave AC, was committed after a sudden and complete nervous breakdown. He was found rocking in his armchair by his wife after he had returned from his railmans shift. ‘He was gibbering and raving. I just don’t what happened to him. Explains Mrs Elvers.”

Story by Corey Willis.

‘Where abouts was he working?’ Ponders Morello.

McNifey looks in to Mr Prendergast, owner of “The Gentlemen’s Loser Club” – It turns out he came from over London, worked at the World famous Ritz Hotel and apparently all of a sudden wanted a change of scenery!?

Run away more like, but from what? Billy calls a cutting service for more info on Prendergast’s time in Atlantic City.

The Press of Atlantic City:

25th February 1925 written by Corey Willis

Atlantic City Gets Royal Approval

Mr Neville Prendergast today announced at City Hall that Atlantic City would be paying host to Indian Royalty.

His Royal Highness Nareshkumar Muhammad Khan Abbasi Regent of the North Indian state of Bahawalpur.

He is the 24 year old son of Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasit V King of the North Indian state of Bahawalpur. Bahawalpur is a north eastern state of India situated close to Afghanistan.

Mr Prendergast stated that while it would be an open ended visit please would the public and press respect his privacy as this was his first time abroad. Prior to his arrival in USA he had been on extended tour of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Our regal guest will arrive on 1st March and reside at The Gentleman Loser Club owned by Mr Prendergast.


The Press of Atlantic City:

26th March 1925 written by Corey Willis

Beautiful Hostess Attacked by Guest

Miss Elizabeth Prendergast, popular hostess at The Gentleman Loser Hotel Club and daughter of the proprietor Mr Neville Prendergast was today treated at Atlantic City Hospital for wounds sustained from a guest.

Whilst refusing to say who was responsible a tearful and still clearly distraught young woman uttered “I don’t care who he is, he can’t behave like that!.”

Although not named, smart money is on the perpetrator being none other than Atlantic City’s regal resident himself: Nareshkumar Muhammad Khan Abbasi Regent of the North Indian state of Bahawalpur.

While this reporter tried repeatedly to contact the Prince Regent in his Hotel we received no answer.

We wish Miss Prendergast a full and speedy recovery. Everyone I have spoken cannot speak too highly of her. Tireless worker, benefactor and exemplary company. Her presence has lit up the The Gentleman Loser Club” since she and her father arrived in Atlantic nearly 2 years ago.

The Gentleman Loser will be a lesser venue as long as she remains in hospital.

We return to our Hotel, we are not followed.

Pretty boy Morello books Elizabeth in for brunch tomorrow, Wednesday 15th of April.

Wednesday 15 April 1925 – Atlantic City Investigations:

09:00am – Following Leads in Atlantic City

McNifey and I decide to follow up on that hack’s odd little story and arrange to visit the local loony bin and pay a visit to this Mr Dave Elvers character.

But first off we pay his wife a friendly call.

A great call from McNifey as the poor Dora is ready to crack with hungry mouths to feed and no coin coming in for 4 months.

Mrs Elver: “He was fine when he came back from his day shift working on the railway, he got changed to go to work at the Pink Feather, a downtown joint, where he does a bit of moonlighting.”

MaGee: “Tell me some more about this joint, Mrs Elvers.”

I say, drawing a couple of small presidents to get her attention.

Mrs Elver: “Well….hey you won’t tell the police, will ya?….it’s a high end hooch joint, you know, girls singing and dancing and stuff. The star turn is that Thelma Ickerson woman; flashing her thighs for all the men to see!”

She spits in disgust.

Mrs Elver: “My old man was just a doorman or sometimes worked behind the bar and got payed pretty good, Lord knows we need the money.”

MacNifey: So who owns this hooch palace then?”

McNifey asks.

Mrs Elver: “Mr Wiseacre owns the joint! But be careful with Wiseacre, he’s a nasty man, he even beat my old man up for being late to work one time.”

Mrs Elver: “Anyways, I found him the next morning, just staring wide eyes and nothing behind them, shirtless and sweating and it was January.”

She breaks down and sobs like the good Christian woman that she is.

She writes us a letter of introduction for the madhouse and I slip her a ten bill God bless her.

Me and Billy can barely contain ourselves. Amelia Ickerson appears to have a singing sister and we have a real solid on Wiseacre and quite possibly a fix on these killings. I’ll whistle Dixie in the altogether if Elvers going crazy on Friday January 9th and Chapman’s body being washed up the following day is pure coincidence! Maybe our luck is suddenly turning out four leaf clover.

Down at the Atlantic City Asylum the folks couldn’t be more helpful. They give us a half hour alone with Dave Elvers, but by the state of the poor jabbering wreck, there ain’t 30 minutes left in him.

We’ve come across plenty like him, whose minds never made it out of the filthy trenches in France even though their bodies did. If I’m honest I even tasted it a bit myself, but we don’t dwell on that. We were the fighting Irish and the hell they’re going to squeeze me into one of those special white jackets.

Dave Elvers is rocking crazier than a fairground ride and it don’t take a quack to see his mind’s been cracked and blown by something very bad.

I take my time – don’t wanna spook him – and get him to squeeze my hand.

MaGee: “Was Wiseacre there at the Pink Feather?”

Dave Elver squeezes an affirmative. I try Thelma Ickerson, again its yes.

I carefully describe our Deep One friend.…he becomes animated shaking his head and rolling eyes in fear.

MaGee: “Was it swimming?”

He almost breaks my hand.  It came at night and it’s killed and he’s seen it!

Then he just slumps forward, dribbling and spasming….banging his skull off of the padded wall.

We leave him be and take a yak with the skull doc.

Doctor Kennedy: “No, we’ve had no other similar cases here. All I can say with certainty is that he’s had a terrible trauma, a shock so profound that he may never recover.”

Dr Kennedy explains.

Meanwhile, Vincenzo Morello meets Elizabeth Prendergast at a pleasant little up market diner. They flirt easily over eggs benedict and sweet, steaming cups of Java. He gazes into her eyes, and she into his, melting in limpid pools. Ed Berkeley sits at a nearby booth keeping a watchful eye on proceeding – and more than likely stifling an inclination to retch at this exercise in sugaring candy.

Morello, as sweet as a glace cherry, soon has her eating out of his hand.

Elizabeth Prendergast: “Daddy isn’t really the owner of the Club, you know”

She confesses, her shrill home counties tweeting busily curdling milk.

Elizabeth Prendergast: “He’s just a front piece for this vile man, Wiseacre! He even supressed the story about that piggish Nawab laying his filthy hands on me; he paid me off with this ring.”

Morello manfully keeps a straight face as he appraises her fake jewellery.

She dries her eyes.

Elizabeth Prendergast: “Poor Daddy, he was framed by a high ranking member of the aristocracy, who accused him of embezzlement – he had no choice but to leave.”

Morello hands her his handkerchief. As the waterworks start back up. He really had no choice but to take up Mr Wiseacre’s offer.’

She gives him more dope on the Club and Morello starts to put some pieces together on the Nawab.

Elizabeth Prendergast: “Te guy’s a fake…an actor, working for Wiseacre, playing the big I am….but why, what’s the angle? Apparently the chef is very muscular, wears a turban and a white silk dish dash and keeps a collection of large knives.”

McNifey and I head over to the telegram office and collect a coded response from Solly

Conzelman high up in Pleasantville ran things there – STOP

Joe Dilweg worked for Conzelman and was (possibly) looking for him – STOP

Cal Hubbard high ranking gangster but not made – STOP

Traftor RI worked for Wiseacre – STOP

Send telegram back:

Gardening Holiday in Atlantic City Keep digging up Wiseacre, Interested – STOP

Looking for a paying angle on Wiseacre and maybe The King is willing.


Later that day the cuttings service send over some clippings – ‘Prendergast arrived out of the blue but was quickly fast tracked in to society milieu. No one has a bad word to say about him.

The perfect front of house for “The Gentlemen Loser”.

We all agree that “The Pink Feather” needs to be scoped out and tonight is the night. Given the lack of a full moon, we’re confident things should be pretty quiet.

The Pink Feather Club
The Pink Feather Club

22:00pm – The Pink Feather Club in Atlantic City

I put on a passable disguise on: Thick Rimmed Glasses, Moustache and Hair Dye. Berkeley has his Ladysmith pistol; tucked into  his cummerbund.

I have my stiletto blade in a leg sheath and Morello hides a .38 Auto about his person.

The entrance is discreet with only a brass plaque indicating we are at our destination. Two burly heavies in tuxes bar our way but after some sizing up and tough guy small talk they decide we pass muster (credit rating roll).

Inside, the joint is remarkably well dressed, full of French looking Deco furnishings and artwork. Ickerson’s handiwork?

Berkeley and I are together. Playing the old Noah’s Ark routine.

There’s no mistaking Thelma Ickerson. I’ll be damned if she isn’t an even sweeter piece of ankle than her sister. She’s stood at the bar, smoking cocktail filters and sipping on highballs. She really is stunning, hard to tell but maybe slightly older. I get a half glimpse of a “Gold Necklace” but can’t quite tell if it’s a match for mine.

Thelma Ickerson steps away from the bar when she sees Berkeley and approaches him. He flirts rather unsubtly.  She rolls her eyes…out loud!

Berkeley then throws a rabbit punch of a line.

Berkeley: “Hey you are so beautiful, but there’s two of us…tell me you have a sister?”

I swear she gives a little glimmer, it’s a tell.  I follow up.

MaGee: “You really do have a sister!!”

She doesn’t like this kind of attention and backs off to her dressing room. I order another round of Cognac and take a long pull on my Stogie.

I peer through the dimly lit haze checking out the other 40 or so customers; mostly well-groomed guys and a few glammed up dames.

The Pink Feather Club
The Pink Feather Club

I spot McNifey and Morello stroll in and order up Scotches on the Rocks. Billy spots a very pretty little dame in a red dress sat in a corner on her own, she don’t look like a professional if you take my meaning.  That flabby suit type of guy  –  maybe a city official – is probably just her boss taking out his bit of  trophy fluff.

The lights drop even lower and a spotlight lights up an ostentatious white grand piano.

The MC spins his spiel and Ickerson steps out to a healthy red blooded round of applause, and a few polite whistles.

Thelma Ickerson
Thelma Ickerson

But when Thelma Ickerson starts to sing what emerges from her lips is the essence of lilting, melodic beauty. She sings in a language I cannot comprehend. All I understand is that is the most wondrous sound I have ever heard. It is the sound of silk upon silk. My senses are numbed, intoxicated, even my vision is slightly blurred.

All around us folk are swaying   and rocking as if mesmerised. We join in trying to keep time to their syncopated St Vitus shakes.

I look around and ..Oh dear! Ed starts to sway in time rather too convincingly, like she’s really got a hold of his head. Ed’s never looked so relaxed and chilled.

Thelma Ickerson is clearly checking the room  out as she utters her incomprehensible ululations – perhaps looking to see who is hooked on her melodic hops

I try to focus on it and can’t. Something is very wrong.

Morello spots someone looking through peep holes overlooking the seating area and the bar…are the doors locked too? Morello later tells us he heard them being locked once everyone was swaying.

Ed is sweating and looking woozy.

Bereley: “Haven’t felt like this since before the war.”

Goddam feel like I’m swimming through treacle.  I catch a glance at Ed, he is 100% gone, wet with sweat, entranced. Got to do something!

Behind us I catch a glimpse of those two big galoots approach the pretty dame in the red dress.   It doesn’t seem like she’s caught up like the others – they take her off to a side room, her fat chaperone seems not to have even noticed; he’s solid gone too. Where’d they take her and why? What the hell is this crazy show.

I carry on gyrating to her voice, not daring to give myself away. I see Morello and McNifey doing the same – pretty sure they ain’t lapping up Icky kitty’s cream either.

I do the only thing I can in this tight angle and  grab Ed’s hand and twist back his pinky until it nearly breaks.  Judging by his growl and grimace he’s come round, the spell broken, for now.

The bar hacks seem to be immune –is that something in their ears blocking the sound?….Christ, they can lip read too!

The Pink Feather Club Staff
The Pink Feather Club Staff

Thelma Ickerson’s siren song seems to last forever, and I’m struggling to cope from going under. When she finishes I almost drop with exhaustion. Everyone else seems to stagger and swoon, as if they’ve been sucked dry.

Thelma Ickerson retreats backstage, well and truly pooped by the looks of things too.

Morello spots some wooden steps descending down in the back room where that chick was taken. Is she still alive or will she be washed up like the other seven corpses.

Berkley is still high on the back his spiritual.

Bereley: “I’ve never felt so relaxed, so content”

Jesus! We got to drag this boy back the land of the living.

Atlantic City
Atlantic City

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *