EXCERPT FROM CRADLE OF CRIME


CHAPTER NINE

1998 WAS ALL RIGHT

AWAKENING ON THE ROADRUNNER SHUTTLE as we chugged up the steep grade highway, the red skin of Taos peeled back the imposing medieval Gorge crack. The cavity unzipped and five thousand feet below was the Rio Grande. I felt the altitude filling my lungs, and my eyes twitching from one scenic masterpiece to another. Everyone in the shuttle was giving me a history lesson about Taos. Before I knew it, the shuttle door opened, and the driver yelled, ‘Smiley.”

At the end of a two-mile dirt road the shuttle dropped me off and I was shouldered on either side by melting banks of snow.  It was April. Unexpected snow storms arrived the same week.

The FBI boxes I’d shipped were in front of my casita.  Darting from room to room, thoroughly satisfied with a two-story loft, floor to ceiling windows, and sunlight in all the right spots. I unpacked in the seductive silence. Was I all alone out here?  A few other casitas were on the property but they looked vacant. A pang of anxiety seized and then I realized, I had a cell phone, a credit card, and cash. I could always call a cab right.  It was winter in April; the first time I’d lived in falling

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DH. LAWRENCE WRITING ROOM. TOAS.

snow.  In the dining room, I unpacked the boxes and arranged them in a circle around the circumference of the table. It was a heavy southwestern oak table, twelve feet along, and to the right was sliding glass doors allowing the light to stream across the black and white print. I was left to unravel two thousand more pages on Dad’s criminal life.

The trip was extended to two months. I read all the files and  left Taos a different woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPEN THE DOOR!


 

The world we are living is not familiar; everyday it erupts with an inconceivable corruption, acts of violence, and viciousness against humanity. It’s not the Italian roast coffee that wakes me up, it’s world news.  I feel less and less a part of humanity and more like a wild creature chewing on an old bone.  My outlook on social clubs, synagogue and church congregations, membership clubs, group classes, and let’s meet up organizing makes a lot of sense now. Especially if you don’t have children or a life mate. The temptation to retreat into a decorous  world of fantasy is irresistible.  Experience taught me that losing it, giving up, hugging the pillow with film noir on the screen will revive me. It may take two days or more, the freedom to indulge in the absurdity, tragedy, and comedy of life is available to me.  I am fortunate that all those years studying real estate, listening and proving myself by placing money in the bosses pocket, trickled into my life.  For my Gen-X and Millennium pals I say this; buy a duplex somewhere you may want to live that is not crowded yet!

It’s a great big wide wide world if you leave the doors open. I’m feeling  really happy and if I CAN DO IT SO CAN YOU. 

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EXCERPT FROM CRADLE OF CRIME BOOK


An unexpected phone call came one day from Ms. Green, a woman I’d contacted with the INS about Dad’s files. She’d located them and agreed to give me copies of the five thousand pages! There was no going back now. Ed Becker told me that the INS most likely had copies of the FBI investigation, ‘Take it slow and remember the contents was written by your father’s enemies, the government! I had an appointment with Ms. Green the following week.

The split green metal door was closed so I knocked. A woman opened the door; she appeared the perfect clerk for a windowless metal room of paper. Long uncombed oily hair and a complexion untouched by sunlight.

“We’re closed,” she mumbled.

“How can that be? I have an appointment with Ms. Green.” The clerk looked at my despairing agony unwillingly.

“She’s not here.”

“My name is Lily Smiley and I’m here to pick up copies of the files on Allen Smiley. Would you take a look on the shelves in front of you? Maybe she left them on the front desk here.

“They’re not here.”

“Will you call her and ask where she left them?”

The clerk shut the door while I gripped the other side in case she tried to lock it.

“Ms. Green said they’re classified. We can’t release them.”

“Really? They’ve been classified in the last week?”

The door closed. I pounded on it and a tantrum sprouting from suspicion unleashed. I sensed the government stepped in and classified the files for a reason. As I descended the steps of the Department of Justice I saw my father standing with legs apart, arms crossed over his chest, seething with disapproval. I heard something like this, “You’re going to dig a little too far and sink in if you don’t stop this investigation.”

Westwood village where I lived with my mother sedated my defiance against the day’s disappointment. If I was in Los Angeles I’d stop and walk the streets where my puberty slowly blossomed in a college town with bookstores, two movie theaters, record shops, and the old Mario’s Restaurant where we used to order baskets of garlic bread and coca cola. Wandering through a kaleidoscope of the past, I walked into Walton’s Bookstore. I was intercepted by a prominent display of a newly released book; Contract on America, The Mafia Murder of President of John F. Kennedy. I opened the index and one of the first names I recognized was Gus Alex; my Uncle Gussie. He was a booming personality befitting his height, with jet black hair and bulky features. Uncle Gussie was married to my mother’s confidante Marianne; a statuesque blonde model and dancer. She held Grace Kelly poise. Even as a young girl I sensed she didn’t like me around. Marianne and Mom talked for hours in her bedroom.

Relief thickened with the absence of my father’s name in the index. Uncle Johnny ( Johnny Roselli) was written about extensively. I could only glance through the book; every page blurred into the murder of the most loved President in my lifetime. The allegation that  Johnny was involved in the JFK murder strapped me to that book for hours; an unforgivable juxtaposition between inquisitiveness  and apprehension. It was like playing scrabble with real names, photos, fiction or non-fiction I didn’t know.

EXCERPT: “West Coast Mobster Johnny Roselli was one of several underworld figures, chiefly associate of Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante and Jimmy Hoffa, whom Jack Ruby contacted in the months before the assassination of JFK. In the mid-1970s, an aging Roselli began telling associates, journalists, and Senate Investigators that Ruby was “one of our boys” and had been delegated to silence Oswald.”    JOHNNY ROSELLIJohn Roselli

I could not believe what I was reading; anymore than I would believe my father was associated or informed of these events.

I’ve been subjected to scorn, disgrace, and dismissal during  conversations about Johnny. Those of us kids who knew him as Uncle Johnny  have our own stories.