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.

 

EXCERPT FROM CRADLE OF CRIME BOOK


 

Submerged in film and gangster history, assembling  photographs of my father’s movie star friends,  his gangsters’ friends, photographs of the nightclubs he frequented, I pasted these into a collage and posted it above my desk. I played Tommy Dorsey and all the big band leaders of the thirties records imagining these props would provoke memories and a sense of identity to my parents.

 Without knowing how deep I had to go or what shattering evidence would cross my path, in my heart, I felt this was crossing a spiritual bridge to my parents. The flip side was a gripping torment tied to my prying mind.  Dad’.s compulsorily privacy was in my hands now and so was voice. He was inside my head reading his lines. “Stay out of my room–out of my affairs–out of my life!”   

      “I have to break into your life to break my silence.  I want to understand you and Mommy.”

     “Don’t expect any help from me! Put your nose in another book, the Allen Smiley story isn’t for sale.”    

 No matter what I uncovered I knew it would be ambiguous and controversial. I was certain there would be no record of murder, dope peddling, or prostitution.  Even so, I could never understand the similarities we shared, unless I knew them as people.   The ethereal staging did more than provoke memories; a sense of belonging rooted me to the golden years of Hollywood.

I was completely uneducated in the craft of research. My first phone call was to the Beverly Hills Police Department. They were not very helpful after I told them who my father was. 

‘The Bugsy Siegel case is still open. We cannot release any files on your father. Call the Criminal District Office; they’ll have records of him there.’ The case was open? Sounded a bit squishy to me.  

On a stormy day when the queen palms whipped though torrential rain, flooded streets and metallic clouds hanging low like a net over the sky I was on my way to the Criminal District Office in the Hall of Justice on Spring Street. Unfamiliar to me, but somehow as I walked up the prolonged steps it was recognizable from films and television. The Courthouse, the County Jail, all that authority in an unmarked white stucco building. Not a blade of grass out of place. When I arrived at the entrance my heart was racing.  My father’s voice did not interfere with my direction but I felt his disapproval. The first person I confronted was an imposing woman with a sternness that studied me.

      “May I help you?”

      “I hope so. I apologize for the intrusion. I don’t have an appointment.”

      “What are you asking?”

      “I am looking for whatever files you have on my father.”         

     She reached for the desk drawer and passed me a form. She asked me to step aside and fill it out. 

      “My father died twelve years ago. I don’t have any other family to explain things to me.”

       “I’m not at liberty to give you any information.”

       “I know that. Can you tell me if you have files on Benjamin Siegel?”

        “You mean Bugsy?”

         “Yes.”

        “Was your father Bugsy?”

        “No, he was … his friend.” 

        “What was his name?”

        “Allen Smiley.”  She turned to her computer and entered something. She read from the screen and then removed her glasses and rubbed her eyes. 

      “Your father is in the system.”

     I gave her the form with his FBI number and started to leave.

     “Here, come back. I found the criminal case numbers. The numbers are 19778, 19926, and she read out nine different cases. As I watched her write these down I thought they know things about my father that I don’t.

     “Bring these to the National Archives in Laguna Nigel.” She said.  

 Outside the clouds converged over the San Bernadino Mountains. The strain to see through reminded me of my own predicament; how to see through the fog of secrecy and ambiguity.  The following day I drove to the National Archives. I didn’t know such a place existed. A polite man took my case numbers and when he returned he was wheeling a shopping cart of files. His name was Bill Doty. 

   “So your Dad was Allen Smiley?”

    “Yes. You’ve heard of him?”

“There’s a lot written about him in Johnny Roselli’s files. I know he was very close to Johnny. We have ten-thousand pages on him.”

I looked at the brown manila files he stacked on a desk for me.

     “I’ll be here all day.”

     “We close at four o’ clock. Do you want to see the Roselli files?”

     “Not just yet–I have to read these first.” The files took me on a criss-cross chase of a man I didn’t know. The case files included testimonies, court transcripts, appeals, and newspaper articles.  

     “How’s it going?” Bill appeared.

     “This is a novel. Like reading about some one else.”    

     “Do you recognize any of the names?”

     “Oh yea.”

Even now twenty-two years later I can conjure up the exact image of that sterile polished reading room, my stomach churning, the sound of the doors opening and closing, and Bill’s footsteps on the waxed tile floor. Crunched over the stack of documents I read my father’s answers to Examining Officers questions, from an Immigration and Naturalization Agency (INS) hearing in 1962.

“ Were you closely associated with Benjamin Siegel for the three years prior to his murder?”

“The only way I could explain it, was a friendly association.”

“Friendly business association or friendly social association?” 

“Just the same type of friendly association that I have with people in every occupation of life. By the same token, I have had the occasion to have the President of Notre Dame in my home, Father Cavanaugh, Doctors, Lawyers, people of every description. I go by the golden rule. I treat people the way I like to be treated.”  

The faded black type on his three page arrest record elevated my distress; assault, bookmaking, operating without a liquor license, robbery, extortion, contempt of court, suspicion of robbery, suspicion of murder, the words blurred. Suspicion of murder? Maybe Jack was right; Dad had more involvement than a friendly association.  Every few hours I went outdoors and sat on a bench to breathe. My stomach was stiff as those fastened files. It was a feeling I’d never experienced in my life. 

 Bill circled around me as I slumped further into the past, the florescent lights blinding me. When I closed the files, and told him I’d be back in a week, Bill insisted I see the Johnny Roselli archives. There were eight shelves on either side of the aisle, and while I gazed at this galactic inventory the face of Johnny erupted. Seated in a red leather booth at La Dolca Vita, sipping red wine, his eyes

MWSnap1978 ROSELLI DEATH watery pools filled with the density of his life.

     “Have you read Ed Becker’s book, All American Mafioso?” Bill asked. He randomly pulled a file from the rack. 

     “No.”

     “You should; your Dad is in it.  Look at this history so few people know about. The government hired Roselli to assassinate Castro! You have to read these files.”

 

 

JOHNNY ROSELLI – MURDERED?


I met Johnny for the first time at my mother’s funeral. He told she was a saint.

JOHNNY ROSELLI.jpg2
A blue Ford sedan with tinted windows pulled up in front of a bar in Biscayne Bay. The driver Tony, stared out the windshield looking beyond the boundaries made by man. Two of his men, sat in silence in the back seat. They were staring ahead, in the same mental latitude as the driver, with unblinking surgeon eyes. Tony turned off the ignition and leaned back. The only sound came from the flapping of the bar screen door.
“Move,” Tony ordered closing his eyes. Abe and Chuck exited the sedan in one long continuous motion as if they tied together. Tony waited, without changing the position of his right hand on the leather coated steering wheel. He heard the bar door squeak as it opened. He could see Abe and Chuck entering the bar. He did not need to see them physically. This was stored in his memory. The single file procession into the bar, the attachment to the target, and the guarded exit. Tony checked the time on his pocket watch. The minutes went slowly. He lost his concentration, and was tumbling in memories; he filed them in two categories, the ones that belonged to the outfit, and the ones that belonged to him. He slipped back to the sixties, in Las Vegas, when the boys sat poolside at the Desert Inn and bit into olives handed to them by freshly polished show girls in bikinis. Then he saw Johnny, lounging at the pool, his crown of white hair perfectly combed. He was surrounded by showgirls. The dames loved Johnny. He was better than any Hollywood movie star.
Then the door to the passenger side opened. Tony glanced at the blue gabardine slacks, and Gucci loafers. He could smell Johnny, even before he got in the car. His scent was recognizable, as if he’d been born wearing Boucheron.
“For crying out loud boys–I was just getting
an erection. ”
Johnny turned to Tony, the man he met twenty years ago when he was a driver for Santos Trafficante, the Mafia Don in Florida. Johnny slapped his knee and wheezed through his laugher. Tony couldn’t return the glance, or the laughter
“Tony! What’s the long face for, are we going to a funeral?” Tony shook his head from left to right. He gripped the steering wheel, afraid he might put his fist right through the windshield. Johnny nudged his rib.
“Loosen up, you’ll miss the target.” Tony reached into his breast pocket.
“Have a cigar Johnny, fresh from Castro. The same brand you tried to poison him with remember?” Tony’s forced laughter sounded hollow.
“Hell, that wasn’t my idear; you guys are still screwing up the story. That’s your problem, if you’re gonna squeal at least tell it the way it happened.”
“You shouldn’t talk bout squealing Johnny,” Chuck interrupted.
“Shut your trap,” Tony snapped. Johnny did not appear to hear the comments, or if he did chose not to recognize the remarks of the backseat thug.
Johnny took the cigar and fingered it. He twirled it around with two fingers, and then placed it under his nostrils and inhaled deeply.
“Doc says no more–not if I’m gonna live without an oxygen tank tucked into my pocket. How ‘bout that? I even gave up the cigars when I moved down here. I can’t afford them anymore.” His laughter came easy, the way it always did.
“Johnny……I,” Tony stuttered.
“Did you hear the joke about the Italian and the Jew?” Tony nodded yes, but Johnny began telling the joke anyway. Tony turned the ignition on and drove away from town, slowly like they do in a funeral procession. They left the parts of the city ruled by law and order. The white villas shaded by palms, and guarded security gates. They descended into the pit of the buried past, the old rail yards, the site of hollow industrial buildings and warehouses. From there Tony entered an abandoned parking lot inside a junkyard, piled high with tin and steel parts. At one time they were valuable, like Johnny. Those days were gone, the junk piled up, just like dead Mafia Dons.
The sky dimmed in these parts of town, the shadows from the freeway overpass blocked the late crimson sunlight. Johnny was quiet now, sitting calmly with his hands folded together in his lap. His facial muscles relaxed, the jokes were over now. His mind was elsewhere.
“The son of a bitch gave me no choice John! I’m sure dead too if I ….” Tony stammered.
“Stop your babbling, I’m not your priest. I got a few orders for you. I want you to get word to Smiley, before anyone, you hear me. Don’t call his home; he’s got a private service. I’ll give you the number when I’m finished. He’ll know what to tell my sister. He’s a born messenger of bad news. Had to do it too many times.”
“How long you known we was coming?” Tony asked solemnly.
“Just as long as I’ve been taking orders. Tony my boy, I didn’t think I’d go out like Brando in the movie. How long has it been now? …forty-five years. That’s a long life in these shoes. The whole mess is running through my head Tony, as we sit here, it’s like a movie .You want to know the best of it; I mean the one moment worth remembering. The first night I walked into the Mayflower Hotel as a guest of Capone. My first big shindig was a coming out party for Joey Lewis’s big fight. I was so impressed with Ricca back then, I tried to mimic him. Must have looked like a soiled fool. I thought I had a smart suit on until I got to the party, and took a look around. Suddenly I felt like a Pisano clown. I said to myself, I’ll never know this again; never will I feel less than the people around me. Capone treated me good in the beginning, all that money he threw around….. It impressed Rockefeller.”
“Johnny it’s getting late,” Tony interrupted.
“Capone was puffed up that night, shaking hands with Walker and the boys at Tammany Hall. We were all one then, the politicians and the boys. I don’t know how the thing got so screwed up.”
The car came to an abrupt stop, and the back door opened. Chuck got out and stretched his legs. Johnny glanced at him, “See, no respect anymore. I would have diced his fingers off in the old days. Get out of the car Abe; go polish your piece or something,” Johnny ordered, and then continued his story.
“That was the night Tony, the best of everything all night and I didn’t sleep for a day afterward because I was so swollen with myself. It sounds silly now.” Just as Tony tipped his head in memory’s path, Johnny clapped his hands loudly. Tony shuddered as Johnny knew he would.
“Lemme see the equipment,” He ordered tossing the sentiment out of his voice. He turned his steely blue eyes on Tony and waited.
“They loaded me up, like I was going to a massacre. They’re still afraid of you John. Even now I have to say.” Tony rattled; he’d lost the last bit of dry eyed machismo.
“That’s a relief.” Johnny answered.
Tony got out of the car and hopped around the front to open the door for Johnny. He felt queasy in his stomach like the first time he had a hit. He watched Johnny now, knowing it would be some story to tell. First Johnny scanned his surroundings, like the eye of a camera. He could take in distant angles without moving a muscle. He could estimate the distance of things, the entrances, and exits of buildings without appearing to even look in that direction. He closed his eyes for a minute. They all watched, and waited.
“You fellas been here earlier?” Johnny shouted. The three men exchanged a mutual questioning glance. Johnny shook his head in disgust.
“How can you show up at a location without knowing every rock and puddle? Christ! Am I gonna have to shoot myself? Show me the equipment before I scare you off.”
Tony reluctantly unlocked the trunk of the car. Johnny stepped forward, pushing Abe and Chuck out of the way.
“Looks like a lot of machinery for a seventy year old veteran. Whatta they think, someone’s gonna drop down here with back up and take you boys on. What the hell are the knives for?” Abe and Chuck rocked nervously on their heels. Tony hunched over, as if drawing breath from the ground.
“Tony!” Johnny yelled.
“I‘m sick Johnny …. lemme catch my breath.”
“Yea, you do that, while Abe and Chuck sharpen the knives. Go on fellas get your pieces.”
“Johnny, we have orders,” Tony whispered
“From who? I don’t care if you skin me! I want to know who gave the order!”
“It’s not who you think Johnny, I could hardly believe it myself.” Johnny moved closer to Tony, he stroked his back, and whispered, “I promise I won’t tell pal,” he said squeezing Tony’s balls.
“The order came from the White House; they called Santos, and told him to take care of it. Johnny I can’t go through it, I can’t do it.” Then he fell to his knees and clutched Johnny’s leg, sobbing.
“It’s all right Tony, get up and give it to me the way they asked.”
“We’ll clean you out first shot,” Abe interjected. Again Johnny did not acknowledge the comment. He reached out and put his hands on Tony’s shoulders, and looked him in the eye.
“It’s bad, they got cement don’t they?”
“Oh Christ! let me take this all back. I can’t do what they ask. They want us to chop the legs, get you inside a steel drum, and in the water.” Tony suddenly heaved up, and vomited, sobbing at the same time.
“Jesus Christ Tony, you’re disgusting,” Abe shouted. He took a cigarette from his pocket. Johnny turned slowly around and glared at the bridge of his nose. He locked in on the spot, and gradually walked toward him. He reached for Abe’s pistol, a 357 magnum and holding it in Abe’s hand guided the pistol until it was pointing directly into his eyes.
“If you’re in a hurry, go ahead and shoot me now.” Abe turned sideways, regained hold of his pistol and walked away. Johnny leaned against the car, and wiped his brow.
“Let me alone for awhile; take a walk, all of you.” He ordered.
Tony pulled himself up and wiped his mouth. That was the least he could do, give the boss one last moment. He signaled for Abe and Chuck to follow and they headed towards one of the abandoned warehouses. Johnny waited until they were exactly thirty-five feet off. Then he slid into the car, and turned on the ignition. In a whirl of smoky dirt, he spun the car around three times, and flew past the boys, laughing his head off. He didn’t stop laughing until he reached the airport. He left the car, and ran all the way to the reservation desk of Air Italia. Perspiring and short of breath, he said to the pretty young clerk. “One way ticket please;to Palermo,Sicily.” Johnny was going home.
THE END.

Reference: All American Mafioso, the Johnny Roselli Story. By: Ed Becker.

JOHNNY ROSELLI, THE BENEVLOVENT BOSS


My dad was Johnny’s pal, close, like brothers, all through their life. Uncle Johnny

was my hero, he calmed my dad down, and he loved my mother because he knew she was a saint, and he was immensely religious.  This is how I imagined his murder.

A blue Ford sedan with tinted windows pulled up in front of a bar in Biscayne Bay.  The driver Tony, stared out the windshield looking beyond the boundaries made by man.  Two of his men, sat in silence in the back seat.  They were staring ahead, in the same mental latitude as the driver, with unblinking surgeon eyes.  Tony turned off the ignition, and leaned back. The only sound came from the flapping of the bar screen door.

“Move,” Tony ordered closing his eyes. Abe and Chuck exited the sedan in one long continuous motion as if they were tied together. Tony waited, without changing the position of his right hand on the leather coated steering wheel. He heard the bar door squeak as it opened. He could see Abe and Chuck entering the bar. He did not need to see them physically. This was stored in his memory. The single file procession into the bar, the attachment to the target, and the guarded exit. Tony checked the time on his pocket watch. The minutes went slowly. He lost his concentration, and was tumbling in memories; he filed them in two categories, the ones that belonged to the outfit, and the ones that belonged to him. He slipped back to the sixties, in Las Vegas, when the boys sat poolside at the Desert Inn and bit into olives handed to them by freshly polished show girls in bikinis.   Then he saw Johnny, lounging at the pool, his crown of white hair perfectly combed. He was surrounded by showgirls. The dames loved Johnny. He was better than any Hollywood movie star.

Then the door to the passenger side opened. Tony glanced at the blue gabardine slacks, and Gucci loafers.  He could smell Johnny, even before he got in the car. His scent was recognizable, as if he’d been born wearing Boucheron.

“For crying out loud boys–I was just getting

an erection. ”

Johnny turned to Tony, the man he met twenty years ago when he was a driver for Santos Trafficante, the Mafia Don in Florida.  Johnny slapped his knee and wheezed through his laughter. Tony couldn’t return the glance, or the laughter

“Tony! What’s the long face for, are we going to a funeral?” Tony shook his head from left to right. He gripped the steering wheel, afraid he might put his fist right through the windshield. Johnny nudged his rib.

“Loosen up, you’ll miss the target.”  Tony reached into his breast pocket.

“Have a cigar Johnny, fresh from Castro. The same brand you tried to poison him with remember?” Tony’s forced  laughter sounded hollow.

“Hell, that wasn’t my idear; you guys are still screwing up the story.  That’s your problem, it you’re gonna squeal at least tell it the way it happened.”

“You shouldn’t talk bout squealing Johnny,” Chuck interrupted.

“Shut your trap,” Tony snapped.  Johnny did not appear to hear the comments, or if he did chose not to recognize the remarks of the backseat thug.

Johnny took the cigar and fingered it. He twirled it around with two fingers, and then placed it under his nostrils and inhaled deeply.

“Doc says no more–not if I’m gonna live without an oxygen tank tucked into my pocket. How ‘bout that? I even gave up the cigars when I moved down here. I can’t afford them anymore.” His laughter came easy, the way it always did.

“Johnny……I,” Tony stuttered.

“Did you hear the joke about the Italian and the Jew?” Tony nodded yes, but Johnny began telling the joke anyway. Tony turned the ignition on and drove away from town, slowly like they do in a funeral procession. They left the parts of the city ruled by law and order.  The white villas shaded by palms, and guarded security gates. They descended into the pit of the buried past, the old rail yards, the site of hollow industrial buildings and warehouses. From there Tony entered an abandoned parking lot inside a junkyard, piled high with tin and steel parts. At one time they were valuable, like Johnny. Those days were gone, the junk piled up, just like dead Mafia Dons.

The sky dimmed in these parts of town, the shadows from the freeway overpass blocked the late crimson sunlight. Johnny was quiet now, sitting calmly with his hands folded together in his lap. His facial muscles relaxed, the jokes were over now. His mind was elsewhere.

“The son of a bitch gave me no choice John! I’m sure dead too if I ….” Tony stammered.

“Stop your babbling, I’m not your priest. I got a few orders for you. I want you to get word to Smiley, before anyone, you hear me. Don’t call his home; he’s got a private service. I’ll give you the number when I’m finished.  He’ll know what to tell my sister. He’s a born messenger of bad news. Had to do it too many times.”

“How long you known we was coming?”  Tony asked solemnly.

“Just as long as I’ve been taking orders. Tony my boy, I didn’t think I’d go out like Brando in the movie. How long has it been now? …forty-five years. That’s a long life in these shoes.  The whole mess is running through my head Tony, as we sit here, it’s like a movie rewinding. You want to know the best of it; I mean the one moment worth remembering. The first night I walked into the Mayflower Hotel as a guest of Capone. My first big shindig was a coming out party for Joey Lewis’s big fight.  I was so impressed with Ricca back then, I tried to mimic him. Must have looked like a soiled fool. I thought I had a smart suit on until I got to the party, and took a look around. Suddenly I felt like a paisano clown. I said to myself, I’ll never know this again; never will I feel less than the people around me. Capone treated me good in the beginning, all that money he threw around…..  It impressed Rockefeller.”

“Johnny it’s getting late,” Tony interrupted.

“Capone was puffed up that night, shaking hands with Walker and the boys at Tammany Hall. We were all one then, the politicians and the boys. I don’t know how the thing got so screwed up.”  The car came to an abrupt stop, and the back door opened. Chuck got out and stretched his legs. Johnny glanced at him, “See, no respect anymore.  I would have diced his fingers off in the old days. Get out of the car Abe; go polish your piece or something,” Johnny ordered, and then continued his story.

“That was the night Tony, the best of everything all night and I didn’t sleep for a day afterward because I was so swollen with myself. It sounds silly now.” Just as Tony tipped his head in memory’s path, Johnny clapped his hands loudly. Tony shuddered as Johnny knew he would.

“Lemme see the equipment,” He ordered tossing the sentiment out of his voice. He turned his steely blue eyes on Tony and waited.

“They loaded me up, like I was going to a massacre. They’re still afraid of you John. Even now I have to say.” Tony rattled; he’d lost the last bit of dry eyed machismo.

“That’s a relief.”  Johnny answered.

Tony got out of the car and hopped around the front to open the door for Johnny.  He felt queasy in his stomach like the first time he had a hit. He watched Johnny now, knowing it would be some story to tell.  First Johnny scanned his surroundings, like the eye of the camera.  He could take in distant angles without moving a muscle. He could estimate the distance of things, the entrances, and exits of buildings without appearing to even look at that direction. He closed his eyes for a minute. They all watched, and waited.

“You fellas been here earlier?” Johnny shouted.  The three men exchanged a mutual questioning glance. Johnny shook his head in disgust.

“How can you show up at a location without knowing every rock and puddle?  Christ! Am I gonna have to shoot myself? Show me the equipment before I scare you off.”

Tony reluctantly unlocked the trunk of the car.  Johnny stepped forward, pushing Abe and Chuck out of the way.

“Looks like a lot of machinery for a seventy year old veteran. Whatta they think, someone’s gonna drop down here with back up and take you boys on. What the hell are the knives for?” Abe and Chuck rocked nervously on their heels. Tony hunched over, as if drawing breath from the ground.

“Tony!” Johnny yelled.

“I‘m sick Johnny …. lemme catch my breath.”

“Yea, you do that, while Abe and Chuck sharpen the knives. Go on fellas get your pieces.”

“Johnny, we have orders,” Tony whispered

“From who?  I don’t care if you skin me!  I want to know who gave the order!”

“It’s not who you think Johnny, I could hardly believe it myself.” Johnny moved closer to Tony, he stroked his back, and whispered, “I promise I won’t tell pal,” he said squeezing Tony’s balls.

“The order came from the White House; they called Santos, and told him to take care of it. Johnny I can’t go through it, I can’t do it.”  Then he fell to his knees and clutched Johnny’s leg, sobbing.

“It’s all right Tony, get up and give it to me the way they asked.”

“We’ll clean you out first shot,” Abe interjected. Again Johnny did not acknowledge the comment.  He reached out and put his hands on Tony’s shoulders, and looked him in the eye.

“It’s bad, they got cement don’t they?”

“Oh Christ! let me take this all back.  I can’t do what they ask. They want us to chop the legs, get you inside a steel drum, and in the water.” Tony suddenly heaved up, and vomited, sobbing at the same time.

“Jesus Christ Tony, you’re disgusting,” Abe shouted. He took a cigarette from his pocket. Johnny turned slowly around and glared at the bridge of his nose. He locked in on the spot, and gradually walked toward him. He reached for Abe’s pistol, a 357 magnum and holding it in Abe’s hand guided the pistol until it was pointing directly into his eyes.

“If you’re in a hurry, go ahead and shoot me now.”  Abe turned sideways. Then he dropped his aim, and walked away. Johnny leaned against the car, and wiped his brow.      “Let me alone for awhile; take a walk, all of you.” He ordered.

Tony pulled himself up and wiped his mouth.  That was the least he could do, give the boss one last moment. He signaled for Abe and Chuck to follow and they headed towards one of the abandoned warehouses.  Johnny waited until they were exactly thirty-five feet off.  Then he slid into the car, and turned on the ignition.  In a whirl of smoky dirt, he spun the car around three times, and flew past the boys, laughing his head off.  He didn’t stop laughing until he reached the airport. He left the car, and ran all the way to the reservation desk of Air Italia.  Perspiring and short of breath, he said to the pretty young clerk.  “One way ticket please, to Palermo…. Sicily.” Johnny was going home.

John Rosselli (right) checks over a writ of ha...

John Rosselli (right) checks over a writ of habeas corpus with his lawyer, Frank Desimone after Rosselli surrendered to the U.S. Marshall here yesterday… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reference: All American Mafioso, The Johnny Roselli Story.  By: Ed Becker.

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE MAFIA”


John Rosselli (right) checks over a writ of ha...

UNCLE JOHNNY

Growing up the daughter of a gangster meant that I would remain a  little girl forever. My father died when I was 29, but emotionally I was still a teenager.

Had I had known that I was seated next to one of the most powerful and influential men in the  Mafia, Johnny Roselli,   then I would have listened with sharpened ears, and repeated bits of explosive headline blood curdling stories to my girlfriends. That would have placed myself, my father, Johnny and my friends in jeopardy. An informant from the government may tag me on the way home from school, or tag one of my friends,  or an enemy of the Boss, may pick me up from school and not bring me back.  Everyone is suspect: an informant, or weak enough to become an informant, a loose lipped wise guy, a bragging connected businessman, a friend of a friend, a cousin of a brother, and a daughter of a gangster. We are all potential targets of this organization known as the Mafia, Mob, syndicate, Costa Nostra, or our thing.  Growing up in this circle of gamblers, killers, fixers, enforcers,  bookies was like growing up in a novel, it was a fictional tale all the way, until the end of my father’s life.    There is a drop down board that appears every time I write about our family business that reads,

“ How dare you open my life to the world, what do you know? You know nothing little sweetheart, and that’s the way I planned it. “

“There’s no such thing as the Mafia! If you ever mention that word again, you’re leaving this house!”   I melted down to the floor, and he was ominous as God standing over me. I would never mention the word again, I promised, and I would never believe in the Mafia.