Vol IV: Triple Cross
Greasy Lake, 2001, by: David J. Mieras
Where David and the corner boys get cheated by Mr. Electro.
The Bayonne gangsters had a summer pad overlooking the Shark River just off Route 35. Jake and Moxie, both admirers of Davy's mother, Dorothy, were aging crooks who had been put out to pasture. Their responsibility was to pick up the cash from the many businesses that paid protection to the mob, and this was a strategic location for their bagman operations on the shore. Davy had made the rounds a couple of times with these good fellows in the mid Nineteen Sixties and watched in amazement while a paper shopping bag was filled with green. Jake really dug Dorothy and he'd often take her, Davy, and his young sisters out to dinner at fine establishments. On occasion they'd head north to Bayonne and dine at the Port Terminal Grill, which bordered the Bayonne Naval Shipyard. This joint was owned and operated by the Italian brotherhood, and the food was outstanding.<p>
One evening Jake mentioned to Davy that if he was ever in the Bayonne area he could stop by the Port Terminal and the meal would be on him. Davy made a trip to Great Neck, Long Island one weekend to visit some friends, and on the way back to the shore he took a bus over to Bayonne and decided to take Jake up on his offer. Entering the Grill, Davy was greeted by an attractive hostess. "Good evening young sir, would you care for dinner?" she asked. "Yes, beautiful lady, and I could also use a drink." She replied, "Excellent, please follow me," as she escorted Davy to a table in the rear. Sitting down, Davy thanked the woman and proceeded to scan the menu. Hmm, steak pizziola, I've never had that, he thought. The waiter approached and asked if Davy would care for a refreshment. "Sure, I'd like a bottle of wine, and would you please have the hostess choose the finest you have and join me for a drink. Oh, and place a ten dollar tip on my check for your trouble." Surprised at Davy's boldness, the waiter rushed over to the hostess and whispered in her ear. She glanced over at Davy and he waved a gesture of reassurance that this request was on the up and up. Based on past experience while dining with Jake, Davy knew he would not be proofed for the consumption of alcohol because of his age.<p>
In short order the waiter and hostess delivered a bottle of Clicquot Yellow Label on ice. Davy made a toast to the pretty redhead and they became fast friends. "Put ten dollars on the tab for yourself, pretty lady, and have the waiter order me the steak pizziola medium rare, please." "Absolutely, young sir; whatever you want, just ask."<p>
After dessert, Davy ordered a few rounds of Courvoisier. He knew all about the finer spirits from his job as bus boy at the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune. Feeling no pain, he requested a check. "Here you go sir, it was a pleasure serving you," said the waiter. Davy asked for a pen, signed his name, and handed the check to the waiter. Puzzled, the waiter was at a loss for words. "The amount is eighty dollars. Will that be cash or credit card?" snapped the waiter. "It will be neither," Davy replied. "The bill's on Jake." The waiter quickly ran over to the hostess as Davy put on his coat and made for the exit. "Wait one minute, what do you think you're doing?" said the hostess as she blocked Davy's path. "My friend Jake said that whenever I'm in Bayonne, stop by and have a meal on him. The food was excellent and now I mustn't miss the bus to the shore," Davy extolled. "Thank you very much and it was great meeting all of you." And he split. Davy never heard a word from Jake about that escapade.<p>
Unlike Jake and Moxie, Little Jimmy would have freaked under the circumstances. Little Jimmy was a wise guy from Newark who Dorothy hooked up with at the Homestead Restaurant in ritzy Spring Lake. She held the tobacco concession there and dressed in elegant evening gowns, purveying cigarettes and Cuban cigars to the clientele.<p>
During his senior year in Neptune High School, Davy worked at the gravel pit that Little Jimmy owned in Perrineville, NJ. One day at work, Little Jimmy brought up the subject of the huge stash of musical equipment Davy was storing in the living room of Dorothy's hotel. Dorothy was worried that the police might raid the place any day, and she had mentioned her concerns to Little Jimmy. Davy filled him in on the situation.<p>
Davy's older friends Stinky and Southside worked at Dan Electro, the instrument manufacturer located in Neptune City, once they graduated. After school, the corner boys, Smoothie, Monk, and Davy, would walk over there once in a while to see what was happening, bullshit with Stinky and Southside, and check out the guitars and amps. One day the owner asked if they were interested in a part-time job. The kids jumped at the chance to make some money and be around all the musical equipment. They asked what type of work they'd be doing and the boss said he was moving his operation to a new location on Easy Street in Howell. "I need to move all the inventory; what do you say?" "Okay, when can we start, and how much is the pay?" the boys asked. "How about tomorrow and I'll pay you ten dollars an hour." "Wow, we'll be here right after school." "Fine," said the owner. "I'll see you then."<p>
The boys were excited because ten dollars an hour in Nineteen Seventy was big bucks. The owner wanted them to work on weekends and after school, which meant they'd be making a minimum of four hundred dollars per week.<p>
The following day the boys immediately made their way over to Sylvania Avenue in Neptune City to report for work. "Okay," he said, "Who has a drivers license?" Davy did, so he was relegated to the spot behind the wheel of the large moving truck. The task of moving the whole operation was going to take several weeks. The corner boys were gonna bust their asses, but it was worth the effort. Southside didn't want any part of this, so he quit.<p>
Seven days a week the crew labored and were happy when the first week was completed, because they expected their first pay check. Mr. Electro, as they called the boss, told them that he would pay them under the table on a bi-weekly basis when they asked about the dollars on the seventh day of work. Hell, we can wait, they thought. He was buying their meals and their monetary obligations were few. The boys continued to work diligently with the prospect of a fat wad after the second week.<p>
They hauled truckload after truckload of lead guitars, bass guitars, sitars, amplifiers, parts, and manufacturing equipment out to a 300-foot-long chicken coop behind Mr. Electro's farm house. When the second week of toil was over, they asked about their pay again. The explanation this time was that the honcho had changed banks and the funds would not be available for another week. The boys were disappointed but trusting, and continued with the chore. During the following week they asked about the funds again, and Mr. Electro insisted he was good for the dollars and their money would be forthcoming in the next few days.<p>
Once the move was complete after the third week, the teenagers expected the final big payday. Each had earned the same amount of thirteen hundred dollars and had visions of buying cars, motorcycles, and all the reefer they could possibly smoke. They approached Mr. Electro and once again he had an excuse for not coming up with their compensation. However, he made arrangements to meet them at the now-empty factory the following day to settle up. The boys showed, Mr. Electro didn't. Fuck, the bastard had used them and skipped town, they thought. The prick would rue the day he crossed the corner boys, and they hatched a plan to recoup their losses.<p>
The moon was full that October night. The caravan of cars and trucks slowly entered the dirt lane, with the headlights off. Creeping past the farmhouse, they pulled behind the chicken coops and quietly exited the vehicles. "So far, so good," they remarked to one and other, and converged around the flimsy entrance to the coop. There were lights on in the farmhouse, but their passage had not been detected. Knowing there was no electricity in the coop, they came prepared with flashlights and were dressed in dark clothing for this mission. Smoothie broke the lock off the door and they entered stealthily in the pitch black. Maneuvering along a narrow passage tucked in between piles of musical equipment, they knew where their bounty lay. Guitars and amplifiers were the prize that would even the score.<p>
Smoothie led the way, but there was one consideration they had overlooked in this equation: the German Shephard guard dog. The mutt knew the kids in the daylight; however, the fierce barking coming closer by the second was proof enough that there was an attack in progress. All flashlights pinpointed the pooch on the move, heading straight for Smoothie, who was still leading the raid. Smoothie wielded a tire iron and positioned himself to strike a blow. The dog leaped in the air, mouth open and displaying canine teeth ready to chomp into Smoothie's upper body. Then, at the last moment before impact, the long leash attached to the dog collar went taut. Smoothie stood frozen as the dogs hind legs swung forward and hit him in the chest. A muffled yelp followed and the attacker slammed into the dirt floor. They didn't need to worry about that problem anymore for Fido was out for the count and not getting up for quite awhile.<p>
They formed a line along the narrow passage to transfer the cases of guitars and amplifiers into the waiting vehicles. It didn't take long to load all three cars and vans with the loot. Once out on Easy Street, everyone screamed and hollered with relief over a job complete. Their payday had finally arrived. Next, where were they gonna store all the equipment? Davy volunteered and they off-loaded everything in the hotel's living room. The hotel was closed for the off-season so there wouldn't be any prying eyes of vacationers to worry about. Dorothy was at work and was shocked to find her home chock-full of equipment when she returned late that night. Davy had some explaining to do but, like usual, Dorothy was very understanding of her son's antics.
A week went by and Dorothy pressed Davy to remove the stash. She was worried that the police would get wind and invade her home. Davy didn't have an alternative, so Dorothy told Little Jimmy, asking if he had a solution. "Sure honey, bring it all out to the construction trailer at the pit. Have Davy load everything in the dump truck and bring it tomorrow."<p>
Having no choice, Davy complied with Dorothy's wishes. The sheer weight and volume of all the booty once placed in the trailer made it top heavy and it had to be counter weighted on the other end. Davy told his conspirators of the dilemma and they were not pleased. He insisted the haul was safe because that is what he believed.<p>
Another week passed and Davy went to work after school only to find the spoils missing from the trailer. "Jimmy, where's my stuff," he asked. Little Jimmy came up with a bizarre story that a state police friend of his had tipped him off that a seizure was imminent. He didn't want to get busted for something he didn't do, so he had everything transferred to a warehouse in Newark. Shit, Davy thought, none of the guys are gonna believe this because Davy didn't. Knowing Little Jimmy and his devious ways, Davy resigned himself to the fact that he'd never see any of the spoils again. Damn, they got screwed by Mr. Electro and then Little Jimmy; a triple cross. Davy wasn't going to confront Little Jimmy, especially since the office trailer had guns squirreled away in many areas for easy access. He thought Little Jimmy was fucking crazy and was scared he might shoot him if provoked and confronted.<p>
Davy complained to Dorothy of his distrust for Little Jimmy. "He wouldn't do that," she insisted. "I'll talk to him and find out when you can get the equipment back," she said. "Okay Mom, but that stuff's history." Little Jimmy made up some more bullshit, but did offer to have one of his associates take Davy over to Easy Street and get his wages from Mr. Electro. Why not, Davy thought, and he agreed that was a plan.<p>
Frankie was a tough, street-hardened kid from Newark. He worked at the gravel pit along side Davy. Little Jimmy instructed Frankie to go and get the money that was owed the kid. Frankie tucked a baseball bat into the back seat of his car, and off the pair went. They parked in front of Mr. Electro's farm house, then knocked on the door. Hidden behind Frankie's back was the baseball bat. Davy was surprised when Mr. Electro answered the door. A look of surprise also flashed on Mr. Electro's face when he saw Davy. Frankie didn't waste any time getting down to business. "You owe Davy some wages. Ante up," he spouted. Mr. Electro was prepared for this confrontation and he shut the screen door in the duo's faces. Frankie went on the offensive, shoving both arms through the screen and grabbing Electro by the neck. He yanked him through the door and pushed him into a chair on the front porch. He picked the baseball bat off the deck where he had dropped it and threatened bodily harm to the horrified man. "Now, once again, where's the money you owe Davy?" he growled. Trembling in cowardice, Electro said he didn't have any funds to pay Davy but he would get the money in the next couple days. "Bullshit," said Frankie, and he took the bat and beaned Electro on the top of his skull. Before their eyes a baseball size lump grew on Electros scalp, and Davy was mortified. Dazed and confused, Electro slumped over in the chair. Frankie placed the bat under Electros chin and raised his head. Once again Frankie asked for the dollars but Electro was in no shape to respond. Frankie bopped him again and the lump that developed made Electro look like he had a pair of horns growing from his forehead. He was out cold, so Frankie searched his pockets and found a role of cash. Six hundred dollars was better then nothing, so Davy considered the matter closed. They left Electro knocked out in the chair and that was the last time Davy saw Mr. Electro or any of the Dan Electro musical equipment.
Edited by Nadine Gray.