Part I: EXTRACT: Gotham Globe, 06/17/46DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE LAUNCH PROBE INTO SOUTHSIDE BOXING
After much speculation, the Gotham City District Attorney's office announced today that it will be launching a sweeping investigation into the city's boxing and prizefighting scene. Their explicit target: Connections between organized crime and the boxing community. District Attorney Joseph Porter held a press conference for reporters today, laying out the details of the upcoming investigation.
"For far too long the professional fighting scene in this city has been controlled by bookmakers," said Porter. "Fans of the sport, people who pay to see honest and fair fights, are instead often treated to fixed contests that the gamblers control. This inquiry is the first step in a battle to wrestle control of the sport from the criminal elements of this city."
Porter himself will serve as the lead counsel on the investigation. Heading up the team of investigators will be the always colorful GCPD Captain John "Two-Gun Jack" Grogan, commanding officer of the GCPD's Major Case Squad. Captain Grogan's six man task force will provide the brunt of the investigative force, as their operational mandate lies within organized crime.
"Ain't nobody [sic] better at policing organized hoods than me and my boys," Grogan said during the press conference. "If there's anything worth finding, we'll find it."
While forthcoming with details of the probe, District Attorney Porter remained mum on his political future. He is among a small handful of candidates who have been rumored to seek the US Senate seat recently opened by the sudden death of long-time senator Charles Henderson. When asked if this is a stepping stone to a possible campaign run, Porter discouraged any such talk and only offered a “no comment” on the subject.
---06/19/1946West Gotham1:13 AM
Slam Bradley rode shotgun in the car. Captain Grogan sped through the city at "Fuck-Traffic-Laws-I'm-A-Cop" speed. Slam smoked and saw the sights. Winos blasted on cut-rate hooch wagged their wieners at the passing car. Hookers peddled their stuff by the curb. Slam cracked the window and blew smoke.
He smiled. He felt alive. He felt jazzed. Grogan's squad worked the streets. They ran
the streets. They were the landlords out here, and everybody paid their rent. The cost for not paying up was a quick and brutal eviction from this world. Two-Gun Jack was a hick from somewhere out west -- Oklahoma or Texas or something -- and he had that southern twang prairie accent. The hump wore two six-shooters on both hips. The hump wore shit-kicker boots and a white stetson with a goddamn bolo tie. He chewed tobacco and thought he was Jonah Hex reincarnated. He looked like a clown on the surface. Beneath it he was all killer.
Grogan spat tobacco juice in a coffee cup. He wiped his mouth and said, "Samuel, how you been liking these past few months."
Slam beamed. "Fantastic. Anything to get me out of Vice."
Vice straight bored him. It was either hooker rousts or gambling busts. He was too well known around Gotham to work undercover, so it was roust duty. Pop prosties and bust bookies. It was straight shit-work. His brain was wired for the street. He needed to be out here in the thick of it. This was his element. Grogan picked him because he was big and intimidating. The captain promised muscle work and he made good on the promise. Anybody he wanted worked over, Slam worked over. Fist work, brass knuckles work, rubber hose work, followed by dental and surgical work.
Slam flicked his cigarette out a window. The butt hit a passing wino in the forehead. The wino flipped it away and shook his fist at the car. Slam laughed. Gorgan roared.
Grogan wiped his eyes and said, "And what do you make of our current assignment?"
Slam made the jack-off sign. "Prizefighting has been corrupt since the days of gladiators. And now they want to get a hard-on for it?”
Slam knew firsthand how corrupt the shit was. Corruption got him a pass on the war. He threw a fight back in ‘40 and got a judge paid a few grand. Said judge remembered the favor when Slam’s draft number came up. Said judge helped him get a job on the PD and deemed “essential personnel.” No war for Shirker Slam. He parlayed his status as a local celebrity to get plum patrol beats. Southpaw Slam volunteered to box in late-night smokers for the GCPD brass and city hall bigwigs. The fights got him political clout. Smart Slam leverages clout for internal juice in the PD. He went from harness bull to gold shield detective rápidamente
They had two ex-boxers under lock and key who weren’t as slick as Shrewd Slam. Said pugilists were working with the DA to present testimony to the county grand jury. They were, to wit: heavyweight Robert "Scotty" Lees and light heavyweight Manuel "Goodnight" Garcia. Slam went six rounds with Lees back in ‘38. Even back then he was a fucking stumblebum. Years of too many pops to the dome meant Scotty couldn't remember who he was half the time. Goodnight Garcia played up a faux swish persona, but he had a taste for young stuff. Said taste had gotten him in the jackpot. Testifying would quash a 'stach rape beef.
Grogan said, "The good District Attorney wants his pound of flesh, more so for a launchpad than anything else. So we do our job and give it to him. But I suspect the investigation will be coming to an abrupt end shortly."
They hit county territory. Upper-middle class homes became the main view. Slam chained three cigs while Grogan spat tobacco and the radio squawked Bing Crosby. The radio crackled as Jack Benny pitched toothpaste. Grogan pulled up to a three-story home sprawled over four lots. It ate up half a block. Feature: A bronze R.T. plaque on the mailbox.
They got out. Grogan led, Slam followed. They walked around the house and to the backyard. Floodlights on: A pool, patio, pool house. A fat man with gray hair did laps in the water. Slam checked his watch. Two in the morning. The fat man flopped out the pool. Butt ass naked. He dried his hair on a towel and walked over to them. Still sans clothing.
Grogan shook hands with the man and said, "Congressman."
Grogan looked to Slam. "Congressman, this is Detective Samuel Bradley. Samuel, this is Congressman Rupert Thorne."
They shook hands. Slam kept his eyes from drifting downward. Thorne guided them to the patio. He flopped on a chair. They followed suit. Thorne sprawled and smiled at Slam.
"I need no introduction, Slam,” said Thorne. “I saw you fight Mike Moldando years ago. I think you won that one.”
“TKO, sir,” said Slam.
Thorne smiled. “A win is a win, right? Captain Grogan has been telling me an awful lot about you, son. He says you have potential."
Two-Gun Jack spat juice in his coffee cup. He winked at Slam, "Slam here was originally recruited because he looked every bit the part of the mean sum bitch he actually is. Turns out he's smarter than he looks. I think he's ready."
Thorne reached for a wooden box on the table. He pulled out a fat cigar and lit it. A look passed between the two older men. Grogan nodded. His nod meant GO.
Thorne said, "Slam, do you believe that certain aspects of crime, vices like gambling and prostitution and drugs, are unavoidable and should be allowed to exist in a contained form?"
Slam shrugged. "Yeah. We can't stop people from doing what they want to do. As long as nobody gets hurt, it's fine with me."
Thorne and Two-Gun Jack traded looks. Grogan took off his stetson and placed it on the table. He leaned forward. Slam caught whiffs of tobacco. Grogan's tie was tobacco spritzed. His teeth were brown with tobacco juice.
Grogan said, "The three of us are riding the same wavelength. People like the DA see it like we do, but they're worse. They act like they want to change things but what they really want to do is make just enough change to fuck over the rest of us and get themselves elected to a higher office."
"Crabs in a bucket," said Thorne. "Nobody wins."
Slam picked up brainwaves. He rode a hunch into speculation. DA Porter, "higher office." He implied: The boxing probe. His implication confirmed by the congressman.
Thorne looked straight at Slam and said, "This little fact finding mission Porter is carrying out has the potential to damage a lot of important people who share our common outlook on this city. These people are your gateway to a whole new world, son. If you hitch yourself up to the captain and I, you'll be police commissioner within ten or fifteen years. After that? Who knows. But before that destination can manifest, the journey must begin. If you share our common interest, Slam, then we expect you to step up and see that this investigation ends before it can go before a grand jury. Do this, Slam, and you'll be one of us."
Slam scratched his neck. "How?"
Thorne opened up the wooden box. He laid a stack of bills down on the table. C-notes tied together in two thousand dollar bundles. Ten thousand dollars in cold, hard cash.
Grogan spat tobacco into his cup and said, "Be creative."
The Gotham Arms
Scotty Lees dug into his nose and stared up at the ceiling. He sat on the bed while the radio played late night big band music. Slam sat on the other bed and chained-smoked. Night work, guarding Scotty from anybody who would do him harm. Ten grand stashed in the truck of his car assured he would be the one doing the harm. Thorne laid out the details. Goodnight Garcia would play ball once Scotty was dealt with. He'd spout qué? No hablo inglés
to the DA until he was blue in the face. Slam's eyes fell on Scotty. Robert "Scotty" Lees: a pale as fuck heavyweight with bright red hair. The Glasgow Gouger had a record of 22-5-32. He had mush for brains and brayed like a donkey.
A radio commercial featured a talking rabbit shilling cars. Scotty hee-hawed and ate boogers. Slam stubbed his fifth cigarette out and stood. He peaked into the room next door. There's Goodbye Garcia sleeping his ass off. His bodyguard Officer Tommy Burke was ditto. They snored in sync. Slam closed the door softly and turned off the radio.
Lees said, "Aww... why'd you stop it?"
"We need to talk, Scotty. Answer a few questions for me."
"I can try, Slammy."
"What year is it, Scotty?"
Scotty made a face. It looked like somebody asked him to do advanced trig.
"What did you have for dinner tonight?"
"I... I don't remember."
"Who won when you boxed Chili Rodriguez?"
His eyes lit up. He said, "I did. It was by majority decision. Chili had a hell of a left cross, but I got underneath it and managed to go the distance with him. Nobody can beat me when I get my jabs working."
"Quick, Scotty, what's twenty-four times twelve?"
His eyes stayed bright. "Two hundred and eighty-eighty. See, some stuff I don't know good... but I can ‘member names and numbers. It's why I used to run bets for Frankie Momo and Mr. Thorne."
Slam cursed. He shook his head and adjusted his necktie. He sighed and cracked his knuckles.
"Come here, Scotty. I need to show you something."
Scotty stood and walked over. Slam guided him to the window. Sixth story looking down. Slam pushed him hard against the wall. He banged Scotty's forehead into the plaster. His eyes went cross. He went loopy. He babbled incoherently. Slam shoved him hard into the window. Scotty broke glass. He fell out the window screaming. Two seconds and then a loud crash. Slam looked out. Scotty's broken body resting on top of a parked car.
Max polished off a bottle of gin on the way to the crime scene. He swilled Listerine to help cover up the smell. He chewed gum to hide his booze breath. Rolling to the southside of the city in an unmarked. His notebook resting in the passenger seat.
Second straight month working the graveyard shift. Nights tapped him out. The work tapped him out. His career was tapped out at sergeant. Five straight lieutenant's exams, five straight times scoring at the top of the list, five straight times he was passed over. He had a reputation as a lush and someone with a hard-on for the rules. They could handle promoting a drunk to LT, but not a tight ass. So here he was. He worked the midnight to eight shift and paid a sitter to watch Mary while she slept. The late nights meant grief from his ex-wife. She'd left him before the war and never looked back. She was talking through a lawyer conduit, threatening to challenge him for full custody of Mary. Just one more problem on the pile.
The current call he was on came into the homicide pen twenty minutes earlier. He and Fields played rock paper scissors to decide who went. Max pulled scissors, Fields pulled rock. Max flipped him off and got his gear. He drove at a steady pace and no lights. It was a code 7, probable jumper. No rush on a suicide. He hit the brakes when he saw police lights.
Three prowl cars parked in a semi-circle around the Gotham Arms. Lights and crime scene rope. Max got his notebook and walked towards the tape. He flashed his badge to the uniform on sentry duty and identified himself: Sergeant Eckhardt, Homicide.
Max stepped on the scene and went to work with the layout and details. The DB: sprawled out on top of a car. A broken window six stories up. The body a white man, his pale skin cut up and bloody from the impact with the car. Someone loomed close by. Max turned. A big man with black hair eye-balled him. He had a good five inches on Max.
"You the homicide dick?"
Max said, "Yeah." They shook hands. "Sergeant Max Eckhardt."
"Detective Sam Bradley. I'm with Major Cases."
“I thought you looked familiar. I think--”
Bradley shook his head and looked down at Max.
"I did this..."
Max looked at Bradley and raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"
Bradley's hands shook. He swallowed loudly. "I was supposed to be protecting him and... I... he... just jumped."
Max frowned. He opened his notebook and got out a pencil.
"So tell me what happened."