Friday, January 16, 2015

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men

“You’ll never take me alive, copper!” mutters Eddie Janson in his best Cagney impersonation.

Eddie’s been a thief for all of his adult life. Any “real” job he’s ever held was only the prelude to somehow ripping off whatever he could from whoever it was he was working for at the time. He’s done time twice and has learned a lot about what he needs to do to make sure that there isn’t a third time. Eddie figures that the trick is to have a good plan, execute it, and then not screw it up by doing something dumb for the next few weeks.

Last week, Eddie hit a branch bank in the suburbs, did a smash and grab at a small jewelry store, and rifled the safe at a restaurant he had heard also did a profitable bookie business on the side. Three jobs in three days was taking a risk, but the key here was that each job was entirely different from the other. There was no connection; the police would most likely be looking for three different perps. Dopes that robbed three savings and loans in two days were setting themselves up to fail. The cops would stake out every savings and loan in the area and be waiting to make the bust. Diversification was the key.

Eddie had had a cellmate in his last stay who was one of those survivalist types. Frank Wilson was sure that eventually there was going to be some sort of societal meltdown and when it happened he was going to be prepared. Unfortunately for Frank, he was now doing twenty-to-life for murder and might never get to take advantage of all of his planning, assuming the comet hit, or the Martians landed, or whatever.

Now, sitting in an easy chair in Frank Wilson’s underground bunker, Eddie was chuckling at his Cagney imitation. Frank had told him if he ever needed a place to lay low, he could use the bunker that was beneath the basement of his parents’ bungalow in the Bronx. Ten years ago, Frank had spent the good part of some bank robbery money building the bunker. He’d had it vented and soundproofed and built to last. There was three feet of earth between the bunker’s two-foot thick cement ceiling and the basement’s floor. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never find it.

Eddie has stocked the already well-stocked hideaway with some things he likes and plans to live there until the police move on to chasing after somebody else. Frank’s parents had moved to a retirement home in Florida a few weeks ago and the bungalow is empty. The afternoon that Eddie arrived it had looked to him like the whole neighborhood must have moved to Florida; houses on both sides of Frank’s parents’ house appeared to be abandoned. The whole street had been quiet as a tomb.

“I got no use for neighbors; neighbors might start nosin’ around,” Eddie had said to himself that day.   “I’m just gonna lay low until the gas generator gives out. I’d think it should last me a couple of weeks.”


Ted Findorff, owner of Findorff’s Demolition and Paving, is having a talk with his senior foreman, Jack Bellwick. “This is gonna be one of those quick and dirty jobs,” said Ted. “The city wants it done ASAP and we’re gonna oblige ‘em. I want that block leveled and paved over in less than three days. The houses are all empty; the city owns the whole shebang. Level the houses and cram whatever wreckage you can into the basements. Haul everything left over to the landfill and then fill the basements with the cheapest dirt you can find. After that, you pave it over, got it?”

“No problem, Mr. Findorff,” said Jack. “Piece of cake.”