A Day Which Will Live In Infamy
The phone rang at 2:30 in the morning; making it Monday already. He
didn't want to answer it because Mondays were always busy and he needed
to sleep. But it rang a long, long time.
"Michael (his boss) wants to speak to you." The caller was Jimmy,
one of the floor managers at the club.
"Meet me at the club. Richard (their public relations guy) is
gonna be there. See if you can bring your cousin."
The kid at the garage took a while to answer the phone. When he
did, he explained that it'd take a good half hour to get his car out
because all of the cars set to leave before 9:00 in the morning were
parked in front of his. He decided to try his luck at getting a cab on
the upper East Side at 2:45 in the morning. Meanwhile, he woke his
cousin, Robert, and asked, no, pleaded with him to at the very
least find out what'd happened. He knew Robert wasn't going to drive
from Long Island to Manhattan in the wee hours of the
This could only be good if the victim was famous.
Within 10 minutes Robert called back, gave him some names of the
cops and the Sergeant who'd be working the case. Then, the worst; what
nobody who operates a so-called "exclusive night spot" wants to hear.
There was a shooting, one body, three injured, lots of blood and even
It took a walk to 2nd Avenue to finally find a cab. He wanted to
tell the driver to turn off the music that blared from the car's cheap
loudspeaker, but he couldn't risk being any later than he was. The
moment the cabbie rolled over the upside of the hill on 57th and 9th
and began to descend, he (and the cabbie) could already see the sparkle
of probably a half-dozen emergency vehicles and plenty of yellow crime
The cabbie insisted on dropping him off at 57th and 11th;
so he walked the half-block to the crime scene tape, asked for the
Sergeant, and was let under the tape. How ironic, usually, the
crowd-control system was red velvet rope, which was unhitched so as to
allow entry of those who made the grade. Now, there was no V.I.P. list,
the crowd control was yellow plastic tape, and the guy lifting it over
the heads of those allowed in was a uniformed police officer.
Where's Steve Rubell When Ya Need Him?
As he waited patiently to be allowed in, Richard, the p/r guy,
yelled at him in his signature squawky voice. He was used to Richard's
annoying voice, saying things on the phone like "Oh, this is gonna be a
publicity coup, my friend, just wait 'till I tell Joey Adams and the
folks at Interview Magazine.
Tonight Richard's voice was anything but happy. "Get me in there!"
he shrieked. A police officer was told the identity of the shrieking
man in the fancy hat and camel-hair coat, and after a few questions
were asked and answered, he, too, was let in under the yellow tape.
The first thing he did was go upstairs to the office. A few scared
staff members were being questioned in the conference room, and his own
office was occupied by his boss, a couple of detectives, and one or two
uniforms. Harold had not, apparently, been reachable and he
was as afraid as his boss was that somebody, perhaps a coat-check girl
or bathroom attendant, had gleefully made a statement to the police, or
worse, to the media waiting like wolves outside.
"What'd they get when you came in?" his boss was obviously shaken.
"Oh, my cousin gave me a crime scene description. The body's at St.
Lukes-Roosevelt. Where're the injured?"
His boss spat back at him, "I don't care about that! How many idiots
with cameras are out there?"
"Channel 2 made it 'cause they're right down the street. I doubt
that NBC or ABC're gonna send anyone this late in the game. The Post is there, so's the Daily News, but I think that's
about it. Richard's downstairs. Now, the first thing we gotta do is get
all of these cops some coffee. Pronto."
Coffee, tea or blood?
"You're kidding. Fuckin' coffee?!" his boss was nonplussed.
"I'm telling you, Robert said that the best thing you could do was
keep 'em happy and warm. And break out a
bottle of Paddy while we're at it, for the higher-ups.
It's late and they're pissed off. We gotta talk to them; whether or not
It took a good half-hour to get the shivering waiter who'd witnessed
everything to give his story up. Two hot-heads were after the
same girl, and the one who lost out went out to his car and came in
gunning for the guy who got her. Ricochet was responsible for the
injury of a bouncer and, sadly, Marie from the coat check. Marie's
brother was senior floor manager. She was a sweetheart, and he hoped
she was okay. He asked one of the uniforms where she was taken. Again,
St. Lukes-Roosevelt. He hoped she wasn't sitting in the E.R. when they rolled the stiff by. Needless to say, all of this
information from the waiter was heard by not a single cop. He and
Michael had squeezed the kid for it after hauling him into the upstairs
bathroom. None of the uniforms even knew there was a bathroom up there,
much less were they watching it.
Nobody wanted to do the coffee deed; they were all shuffling around,
so he took the keys to Jimmy's car and went down 11th to an all-night
diner and told them to give him 50 coffees with sugar and cream on the
side. Could they deliver? Nope. Not at this hour. Every second seemed
like a minute; every minute seemed like a whole afternoon.
When he arrived with the coffee a couple of uniforms helped him
bring it in. It was good that he went. They'd listen to him 'cause
ostensibly he cared. He was already sipping his own coffee and talking
with the Sergeant when Michael came downstairs. He took the lead,
asking the Sergeant to show them both the details, and confirming that
they'd taken all the photos and samples. He got a good look at what was
all over the floor and the walls, turned around, and vomited into a
The Arrival of Clarence Darrow
"You ain't like your cousin, huh?" The sergeant was saying this for
the ears of the uniforms around. It was a peculiar way of thanking him
for the coffee.
"I, er, am very tired and frankly could use a drink." This was the
'okay' signal to the Sergeant that he was gonna make sure that a grimy,
grisly, cold evening was about to get slightly less unpleasant.
Simultaneously, much to his surprise, Harold the attorney showed up.
Hung over, but looking dapper as usual.
They all took seats and he took drink orders. As he poured, Harold
took the time to come over and tell him, "You don't tell them a fucking
thing until I tell you it's okay. Gimme some vodka and orange juice."
This is why he hated Harold. If it was once it was a million times
that Harold told him to keep his mouth shut. Not in a tone appropriate
for what he meant to the organization; no. Harold spoke to him like he
spoke to everyone except the guys with the checkbook; like a janitor.
He walked away and noticed two uniforms with rheumy eyes
focused on the bottle of vodka like a hunter's sight on distant prey.
He lowered the bottle onto the under-bar, poured lots of it into two
soda glasses and filled them with cola. The two members of
New York's Finest couldn't have been happier
far as we know, a person or persons without permission to be on the
premises discharged a firearm which was secreted upon their person.
None of our employees were nearby nor present at the time the
firearm was discharged."
Amazement was a woefully inadequate way to describe what Michael and he
thought of the the sole and official statement of the establishment
Harold gave to the police. This thing was open and shut; there
were obviously witnesses; the busboy trembling with fear upstairs being
one (who, by the way, spilled most of the beans to a detective while
Harold was downstairs being arrogant). And Ricky the bouncer and Marie
the coat-check girl must've seen something. Only an idiot would
think otherwise. This was Harold's modus
operande. He liked to act as if he were above the law, and then
when finally confronted (and typically having irritated many people who
could potentially be of help) he'd let the facts slither out, bit by
bit. Sadly, this situation of serious import was no exception. Thus spake Harold.
That was it. The part about not having permission to be on the premises
could potentially be dashed to bits should the police catch the shooter
and find a ticket stub on his person. It was beyond insane.
He wasn't surprised when the Sergeant slammed down his drink, and
told all the uniforms to go home. By now, the sun was shining just
barely red and swollen in the New York sky's swirling sentence,
punctuated by smokestacks and skyscrapers. He went home, too. Michael
kindly dropped him off. They knew that in a few hours another business
day would start, and the events of the night before would emerge as if
they were a living thing. Neither one of them could guess what type of
animal it would be. In this business, sometimes the most hideous
monster becomes an obedient pet dog. Such dogs could be told to perform
tricks; not on the sidewalk but in the halls of jurisprudence.
Occasionally, the hideous monster remains such, and must be caged and
beaten with the sticks of public relations, lies and half-truths told
under oath, sometimes for years, until the monster finally dies, not
without leaving behind a trail of blood and well-picked bones.
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 4