JUST SOUTH OF MILL CREEK PARK YOUNGSTOWN OHIO, SIX MONTHS AGO
The car rattled on through the night, but the girl was asleep as they traveled.
“Wake up, girl, wake up!” Said the hairy gypsy man.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! This is beautiful!” It is paradise on earth! Said the refugee girl.
“Even at night! It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen! Could this really be? Are we still in…Ohio!”
“This truly is Ohio. Most beautiful place in the entire world! You will stay at this house with my cousin. Don’t worry about us Gypsy-folk. We make you good food. We keep you safe, but you must lay low little Jewish girl, dress like gypsy. All will be OK.”
STEEL MILL, BESSIE WORKS, SECOND AVENUE PITTSBURGH
The President put down the cobalt phone. He was a true Anglo-Saxon Presbyterian blue-blood. His contact told him that the delegation was en-route, but they had to wait for their interpreter. The President looked down at his watch. It was 7:45 P.M.
“It’s not like him to be late. The Japanese are very punctual. I can only assume there was some sort of accident.” The president told his sniveling sycophant.
“Yes sir, shall I call his hotel?”
“No, he still has fifteen minutes. Let’s go outside by the river and take a roak. You know the workers look unusually productive tonight. Is this the same crew?”
The President looked down at the floor of the mill. A thousand workers in their blue suits were in a sort of choreographed dance amid the flames and fire of the plant.
The sycophant looked over his glasses. “No it doesn’t look like the same crew, did we hire new people?”
“I didn’t. Let’s go take a look on the floor.”
They walked down the metal stairs and out on the floor of the Steel Mill. The roar of the furnaces drowned out almost all speech. One by one they looked at the workers, but all of them had on shaded eye protection. Each one bowed slightly as he went by. They seemed smaller and thinner than his usual workers. Something wasn’t right. The two men slipped out the back door.
“Did you watch the shift change?”
“It seems like we have a whole new crew on second shift. I don’t get it. Have you got an extra square?”
The two men lit up and took a long roak.
“Something’s odd sir, I don’t like it.”
“You mean the cigarettes? These are Czech Cigaretu. Very good.”
“No sir, the mill.”
We’ll we have a new contract to sign, the Veep called me yesterday. He seemed pretty adamant. Something funny is going on. Why sign a contract with Rick O’Shaughnessy and not with Pan-Nippon Steel?”
“It does seem very out of the ordinary. It’s worth holding up a bit.”
“I concur. I will ask the President of Pan-Nippon when he arrives.”
FIVE MILE RUN, PITTSBURGH
Cicero was face-down on the bar.
Wake up, Sammy me bye, wake up. It’s nigh unto 8PM. You’ll be late me friend.”
“I’ll get ye where ye need to go me laddie!”
Cicero dimly remembered a conversation with the Piano player. He had tied it all together for Cicero. He was worried about the other people in his combo-afraid they would find big trouble because of the Dame named May.
Padraig lived in a shitty row-house on Greenfield Avenue. It was a good place for a piano player. He was the first generation who didn’t work in the mines of Armagh. Paddy swore he would get out and seek his fortune. Padraig sought his playing piano in shitty little smoky dives on the wrong side of the tracks playing old tunes for gamblers, punks, pimps, drunks, pot-heads, dopers, palookas and other losers who somehow missed the boat. The shittier the joint the more likely you were to see Padraig and the rest of his quartet. Ian, the String bass player, Joshua the Sax player and Alex the crooner.
Cicero followed McGlory outside. The two of them walked up over the hill and onto the railroad tracks. They climbed across a rusty, shitty pedestrian bridge across Second Avenue to the gate of the plant. Then all of a sudden, all the lights went out. The guard came out of his shack and ran into the plant. Cicero and McGlory slipped in.
“How’d you make that happen Paddy?”
“I didn’t do it, Luck O’ de Irish I guess.”
The two men crossed the dirt inner parking lot where the executives cars were parked. They made their way inside of the mill.
SECOND AVENUE CITY POWER ELECTRICAL CONDUIT
Jules cut slowly through each set of wires, tying them off as she went.
“We don’t want to cut all the power, just enough to get past security.”
“Nice work Jules.”
“Let’s go through the conduit tunnel. No-one ever watches this way. Too dangerous.”
“I’ve seen the blueprints. We’ll have to cut through the locks on the grate on the other end. What did you hear on the wire-tap?”
“Apparently this guy they’re waiting on is late or not they’re quick enough.”
“So we have time to roak another cigaretu.”
“If we follow the conduit, we can get right out above the executive office at the far end of the mill.”
The two worked their way along the side of the tunnel just out of reach of the high-voltage wiring.
Eventually they came to a grate. The grate was at the end of the pipe, high above the floor of the Steel plant.
“Can you get it off?”
“It’s on hinges, man, it opens easy, you just cut the two locks, then flip it up. What do we do now?”
“We wait here.”
“Works for me.”
Lorton looked down on the floor of the plant. He saw two suits go out back.
Jules handed him a cigaretu. They lit up and they each took a long quiet roak.
STEEL MILL, BESSIE WORKS, MAIN ENTRANCE SECOND AVENUE PITTSBURGH
The sedan pulled up to the gate.
“Mr. Joshua, Mr. Jerrold, come on in.” Said the guard.
The sedan pulled into the executive parking lot. The lot was illuminated by huge floodlights and the glow of the flame from the giant smelter. Two more cars pulled in right behind them.
Joshua watched as a large man wearing a hat and sunglasses got out of the trailing car. He had several bodyguards. One of them was tall and thin, wearing a waist-length leather jacket. He was wearing a monocle. They opened the door of the other car and a well-dressed Japanese businessman got out. They bowed low to him. The large man and his entourage walked passed them into the plant.
STEEL MILL, BESSIE WORKS
The President and his sycophant walked back into the plant. They went over to the far side entrance area. The Rokkoman Schmiee led the rest of the entourage.
“Mr. Schmiee. You are late.” Said the President extending a hand.
The Rokkoman smiled. “I look at my watch, Mr. President and it says 8 O’Clock precisely.”
The president looked down at his watch. He shook his head.
“Damn, 15 minutes fast.”
“May I introduce to you the President of Nippon Steel, Mr. Hajimoto Yakamoto.”
They men bowed and then shook hands.
“Mr. Yakamoto, please come up to my office.”
The group went up the metal stairs. The presidents and other suits entered and the bodyguards arrayed themselves outside the door of the executive shed. The Rokkoman served saki in small porcelain cups to each of the two presidents.
“Mr. Bessemer, let me be blunt. Your government wants you to help us build our steel industry. Your plant is the best. We want to learn your practices. Once a day, every second shift, my men will work at your steel plant. Your men will help them learn. There is a substantial…shall we call it a gratuity? in it for you?”
Yakamoto motioned and the Rokkoman approached and opened a briefcase. It was filled with hundreds of one ounce gold bars with Chinese markings on them.
The President looked it over. “This should be…satisfactory?”
The men drank the saki.
“Then you will sign the papers.” Said the Rokkoman.
He proffered a contract before the President.
“These aren’t the right papers!” Yelled the sycophant.
The Nippon Steel President grabbed them and took a look.
“What is this Rokkoman? A double cross! I should have known, you failed Ronin.”
“Watch your tongue old man! A loose tongue often gets itself into a tight place!”
The thin man who was with the Rokkoman grabbed the President of the Steel Company and pointed a Parabellum TM (r)(c) at his head. He snatched back the briefcase.
“This is my plant now and there is nothing you can do about it, idiots! You damned go to the devil!” Shouted the Rokkoman.
The Rokkoman and the German pulled guns and marched the executives outside on the platform to watch the workers. They stood high above the floor of the steel plant. The workers, in blue suits, hard hats and goggles were still working away like so many worker ants in perfect synchrony.
The Rokkoman stood at the railing. He picked up the microphone for the PA system.
All of a sudden all of the workers stopped and removed their helmets and goggles. They all wore white headbands with a rising sun. They were all Japanese.
“Suuuu-yo!” The workers shouted with one voice.
“This is no double cross.” Said a voice. It was Cicero. His pearl handled, gleaming Ivory-Schmouck pistol was pointed right at the thin man.”
“You sink you are so very smart Cicero, but you don’t know so much!” Countered the Rokkoman.
“Look down at the plant floor! This is the future. American worker no good. American worker want money, benefit, always on strike. Only for good of the self, not for the good of the company. But Japanese worker, Japanese worker will make steel great again. And you know what? You Americans can’t beat the Soviets without us! And you know it! And you cannot stop it!” He laughed satanically.
Suddenly they were joined on the balcony by another group. One of them was the Dame. She pointed a small silver automatic at the Rokkoman. Two men and a woman were crowded behind her. The bass player the sax player and their friend Lynn.
“Your little game is all over evil Rokkoman. You knew the time would come and the time is now. Maybe Japan will take over American steel, but you won’t live to see it.” She removed her shades. She was a beautiful Chinese woman.
Another man jumped out of the large pipe right above the Rokkoman, it was Paul Lorton. He was holding a military-issue Rhode Island Armory Tommy-Gun. He was joined by a black dame in an electrical company jumpsuit.
“Don’t do it May. If you do it he wins.” Said Lorton.
“Remember your mission May! Don’t blow it!” Shouted Pat Joshua.
“Yes, I know my mission, but now that I see him again, I must have revenge. The Rokkoman must pay for his crimes!”
Cops ran in and came up the stairs of the platform, it was Officers O’Valera and Colmar. The Chief came up the other stairway with his men.
“Can somebody tell me what the hell is goin’ on here?” Asked the Chief.
Officer Colmar tried to explain:
“Frickin-A, dese jagoffs, tryina jag yer wahrz ‘anat, cuttin up da place to da japs like chip-chopped ham, but da plan needed redd up and dat, and da Rokkoman cuts himself in, see? So get otta tahn, cuz’ now dey Nippon suits gonna leave da burgh wit’ e-frickin nothing, if we don’t get dis sorted aht anat!”
“Huh?” Said everyone.
“He means this.” Said Cicero.
“I’ve been tracking this from the get. The Chinese Dame here hired me to get to the Rokkoman. Seems the Rokkoman has a guardian angel in Paul Lorton, OSS agent and Army Colonel. This other group, Joshua and Jerrold are both US Army Intelligence, they’ve been watching the little Chinese Princess here since Day One. But seems she’s got a little job working for the U.S. Department of State. But now she changed her mind and wants this scumbag dead. Lorton gets his hands on both the little lady and the Rokkoman Schmie in the Philippines. Seems the little Chinese girl is someone big, real big in China at least. Lorton turns her over to Joshua and Jerrold. They and this lady take her in for a few years and she lays low.”
Cicero took a long roak off of his cigaretu.
“Lorton is assigned to escort the Rokkoman, but seems he knows something about engineering and the US Government wants their hands on him. Lorton from the OSS escorts him after the War Crimes trial, but instead of going to the gallows, he comes right here to West Mifflin. Why? He has no sense of honor, he ratted out everyone he could to save his own neck, so now he can never return home on account of the dishonor. My buddy at the Diner in Elyria tells my assistant that his little friend Hash’ wants the Rokkoman too, to avenge the honor of the Island of Naoshimi.”
Cicero took another long roak off of his cigaretu.
“The Rokkoman teams up with another slickster, this Kraut bastard who has connections with someone in Eastern Europe, so the OSS teams him up with the Rokkoman to get more traction against the commies. Lorton keeps an eye on both of them, to make sure they don’t pull the double-cross, but the gold gets the better of the Rokkoman.”
Cicero continued as he roaked his cigaretu.
“Seems the China Doll and the Jap are oil and water. She figures I find Lorton, I find the Schmiee. How does she find me? Through Ian Jerrold and Pat Joshua and McGlory who all know sister Elise in Elyria. But the Schmie has big plans, plans to take over the entire Steel Industry in the US himself. He doesn’t care if the Japs can help fight the commies as long as he gets the gold and the steel plant. The Army wants the Schmie back so they can hang him, to make the Chinese happy, which is where Joshua, Jerrold and little Lynn who runs the safe house come in. But the problem is State, The OSS and British Intelligence have their own plan, right McGlory?”
Cicero lit up another square.
“If it wasn’t for the car dealer in Toledo I’d have never found Joshua and Jerrold. My gal Jenny back in Erie tracks down this Jap Hashi who spills his guts to Officers Colmar and O’Valera here.”
“Joshua and Jerrold holed the Dame up at Lynn’s in Mt. Lebanon. The Piano player is nothing but an agent for British Intelligence from Armagh. The Kraut is another War Criminal but he’s done some sick experiments on gypsies and they need his data.”
“Aaah GYPSIES!” Shouted the tall thin man. He shuddered violently.
“You silly Chinese girl. You drop der gun oder dis Korporation man gets it gut, ja?” He took the Parabellum TM(r)(c) off of safe with a small click. Just then, Cicero kicked the gun out of his hands and Lorton tackled the Chinese girl. Officer DeValera cracked the Rokkoman over the head with a blackjack. The entire group were locked in a violent struggle at the edge of the platform above a vat of molten Steel.
“Aiieeeeeeeeeee” Came a horrible Nazi death cry like the sound of a dying Valkyrie. A monocle lay on the platform. The Kraut had disappeared into the smoke and fire of the abyss. The cops moved in with clubs bashing heads and breaking kneecaps.
Soon the mob was brought under control and the Rokkoman’s henchmen were handcuffed and taken away. By some miracle, the German had landed in a vat of potash next to the molten steel and he too was arrested. But the Rokkoman had disappeared.
The group walked outside into the dirt parking lot.
“I guess I should be grateful.” May said to Cicero. “You brought me right to him. But I’ve been chasing him for so long, now I don’t know what to do. And they’ll only let him go even if they catch him again and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Joshua and Jerrold hung their heads.
“We can do one thing.” Said McGlory.
“Get a shot and a beer down at Big Joe’s!”
The entire group headed for the gates.
“I’m buying.” said the American Steel Company President.
The Japanese workers, now without their leader, walked into each other, dropped tools and wandered around in a daze. Soon they filed dejectedly out of the plant.
A large man emerged from the bushes next to Big Joe’s. He slipped into the door and when he did he knocked over a little blond lady. Alex stood up and helped her to her feet.
“You aren’t gonna say excuse me, you shitty bum?”
It was the wicked Rokkoman Schmiee.
“And who is going to make me? I am a master of Ka-ra-te!” He towered above Alex and he assumed a Ka-ra-te fighting stance. He readied his foot for the Ba-ru-ki-ra-ru, but just then Alex cold-cocked the Rokkoman with a bony right hand and the Rokkoman crashed into a table and landed on the floor, face down, unconscious.
“Charlie, time to take out the garbage!”
Just then the Chief of Police showed up.
“I’ll be taking that shitey piece o’ garbage! Down to da station ye go!”
He grabbed the dazed Rokkoman by the collar and forced him into a waiting paddy wagon. As they entered the street, a rain of blows from blackjacks and clubs came down upon the Rokkoman, battering him into insensibility.
“Good work officer ‘O Valera!” Said the chief.
The rest of the group filed in to Big Joe’s.
Everyone ordered a drink.
They all crowded around Cicero.
“How did you figure it out?” Asked Johsua.
“Well, the truth is, the biggest clue was the paper from the OSS. It was a fake. Someone planted it with me to get onto Paul Lorton and think they were in cahoots. Lorton had no love lost for the Rokkoman but he had to keep him in check. If May took him out, she would go down to the big house and he didn’t want that to happen.”
Cicero roaked his cigaretu.
“See it was Paul Lorton who brought the girl back to the states and Ian Jerrold and Lynn have been taking care of her ever since. If May screwed this up she’d never get the big job she wanted at the State Department and Lorton wasn’t gonna’ let that happen. Alex, a song?”
Padraig got on the ivories, Jerrold on the Bass and Joshua on the smooth, silky sax.
Alex picked up his Martini and took a swig. Then he took a roak off of his cigarette.
There was a pretty little girl named May,
She came from old Cathay,
She never took a dime,
Tried to stop a crime,
Now she’s sitting here with you and me.
Once upon a time in Blee,
There lived a man named the Rokkoman Schmiee,
He loved to smoke dope,
Now he’s got soap on a rope,
And he better watch out you see.
(c) 2008 The Botendaddy All rights reserved
Everyone clapped and cheered. Cicero went over to the phone to dial Jenny. He felt a tap on his shoulder and there she was…
COURT OF QUARTER SESSIONS, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, November 30, 1948.
“Oyez, oyez, oyez all ye please rise, the Court of the Honorable Judge Sherman Whiteacre, III is now in session. All ye who plan to testify please rise and repeat after me:
Do you swear by almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you are about to give, in the cause being heard, is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as you shall answer to God on the last great day?
A lawyer approached the bench. He handed a dossier to the judge.
The judge adjusted his bi-focals and he looked over the courtroom.
“The matter of the Commonwealth versus the Rokkoman Schmiee and his co-defendant is dismissed with prejudice for reasons of national security. Everyone in this courtroom is instructed to proceed with absolute secrecy or you will face a federal detainer. This matter is permanently sealed.”
He pounded his gavel.
Outside the courtroom, the defendants were whisked into a big black government sedan.
Cicero walked outside. He looked across the street.
A tall man stood on the corner. He had a long scar on his neck. He threw his roak on the ground and ground it into the sidewalk with his shoe. He looked across the street and made eye contact with Cicero. He walked halfway across the street towards Cicero. The tall man tossed him a silver cigarette case. Cicero opened it, inside were a pack of Czech cigaretus. The tall man winked at Cicero and walked away into the gloaming.
The men sat at a stark table in the meat locker of a Strip District Butcher Shop. All the men were wearing Parkas and gloves.
“Strasvoidtye Kormrade Pyotr Vissalaiovich Jushenkovichskaya, or should I to have been saying Pat Joshua? It is to have been wery good to hear your native Russian again, nyet?”
“Da, da, I am doingk well Komrade Kommisar Chebornik. Everything is to be going ahead as planned. Every day I am to have been getting closer to Tomascz and Browscz. They will to have been getting this German over to our side when I make them proposition, Da?”
“Komrade, Visally, would you like a Malu Zigaretu? It is to be good Karelian Zigaretu! Grown in shortest tobacco growing season in entire world!”
“da, da, is ochin horosho Komrade!”
“You know, I have something that Tomascz wants, and he will give us anything, anything to have been getting it. He will even betray Browscz.”
“What is it that you have Komrade?”
“I have his girl…Raschel.”