Death by Parking - Chapter 4 - The Job Site
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Ray Stevens really knew how to motivate someone. The five large up front, my normal pay plus expenses, and if I was successful, another five large at the end certainly got my attention. This was going to be no “sit back and let nature take its course” kind of job. There was no doubt I needed some get some help.
I knew that the ghost of one of the great actors of all time was sending me a message.
Where better to find it than at Musso and Frank’s for lunch. I walked over and took my usual booth. I really didn’t have to order; the waiter knew what I wanted and brought the Coke over as soon as he saw me. The club sandwich with fries would be coming right up.
As I began to take in the history of the place my food arrived. It was followed in a few minutes by Bogie. He sat down, tilted his head, and simply looked a question at me. I knew what he was asking…Why did I bother him? I knew what to do.
He did, however, help me to think about those parking gigs I had solved a few years ago. I began to remember the blond, the owner, the mob, and of course DC was there, too. Betty Beeson was an accountant.
She took a job with Art Ball, AB parking, in a building near my office managed by my girlfriend, Shirley. She was suspicious of some goings on in the garage, her immediate superior was murdered, she called me, and we were off.
After some too and fro with the mob, their car ended up wrapped around a tree and I in the hospital. As I thought about Shirley throwing a vase of flowers at me, Bogie smiled and nodded his head. I smiled, too.
She got over her hurt and recommended I call DC. He read Betty’s notes and realized that the garage was being used as a laundry, not the kind that puts starch in your shorts, but the kind that turned mob money into legitimate funds.
In the meantime, I had met Maria LaFlonza, B-level actress and representative for those fellows from Italy who seemed to grow in New Jersey and Las Vegas. I looked at Bogie, and he had a face that said “trouble ahead.”
Anyway I, with the help of the Bel Air Patrol and the LAPD, cleaned out that den of thieves and all was right with the world once again.
I took a bite of my sandwich and glanced again at Bogie. He shook his head, and I felt worry wash over him.
I knew it was time for him to leave and sure enough, he began to fade into the cracked leather.
I knew that the ghost of one of the great actors of all time was sending me a message. This was not going to be a simple “snap a picture and you are done” case.
As I walked back to the office a plan began to coalesce. There was no need, at this point, to make things too complicated. I would simply blunder into the project, check it out, and then begin to talk to the subcontractors working there.
At some point I would get to C-Park and Larry Cosner. But I had to create my credibility first.
I grabbed my hard hat and headed for the jobsite.
Steven’s assistant Barbara had prepared a complete file on the job, who ran what, and why.
The steel was just coming out of the ground. I would say about three stories high.
A large crane was moving girders around and people with a lot more courage than me were slotting them into place and hammering the rivets home. The job trailer was located across the street. I went in and asked for the site boss.
Bruce Lyman was sitting behind a desk covered with paper. In fact, the entire place was full of plans, drawings, and documents of every sort.
There was a thin layer of dust on everything.
Lyman looked up and pointed to a chair in front of his desk. He was a big man, and looked like he just stepped off the construction site, maybe after having positioned some rebar or hammered a rivet.
He did not look at all cooperative, and the first words out of his mouth did nothing to belay that look.
“Stevens told me you would be coming by, Manning. I have no clue why. I don’t have a lot of time, we are three days behind schedule and if we don’t top out the steel on time, we will lose about $25,000 a day for every day we are behind.”
Fortunately, Barbara’s file had described the “behind schedule” problem. The short-term financing that
banks give builders had a higher interest rate than long-term financing.
They normally switch from short to long when the steel is topped out. The guy running the crane can make a huge difference. If he is skilled and can bring that ‘topping out’ in on schedule or early, it can save the builder big bucks. It seems that Lyman’s crane operator was one of the best. He should easily be able to make up the lost time in the next few weeks as the building grew.
“I’m not here to take your time, Mr. Lyman. I just wanted to let you know I’m on site and will be poking around a bit. Since S and L have never worked with you before, Mr. Stevens felt that it would be a prudent idea to have some eyes on the job, at least here in the beginning. The $100 million he is investing in you is important to him, as is the quality of he work.“
“Humph,” Lyman said. “Driving a desk at headquarters, while those of us on the front lines get to get our hands dirty.” That line reminded me of something someone might have said in the military.
“It sounds like you are running a battlefield operation. You weren’t in the service by any chance?”
“As a matter of fact, I spend my time in with the Army Engineers leading up to the Pusan Perimeter. Being late there didn’t cost money, its cost lives. It’s a delicate balance here, safety and the quality of the work.”
“I understand you had a fatal accident a few weeks ago. Someone was hit by some falling steel.”
“Yes, a police detective was sticking his nose into areas he was unfamiliar with and, well, accidents happen.”
I bid Lyman good day and headed across the street to the job site.
I certainly had a lot to think about. Did Lyman’s time in the military coincide with Larry Cosner? Do they have the relationship that gave Cosner the leg up in getting the parking contract on this job?
Did I miss something or was Lyman’s last comment a veiled threat?
I checked in with the security guard and walked onto the site. It seemed like organized chaos.
There were workers everywhere and each seemed to have an assigned task, although I had no clue what was going on.
Steel was being trucked in and lifted directly off the trucks and raised up and positioned on the building’s superstructure. My Y chromosomes were beginning to jingle.
How could you be a man and not be intrigued with the huge machines, the activity, and the sound of building this monster structure? I could stand and watch it all day.
At that moment I heard a yell…I looked up and saw a huge pully dropping toward me.
I dove for cover, wherever that was, and put my hands over my head.
To be continued…
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