Death by Parking - Chapter 22 - We Lay the Trap
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My bodyguard, Mary Ellen McKinney, daughter of the detective that had been recommended to me as additional help, was momentarily out of the action. Just as she was ready to take down one of the gunsels that surrounded me, someone came out of the bushes and grabbed her. I panicked. She didn’t.
She had a smile on her face as her heel came down on an instep and she turned and put a well placed knee right between his legs. The attacker was down and out for the count in less than 10 seconds. Mary Ellen then proceeded toward the gorilla who was covering me. She flicked her wrist and a telescoping metal truncheon came out from her sleeve. She lowered it just above the ear of my buddy, and he too was out of action.
It all happened so fast and so quietly that Smith, Cosner and their enforcer, Dandy Giovanni, barely realized that the odds had changed, and not in their favor. Mary Ellen then placed her metal truncheon against Dandy’s spine and whispered in his ear. I think it was something like “if you want to stay out of a wheelchair, drop your gun.” He did. Dandy had always impressed me as a coward, and he lived up to his reputation.
I walked over to Smith and Cosner and put my arms around their shoulders. “Don’t you think its time for you two boys to get back to the party. I’m sure they are missing you.” The two walked slowly back inside.
Mary Ellen and I cleaned up the mess in the garden, took them to the front gate, and gave them a shove. I motioned to one of the armed guards we had hired as security and those three were substantially distracted for the rest of the evening. Somehow, however, I felt that I would be seeing them again.
As we walked back inside, a black sliver cloud Rolls Royce rolled silently up to the front door. The valet opened the read door and Veronica, Josh, and St. John Smythe got out. Veronica was dressed in a silver sheath with a slit that ran from her ankle all the way up her leg. She had one diamond the size of a robin’s egg around her neck. That was all she needed. Josh and St. John Smythe were dressed by Armani, all in black, with nicely pattern ties by Hermes. The ties cost more than my entire wardrobe. As St. John Smythe shot his cuffs, I noticed the gold of a Patek Phillipe on his wrist. Josh was down market with a simple Rolex on display. Afterall, he was hired help.
I followed them in to the foyer where they were met by our hostess. Maryann Leyman knew her role and carried it off perfectly. She took St. John Smythe’s arm and escorted him into the ballroom. Veronica and Josh followed. I grabbed a scotch and watched the action from the bar. When Maryann paused at the entry to the ballroom, the entire place went quiet. She nodded to a server who brough champagne, and then the four of them proceeded to talk to May Jansen, the money behind the bank funding S and L’s project on Wilshire Boulevard.
May had been talking to the man running this event, my uncle Richie who was playing the role of host, stepping in for MaryEllen’s late husband. St. John Smythe kissed the back of May’s hand and shook Richie’s. I couldn’t hear what was said but May laughed and MaryEllen gave a most regal smile.
Smith and Cosner were oiling their way across the room toward the group. I didn’t have to worry, St. John Smythe knew just what to do. I moved a bit closer so I could hear the exchange. Rickie introduced Smith. St. John Smythe barely turned in his direction and with the most Etonian accent said “Ah yes, American, always overdressed.” He then turned away, took Mary Ellen’s arm and walked towards a group of his employees a few feet away.
Smith was left with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was marvelous.
I noticed a group of the ‘bank employees’ move slightly toward Smith and Cosner. I was in a position where I could hear their conversation. So could Smith.
“…if we will have jobs when the sale goes through. St. John Smythe is a tough cookie. If we sell, it could mean no jobs left and if we buy, it will depend on who is on the “A” team….Don’t worry, Clive, you are solid with the brass….Don’t be too sure, if they sell, no one…” and they wandered off.
Veronica walked over to another group and said in low voice just loud enough for Smith to hear “..you shouldn’t be talking about bank business here at the party.
It is no one’s business except our own. You will all be taken care of no matter…”
I saw the look on Smith’s face. He was intrigued by what he had heard. He immediately walked over to Josh. His back was to me and I couldn’t hear what he said, but I did hear Joss’ response.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, Mr. Smith. The bank has no interest in any small transactions at this time.”
Smith and Cosner split up and wandered around the room stopping here and there and listening to the conversations. I could tell by the look on their faces that they were hearing exactly what we wanted them to hear. There was a transaction going on at the bank, and someone with money was going to profit from it. You could almost see Smith salivating at the prospect.
I looked over at the bar and Bogie had a sly smile on his face. He nodded and then faded into the background. All good so far.
At around midnight the party started to wind down. St. John Smythe, Veronica, and Josh were the first to leave, followed soon after by Smith and Cosner. Within minutes the room was cleared.
I was nursing a whisky with Bogie when Maryann came over and placed a hand on his arm. He smiled, she smiled, and I knew it was time to leave
Once again as I left the grounds, I noticed that the curtains were closed. Bogie you dog.
Tomorrow would tell the tale whether our efforts would bear fruit. Smith was no dummy.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and Mary Ellen McKinney asked if I wanted a nightcap. Who was I to say ‘no’ to a beautiful woman. We agreed to meet at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and take it from there.
And we did.