Tony Bentimova Jr., called Junior by everyone in the Lower East Side, knocked at the apartment door on the 6th floor, in the G Building of Knickerbocker Village, a 1400 family, low-middle income housing complex, located on Monroe Street, one block north the East River, and directly between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge.
Knickerbocker Village consisted of two sets of roof-connected and cellar-connected, 13-story buildings, and one cellar connected 9-story building, surrounding two courtyards. The G Building at 18 Monroe was the 9-story building, for reasons no one could ever figure out, and this was good for Junior, since his present prey could not escape by running up to the roof, and down the elevator of another building. There was two 75-foot ladders running from the G building roof, to the roofs of the adjoining buildings, four floors above. But even a monkey would be dead if he tried escaping by climbing those steep ladders in a rush.
Just in case, Junior had two of his trusted pals, Nicky Knuckles, and Billy the Blade, situated respectively on the ground floor of the G building, by the elevator, and on the roof. Even thought the G Building’s roof did not connect to the roofs of the building on either side, someone on the roof of the G building, could break a window on the tenth floor of an adjoining building and escape through someone’s apartment. This trick had been done in the past, so Junior wasn’t taking any chances. For this reason, Junior had a walkie-talkie in his back pocket, as did his two pals, situated top and bottom.
No one was answering his knock on the door, and this did not please Junior very much. He was now the chief collector for his father Tony B’s bookie and shylocking business, and any disrespect for Junior was a reflexion on his father, who was still the Boss of Bosses, but was so on very shaky ground with some of the other crews around town. Not only was Tony B being challenged by certain Italian bosses and underbosses, but now the Chinese gangs were calling Little Italy their turf, and were starting to squeeze the profits right out of Tony B’s backside.
In fact, the creep whose door Junior was presently knocking on, was a Chinaman himself, or Chinese/American, if you prefer, who had run up a gambling debt of 20 G’s on Tony B’s bookmaking operation. So Tony B, being the kind and considerate gentleman that he was, lent Norman Chung, the 20 grand to pay off his gambling debt with Tony B, at 3 points a week of course, meaning Norman had to come up with $600 bucks a week, just to stay current, which did not, even one penny, come off the top of the original twenty grand loan. So basically the deal was, Norman paid 600 bucks a week, until he could come up with 20G’s in cash to settle the dent. And, fortunately for the lender, in this case Tony B, this could take like forever.
Now the word on the street was that Norman was screwing Tony B, by now gambling with the Chinese bookies on Mott Street. And to make matters worse, Norman had conveniently forgotten to pay the 600 clams he owed Tony B for the previous two weeks.
Tony B had told his son, “Give the Chinks an inch and they’ll take over the entire Lower East Side.”
Which, in fact, was almost already the case.
One more knock on the door, and Junior had had just about enough. Just as he was about to start kicking the door in, Norman opened the door just a bit, with the slip chain still in place.
“Yes, can I help you?” the Chinaman said.
Junior pushed on the door, causing the chain to creak. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Where’s my twelve hundred bucks?”
Norman smiled with cigarette-stained teeth. “Oh, is it that time again? One second and I’ll get you the cash from my safe.”
Junior pushed the door harder. “Unlatch the chain. I don’t want to wait in the hall.”
A few second later, Norman did what Junior asked and Junior entered the apartment. He came face to the business end of a 38 caliber, snub-nosed revolver, that Norman had pointed callously at Junior’s chest.
“Screw you and screw your father,” Norman said. “You ain’t getting paid. You’re getting beat. Understand? I’m with Hung Far Low, and he said you and your father, can go screw yourselves.
Now this was not something Junior had liked to hear. Hung Far Low was the Boss of Bosses of the numerous Chinese Gangs, Triads, or whatever the heck the Chinks were calling themselves these days. Tony B and Hung Far Low had an uneasy true in place the past 20 years. But as the Italians began moving out of the neighborhood, being killed, or being sent to jail, the Chinese had surpassed the Italians in street soldiers, and in firepower. The only good news was that, maybe because of their slanted, freaking eyes, the Chinese were the world’s worse shots, and could only shoot their intended target by accident, as they sprayed their nines in restaurants, and sometimes on the crowded Chinatown streets, killing scores of innocent people.
So as Norman pointed his gun at Junior, Junior was thinking, “If I rush this Chinaman, there’s a 50/50 chance he will miss me, even at close range.”
The fact that Junior was wearing a bullet proof vest under his leather jacket, made rushing Norman an even better bet.
So Junior, grunted, charged and Norman fired, hitting Junior right between the tits. Junior was propelled hard backwards to the floor. Norman rushed out of the apartment, down the long hall and into the stairwell.
Junior rolled over on his stomach and reached for his walkie-talkie, in the back pocket of his pants. He fumbled with the buttons.
“He’s on the loose,” Junior yelled into the walkie-talkie.
Junior staggered to his feet, unzipped his leather jacket and checked his bullet proof vest. A slug was stuck in the middle of the vest, and he hurt like hell. But he saw no blood.
“The Chinaman shot me, but I’m OK,” Junior told Nickie Knuckles and Billy the Blade.
Junior dashed into the hallway. No one was there.
The Chinaman must have taken the stairs to the roof, or to the lobby. The roof was more likely, since it was only three floors above Norman’s sixth floor apartment. The only problem was, there was a stairwell on each end of the hallway and Junior didn’t get to his feet fast enough to see which way Norman had run.
“Billy, he probably headed to the roof,” Junior barked into the walkie talkie. “Be careful. He’s armed. Nickie, you watch the lobby, just in case he ran downstairs.”
Billy the Blade stood on the roof, directly between the two stairwells. Watching both stairwells at the same time. Billy had no gun in his possession and he never needed one. He was so accurate with his knife, it was said he could circumcise a fly at fifty paces. It was already dark, so extra accuracy with the knife was certainly needed.
Suddenly, Norman ran out of the stairwell on Billy’s left. He spotted Billy and fired five quick shots in his direction. Even though Billy was no more than 30 feet from the gun, none of the five shots came even close.
“Blind Chink bastard,” Billy said. He pulled out his trusty stiletto.
Norman ran toward the tenth floor of the J Building, screaming “Open the freaking window.”
Almost immediately, a window opened and a fat, female Chinese face, maybe 50 years old, appeared at the window. Quickly sizing up the situation, she screamed in broken English, “Hurry Norman. He’s wight behind you.”
And Billy was, maybe 20 feet behind Norman and closing fast.
Two feet from the open window, Norman launched himself head-first towards the window. At the same instant, Billy flung the stiletto. It hit Norman square in the back. The fat Chinese woman screamed, as Norman fell face-first through the open window, his legs dangling on the roof’s tarpapered floor.
Billy raced forward. He pulled the knife from Norman’s back, and as the fat Chinese woman wailed in horror, Billy stabbed Norman three more times in the back, then slit his throat ear to ear.
Norman was now very dead, half in and half out, of the fat Chinese woman’s apartment.
Billy pointed the knife at the fat Chinese woman’s face. “You didn’t see anything, you hear? Billy said.
The fat Chinese woman nodded her head. “No see anything.”
Billie grabbed Norman’s body and dragged it to Catherine Street side of the roof. He looked down below and spotted two neighborhood Italian men standing in front of the Pizzeria.
“Hey guys, watch out! Incoming!” Billy said.
He dropped Norman’s body off the roof, as the two men ran back inside the Pizzeria.
Norman landed face-first on the hood of a parked car, smashing the windshield with his head. His body settled on the hood, but his head was inside the car, on the dashboard.
When two police officers arrived ten minutes later, they were told by witnesses that the man had jumped off the roof, in an apparent suicide.
Sergeant O’Leary examined the body, without touching it. As a group of maybe fifty people surveyed the scene from a safe distance, in case more bodies fell from the sky.
“Yeah, it looks like suicide to me,” he told Patrolman Walsh.
Patrolman Walsh shook his head. “But his throat is cut from ear to ear.”
“So what?” Sergeant O’Leary said. “That cut on his throat came from the impact of his neck smashing into the windshield. Good thing he wasn’t decapitated.”
“But what about the three stab wounds on his back?” Patrolmen Walsh said.
“Ah, that’s nothing, “Sergeant O’Leary said. “You know how these kids are around here. Some young punks must have done that for kicks, just to throw us off the track. They hate cops in this neighborhood. Anything to mess with our heads.”
Patrolman Walsh shook his head, “You’re kidding me, right.”
Just as the ambulance pulled up, siren screeching, Sergeant O’Leary grabbed Patrolman Walsh’s arm and squeezed hard. “It happened like I said it happened, understand? Or maybe you’d like to walk a beat in Harlem on the midnight shift, for the next hundred years or so?”
Patrolman Walsh smiled. “No you’re right. It looks like a roof-jumping suicide to me.”
“Good,” Sergeant O’Leary said. “I’ll fill out the paperwork. You tell the ambulance guys to take the body straight to the morgue. I’ll handle the rest.”
And so it was done. And the next day, Sergeant O’Leary received a nice contribution, and not his first, from Tony B, to the Sergeant O’Leary Retirement Fund.
As for Patrolman Walsh, he got a ham sandwich, and a reminder on how rich he could get when he finally made Sergeant.