A Pure Double Cross

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Authors: John Knoerle
ahead of the story.”
    I paused for dramatic effect. The Schooler’s look said get on with it.
    â€œWe put a marker, one of our gambling chips, on the body and dump it behind the Green Light Tavern.”
    Manny grumbled and shook his great head. He didn’t like me anymore.
    â€œWhy would you want to put
our
marker on the corpse?” asked The Schooler.
    â€œBecause the Cleveland Police Department wouldn’t expect us to. Because the Cleveland Police Department, assumingthey know that Madsen worked for us, will conclude that the Bloody Corners Gang is trying to set us up.”
    The Schooler pondered. “They might conclude that.”
    â€œThey will.”
    â€œHow can you be sure?”
    â€œThe cops will assume our rivals set us up because they don’t believe we have the brains, or the balls, to play the double cross.”

Chapter Fourteen
    Jimmy turned into the alley behind the Green Light Tavern at 4:14 a.m. The bar was closed, the alley was deserted. I sat in the passenger’s seat, hoping to hell I hadn’t outfoxed myself with this clever gambit.
    Jimmy put the Buick in park and left it running. We climbed out and popped the trunk. Officer Madsen was wrapped in a blanket. I took the shoulders, Jimmy the feet. He weighed a ton. The arctic chill had returned, our grunts of exertion became fat clouds of steam. We laid him out by the back door, the one Kelly had tossed me out of. I took the ten dollar chip from my pocket and stuck it in Officer Madsen’s maw. Rigor had set in, it took a while.
    â€œHurry up,” grumbled Jimmy from behind the wheel. I took a moment to mumble the Lord’s Prayer and got back in the Buick. We drove down the alley and turned right on Lorain.
    Jimmy was enormously silent at the wheel. Stay that way, I thought.
Do not speak a single syllable if you value your miserable life.
    We were headed east, toward the Angle, only I couldn’t go there. Mrs. Brennan had a two o’clock curfew, doors barred and locked. The Warehouse District was just across the bridge. Had to be an all night joint there somewhere.
    We stopped at a light. I winged open the door and got out. Jimmy tore through the intersection. The Buick’s forward motion slammed the open door.
    I walked across the Detroit-Superior Bridge, the lake wind slicing me clean in two. I told myself that the stupid cop deserved what he got, that you can’t play three sides against the middle, that I, on the other hand, had both sides balancedlike a see saw. I was golden no matter what happened. Why then did I find myself leaning against the railing of the Detroit-Superior Bridge wondering if I should pitch myself into the drink?
    I shambled on. By the time I got to the other side of the bridge my shoes were frozen.
    I shuffled around the Warehouse District on blistered feet, looking for a greasy spoon. Found one on Frankfort, Lulu’s Place. Beef wasn’t on the ration sheet anymore but no one had told Lulu. I ate an overcooked horseburger and drank three cups of joe. That killed an hour. A piece of vulcanized pie and three more cups got me to daybreak.
    I lied about spending two years behind German lines. I was recalled to Switzerland every once in a while. Not even my CO thought I could survive two years in the world’s most tightly controlled police state. So I came and went.
    I hit the silk for the last time in January of ’45, near Heilbronn. A downwind kicked up and I landed hard, broke an ankle. I hopped and crawled a mile to the farmhouse, knocked on the door, service revolver in one hand, L pill in the other. It looked like my designated safe house but you never know. Kindly old Alfred and Frieda took me in and nursed me back to health.
    I was getting around okay on a cane two weeks later when a
Panzer
company rumbled up and commandeered the place. I could have hidden in the root cellar till they moved on. But I was young and dumb and full of patriotic fervor.

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