Business had been slow, and I wasn’t complaining. Still, I was happy to see my old friend Officer O’Connor when he showed up at my office to ask for a favor.
According to O’Connor, a bunch of mob bosses were coming into town for a secret meeting – great news for a cop who makes his living busting goodfellas.
The bad news was the cops didn’t their inside man was trying on running shoes at the bottom of the bay.
They had the hotels where the bosses were staying staked out, but O’Connor told me that they needed to know where the meeting was going to be so that they could bug the room and catch the crooks in the act.
It was going to be one big bust, assuming I could get the goods.
I knew my man Sammy the Snitch would have something for me. He directed me to The Fancy, a high dollar supperclub where a couple of gold-diggers I used to know liked to go trawling for suits.
Sure enough, the mobsters were all there, sitting around one of the larger tables in the back. I recognized Nick the Thumb and “Cat Eye” Corky right away – major mob bosses.
I couldn’t get close enough to hear what they were saying, so I decided to follow one of their goons out of the restaurant to see where he was going. We wound up at a dry cleaner. Before I got a look at the clothes he was picking up, I got a close up of his fist.
When I came to, I was in the hospital wearing green pajamas and I had a bandage around my melon. My head hurt like nobody’s business, so I decided to search out some aspirin.
Who do I see while wandering around but Nick the Thumb and an EMT who looked an awful lot like the man at the cleaners who cleaned my clock.
If there’s one thing you can say about me, it’s that I never forget a fist.
I decided to follow the “EMT,” but this time at a safe distance. He walked out of the hospital and down the street to a van with the word “AMBULANCE” across the hood. Funny thing was that “AMBULANCE,” which is always written backwards so people can read what’s behind them in their rearview mirror, was written forwards. And it was spelled with two L’s. Something fishy was going on, and it wasn’t even Friday.
I got the license plate of the “AMBULANCE” and had O’Connor put out a tail on it.
We followed it to a gas station on the edge of town where the EMT met up with “Cat Eye” Corky. Corky was enjoying a stogie while one of his goons was filling enough gas cans to get the Titanic to New York.
Cigars and gas usually don’t mix, especially at today’s prices. I wondered what these goons were up to.
The three finished up and went in to pay.
When they did, O’Connor and I left a little surprise in the ambulance.
The very next day five fires broke out simultaneously at all the hotels around town. These mobsters were turning up the heat.
The plainclothes cops staking out the hotels had cameras trained on the entries and exits, so we got plenty of photographs of burly and armed EMT’s wheeling out the mob bosses in gurneys, figuring we’d miss them in all the excitement.
Which we would have done, if we hadn’t already figured out their plan.
The fake ambulances took the bosses to the hospital and we got it all on tape. When it was all over we stepped into the theater of operations.
The mobsters were still sitting on the gurneys they’d been wheeled in on and their expressions looked like they’d just been declared dead on arrival.
While we were cuffing ‘em, The Thumb asked me how I figured it out. I grabbed the EMT by the shoulder and tugged on the stethoscope around his neck.
“Bugged stethoscope,” I said. “Just what the doctor ordered.”