Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uncertainty at the Diplomat

Uncertainty at the Diplomat

We have a friend and former business partner named Bill (last named withheld to protect all concerned), whose last name ends in a vowel.

Bill is an interesting guy.  He is about 10 years older than us, comes from New Jersey and talks like Joe Pesci.  In fact, he and Joe grew up together in Newark.  When I first saw “Goodfellas” I called up Bill and said “Hey Bill, this guy Joe Pesci is imitating how you talk.”  Bill laughed and told me how they used to pal around together.

Bill knows a lot of people with “Bent Noses” and he used to own a hotel in Atlantic City.  Bill always wears a lot of gold jewelry and is nattily dressed. Various “guys” would often visit Bill at his place of business, a travel agency in South Florida.

I once was stopping off at the travel agency to see Bill.  I parked in front and as I got out of the car, a man in a suit was kneeling behind my car taking down my license plate number.  He quickly moved away before I could ask him what was going on.

I went inside and asked Bill if he knew what the guy was doing.

“Oh yeah, he’s an FBI guy,” said Bill.

“FBI!” I said, “What is he doing here?”

“Oh he’s checking on me.  Every once in a while they review an old case I was involved in,” Bill answered.

He proceeded to tell me the story of an infamous case in New Jersey a number of years before.

Bill had had a partner who was trying to scam everyone who he was associated with.  The guy was found cut up into pieces in a 50 gallon drum.  The drum was discovered in a warehouse Bill was an owner of.

The FBI could never prove anything, and Bill claimed he didn’t know who did it.  Besides he was out of town when it occurred.

The FBI Agent in Charge retired and wrote a book about it.

Bill was questioned by a new FBI agent later on and Bill tried to be helpful and give him some answers.  The Agent demanded to know how Bill knew so much if he wasn’t involved.

Bill’s answer was “I read it in your guy’s book”.  They had no answer for that, but still followed Bill around every so often.

One time I was down in Hallandale when I got a phone call from Bill.  He asked if I could stop off at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood and pick something up for him.  Since I was only 5 minutes away and it was on my way home, I agreed.

Bill told me to meet a friend of his (John something with a vowel at the end) at the Diplomat.  He said I should use the house phone and go up to the guy’s room and he would give me a package for Bill.  The guy had just flown in from New Jersey.

I arrived at the Diplomat (a very nice Hotel on the Hollywood beach, known for some unsavory connections) and went to valet.  I told the valet who I was there to meet.

His attitude went from somewhat surly to ingratiating.  He assured me there would be no charge and he would leave the car right where I could get it immediately and would personally watch over it.  I thanked him and went inside.

Now, I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this.  What could be in the package?  Why didn’t Bill get it himself?  How much trouble could I be in?  Was this guy under surveillance?

I used the house phone and spoke to the guy (he talked like Bill) and went up to his room.  A very nice room by the way.  

“Come in, take a load off,” he said, “I’ve got the package here for Bill.  Give me a minute to get it out”.

I was becoming somewhat uneasy and I guess it showed.

He picked up a large paper bag and said “So what do you think is in here?”

“I don’t know, Bill didn’t tell me” I answered.

“It’s bread you mope!  What did you think it was drugs?” he said laughing.

Bill had asked him to get a couple loaves of bread from a particular bakery in Newark.

Feeling both relieved and stupid, I took the “package” and left.

Sure enough, the car was waiting for me and I drove away with a wary eye for an FBI tail.

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