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The poker game grew heated. The cheated card player lay dead on the floor!
Gregory J Christiano
I was born in NYC 1947, lived in the Bronx till I got married and moved to Jersey in 1979. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to Catholic grammar and High School. Graduated with BA from Central University of Iowa. Worked in Manhattan most of my career. Presently I am a Claims Adjuster for a service company in the city.
I have only been writing seriously for the past three years, but am published in various nostalgia magazines, have won some awards on line and was awarded the coveted Halpern Memorial Award for best narrative for the Fall 2002 issue of the Bronx County Historical Society Journal. I also have several of my poems published in anthologies. Two short stories will be published at the end of this year.
I will submit essays, historical articles, short stories, and poetry. Looking forward to reading and commenting on the works of fellow authors at this site.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (14)
A Death In The City (Poetry) It is a painful and tragic event when a parent must bury their child. [241 words]
Dancing With A Stranger (Poetry) It's a Make Believe Ballroom - when two stangers meet and fall in love! [312 words] [Drama]
Invisible Universe (Novels) Suppose our science was able to shrink a man into a sub-atomic level. What would he find there, and wouls his journey ever end? This is a story of one such traveller and his adventures into that rea... [2,651 words] [Science Fiction]
Invisible Universe - Chapter Ii - First Contact (Novels) The sub-atomic traveller, attacked by a microscopic life-form fell into the abyss. The adventure continues. [2,184 words] [Science Fiction]
Invisible Universe - Chapter Iii - Myth! (Novels) The lonely traveler continues his journey, ever downward, into vast and endless universes. [2,315 words] [Science Fiction]
Lenny's Last Jump! (Short Stories) Two gangsters out for a night’s work, but they’re in for a surprise! [880 words]
Lincoln Past (Poetry) To the honor of one of our greatest Presidents. [107 words] [Biography]
The Five Points (Essays) The old rookeries and dilapidated shanties that formerly abounded in the vicinity of the Five Points and Cow's Bay in the Sixth Ward were the resort and refuge of a desperate class of criminals. This... [897 words] [History]
The Last Full Measure (Essays) Abraham Lincoln on his way to address the crowd at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetary. This has to be one of the greatest speeches ever presented by a head of state! [1,441 words] [Biography]
The Lonely Lighthouse (Poetry) Lighthouse keepers and their wives have an isolated life...most of the time cut off from the mainland. It is a constant struggle to combat loneliness and its effects! [382 words] [Adventure]
The Ninth Avenue El (Essays) Rapid Transit had been a top priority for the city fathers in mid 19th Cenbtury Manhattan. The first elevated railway was a failure but the idea was sound. Once the overhead trains were run by stea... [3,038 words] [History]
The Old Salts And The Sea (Poetry) A shanty to the countless sailors that perished at sea! [205 words] [Adventure]
We Attack At Dawn! (Short Stories) Toward the end of WWII, an army platoon encouters German resistance. [1,391 words] [History]
Who Is The Hero? (Short Stories) Schoolyard bullies have always intimidated their classmates. But what if a boy refuses to fight back? Is he a coward or a hero? [1,534 words] [Motivational]
Gregory J Christiano
by Gregory J. Christiano
There was no warning…the victim in the crooked card game made a lunge for the card sharp – Curly! A blow was struck, then another…and Richard Crine looked down at the man on the floor! Crine hadn’t struck him…but he was one of the trio who’d cheated him of his cash!
Mr. Crine was of slight build, brown, wavy hair, light complexion which turned even whiter as he knelt near the lifeless body of Dutch Williamson, “Yuh hit him too hard, Curly! He ain’t breathin’”
Walt Peters looked on from the card table just as horrified. “I’m getting’ outa here. I didn’t expect this!”
Curly was a stout, burley fellow with a billiard-ball bald head, heavy eyebrows, and sporting a tattoo of an anchor on his muscular bicep. His fists were still clenched as he spoke, a cigar dangling from his lips, “Hold it Crine. You’re as guilty as I am! We all cheated him outa his dough…more than a thousand bucks! That’s a felony, see!”
Crine held out some of the cash he won, “That’s right,” he said nervously, I’ve got over two hundred here, but I won’t keep it.”
“It’s too late,” snorted Curly, “Yuh took part in a felony…a man was killed. That makes you guilty of murder too!” He reached out and snatched the cash from Richard’s hand. “Gimme the dough,” he continued, “You go home to your wife and keep your mouth shut. Forget this ever happened.”
Richard Crine didn’t go straight home. He walked the streets for hours, trying to get up enough courage to go to the police…
“It’s not fair,” he thought to himself, “I didn’t cheat anyone in that game…they did! I didn’t know there was any cheating until Curly admitted it. If I tell that story to the police, they’ll never believe me.”
He couldn’t console himself in any way. “I won that money…the game was crooked. The cops would never believe me. I’d better do as Curly says!”
Richard Crine, fairly well off insurance broker, was miserable for a month. Then, just as he thought this was all behind him, the letter came…
One evening after arriving home from work, his wife gave him the day’s mail. He opened one of the letters – it was from his old playmate, Curly…just a clipping from a month old newspaper!
Mr. Crine read it intently, deep in thought…” ‘Unidentified man found in river. Police have been unable to locate any next of kin. He was a middle-aged man of…’ “ His face turned white, “The description fits the man Curly hit! Wait!...here’s a phone number to call!” Curly had written his phone number in the margin. Curly was waiting for this phone call. He knew it would come.
“Hello Richard. Bad business, eh? Yeah! Walt and I, we’re stayin’ outa sight. That’s just the trouble. Me and Walt can’t work. We need dough, and plenty of it.”
Crine was careful not to let his wife overhear the phone conversation. Curly paused, then continued, “We’ll get out of town Richard, but we need loot – at least fifteen thousand bucks. That’s right, fifteen grand, and you’ll never hear from us again!”
That first payment wasn’t too hard to raise, but it nearly cleaned out Mr. Crine’s savings account. He brought the money to Curly and his pal Walt the next day.
“I told yuh Richie-boy wouldn’t let us down, Walt!” crowed Curly as he counted the cash.
“He’d better not,” snorted Walt, “If he squawks, we’ll all do a murder rap. Understand, Richie-boy?”
“I, I understand!” replied a very distraught Richard Crine, “Well, goodbye, gentlemen,” he continued, as he backed cautiously out of the seedy hotel room, “Have a nice trip.”
After Richard left, an elated Curly turned to his crony Walt, “Did yuh hear that? ‘Have a nice trip.’ He says! Wait’ll I call him next week!” He pounded the table with his fist and laughed.
One week later, Richard Crine got another call. It was then he knew the bitter truth. It was blackmail and he was helpless. He met Curly again at a different flop house. After handing Curly another five thousand…
“I have no money left now, Curly. Don’t call me again.”
“Yuh’ll raise some Richie-boy,” Curly demanded, “You’re a clever guy.”
Richard was in despair as Curly continued, puffing away on his reeking cigar, “Your wife’s got a fur coat, right? Sell it! Sell your car. You got a responsible job and you can put your hands on a lot of that insurance money. Steal it! You’ve got to or go to prison for a long time!”
It went on and on. Richard Crine paid out another twenty-six thousand before he hit a snag.
One night, working late at his office, he was altering the books, “I thought my boss would never go. I’ve embezzled another two thousand for Curly. I’ll cover the shortage in the books over time…
His boss, Mr. Larkin, suddenly returned, catching Crine in the act of embezzling. He wasted no time and called the police. Finally, after Mr. Crine’s story was told and retold, Lt. Detective Ted Randall of the Racket Squad took charge…
“You should’ve come to the police at once Mr. Crine. Let’s see that clipping. And describe the dead card player to me once more.”
After hours of questioning, Lt. Randall took Richard for a drive. He parked out in front of Fazzio’s Pool Hall..
“What are we comin’ here for, Lieutenant?” asked a very confused Richard Crine.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” answered Lt. Randall, as they exited the unmarked police car, “Just peek in the window, that’s all, and tell me who you see…”
Mr. Crine squinted through the seamy glass. “It’s…it’s him! It’s the guy they killed! But how? He was shocked to see the very same man, Dutch Williamson, he thought was beaten to death by Curly, months before! Yes, it was the same man! Lt. Randall had a plan. He and Richard made a phone call…
Mr. Crine made the call to Curly. Curly happened to be with Walt again and was discussing his conversation with Crine over the phone, “Listen, Crine’s gonna pay one last time…five thou, and it’s the last one! Whaddya say we let him meet Dutch again! It’ll be good for a laugh!”
After hanging up, Crine turned to the Lt., “I’ll be glad when they’re in jail.”
“Don’t forget,” reminded Lt. Randall, “You broke the law too! The D.A. could indict you if he wanted to, but your boss, Mr. Larkin didn’t press charges. He’s willing to have you reimburse the firm. He understands the circumstances.”
Next day Crine met Curly in the same hotel room. As Crine laid the money on the table, Dutch, the ‘victim’ came out of an adjoining bedroom, all smiles and waving to Richard.
”Okay Richie,” said a rather smug Curly, “the game’s over. We got your dough. Look at him –“ pointing to Dutch, “Here’s the corpse! Well, say somthin’ Dutch, so he won’t get scared of a ghost!”
“Hiya chump. Nice haul,” said a grinning Dutch Williamson staring down at the loot Crine had placed on the table.
It was then, Lt. Randall and three uniformed policemen burst into the room, guns drawn, “You’re all under arrest.” He read them their rights as they were being disarmed and handcuffed.
Later, at headquarters, Richard Crine learned he hadn’t been the blackmail ring’s only victim. There were several other men present…
The lieutenant addressed the group, “You all had one thing in common, fear! Fear of scandal, fear of jail. And Curly’s gang traded on your fear!”
Lt. Randall reassured them, “None of you will be prosecuted for failure to report a crime. You’ve all been punished enough. The court has issued subpoenas so you’ll have to testify against those three, of course. But if one, only one of you had come forward at the beginning of the shakedown, this affair would never have continued. You can go!”
by Gregory Christiano
|READER'S REVIEWS (2)
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"Another good story,Greg, with a good surprise ending.Well done." -- David Daniels.
"Interesting. My daughter found it when she googled name. Are you other room mate included in other essays?" -- Crine, Anaheim, CA.
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© 2005 Gregory J Christiano
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