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Circling The Drain
The Social Club
"And so we are agreed," Tony P said looking around the slightly smoky barroom to the fifteen men at the table. Some with their hands folded across their bellies and others drinking from their liquor glasses, the Social Club members nodded or just said yes.
Tony P heard their undertones saying "It has to be done." and "Jimmy is getting out of control." and "He's gonna ruin our plans for the future of the union".
Tony P was then sure he made the right decision.
The Prison Sentence
Six years before, after many appeals, Jimmy finally began his thirteen year sentence in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania for using union funds to loan money to organized crime leaders. While in appeal, he appointed his second in command and good friend, Frank S to temporarily run the union, ostensibly to 'hold' Jimmy's place as President until he won his appeals. He didn't win.
For five long years, his wife Josephine traveled from just outside Detroit, Michigan to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania once a month to visit him, often bringing news that dashed his hopes of regaining control of the union. So in 1971, Jimmy developed a new plan with the help of some of his Social Club friends on the outside. He told them to give a large donation to the U.S. President's re-election campaign on the condition that his prison sentence be commuted.
In his wildest of plans, he wanted them to secure a Presidential pardon for him. His wife said he was crazy, but knew Jimmy was used to getting his way.
At that time, his Social Club friends went along with Jimmy's plan because no one expected a U.S. President to take the union bribe much less to give Jimmy a Presidential pardon. The idea was ludicrous. This President kept saying he wasn't crooked, that he was on the up and up. But the U.S. President did take the bribe as a donation, won re-election to The White House and in 1972, Jimmy's sentence was commuted to time served. He had served just under five years in prison.
Jimmy did not learn until weeks after his release that his Presidential pardon came with a condition, he was just glad to get out of prison. With the document being scrutinized, the union lawyers searched for a way around the pardon's back door condition. Jimmy, a man who had held the highest office in the largest workers union in the United States, was barred from holding office in any union for the next ten years. By then, Jimmy would be nearly 71 years old.
In August 1974, the country learned the truth about the U.S. President who resigned from The White House in disgrace. Jimmy wanted more than ever to be back in control of the union again.
Jimmy's son, Jimmy Junior, now grown up and on retainer as one of the union's lawyers, assured his father there could be legal loopholes to be found to contest the conditions of the pardon. Jimmy's daughter Barbara, also an attorney agreed, giving him confidence that he would be able to get re-elected in the 1976 union election.
The Chosen Ones
Today, not all the Social Club members were happy with Tony P's decision. Jimmy was a friend to many of the men at the table. Nevertheless, they had to agree.
It was expected.
Tony P raised his sizable girth from the table and made his pronouncement. "Let it be done. If anyone speaks of this from this day forward, he will be killed and his family will be killed." This was the statement made at the end of every private meeting they held over the years. All the men knew this by rote, but Tony P repeated it each time nonetheless.
Now for the pronouncement of who would get the job.
Tony P turned to his right and said, "Tony G, you and your son Joey G will take care of this by the end of the month. I expect a phone call from you when it is done."
Yes, of course. Tony G and his son were the logical choices.
Jimmy was godfather to Tony G's son Joey G, and Tony G was Jimmy's best friend and godfather to his daughter Barbara.
Jimmy would suspect nothing. They would have dinner just like they did on many other occasions. Tony G would arrange the date with Jimmy's right hand man, Chuckie O.
Tony P shook Tony G's hand, then met his driver at the door to go home to his wife.
The fifteen men all stood, some shook hands, some went to replenish their liquor and others just left the club. Tony G looked at his son Joey G and they both knew what was expected of them.
Jimmy's fate had just been sealed.
It was a hot July day in 1975 in the well-to-do Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, Michigan. The air conditioning in the busy Italian restaurant was welcomed as their waiter delivered menus and poured their red wine.
The four middle aged men discussed some business after they ordered and when their meal arrived, business talk was put aside so the meal could be enjoyed and savored. As the four friends ate their dinner, two of the men at the table were very calm and the other two had the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Jimmy noticed none of this as he finished his meal at his favorite restaurant, then paid the bill for the whole table. That was his way. He always picked up the tab.
Taking his money out of his money clip, he peeled off the bills and including a generous tip, Jimmy remembered not so long ago paying for his daughter Barbara's wedding reception here.
When his son Jimmy Junior married his high school sweetheart, she wanted her wedding reception here too. Jimmy Junior had graduated from law school less than three months before. And they're still married too with two little boys now, he smiled. Imagine that, both my children growing up to be lawyers, he mused with a smile.
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After dinner, they sat awhile longer catching up on news about their family members, union business and some light-hearted banter. The small group seemed congenial to anyone looking over at their table.
Jimmy glanced at his watch noting that it was nearly 2:30pm. He had time for a nap before his son and daughter-in-law arrived with his grandsons for a visit. Jimmy took the lead as the four men made their way to the exit of Antonelli's Restaurant. Harry, the owner, came out of the back kitchen with something wrapped in freezer paper and touched the shoulder of the last man.
"Here ya go, Chuckie," he said quietly, placing the frozen salmon in a doggie bag. "I'll call Bob H and let him know you're on your way with his salmon."
Chuckie O patted Harry on the shoulder, thanked him and cupped the small parcel in his hand. Two of the dinner guests had already departed in their own vehicle, shaking hands and thanking Jimmy for the meal. Chuckie O joined Jimmy at the entrance, then Chuckie O gave the valet the "nod."
Within a minute, a brand new 1975 maroon Mercury Marquis Brougham pulled up to the door.
"OK, Chuckie, where did you get this car?" Jimmy asked him, expecting the valet to bring his own green, two-door Pontiac Grand Ville that he had driven to the restaurant.
"I borrowed Joey G's new car to see if I wanna buy one. Ain't it a beauty? C'mon, I'll take ya for a ride." Chuckie O ran his hand smoothly over the roof as the valet went around the car to open the front passenger door for Jimmy.
Jimmy was annoyed, but he agreed because Chuckie O was like a son to him and his right hand man. More than twenty years before, Chuckie O's parents had been killed in a car wreck. Jimmy and his wife Josephine adopted him when he was twelve and their own children were just toddlers. Unlike Jimmy's kids, Chuckie O didn't want to go to college, he only wanted to drive a big rig and be part of the union where his father had been a member.
Jimmy walked around to the front passenger side where the valet was holding open the door. He flicked away his cigarette (no way was he stamping it out on the driveway with his Gucci loafers), glanced at his watch, thinking it's still early enough.
"We gotta make a stop anyway, Jimmy" Chuckie O said, looking at him over the roof. "I told Harry I'd drop off this frozen salmon at Bob H's house for him. He said to tell ya that Bob wants to talk to ya about your re-election campaign." Seeing the look on Jimmy's face, he said, "Don't worry, Jimmy, I'll bring ya back here to pick up your car," settling his bulky frame in the driver's seat.
This unplanned detour to Bob H's house only served to annoy him even further. Bob H. was a Business Agent for one of the union locals in Detroit who had pledged Jimmy his support for the union election. He could have met with him any other day but today.
Jimmy had few worries about the election; he was well liked by the rank and file. Between that and some well placed favors, he expected to win despite the fact that he was openly going against the Presidential pardon's conditions to not engage in any union activities.
As Jimmy settled into the front passenger seat of the 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham, he noticed the new car smell but then he became aware of someone sitting in the back seat. A quick look over his shoulder brought a smile to his face when he saw his very good friend and long time union associate, Tony G with whom he just shared dinner.
"Hiya Jimmy," Tony G said to him from behind dark sunglasses, "I'm goin' along for the ride. Bob H wants me to talk to ya about plans for your campaign before we get to his house."
"Hey Tony, sure thing. You didn't say anything at dinner. You know I got some ideas too and with the right backing, the election is in the bag. Don't you think so?"
His question went unanswered as Chuckie O cautiously put the car in gear, pulled out of the restaurant parking lot and turned right onto Telegraph Road.
He drove for about 15 miles while Tony G and Jimmy discussed campaign strategies. When he got close to Bob H's house, he turned down an unfamiliar dirt road where there was a farmhouse at the end of the lane.
"Hey Chuckie, where ya goin'?" Jimmy asked, looking to the right and to the left. He didn't recognize the farm or the area. "What's this place?"
"Jimmy," Tony G answered from the back seat, "my son Joey G bought this pig farm while you were in the joint. He had a real nice addition built on to the back of the farmhouse that some of us use, you know, as our Social Club."
Jimmy became suspicious. He had been out of prison for over two years and this was the first he heard of Joey G owning property, much less a working pig farm. He had never once been invited in all that time to this Social Club, a real sign of disrespect. He grew more annoyed, only wanting to get back to his car at the restaurant parking lot and go home.
"Nice place," Jimmy sniped at Tony G, "but I hate farms, any kind of farms. They're too much work and they stink. I especially don't like pigs. I can't stand the smell of 'em. Now, Chuckie, let's turn around and get to Bob H's house, give him his damn salmon, and get me back to my car."
"Yeah, Joey hates farming too," Tony G said calmly, as he looked out the side window at the barn door. "So he hired some hands to work the farm to make him look legit. Looks great, huh?"
Jimmy was steaming mad as Chuckie O pulled up behind the farmhouse, parking beside a big red barn.
Chuckie O took the doggie bag of frozen salmon, got out of the car, leaving the driver door wide open.
"Chuckie, you're goin' the wrong way," Jimmy called after him.
"We're only going one way, Jimmy," Chuckie O answered over his shoulder. He continued walking to the back porch of the farmhouse, entered the screen door and Jimmy never saw him again.
Tony G remained quiet in the back seat as Jimmy looked around the barnyard. A minute later, his son Joey G came out of the barn with his associates Stephen K and Thomas K, two brothers from New Jersey who did the pig butchering for him on the farm, among other duties.
Quietly and calmly, Tony G reached over the front seat and with his strong beefy hands, he choked Jimmy to death.
The Clean Up
Four hours later, the work area had been hosed down, the chain saws had been cleaned and oiled and put away. The meat locker door closed with a dull click after the men had placed Jimmy's wrapped body parts among that week's frozen butchered pork. By morning, they expected Jimmy to be frozen solid.
Behind the barn, Tony G, Joey G, Stephen K and Thomas K peeled off their once-white, now crimson coverall aprons they used for butchering the pigs and put them in the metal industrial sized drum along with Jimmy's clothes - his blue pullover shirt, blue pants, black Gucci loafers, and his trademark white socks. Tony G pocketed Jimmy's watch.
Joey G poured in some gasoline and set the contents afire. The stench permeated Tony G's nose. He was glad this part was overwith.
Stephen K and Thomas K went to the side the barn to finish the framing for the concrete slab that would be the foundation for the new tool shed. When they were sure everything in the drum had burned to a crisp, Tony G and his son adjourned to the house and sat down to enjoy a meal prepared by Joey G's wife.
The Frantic Wife
By now, Jimmy's wife Josephine was worried. It was going for 9PM and still no word from Jimmy since leaving the house for the Antonelli's Restaurant that afternoon. She called the restaurant two different times and one employee said Jimmy never showed up, and another employee said he left after having dinner.
The conflicting stories prompted her to call her son Jimmy Junior, who had already left to go home with his children after spending the evening waiting with her for her husband to come home. Jimmy Junior told his mother that he would make some calls to see if he could locate his father. He knew Chuckie O was going to be at the dinner that afternoon, so he tried calling first and then going to his house, but got no answer.
Jimmy Junior spent the rest of the evening calling a dozen other people and no one knew anything. He went to the restaurant and found his father's green car still in the parking lot. Now he was really worried.
Josephine also called everyone she knew asking if anyone had seen or heard from Jimmy. No one saw or heard anything. She was now beside herself with worry about her husband. She was sure something bad had happened to him or he would have called her.
Jimmy Junior called his sister Barbara, a lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri and asked her to come home. She arrived early the next morning at her parents' home and together, they all agreed to file a missing person's report.
It was July 31, 1975.
Also on the morning of July 31, 1975, Joey G and Thomas K fed the last of Jimmy's now frozen body parts through the wood chipper, making a disarrayed pile that Stephen K shoveled into a wheelbarrow. Stephen K then wheeled the last load to the side of the barn where he met up with Tony G who had bags of cement ready to mix in the portable mixer with the last of Jimmy's remains. When the mixture was ready, Stephen K and Thomas K laid the concrete for the new tool shed foundation.
Again, just like yesterday, Tony G, Joey G, Stephen K and Thomas K peeled off their white coverall aprons, now spattered with blood and added them to the metal drum and set it ablaze. Tony G reminded them of the agreement from their meeting last week right at this very farmhouse.
Joey G watched his father walk back to the farmhouse to call Tony P to report the job had been completed. He then set about to clean the wood chipper and hosing out the wheelbarrows over the bloody drain that had seen nothing but pig blood up until now, watching Jimmy's bloody remnants circling the drain.
Both father and son acted like July 31, 1975 was just like any other day.
From that July day forward, no one would ever really learn the truth about what ever became of Jimmy. Under threat, all Social Club associates far and wide knew to stick to the agreed upon and rehearsed stories about what happened to Jimmy. Every time one story was proven false, they were to feed another story to replace it.
In seven years, Tony G said that Jimmy would be legally declared dead and the hype would settle down.
Little did he know that they would be feeding story after story for many years to come, making Jimmy more famous in death than he had ever been in life.
Update: August 1975 - after one month of following leads from interviews, the FBI were unable to locate Jimmy - dead or alive
Update: March 1977 - Tony G died of food poisoning at his son's pig farm. This caused Joey G to cease pig farming and he sold his farm; brothers Stephen K and Thomas K moved back to New Jersey, taking high ranking jobs in union locals in Atlantic City which was just becoming popular with casinos
Update: May 1978 - the FBI received an anonymous tip that Jimmy's body was buried within the foundation of a new sports stadium. After days of using imaging devices and doing some excavation, a body was never found.
Update: September 1980 Jimmy's wife, Josephine died in her sleep - never knowing what happened to her husband
Update: June 1982. Jimmy was declared legally dead.
Update: September 1984 - On the way home from a night of barhopping with Chuckie O, Joey G shot and killed him for drunkenly boasting in a crowded bar, that he knew the details of Jimmy's disappearance. Joey G was later arrested, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for his murder.
Update: August 1985, Tony P died of congestive heart failure, while in federal prison for racketeering
Update: September 1985 - Joey G killed in a prison riot.
Update: 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 Jimmy Junior elected President of the Union, winning consecutive elections, each for 5 year terms. He is still in office as of this writing
Update: June 2011, brother Stephen K wrote a deathbed tell-all book about what happened to Jimmy. It was later found to be all fiction. Although questioned many times over the years, he and his brother Thomas K never confirmed any stories of their time at the pig farm.
Update: June 2013. After years of following numerous leads to locate Jimmy's body, the FBI and other government agencies are no closer to learning the truth of the events of July 30, 1975.
Update: July 2013 - Although the FBI still receives anonymous tips with leads to where Jimmy might be buried, the search has lost momentum. If still alive, Jimmy would be 100 years old.
© John De Vettese July 2013
Any resemblance to persons living or dead are merely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.