If I were following procedure, I would count the money, voucher it and turn it in. All the money I had been paid resulted from criminal activity. It could be used as evidence if I accounted for it properly.
What was I supposed to do? Go into the squad on a regular basis so I could turn in the money and fill out reports?
We hadn't been involved in enough long-term undercover operations to develop procedures that would allow me to follow regulations while staying alive.
I found it helpful to think of the money I was paid as confiscated contraband.
I went back into the bar and ordered a Diet Coke.
I took it to an empty table and sat down to watch what everyone was doing and to hear as much as I could of what they were talking about. What I was really doing was surveillance without the vehicle and the mandatory cup of coffee.
It was pretty much as uneventful as traditional surveillance. Wait and wait some more.
I saw Maeve come in. She came over to my table.
"I hoped I'd find you here," she said.
"I'm glad you did." I also hoped she wouldn't find out why I was happy she found me here.
"Would you like to come back to the pantry with me so we can have a proper greeting away from the gazes of all these judgmental eyes?" I asked.
"What did you have in mind," she asked in a May West impression, "uh, medium-sized boy?"
I laughed; I couldn't help it.
I did a W. C. Fields impression. "A little of this and a little of that."
She went back to May West. "Who could resist such a titillating proposition?"
I took her hand and we headed for the pantry.
We did a little of this and a little of that. It got intense enough that we were bumping into things.
Frank yanked open the door and shook his head.
"Jeez, you two again? Get a room." He left shaking his head.
"Maybe he's right, John," she said.
"Okay. I'll follow you out in a minute or two so nobody will think we were doing what we're going to be doing later."
"Presumptuous, aren't you?"
She rolled her eyes and left.
I quickly stood on a shelf, moved a ceiling tile and took out a cassette recorder. I removed the tape and replaced it with one I had in my pocket. I put the recorder back and moved the tile back into position.
That's what I had used some of the money for. The recorder was voice activated.
Instead of using the microphone that came with it, I had modified a directional mike to plug into it. I had broken in one night to place the parabolic mike above Frank's office and string the wiring through the ceiling into the pantry.
I couldn't get the Department to pay for it. Not only are they are too cheap, it was illegal without a warrant.
It seemed fitting that I paid for it with funds from an unlawful activity which I still had because, in contravention of the law, I had failed to turn it in.
Maeve was at the table drinking a gin and tonic when I sat down.
"It might be too obvious to rush off," I said.
I casually finished my Diet Coke.
"We could have just gone to my place," she said. "Why start off in the pantry?"
Maeve asked lots of pointed questions. Was she just an accountant or was she working somewhere in law enforcement?
I smiled. "Foreplay. It builds anticipation."
I don't know if it was the "foreplay" that got her fired up, but Maeve kept us going so long I was sure she would have to call in sick to her job.
I drove across the Walt Whitman Bridge to South Jersey and headed down Route 42 toward the shore. It was after midnight and as I made more turns farther away from Route 42 the traffic got pretty thin.
I turned off onto a country road and took it around a mile before making a left turn onto a one-lane road. The motel was a few hundred feet down, on the right.
If someone was following me, they were doing it without lights. That seemed unlikely since the road was not entirely straight. I would have heard them crashing into a tree at some point.
I parked in front of Room Four and walked around to Room Twelve. I knocked twice.
"Your stud's here."
Lily opened the door and looked me up and down. She frowned. "Not my stud for sure."
She stood aside and let me in.
"Have you made copies?" she asked.
"I've hidden one away in case of a calamity. The original is in a safe deposit box. I brought two copies for you."
"Is there anything good?"
"It is smoking hot."
"Let's have a listen," she said.
We could only hear Frank's voice when he spoke on the phone.
Early in the tape we heard Frank ask, "So you're sure there's no way the odd fellow is a cop?"
Lily snickered. "That's a great nickname. Maybe we'll call you Odd Fellow when this is all over and you come back to the unit."
"Let's turn off the lights. It should be about time for a romp in the sack."
I had a small flashlight in case we needed to see.
"Okay," said Frank. "Sure. No problem, Trigger."
"Trigger?" Lily asked.
"I have no clue. These guys love to talk in code."
Frank's was not the only voice on the tape. The office was actually used for the business dealings of the bar. There was no way to tell when any of this took place unless the speakers gave sufficient context.
Frank gave us the required context.
Since the recorder was voice activated we couldn't tell how long the person on the other end spoke.
"So, it looks like the driver followed the script? You don't have any information to the contrary?"
"Good. Do the cops have any leads?"
"What? So the FBI is in on this too?"
"The usual suspects? I guess they'll be around here at some point."
"Okay, that sounds really good."
"No, we've already been paid."
"Don't worry, Rugs. I'll send somebody out with your cut later."
"Don't worry. I'll get it to you."
"Yeah. Thanks for calling and for all your other help."
Frank hung up the phone. "Damn greedy bastard," he said.
We heard the door close. Then we heard it close again.
Frank was speaking.
"Here you go Mickey. This package goes to Michael Rows and this one to Thin Albert. When you come back, I'll have one more delivery for you."
"Sure, boss," said Mickey. The door closed.
The next thing we heard was a big sigh from Frank.
"I've got to say that you've pleasantly surprised me, my boy. You've not only done everything I've asked of you, you've done it quite well."
It was the conversation we had the evening of the hijacking. That money I'd kept separate. I might need it for evidence. It was hidden away in a sealed plastic bag with notes on how I had come to receive it.
That was the last conversation on the tape. I'd retrieved it shortly after leaving the office.
"Michael Rows and Thin Albert. Frank put this together with the approval of two organizations," Lily said.
"I was surprised too."
"You know, we have enough information on this tape along with your testimony to convict Frank and his crew. With that leverage, we may get him to roll over on Michael Rows and Thin Albert."
"No. That was an unauthorized recording. Frank has the expectation of privacy in his office in the absence of a warrant."
"God, you sound like a lawyer."
"I read the cases so I'll know what I need to do to put the bad guys away."
"You should go to law school."
"I'm planning to go to night school," I said.
"Wow. Well, even without the tape, you were involved in the hijacking and the drug buys and whatever else you guys did. That should be enough to put away Frank and his crew."
"I guess so. I suppose this will be my last undercover assignment."
"I'll be seen in court. There will be TV crews outside the courtroom taking my picture. It will be all over the news. Where am I going to find a bunch of criminals stupid enough that none of them will have seen any of that?"
"I hadn't thought of that," said Lily.
We were each lost in our own thoughts for awhile. Lily broke the silence.
"It might get worse than that."
"How?" I asked.
"These guys usually stay away from cops. But they'll know you're going to testify and that you can absolutely nail them. They might try to stop you."
"Stop as in kill?"
"Stop as in kill," she said.
"I'll have to go into Witness Protection. You won't be my partner anymore."
"I'm sure that's your primary regret."
She was a sarcastic little thing. Well, a sarcastic big thing. But this was real. I wouldn't be able to be a cop any more. I probably wouldn't be able to be a lawyer either. That's when it hit me, the way it usually does.
"It's City Councilman Royce Ruggeri. I once heard someone play with his name, call him Roy Rodgers. That leads to Roy's horse, Trigger. Ruggeri owns a pretty large business that sells and installs carpets."
"Damn. That sucks. If he finds out anything about this, you're going to have a target painted on your back."
"Thanks for the reassurance. I'm feeling much better now."
Alright, I'm a tad sarcastic myself.
"Even if we can keep me alive until trial, that doesn't augur well for a conviction. He can bring an awful lot of pressure on the Department and the D.A.'s office."
"He has clout with some judges too," said Lily.
"How about you don't tell the Lieutenant about this until I have time to think about it some more?"
Lily looked at me, exasperated. "Are there any more laws you'd like me to break while we're at it?"
It wouldn't be just me. My ex-wives and daughter could become targets used to get to me. If I wound up having to go into Witness Protection they couldn't possibly come with me. My parents would be lost to me as well.
If I did my job really well, if I collected enough evidence to put them all away, to bring down their organizations, my reward would be that I lost everything.
I knew what I had to do. I would need Lily's help. I called her.
"What do you mean I never tell the Lieutenant what you found out? What do I tell him? Jonathan was on vacation; he was just fooling about being undercover."
"Let me finish. There's a whole lot more to my plan."
I explained it in considerable detail. I had to. The plan was completely worthless without the detail. I waited for Lily's reaction.
"That's far and away the craziest plan I ever heard; no second place. The thing is, I can't decide whether it's idiotic or brilliant. I know one thing: if it doesn't work, neither of us will be a cop when it's over."
"I guess it had better work," I said.
I parked in a spot Lily had reserved for me. I could exit quickly. It was around quarter to ten. It had taken me a while to finish being made up.
I walked through the front door of Har Zion Synagogue. I opened my talis bag and took out a knit, designer yarmulke and secured it to my hair with a bobby pin. Then I took out the talis, drew it over my shoulders and wrapped it around my arms. I put the bag in my coat pocket.
I had been given a moustache and a full, bushy beard and a pair of glasses that didn't do anything but help obscure my identity. I was also aged with some wrinkles.
I entered the door to the sanctuary and stood at the back to survey the room.
The Bar Mitzvah boy had just taken his place in front of the open Torah and was ready to read. The gabbai sang out announcing the first aliyah. The boy's aunt and uncle sang the prayer and he began to chant the first part of his reading.
I walked down toward the front. I leaned over to ask a man who appeared to be in his forties, "Are you Mr. Feldman?" I pointed to the boy up on the bima. "His other uncle?"
"No," he said as he shook his head.
I walked back around a dozen rows to a white-haired man.
"Are you Mr. Feldman?" I again pointed to the boy. "His grandfather?"
"No," he said. "I think the grandfather is up front, but his name is not Feldman."
"Sorry," I said. I walked further toward the back.
I leaned over to another man.
"Are you Mr. Feldman?"
"No," he said.
I shrugged like I had failed in my mission.
"Good. Follow me out in around thirty seconds."
He came out the door I had just exited.
"Come with me," I said.
"Look –" he said.
"Just do it. You'll get your information."
We walked casually to the car I had parked there. I got in the driver's seat. He was the passenger.
I took a right out of the parking lot and turned left onto Hollow Road. I sped to the bottom of the hill and turned left onto River Road.
He probably didn't see Lily pull the barricade across the road. If he had agents following him, they wouldn't have left soon enough to see her deploy the barricade; it couldn't have taken more than fifteen seconds to get to River Road.
I pulled into the strip parking lot. People parked there to walk around and enjoy the scenery or to fish from the shore.
"Leave the keys to your car on your seat," I said.
I popped the trunk.
"Here, put on this coat," I told him. I put on a coat as well.
We walked down to the riverbank. I stepped into a boat that was tied there. He hesitated.
"Come on," I said. "I'm just making sure you don't have anybody following us."
"We need to establish a little trust here," he said.
"My experience with the FBI hasn't given me an awful lot of confidence."
"I gave you my word."
"An oral agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on."
"An oral agreement," he said, exasperated, "isn't written on ..." He understood.
I had called the Philadelphia office from a pay phone two days before and asked for the SAC – Special Agent in Charge. They were all Special Agents. Nobody was an Ordinary Agent.
I had given him a synopsis of the kind of information I could provide about a variety of crimes and criminals. He wanted the information immediately and threatened me with all the horrible things he would do if I did not cooperate.
"Blah, blah, blah," I said. "Give me a phone number at which I can reach you. Be dressed in a suit the next three mornings and ready to go when I call you."
"We don't do things that way." He felt much more powerful with the royal "we."
"Do it or don't," I said. "I don't care. If you don't give me a number now, you'll never hear my voice again. If you don't show up when I call, you'll never hear my voice again."
He gave me his number.
I steered the boat across the river to the west of Manayunk. When we were underway, I withdrew some papers from my inside jacket pocket.
He began to review them. "This is a written agreement saying what I can and can't do."
"Which is worth the paper it's written on once you sign it."
He continued to read it.
I steered toward a creek that emptied into the Schuylkill River. I beached the boat far enough down the creek so it would not be easily noticed from the river, which wasn't far.
We stumbled over the rocks, passed under Nixon Street and headed into the woods that border Shawmont Avenue.
'I got out and headed into the woods.
"You gotta be kidding me."
"I told you I would take precautions."
"My shoes are going to be ruined."
"Put them on the expense account," I said.
As we walked, I took a tape from my pocket.
"When you hand me the signed agreement you can have this."
He leaned against a tree and scrawled his signature. I handed him the tape.
"I listened in on Frank Ryan. You can't use this in court; I didn't have a warrant. But the information should be very helpful."
"What do I do if I need clarification or have questions?"
I handed him some folded papers I had taken from my pocket.
"This details everything I can remember from Frank's operations including things I just heard and things I concluded from the evidence. I lay out the basis of those conclusions as well.
"From all of this you ought to be able to figure out the best way to get somebody into his organization undercover.
"I hope you noticed that you agreed not to do anything to the driver of the rig. I made a threat to kill his family which was completely credible to him. I did it to keep him from being hurt."
"What is your real name?" he asked.
"I told you I wouldn't give you that. I don't want to testify. You'll see in my notes, I identify myself as the man known to Frank Ryan as John Smith."
"Very original. You know, it would really help if you testify."
"You don't want me to testify either. If I testify, you Fibbies won't get the credit for putting the case together."
"Why? Which branch of law enforcement do you work for?"
"The keystone cops. If even my name gets out, it will probably destroy much of my effectiveness in the future. That's why I want out. I withheld information from my boss. I'll probably be disciplined or fired if they find out the information came from me.
"Do you see anything in all of this that offers me even the slightest benefit for testifying for you?"
He didn't have an answer.
"I'll call you in a couple weeks to see if you need anything explained."
We emerged from the woods. The car I had been driving was ten feet away. I opened it and took his keys from the driver's seat.
I tossed them to him.
"Your car is a couple hundred feet down the road." I indicated it was to our right.
"By the way," I said, "just in case I was vague: I don't intend to testify."
"Except for the part where you don't follow orders, I could use someone like you."
I shrugged. "Maybe I could change."
He started to walk toward his car.
"I won't change." I don't know if he heard it.
Lily was waiting down the road.
"Whom did you get to move the car?"
"A friend. I told him you were fishing and would come out of the woods around here."
I gave her the signed agreement.
"Let's get out of here and make some copies."
Sans makeup I arrived at The Shillelagh at seven thirty that night.
As I walked up to the bar, I looked around anxiously.
"Liam, a brew."
He had been kidding me about not drinking any alcohol. I took to calling my Diet Coke a brew.
"Here you go."
"Is Frank in tonight?" I kept looking around as if I was worried I'd find the wrong face in the crowd.
"He's in his office. Darcy was asking about you earlier."
"Yeah. I haven't been able to catch her for a few weeks. Thanks."
I walked back to Frank's office. The door was open, but I knocked.
"Come on in, lad. What are you about these days?"
"Hey, Frank." I took a seat. "You know I haven't been a model citizen my whole life."
"Ah, you're talking about before I met you."
"Right. I've been pretty much perfect since then." I paused for effect. "I have this feeling I'm being watched or maybe followed. I left behind enough of a past that there are people who would like to do bad things to me. Have you noticed anybody new hanging around?"
"No. I can't say as I have."
"Well, I'll try to let you know if they show up. I may have to leave the area suddenly."
"Well, if you can point them out to me, I could have one of the boys have a talk with them."
"They're not very good listeners, Frank."
"My boys can be very persuasive. I believe they can permanently persuade these fellows you're worried about to leave you alone."
"Thank you, Frank. I'll let you know if I can use your help."
"Think nothing of it, lad. I've got a bit of work to do. Aren't you supposed to do some womanizing?"
"That was the next thing on my agenda."
"Could you try to keep it out of the pantry, lad?"
I went back to the bar and sat down by myself at a table.
Shortly thereafter, Maeve came in. When she saw me, she walked over to my table.
I got up to greet her.
She kissed me on the cheek. Something was not right about it.
"So, do we have to go back to the pantry? Or can we go straight to my place? She asked.
"Your place will do fine, Maeve."
We each took our own car to her place.
She started stripping as she climbed the stairs toward her bedroom. It made me think of that old joke I had told her the first time we had gone to her house.