The Third Avenue Caper
Sean O’Mera owns an old time neighborhood Irish bar on Third Avenue: Jimmy’s Place. He loves it. He’s been running it for more than twenty years. The real estate people are always bugging him to sell. But Sean has resisted all the money they continually offer. He still honors his deceased father Jimmy’s commandment: “Never sell the building or the Bar... This is Jimmy’s Place!”
This old building outlasted the Third Avenue Elevated line. In some nooks and crannies you’ll find dust that’s way over seventy years old.
Just take the bar: As you walk in, the middle of the ivory white marble door saddles are worn smooth. They brace the heavily trafficked black and white checkered classic tile floor. Especially along the dark old mahogany bar as they run through out the rest of the historic establishment.
The bar and most of its main fixtures are all original from day one. The porcelain at the bottom of the ornate restroom urinals is worn down and colored green in certain highly utilized spots.
To some change means losing comfort, but that wasn’t going to happen at Jimmy’s Place. The name remains as it ever was. Everyone is welcome and everyone is comfortable at Jimmy’s Place.
The money is good and the commute to the bar is only two flights down from Sean’s roomy converted duplex living space. He lives with his artist girl friend Sheila Kelsey. Everyone likes the smooth and friendly aura she brings to Jimmy’s Place.
Sheila claims she feels “centered” at Jimmy’s Place. A feng shui spot draws her into the northeast corner of the bar by the exposed brick wall. “I feel warmth and love here, snuggled in this corner,” She always says.
The couple talks about getting married and popping out a kid or two. Sheila wants to establish a blood line since she is an orphan and does not know her parents.
With the NYPD’s 13th Pct. just around the corner, Sean’s place is also a watering hole for cops. It makes for an eclectic crowd, old time cops, new comers and left over neighborhood types from the old days.
Sean, at times, steps back to take a moment to appreciate what he and Sheila have preserved and nurtured: An establishment that is homey, welcoming, and enjoyable.
It was a little before midnight on a cold and windy Tuesday evening in March. Mario Ruiz, a detective from the Manhattan South Detective Squad came in for a quick pop before hitting the road and the one hour trip to his house, wife and kids on Long Island.
“What’s new and exciting?” Sean asked as he poured Mario’s drink. Mario took a sip, looked around (his usual MO) and then softly said, “A directive came down about cold cases, guess who got assigned to the basement to dig out old dusty files?” Mario said looking Sean straight in the eye.
Immediately coming through the door was Detective Timothy Francis Patrick O’Hannlon, Jr. ruddy face and all. Mario, without turning his head and still looking Sean straight in the eye, laughingly pointed to Timmy and said: “HIM!!!!”
“Fuck YOU, Pork Chop,” was Timmy’s retort.
They are partners known as “The Mick and The Spick.” Timmy calls Mario “Pork Chop” and Mario calls Timmy “Potato Head.”
“Cold Case Numereo Uno has been assigned to BOTH of us, Numb Nuts,” Timmy sneers at Mario. “Our perp and victim are probably farting dust by now,” he added. “It’s what the old squad guys used to call a Caper,” Timmy said after slugging down his drink.
“So, we're now Ghostbusters?” Mario asked. Sean laughingly chimed in: “No, GHOST-DUSTERS, You ain’t afraid of no Dust!”
All three laughed and moved on to discuss the upcoming 2016 baseball season.
Timmy and Mario dove right into Cold Case Numero Uno. Back to reading the initial UF-61 (report) and viewing the other sparse evidence collected back in the early 1960’s. It was a Missing Person Case, but with a twist.
Here is the Skinny on “Fast” Eddie McGuire. Reported Missing 11/13/64. UF 61# 9007-64 of the 13th Pct.
Edward O’Leary McGuire, DOB 10/15/45 was an illegal entrant into the USA. He was one of thousands wanted Irish Republican Army members fleeing over the past many years to avoid being arrested by the British in Northern Ireland.
In the USA at that time, there was a network of Irish American people, businesses and even Catholic Church parishes that enabled people like Fast Eddie to hide in plain sight. These fugitives worked in Irish businesses and lived in Irish neighborhoods. They fit right in.
But not “Fast Eddie,” he had to make a splash and fuck everything up. Episode after episode he made it most uncomfortable for “host” Irish Americans to keep him under the radar.
“A shiftless Son of Erin, yes he was,” remembered an old timer at Jimmy’s Bar. “Kind of a numb skull as well, couldn’t even keep a steady job,” another added.
The detectives would later discover more shady rumors. But there was nothing about violent crime allegations in the 1960’s files. They just kept on digging.
Something wasn’t kosher here.
As the incriminating events back in the 1960’s morphed into more serious fires burning his bridges of support, Fast Eddie panicked. Rumor had it Fast Eddie reluctantly sought out the notorious Manhattan Irish Street Gang, “The Westies.” for survival.
Not a good idea. Fast Eddie unwittingly screwed the uncle of one of The Westies out of thousands of dollars and made the uncle look like a fool. You do that, you should expect a trip to the hospital, or worse.
The Irish American Network that originally supported Fast Eddie had an uneasy relationship with The Westies. They tried to dump their problem on the gang by giving Fast Eddie up to The Westies. Another rumor.
This is where the case goes cold. The detectives found only a small footnote at the bottom of a UF-61 Informational from a Confidential Informant referring the possibility of a Westies connection. That CI is now DOA.
In the 1960’s, The Westies rarely talked to the cops. This particular time they adamantly stonewalled any attempt of communication by the cops. Fast Eddie just fell off the map.
Everyone else possibly involved in the case just clammed up as well, including the NYPD’s confidential informants. The cops may have intentionally looked the other way on this one, but why?
This is what “The Mick and The Spick” eventually found out......
It seems Fast Eddie really had to leave Belfast not because he was such a great IRA warrior as much as he was a big time fuck up. Besides that, he was a petty criminal.
The IRA quickly dumped Fast Eddie on “the other side.” This before he could be identified as an IRA member the British could target specifically as an IRA security risk. A dangerous and deadly nightmare for the IRA was Fast Eddie’s potential.
This is analogous to the Catholic Church. They transfer a priest for a sexual type of allegation(s). So does the IRA with problems, especially for security reasons. Better not to kill, way too many relatives.
But Fast Eddie didn’t change his ways in the USA. He was still smart and cunning in criminal activity. The cops and his victims couldn’t prove he was involved in the mini-crime wave that hit Inwood, Upper Manhattan’s Irish American neighborhood. But there was talk, always talk about Fast Eddie.
And word always slowly leaks out from home. When Fast Eddie left Belfast, the thefts and other stupid shit somehow incredibly stopped. This rumor and his other stupid non-criminal actions in the USA made Fast Eddie quickly a persona non grata in the Irish American community.
He was unceremoniously cut off from the Irish American pipeline of support. Just like that.
All this info was hidden from the cops, at least that’s the official version. Who knows? Back then there were tons of Irish American cops. Did they know?
One day Fast Eddie didn’t show up for work. He was just gone.
His girlfriend Kathy Casey, insisted on reporting him missing. Interpol reported he was not on “the other side.”
The case ended in the 13th Pct. That was the last place he was seen, around Jimmy’s Place, a bar on Third Avenue. The 1960’s investigation remained open but activity ended in 1965. Into the basement the file went.
Sean’s father Jimmy’s name has come up in the new investigation. An “overlooked” 90 year old Confidential Informant doing life in Sing Sing now confirms the last place Fast Eddie was seen. It was around Jimmy’s Place, as reported in the original case.
Kathy Casey is still missing. She disappeared, no family as well. No report filed on her. Just gone.
Back in the 1960’s, closing at 4 am Sunday morning Jimmy is cleaning up. There’s a noise at the back door. It’s Fast Eddie trying to “enter” the bar
“I told you to stay the fuck away!” Jimmy whispers to Fast Eddie.
As a favor, Jimmy’s friend Marvin who owns SuperSonic Delivery gave Fast Eddie a job. He immediately fucked it up costing Marvin the Bowery Savings Bank delivery account.
And besides all that, Fast Eddie’s bar tab was astronomical.
Fast Eddie begs for help. “The Westies and the Cops are after me.” Fast Eddie is definitely suffering from a well substantiated case of self imposed paranoia.
“Serves you right, you fucking asshole!” Jimmy whispers to himself.
“I can’t leave,” Fast Eddie pleas. “I gotta see Kathy!”
“Fuck YOU....Get LOST!!!” is all Fast Eddie hears. The steel door slams. The deadbolt is thrown.
Jimmy continues cleaning up. About an hour later, there’s a soft moan and a low cry for help from behind the exposed brick wall in northeast corner of the building.
A low voice mumbles, “Jimmy, it’s me, Eddie.”
“That fucking knucklehead!” Jimmy fumed.
There was an escape shaft built into the wall during prohibition. The shaft was three feet by three feet one way in (basement) and one way out (roof) construction. Both ends were sealed in the 1950’s.
“That asshole probably tried to sneak through that opening” Jimmy surmised.
“How the fuck did he do that?” Jimmy was befuddled.
FACT: Fast Eddie was going to be killed here by The Westies or back in Ireland by the IRA. “He dies now..... all his sins die with him.” Jimmy rationalizes as Fast Eddie slowly dies.
The detectives discovered a possible clue re: Kathy Casey. A woman died as a Jane Doe within nine months after both Fast Eddie and then Kathy Casey disappeared. Obvious handwritten changes were made to these practically illegible records.
This female was in a convent. It was rumored she died in childbirth. But the info states the cause of death was a brain hemorrhage. The records are sketchy and all parties involved are now DOA.
Nothing was mentioned about a child. But it was rumored to be a baby girl. She was probably placed at a Catholic orphanage.
Rumors say: A volunteer convent worker was handed a note to be surreptitiously delivered to NYC. The note was delivered instead to the then Mother Superior in charge. This communique was from the Jane Doe girl right before she succumbed to her condition.
It was intentionally misplaced and forgotten.... tucked away in the file.
The Detectives found the unsigned yellowing note, addressed to Jimmy’s Bar:
“Jimmy, I don’t know what to do, please find my love, we have a little baby girl.”
Jimmy later found out Kathy, the girl Fast Eddie would always bring to Jimmy’s Place, was DOA. He had faith the Catholic Church would take care of the rumored baby girl. He truly believes she will be better off without having these two for parents.
The detectives now have most of the pieces of the puzzle. The only problem is what happened to Fast Eddie after his sighting at Jimmy’s Place. The original cold Missing Person’s Report that generated all this information still is unanswered, for now.
They hope to find some definitive answers at Jimmy’s Place.
Early the next morning, the detectives enter Jimmy’s Place. There they find Sean, Sheila and Marvin sitting in Sheila’s favorite table by the exposed brick wall in the northeast corner of the bar.
They sense her aura immediately.
“How’s about some Irish Coffee,” Sean says as he greets his good friends. They all sit down as Timmy looks up at a picture he’s seen a thousand times, but now, sees for the first time.
“Whose that?” Timmy points to the old grainy black and white photo. Sean turns his head and answers, “I don’t know, never noticed it, it’s always been here....do you know Marvin?” Marvin, Jimmy’s best friend, shakes his head and says simply “No.”
But he knows, he knows so much, yes he does.
Mario and Timmy know he knows, and Marvin knows they know he knows.
The photo memorializes a snap shot in time. A young couple in love and having fun at Coney Island. The man is Fast Eddie, the woman looks amazingly like Sheila.
Sean and Sheila closely examine the photo with astonished curiosity. Timmy turns to Mario and says “I guess Cold Case Numereo Uno should remain cold.”
They both stare at the couple studying the photo and then both look towards Marvin.
The three all silently agree, Jimmy would approve.
Published 06/19/2016 www.short-story.me