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Monday, April 15, 2013

Fluffed , Dried and Dead



A Saturday morning in the city... Sepia and I decided to have breakfast at Mabel Jenkins's soul Food diner...Apparently, so did everybody else... Clerow and Corrie, his wife, who was the co-owner with her older sister, Mabel was there ,with their two children, Robert Foxworth and his wife Bonita was there...as was Sean Jackson and his wife ,Sheila...

Harry Charles was getting take out platters for his wife Bernadette and the girls down at the hair dressers....Kool Kat and his girl friend Chelsea was there...The big man smiled and waved as Sepia and I were seated..I waved back.

Honey Brown and B-Flat were at another table...and Cherry Johnson and her new beau, Calvin Wardlow sat at a table in the back....They weren't doing much eating...just kissing and talking...

Other folk present was Reed Nelson and his wife Debbie, Mabel's husband, 88, Meek Rollins, Bone Hampton , Debbie's sister,Delores and Downtown Rob Brown...

"Full house today huh Kev?" said Robert as he and Bonita joined us at our table...

"I'll say...Guess nobody felt like cooking." I said giving Sepia the side eye...She rolled her eyes at me and busted out laughing...

"If you'd let me get some sleep..perhaps I'd have the energy to make you breakfast." she joked...

"Ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, shots fired!" laughed Bonita as the two high fived...

"Uh huh..I suppose you didn't sleep much neither huh Neet?" I said jokingly...

"You KNOW your boy here...I can't even get in the house good before he's pawing all over me." said Bonita with a straight face...

Sepia, Robert, Bonita and I all laughed....

"I guess she told me...Let's order breakfast." I said...  We four often teased each other...It was no secret that Robert and I were married to two of the sexiest women around...and that both Robert and I had a hard time keeping our hands off of them...A fact not lost on either of them...

"Kev...Did you know that a new Laundromat opened up in Chris and Chess's shopping center?" asked Robert as our food arrived..

"No I didn't... We have a washing machine at home...We don't use the laundromat."I said.

"Yeah, well we don't either...It's just that I'm representing the guy who owns it..and he wants to meet with you...He'd like for your radio station to run music through his laundromat.." said Robert...

"Ohhh Okay...Set up a meeting...I'm sure we can work something out."I said.

"You'll never guess who my client is?" said Robert.

''Who?" I asked.

"The Hatman...Hats Mcmillian!" laughed Robert.

"Hats McMillian?/When did he get out of jail?" I asked.

"Okay, are yall serious...Yall dealin with someone named 'Hat's' McMillian" laughed my wife Sepia.

"Girl, Philly people got some nicknames for ya don't they?"laughed Bonita.

"The hatman was a legend around here." I said.

"He was a Stick up guy and a boxman or safe cracker." laughed Robert.

"I know what a boxman is." said Sepia.

"He was called the hatman because he wore loud , multi-colored hats...which seemed out of place with his otherwise stylish dress....fine tailored suits...matching shoes...but crazy ,crazy looking hats...." I said.

"But behind those hats was a criminal genius...This guy could get into anywhere after dark and blow the safe and be gone without a trace...It's said he was worth millions at one time..."said Robert.

"So what happened to the Hatman?" asked Sepia.

"He overplayed his hand like so many criminals and the FBI caught up to him and he did a ten year bid as a guest to the government!" I said.

"He's been out for about two years...borrowed some money and has opened this laundromat...All modern machines...Flat screen TV's, Nice size restrooms, the whole works...Chance Howard, Cole and I checked it out...It's a solid investment...It appears my man has gone straight." said Robert...

"Well good for him...I'll check his laundromat out later on today." I said.

II-



Later that day, Clerow and I were walking around in the shopping center and decided to check out the new laundromat....Unfortunately....As we were going over , we saw
several police cars and a crowd of people assembling...

"Damn boss, somethin done jumped off in there already." said Clerow..

"Yeah...Wonder what?" I said as I got closer....

The police were bringing a body out of the laundromat...



I saw a familiar figure talking to a man wearing a loud green and yellow polka dot hat with red sunglasses on...

The familiar figure was Lt. Sissy Van Buren....The man with the crazy hatwas Steve "Hats" McMillian, the owner...



"I'm telling you Lieutenant , I hadn't seen Willie since I got outta jail...I don't know how he got in the dryer..." he said..

"Okay for now...but don't go anywhere anytime soon...I'm going to need to interview you downtown." she said.

"Hey Sissy." I said.

"Hey Kev.." she said smiling..

"What happened here?" I asked...

"Little Willie Tate? Remember him?" she asked...

"I've heard of him ,Old school player." I said.

"Somebody put two hot ones in the back of his head....then folded him up and stuffed him in one of his former partner's dryers.." said Sissy.

"Oh my God...Somebody got creative." I said..

"That was his running buddy at one time.." said Sissy pointing to the gentleman in the
yellow polka dot hat with red sunglasses on...

I looked at him and smiled...

"Steven 'Hats' McMillian, that hatman.." I laughed.

"I figured you'd know him." laughed Sissy..

"Only by reputation...Used to be a Heist man and a box man..." I said. "I was actually coming here to see him." I continued..

"Oh?" she asked.

"Just Business Sissy...He wanted to get my radio station's sattelite feed set up in his laundromat.." I said.

"Hmmm...Make the deal...Maybe he'll talk to you...You know how people always want to tell you things they don't want to tell the police.." said Sissy...

"If you looked like Lt. Tragg I'd agree with you...But you and Carlotta and that Dr. Hunter,I'd tell you anything...Even stuff I didn't do." I remarked...

Sissy blushed like a school girl..

"Oh shut up Kevin..Never knew you were such a flirt." she laughed...

Just then Detective Carlotta Rodriguez walked in with two uniforms..



"Look who's here Boss Lady?....Kevin" she said smiling..

''Hey Chica." I laughed..

"What you got Chica?" asked Sissy..

"We got lucky Boss Lady...Jimmy is outside with two people who saw a Black Cadillac SUV drive up early this morning....They saw four guys, all dressed in black suits carrying what looked like a huge white laundry bag inside and dumping the contents in that dryer there." she said.

"They get a plate number?" asked Sissy.

"We didn't get THAT lucky Boss lady." said Carlotta.

Sissy smiled...She and Carlotta were more like sisters than supervisor and subordinate..Sissy often said that Carlotta was the little sister she always wanted, but never had...I could tell by the way they bantered that they loved each other and would be best friends long after their days on the police force ended.

Detective Jimmy Barlow came inside also...



"Hey Kevin....This is a 24 hour joint...It's self serve...The manager was home...The two witnesses were doing laundry over on the other side...They saw four guys, dressed in black suits, white shirts bring in the laundry bag...a fifth guy came in behind them...He looked like the leader....He instructed them where to place the body and then he put coins in the machine and left." he said.


"Chica , get Mr. Hatman over there to empty this machine..we might get a print off of these coins....Jimmy take our two witnesses downtown and show em some mug shots...Maybe they'll identify the undertakers.. Release the body..Let's go." said Sissy.

"Sissy...I'll be talkin to you." I said.

"If you don't , I'll be kind of hurt." she said and smiled...

"Byyyyyyyyyyyye Kevin." said Carlotta as she, Sissy, Jimmy Barlow and four uniformed policemen packed up and left the laundromat...

I waved and watched them leave.

Clerow laughed...

"What's so funny man?" I asked.

"You man...You and them two fine Detectives...How do you control yourself around all that fine trim?" he laughed...

"It aint easy." I laughed and winked...

"I know that's right....See ya around Kev." he said as he headed for his car...

"Yeah be easy Clerow." I said.

Saturday in the big City!

III-



After the police left...and the crowd disapated..."Hat's " McMillian walked over to me..

"So you're Kevin huh?" he said.

"Yeah...You wanted to see me about getting my radio feed hooked up in here right?" I said.

"Yeah, but I want to talk to you about somethin else." he said.

''Oh?"I said.

"I know you're a private detective  and you're tight with those coppers..." he said.

"And?" he said.

"I want to hire you." he said.

"Oh really? You want to talk here?" I said.

"Yeah..Listen...you ever here about the Phillips Heist of 2001?" he asked...

"The Armored Car Heist...Yeah, Three million dollars was taken down...it was never recovered." I said.

''Yeah, gutsy heist and a stupid heist." He said.

"Not for whoever got away with the money." I laughed.

"What if they didn't get away with or spend any of that money?" he asked.

"Why are you bringing up that heist?" I asked.

"Because I'm the one that pulled it off...Me and Little Willie Tate...The dead guy in the dryer.." he said.

"WHATTTTT?? So you do know something about how he got there huh?" I asked.

"No...I didn't lie to the cops...I haven't seen Little Willie since I gotta out of the slams...
I thought he was still up....This is news to me." he said.

"You got an idea of who might have stuffed him in the dryer?" I asked.

"Yeah, Mike Traine..Ever hear of him?" he asked.

"Yeah...He's the rising Playa President in the neighborhood.." I said.

"Yeah, got his hands in a little bit of everything.  Anybody that puts down a score in this neighborhood has to kick a percentage of their profit to him. He and his goons been comin around sweatin me about that cash ever since I set up this business Kev."

"You used that money to set up your business right?" I asked.

"Kev...Ask yourself this question....If I was sittin on a cool millie, Why would I need to set up a laundromat?? Why would I need to take out a small business loan to set it up?" he asked.

"What happened to the money Hats?" I asked.

"It was all in thousand dollar bills and before we could even get home...The Bank broadcast all of the serial numbers....No fence would touch that dough....So we were stuck with a million dollars we couldn't spend...I didn't have enough dough to get a haircut and a cup of coffee." he said...

"It's been 12 years Hats.." I said.

"Yeah..and now Mike Traine is sniffin around for that dough..." he said.

"What do you want from me?" I asked.

"I need you to act as a go between....Go To ADA Keith Wallace...Ask him to protect me and not prosecute....Make that deal and a cool five G's is yours Kev." he said.

He peeled off three thousand dollars and put it in my pocket.

"That's a downpayment...You get the rest when the deal is made.. If ADA Keith Wallace goes for the deal...I'll turn in the money,all of it...I'm plannin to get married Kev...I met a nice girl...Her name is Edith...I want this monkey off my back man." he said.

"What about Mike Train?" I asked..

"If The cops have the money, what can he do?" he asked.

"You could still wind up in the dryer with two slugs in your head." I said.

" And he still wouldn't have the money....I don't see him as being a stupid or petty man." said Hats.

I admit he had a point....but I had a feeling this was going to be deeper and more difficult than it sounded...

Wasn't it always?



(TO BE CONTINUED)

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