Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Man’s Tastes Get Him Into Trouble

Mike Adams, born Michael Adamski when Penns River still had a hospital; a/k/a Mike the Fence, Mike the Kike (for the small shylock business he ran on the side), and White Mike (to distinguish him from Black Mike, also a fence). Five-foot-ten, one-eighty. Worked more or less full-time as a bartender at Fat Jimmy’s, where Jimmy let him conduct business, so long as no cash or merchandise changed hands, and no drugs. His day off, so he ran errands and made collections. Home for a shower, then out to see if Luann Czekalski would make an appearance at Ricki’s Lime. With luck, bring her home and show off his new tattoo.

A hundred yards from his house he saw the light bars. Two Penns River patrol units, plus one unmarked. Two uniformed cops with their thumbs up their asses between the cars and his front door. Another uniform and two plainclothes coming and going from the unmarked to the house. Mike had seen search warrants served before. He drove by, never turned his head to look.

He had his Go bag in the trunk. Eight grand in tens, twenties, and fifties he collected and banded himself; no bank straps. An ID he bought in New York that came with a number prospective employers could call for a job reference, one call per ID. Fancied himself the incarnation of DeNiro in the movie Heat. “Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat.” Mike beat Bobby D by at least twenty seconds.

Almost stopped at Glen’s on Leechburg Road for frozen custard. Best ice cream in the world, even better than the Wisconsin Dells, where Mike made a detour during his long-haul trucking days just to try it. One last large Flavor of the Day would have been nice. Too risky. That self-righteous detective asshole—Dougherty?—knew about Mike’s ice cream jones, probably had someone there already.

Mike knew a guy in Chicago, said he could set him up in Rockford, and the way to get there was the PA Turnpike to I-80, then I-90. Eight, nine hours, depending on traffic. Nearest Turnpike interchange in Harmarville, next to Cheswick, home of the original Glen’s. Mike doubted Penns River would call neighboring jurisdictions to look for him. Or, he would have doubted it if he thought they wanted him for fencing or juice.

Jimmy had warned him not to mention the meth package at work. “Don’t even let on you have something else going,” how he said it. Jimmy tolerated what he called “victimless crimes” in his bar. He didn’t care who used drugs, so long as they didn’t use or sell on the premises and paid their tabs. No bones about it: Jimmy wasn’t losing his license so some toothless tweaker could ride a high.

The thing with Jimmy, he wasn’t so tolerant and open-minded he wouldn’t drop a dime if warnings went unheeded. The bent guys let him get away with it because Fat Jimmy’s worked so well as a clearinghouse to make connections; they told complainers not to shit where they ate, make their transactions elsewhere. The cops ignored the criminal element because he’d dish for the proper occasion. The sophomore at Penn State Penns River who ODed on speed from the package Mike brokered made for a borderline occasion; him dying pushed it over the line into a fucking Orthodox wedding. Mike assumed his warrant had Jimmy’s CI number on it.

Mike didn’t remember if he’d ever mentioned this Rockford thing to Jimmy. If he had, the cops might figure he’d go there, and the quickest way was through Harmarville.

So, no Glen’s.

He still had to get to Chicago, which meant I-80. Mike doubted they’d post a BOLO across state lines. Even if they did, the odds of a cop from Ohio or points west spotting this one car were slim and less than slim, if he behaved himself. PA-28 north would take him to 80 in Brookville. Mike took back roads through the Flats, the 356 bypass past Leechburg and hooked up with 28 the other side of Freeport.

Jordan’s Soft Serve never entered his mind until the expressway ended outside Kittanning and reminded him. Stopped there all the time coming back from his uncle’s camp in East Brady. No more than a mile from where he was, quick in and out, then on his way. Fifteen minutes, tops. Made the small detour past the par three golf course and parked along the side, next to an SUV that hid his car from the street.

A cop drove past as Mike came around the front of Jordan’s. He hesitated—almost went back—shook it off. This wasn’t even the metropolis of Kittanning, population 4,000; this was West Kittanning. A thousand people and two cops, tops. Town this size, a cop probably drove by once an hour.

Ordered a large chocolate cone, took a lick. Depending on his mood, this was as good as Glen’s. No cops in sight when he stepped out the door. Turned the corner back to his car, licking around the edge of the cone. Had his keys out, lock fob in his hand, when he passed the SUV and saw the West Kittanning cop leaning against Mike’s driver side door, his police car blocking any exit. Two state troopers rested on their own cars behind him.

The local cop smiled. “Mike Adamski, right?” Mike stared and swallowed. Took another lick. “Detective Dougherty in Penns River said you might stop here. He told me to let you finish your cone. Said the next one’s going to be a while.”


pattinase (abbott) said...

Great idea mixing a criminal like this one with something like ice cream. Terrific atmosphere, Dana. Loved it.

Rick Ollerman said...

I kept looking for the cell phone.

Loren Eaton said...

That first sentence is pure gold. Informative, interesting, and funny at its end, it sets up the rest of the story perfectly. Well done.

sandra seamans said...

Nicely done, Dana! A criminal on the run who stops for ice cream, you gotta love it.

Dana King said...

Thanks, everyone. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but it's been a busy couple of days in work and general life. Your time spent reading and your gracious comments are much appreciated.

(Well, except for Rick's.)

Kelly Robinson said...

White Mike is a sucker for chocolate, huh? I wonder if Black Mike prefers vanilla? Great story.