The rag I’d stuffed in the judge’s gas tank was alight in seconds. My plan to walk away nice and cool went to sh*t soon after.
I made it behind the dumpster just as the LaSalle erupted in a ball of flames. My message to Judge Kramer had been successfully delivered; in the morning he’d have a telegram from me to explain further:
Judge Stanley Kramer, Cook County Courthouse, 2600 South California Avenue, Chicago IL KRAMER STOP DONNY O’KEEFE IS INNOCENT STOP GET YOUR HAND OUT OF THE OUTFIT’S POCKET OR MRS KRAMER’S NEXT STOP SIGNED, A WELL WISHER STOP
Even as a baby my kid brother Donny was never innocent, but the cops had no evidence for this trumped-up battery charge, and anyone with half a brain could see that it was because he didn’t look the other way when they were loading his wagon. He was making trouble for The Outfit through his Teamster friends, and so they found a way to rub him out of the picture by making sure he was ‘discovered’ standing over his unconscious boss holding a bloody wrench. If the guy expired, as he seemed poised to do, battery would become a murder rap.
Parts of Judge Kramer’s car were alight all over the road. Even at this time of night there were enough passers-by to cause a furore. I slipped unnoticed from behind the dumpster and slowly merged into the crowd of bystanders craning their necks for a look.
A woman in front of me started screaming. I followed her gaze into the trunk of the car, which had popped open in the blaze. The heat didn’t count for nothing as I felt my backbone turn to ice; even at 50 yards from the charred body I could see it was Donny.
(Illustration: Edward Tuckwell)