In early January I received another of Pierce’s telegrams. This one, just as devoid of context as any of the others, announced that she had information about the Carlyle expedition, required an investigative team, and would be arriving in New York on the 19th. Not even an indication of where she’d be staying or how to reach her. In short, typical fare for Miss Pierce.
The timing was reasonably convenient for me, as I had an engagement for Mr. Rothstein on the evening of the 15th, and a charity dinner for the Widows and Orphans fund on the 17th, but nothing pressing the following week. A meeting that Monday would give me the opportunity to catch up with Pierce and the others, and perhaps grant us all some respite from the hellish cold weather that had wrapped itself around the city like a clenched fist.
Rothstein wanted me to keep an eye on an exchange he had going on down by the docks. I arrived early and found myself a nice spot on the roof of a nearby warehouse. I saw Rothstien’s men arrive and unload a few trucks, then stand around stamping their feet and shivering in the cold as they waited for the boat to arrive with the stuff they were trading for. About the time the boat came into view on the river, I heard noises behind me. I moved to the far side of the roof and looked over to see a group of police moving towards the exchange.
I gave the signal, and Rothstien’s guys scattered. As I looked out over the water, I saw someone hauling themselves out of the water and over the side of the boat. They must have been armed, because several of the men on the boat jumped overboard. I can’t begin to understand what anyone was doing in the water in that kind of weather. The crew of the boat likely froze to death before they made it to shore, and it’s a miracle that whatever fool had climbed aboard had made it that far. They quickly disappeared below decks, in any event. The boat wasn’t my responsibility, so I had just turned my attention back to matters closer to hand when I heard another sound behind me.
I turned to find a uniformed police officer and a man in an overcoat who identified himself as a treasury agent. He seemed quite full of himself as he declared I was under arrest for violating the Volstead Act. He seemed entirely non-plussed that I had no alcohol anywhere on my person or in my vicinity, and that there certainly was no evidence that I had either sold or distributed such. The uniformed officer placed me under arrest, though he was polite enough to allow me to unload my firearms myself, and to write me a receipt for them when I handed them over.
It became clear as soon as I was placed in the holding cell that all of Rothstien’s men but one had been swept up in the raid. Ritchie C. was the only one missing, and it seemed he’d slipped away before the raid. That made him the rat, and Rothstien’s guys were in a terrible state about it. They soon offered $200 to anyone who could deliver Ritchie C. to their offices. I almost felt sorry for the poor bastard. He would be lucky to survive the week. Then again, it seemed he was mostly likely to be working for Masseretti, and Rothstien was trying to keep the peace between their two organizations, lest anything interrupt the flow of money.
Whoever had spoiled the party, we were all released by morning. As I’d explained to the tax man on the roof, I hadn’t done anything illegal. He might not have been prepared to hear me say it, but he slunk off with his tail between his legs once Rothstien’s lawyers had a turn with him.
With that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, I met up with the rest of my compatriots in Pierce’s odd little circle. Helen was also invited to the charity ball, of course, and it seemed that Murphy had been hired to work security for the event. It emerged that Morgan had fallen into Masseretti’s debt. In order to clear his ledger, Masseretti wanted him to lend his help to a smash-and-grab some of his men were planning at the ball. The year prior they had raised more than twenty thousand dollars, almost all of it in cash, and it seems that with the event expected to be even more successful this year, it was simply too tempting a target.
The others began to put together a plan to thwart the robbery. I considered how I might be able to do some good in or around the hotel safe, but in the end I elected to serve as a sort of second line of defense. That evening, I circulated the party until the time drew near, then excused myself and stepped outside. I noticed Pierce had actually arrived at the party even though she was not supposed to be in New York for another two days. She was having a set-to with another woman as I passed. Pierce seemed to have had more than a few too many glasses of champaign, but she didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger, and I had more pressing matters to attend to.
I retrieved the BAR from its hiding spot in the park across the street from the hotel and set up to watch for the getaway car. A few minutes later, it pulled up in front of the hotel, with a nervous looking young man at the wheel. His nerves continued to deteriorate as lime dragged on. The others seemed to have managed to handle things inside, because the gang never emerged to make use of the waiting car. Eventually I re-cased the BAR and walked over to the driver’s door. He was just putting the car in gear to make his exit when I pulled open his door and shoved myself in next to him, prodding him out from behind the wheel with my pistol. That was enough to convince him to sit still and keep quiet, and I simply sat with him until the police arrived.
With that small matter attended to, several of the others arranged to get Pierce back to her hotel, as it was clear she was in no state to get there on her own. We would reconvene once she’d had a chance to sleep it off.