10-29-2011, 09:52 PM
Springs rubbed his jaw thoughtfully as he collected his thoughts. "Well, I remember back in the Forties, early Fifties, there was this shyster named Maurice...uh, had this Dutch name--Hiddenbock, I think it was. But, anyway, he was known as Moe the Gyp. This guy was a real pro when it came to scammin' and swindlin'--hell, he'd gyp you outta yer eyeteeth as soon as he met ya! He'd done everything from three-card monte to tax evasion, just to get some easy cash in his pocket. The Syndicate didn't like him much, but when it came to setting up rackets, he was the guy they called in--but they made damn sure Moe didn't gyp them while he was at it."
The waitress arrived with the drinks. Springs picked up his Manhattan and sipped it. "That's a damn good Manhattan," he said. "Luxor always seems to have the best Manhattans. I dunno why."
He set down his glass. "Now where was I?" he wondered.
"You were talking about Moe the Gyp," Criss reminded him.
Springs brightened. "Oh, yeah, that's right! Well, anyway, Moe, it turned out, cheated everybody, even Bugsy Siegel--and nobody cheated Bugs for nothin' and lived to tell about it."
"How'd he do that?" Dorothy asked.
"Well, it had to do with the construction of the Flamingo," Springs replied. "Moe was in on this little racket with the construction crew. I ain't too clear on the details, but the gist of it was that Bugs kept purchasing the same materials over and over again because the guys in charge of buildin' the hotel kept tellin' him they needed more stuff, or the stuff wasn't good enough, or somethin'. Anything to keep the money flowin' in. That's why there were so many cost overrruns with the Flamingo. And remember, it was the Syndicate's money that was being invested into the hotel in the first place. Bugs was a top hitter, but he was a lousy businessman, and he ended up costing the Syndicate a helluva lotta dough. For Bugs, that was bad.
"In the end, Bugsy got whacked in his hotel room--you might've read about it in my book. Moe, however, was the real culprit, and he made out like a bandit with the Flamingo scam--literally! Like I said, Moe gypped everyone, but I remember when Moe the Gyp cheated death itself.
"One day, word got out that Moe the Gyp had a contract out on his life. I ain't too clear on why, but knowin' Moe the way I did, I figured one of his rackets blew up in his face and now he was in over his head. Coulda been a race he fixed that didn't work the way he planned, or a boxer he paid to take a dive but didn't--that happened a lot back then. But anyway, Moe was a marked man, and there was a hitter out to get him. Don't ask me who it was--I know it wasn't Bugsy because he was already dead by then. It don't pay to get too cozy with hit men, 'cause you might be their next target.
"Anyway, Moe was holed up in some cheap roadside motel somewhere outside of Vegas. The hitter had cased him out, found out where his room was, then took out a tommy gun and emptied it right through the window of the room where Moe was stayin'. Moe got shot up pretty bad, and we all assumed he met his Maker. We pretty much forgot about him after that.
"Six months later, there was another hit, against the Syndicate itself. Another hitter came in and fired a few rounds into the guy who whacked Moe the Gyp, and a couple of Lansky's goons, so you can guess who put out the contract on him. The cops who came to investigate the scene found the hitter still alive, but barely. Cops bein' who they are, asked him if he knew who did it. The hitter looked up at the cop with his eyes buggin' out like he'd seen the devil himself, and he says, 'Moe! It was Moe the Gyp! He's alive! The son of a (bleep) is alive!'. Turned out Moe pulled through, even though he got shot up worse than Lucky Luciano did, and that was back in the Twenties. Pulled through and came back for revenge. Never figured Moe to be a killer, though. Not that he didn't have any reason to.
"Well, word got out that Moe the Gyp was still kickin'. I heard it from Blusey. Old Bluse never pulled one over me, but I hadda admit, this was unbelievable. I mean, that hitter filled that motel room fulla lead--anyone there woulda been Swiss cheese! Not Moe the Gyp, though--he pulled one on the Grim Reaper and came back for revenge. Pretty amazing, huh?
"Anyway, time goes on, it's the Fifties, and I'm walkin' down the street past City Hall--the old City Hall, not the new one they got today--and who do I see walkin' up the steps of City Hall but Moe the Gyp. He looks at me, smiles, tips his hat to me, and goes inside. Well, I'm curious, so I follow him. I go up the steps, but he's gone, vanished, just like that." Springs pointed to Criss. "Like to see you top that, Angel," he challenged.
Criss smiled defiantly. "Maybe I will," he retorted.
"Anyway," Springs continued. "I'm wonderin' what the hell Moe was doin' in City Hall? Well, coulda been anything, ya know: marriage license, traffic ticket, who knows? But, hell, that was his business, not mine, I figured, so I go on my way. I met up with Blusey to go over some, uh, financial information he had for me, and I tell him I saw Moe the Gyp goin' up the steps of City Hall.
"Well, Blusey turns white as a sheet! 'What's wrong with you?' I ask. Then Blusey tells me that Moe the Gyp had been murdered just last night--bullet in the back of the head, right behind the Silver Slipper. I said 'Wait a minute, there, Blusey! I just saw him at City Hall! He can't be dead!' Well, Blusey tells me if that's true, then who was the stiff they found behind the Silver Slipper? Well, damned if I know, I tell him, but it couldn't have been Moe the Gyp. Bluesy insists it was, and he swore up and down that Moe had gotten whacked behind the Silver Slipper last night. I swore up and down I saw him at City Hall barely half an hour ago.
"Then I read in the paper next day about the murder, and sure enough, the stiff they found really was Moe the Gyp. He'd been whacked gangland style--bullet to the back of the head. To this day, I still believe I saw Moe at City Hall. If it wasn't him, then he must've had a twin brother, because it was the spittin' image of him." Springs laughed a little. "I dunno if it was a ghost or what, but somehow it seems fittin' for Moe to pull one last scam before he died."
Springs looked around at his audience. "I swear by all that's holy, it's true!" he insisted. "Either Moe gypped death again, or he came back as a ghost." He sighed and took another sip of his Manhattan. "Guess we'll never know," he said.