Excerpt from the True Crime book I wrote with Larry Atteberry, "Family Blood, The True Story of the Yom Kippur Murders." Available on Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo iTunes. For more info and reviews, click here.
After gobbling his steak, Jesse, who ate at Delores’ often, wanted cherry pie, baked fresh daily. All three men ordered a piece. Jesse bolted his piece down in four bites, scarlet juice dribbling out of his mouth to stain his beard. Because there was work to do, Steve had forbidden even a single beer, so the trio washed the tart-sweet pie down with cups of coffee. As he had several times during the meal, Steve glanced at his watch.
Seven-thirty. Time to rock and roll.
While Sonny and Jesse went to urinate, Steve tossed three singles on the table for a tip, nodded to the waitress, then strolled to the cashier and paid the bill. Sweeping everything into his pocket, e scarcely noticed if the change was correct, his mind racing nervously through his plan for the night.
Steve wished he had better radios. Those damned walkie talkies the Professor had loaned him were next to worthless. Maybe he’d better try them one more time before the job. They might work better at night.
Mike Dominguez was at the motel, a few blocks away. Steve decided to pick him up about eight-thirty.
Dominguez, sometimes known by his prison handle, “Baby A,” was a fleshy, olive-skinned, dark-haired man of average height who appeared younger than his twenty-six years. He was a burglar, but occasionally worked as a roofer.
Steve decided to go over things with Dominguez one more time, just to make sure he had it right. Mike was a good man, within his limitations, but he didn’t always understand things the first time.
Dominguez didn’t do a lot of deep thinking. He hid his shallow intellect behind a wall of silence, earning a reputation as an enigma. Unlike Steve, who rarely missed a chance to expound upon his many adventures, Mike did not boast about his night work. In fact, he said very little about anything.
Steve liked that. Dominguez’s silent quality gave Steve confidence that no matter what dirty little job Mike was asked to do, if the cops ever nailed him for it, Mike would never roll over and snitch on Steve, not even to save himself. Steve seldom bet, but he would put his life on that.
On the other hand, Steve knew that Mike wasn’t up to handling a real big job on his own. He’d fucked up the hit on that broad in Vegas, put five into her boyfriend and the guy just ran away to call the cops. Mike was lucky to have gotten away with that, but he had cost Steve a fat fee. So Mike’s punishment was to be demoted to lookout this time.
Before picking up Mike, Steve decided, he’d have to deal with Jesse. Now that he’d gone and rammed that car, Jesse was out for the actual hit. No way he could let him near the condo when it went down—Jesse had to stay away. That meant Steve and Sonny would be in the underground garage with no lookout. No warning. They’d have to risk it.
Finally, he reminded himself to double-check the guns.
After a brief huddle in the restaurant’s narrow parking lot, Sonny, following Steve’s orders, went across the street to Steve’s rented gold Camaro, took one of the Professor’s radios from the trunk, and handed the other two to Steve. Steve climbed into the passenger seat of Jesse’s battered blue-green 1960 Buick, shoving empty cardboard boxes into the backseat with the others.
“How the fuck can you live like this?” growled Steve, angry again at how his brother managed to screw up everything he touched. “When are you gonna get rid of this damn trash,” he raged, indicating the boxes piled high in the backseat.
Jesse mumbled something about recycling, then wisely shut up.
Majoy, driving the Camaro, pulled up behind the Buick, ending the conversation, and Jesse made a right out of the parking lot onto Purdue, then stopped at the corner of Santa Monica to wait for the light. The boulevard was jammed, as usual, and it took them almost five minutes to reach Sepulveda, less than half a mile away. Threading their way through the heavy traffic near the Federal Building, they turned north and drove stop-and-go alongside a freeway still choked with traffic headed for the Valley.
With the Camaro following, the Buick turned right on Moraga Drive, then swept up the long, curving street until they reached a set of massive wrought-iron gates some twenty feet high. A uniformed security guard, a revolver in his polished leather holster, was visible inside the booth.
Jesse drove almost to the booth. Without stopping, he pulled the car into a U-turn. Majoy followed. At the bottom of the street, Steve told Jesse to turn left into the parking lot of the Chevron station next to a restaurant on the southeast corner of Sepulveda and Moraga. Jesse parked the Buick while Majoy got out of the Camaro, walked around, and eased into its passenger seat.
Jesse got out of the Buick and Steve handed him a walkie-talkie. He ran Jesse through the routine again: when he saw the beige Mercedes turn south on Sepulveda, he was to call Mike on the radio.
Steve slid behind the Camaro’s wheel. In his mirror he watched Jesse standing in the parking lot, the radio crammed into the pocket of his shorts, with only the plastic-coated antenna sticking out. It looked like a cellular telephone. Jesse looked like a bull kicked out of a china shop.
Steve pulled into traffic as a well-dressed, middle-aged couple in a big new car pulled off Sepulveda and into the lot. The woman riding in the front passenger seat glanced at Jesse curiously, then at the battered Buick with the Nevada plates. Jesse ignored her.
Steve drove a half mile down Sepulveda to Church Lane, where he turned right and went under the freeway, then curved around and drove to Sunset Boulevard, where he turned right. Sunset here is a four-lane blacktop meandering toward the Pacific Ocean, following the contours of foothill canyons in broad, sweeping curves. This is Brentwood, a genteel community extending from the canyons down to Sawtelle and filled with expensive single-family homes, pricey condominiums, and high-security apartment buildings.
At Barrington Avenue, Steve turned left through Brentwood Village, a series of low, rambling brick buildings housing a post office, specialty shops, and restaurants. Passing a Little League field and tennis courts, he drove carefully through the heavy traffic. At the stop sign guarding San Vicente Boulevard he halted. He eyed the bus shelter across the street.
After waiting for traffic to clear, Steve turned right—west—on San Vicente Boulevard and drove two short blocks to Bundy. Sonny’s car was inconspicuous in the parking lot in front of Vicente Foods, a local supermarket. Steve pulled into the lot to let Sonny out.
“Nine o’clock, Westgate and the alley. Got it?”
“I’ll be there,” said Sonny.
“Gonna leave your car in the lot, or put it on the street?”
“Nobody will notice it in the lot.”
“Sure you can find your way back here on foot?”
“No sweat,” said Majoy. “Walked it once, drove it twice. See you in the alley.”
Two blocks below San Vicente, the former creek bed now called Bundy Drive takes a hairpin turn, twisting from due east to southwest. In the middle of this arc, on the left, is the mouth of Gorham Avenue, which leads back two blocks to San Vicente. In the Buick, Steve turned left from Bundy onto Gorham, coasting to a stop three buildings from the corner, in front of an ostentatious, three-story, twenty-seven-unit condominium. Brentwood Place is at 11939, on the north side of Gorham. Steve held the walkie talkie to his lips, pressing a button. “I’m here, can you hear me?”
“I hear. You hear me okay?” Jesse’s voice crackled through the tinny speaker. It wasn’t clear like the TV cop shows, but Steve could understand what Jesse was saying.
Steve found a place to park and walked up Gorham, turning to climb a few steps to the front door of 11939. The glass door opens into a spacious vestibule; access to the interior is controlled by an electrically activated inner door that can be buzzed open by residents. The vestibule wall is lined with twenty-seven doorbell buttons, one for each unit.
Squinting in the dim light, Steve peered at the rows of names, looking for “Woodman.” Finding the right button, he pressed it and waited.
Nothing happened. Waiting a few minutes, he pressed again. Still there was no answer. The Woodmans were gone, just as they were supposed to be.
© 2013 Marvin J. Wolf
FROM Marvin J. Wolf
On this page are true stories, magazine articles, excerpts from books and unpublished works, short fiction, and photographs, each offering a glimpse of my life, work and times. I'll be posting weekly. Your comments welcome. © Marvin J. Wolf. All rights reserved.