On a miserable November day in 1945, the mighty Jimmy Lucca was shot dead in the middle of Flushing Avenue just blocks from the NY City shipyards that Jimmy’d considered his own personal turf. A puddle of his blood created a dark halo around his contorted features; his mouth stretched wide in a final curse; his lifeless eyes filling with frozen tears of icy November sleet.
Jimmy’s dark gray over-sized top coat, tailored to accommodate the occasional weapon, only emphasized his substantial bulk and the pile of fine gray fabric lying in a heap in the middle of the road made him appear more like a wounded rhino than the vicious pit bull he’d been only moments before. In the sudden absence of Jimmy’s brusque and barking baritone, the silence was deafening.
Just an hour ago I’d chauffeured Jimmy here for his Tuesday morning meeting with Camilletti - ‘Cutthroat’ Camilletti - the main boss from down at the docks. I’d held open the car door of Jimmy’s Lincoln Coupe and then watched speechless as he’d stepped into a rain of gun fire, his body jerking in time to the staccato shower in a macabre dance of death. I stood there stunned, my jaw hanging slack. Not because the killing of Jimmy Lucca was any great surprise -- there were lots of people who would have liked to see him dead. No - it was just dizzying trying to guess who’d had the where-with-all to carry it off before anyone else.
Was it Camilletti? Camilletti was Jimmy’s consiglieri and most trusted advisor. Each man as ruthless as the other. Had this snake in Jimmy’s pocket turned on him? Definitely a possibility.
Or could it have been one of the many women in his life? Jimmy’s love-hate relationship with America was a reflection of his love-hate Catholic confusion over a woman’s proper role in this world. Jimmy worshiped his late ‘sainted’ mother, making it almost impossible for him to relate to a real woman.
Jimmy and his current wife had recently been seen going head-to-head at his daughter’s wedding, his Ex (the daughter’s mother) taking the occasion to lord it over her usurper. Yes, either of them would have had the connections to get the job done. The only woman in his life that I’d cross off the list would be Jimmy’s latest flame, a blatantly ambitious, stupid but sizzling redhead, who’d imagined lots and lots of diamonds in her future.
Then there were his ‘buddies’ in high places that ranged from the Mayor himself to some shady connections as far up as the Pentagon. Some rumours had it that these connections went even higher and beyond. When the US finally entered the war, the power and influence of the NY Mafia were a convenience the higher ups couldn’t resist as an easy fix to the threat of Nazi or Fascist sabotage on the NY waterfront.
I’d heard Jimmy bragging on more than one occasion about his connection to the war effort. He’d near killed himself laughing about how this legitimized so many of his activities. God! He’d been getting away with a boat-load of crap. Yes, Jimmy had laughed, but the laugh had always been raw and bitter. It stuck in his craw that, rich as he was, he would always be on the wrong side of the American Dream. Yes, there was a better than even chance it was one of this bunch, tying up loose ends now that the war was over.
So take your pick. So many motives and so many willing hands to do the dirty work.
I turned to the detective as he came over to take my statement. I looked him straight in the eye and told him with a sincerity that was as black and thick as the blood of Jimmy’s halo -- “No Officer, I have no idea who could have done this to Jimmy – everyone loved the guy.”
Janice Emeneau is a writer of short fiction, living in Burlington. She is a spokesperson for a number of charities and runs a life coaching and image consultancy – Transitions & Transformations.
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