I had serious doubts about whether or not my plumbing was still in working order after undergoing the onslaught of one detective Nikki Santos. I was referring to the triumvirate in my groin area. I wince every time I run a washcloth over the ‘boys,’ but I knew they would recover and be ready for another ‘go’ soon, just as long as it wasn’t with Nikki - at least for another week or two. While lolling around in bed later smoking (of course) and sipping on a nearly empty quart bottle of Blue Label Johnny Walker, Nikki told me of a well-known shady character, as she described him, that Maggie O’Halloran was seeing. On the promise of keeping his name on the q.t., she said it was Vince Battaglia. What the fuck! No fucking way!
I knew Battaglia. Who didn’t know him? In fact, I knew him well. I was in charge of the homicide crew that arrested him for several murders he was later acquitted back in 58’. He’s known as the ‘Teflon Don’ of the West Coast. A known thug and current boss of the Raffaelli Mob. ‘Bats’ Battaglia, as he is known on the streets, is a crazy-fuck. He’s also one lucky bastard with all the killings that have been attributed to him but never proven. Battaglia and his crew control the gambling and prostitution in the city, as well as several strip clubs. He is rumored to be the actual owner of Momma Blue’s Gardenia Club - a point I was aware of when I spoke to Momma Blue initially but chose not to divulge. He purportedly has his tentacles into the Longshoremen’s Union and the Teamsters Union. He also has a few city politicians and judges in his pocket.
When Lucky Raffaelli was convicted of several murders and sent to San Quentin for life, Battaglia muscled his way onto the ‘throne,’ muscled being a euphemism for murdering all of his competition. Those were the murders in 58.’ I knew those politicians and judges he had in his pocket had everything to do with his acquittal. I also know a ton of cops who hate the current situation in the city and have even discussed ‘taking down’ Battaglia and his minions permanently.
Whenever I’ve brought the Battaglia topic with Mayor Russell, he would get visibly annoyed and change the subject. It could have been just a sore point that he’d rather not discuss - since Battaglia was well-entrenched and a person who was somewhat untouchable, but I would hate to think my old pal Henry Russell was also on the Battaglia dole.
The inclusion of Battaglia into the picture brought with it endless questions. Did Maggie threaten the Chief with Battaglia’s wrath to get those photos, that is, if they even exist? And if so, did Battaglia bump off the Chief for Maggie? It always came back to those fucking photos! Where were they? Maggie O’Halloran denied the photos existed. Momma Blue said the Chief told her he had found pictures of Maggie having sex with a man he didn’t recognize. Was the Chief lying? Was the Chief afraid to say it was Vince Battaglia in the photos when he spoke to Momma Blue because of Battaglia’s connection to the Gardenia Club? Did he not trust Momma Blue? The possibility that it might be Battaglia in the mystery photographs was not a big deal for Battaglia. It would be a massive boost for his already enormous ego, and he wouldn’t be embarrassed at all by them. No, it was most likely to protect Maggie O’Halloran, if it indeed played out that way.
Maggie O’Halloran had much more to lose than Battaglia if the photos found their way into the wrong hands. After all, she traveled in some rarified circles in San Francisco. She belonged to several social clubs where some of the ‘Grande Dames’ of San Francisco were members. Being the wife of San Francisco’s Chief of Police carried some clout. Even though her background was less than stellar, her personality and beauty enabled her to be accepted in most circles. However, her recent cavorting with known gangsters and the attached rumors of other questionable liaisons was starting to wear thin with many.
She already had begun to get the ‘cold shoulder’ from some. It was apparent that Maggie had a wild streak that she brought with her from Vegas days, and was it was doing her considerable harm. I knew I had to get my hands on those photographs. I felt that if I could find them that I could use them as leverage. I needed to get back to the Chief’s house. I hadn’t gone upstairs when I was last there, and who knows, maybe the Chief was using them for leverage himself - for what - I couldn’t say exactly.
(To be cont’d)