“You’ve got yourself a whole alphabet there, sir!” sang the cheery desk clerk as Al spelled his last name, checking in to Salvation Point’s luxurious Hotel Delsman. She recited it back to him as she keyed it into the computer, “A-B-D-E-R-K-O-W-I-T-C-S-Z.”
He forced a smile at the pretty blonde, but her comment sent his mind elsewhere. Fifty, sixty, was it seventy years ago?
He sat across the desk from Dr. Pickering at the Brighton School for Troubled Boys. The old shrink thumbed his file, sat forward.
“You’ve got yourself a whole alphabet there, son,” he said. “Maybe we’ll call you that.”
Al “The Alphabet” Abderkowitcsz has resisted the nickname since.
Machine Gun Kelly.
Once they gave you a name, it was all over but the shouting. He didn’t stay on the outside, didn’t survive, didn’t play this game well into his eighties by making a name for himself.
He succeeded on anonymity.
Succeeded at what?
“Personal finance,” he would tell you, barely holding back the mischievous grin.
It was the usual stuff, the ABCs of organized crime – protection rackets, bank jobs, running a little booze way back when. He was one of those guys who worked harder keeping his shady schemes straight than he would have at a legitimate job, but the crooked money always spent sweeter.
The money, the power, the life – all sweet. Now, at eighty-seven, a great-grandfather four times over, the sun is setting on Al “The Alphabet” Abderkowitcsz.
Surveillance vans in poor disguise are appearing regularly outside his New York City apartment. Wherever he goes – even in Salvation Point – black SUVs whisper to a stop a block behind. The noose is tightening, but so what? It won’t be a grand jury, it won’t be the FBI or the DEA or some ladder-climbing prosecutor bent on putting both their names in the paper that will spell The End of The Alphabet.
They need another year, maybe two to take him down. The tumor on his thyroid will do the job in four months.
But there’s one loose end that needs tying up before he goes. He left an item of immense value high in the hills of Many Lost Ways, a legacy for those four great-grandchildren. He tucked it away when he was a younger man some fifty years ago, and if he can get it back before his time expires his great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will never answer to anybody, never lift a finger for their bread.
Of course it will mean the end of Many Lost Ways as we know it; Salvation Point and the FCFL will be changed forever. But he holds no special place in his heart for any of that. Him and his – nuts to anything else.
All he needs is a sturdy back that knows how to stay quiet.
Hey, you look up to it, pal. Whaddya say? Wanna score some quick cash?
(Preiser figures, Design Preservation Models Hilltowne Hotel, Atlas vehicle)