It was as if the heavens had known that today someone would be carried to his grave, who had walked a crooked way since he was a boy. It was an overcast day; grey clouds, no not grey but almost black. There was a rumble of thunder in the distance and the few mourners attending were glad that they had their raincoats for protection. Mugsy Schwarz was standing solemnly at the graveside, his coat collar pulled up covering the lower half of his face, the black fedora hat with its wide black satin band covering the top half, as if he did not really want to be recognised. He did not, but had his reasons. All the other spectators, and they were just spectators, were one time prison colleagues of the deceased. Jackie Simple had died at the hands of the state, and the mourners were standing at a new grave in the prison cemetery. Mugsy was not showing any emotion, he very rarely did, but he would miss Jackie. He was the born mug and it had been nice to have him around, but Jackie had now served his purpose and was laid to rest amongst others that he may have even known in his worldly life.
Perhaps Mugsy was reflecting on the events of the past year. It all began when he heard that Twitchy George was telling stories about Mugsy, Describing crimes that Mugsy had committed. Of course Mugsy had brought a few people “around the corner”, but if you happen to be having a quiet drink with your pals you do not start talking about things like that, especially when the police get to hear of it. You show your sociable side. Luckily Mugsy had a few of the officers on his pay roll and one of them paid a visit and told Mugsy of the lies that Twitchy George had been spreading about Mugsy behind his back.
Mugsy called his gang together and said that something would have to be done. Twitchy George must be silenced forever, but in a nice quiet friendly way that no-one would believe that Mugsy and his boys were involved. It was then that there was a knock at the door of Mugsy’s office. One of his men opened the door and it was Jackie Simple.
“Hello Mr. Schwarz” he said, “I was told to bring this parcel to Mugsy.”
“Not now, Jackie” answered Mugsy’s right-hand man, “the boss is thinking and we have a meeting.”
“Who’s that?” asked Mugsy.
“It’s me, boss, Jackie Simple. Got a parcel and was told to deliver it personally.”
“Who gave it to you?”
“Twitchy George, said you was waiting for it.”
Yes he was waiting for a parcel of drugs from Twitchy. Sometimes Twitchy did have his use. It was then that Mugsy’s brain cells began to work. He was quite clever sometimes, but his brain resembled a one-way street, always thinking on the same track.
“Let him come in boys, I want to have a few friendly words with Jackie. Tell me Jackie, business going well at the moment?”
“Not really Mr. Schwarz, if you have a job for me, I would be only too pleased to oblige.”
“That’s a good boy Jackie, matter of fact I do have something in the pipeline. I hear you are a one of Twitchy’s colleagues. A little bird tells me that he has been talking about me being naughty. Know anything?”
“Who me, Mr. Schwarz? Not really, although after Twitchy has had a few beers, he does start to talk a bit more than he should.”
“You know what Jackie. I think it might be an idea if you invited Twitchy to a few drinks down at the local pub. You know the one. Just along the river near the docks. I will probably join you as well, just to be sociable. I am sure that Twitchy has been misunderstood, and we could iron our problems out together over a drink. Only of course if you have nothing else to do. It is your choice Jackie.”
Jackie was quite honoured. Mr. Schwarz, would be sitting at the same table as Jackie, inviting him to take part in an important discussion with Twitchy George.
“No Problem, Mr. Schwartz. I was going to have a poker evening with a few mates, but I can put that off.”
“OK, Jackie, I would say this evening around nine, and make sure that you are there with Twitchy. By the way Jackie, as you are so obliging I have a little present for you. Here.”
And Jackie could not believe his eyes. Mugsy Schwarz handed him a gun.
“You are giving me a gun Mr. Schwarz. That is very nice of you, but I just couldn’t accept such a gift.”
“Think it over Jackie, I always reward my boys with something, don’t I boys?”
The gang that were listening, all nodded in unison saying “Yes boss”.
“On second thoughts Jackie, put the gun on the table. I will bring it along with me this evening, after you have completed the job.”
“Of course Mr. Schwarz” and Jackie left, feeling so happy. His life had been one big disappointment up to now. He never knew his father, his mother spent more time looking after her whisky bottles than caring for Jackie, and Jackie was just left to himself. He was a very good thief. One of the few jobs you could do without being able to read or write. Jackie did not like school, so avoided it when he could. It was a homely feeling he had around gangsters like Mugsy Schwarz and his colleagues. He could always pick up a reward somewhere and if he did not, then he was a very good pick pocket.
The evening soon arrived and Jackie had carried out his orders and was sitting at a table in the pub feeling quite pleased with himself. Jackie did not need a lot to be pleased. Suddenly the door opened and Mugsy Schwartz walked in with two of his gang. Jackie noticed the nice white cotton gloves he was wearing. There was a flash of metal and a bright light. Bang, bang, two shots were fired and Twitchy George was head down on the table, blood pouring from his bullet wounds. Mugsy then threw the gun at Jackie, whose automatic reaction was to catch it and Mugsy disappeared the way he entered followed by his gang members. The action was so fast, that no-one really saw what happened, except of course for Jackie, but who would believe Jackie Simple, as simple as his name.
Jackie was arrested and put to trial. All the witnesses called swore that Jackie had shot Twitchy George. The proof was plain to see by the finger prints on the gun. Although Jackie said he was not guilty and it was Mugsy Schwartz, no-one believed him, or could believe him. There were so many people that confirmed that Mugsy was nowhere near the docks on that evening. He was participating in a charity dinner for orphans. Yes, if Mugsy Schwartz had a heart, it might have been good, but it wasn’t.
Unfortunately Jackie’s arguments of how he had been framed with the fingerprints on the gun were not credible. At that time the death penalty was still given for such crimes. Mugsy decided the least he could do was to attend the burial, and there he stood at the side of the grave. On prison gravestones there was only the name of the guilty person, their birth and date of death. On the way home from the cemetery Mugsy thought to himself a good inscription on the stone would have been “Too bad he chose that time and place”.