Chapter: Bad Greeks- A Meeting
They were watching the funeral train for Bobby Kennedy on Xen’s TV. In the basement study. He never allowed his wife downstairs. She was entertaining guests in the living room above. She hadn’t a clue what they were about to hatch.
“If you want to see what this country is all about it’s right there on the screen. Abject suffering and misery!’’ Joe Karadanis said, “They brought it from across oceans, from crowded places. Now they’ve got plenty of room to spread it out across the land. He wanted to change that, wanted to raise up those people from the hell they were living in, that’s why he couldn’t live. I admired him for that. But he wanted to lift up Black people too and I couldn’t stand him for that. They’re one rung down on the ladder from us Greeks, and I for one really don’t mind at all if they stay there. It’s hard enough for us.”
“Agreed. I didn’t have much to do with this one,” not-so-secret-agent Xen Anthony responded, “It was handled by the boys down South. Just a few calls. I have to say they did an excellent cover up. But it was a sloppy job.”
“Scared the shit out of the blacks down there…across the country really. Which is what it was all about. They’ve pretty much lost all hope again, with King gone too. Good thing,” he continued, with a tight lipped smile.
“You know my dream is to one day build and run my own casino Zeen. Most people do not understand how to make it in America. It’s a gamble, a country for gambling and gamblers. And none of these suckers and losers ever figures out that the house always wins. The few who’ve figured it out are the ones holding a winning hand,” Joey finishing his spiel, and folding his arms, glanced down at his golden scotch in the fine crystal low ball glass.
“Well Joey, that’s why I wanted you to come by tonight. I have a proposal for you. You know a little about Operation CHAOS. You know I can’t tell you much more about it right now. Well this is connected. The syndicate and the government want some things done in northern California to match their success in LA. Where you come in is if you help us out you can build your casino. I know you love Tahoe so it can be there or in Reno if you want. The Chicago boys will give you their blessing.”
“Are we going to involve Larry Kay? I know he would want to be involved, but you know he’s a bit of a loose cannon.”
Xen dropped his head and looked down at the expensive Navajo rug as he listened, concentrating on the words.
“I’m sworn to protect Larry at all costs,” he responded. “Don’t worry, he’ll be part of it, but under our careful supervision.”
“He’s really out there, on an astrology rant right now. He does readings, mostly for girls he’s into. Half the time I don’t know what he’s talking about. Lately he’s on about this Charlie Chan movie he watches over and over, with this mysterious villain called The Zodiac. We watched it together. He pretends he’s The Zodiac, this character from an old Charlie Chan flick!” Joe reflected.
“I think we can use that,” there was a long pause, “let’s call it Operation Zodiac. Actually it ould be only an extension of Operation CHAOS, so we call it just Zodiac. Maybe, we’ll see.”
A very pregnant pause later Xeno once again spoke: ‘It will involve life and death matters. Some people will have to be taken out of the picture. Do you know what I mean? You think you can handle that?”
He took his own moment to respond, carefully choosing his words: “If it’s only for a while. I don’t want to be doing it the rest of my life or anything. Yes, that I think I could handle,” Joe said. Then he took a good long slug on the scotch.
“It will take only a year or two. At the most, I promise. But it will involve making a lot of noise. It’ll need to be,” he paused, “a very public thing by its very nature. I’ll explain as we go forward why it must be. And that will be the hardest part.”
“You and I will plan it. I want you to run it Joe. I’ll be helping you from the shadows, so to speak. Larry is the key to the whole thing. Though he may never be completely aware of it. He doesn’t need to be. He’s our connection to the syndicate financing. We surely will need his brand of ‘crazy’, if we’re going to shake things up in the Bay Area.”
Xeno laughed a quiet laugh, his face lighting up. His boyish Apollo-like visage had disappeared. Suddenly it had turned skull-like, eyes wide: his rictus smile stretching wide and showing way too many teeth, eyes and tongue glistening like a lizard’s. He briefly fingered his shiny tousled tawny hair.
His friend’s expression left Joe slightly unnerved. He kept his poker face but felt, as perhaps he should, he’d just made a deal with the devil himself.
He got up to leave after they’d exchanged a few slightly intoxicated pleasantries.
He was mulling over what it might mean to have to possibly even kill to get want he wanted, as he walked out the rear basement door, and then down the steps alongside the garage that faced out towards the deserted Presidio’s park-like area. The trees glowed orange under the few streetlights. As usual there was no one around. He got into the big blue Galaxy, his wife’s car. The powerful engine chugged at first as he drove away, back towards Martinez.
After Xenophon was certain he was gone, picking the scotch glass up very carefully from its base and bringing it over to the large desk he proceeded to photograph under a strong lamplight, with the small Leica, the excellent palm print Joe had left behind.