Cuba CallingStarted by Michael O'Rourke at Apr 29, 2020 2:21 PM
January 12, 1924
Michael swung in next to the Buick, shutting off the Dodge and getting out. It would seem Jimmy had another car to work on, and that was well enough, it kept the front up. Nothing like being legit businessmen. He looked over the Buick, nice car, but really not his style. Most racketeers liked big fancy cars, not him, no Michael O’Rourke liked his boat and the closet full of suits.
Checking inside Jimmy was not around, so he looked down the street and decided that he was most likely at the Crows Nest, as it was the closest. So, he walked down the block to the bar and went inside, there were Dixon Steel and Jimmy Drummond one he had expected, Dixon, not as much, but he was glad he was there.
“So, who’s buyin’?” He asked as he prepared to slide into the booth, having Dixon move over.
“You ain’t gonna believe what just happened, well about an hour ago.” Jimmy began. “A couple mugs thought they’d pull gats on me, lookin’ for this guy. Plugged ‘em both. Put a damned hole in ”
“Wait, whoa, hold on.” Michael said as he looked around, no one was listening. “They come hunting Dixon here?”
“You know who they were?”
Jimmy smiled, “Yes siree. Car belongs to Castle Imports, but they’re denying they own it. The Buick up to the shop.”
“It’s the Heebs front,” Dixon stated bluntly. “Goldman runs a bunch of ‘em. Ralph Henderson and Joe Stein, the deceased, were on his payroll.”
Michael looked at both men. There was business, Cuban business, to take care of, but this matter demanded their attention.
Sunday, January 13, 1924
Dawn was still three hours off as Michael, Jimmy, and Dixon prepared to shove off. Of course, backing the eighty footer out was not the same as shoving off in a dingy, but then where the boat was moored it was a simple, quick procedure. The three were experienced sailors, and all three had a love of the open sea. The water was calm, and that was good, but with one hundred four miles to go, Mother Ocean might present any number of problems for them to solve.
But this, of course, was not a pleasure cruise, there was business to tend to. They would not be going to Havana, instead, they would be heading to Varadero, a posh vacation village where they would take on a cargo of alcohol, rum, whiskey, and the like. Not as busy as Havana, consequently not as closely watched for smugglers.
Though Michael had reservations about this trip, as opposed to settling the score with the Jewish mob, business came first, always. Customers had to come first in a cut-throat business such as the liquor procurement if they didn’t someone else would, just the nature of the beast.
The Jews could wait, although it would not be a very long wait. They did not enjoy the same strength of numbers as the Italians or the Irish at the present time, it seemed odd that they would move against anyone even as supposedly small time as the three men, but they had, and there would be retribution.
The run to Varadero would take at the minimum, ten hours, depending on the sea of course. It always depended on the sea. The Liberty was fast, but only as fast as the ocean would allow, so they always got an early start which would allow them to arrive just afternoon or one o’clock. Then they could relax, enjoy a meal, load when they wanted, not that they did the loading, just the supervising. So they settled in.
It was two-thirty that afternoon before the Liberty glided into port, such as it was. A long pier where she could tie up and on load her cargo. Of course, they were expected and said cargo awaited their arrival at the edge of the pier. Their contact, Edwardo Diaz himself sat by the goods enjoying the afternoon sun and a cold libation.
“Seniors! Welcome, welcome. As you see, the goods invite your inspection and await to be loaded aboard your boat.” The man greeted. Dressed in a grey Scottish tweed vest with a red kerchief in the breast pocket, greenish trousers, a light blue shirt, and gold-framed sunglasses. His white hair, beard and mustache stark against his tan skin.
“Senior Diaz. How good to see you. We did not expect to you this time.” Michael said, never the less glad to see the man. They would generally find him in Havana at one of his businesses, and on occasion, they would meet him on the pier.
“A surprise, no, I have a summer home here, to which you gentlemen are invited for drinks. Your cargo will be safe I assure you.” Diaz offered, and it, of course, would not be wise to turn him down. “That you will be wanting to return to de Junited States is also expected, quite a journey I am told.”
“Ten hours if we are lucky, and, Senior, drinks sound excellent, though I see you have yours,” Michael observed, speaking for the group.
“My home is there, perhaps one hundred yards fron this vera spot. Come, my friends, this can wait.” Diaz stated, waving a hand the cargo. “If you would like, we can have a light meal while you are here. There is som business I wish to discuss with you.”
“That would be fine, Senior,” Michael agreed, taking note his accomplices were nodding in agreement as they closed on the luxurious home, a red-roofed home of white stucco walls like most of the other mansions in the area.
“Playa Azul is becoming a beach well regarded, and with this attention, the entire community as well. I am thinking Seniors, perhaps we need to move our arrangement to a more secure location.” There was a pause as they entered the home and were offered seats and drinks.
“Our government frowns on illicit activity here in the province of Matanzas, only when the wealthy are inconvenienced. So we might well prevail in buying off la policía, but eventually, we would have to deal with el ejército, the Army.”
"You need it, I'll get it if I ain't got it."
"Well, there's no sense creating any enemies that we can prevent.” Dixon ascertained, “especially if these types of entanglements can be avoided.”
“No need for drawing the military into our affairs, or the local police for that matter. If we can keep a low profile so much the better.”
“So how far is this place you’re talking about?” Jimmy asked.
“The place is a small inlet, perfect for the transfer of goods with noone the wiser, not that they care if jou are not in their front yard. People, well, you know, they belief that they are all good men, but I tell ju, that ees not the case.” Edwardo explained.
“Well,” Michael began, “That settles that. Wasn’t too hard, was it?” Michael said. The other two nodded in agreement that it was not.
“Good, as I suspected,” Diaz said. "Now, I have an offer for jou, one, you may accept or not as jou will. But I must ask one thing in advance, that you think on it before jou make any decision.” The three men looked to one another. “There are drugs that are smuggled into the JU. S. all the tine. I am currently in a position to offer jou some vara competitive prices, and because I know jou, and how jou do business, we can make whatever concessions that are necessary.” Diaz held up a hand, “Please, I would like for jou to sail up to Habana and join me in further discussions on the matter.”
“We are actually in no hurry to get back.” A slight untruth. “We would be honored if you would join us, for dinner, wherever you like.” Michael and Edwardo Dias laughed at the offer, Dixon and Jimmy were not quite sure what to make of the offer, since Michael had said nothing about not getting right back to this point.
"If it's got an engine, I can drive it."
Saturday Afternoon, January 23, 1924
Sailing for Havana, Cuba
Edwardo Diaz had opted to drive back to Havana. The boys were loaded and easing out of Varadero, then turned Northward toward Havana. No one spoke much about the deviance in the trip, nor Michael’s desire to even the up with the Jewish element, although all three knew that it would happen.
“So the hell with it! What about the Kikes?” Jimmy asked as he piloted the yacht. “I mean we have inventory to deliver besides them.”
“We have a chance to jump the market with this cocaine business and I plan to take it,” Michael responded. “Listen, cocaine is a real hot item when it can be had. Guys are knockin’ over Coca Cola warehouses and plants lookin’ for the stuff. Diaz wants to dump it in our lap and there are places where we can about name our own price.”
“That’s why I didn’t say anything about the detour. Miami, Jacksonville, Saint Pete, Tampa, even Tallahassee, ripe for the takin’, well, ripe for the supplyin’.” Dixon reasoned.
Jimmy looked between the two men. “Well then, I guess the Hebes can wait, and really, we’re not that pressed for the delivery.” He acquiesced. “Guess I need to keep my ears open.”
“And, we don’t sell in Key West, just like the booze. I don’t want Hancock down our backs.” Michael added.
“Cocaine’s dropped off the charts because it’s too expensive, and it can’t be made synthetically like booze. So if his price is right I’d be all for it.” Dixon explained.
“Exactly why we’re heading up to Havana,” Micheal stated. “Same split, like always. Just need to know the money’s right.
Saturday Evening, January 23, 1924
The Liberty was tied up at the pier as evening descended on the port city of Havana, a raucous, loud, happy place, well at least on the surface. Americans though, were hardly ever in danger, unless they did something foolish. Tourism was big business in Havana and they did not wish to upset, let alone anger the Americans. The Span-Am War and taught them a bloody lesson in that vein.
As promised, a car awaited them and would surely take them to be wined, dined, and introduced to the principles of this deal, which were said to be Columbians, not that they cared. They did know that they were about to be treated to this finest Havana would have to offer.
If they suspected a hint of trouble they never let on, but each man carried a concealed weapon. One always played it safe, though Senior Edwardo Diaz was all but above reproach. Of course, no one was really above reproach, but Diaz was as close as they were likely to come.
The car left Havana proper, the gaiety of the street scenes of the city falling rapidly behind. Darkness was upon them, the lights from the homes along the road flashed by as the car sped along. Soon there were no homes, only darkness.
“Seniors, we will be there in only a few minutes.” The driver said calmly. He was alone so any funny business and he would be dead.
Suddenly the car slowed and made a left turn off the highway and began a slight incline, rounded a curve in the tree-covered jungle and there sat what must be a plantation, fully lit. The car came to a smooth halt. The driver got out quickly and opened the rear door for his passengers to exit. There on the veranda stood Edwardo Diaz dressed in immaculate while
“I trust jour tip was satisfactory?” He asked and then smiled. “We have the place for meetings of this type, private parties and the like. I am sure you will find it quite satisfactory. And, before we get much further along I will say this. Dinner in half an hour, our meeting an hour later, and we will have you back to either your boat or The Hotel Inglaterrathe, your choice.”
“Well then, when we reach that point we’ll make that decision, you are most gracious, Senior,” Michael said.
“Well then, we should not keep our Columbian friends waiting”
Sunday Evening, January 13, 1924 (Day and Date Correction)
Morrano Sugar Plantation, outside Havana Cuba
To describe such a meeting as dull and unexciting would be an understatement, but in fact that is exactly what it was. The dinner was excellent, the wine and liquor perfect, the conversation well, that was where things lagged. Edwardo Diaz had to serve as interpreter as the conversation was in Spanish, though Jimmy was fluent un the language, he did not let on, playing it as an ace I the hole as one never really knows who is on who’s side.
Edwardo Diaz translated every word verbatim. Not a single omission. The deal would generate a handsome profit for both Diaz and the trio, and that was what was important. The Columbians were willing to deliver one hundred kilos of the white powder to Cuba where Diaz would store the contraband and the three Americanos could pick up what was needed as it was sold. A good deal for everyone involved, especially with Diaz offering initial credit if it was needed.
The drinking was light on all sides which was cautionary on all sides as these men were busy feeling out the others, including Edwardo Diaz, yet everyone seemed pleased with the negotiations and the meeting concluded with handshakes all around, smiles and toasts to their success.
Once they were in the car heading back Diaz turned to his associates, “So my friens, I have a kilo in the back, which is disguised so as not to attract atención. Were you as satisfied s you appeared?”
“Yes, very much so, mi amigo.” Michael responded to his friends nods of agreement. “I believe we will do some major business moving forward.
“Yes. Yes I see the same thing as we move forward. Now, the question remains the hotel or your boat?”
Michael looked to his partners who gave a head nod to the side as a sign of wanting to be gone. “We have some deadlines to meet, I’m sure you understand. Commitments to be met, though this evening was certainly a profitable one all around.”
Diaz laughed in agreement. “As I told you gentlemen, you would find it to your liking, and we well have you at your boat directly. The lights of Havana drew closer and brighter, had they more time, a layover in Havana was always enjoyable. But casting off in the darkness was also enjoyable. Though they had been awake for sometime, none of the three was tired, and the ten hour return trip would be much easier if he had to avoid detection than in broad daylight.
The car stopped at the pier where the Liberty was birthed, the men exited, received the disguised package, bid farewell to Edwardo, and boarded the yacht making ready to cast off