Busting, 1974, USA, Director Peter Hyams

You’ll have to excuse me.  This is the time for my mid-morning tablet.  I have eight of these beauties every day.  Thanks for the water.  If you think that’s depressing, you should see what I’m eating for lunch.  Still, if it keeps me out of hospital.  Although the hospitals in LA have been good to me, I have to say.  You want to know how often we tried peddling cocaine from my hospital bed?  Ten times. You have to try different things.  Keneely and the little guy he called a partner got wise and that was the end of the hospital scam.  It didn’t make much difference.  I was running out of hospitals to use and I have a heart condition.  As Johnny Rosselli used to say to me, you have to look after the people who look after you.  Johnny Rosselli, there was a wise guy that had style.

Let’s get this straight.  There was no big chase with me in one ambulance and Keneely and the little guy in another.  I stepped outside the hospital.  That was all.  I walked into the hospital grounds because those two guys carried chaos around with them.  I was protecting the hospital, you could say.  I stood outside, smoked a cigarette and waited for the two dopes to come out and arrest me.  I knew there’d be no conviction.  We were moving cocaine in and out of my hospital room but they couldn’t prove I touched the stuff.  The cocaine was carried in flower pots.   In it came and out it went.  Not the best way to move cocaine or anything for that matter but in my business you have to try different things.

I didn’t like either of them.  What was the name of the little guy?  That’s right, Patrick Farrell.  They didn’t look Irish to me.  Keneely and Farrell, who would have thought.  Some of my friends are Irish, and everyone of them looks as if someone in the family was Irish.  No way did Keneely and Farrell look Irish to me.  I know Farrell had a Mexican mother, so okay.  And I heard about Keneely and the trouble he had with his folks but where they were from I never heard.  You have to understand.  If you’re in my kind of business, you expect heat.  Here in LA we have a history of cops that like to push around guys like me.  It goes right back to Commissioner Bill Parker and his gangster squad.  The LAPD don’t know any better which is why guys like me have to be philosophical.  I paid good money to the LAPD.  All I asked was that I could do what I did like any businessman.  That was the deal.  If I stepped out of line, used too much muscle, then fair enough, I’d live with the consequences.   But I don’t want heat for day to day business, no way is that legit’.

I haven’t a clue why Keneely and the little guy acted the way they did.  They knew about the money I paid the LAPD.  And we’re not talking about small potatoes. You don’t hand over that kind of cash so two guys can play at being Jesse James and Wyatt Earp on the streets of LA.  Me, I blame the crime shows.  The cops watch too many movies.  And we had strange times back then in the ’70s.  They let these cops grow their hair, talk out the side of their mouths and walk around as if they were kings of the streets.  The world has settled down.  People are more reasonable these days.  You get more support for the businessman.  That’s a good thing, don’t you think?

Keneely had a problem with his old man, so I heard.  The old guy liked a drink, I heard, and slapped his family around.  Keneely wanted to sort out men like his father but hated authority, so I was told.  The little guy, what was his name?  That’s right, Patrick Farrell.  He just didn’t like cops.  Something happened between his Mexican mother and one of the cops out there in Hollinbeck.  Something that didn’t make the woman have high opinions of white folks.  This happened just after Farrell had become a cop.  After that he talked about leaving LAPD but never did.  From what I heard, Farrell talked about leaving all of the time but his mother wanted him to hold out for the pension or something.  He walked around with a cigarette in his mouth but didn’t smoke.  The cigarette wasn’t lit.  I suppose it helped him stay off the nicotine.  How many cigarettes he got through, I don’t know.  He must have had more than one.  I used to give out Havana cigars to the LAPD.  People forget these things. 

They were both oddballs.  Keneely, though, was different.  He had the guts to quit.  Resigning from the LAPD was the first thing he did when I was acquitted after the hospital bust.  I didn’t know at the time.  He just walked out of the court.  I didn’t even get time to laugh in his face which I would have done if I’d had the chance.  Keneely hasn’t done much since, so I heard.  Someone put him on a training course, and he finished up as a crime scene investigator.  You know, the kind of thing.  He’d walk around the crime scene and take photos, samples and stuff.  If it helped him switch off from getting heated up about guys like me then good luck to the man because he didn’t definitely switch off about me as far as I could see.   I’ll be honest.  I think a lot of it was envy.  You know, these two cops see me with a fine family, a big house, fancy cars and a few flunkeys.  If Keneely and Farrell  didn’t hate me, they’d have to hate themselves. As Johnny Rosselli told me when I was still a kid, don’t envy no one, just count the dollars and cents.

The one time I was out of order with those guys.  One time, that’s all.  I arranged that they got a beating, a black guy who had his own issues with the LAPD.  I knew I’d get my money’s worth.  Listen, the rackets are like any business.  Sometimes you have to lay the law down but no one goes places by being a pain in the butt all the time.  Someone has to like you. You understand what I mean?  Johnny Rosselli had Jack Dragna.  Mickey Cohen had Bugsy Seigel.  Bugsy had Meyer Lansky.  Being polite is important, having respect for others.  A smile and a handshake don’t take no more than a second.  I’m courteous.  All those guys in the rackets knew how to be polite.  But sometimes you have to draw a line.  And that was the way it was with Keneely and Farrell.   I was paying good money to the LAPD.  Keneely and Farrell thought they were above the law.  Least that’s how I see it.  

I can be short tempered.  I admit it.  When I look at guys like Jimmy Fratianno and, rest in peace, Frank Bompensierro, I know I didn’t have their patience.  Those guys had the FBI on their backs all their lives but they didn’t react.  But now I think about it, that’s the point.  That’s what the FBI does.  They persecute guys like Frank, Jimmy and me.  We know it and live with it.  But two small time LAPD vice-cops with Irish names who don’t even look Irish throwing their weight about.  That wasn’t  right and it isn’t.

Look, I don’t want to be the main man.  I remember what Johnny Rosselli told me when I was out in Vegas one time.  Carl, he said, you enjoy the good life.  You don’t throw it away by wanting to be number one.  It ain’t worth it, said Johnny.  He was right.  I worry about my family and the dollars and cents.  That’s the advice I give to anyone.  Worry about the dollars and cents and if you’re going to play around, stick to the professionals.  The nearest I’ve got to nice girls are strippers.  And I’m still here and married.  I have a fine house and my two kids are doing well in college.  I thank Johnny Rosselli for that.  

Listen, I have no grievance against the LAPD.  They played by the rules and did what they could to get Keneely and Farrell back into line.   But putting those guys on the worst vice jobs like they did only made it worse.  Keneely and Farrell got into fights trying to make arrests in gay bars because that will happen and because those people think like the rest of us.  They always thought they had rights.  I say live and let live and the gay porn pays the same as the rest.  Sitting in a toilet all day waiting to catch a cheapskate cruiser is no job for anyone, especially Keneely and Farrell who thought they were Batman and Robin.  But something would have nagged away at anyone doing that five days a week. 

I can tell you what it was that they brooded about waiting in the toilets in the parks, me, Carl Rizzo.  It twisted them.  The more they thought about me the more they must have thought my life was perfect.  Well it wasn’t and it isn’t.  I’m a guy that had a smile and handshake for everyone and only ever worried about the dollars and cents but just look at what happened.  Here I am and talking to you two guys who are telling me I’ll  have nothing to worry about once I’m in the witness protection programme.  You FBI guys have patience, I’ll give you that, listening to me talk about two crazy cops when what you really want to know is who ordered the hit on Frank ‘The Bomp’ Bompensiero.  Who bumped The Bomp eh?  And after what happened to The Bomp, you think I’m going to tell you? 

Howard Jackson has had ten books published by Red Rattle Books including novels, short stories, travel books and collections of film criticism.  His latest book Go Break Bad is now available here.