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ALBERT IS DEAD”

By Dick Cummins

At 75 Albert Rosen had enough money to do whatever he wanted. This was because he was the sole owner of a chain of successful Chicago strip clubs since his partner, Myron King, disappeared without a trace in 1992.  Detectives never found a clue to his whereabouts, assumed he was dead – maybe buried in a double-bottomed casket, tree limb-chipped up or dissolved in acid, the usual mob MO.  A ‘professional elimination’ they wrote in the file, closed the case as pending and probable, newly cold.

‘Business is business’ Mr. Rosen liked to tell Tabitha Tumbleson, his 73-year-old housekeeper.  She had been an Army nurse in Viet Nam and helped Mr. Rosen monitor his diabetes and medications.  For her twenty-five years of expressing no opinions, although she had plenty, and her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil loyal service, Mr. Rosen had promised to leave her his Providence Avenue home in Winnetka.  He had even showed her the will but then left a letter from his ex-wife open on his desk, demanding that he change the will back to “family”. She thought maybe he did this so the change would not come as a complete surprise.

* * *

Friday evening was normally Albert’s night for a little relaxation. But it was early Thursday evening when Mrs. Tumbleson answered the door bell and found Miss Roxanne Wilson, a headliner at Albert’s Near West Side Gentlemen’s Club, holding the storm door ajar with her slim knee.  Mrs. Tumbleson looked surprised and not happy.

“Albert called and said his ex-wife is coming into town tomorrow so I should show up tonight,” Roxanne said, tossing her half smoked Newport down, grinding it out on the step.

Frowning at the schmeared butt that she would have to pick up later, Mrs. Tumbleson took the coat and purse Roxanne tossed at her, set her purse on the lamp table in the foyer and followed her into the living room, Roxanne teetering along in the thick carpet on her blood red Manolos with the thin red ankle straps.

“Can you ask the old lady to leave now, Al Honey?” Roxanne said, tossing her long blond hair. “That she is in the kitchen there, probably listening makes me tense sometimes and you don’t want me tense do you Hon?”

“Sure Shug,” Albert Rosen said and motioned for his housekeeper to get lost with a dismissive wave of his hand.

The news that his fourth wife Nadine, divorced for over a year, was blowing into Winnetka early meant Mrs. Tumbleson had planned ahead perfectly.  With just one exception – Roxanne Wilson.  She was an unwelcome complication but, business is business she thought as her boss would say.

“I’m leaving now,” Mrs. Tumbleson said, passing through the dining room, trying to ignore the look Roxanne shot her, rubbing her boss’s shoulders from behind his overstuffed leather chair, not exactly Miss Congeniality.

At the front door, Mrs. Tumbleson pulled it shut behind her for the locking noise ‘click’, then quietly reopened it with her house key, pulling it closed again with a folded envelope from her pocket slipped into the crack.  A gentle nudge would open it now.  Then she walked up to the bus stop, dialing her cell and let it ring twice then hung up.  It would be a wrong number to a disposable cell if her records where ever examined.  It all should be over in an hour or two.

Her stomach churned in nervous knots as she stepped up into the Providence Street bus. ‘Business is business’, she thought again taking a deep breath.  But that didn’t mean she had to like it.

* * *

When Myron King Jr. was in middle school a few of the bigger, older kids referred to him as a putz as kids will do. Until they found out that his father had been seen at a Chicago crime family wedding. He had grown up tough with no father, Myron King Sr. having been ‘disappeared’, probably at the hand of Albert Rosen and was now in law school at the University of Michigan, second year.  It was Thanksgiving break. Just enough time.

The prepaid, disposable cell in Myron’s shirt pocket burred twice and stopped.  It was a go. In five minutes the Providence Avenue bus stopped, and with one arm around a double-bagged grocery sack, Myron stepped in and crossed the Rubicon.

On the front step of the Rosen home he glanced up and down the street without moving his head side to side and pretended to knock, just in case. Then pushing gently against the door with his knee he picks up folded envelope closing the door behind him, but not completely, dropping an expired gift card he had found on vacation in a Barnes and Noble book store. Obviously a second story man had opened the front door without a forced entry.

In the foyer he quietly slides the grocery bag, containing two boxes of Honeynut Cheerios, on the lamp table and from the bottom pulls out a pair of nitrel examination gloves. Then he lifts out the Carter Arms 9mm revolver by the handle no chance for prints.  It had been secretly purchased at flea market gun show, probably stolen and was only traceable to the original owner. The revolver did not eject the 9 shell casing like a Glock semi, part of his plan.

Peering around the corner into the living room he saw a blonde wearing hottie red heels down on her knees, blouse unbuttoned, her head in Albert Rosen’s lap, his head pitched back, eyes closed, in quiet ecstasy.

There would be collateral damage. Damn.

Then with his heart pounding in his ears and his brain fighter-pilot red, Myron slips silently into the living room and up behind the blonde, holding the short nose revolver straight up, not sideways like in movies, he aims it straight down at back of the blonde’s rhythmically bobbing head, inches away, her eyes closed, working  night shift hard.  As her head came up a little too far, almost touching the muzzle, he pulled the trigger.

A gun shot in a closed house does not sound like in the movies or on a firing range.  The CARR 9 exploded with a blunt thud, ’BOOMPFF’. The back of the blonde’s head compressed deep into Mr. Rosen’s lap and then rebounded straight back up, her jaws clamped shut, she rolled over heavily sideways ending with her back against the overstuffed chair, chin down on her chest.  Wrong time, wrong place this pretty girl, Myron thought. Damn.

Mr. Rosen’s chest had doubled down onto his belly as the 9mm bullet passed through Roxanne’s head, exiting the right eye socket and lodging solidly into Mr. Rosen’s pelvis.  Reflexively now he sat upright due to muscle contraction looking straight at Myron with a quizzical expression, his mouth making a surprised ‘O’, not screaming or crying out, just exhaling ‘huuuhhh!’

‘This one is for my Dad, asshole,” Myron said through his teeth, then full of pride and revenge he pulled the trigger again – “BOOMPFF”.

The shot is a bull’s eye directly into Albert Rosen’s open mouth, snapping his head back, breaking his neck as the bullet passes through his vertebrae and out the back of his head.

A ‘GARahhh,’ sound comes out of the old man’s throat now, slowly fading, the 9 mm bullet lodged in the living room wall surrounded by bone fragments and a crimson splatter of gelatinous brain matter.  Mr. Rosen’s head hangs backward over the overstuffed chair like a rag doll, only skin, muscle and tendons holding it to his body now, two thin rivulets of blood pumping thickly onto the carpet.

Myron realizes that Albert must have taken a handful of Viagra for the evening’s festivities because glancing down at his lap there is a small red fountain arching a dribble of blood into the air in rhythm with each of Mr. Rosen’s fading heart beats, each a little shorter than the last.

‘Some days you just get lucky’, he thought and reaching into his pocket, the tight nitrile glove catching on the denim he pulls out two Glock 19 semi casings he tossed them on the floor.  That would throw off forensics for awhile.  Then reaching into Rosen’s back pocket, he takes out his wallet and pulls the bills out, folding them neatly and stuffs them into his own pocket.  He slides the Rolex off of Albert’s wrist too and then slips off Roxanne’s gold bracelet too.

A home invasion and robbery gone bad, all there was to it.

In the foyer Myron opens Roxanne’s purse and wallet, taking all the bills out there too and stuffing them in his other pocket. Then he looks back into the living room at the satisfying tableau

Myron snaps a mental picture.  Too bad about Roxanne, her jaw slackened now, mouth opened enough to see the stump end of fellacio gone terribly wrong, blood dribbling down her chin and onto her breast, satin blouse unbuttoned to the waist.  Slumped there, blood trickling out of  the empty eye socket, she reminded him those crying clown paintings he hated, the ones with makeup trickling down their cheeks but instead of running mascara and clown makeup the blonde’s cheeks were streaked with tears of  blood. Wrong place, wrong time but shit happens.  Damn.

Myron left the front door ajar and walked out, double-bagged Honeynut Cheerios under one arm, the CARR 9 in the bottom, barrel still warm, adrenalin and endorphins raging, he looks up and down the street.  Nada.  ‘A professional job all right’, he said to himself, walking toward the bus stop, and then to the Trailways station, cash ticket and back to classes Monday, no one the wiser. And Mrs. Tumbleson wouldn’t be saying anything to anybody.  Maybe he would legally change his name to Roy Cohn, Jr.

Myron King Jr. was a made man.

* * *

Mrs. Tumbleson reached down and picked up the Newport butt on the step and tight-lipped, dropped it into her grocery bag. What goes around comes around.  The door was open.  On the way to the kitchen she glanced into the living room.  Well she’d seen worse in Viet Nam, a lot worse.  In the kitchen she calmly picked up the phone and dialed 911, then took a deep breath.

“You’ve got to send the police!” she said breathlessly to the dispatcher. “I’m the housekeeper and I think there has been a home invasion here and murders.”

* * *

It was nearly 11:00 and the uniforms that had put up the yellow tape and were leaving, the detectives and crime scene techs were finishing up, the morgue gurneys stood sentry ready to take the cold remains of Roxanne and Albert Rosen in for post mortems when the wall-phone in the kitchen rang.  Mrs. Tumbleson picked it up.

“Let me talk to my husband Tabitha’, Nadine hissed. “I’m at the airport.  And I hope you don’t think you are going to pull off this inheritance scam.  I have several witnesses that will testify he was not in his right mind when he changed the will, so forget it!  Let me talk to him!”

“Albert is not available Nadine,” Mrs. Tumbleson said calmly, smiling slightly at the dramatic irony she possessed.

“Don’t hand me that crap Tabitha, put him on the phone or I am coming right over there with my lawyer and I don’t care how late it is!”

“I think you should come over Nadine.  And you don’t need anyone to testify that Mr. Rosen’s mind is not functioning correctly either. There’s still a lot of it on the living room wall.“

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Police think it was a home invasion.”

“Meaning what exactly Tumbleson?  Has something happened to my Albert?”

“He and a girlfriend from the club were robbed and then shot about three hours ago.”

“Shot and robbed?  Is he in the hospital?”

“No Nadine, they were robbed and then someone shot both of them through the head.”

“I don’t believe you Tabitha!  You are making this up to get in my face about the will!!”

“No Nadine.  ALBERT IS DEAD – very deceased. They shot him through the mouth.  One detective thought it might be a mob hit made to look like robbery.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the line, then it buzzed off hook.

73-year old Tabitha Tumbleson hung up the wall phone and opened the yellow pages to look for an economical motel.  She would sell the house and move to Florida, buy a nice condo near the beach.  After twenty-five years of putting up with Albert Rosen in that house who could deny that she deserved a long rest in the sun.

Business is business all right,’ she thought again, shaking her head slightly and decided that she would pour herself a little glass of the Glenfarclas scotch Mr. Rosen liked so much.  After all Albert Rosen was nothing if he wasn’t a thrifty man and he surely wouldn’t want his favorite scotch to go to waste, would he?

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‘Albert is Dead’ (Assignment: kill off a dispicable character)

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“ALBERT IS DEAD”
By Dick Cummins
At 75 Albert Rosen had enough money to do whatever he wanted. This was because he was the sole owner of a chain of successful Chicago strip clubs since his partner, Myron King, disappeared without a trace in 1992. Detectives never found a clue to his whereabouts, assumed he was dead – maybe buried in a double-bottomed casket, tree limb-chipped up or dissolved in acid, the usual mob MO. A ‘professional elimination’ they wrote in the file, closed the case as pending and probable, newly cold.
‘Business is business’ Mr. Rosen liked to tell Tabitha Tumbleson, his 73-year-old housekeeper. She had been an Army nurse in Viet Nam and helped Mr. Rosen monitor his diabetes and medications. For her twenty-five years of expressing no opinions, although she had plenty, and her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil loyal service, Mr. Rosen had promised to leave her his Providence Avenue home in Winnetka. He had even showed her the will but then left a letter from his ex-wife open on his desk, demanding that he change the will back to “family”. She thought maybe he did this so the change would not come as a complete surprise.
* * *
Friday evening was normally Albert’s night for a little relaxation. But it was early Thursday evening when Mrs. Tumbleson answered the door bell and found Miss Roxanne Wilson, a headliner at Albert’s Near West Side Gentlemen’s Club, holding the storm door ajar with her slim knee. Mrs. Tumbleson looked surprised and not happy.
“Albert called and said his ex-wife is coming into town tomorrow so I should show up tonight,” Roxanne said, tossing her half smoked Newport down, grinding it out on the step.
Frowning at the schmeared butt that she would have to pick up later, Mrs. Tumbleson took the coat and purse Roxanne tossed at her, set her purse on the lamp table in the foyer and followed her into the living room, Roxanne teetering along in the thick carpet on her blood red Manolos with the thin red ankle straps.
“Can you ask the old lady to leave now, Al Honey?” Roxanne said, tossing her long blond hair. “That she is in the kitchen there, probably listening makes me tense sometimes and you don’t want me tense do you Hon?”
“Sure Shug,” Albert Rosen said and motioned for his housekeeper to get lost with a dismissive wave of his hand.
The news that his fourth wife Nadine, divorced for over a year, was blowing into Winnetka early meant Mrs. Tumbleson had planned ahead perfectly. With just one exception – Roxanne Wilson. She was an unwelcome complication but, business is business she thought as her boss would say.
“I’m leaving now,” Mrs. Tumbleson said, passing through the dining room, trying to ignore the look Roxanne shot her, rubbing her boss’s shoulders from behind his overstuffed leather chair, not exactly Miss Congeniality.
At the front door, Mrs. Tumbleson pulled it shut behind her for the locking noise ‘click’, then quietly reopened it with her house key, pulling it closed again with a folded envelope from her pocket slipped into the crack. A gentle nudge would open it now. Then she walked up to the bus stop, dialing her cell and let it ring twice then hung up. It would be a wrong number to a disposable cell if her records where ever examined. It all should be over in an hour or two.
Her stomach churned in nervous knots as she stepped up into the Providence Street bus. ‘Business is business’, she thought again taking a deep breath. But that didn’t mean she had to like it.
* * *
When Myron King Jr. was in middle school a few of the bigger, older kids referred to him as a putz as kids will do. Until they found out that his father had been seen at a Chicago crime family wedding. He had grown up tough with no father, Myron King Sr. having been ‘disappeared’, probably at the hand of Albert Rosen and was now in law school at the University of Michigan, second year. It was Thanksgiving break. Just enough time.
The prepaid, disposable cell in Myron’s shirt pocket burred twice and stopped. It was a go. In five minutes the Providence Avenue bus stopped, and with one arm around a double-bagged grocery sack, Myron stepped in and crossed the Rubicon.
On the front step of the Rosen home he glanced up and down the street without moving his head side to side and pretended to knock, just in case. Then pushing gently against the door with his knee he picks up folded envelope closing the door behind him, but not completely, dropping an expired gift card he had found on vacation in a Barnes and Noble book store. Obviously a second story man had opened the front door without a forced entry.
In the foyer he quietly slides the grocery bag, containing two boxes of Honeynut Cheerios, on the lamp table and from the bottom pulls out a pair of nitrel examination gloves. Then he lifts out the Carter Arms 9mm revolver by the handle no chance for prints. It had been secretly purchased at flea market gun show, probably stolen and was only traceable to the original owner. The revolver did not eject the 9 shell casing like a Glock semi, part of his plan.
Peering around the corner into the living room he saw a blonde wearing hottie red heels down on her knees, blouse unbuttoned, her head in Albert Rosen’s lap, his head pitched back, eyes closed, in quiet ecstasy.
There would be collateral damage. Damn.
Then with his heart pounding in his ears and his brain fighter-pilot red, Myron slips silently into the living room and up behind the blonde, holding the short nose revolver straight up, not sideways like in movies, he aims it straight down at back of the blonde’s rhythmically bobbing head, inches away, her eyes closed, working night shift hard. As her head came up a little too far, almost touching the muzzle, he pulled the trigger.
A gun shot in a closed house does not sound like in the movies or on a firing range. The CARR 9 exploded with a blunt thud, ’BOOMPFF’. The back of the blonde’s head compressed deep into Mr. Rosen’s lap and then rebounded straight back up, her jaws clamped shut, she rolled over heavily sideways ending with her back against the overstuffed chair, chin down on her chest. Wrong time, wrong place this pretty girl, Myron thought. Damn.
Mr. Rosen’s chest had doubled down onto his belly as the 9mm bullet passed through Roxanne’s head, exiting the right eye socket and lodging solidly into Mr. Rosen’s pelvis. Reflexively now he sat upright due to muscle contraction looking straight at Myron with a quizzical expression, his mouth making a surprised ‘O’, not screaming or crying out, just exhaling ‘huuuhhh!’
‘This one is for my Dad, asshole,” Myron said through his teeth, then full of pride and revenge he pulled the trigger again – “BOOMPFF”.
The shot is a bull’s eye directly into Albert Rosen’s open mouth, snapping his head back, breaking his neck as the bullet passes through his vertebrae and out the back of his head.
A ‘GARahhh,’ sound comes out of the old man’s throat now, slowly fading, the 9 mm bullet lodged in the living room wall surrounded by bone fragments and a crimson splatter of gelatinous brain matter. Mr. Rosen’s head hangs backward over the overstuffed chair like a rag doll, only skin, muscle and tendons holding it to his body now, two thin rivulets of blood pumping thickly onto the carpet.
Myron realizes that Albert must have taken a handful of Viagra for the evening’s festivities because glancing down at his lap there is a small red fountain arching a dribble of blood into the air in rhythm with each of Mr. Rosen’s fading heart beats, each a little shorter than the last.
‘Some days you just get lucky’, he thought and reaching into his pocket, the tight nitrile glove catching on the denim he pulls out two Glock 19 semi casings he tossed them on the floor. That would throw off forensics for awhile. Then reaching into Rosen’s back pocket, he takes out his wallet and pulls the bills out, folding them neatly and stuffs them into his own pocket. He slides the Rolex off of Albert’s wrist too and then slips off Roxanne’s gold bracelet too.
A home invasion and robbery gone bad, all there was to it.
In the foyer Myron opens Roxanne’s purse and wallet, taking all the bills out there too and stuffing them in his other pocket. Then he looks back into the living room at the satisfying tableau
Myron snaps a mental picture. Too bad about Roxanne, her jaw slackened now, mouth opened enough to see the stump end of fellacio gone terribly wrong, blood dribbling down her chin and onto her breast, satin blouse unbuttoned to the waist. Slumped there, blood trickling out of the empty eye socket, she reminded him those crying clown paintings he hated, the ones with makeup trickling down their cheeks but instead of running mascara and clown makeup the blonde’s cheeks were streaked with tears of blood. Wrong place, wrong time but shit happens. Damn.
Myron left the front door ajar and walked out, double-bagged Honeynut Cheerios under one arm, the CARR 9 in the bottom, barrel still warm, adrenalin and endorphins raging, he looks up and down the street. Nada. ‘A professional job all right’, he said to himself, walking toward the bus stop, and then to the Trailways station, cash ticket and back to classes Monday, no one the wiser. And Mrs. Tumbleson wouldn’t be saying anything to anybody. Maybe he would legally change his name to Roy Cohn, Jr.
Myron King Jr. was a made man.
* * *
Mrs. Tumbleson reached down and picked up the Newport butt on the step and tight-lipped, dropped it into her grocery bag. What goes around comes around. The door was open. On the way to the kitchen she glanced into the living room. Well she’d seen worse in Viet Nam, a lot worse. In the kitchen she calmly picked up the phone and dialed 911, then took a deep breath.
“You’ve got to send the police!” she said breathlessly to the dispatcher. “I’m the housekeeper and I think there has been a home invasion here and murders.”
* * *
It was nearly 11:00 and the uniforms that had put up the yellow tape and were leaving, the detectives and crime scene techs were finishing up, the morgue gurneys stood sentry ready to take the cold remains of Roxanne and Albert Rosen in for post mortems when the wall-phone in the kitchen rang. Mrs. Tumbleson picked it up.
“Let me talk to my husband Tabitha’, Nadine hissed. “I’m at the airport. And I hope you don’t think you are going to pull off this inheritance scam. I have several witnesses that will testify he was not in his right mind when he changed the will, so forget it! Let me talk to him!”
“Albert is not available Nadine,” Mrs. Tumbleson said calmly, smiling slightly at the dramatic irony she possessed.
“Don’t hand me that crap Tabitha, put him on the phone or I am coming right over there with my lawyer and I don’t care how late it is!”
“I think you should come over Nadine. And you don’t need anyone to testify that Mr. Rosen’s mind is not functioning correctly either. There’s still a lot of it on the living room wall.“
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Police think it was a home invasion.”
“Meaning what exactly Tumbleson? Has something happened to my Albert?”
“He and a girlfriend from the club were robbed and then shot about three hours ago.”
“Shot and robbed? Is he in the hospital?”
“No Nadine, they were robbed and then someone shot both of them through the head.”
“I don’t believe you Tabitha! You are making this up to get in my face about the will!!”
“No Nadine. ALBERT IS DEAD – very deceased. They shot him through the mouth. One detective thought it might be a mob hit made to look like robbery.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line, then it buzzed off hook.
73-year old Tabitha Tumbleson hung up the wall phone and opened the yellow pages to look for an economical motel. She would sell the house and move to Florida, buy a nice condo near the beach. After twenty-five years of putting up with Albert Rosen in that house who could deny that she deserved a long rest in the sun.
“Business is business all right,’ she thought again, shaking her head slightly and decided that she would pour herself a little glass of the Glenfarclas scotch Mr. Rosen liked so much. After all Albert Rosen was nothing if he wasn’t a thrifty man and he surely wouldn’t want his favorite scotch to go to waste, would he?

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