Re: RARA-AVIS: Recommendations (Try Malone) Feed Back required
Sun, 19 Jul 1998 15:49:30 EDT Tacoma. Spring. 1963.=20
The Temple Theater's Saturday night premier had just ended. Two movie goe=
wait for the Number 48 at 11th and Pacific. They stand several feet apart.
High school steadies. A lovers tiff.
A greaser attempts a quick pick-up. The boyfriend confronts him. "She's w=
me buddy". The greaser jams a pearl handled .22 into the boyfriend's fore=
"I'm from Naw Yawk. We have a way of dealing with punks like you", he slu=
The grease ball had had his kicks. The boyfriend somehow talks him into m=
A police cruiser appears. The boy asks, "Should I tell the cops?" The gir=
responds. "What for. He didn't do anything." The boy is silent. They boar=
d the
bus. He broaches the pick-up attempt. Her attitude is smug. "Into every l=
ife a
little rain must fall", she responds. They debus, cross the street and he=
down "M" towards 37th.
The light goes on. She hadn't seen the gun. Susan Charlene never realized=
rain drops to which she was referring is the "Sweat of the City" and are =
of lead.
Tacoma. Summer. 1995.=20
That was my first brush with those deadly drops and the experience was fa=
less erotic than Susan.=20
My name is Paul Malone. I now chuck out an investigative newsletter some =
mucky mucks would like to see buried in a toxic landfill. Economic Specia=
Mariza Craig is no exception.
The week had been far from typical. Salt tablet weather. A T. V. appearan=
ce on
"Across the Fence". Questions that multiplied faster than Li'l Abner's
Schmoos. A hole in the ground next the city's famed Cliff House. Possible=
Charter violations on the Foss.
So when Saturday night showed her voluptuous form I was more than ready f=
the steak special and a few drams at my home away from home. Cranking up =
old brown beater I tooled down "M", hung a Ralph on 39th and a Louis in t=
back lot of Lincoln Lanes. Rain threatened with dark flannel gray clouds
hanging low in the sky. The Railsplitter Lounge was dimmer still with a
smattering of regulars scattered about. Dick at his usual perch. Bruce wi=
his pull-tabs. Robert ordering his double V.O. with coke and extra ice in=
cylindrical glass. And Chef Don poised to take my dinner order.
I slid in next to Tenpin, the proprietor. He offered liquid refreshment. =
accepted. He talked of a recent trip to Bali. His talk of Island life lun=
melted away the tension of the week like Grade A butter on freshly steame=
Tacoma Boy's Incredible corn.
Dinner devoured and the regulars off for other unknown sport, I was left =
to my own convoluted thoughts. The intrigues of the up coming political
season. Was McGavick successful in her Police Department inquires or as u=
had it become a forgotten issue? Would anyone dare file against the Big E=
for mayor?
It was some time before I was brought back to full consciousness by a mel=
voice asking somebody if they cared for another pop. That somebody was me=
. The
sweet voice belonged to Barb, the joint's mixologist. We were alone.
Barb is a dish with great gams and a face that's easy on the eyes. She'd =
up in the neighborhood. We'd been classmates from different years. We hav=
commonality. We talked.=20
Barb was working up the following week's drink special when the leftovers=
the Yakima Pub drifted in. The noise level escalated. The Splitter was on=
again in full swing.
It was 1:30 a.m. when "the noise" brought dead silence. It had the heavy
handed impression of someone pounding a short rapid staccato on the windo=
w. An
urgent plea to be let in. The back door had been locked early. Several lo=
but no one was there. Nobody was on the streets sans a man on the corner =
39th and Yakima.=20
I stepped outside. "Did you hear that noise?" "Yes", he answered, "It was
gunfire." Reentering the bar I suggested 911. Nobody bought into it. I to=
ok a
post at a window booth. In less than one the first prowler pulled up. Wit=
three there were six. A scene right out of COPS.=20
By 2:45 the only remaining vehicle was the crime scene van. The side of a=
n old
family home cum three unit flop has been peppered with 9 mm rounds. A sin=
shell casing had been found. It was late. The hour pulled me home.
The next afternoon I was back counting bullet holes. A male occupant in t=
mid level flop asked, "Whad choo lookin' at?" My reply was simple. "Bulle=
holes." "Whad the hell da yu care?", he snarled. "I'm a writer." His atti=
did a 180. "Well don't get youself fired over what yu write, but here's w=
yu shud say. You tell everybody that who ever did this is a bunch of G__ =
M_____ F___in' jellyfish. We'd wadn't even home when it happen", he said.
Maybe he was lucky. Or maybe he knew what was coming. Either way, this ti=
he'd missed being drenched by the "Sweat of the City"
Tacoma. Summer. 1998=20
Three years later and a half a block away ten others weren't so lucky.=20
My live-in Molly McGuire and I had opted for a rare no City business week=
Coming out of hibernation late Sunday afternoon I directed the blue bombe=
r to
Tenpins. Molly had opted for Bingo. Taking a left on Park off 38th and ri=
on 39th I unknowingly had driven into one of the worst crime scenes in th=
City's history. Upon entering the Railsplitter Chef Don hit me with a qui=
account. A blood bath at the Trang Die Caf=E9. I hit the street. I talked=
reporters, people I know, strangers. The story came together. On Sunday
morning at 1:30 a.m. three gunmen entered the Trang Die and proceeded to =
up with automatic weapons. They'd used the Fourth of July merry making to=
the sounds of their gunfire. They sprayed the outside of the building on =
way out as getaway cover. Motive unknown. Of the 16 known inside at the t=
of the attack, five dead, five wounded. Eighteen hours later the last bod=
y was
hauled out. Two days later massive evidence followed.
I spent the following week in the district talking to cops, business owne=
John Q. Public. I attended public meeting. I went to memorial services. W=
the press portrayed the ten as innocent victims another story began to em=
Supposedly only Vietnamese allowed. Talk of heavy sports book. Massive
gambling debts owed. Drugs. Prostitution. One victim under investigation =
home invasions. Stolen goods. A fencing operation. A hang out for known
criminals. A six inch thick rap sheet. The only accusation missing was t=
protection rackets. The rumors grew hair.=20
Several were confirmed by sources in the department, others by those in t=
district the dicks had talked to. Another massacre came to mind. This one=
miles away. Chicago. 10:30 p.m. St. Valentine's Day 1929. Two hundred rou=
fired. Seven dead in a garage on Clark Street. Known members of the Bugs =
gang. Capone suspected. No arrests made. My senses tell me that 69 years =
that won't be the case in what has dubbed Tacoma's "Independence Day
In a few weeks the vividness of this atrocity will fade as have the other
killings in the district over the past several years have. Life will res=
its normalcy until once again the "Sweat of the City" rains down her dead=
leaden force.

Respctfully submited,
Paul Malone
# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at