A Burning Cold Morning (Part 25)

Leo was angry when she left and that anger slowly faded into a bit of regret as the evening wore on.  He really did not have much of a plan in his head beyond what he had some up with originally and was not sure he knew the area well enough to succeed without some local help.   By the time it was ten o’clock at night he had pretty much convinced himself that he was going to have to apologize to Veronica and hope he could patch things up with Jerry Salazar, a thought that left him unhappy.  A hard knock on his door sounded at ten forty-five p.m. and Leo hollered out for whoever it was to go away.  He was more than a bit surprised to hear Veronica answer back, and he opened the door to see her eyes blazing with anger.  She stormed past him into the room, slamming her hat down on the side table by the door.

“That god-damn Jerry Salazar!  After all the time I spent smooching up to that man, all the time listening to his fantastic stories covered all the while in a cloud from his foul breath, damn!”  She was a bit out of breath and stopped yelling, standing still and staring out the window as Leo closed the door and came around to her front.

“What happened?  You sure are stirred up, he must have done something quite bad?” Leo inquired.

She took a deep breath and asked for a glass of whiskey, which Leo had to admit he had none of, so she settled for water before continuing.

“You know, that man, you men, always so superior and looking down on women.  It really gets me angry, you know?”   She seemed to be waiting for a response but Leo felt that it was better to avoid offering any opinion.  After a few seconds she continuing with her rant.

“I get there, right on time damn it, and you know what the first thing he says to me is?  Where’s that fella at?  Like you were the one who he had been waiting for, hell he didn’t even know you a few days ago!  Well, I told him you weren’t coming and he almost shut the door in my face, can you believe that?  I stopped him and got myself in, I was really pushing him you know, really telling him that it wasn’t you that he should be worried about and that it was me who had done all the work in this town already.  I kept at it but he wasn’t having any of it, he just kept saying that he wanted a man involved in the operation if he was going to be part of it.  I tell you what…”  Her voice trailed off as she stood there, obviously contemplating either a dreadful end to Jerry Salazar or the inequity of the Olympia criminal community.  Or maybe it was both.  Either way Leo stayed silent which proved to not be what Veronica wanted.

“Well, what about it all?  What about it Leo?  You can’t possibly think that is fair, or you better not!  What do you think about it?”

Leo answered honestly.  “Well, probably going in there and being a bearcat wasn’t the best approach.”  That brought a  sharp slap to his face from Veronica, who then sat down abruptly, crossed her legs and said, “Now sit down here Leo and let’s plan a way to do some business without that man!”

And so over the next three hours the two of them sat there while Veronica filled in Leo on the various schemes she had already run successfully in Olympia, the layout of the local criminal enterprises in town, the general way that the police operated and other details that she had picked up during her time in the area.  By the time it was two o’clock in the morning they had decided to make use of some connections that Veronica had in Seattle to move stolen cars.  Veronica would scout out potential vehicles, especially the more exotic and rare kinds and give Leo the locations.  He would then steal them and they would drive them up to Seattle where Veronica would have arranged for the vehicles to be purchased by her connections, who would then sell them to unsuspecting buyers.  Veronica knew several policemen in Olympia who were open to accepting money in return for providing information on any potential investigations that might be opened up in regard to the thefts.  They also would be able to warn Leo and herself when things were getting too hot for them in town, which would hopefully allow them to escape before being arrested.  Leo thought it was bad luck to anticipate that this might happen but Veronica told him that eventually even the worst police department was going to figure out who’s stealing the cars.  They just needed to be ready to get our of town when it was time.

Scott's Grocery Olympia Washington - photo courtesy olympiahistory.org

Scott’s Grocery Olympia Washington – photo courtesy olympiahistory.org

Before they could get started on that plan; however, Leo needed to move out of the Governor and they needed to get some cash for living expenses.  The move was made two days later after Veronica had arranged a room for Leo at the Angelus, and for some quick cash they decided to hold up Scott’s Grocery.  This was one of the busiest and most popular stores in Olympia and Veronica happened to know that the owner only went to the bank to deposit the receipts on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  She had been casing the operation for awhile prior to Leo’s arrival and this seemed like a good use of her acquired knowledge.  If they went in on Sunday afternoon, there should be a good amount of cash available to be taken in a robbery.  The crime went off smoothly, both of them covering their faces and holding the owner’s daughter at gunpoint until he opened the safe to reveal two hundred and eighteen dollars.  That, combined with the eleven dollars and twenty-one cents they took from the register, gave the two criminals a very good stash of money to live on while they started up their car theft business.  Things were looking up for the two of them, at least until two days after the robbery when Jerry Salazar showed up at Leo’s door.

…to be continued

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