Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The St. Louis Mafia

Once upon a time, three local authors were all under contract to Berkley Publishing, and a delightful fellow named Ed Breslin was the editor-in-chief. Ed may have been an executive, but he sure didn't act like one. He was what one might call an anti-suit. He was funny, whipsmart, and could tell a story as well as any of us who did it for a living. And he nicknamed us--Karyn, Eileen and I--the St. Louis Mafia. It kinda fit, really.We decided it would be fun to have a special photo made for his Christmas card--us in fedoras, dark glasses, the whole nine yards. We enlisted the services of a local reporter who would do the photo, and arranged to meet for lunch at Fedora's at Union Station. Eileen was to reserve a limousine, Karyn was in charge of the carnations for our lapels, and I was handling cigars.

As usual, I arrived early, Karyn was on time, and Eileen came rushing in late. We should have realized this meant she was the last person who should have been put in charge of the limo. 

Sure enough, she'd forgotten to make the reservation. She'd made inquiries, but no confirmation. We decided we'd head over there after lunch anyway and beg if necessary to get a car. When we left Union Station, Suzanne made a U turn in the middle of Market Street--which was a really crazy thing to do, but indicative of the kind of day this was going to be. We followed Eileen to the place she'd called--in the worst neighborhood you can possibly imagine.

"Did she try to get a car from a chop shop?" I wondered aloud.

Karyn had somehow gotten separated from the rest of us, and was parked on an adjacent street--on the other side of a barricade. There she was, a tall blonde girl in a bright yellow car, trying in vain to lay low. I went over to her car and leaned against the bumper."If you're trying to blend in, you're failing miserably," I told her.

"Go away," she responded.

"Okay, if you insist." I headed back toward Eileen and Suzanne, who had spotted a big bruiser of a guy with a fat chain slung over his shoulder--headed in our direction. They started yelling, "Get in the car!"

Okay, if you say so.

We went off in search of a car elsewhere. Our next stop was a funeral home. They had a huge garage at the back of the property--presumably, where they kept hearses. And limousines. There was Eileen, standing on cinder blocks, trying to see inside. "Planning to add breaking and entering to your resume?" I asked.

She couldn't see anything inside, so we finally gave up and left. We were driving down Hampton Avenue when we spotted something with potential at a garage: an old hearse. "I'll go talk to them," Suzanne volunteered. "I'm really good at lying."

There's a big surprise.

So while Suzanne headed off to presuade the owner of the shop to let us use his hearse, we got ourselves ready. Eileen had even brought a violin case. Suzanne's mission was a success, and we began the shoot. She shot 24 photos, different poses. At one point, Suzanne wanted to get a shot with our jackets open. She reached up to undo Eileen's button, and all Eileen had underneath was a camisole."I feel naked," she joked.

"You are naked," I told her.

I had a minor problem with my cigar. Never having smoked before, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Fortunately, the mechanics had come out to watch the shoot, and were happy to clue me in."You've got it backwards," one of them pointed out. I didn't know which end was up. I'm not sure it would have been noticeable in the photo, but I made the correction anyway. Ed got a big kick out of the photo.... 


  1. Nothing like ending a day like this with a good cigar...

  2. I wouldn't want to mess with you ladies, even with a big chain over my shoulder.

  3. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you St. Louis' Most Wanted.....

  4. Thanks, guys! I once told my agent I could recall a time when I couldn't get arrested in New York. She just gave me this look and said, "I'm sure you would have, had you given it even a little effort."

  5. That is a great memento. Things like that are what make life fabulous. Fun, spontaneous ideas with great friends with good sense of humor. I want a posse now. *wink*

    I love it.


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