Arlyne Weiss Brinkman – Part 5
To support herself, Arlyne took a stab at an honest job. Through Irving Weiss’s family connections, Arlyne took a position as a saleswoman at Sakes Fifth Avenue. This made Arlyne as happy as a vampire volunteering at a blood bank.
Instead of working with customers, Arlyne became one of Saks’s best customers. Using her mother’s Saks charge card, Arlyne ran up a tab of over three thousand dollars in only a few short days. Arlyne bought the finest clothes for herself, and she threw in a few pricy handbags for good measure. When Billie Weiss got her monthly bill, it was obvious to Arlyne’s parents that Arlyne was better off not working than working under the present conditions.
Scratch Arlyne’s saleswomans job at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Arlyne went back to cruising the bars, not only on Queen Boulevards, but all throughout the tony streets of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Although Irving Weiss took care of all Arlyne’s and her daughter’s material needs, he was not about to fund her bouncing around the five boroughs, buying drinks like she was a drunken sailor.
Arlyne knew she had to grab onto a constant source of income. This led her to look up a few of her old mob cronies to see if she could take some action in the gambling business.
She found out that she could.
“It’s one thing to just know these men,” organized crime historian Mark Gribben said on Bio Channel’s Mob Ladies. “But it’s quite another thing to have these men feel that you could be trusted well enough to have your fingers in some of their businesses.”
Arlyne moved from wiseguy to wiseguy, helping them out with their numbers rackets, and sometimes dealing a little drugs on the side. Like her idol, Virginia Hill, Arlyne shuttled envelopes from one mobster to another mobster. What was in these envelope or why they were being delivered, Arlyne didn’t much care. What was important was that members of the mob trusted her. And this made Arlyne feel like “one of the boys.” Arlyne especially did a lot of business for her old sex buddy, Tony Mirra, who was steading moving up the ladder of the Bonanno Crime Family.
On September, 25, 1959, Arlyne got her first glimpse how ugly it could get for a girl connected to the mob.
Her name was Janis Drake, a small-time actress with big-time aspirations in the mold of mob moll Virginian Hill. Drake already had been involved in two close calls concerning mob killings and was secretly called by mobsters “The Kiss of Death.”
Drake, ostensibly the husband of comedian Alan Drake (the joke was on Alan Drake), had been in bed with Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia the night before he was gunned down in the Park Sheridan’s hotel barbershop. And closer to home for Arlyne, Drake had dinner with Arlyne’s old paramour, Nat Nelson, the night before Nelson was shot in the forehead by Jimmy Doyle. Drake was called by the Queens DA as a “top flight courier,” which meant she did the same thing as Arlyne – pass envelopes back and forth between various mobsters.
Anthony “Little Augie” Carfano had been a made man in the Mafia since the early 1930’s. Carfano was tight with Lucky Luciano, who had been deported to Italy in the mid-1940’s, and with Frank Costello, who had just survived a murder attempt in the lobby of his Park Avenue apartment building perpetrated by Vincent “The Chin” Gigante.
By the late 1950’s, Carfano was a top lieutenant in Vito Genovese’s mob crew. Unfortunately, Carfano had fallen out of favor with Don Vito when he refused to come in for a meeting of Genovese’s top lieutenants. This was after it became clear Genovese was behind the murder attempt on Carfano’s pal, Costello. Carfano was known to be a “ladies man,” having been married several times, including once to the sister of a Florida cop, which was a “no-no” in the world of La Cosa Nostra. So, if Genovese needed a reason to have Carfano whacked (since he was the boss, Genovese answered to no one), he had his pick of several.
The night had started with Carfano and Drake having a quiet little dinner at a Marino’s, an Italian restaurant on Lexington Avenue favored by the mob. By a stroke of luck, Arlyne popped into Marino’s with her friend, Shirley, hoping to hook up with Tony Mirra. When Arlyne entered Marino’s, she spotted Carfano and Drake sitting cozily at a table, but Tony Mirra was nowhere in sight.
Arlyne and Shirley bellied up to the bar and ordered a few cocktails. Soon, Tony Mirra strolled in with another thug. He She spotted Arlyne, but he made believe she was invisible. Mirra and his pal joined Carfano and Drake for a few moments, then they too went to the bar, again putting Arlyne on their pay-no-mind list. If it was one thing that annoyed Arlyne it was being ignored; especially by a pal who she had serviced on her knees more times than she possibly could remember.
After gesticulating towards Mirra like a maniac, Mirra finally relented, and he popped over to where Arlyne was sitting. According to Mob Girl, before Mirra said a single word, he flung a few hundreds on the bar for Arlyne to collect. This instantly improved her mood.
However, Arlyne’s mood soured when Mirra said, not too pleasantly, “Now get the fuck outta here! I’ll catch up with you later,” which in mob parlance, could mean anything from a few hours to a few hundred years.
Arlyne did as she was told, and Arlyne and Shirley exited Marino’s like the joint was on fire.
The following morning, Arlyne read in the newspapers that Carfano and Drake had been murdered in Carfano’s car near LaGuardia Airport. Both had been shot in the head, and Drake had a bloody bullet hole in the middle of her forehead, which contrasted with the bright blue of her dead open eyes.
Soon, word circulated around the streets that Mirra, although he was a member of the Bonanno crew, was given the contract on Carfano by Genovese’s right hand man, Tony Bender. Of course, this had to be cleared by Joe Bonanno, Mirra’s boss, but it was not unusual for a member of one crime crew to kill for another crime crew, especially if that person was close to the victim as Mirra was to Carfano (A few years later, while Genovese stewed in prison, he gave out a contract on Bender, because he thought Bender was not doing the right thing as Genovese’s street boss).
The next morning, after Arlyne read the newspaper reports, the first thing she thought was about Tony Mirra and the strange scene in Marino’s the night before. That night, she received a phone call from Mirra, who was holed up in a seedy Lexington Avenue hotel.
“I need to see you right away,” Mira barked into the phone. “And make sure no one follows you.”
Arlyne dropped what she was doing, and holding her infant daughter, Leslie, in her arms, she grabbed a cab and rushed to the hotel to meet Mirra.
When she arrived at Mirra’s hotel room, Arlyne was shocked at the shabbiness of her surroundings. Mirra usually traveled first class, and the hotel room had the cheap decor of Ralph Cramden’s kitchen.
“What are you doing in this dump?” Arlyne asked Mirra.
“I’m in hiding,” Mirra said.
“Hiding from what?”
“Don’t you read the newspapers?”
“Of course I read the newspapers.”
“Then you know about Janis Drake and Little Augie,” Mirra said.
“Yeah, what about them?” she said.
“I’m the one who did the job,” Mira said.
Arlyne was stunned for a moment. Guys like Little Augie get whacked all the time. It’s normal for wiseguys to annoy other wiseguys – the beefs being usually about money – and from time to time someone gets exterminated. But Janice Drake was a good-time girl, a lot like Arlyne. Why did she have to buy the ranch?
So Arlyne asked Mirra.
Mirra just shrugged, showing not one iota of remorse.
“Janice was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mirra said. “She knew too much, and she saw too much. She had to go too.”
Mirra pointed his stubby finger in Arlyne’s chest, barely missing her baby girl she was holding in her arms.
“Now enough of this small talk,” Mirra said. “There’s something I need you to do. And make sure you’re not followed.”
It was two things, actually.
Mirra handed Arlyne a small package (drugs?), and a thin envelope, holding maybe one sheet of paper. He also gave her several large denomination bills to finance her excursions.
Arlyne left the hotel and jumped into a cab. She told the cabby to hightail it to a glitzy restaurant on Central Park West. After telling the cab driver to keep the meter running, she rushed into the restaurant and gave the package to the bartender, who seemed like he was expecting such a delivery. Then she took the same cab to the midtown apartment of a wiseguy she knew only as Jimmy. She handed the envelope to Jimmy, saying it was from “our friend,” who Jimmy concluded was Tony Mirra.
Having some leftover “change,” Arlyne, with her baby daughter still in tow, popped into a Queens bar and belted down a few. With a nice glow permeating her body, Arlyne went to her parent’s Forest Hills apartment, where she was now staying with baby Leslie. The glow disappeared in minutes, when the police knocked on the front door of the apartment.
At first, because the police asked the maid for a “Mrs. Brinkman,” Arlyne figured it had something to do with her husband. But after being hustled into the unmarked police car and brought to the local precinct for questioning, it was obvious she had been followed earlier while making her stops for Tony Mirra.
The bull’s first question at the precinct was, “Do you know Tony Mirra?
“What if I do?” Arlyne said. “Is that a crime?”
The detective then rattled off a list of names, all of whom were card-holding members New York City’s “organized crime” crew.
Arlyne admitted he knew them all, which prompted the cop to say, “Who do you think you are, Virginia Hill?”
Those words were music to Arlyne’s ears. She was being compared to her idol, Virginia Hill. What could be sweeter?
Like Hill would have done, Arlyne clammed up about Mirra and his associates. The cops had no choice but to release Arlyne into the custody of her parents, who were not too happy that Arlyne was socializing with men whose photos were on the wall of most police stations.
When Tony Mirra found out Arlyne had been arrested and questioned, he dropped her like a hot potato. Arlyne knew men like Mirra didn’t like any loose ends, and Arlyne was as loose as they came.