The Confessions Of A Junkie

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On the following afternoon, without even mentioning the word “hijack,” we made our move. Hiding behind Pacheco’s brick wall, we watched the houseboy deposit the bag in the ashpit, clenching our sweaty fists in terror. Then, just as he disappeared into Lavio’s house, we rushed across the alley and pulled out the bag with frantic, terrified haste. It was heavier than we had imagined, and both of us had to heft it back across the alley and into Pacheco’s garage. A minute later we heard Knocky’s roadster barreling down the alley and skidding to a stop. Then we heard him cussing like a pirate. But ten seconds later he was gone. We huddled inside the garage for nearly a half hour before either of us spoke or even twitched a nostril. Finally we lugged the bag into an adjacent vacant lot and hurriedly poured all the liquor out of the bottles, leaving a puddle of whiskey an inch deep. No longer frightened, we were unutterably happy at the prospect of selling the empty bottles to our favorite rag-and-bottle dealer. “They’re all half pints,” I kept saying with obvious glee. “All of them are half pints.” (By some curious twist of bootlegger logic, half-pint bottles sold for two cents, whereas a full pint sold for a mere penny.) It never occurred to us to try to sell the bottles with the whiskey in them. We were summing up our expected income when my brother Fred appeared on the scene. In one quick glance he realized that we had hijacked Lavio’s whiskey, and his anger was enormous. But what nearly bowled us over was not his anger, it was his fright. “You could get killed for something like this,” he raged. “Those guys are gangsters! Not only are you stupid idiots, but you’re also damned fools.”

That was the last time we ever went junking.