There were the usual and customary delays at the airport and it was not until early afternoon that I arrived back in Chicago. It was a dreary day, with a light drizzle falling during the entire cab-ride back from the airport. The humidity was oppressive. I flicked on the light switch as I stepped through the door and into my apartment. No sooner did the light come on than a sharp pain sliced through the back of my neck. The last thought that went through my head as the floor tiles rushed up to greet me was that they were very much in need of mopping.
I was unconcious before I hit the floor.
I don’t know how long it was before I awoke. At first I was not sure if I was really awake or not. I willed my eye-lids open, but everything remained black. Slowly I became aware that I was indeed conscious but that the room was dark. Very dark. It is late at night, I realized. I must have been out for a long time.
A small orange bead danced in the dark before me. It had an eery glow that brightened and faded, and then brightened again as I watched. Even at its brightest it was too dim to illuminate anything. With my eyes straining to penetrate the blackness and my brain struggling to sweep away the fog in my mind, I watched the dancing orange bead. I became aware of the smell of tobacco smoke.
Of course. The orange glow was that of a burning cigarette. It was too dark to see who held it. I squinted my eyes. That made my head hurt so I stopped. The smoker must have realized that I had awakened, for he now spoke.
“I am sorry I had to hit you Mr. Raymond,” came the easily recognized European accent and exceedingly polite manner.
“Why did you have to knock me out, Rudy?” I asked beseechingly. What reason could there possibly be for attacking me in my own apartment?
“I was not certain it was you,” he explained. “I was afraid you might have been the FBI and I do not wish to speak to the FBI at this time. Indeed, I do not want the FBI to know where I am.”
Suddenly I realized that even I did not know where we were. Even in the dark I could tell we were not in my apartment. For one thing, the easy-chair in which I sat was far too firm and new.
“Where are we?” I asked with sudden alarm.
“Someplace where the FBI cannot listen to our conversations,” he replied. The glowing embers of the cigarette continued to bob up and down. “This is another reason why I knocked you unconcious; I did not want you blurting out my name in your apartment. I suspect that the FBI has your apartment bugged.”
Now I was annoyed. What was he talking about? Why all the silly theatrics. Why knock me out? Rudy Levinski had become even more paranoid and cynical than me. Did he really think that my apartment was bugged? Did he really have reason to fear the FBI to such an extent? The First Chicago delaying scam was minor compared to the mill; surely he did not think that the FBI would move aggressively against Lampley. Even if the FBI did so, perhaps out of frustration over their failure to make headway on the larger case, it would be Lampley, and not Rudy, who would pay the price.
When I voiced these thoughts to Rudy his reply was quiet and level. “They already have a warrant for my arrest Carl. They came to my apartment two days ago. I was not home at the time, but when I returned some time later I found my front door off the hinges and my personal belongings ransacked. A neighbor informed me that there were six men that entered my apartment and that they were there for about two hours.”
“Are you sure they were FBI?”
“One can never by sure, I suppose. Regardless, I do not wish to be found right now.”