restricted access 42 “The Gas Lisped Its Song of Death”
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233 I faced this crisis absolutely alone. There was no strong arm to lean on. For fifteen years, I had depended utterly on the fearless resourcefulness of my husband. On the occasions when circumstances forced me to act on my own initiative, I had always had the assurance that someone was either in a position to spring to my assistance or to profit by my activity. Thelasthadalwaysbeenmy incentive when Iwas forcedtoactwithout his aid. Now there was no incentive but self preservation. That sense had always been as strong in me as in any other normal person, but the shock and grief of the last few days had undermined my strength, and I did not feel able to meet the ordeal alone. In the solitude of the empty apartment I paced the floor in nervous agitation, or slumped in a chair, exhausted of thought. In my condition, I could see no solution to my problem. I could not tear the thought of Gus from my mind. He became an obsession with me. In every vacant chair I saw him. He stood in doorways and sat across from me at the table. In my tortured mind he finally became almost real. “I’ll be waiting for you,” those last words he said to me, became a whispering symphony ever present in my ears. In desperation I finally went to Benny Goldblatt’s home. “My God, woman, why don’t you stay out of sight?” was his startled greeting. “I saw two Dagoes in front of your house last night and they’re watching my house too. Good God, it’ll be your finish if you don’t quit gadding around all over town and it’ll be mine too if you get caught coming in here.” 42 “The Gas Lisped Its Song of Death” 234 al capone and his american boys Rebuffed, I left him, got into my car and drove aimlessly all day, trying to clear my head. I stopped only when I needed to refuel. But Gus rode in the car with me; the whispers followed me. It was comfort and strength I needed and I knew not where to turn to find it. I was too proud to go to those friends Gus had made when he reached the top ranks. JustbeforedarkIdrovetothehomeoftheonlytruefriendsIfeltthat I had—honest, hardworking people. They were shocked at my appearance , and in the peace and quiet of their home an apathy settled over me that left me in much the same condition I was in after Gus’ death. When it was time for me to go they would not permit me to drive my car and insisted that one of their boys drive me home. Too dazed to object, I consented. At 48th and 22nd Streets I witnessed the worst auto accident I ever saw. Two cars filled with children crashed in a head-on collision, and witnesses were gathering up their bloodstained bodies. I was so absorbed in my own troubles that I was not even sickened at the sight. As my driver stopped the car to look I only gazed at the scene withoutemotionandmurmured :“Poorlittlethings.Ihopethey’redead,then they can escape all this misery.” The boy apparently was alarmed about me when we arrived home and offered to stay at the apartment, but I sent him home to his mother. And Gus was with me again, and so were the whispers. The curtain of apathy drew closer and closer about me, and suddenly sanctuary opened before my eyes. With no emotion whatever I went about the house, seeing that all windows were tightly closed, and that the doors were locked. Then I dressed carefully in a plain black frock. As I turned on every jet in the stove I reasoned that the whispers would become the firm voice of my husband, who would lift the veil around me so that once more I could lean on his strong arm. As the gas lisped its little song of death I went to the telephone intending for the last time to hear the voice of a friend. Possibly it was courage I sought. “The Gas Lisped Its Song of Death” 235 I telephoned Bonnie White, the wife Killer Burke had married before he was captured in Missouri. “I have just called to say goodbye,” I said, trying to assume a natural tone. “I’m going on a long, long, trip, and will never return to Chicago.” SheaskedmewhereIwouldgo,butImerelysaidgoodbyeagain,and returned the receiver to its hook. I...


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Subject Headings

  • Crime -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
  • Murder -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
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