November 9, 1965: More than 52 years ago, my mom — six months pregnant with me — was stuck in JFK International Airport when the lights went out. Nobody expected the grid to be down for long, but the blackout stretched through the night into the next morning. At JFK, people drove cars up to the windows to shine headlamps into the terminal. Mom remembered a nice elderly couple who stood up and insisted she sleep on a bench while they watched over her. The old guy rolled up his jacket as a pillow, and his wife shared her candy. Mom had several stories from that night, all good, all filled with the kindness and reasoned ingenuity of strangers. She never tired of telling about it. Me, I was in the dark anyway.
A few years ago I read Herbert Asbury’s terrific book, The Gangs of New York—which inspired a mid-century wiseguy character named Frankie. He bounced around between stories for a while until one day, I realized Frankie was at the airport on November 9.
I had to write the following story to find out why he was there.
This story was free to read the first week of May, 2018.
“The Luck of Frankie Irish” is one of several short crime stories in my collection, Season of Ice.
Each month this year, I will post a free crime story on the first Tuesday of the month, and a free western story two weeks later on the third Tuesday. The stories will stay up for seven days, and each will feature a “behind the story” post.