Back in the late ’70s, the Candlelight Lounge — on the corner of Congress and Summit — was a jumping joint. Peter the Bulgarian — then most recently formerly partners with Tommy (a North Bergen cliffside dealer in rare powders) and who, as the story went, less recently had escaped from a Soviet prison ship — was running a little operation breaking into parked trailers with Al and some of the other guys in the bar.
Another notable notable of the Candlelight was one Michelle. Michelle was young and pretty and a hooker and a heroin addict. She hailed from wayoff Secaucus and had a safe and steady clientele of older gents. Michelle had taken up with Al.
One day Al was asking one after another for a cigarette and was getting turned down solid by one and all as they were sick and tired of his grubbing ways. Finally, someone pointed out the obvious: Michelle (at that moment in the rest room) had just bought a pack out of the machine. Al opened her purse and there directly under the Marlboros was a cassette tape with a genuine eagle seal and this: “Property of the US Government. If found, place in a postal mailbox.” With the little crowd examining the unusual find, Michelle returns and freaks, demanding the tape. Al refuses, saying that he’s going to play it on the stereo in his apartment. Michelle goes out. With the door hardly having brushed against her derryaire, two guys in suits and fedoras walk in. One goes right up to Al and without a word decks him with a solid right. He then puts his hand in the pocket that Al had placed the cassette and takes it. Still not saying anything, they turn and leave.
Not taking the incident described above as a wake-up call, Peter the Bulgarian and Al and the rest kept up on their merry way of robbing interstate shipping. Until one day none of them shows at the Candlelight. After a while, another set of suits visits inquiring about whereabouts. Mike tries like a “I’m not sure if I recalls . . . ” One of the Feds: “Maybe this’ll help your memory.” And out of a folder pulls large glossy photos: Peter and crew breaking the lock on a trailer, Peter and crew grabbing cases out of the trailer, Peter and crew tossing the same cases into one of their cars (license plate clearly visible) and Peter and crew carrying the cases into the Candlelight Lounge.
Peter the Bulgarian got into a shootout down in the swamps and was thought to have been lucky and gotten away. Maybe a year later, a skeleton was found in the vicinity, so luck most likely had been all used up a long time befores.