This is a True Story
Josh Becker

Aug. 2, 1987
Copyright © 1987


          Francis Crowley is eighteen years old and hauls boxes at a warehouse. It is the autumn of 1930 and the country is in deep depression. Francis is lucky to have a job, but that's not how he feels about it. He's sick and tired of working all day and he's been doing it since he was nine years old.
          Francis is the product of a broken home. As an infant his father abandoned his mother. His mother then abandoned him to his grandfather who was a New York City policeman. His grandfather was never happy to have him and soon abandoned Francis to foster parents. His foster father died when he was nine years old. That's when Francis was taken out of school and put to work.
          His only fun is going to the movies and hanging around at dance halls.
          Francis particularly likes gangster pictures, the recent rage. He's seen "Little Caesar" with Edward G. Robinson a half a dozen times.
          His best friend is a big dopey kid named "Fats" Duringer who works at the warehouse with him. Fats hates working as much as Francis.
          Francis likes a girl from his block named Helen Walsh. She is a cute sixteen year old. Helen really likes Francis, but she won't let him go all the way.
          Fats has got it even worse. He's wild about a dance hall hostess named Virginia Banner who works at the Hotsy Totsy Club. Virginia doesn't like Fats at all.
          And so, as Francis' nineteenth birthday nears, he becomes overwhelmed with boredom.
          One night at the Hotsy Totsy Club, Francis and Fats see the famous gangster "Legs" Diamond. Legs gets into an argument with two men, suddenly pulls out a pistol and shoots them both. Everyone in the club hits the floor - except Francis, who sits there staring at the gangster. With the smoking pistol in his hand, legs looks right at Francis.
          "Whatsa matter, kid? Ain't you scared?"
          Francis shakes his head. "No."
          Legs smiles. "Good for you."
          Legs leaves in a hurry. Afterward, everyone congratulates Francis on his bold move.
          On the day of his nineteenth birthday Francis skips work. He goes straight to a pawn shop and looks at the pistols. He purchases a .38 and a shoulder holster. As he is leaving he suddenly turns back and buys another .38 and another holster.
          He goes over to Fats', takes him outside and opens his coat revealing the two guns. Fats is really impressed. The next day Fats buys a .45. They both wear their guns out that night. All of a sudden, Francis adopts a tough guy attitude. Fats follows suit.
          Francis and Fats steal a car. Francis drops Fats off and picks Helen up. She is unduly impressed by the car. He parks at a nearby lover's lane and shows her his pistols. Helen is stunned.
          "Are they loaded?"
          "You betcha."
          They start making out and before he knows it he's got his hands up her shirt and she's not stopping him. He ventures a hand to her thigh and slides it slowly up her skirt. Before long she stops him.
          Francis looks down at his holstered pistols, then roughly pulls her hand away. He puts his hand all the way up her skirt.
          "Yes!" he states.
          Helen doesn't try to stop him again.
          Afterward, sitting in the car, Francis lights a cigar.
          "When did you start smoking cigars?" asks Helen.
          Just then a flashlight beam hits Francis in the face. It's a cop. Francis opens the door right into him, knocking him down. The cop goes for his gun and Francis beats him to the draw. He shoots the cop twice. Francis drives away quickly and is chased by the cop's partner. After a high speed chase Francis loses him.
          Before he drops Helen off that night she tells him that she loves him.
          When Fats finds out what Francis has done he can't believe it. The newspaper comes out and confirms it. Fats believes.
          Francis and Fats drive out of town and rob a gas station. They get two hundred bucks.
          That night they go to the Hotsy Totsy and have a swell time - however, the dance hostess, Virginia, still can't stand Fats. Francis looks at Fats and grins.
          "I give her to you."
          After the club closes, Francis and Fats wait for Virginia in the alley. Francis puts a gun to her head and Fats grabs her. They take her to their hide-out - a shabby tenement apartment - and tie Virginia to the bed, gag her and strip her naked. Francis leaves Fats to it.
          When he returns several hours later he finds Fats sitting in the living room in his underwear. He is dazed and has his .45 in his lap.
          "She said she'd tell the cops."
          Francis looks into the bedroom and sees that Virginia is dead.
          "You did what you had to do," says Francis to Fats.
          They abandon their hide-out. They rob a bank and a grocery store. Francis shoots the store owner. 
          Francis has been identified and the man-hunt is on. The newspapers dub him "Two Gun" Crowley.
          They get a new hide-out on 90th street, Francis and Fats move in. Francis brings Helen there.
          An amplified voice rings out.
          "Give up and come out with your hands up. We have the building surrounded."
          Francis, Fats and Helen look out the window. They see that the building is in fact surrounded by cops.
          Francis goes to the closet and takes out four more pistols. He straps two more to his waist and two to his legs, then goes to the window and starts shooting.
          Fats and Helen hide under the bed in fear as the cops shoot back. Their Tommy guns blast the apartment to shreds. Plaster and chunks of brick fly everywhere. Soon there are over seven hundred cops outside. They shoot tear gas in and Francis picks up the smoking canisters and throws them back.
          Francis is shot four times. Thinking that he will die, Francis writes a note that says, "…I hadn't anything else to do, that's why I went around bumping off cops. It's the new sensation of the films…"
          But Francis doesn't die of his bullet wounds. He and Fats are tried for murder. They are convicted and sentenced to death. In court both Helen and Fats turn on him.
          Francis is totally out of control in his cell on death row. He tears everything to shreds, shoves it into the toilet and causes a flood. Finally he is stripped of his clothes and put into an empty cell. He is given a mattress at night and it is taken away in the morning.
          Fats is electrocuted. An hour later Francis is brought into the room with the electric chair. A gallery of twenty-five newsmen watches his every move. Francis disdainfully flicks his cigar butt at the reporters and hits one in the forehead.
          "Sons of bitches!"
          Francis turns to the warden.
          "I have one last request."
          "Yes," says the warden.
          Francis points at the electric chair. "I want a rag to wipe off the chair after that rat sat in it."
          Francis takes his seat. "Give my love to my ma."
          They throw the switch and fry him.
          It is three days before his twentieth birthday.