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If Marciano thus beat the IRS out of some taxes, Santarelli says, that was not the only reason he insisted on payments in cash. On numerous occasions, he says, Marciano complained to him that, under his contract with Al Weill, his former manager, he had to pay Weill 50% of all his earnings—not only from his days as a fighter but also from his years in retirement. "He took 50 percent of Rocky in and out of the ring," says Santarelli. "That's the reason Rocky retired. That was the conflict. He didn't want to pay Al Weill any more money. Even for a personal appearance, Weill wanted 50 percent of it. He wanted cash because he didn't want Weill to get a dime."
The whole object of Marciano's daily existence, the reason for the network that moved and sustained him from place to place, was to get him from one sunset to the next without spending a dime. "There wasn't anything he ever needed that he couldn't get with just a phone call," says his brother Sonny.
On occasions it was only the phone company that stood between Rocky getting through a day in which he got away free and a day in which he was forced to spring for a coin. Marciano worked on correcting that nettlesome problem by using those slugs to make calls, or by feeding that wire contraption into the coin deposit in an apparent attempt to lobotomize the system. He had an unfathomable hostility toward phone companies, and more than once he was observed hammering a phone cradle as though it were Jersey Joe Walcott's nose in the 13th round at Philadelphia. On one occasion, says Napoli, Marciano lost a dime and went berserk, pounding on the phone with the receiver.
"It took my dime," he cried.
At New York's La Guardia Airport one day a phone did not return his dime after he got a busy signal. He screamed at the operator, "You sonuvabitch! I want my dime back!" When that failed, he ripped the receiver out of the phone, threw it on the floor and then began walking past the bank of pay phones along the wall, pressing the coin-return buttons, then fingering the empty coin slots and then ripping all the receivers out of the machines.
"I thought, My god, what is he doing?" says Saccone.
For as much as he coveted the cash, of course, the paradox is that he did not need it, never used it to buy himself anything, never put all but a small part of it to any other use but in the service of his own dark, meretricious underground of unsecured loans and fanciful investments. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anyone handling money more cavalierly or treating it with such unconscious contempt, dating back to the days when, according to his biographer, Skehan, he used to stuff it in plastic bags and tape it inside the water tanks above the toilet bowls in his hotel rooms; or when, one night, he took off and left $27,520 in a plastic bag among clothes mildewing in a suitcase in Napoli's care; or when, too impatient to sit through a stage performance of The Great White Hope, he told his daughter, who was sitting next to him, that he would meet her for dinner later at La Scala and then bolted out of the theater, leaving a brown paper bag mashed in his seat. Mary Anne happened to notice it and stuck it in her purse before she left. They had just settled in for dinner when Marciano said, "Oh, god, I'll be right back...."
"You left something?" she asked, removing the bag.
It contained $40,000.
This was Marciano, impulsive and restless, distracted and eccentric, who climbed into the Cessna that night at Midway Airport, and it was fitting that he left for Des Moines with a paid Chicago-to-Fort Lauderdale airline ticket tucked in his pocket. When he called home to say he was heading west to make that appearance, his family life had become a lie, and his life had more hiding places than his money and more secrets than hiding places. When Santarelli and Benny Trotta, the Baltimore mob associate, saw him off at the Butler Aviation terminal that day, Marciano had no intention of returning to Fort Lauderdale anytime soon. "I'll see you in the morning," Santarelli recalls Rocky telling them. All Farrell needed to do, to get him on that plane, was play on his weaknesses for cash, in the form of a $500 fee, and women. "They promised Rocky a young broad, 17 or 18 years old, to help little Frankie Farrell," Santarelli says.