By Bjorn Skaptason, Tom's Town Historian
KANSAS CITY, 1934: If you wanted to see The Boss, you had to go through old “Cap” Matheus. Elijah Matheus was a man of mystery, and his opaque biography made his authority imposing. Nobody knew much at all about the stern factotum who ran The Boss’ office. It was common knowledge that he was a former riverboat captain – thus the nickname. The assumptions one could make about that bygone profession – assumptions about iron-fisted river toughs, oily gamblers, and casual knife fights – were powerful enough to convince any over-eager supplicant that old Cap’s authority should not be questioned. “Don’t mess with Cap! He killed a man. Didn’t he? He must have. Right?”
Cap Mathues was the only personal “security” Boss Tom ever wanted or needed. His icy glare was sufficient to quiet a noisy room and keep a long line orderly.
Behind the scenes Mathues made himself useful to The Machine in other ways, from carrying messages (the famous Pendergast “red notes” whose imperative directives were not to be ignored), to laundering the enormous sums of tainted cash that passed through the simple offices at 1908 Main. Near the end of Tom’s reign the feds turned their gaze to Matheus in order to pressure Boss Tom. As far as anybody knew Cap never so much as chirped about his business with Boss Tom, not to the U. S. Attorney or anybody else.